Thursday, July 31, 2008

Beijing's Olympic Village is like Chinese Kindergarten

China's controlling and paternalistic conceit extend into the Olympic Village journalism centers. Reporters have discovered restrictions to accessing "scores of Web pages -- among them those that discuss Tibetan issues, Taiwanese independence, the violent crackdown of the protests in Tiananmen Square and the Web sites of Amnesty International, the BBC's Chinese language news, Radio Free Asia and several Hong Kong newspapers known for their freewheeling political discourse." [#]

What a surprise. Or not. Who really believed Chinese government would allow free access for reporters? Not this girl. Free access to information - well heck, freedom itself - is just not part of the cultural DNA in China.

I've observed first hand the level of conditioning required to convince otherwise bright Chinese citizens that perhaps the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests didn't really happen. And if something did occur, no one was hurt. I swear, I heard this view several times when I was in China in 2004 accompanying twelve american 9th graders on a cultural exchange tour. We visited lots schools and met with students.

By visiting schools I could see the conditioning starts early. Kindergarten-aged children leave their homes to live on school grounds the entire week and visit their families on weekends. The children spend two or three years in this routine and then return home to live and attend day school. The program enables the school (government) to have the huge influence on the patterning and conditioning of Chinese children in their most formative years.

The message: Don't think as an individual. You are one of many. Each of you has your place. Trust your superiors to take care of you and know what is best for you.

China 2004  - kindergarten

China 2004 - kindergarteners

It isn't a big surprise the Olympic Village reporters are experiencing limits to access of information. It is a conceit of the Chinese government that they know what is best for their citizens and will misdirect the rest of the world to ensure they maintain their high level of control.

Essentially the Chinese government and the International Olympic Committee president are saying: Oh gosh, we didn't promise free access to information. We promised freedom to publish. That is not the same as free access. You misunderstood. Perhaps you should pay closer attention. [#]


China 2004 - a high school

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Video: Electing a U.S. President in Plain English

In the time it takes to microwave a bag of popcorn you can get a refresher on popular vs electoral votes for president. Here's another great vid from Seattle-based Common Craft, the folks who can explain things to your grandmother jargon-free and in microwave popcorn time.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Parks Dept Responsible for Submerged Spikes in Green Lake

"I'm sorry it was us," says the Seattle Parks Department. [#]

Mystery solved. You may now kindly resume your Green Lake wading.

photo: detail from The Belmont, Nov 2007

After nearly two weeks of wild speculation (a maniacal diver? intelligent geese?), the Parks Department has 'fessed up. The spikes were part of a milfoil control experimental program in the 1980s. Plastic was anchored to the lake bed to reduce the sunlight and thus curb the growth of milfoil in the lake. These curved rods eventually rusted into spikes, were discovered, and consequently fueled speculative theories of who and why.

Ah, the ripeness of summer gossip.

Facebook Scrabulous off the table for US and Canada

Ohhhh nooooo!

I usually support the underdog, so I'm not racing off to give the official version a try.

Qi! Ka! Ai! Xi!

Take that, Hasbro.

[more info]

Monday, July 28, 2008

Chromeo in my 'hood!

Chromeo @ CHBP

One of my favorite performances of the weekend was the uber fun pair Chromeo. They consistently bring the party with them. First (for me) was the sweaty War Room show last year, then they slayed the Coachella Sahara tent in April, and now Saturday's performance at the Capitol Hill Block Party: spot on good times. These are the sorts of guys you want to hang out with at a house party. Their enjoyment is obvious and they were very gracious to fans who wanted pictures with them after their mainstage show.

In other Chromeo news, MTV premiered their new video for Momma's Boy on Friday. It's a clean b&w animation. Simple drawing is the new black. Tight. Check it.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Srsly Awesome Schedule to Print for the Capitol Hill Block Party

Quick! Who's playing the Capitol Hill Block Party between 7:45 and 8:00 pm on Saturday? What? Having trouble? It isn't you. It's the schedule design.

