Part of the job of being a parent is that you have to talk to your children. When they ask you questions, you have to be able to provide them reasoned answers or research the topic and return with reasoned answers. One of the questions you do not have to indulge is "Are we there yet?" because by answering it, you deny your children the opportunity to develop and apply their skills of observation and deduction. It also saves you from having to say for the fortieth time, "NO! DOES IT LOOK LIKE WE ARE THERE? NO! IF WE WERE THERE, WE WOULD BE THERE, AND NOT HERE! GOD!" Anyway, the other day rather out of the blue (which is how many child queries arrive), Miss Ten asked me what the phrase "having personal integrity" meant. Instead of consulting some televised hack like Dr. Phil, I thought I would just wing a response. Also, I didn't know where the remote to the TV was at the time.

Me: Hmm. "Having personal integrity" means that your actions -- all the things you say and do -- are a mirror of your values -- the things you believe are important in how to think and behave as a good person in life. That they mesh. That they support each other.

Miss Ten: What's the big deal in that?

Me: Because it's surprisingly hard to do. Sometimes it means you have to stand apart from a group, or even your family and friends, to do what you think is the right thing.

M10: Why would doing the right thing be a problem to anyone?

Me: Not everyone agrees on what the "right thing" is. Like, at all.

M10: Well, then how do you know what is right?

Me: Well, the old Golden Rule is a pretty good thing. "Treat others how you would like to be treated." That works.

M10: Why doesn't it work, though?

Me: (sighing) Well...it does. It mostly does. But I think it's very easy to forget. You have to really work sometimes to be patient and honest and all those other qualities that are helpful.

M10: But, say that everyone is mean. Why would you still be nice?

Me: How other people act towards you shouldn't change what your core values are. If you believe that being kind is a better way to be than being mean, you have to still be kind even in tough circumstances.

M10: But what if it doesn't make any difference to anyone?

Me: I know this is hard for you to understand at your age. What I can tell you is this: every single time you act in a way that isn't true to your values, it kind of puts this little hole in your heart.

(Miss Ten raises her eyebrows in surprise.)

Me: Not literally; I mean that when you do something that you know is wrong or that hurts someone else or is dishonest or whatever, it puts this little notch in you. It's called cognitive dissonance -- something that you know isn't right and sticks around in your brain and bothers you until you work it out. Each time you don't act with integrity, it adds to this pile of experiences that can add up to make you feel really lousy about yourself and the world. You might not even realize where it all came from until one day you think that everything just feels wrong, and then you have to trace back in your mind how that all came to be. If you do your best to be a person with integrity, no matter how rotten people can be or how unfair life can be, you can say, "Well, at least I know I worked hard to be a good person, and I did the best I could for myself and others." It buys you a sense of peace inside that is priceless as you get older.

M10: Do we have any ice cream?

Me: Mint chocolate chip!

M10: OH YAY!!

(painting by Derek Erdman; photo by Kitty Page Amsbry)


I'm so EXCITED for my Seattle punk pals, wimps! The trio (Rachel Ratner, Matt Nyce, and Dave Ramm) have SO MUCH STUFF going on!


The Flaming Lips are perhaps the last great music business anomaly. In a harsh economic climate and in an outrageously competitive creative field, financial success is often found by the most generic of artists, who offer up the same tired sonic templates over and over again to the prime demographic, who lap it up in an endless loop of suckdom. Weirdos need not apply. It is the strangest of things that The Flaming Lips, who are the Weirdest of Weirdo Bands in their psychedelic way, have maintained their relationship with mega-giant music corporation Warner Brothers since 1990. Their crazy-busy recording and touring schedules have assured that the Lips now make more than a comfortable living, which gives them the freedom to do all kinds of wonderfully bizarre projects, spectacular stage shows, and keeps them from having to toil at a chain restaurant working the fry basket ever again. That job is what lead Lip Wayne Coyne did in his hometown of Oklahoma City for 11 years, even surviving a violent armed robbery at the Long John Silver's where he worked as the The Flaming Lips struggled to find an audience.

The story behind The Flaming Lips' very improbable success is a fascinating one, told in Bradley Beesley's 2005 documentary, "The Fearless Freaks." In honor of the Lips playing at Seattle's annual Capitol Hill Block Party yesterday, the Northwest Film Forum scheduled a showing of the film in the afternoon, and invited Wayne Coyne to stop by to say a few words beforehand. The opportunity to see this movie on a proper screen was more than enough, but the added bonus of an intimate Q&A with someone as cool as Coyne made my attendance a MUST-BE-THERE kind of thing. He showed up right on time, wearing a flower necklace and a button from local band La Luz, and was kind and gracious to all those who wanted to talk and get their pictures taken with him. (As always, click on the photos to enlarge, and click on the Flickr set link to see more!)

