Circus Contraption is looking for 100 True Fans

Circus Contraption is looking for 100 True Fans to help them produce a CD of the music from their last and final show. And, you know, as a True Fan you help the world out with more good music and will get an Executive Producer credit in the liner notes!

The Circus Contraption Band has always been the fulcrum at the center of Circus Contraption. From accompanying physical performers, to creating instrumental music, to performing lyric-based songs, the Circus Band has, to a large degree, defined how people think of Circus Contraption.

With the newest show, The Show To End All Shows, being our last, we find one, final opportunity to share the band’s original music. One final chance to have this group of musical and lyrical talent together in a studio to document the sounds that have been, we hope, the occasional soundtrack to your lives. And now, we need your help.

The approximate cost to produce a CD of The Show To End All Shows is $10,000.00 — a small sum in contrast to the norm for CD production, but to us, quite formidable. In fact, if left solely to us, prohibitive. And that’s where you can champion our cause.

We are seeking 100 people to become “Executive Producers” on The Show To End All Shows CD. We seek a $100 investment from those 100 people to build the funds necessary to bring this CD recording to fruition. (To those who have already stepped up, THANK YOU!) In exchange, apart from our eternal gratitude and the knowledge that you facilitated making the CD happen, you will receive an “Executive Producer” credit on the CD and an autographed copy of the new disc, signed by the band. We will also host an exclusive CD release party and performance by the Circus Contraption Band, attended only by you and your fellow Executive Producers.

You can mail a check to Circus Contraption, c/o Sari Breznau, 115 Prefontaine Place S #303, Seattle WA 98104. Please write the words, “Band Recording” in the “For:” line. Or simply give a check to a circus member.

That’s it. That is our humble “pitch” to you, our friends. We hope that you will become part of the team that makes Circus Contraption’s final recording the best yet.

Circus Contraption’s Fond Farewell in Seattle on Jul 18th at 7:30pm

For anyone in Seattle, it appears the great Circus Contraption is coming to a close, which is sad for everyone. Got in email an announcement about a final show and auction where they’re selling off stuff, not just stuff but crazy circus stuff.

Circus Contraption’s Fond Farewell & Surreal Auction Extravaganza

Saturday July 18, 2009
The Circus Factory
3400 Phinney Ave N
Seattle WA

On Saturday, July 18, Circus Contraption will raise our collective glasses one last time to toast our fans and friends for 11 years of mirth, madness, and mayhem.


This party will not only feature special guest artists Orkestar Zirkonium, Caela and R.B. of the Dangerous Flares, and God’s Favorite Beefcake, but also favorite vintage performances by Circus Contraption’s physical performers and a white-hot set by the incredible Circus Contraption Band.

We will also have a video/photo montage of CC throughout the years, including never-before-seen footage of some of our best moments and near misses, as well as a staged reading of our treasured “Banned in Lynnwood” letter from the mayor of that fair city and other strange surprises.

Live and Silent Auctions

As we have always been better at creating art than paying our bills, we are also reaching out to all of you to help us bury our debt in the smoldering embers of greasepaint and poodle fur.

Throughout the evening, there will be numerous fund-raising opportunities, including a live and silent auction of Circus Contraption costumes, props, and memorabilia, plus one-of-a-kind auction packages such as:

Bicycle Built for Five — Ernesto Cellini’s custom designed, built, and driven caveman vehicle, as featured in Grand American Traveling Dime Museum.

Scotch With Shmootzi — a private single-malt master class for 20-30 taught by the “Whisky Ambassador of the Year,” Highland Park’s own Martin Daraz, and scored by the live musical stylings of Shmootzi the Clod.

Also available will be photos with CC members; a “Kiss-a-Clown” Kissing Booth, and other unique ways to help ensure that Circus Contraptions exits the Big Top with a clean slate—and that you never forget this amazing night.

So Step Right Up and Drink It Down one final time with the Bracing Curative for the Afflictions of Our Times.