The Capitol Hill Block Party schedule from The Stranger sucks at information design. Because it is organized by stage, you can't see performance overlaps and tradeoffs. It is designed for someone working the stage logistics. Not you.

What wouldn't suck: a grid schedule just like an all-growed-up music festival. I made one up and I'm sharing it with you, just 'cause I'm nice like that. It includes the Cha Cha lineup too! (You won't find Cha Cha info on The Stranger site at all.) Get J9's Capitol Hill Block Party Grid Schedule.

You decide: wanna mess with stage-centric crap, or use a srsly awesome schedule designed for us normal peeps? Maybe this picture will help.

[get it!]

geeky tech notes:

Print "two pages per sheet" for a one-page pocket reference covering both days.

The file format is MS Excel. Props to anyone who shares a PDF version. (I don't have a PDF writer and the crapola free online PDF writer changed all my fonts. Boo!)

Update: A Three Imaginary Girls blog post has a Goggle Doc version and a PDF version for those who manage to do without Excel. Thanks sparkly friends!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Raise Your Hand if You're a Tourist

The ferry ride to Bainbridge Island (Winslow) and back is one of the best low-cost tourist activities in Seattle. Less than $7 will get you a roundtrip ride across Puget Sound with spectacular views of the city skyline, the shipyards and a glimpse of island life.
Ferries run about every 40 minutes on weekends. The little town of Winslow is a 6-block walk from the terminal and offers two blocks of shops, restaurants and bakeries. Best bets are Eagle Harbor Book Store and Blackbird Bakery.

Eagle Harbor Book Store is a mini Elliott Bay Book Co, if you will. The staff are knowledgeable and helpful, and the selection and arrangement of books demonstrates thoughtful care. (BTW, they are hiring. Wanna live on Bainbridge?)

Blackbird Bakery offers a good selection of vegan baked goods as well as traditional wheat and sugar goodness. Something for everybody here! I had a delicious oatmeal and craisin cookie. The real tourist I traveled with was pleased with the vegan lemon pound cake.

Don't bother with the waterfront walk/trail that is signed to the left as you exit the ferry area on Bainbridge. The "trail" wanders through the service area for the Washington state ferries (sorta interesting if you are mechanically inclined), crosses a bracken outflow, and then pops out for a waterfront view of Eagle Harbor from the industrial side of the bay. Not very interesting or pretty. Better to hang out at the terminal and people watch if you arrive back early.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Movie at Cal Anderson Park on Sunday

Northwest Film Forum will be showing a movie outdoors at Cal Anderson Park on Sunday July 20th as part of the Imagine Capitol Hill sustainability festival. It took some sleuthing to find the name of the film and surprise! It is a bike movie. Or maybe not such a surprise: the movie is part of Seattle Bike-In, an annual event in it's third year of promoting alternative transportation in the city.

Showing at dusk is A Sunday in Hell, a 1976 Danish flick about a brutal bike race: the French Paris-Roubaix spring classic, notorious for the hellish paves or cobbled roads of the north "which are no longer used for civilised traffic but only for transporting cattle - and for cycle races." IMDB commenters indicate the movie is not subtitled so unless you understand "En Forårsdag i Helvede," the sound volume won't matter much.

a perfect wheel

A Sunday in Hell is preceded by a musical lineup including Steve Arntson, who plays concertina, Medieval Woman, and SEAHORSE.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Video: Midnight Juggernauts - Into the Galaxy

I was at the Midnight Juggernauts first U.S. show last fall when then opened for Justice at the sold out, and newly opened, Terminal 5 venue in NYC. Love these guys from Oz! What a great discovery. At first listen they sound a lot like Justice BUT stick with it. Trust me. They play instruments and sing! Yay! Big ups for blending pop rock with electronica and pulling it off to cause a to-capacity Terminal 5 crowd to dance like there's no tomorrow.