(Wayne Coyne Northwest Film Forum 7/28/13 Flickr set)


Yesterday was the opening day of Seattle's annual Capitol Hill Block Party, a 3-day music festival in the heart of the city's hippest neighborhood known for a young crowd and crazy PARTAY TYME atmosphere. I was not going to be photographing the fest in a profeshunul capacity this year, but did not want to miss a Friday set from one of my fave fave bands, The Intelligence. My daughter, Miss Ten, is also a big fan of the band but had never been able to see them play live, as an all-ages gig is rather rare for them. So we headed out together to the Block Party's Vera Stage, wading through a sea of sweaty hipster youth with a couple of old point n' shoot cameras in hand, excited as can be.

We were able to stand right at the photo pit barrier front and center for the whole set, which was very awesome, since I am short and Miss Ten is shorter. The closed-to-traffic intersection of 11th & Pike quickly filled up with fans, and the curious others who then BECAME fans! It was such a treat for me to see the band again (they played at the Chop Suey last April, and Neumos in June), but it was extra cool to be able to attend this time with Miss Ten. I thought she did a great job of taking photos, and she even shot a bit of a video, too! Please to enjoy her work!

(All photos C. Spellman)


It is a very interesting sociological study, I think. No matter what thrift store I go to, and no matter where it is in America, when I get to the record album section, I will nearly 100% of the time find ALL of these:

1. Barbra Streisand;

2. Henry Mancini;

3. Herb Alpert;

4. Engelbert Humperdinck;

5. and a veritable slew of old Evangelical Christian recordings.

What can we learn from this? The younger generations don't particularly enjoy schmaltz or being preached at in song, I guess. Anyway, I came up with a boatload of the latter for you, made even more divine from the awesome hair and clothing our Jesus jammers rocked! Please to enjoy!

"Kiss my pinky ring and wipe your brow with my groovin' paisley tie, and be healed!"


What a bountiful bonanza of records at the Woodinville Value Village this past weekend -- so much so that I will have to make this a two-parter! There's hardly anything I like better than digging through the dusty old bin to bring you amazing albums of the ANCIENT TIMES! Please to enjoy!

I am fascinated that there was a Vol. 2. Although it does have a kind of James Bond flair...


Oh, MAN! This weekend at the VV provided SUCH a bounty of worthy goodness (or badness, however you like to see it), that I think I have to break it into THREE separate posts! Let us begin this evening with another installment from the Knick-Knack section! Please to enjoy!

What does one exactly do, anyway, to win the "I AM A CHAMPION OF GOD!" trophy? And how did these two end up at the thrift store? Were there NOT ENOUGH WORTHY CHAMPIONS?? And why the stars and stripes? Were there not enough AMURRICN champions?? Why do I feel like I feel this whole thing is going to start shooting fireworks and Billy Graham, Jimmy Swaggart, and Pat Robertson are going to appear from a hole in the floor surrounded by red, white, and blue smoke? AIEEEE!


As my mother recalls, I asked to go see the Beatles when they played in Milwaukee in September of 1964. I had already seen them on TV many times, had "She Loves You" on 45, and listened to my red transistor radio constantly, the airwaves of which they ruled at the time. Since I was not even out of diapers yet, the idea of me attending a concert was never entertained whatsoever. I don't remember asking to go, but I sure do remember listening to WOKY-AM, their DJs breathless with Beatle updates, and thinking, "The Beatles are in Milwaukee!", knowing that Milwaukee was not too far from where I lived, and just longing to be where the Beatles were.

There is no possible way that it could have been imagined then, by me or anyone at all ever, that almost 49 years later, I would finally be where a Beatle was, listening to Beatles songs performed live, accompanied by my ten-year-old daughter, also a Beatle fan. In this context, thinking back about listening to that little radio and feeling such a strong connection with the music and then zooming fast-forward more than half a lifetime, it is a very personal, emotional thing. I thought about this a lot as I sat in my white folding chair on Safeco Field in Seattle last night as Paul McCartney performed, and as I scanned some of the nearly-50,000 other fan faces there. Every single one of them has some kind of story like mine, whether they are 80 or 8 -- I'm not all that unique. It is a testament to the powerful and lasting good that McCartney and his bandmates brought to the world via their songs and spirits that millions have woven them into their lives so very much. Seeing Paul McCartney isn't a nostalgia trip. It is more an affirmation, an acknowledgement of the joy we can find in life, and no less.


Talk about out-of-the-blue things happening in life! Last April, as I was sitting in the dirt at Austin Psych Fest deleting some photos off my camera and waiting for the next band to start, I decided to check my email on mah cellular phone device. A name that seemed very familiar but that I didn't instantly place (blame fest fatigue and coffee lack) had sent me a message. I opened it up and read a very sweet letter saying that this person had randomly come across some of my "found footage" music video efforts on YouTube, really dug them, and wanted to know if I would consider making a couple of videos for his band. Why sure, I said, I love making them...can you maybe tell me a little more about your band and maybe send me a link to some of your music so I can get an idea of how I can help?