Midnight Juggernauts also played at Coachella Music Festival this year. Unfortunately I missed it: they had an early timeslot and there was no way we were gonna make it after going to bed at dawn the night(?) before. (Good times.)

Their latest music video, Into the Galaxy, was filmed in the Pyrenees region of France and was created by international design collective Surface 2 Air, who’ve previously produced clips for Justice Vs Simian, Chromeo and Black Kids.

Wouldn't it be rad if Midnight Juggernauts were in the 2008 Decibel Festival final lineup?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The World is Just Awesome

Have you seen this 60 sec video advert for Discovery Channel yet?

"It never gets old, does it?"
"It kinda wants to make you break into song..."

Boom de ah Dah!

Love it.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Five Belltown Gallery Openings on Friday 7/11

I am SO looking forward to hitting Belltown Friday night and catching the opening of five new gallery shows. I am particularly excited about the shows at the Roq, the BLVD, and the new Free Sheep Foundation space. All spaces open at 6 pm and have varying closing hours (as early as 9 pm at the Roq.)

Roq La Rue: 10th Anniversary Group Show
Showing work from 24 artists, including Mark Ryden, Femke Hiemstra, Brian Despain, Travis Louis, Scott Musgrove, Liz McGrath and Shag. I'm curious to see who will show up at this anniversary show. The sport of people-watching can get interesting here. Of course the art is always mad fab interesting too.

BLVD Gallery: “Pneumonia, Isolation, and Disorder” by Deuce 7
Deuce 7 is a graffiti artist from Minneapolis who is also part of a burgeoning underground subculture of Freight train hoppers. In 2007 Deuce7 made a trip to NYC to do graffiti and experience the Mecca of Street Art. After 2 short weeks he had taken the city by storm and was profiled in the Village Voice with the tagline “Is a guy from Minnesota the new king of New York street art?” A very impressive achievement for a previously unknown graffiti artist from the midwest in a city renowned for it’s dislike of intruding outsiders.This will be his first solo show of drawings and paintings on the West Coast.

Stylus Salon and Gallery: Group Art Show curated by Ghost Gallery
2321 Second Avenue
Five local artists are showing works here. I am not familiar with this space or any of the artists, so I can't vouch for whether this will be worth crossing the street from an art appreciation standpoint. However, the announcement for Friday's show opening promises a full bar, food, and music so if the art isn't great you can at least get a little somethin' somethin' (nosh or drink) while you stroll around the salon.

Free Sheep Foundation
3rd and Battery (24oo 3rd ave)
Friday is the first opening of this temporary space leased by the Free Sheep Foundation. The FSF(?) is headed up by the mastermind behind the Bridge Motel project and The Belmont wake: D.K Pan.

The show includes installations from ntg, garek druss, dk pan, static invasion & scntfc, karn junkinsmith, and nko, as well as a collection of "
exquisite corpse" works created during a collaborative art-in of street artists and their peeps. Friday's show opening will also include musical performances by Aubrey Birdwell, Locate, and Heavy Teeth. ( Sorry, I have no idea what style of tunes to expect.)

Suite 100 Gallery: Oceanic
Suite 100 Gallery specializes in themed group shows. Expect to see a variety of artists and styles and media when you check out their monthly show. July's Oceanic show is subtitled "nautical adventures and underwater realms" and is curated by the popular artist Ninjagrl.

This gallery stays open late so I usually make it my last Belltown gallery stop of the evening before eating some yummy goodness at the Buddha Bar Thai restaurant next door. However, now that the McLeod Residence is open to all, their lounge may be the new final stop in Belltown before tripping and skipping my way home.