A reply came back, which caused me to facepalm myself in a "d'oh" realization, which I'm sure looked funny to the groovers walking by me at APF. Of course, Britt Daniel is in Spoon and Divine Fits! DURRRR, Me, DURRRR. Anyway, after I got home and finished up my APF photos and coverage, I went right to work on the project, which was for me to find, choose, and re-edit old public domain film footage to make lyric videos for two new Divine Fits songs, "Chained To Love" and "Ain't That The Way," due for release in the summer. It was exciting and challenging, with lots of ups and downs (up: after scouring the interwebs for hours, finding a great clip to use; down: getting almost done with a final edit and having a system crash and losing most of the edit points). I was, of course, very concerned that whatever I did was something that the band would like and be proud of. I wish Britt had given himself a director/editor credit too, because his creative input and tireless encouragement the entire way through the project was invaluable to me.

So today is the day! The videos are completed and have been released, in support of a double-A-side 12" single coming out July 23rd (the songs are also already available on iTunes, Amazon, and all the other digital outlets). Please click right HERE to go to Merge Records, where you can get all the info you need to buy the songs, watch the videos, order cool t-shirts designed by Michael Carney, and find out more about when and where Divine Fits will be playing this summer.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Merge Records and Divine Fits!!!


Dear Alice Cooper™,

I watched your new Fuse interview video on the YouTubes today. First, I would like to sincerely congratulate you on being able to have enough music industry clout still that someone wants to film your opinions on things. After so many years, that is a genuine accomplishment, especially since you have not had a Top 10 American chart hit since 1987, and chose to title your 2011 Top 25 album, Welcome To My Nightmare 2, after a record you made in 1975. Let me now provide a link to your Fuse video for our dear Internet readers:

Alice Cooper Slams Lumineers and Mumford & Sons

I would first like to state that I am not at all a fan of the Lumineers or Mumford & Sons; totally and utterly not my thing. I agree in some sense with you that these are not "rock 'n roll" bands, but that's not really important. I would like to remind you that you, also, are not "rock 'n roll," and never have been. You, my eyeliner-wearing-and-black-hair-dyed friend, are an entertainer, rather than the outcast rebel soul you attribute to "real" rockers. There is no shame in this, really. You can stand proudly with fellow theatrical successes KISS, Marilyn Manson, and Madonna at the bank doors, carrying on the age-old traditions of vaudeville and traveling freak shows, while carrying out bags of cash from gape-mouthed proles. You are all successful "rock stars," but it's only because you understood that showmanship and manufactured rebellion fills a societal need, providing a safety vent for frustrated "normal" people. It's harmless fun. No one really believes for a second that you are all that scary and dangerous.

I remember "the chicken incident" and all the gory theatrics back in the day. It certainly got you the attention you needed. People love that stuff! You wrote some good singles, too -- "School's Out" and "Eighteen" and "Elected" and "No More Mr. Nice Guy" are well-written teen anthems, and were appreciated by me as something more fun to listen to on AM radio than, say, "You're Havin' My Baby." But, hey, you also wrote "Only Women Bleed," which should cause you to cringe in shame forever. Anyway, my point is that you definitely wrote some fine pop hits, smartly capitalizing on youthful angst, and not so much pulling from your own golf-playing, born-again, Conservative reality, despite your painful flirtations with the predictable "rock 'n roll" drug and alcohol addictions.

In this video, you once again know how to play to your audience: mostly aging white males who, instead of needing to brofist about their crummy high school principals, now need to whine about "those damn kids" and how they are all weak and entitled losers. If those youngins would just eat meat and drive big gas-guzzling trucks pretending that is outlaw behavior, then everything would be fine!

I would also like to remind you that the most uncool, aging thing EVER to do is to whine about the younger generation and how you don't "get" them, and how you are so much better and cooler than them. And name-checking Foo Fighters and Green Day as "real" rockers? Holy living crap.

Game over, sir. Tee up.


When I was growing up in small-town Wisconsin in the '60s and '70s, my mom had a stock reply for whenever I would whine to her about being sooooooo bored, which was fairly frequent:

"Well, I'm not on the Entertainment Committee."

Ooh, I hated that! At the time, I thought she was being callous to my obvious suffering and neglectful in her responsibility to do absolutely everything for me...like moms are supposed to, right? I had no real appreciation then that she was always busy running the household, cleaning and scrubbing and washing and ironing and cooking meals from scratch, supporting our family business, AND added a full-time job on top of that when I turned nine years old. She wasn't being mean; she seriously didn't have the time to figure out how to please me every single second of the day, after I got tired of "I Love Lucy" reruns or no one in the neighborhood was available to play. She couldn't take hours out of her day to take me shopping or to the movies or to a playdate that would be at least an hour's round-trip drive, if the weather was good. But I would stamp my feet and puff black smoke and keep whining anyway just in case I could wear her down. Sometimes I could, but most of the time she would go back to what she was doing, leaving me to pout alone. And for that, I thank her a thousand times over.

Boredom, I now believe, is a monumentally ridiculous problem. Most of the world's population never gets the grand opportunity to be bored; they are too busy working just to get by day-to-day. Boredom is an indulgence, and a shameful waste of precious time. If you find yourself bored, it's time to make some changes in the way you go about life, son. Let me explain what I've learned from being such a Whiny McBorederstein that I would sit and weep about it, to now, where being bored doesn't even occur to me, no matter how languorous or routine or dull my surroundings might be.

1. Time is something to grab on to and make the most of; not an annoyance to fill, like dirt into a grave. What's the easiest thing to do if you are bored? Head straight for some pre-made, non-interactive entertainment parcels on TV. Man, did I watch a lot of TV back in the day! A LOT. I finally watched so much TV that I think I overdosed on it. It wasn't entertaining or satisfying anymore; it could no longer keep me engaged. More importantly, I realized that I had probably spent years of my life sitting and staring at someone else's creative work rather than making anything myself. That little truth didn't feel so good once it sunk in, and after that, TV had to work its ASS off to get me to even turn it on again. Just ask yourself, why am I flipping on the TV set (or cruising the Internets, or getting sucked into an alternate gaming-world reality) for hours and hours and HOURS every day? Am I just filling time? Could I be doing something that would be more fulfilling? If the answer is "WELL, YES," I can't tell you what that something might be because that's your deal to figure out, but you definitely can start thinking about your options. You have lots of them; wouldn't you really rather take an hour out from watching another "Real Iron Chef Cupcake Wife Swap Wipeout" to learn to play the guitar, for instance? I DID! SO CAN YOU! TWANGGG!

2. Being bored gives you the opportunity to daydream, which has some surprisingly powerful benefits. Do you appreciate your brain? You really should, because it is very smart. Your brain likes to do things! When you give it a chance to not be fed (or overfed) on external stimuli, you give it the freedom to let it take a walk off leash, so to speak. Giving your mind space to wander for awhile will often lead to creative solutions to problems or flashes of inspiration and imagination that no other process outside of actual sleep dreaming may be able to access. Daydreaming can also lead you to think about some of the challenging things in your life that you may be ignoring at your peril, and may help you to see your way clear to fixing them once and for all. This is all very awesome.

3. Being bored allows you to pay attention to detail, and to appreciate your surroundings, whatever they may be. When you have nowhere to go and nothing to do, when there's no agenda to follow nor any distractions, you can allow yourself to observe things that you normally would pass by. Instead of letting time feel like an oppressive foe, let it become more fluid and relaxed, the way it could be when you were very small and everything seemed so fascinating and new. Listen to and identify the sounds, smells, and sights all around you. Hold and touch a fallen leaf or flower petal or single blade of grass and really pay attention to its beauty, just as it is. People-watch as if you were an alien being. Get down on the floor and get a cat's-eye view of your apartment. Read a book you've always been meaning to read, and revel in the author's unique sense of pace and rhythm. Paint a picture, even if you can't paint. Look at the gorgeous grain pattern of the wood on your floor. I'm serious. When you become an obsessive observer of everything in life -- the good, bad, strange, and lovely -- I think in a more adult way, you fall in love with the world all over again. It's quite amazing.

More than anything else, it was the opportunity of boredom that led me to achieve more than I believed I could on my own, and made me more responsible for my own growth and happiness. There really is no Entertainment Committee out there, but you don't need one anyway. You've got everything you need right inside you already.

(Mom and Kooby, January 1974.)


You know what I like? I like being RIGHT. Now, OK, I don't need to be right ALL the time, but MAN OH MAN, it sure feels good when the anticipation of a super-smokin'-hot night out on the town came true in full and fine fruition. In my show preview, I made many exclamations as to just why I thought last Friday's show at Neumos featuring Dude York, The Fucking Eagles, and Oblivians would be a must-see for any garage punk fans, and they all were CORRECT, NYAH NYAH NYAH! I am delighted to say that I wasn't the only sonic Nostradamus in house -- the house was packed full of fans spanning a good four decades in age, all with smiles on their shiny, sweaty, beautiful faces.


It's far easier to understand how children make mistakes navigating their own emotions and behavioral choices than it is to give adults, who hopefully have learned from years of experience, any kind of similar pass. Particularly, it's almost impossible to fathom how anyone who chooses as their career to guide, instruct, and nurture children can abuse that trust. But it happens. I believe that the vast majority of teachers are good people of strength and integrity, and work very, very hard to make the lives of their students better. But there are some bad teachers, and there are some whose behavior is unforgivable. Unfortunately, one of my children experienced one of the latter teachers many years ago, and struggled for years to shake off what she'd done.