Ducky Debrief

So that was fun! A few lessons learned:

  • Smaller goes faster
  • Weighted-bottom ducks suck
  • Normal sized ducks get stuck
  • Wear flip flops (see next)
  • Plan to nudge your ducky along
  • Hippos don't float as well as ducks
  • Get a smaller duck
  • Sharpies work great for dressing up the duck

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Rubber Ducky Regatta (reggae) tonight

Bring your rubber ducky to Cal Anderson Park tonight by 7pm and join the Rubber Duck Regatta in the fountain. The wizard-of-fun Corprew (organizer of the eclipse sing-along on Teletubby Hill in February) is at it again, pulling together free and silly and fun sh*t in the neighborhood park/third place.
The rules:
1. Ducks get put into the fountain.
2. Ducks float downstream through all the rocks and bricks.
3. Eventually a duck reaches the end.

Get in the mood: sing and dance in a giant tub along with me and Ernie and all our Sesame Street friends. C'mon, you know you wanna.
"Duck, rubber duck, duck, rubber duck, duck..."

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Cory Doctorow At Univ Bookstore Tonight

Mr. Boing Boing will be reading tonight at the University Bookstore, as part of the Clarion West writers workshop instructor reading series. Cory Doctorow will likely be reading from his latest publication Little Brother, a novel for the adolescent market.

Doctorow is the author of several fiction and non-fiction books, including the fun and amusing Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom (2003). Down and Out is good summer sci-fi read: short, witty, and doesn't require too much thinking.

However, I'm a little gunshy of favored authors jumping into the youth market. Take Michael Chabon. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (2000) turned me on to his other works (Wonder Boys, 1995 and A Model World, 1991) so when Chabon's Summerland (for tween market) was released in 2002 I bought the hardback version at an airport. Hardback. Airport. Yep. Wish I could say hauling it around was worth it. I DO like and read children's books, but Summerland? Bah. It felt like it was written with the screen in mind.

It will be interesting to see if Doctorow is able to adjust gracefully to a younger audience, something Chabon struggled with.

Cory Doctorow Reading and Book Signing
Tuesday July 8th, 7 pm
University Book Store - U District

Monday, July 7, 2008

hanging out

Originally uploaded by

I had originally intented to shoot some graff Sunday evening in Sodo. However, upon revisiting in daylight hours the site I saw in darkness, it wasn't as compelling as I thought it might be.

So Instead of shooting graff I played around with the tracks and the long shadows and the colors and lighting at pre-sunset. I love this time of day with the warm soft light and long shadows. It's hard to completely mess up a shot when the light so forgiving. Nature's candlelight, yes?

In this picture I was going for a peace sign shadow. Instead, it looks like I've been hung hanged from the neck until dead. Huh. (That's classic spaghetti western lingo, yo.)
Not what I intended, but interesting anyway!

I've been on a streak taking shadow pics when the opportunity arises. Maybe I'll have a series pulled together in a couple of years.
A few other shadow pics here.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

UNKLE is not dead yet

Yay! As predicted, the split of James Lavelle and Richard File did not lay UNKLE to eternal rest. ("Given the history of Unkle, I'm not sure it is quite yet time to say RIP.")

A new UNKLE album is due out this year and is "a collection of eclectic songs from UNKLE and various collaborators that were inspired by the moving picture." [unkle]

Included in the End Titles...Stories for Film release is a collaboration with Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age. He provides vocals for "Chemical" which was previously an instrumental-only track titled "Chemistry" on War Stories. Stereogum says "Homme reportedly had words prepped for the track, but couldn't get things together in time" for War Stories release so UNKLE released it as an instrumental.

"Chemistry" stands well on its own as an instrumental: the drive and momentum are compelling. The Homme vocals on "Chemical" add another dimension without diminishing the original. It's different, but no less compelling.

Give a listen to "Chemical" featuring Josh Homme and see what you think.

End Title...Stories for Film hits the UK July 7th and lands in the Americas Sept 2nd.

The most-visited post here...

Is this stupid, gossipy fluff bit on the engagement of a French "singer" to a French graff artist. 23% of site traffic since April came from searches on variations of the couple's names.

Drat. Faux hipster celebrity worship takes over my little corner.

Got a sour taste now? Let's cleanse the palate with this pic. It could have been taken 40 years ago. However, I captured it in May 2008.