At the time, I was pretty stressed out, juggling the needs of a preschooler, a grade-schooler, and a middle-schooler, all in a new town with no friends, family, or social support network. Perhaps it took me longer to realize what was happening to my child than it should have; perhaps I should have took more decisive action earlier. I guess sometimes you just can't believe what you are seeing and hearing, because it seems so outrageous and you want to believe you are mistaken. Finally, near the end of the school year, the teacher's actions towards my child became so flagrantly horrible -- throwing up her hands and telling my child "You are lazy! Stop being so stupid! I give up on you," right in front of friends, other parents, and me!  -- and watching that small face crumple and eyes fill with tears, that I took action. As to not further humiliate my kid in public, I chose to speak to the principal. He listened, nodded...and did nothing. I never found out why. His inaction, his choice to allow a bully teacher in his school made it impossible for us to remain, especially after finding out we weren't the only family affected, and this had been happening for years to other children

My final call went to the teacher herself, one of the hardest phone conversations I have ever had. If you have children, I don't have to tell you that when someone hurts your child deliberately you burn with an anger and hurt so deep it makes the fires of hell look like the weak glow from a nightlight bulb. I wanted to screech and scream and swear until my throat was raw. I wanted to pound the phone into the wall until it was dust. I was truly shaking with rage. But I wanted my words to be heard; controlling my emotions would ensure she wouldn't hang up on me and dismiss me, so that is what I did. I reminded her of her slashing words towards my child, her impatience, her yelling in class, her pounding on his table, her pointed cruelty over the months. I told her how my child, sunny in nature, sweet and friendly, became withdrawn and dejected to the point where school became a place of pain and shame and fear. I told her how she had damaged my child, and asked her how she ever could have done what she did. She was silent. I told her she had no business being in a classroom, ever, and that we would be leaving the school to try to rebuild our lives, now with a child who was consumed with worry that rejection from other teachers would be how school was forever.

She finally mumbled out a reply. "I...didn't realize." My head nearly exploded. What a goddamn LIE. She was a serial bully, picking out a couple of kids per year to take the brunt of her anger, usually the ones who were shy or quiet and unlikely to say anything, as to not cause trouble. Oh, she knew very well what she was and what she'd done, but wasn't going to take me on. She was going to take my call, listen, and then hang up and keep doing the same thing after our family left. 

It took about four years before my child wasn't frozen in fear with schoolwork, terrified to even begin to try, lest it brought on more shame. Four years.

Fast forward from the time we left the school to now, about eight years. My kid is doing pretty well now, likes going to school, likes the teachers, has friends, all the regular stuff you hope for, so that's the most important thing. I had wondered over the years if the awful teacher had retired or had been fired. My question was answered the other day as I dropped off one of my other kids at a camp renting the school's grounds for the summer. Six feet away from me was the teacher. She was still there. Amazing how old wounds can be open up again so quickly...I immediately felt agitated and ready to go into full fight mode, surrounded by another group of happy, giggling kids and their parents.

What was I going to do if she acknowledged me, or talked to me? I kept running it through my mind, tumbling with possibilities. In a world with no consequences, I admit that I would've had great pleasure delivering to her a delicious and weighty knuckle sandwich. OK, not realistic. Would I tell her how what she had done ruined years of my child's school life and self-esteem, and how her name in our family is associated with nothing but disgust? That would cause a scene for sure, would be upsetting to my other child and everyone else in earshot, and could result in my kid having to leave a very fun camp program. What was the right thing to do? She had definitely spotted me.

The right thing to do, again, was to think of what was best for the others. I decided that if she had the BALLS to talk to me, I would simply tell her to not address me, ever, and I would walk away calmly. It would be horribly hard for me to do, but I would do it. She would know she was not EVER going to be OK with us, but no one else would be involved. But it never happened. My kid ran up to me and gave me a hug, and when I turned around, the teacher had hightailed it out of sight. Smart, for once in her pathetic life.

In looking back at the whole thing, I deeply regret that I wasn't proactive enough on my child's behalf earlier, wanting not to seem entitled or that I thought my kid was deserving of special treatment. I should have gone into the classroom more -- I should have insisted on it, even though the teacher strongly discouraged it (another red flag). I should've insisted on a classroom switch right away when I felt something was really wrong. I should have asked for every penny and more of the tuition refunded, and even more to pay for counseling. I didn't do things right, and could offer excuses that, of course, don't mean anything in the end. The best I can do is advise you to be more on the ball than I was as a parent, should you find yourself facing a bully sitting in front of the classroom.

The best advice I can give myself is to enjoy the fact that while I still have that old semi-buried parental rage towards the teacher, my kid is now perfectly OK. Not angry, doesn't think about it very much at all now, and understands, after much kindness and patience shown by other wonderful teachers, that everything is going to be just fine; no, IS just fine. The best revenge, and one that doesn't land Ol' One-Two-Punch Mom in the pokey, yes? Yes.


For any Seattle-area music fans into garage rock, garage punk, garage soul, or IN FACT anyone who likes to lie down in an actual concrete garage floor and do the Worm to The Sonics' "Psycho" every so often just for fun, Friday, July 12, 2013 is a BIG DAY. Shout it from every rooftop, cats and catties -- Oblivians are coming to Neumos!!!

Why is this such a big stinkin' deal, you ask, you sassy thangs? Let me count just a few of the ways:

1. Because Oblivians, consisting of Greg Cartwright (Compulsive Gamblers, Reigning Sound), Jack Yarber (Compulsive Gamblers, Tennessee Tearjerkers), and Eric Friedl (The Bad Times; co-founder of Goner Records), put out a handful of now-classic three-chord-bash-punk-meets-Southern-R&B records in the mid-'90s, rawer that sandpaper on a sunburn, making them beloved heroes of Le Garage in the time when grunge was grabbing the bigger rock spotlight. They broke up after a few years of excellence and all went on to do other great things, but...OBLIVIANS!! HELL YES!

Oblivians, "Kick Your Ass"

2. Because the band just recorded their first new album in FIFTEEN DAMN YEARS, called "Desperation" (In The Red), and it is one my fave records of the year.

Oblivians, "Desperation" (full album playlist)

3. Because there isn't any band in Seattle on Friday night that is going to be more fun, more authentic, and more inspiring for you to be all rip-your-shirt-off-and-chug-some crazy than these guys. I'm telling you the FACTS, and you should listen, because you love rock n' roll like I do. We are really, really lucky to be able to see these guys play live, and you don't want to wait another fifteen years, do ya? I wouldn't be anywhere else. Look!

Oblivians, "Pill Popper," live 2013

Add in support from our slammin' locals The Fucking Eagles (one of my favorite band names of all time) and Dude York and this is one of those Best. Night. Ever! kind of deals.

OBLIVIANS!!! HELL YES!!! See you there!

Oblivians, The Fucking Eagles, Dude York
7/12/13, 8PM, $15 (21+)
925 E. Pike Street
Seattle, Washington 98122


...that this headline would be so crudely funny now. BAHAHA, oh my.

"It's twice the fun and half the work...and doesn't everything taste three times as good?"

Forgive me. BAAHAHAH!


Oh, these aural outcasts! I never, and I mean NEVER, fail to come up with some interesting finds from the "permanent musical banishment" section in the thrift stores. Bless ye, you musical misfits! Please to enjoy!

Ol' T.G. here may be 3/4 lonely, but I'm betting he's 1/4 LOVIN' HIS MIRROR!


It is always about this time in the summer when I get such a longing to take a road trip. In fact, exactly five years and one day ago, I wrote this on Popthomology (which was then charmingly known as "Diarrhea Island")
The best kind of roadtrip is taken with just two: two great friends or one harmonious couple. A convertible is the preferred vehicle to have, but not totally necessary. There is just something fabulous about saying "Where do you want to go?" and answering "I HAVE NO IDEA!" and giggling as you hit the interstate. You see the country from a whole different perspective when you are not traveling for any purpose other than to maybe see some new stuff and spend some time together. Your eyes open up to the small details, and the pressures of daily life fade away. You pull over and find somewhere to eat when you are hungry, find a motel to sleep at when you are tired. If some weird little shop looks cool you can check it out, you can even pull over and watch some local Little Leaguers battle it out in some tiny town. You can dip your toes in a clear cool river, watch a movie in some big city you've never been in before, and eat some really fabulous triple-berry pie in a diner run by the Amish. You can just keep riding down the road, listening to music, and talk and talk.

My favorite song about the open-hearted joy of the road trip is "Anywhere," by Detroit's own garage lads The Hentchmen, on their 2004 album, "Form Follows Function." "Anywhere" is always the right answer to "where do you want to go?" when you are with someone you really like, right? I thought I would make a little video for this wonderful song using found 8mm road trip videos from a couple of cool '70s families. I hope they have fond memories of their vacations, and I hope you are inspired to make a few new memories this summer, too.

The Hentchmen, "Anywhere"


I don't know if it was my new glasses, generalized paranoia, or what, but as I made another thrift store run today, I SWEAR all this weirdo knick-knacks all looked like they were FREAKING OUT. There were so many of them that I don't think it's coincidence. After all, how freaked out would YOU be to leave your home of many (many) years just to land on a white metal shelf with a bunch of people picking you up and touching you and staring at you? Dang.

Well, anyway, please to enjoy and GOOD LUCK SLEEPING NOW!






It's that time of the night here, just before 10PM on Independence Day. The local fireworks displays are going off over Lake Washington, and Mr21 kindly offered to walk Miss Ten closer to the water to see them while I stay at home tending to my recovering-from-surgery dog. I don't mind missing the fireworks, really -- after about 50 years of them I can say that I can take 'em or leave 'em. Don't get me wrong -- I think they are lovely and fun and all but the big sparkly booms in the sky aren't my favorite fireworks. The ones that make me smile inside are the ones I remember with such fondness from my childhood: the very low-tech sparkler sticks and the silly carbon pellet "snakes."

Oh, man, it was SO exciting to get your hands on a couple red-white-and-blue boxes of sparklers! We couldn't even wait until dark most years to try them out. I can remember running with them all around the lawn, sparks trailing behind me, pretending I was a fairy or a rocket-blasting astronaut. When it got dark, we'd try to write our names in the air with them before they burnt out. Having an 8-letter first name was hard then. We'd stick them in Barbie hands and G.I. Joe Jeeps or plunge them into anthills. One of us would always forget and touch the hot metal of the stick and get burned, but it wasn't too bad.

I might have liked those dumb snakes even better. Why? They are about as unspectacular as it gets, I suppose -- they don't make a big noise, they don't go up in the air, and they definitely don't sparkle. But I thought that they were SO COOL the way you could never tell exactly how long each one would get before it would burn out, how it would twist and turn. It seemed kinda creepy and black-magical. I could light snakes all day and be happy, until my mom or dad would come and yell at me for leaving those little round black burn marks on the concrete front step.

Add in a good Wisconsin barbeque with brats, corn-on-the-cob, potato chips, homemade baked beans, homemade German potato salad, pickles, and watermelon, and a small local parade with handsome firemen throwing handfuls of candy and gum at we kids who would scramble to pick up every piece, and it was as good of a day as you could ever have.



With all the hijinks and shenanigans that go on in the good ol' USA USA USA, you'd think we cornered the market on strangeness. But GUESS WHAT? Other countries are weird, too! I find this both a relief and a delight. Tonight I am bringing you three worthy videos from England, France, and Japan that should give you a few minutes of entertainment before figuring out what the hell you are going to do with the dog tomorrow night when all those damn 4th of July fireworks start going off and he starts peeing and pooping all over the house and eats the furniture clean through. Please to enjoy!

This guy, known in the Manchester area as "The Treeman," should perhaps reconsider his relationship with his guitar. If you are that angry about your musical flubs, you should maybe take up the pillow bongos or something. Warning: Many swears, so NSFW or kids or Grandma Churchalot.

The Return of The Angriest Guitar Player In The World!

The French kitchen worker was filmed everyday being unpleasantly surprised by his co-worker. I don't understand two things: how he kept getting just as scared each time, and why he didn't punch the daylights out of the guy after, like, the third time.

Cuisto Fait Mon Peur

Finally, we actually DO know that Japan is the weirdest country in the world. Now, I would just like to know WHY. "Milk Seafood," lol.

Ultimate Weird Japanese Commercials Collection


Everybody's got a story to tell, right? We all do, for as fortunate as some of us may be, no one gets through life without some measure of heartbreak and difficulty. We often measure character by the way people respond to tragedies in their lives, admiring those who show strength and positivity. Sharing stories of personal challenge is as old as humankind, for it has great use. For the storyteller, there is the opportunity to express strong emotions, to be validated, to gain sympathy and comfort and perhaps desperately needed assistance. For the listeners, we are given the opportunity to show empathy, to understand more about an experience we don't have...or perhaps we do have, and we then can share commonalities. We train our ears to listen and our hearts to open, and if we can, build our own characters by offering help to someone who is in need. But there are other less-altruistic aspects to listening to another person's tale of woe: the baser reflex of gawking at a horror we don't have to deal with, feeling the shock without having to take any consequences, and reveling in the old adage, "Someone's always got it worse."

I was just two-and-a-half when the original long-running (first on radio, then TV) NBC series "Queen For A Day"  went off the air, but the concept certainly remained part of popular culture. Sometimes we little girls would pretend to be "Queen For A Day," dressing up in a paper crown, using a tablecloth for a royal cape, and perhaps a big serving spoon for a scepter. I knew that the "Queen" was all-powerful and that she got all her wishes for a whole day, which seemed like the coolest thing ever. Who wouldn't want to be "Queen For A Day?" What I didn't realize was that it wasn't a typical game show -- it was more a strange combination of "To Tell The Truth," "The Price Is Right," a talk show, and "Peyton Place." A handful of everyday women would appear and tell their (short) stories of hardship to host Jack Bailey, a thin-mustachioed former World's Fair barker, as he would try to keep them moving along in a rather unnaturally cheerful fashion. The studio audience would then at the end of the show clap the loudest for the woman whose sob story seemed most deserving, and she would then be given a bouquet of roses, a crown, and an assortment of the sponsors' kitchen gadgetry as a bonus.

I watched this entire episode from March of 1958 of "Queen For A Day" the other day (one of only eight that remain -- the rest were erased). It was probably the first time I had seen it, for this would not have been a program my mother would have watched. Mired as we have been for years in confessional reality TV and exploitative talk shows and the 15 minutes of fame so many seem to crave, seeing "Queen For A Day" was genuinely an entirely different experience. It is completely bizarre, jumping from a tired-looking, twin-set-wearing mother's stoic plea for a hospital gurney so that her son with polio could go outside for fresh air, to a fashion show of current ladies' styles, to the amazing merits of a deep freezer, to another story of a young mother whose husband was shot and killed in a hunting accident and desperately needed training to be able to get a job to support her daughters.

There are no tears or histrionics or sad, swelling music. What got to me was the contestants' demeanors in the context of the times. In 1958, women's choices in life were still so few. The overwhelming majority married early, had children, and were expected to remain homemakers for the rest of their lives. Whether by choice or default didn't matter much. Women were second-class citizens, and most completely dependent upon their husbands for survival. As much as they try (and succeed) keeping their composure onstage, the "Queen For A Day" contestants seem deeply shamed and depressed, humiliated that they must ask a group of strangers to clap for their awful lives or order to get the gurney or the cosmetology class or wood to build two sets of bunk beds for the 4 little girls who share a bed in their young parents' trailer home. But they ask, because they need better for their children and have nowhere else to turn but a stupid Hollywood TV show.

It made me kind of sick to see the audience clap meter, spectacularly crass and cruel. The winning "Queen" is of course actually the "Queen of Having The Worst Life," and there is not much smiling going on at the end. What in the hell is there to smile about when the only reason you are holding roses and getting a sewing machine and a set of new cookware along with your cosmetology class is that your husband got his head blown off? Congratulations, Queen, the show says, we'll grant your little wish and cheer up, why don't you? What woman wouldn't be thrilled to have all this kitchen crap? Don't you worry your pretty little head about your troubles anymore, dearie -- here's a new sailor-style midi blouse and capri pants! I understand that these were still early days of television and that the sponsors were going to hawk their domestic wares to a captive audience. But it's all still so blind to how crushing it must have been to swallow pride, ask for help, and then not get enough goddamn claps. You go back to your misery, worse off than you were before for asking and being denied, hopes raised and then dashed in front of the world. You go back and your kid is still sick, your life sucks, and you have no way out. And the "Queen?" She's still a second-class citizen, and will remain so after the klieg lights are turned off and the audience files out.

I hope that in October of 1964, perhaps times were changing enough for women that "Queen For A Day" lost its appeal, a relic from a time I'm glad I never had to live through as an adult.

"Queen For A Day," NBC-TV, March 1958 (full episode)


This is Marianne's pal Dena, filling in tonight because Marianne needs to put her feet up and take a deep breath and I need to work through my Mad Men withdrawal. You see, Monday night is when each episode becomes available on iTunes for those of us who refuse to pay for cable TV, but the Season 6 finale aired last week and now it's just sinking in that I have a gaping hole in my heart where my weekly date with Pete Campbell used to be. BEWARE: MINOR SPOILERS FOLLOW.

Of course there is much more to love about Mad Men than just Pete Campbell and his amazing punchability, not the least of which are Ken Cosgrove's terpsichorean talents and Don Draper's ability to make a bottle of liquor disappear before lunch. I am addicted to the show because it features complex, insightful writing, meticulous attention to period detail and stunning visuals, not to mention some of the best acting anywhere. If you haven't seen it, by all means get thee to Netflix and settle in with Season 1 and a bag of Sriracha popcorn.

Having said that, there is something about the way Vincent Kartheiser inhabits the squinched-up little bitchface of Pete Campbell that makes my life better for his efforts. Pete spent a lot of time being stymied and ranting about various and sundry obstacles and vexations during this past season, particularly ones that involved his archenemy, Bob Benson and the suave Manolo. As much as the whole Manolo subplot may have been a bit improbably melodramatic for Mad Men, anything that gives Pete Campbell one more person with whom to take umbrage is cool beans in my book. It is when Pete's umbrage runneth over that the magic happens, and we can never have too much magic in our lives.

Since there will be no new Mad Men episodes until who knows when, I am grateful indeed that Vulture has thoughtfully created this supercut of Pete Campbell's very finest tantrums from the show's past season. Since it's not on YouTube I was unable to embed it here, so just click through to enjoy what Vulture described as Pete's "epic, head-shaking, face-reddening season-six rants." I was just discussing with a friend the other night that Pete is about due for some happiness, and so he is, but in the meantime, let us just watch Vincent Kartheiser give us a few little pieces of his shattered heart now, baby.