The Nitty-Gritty Details

Saturday, July 18th
21+ with ID
Full Bar
The Circus Factory at Theo Chocolate
3400 Phinney Avenue N
Seattle, WA 98103

Doors open at 7:30
$15 advance / $20 at door
Tickets available at Brown Paper Tickets

tEEth at On the Boards in Seattle on Feb 12-14th at 8pm


tEEth will be performing the world premiere of Grub in Seattle at On the Boards from Feb 12th – 14th. Tickets are $18. From the e-mail announcement:

We hope you will join us in Seattle at On the Boards for the World Premiere of our new work, Grub, featuring Video Animation by Miwa Matreyek, Costumes by Paloma Soledad and Celeste Sipes, Lighting by Malina Rodriguez, Original Music/Video Design/Video Effects by Phillip Kraft, Choreography by Angelle Hebert, and Performed by Gina Frabotta (pictured above), Elizabeth Grossberg, Lee Kyle (pictured above), Melissa Murray, Celeste Olivares, and Noel Plemmons.

The copy from On the Boards:

“tEEth is quickly gaining recognition in the Northwest for their sensory-rich amalgamations of contemporary dance and performance art. Led by Angelle Hebert and Phillip Kraft, the Portland-based ensemble returns to Seattle with a brand new work integrating idiosyncratic movement, sociology, original live music, industrial costumes and video-driven elements.”

sideways laughing on spin cycle

This is a post that I’ve had in my drafts since last march and keep thinking I’ll get back to finish some day …

I’ve found myself talking a lot about the old days in Seattle and a set of shows where The Tone Dogs [also,et] and Sadhappy played at The Crocodile Cafe one day and The OK Hotel the next. I still have one of Evan’s flyers for the first show.

Tone Dogs & Sadhappy Flyer

I had something like a religious experience at the show when I saw for the first time both The Tone Dogs and Sadhappy. But first, let me tell you how I got there.

One day, over a decade ago now, I was flipping through channels on cable and passed by the public access channel, did a double take and ended up watching what was in some kind of mesmerized state. I had stumbled on some show with a woman playing bass guitar accompanied by nothing beyond a drum machine, and was amazed by the range of her vocals and the music she played. When the show ended there were no credits other than a comment that it was recorded at The OK Hotel. I was frantic because I had no way to find out who this was that I’d just watched play.

I finally went out to a local, independent music shop near where I lived called The Orpheum. I used to hang out there, but like so many places that were it is not anymore. There was a cute redhead that worked there that I used to invite out to lunch and had a bit of a crush on … Yeah, so, anyhow, I went up to the counter and described the show I’d seen on cable access. The person there listened to my description and thought it sounded like an artist by the name of Amy Denio [also,et,et,et,et]. They didn’t have any of her solo stuff, but she was also in a group called The Tone Dogs which they did have one CD of in the shop.

And, that was only the beginning.

The whole point of all these memories is that I went to the Sadhappy site the other day and ordered the two newest CDs they had. When I placed my order, I wrote a question in the comment field asking if there was any chance that the old music from “sideways laughing” and “spin cycle” would ever be re-released because I was afraid to play the cassettes I’ve had all these years for fear of stretching the tape any more than it already is.

Well, I got a package in the mail a while after that and when I looked inside there were not only the 2 CDs I ordered but there was also a CDR of “sideways laughing” and “spin cycle” …

I can hardly tell you how much I love loving bands like Sadhappy. Local music is great. Great local music is awesome. Awesome local music is a mystical peak experience. This is something that I’ve been rediscovering since I moved to Portland, which I seem to have forgotten for so long somewhere along the way.

The thing is, seeing Sadhappy and the Tone Dogs live … I was completely paralyzed in awe of what I was seeing and feeling. I couldn’t move. My jaw dropped, I’m sure, and my eyes were wide. I’ve tried on so many occasions to describe it, but nothing I’ve ever said to anyone about witnessing that comes close.

Now, I remember especially one song that Sadhappy played as the opening band that night at the Crocodile Café called Between Four Horses, which only appears on the Sideways Laughing cassette. It’s not on any of the CDs that you can order anywhere. That group at the time was one person on a bass guitar and one person on drums playing live exactly what you hear. If you ever get to hear that remember this and listen to it again. I mean, oh my freakin’ gods! It’s unnatural. It’s divine. And, even by the time I saw them play it seemed clear that Paul Hinklin was tired of playing that song already …

I still have difficulty trying to tell this story. How to put it into words?

The music came fully formed from just two people, with a gravity that seemed impossible. The sounds coming from the bass were more than seemed humanly possible. There was one layer which was a solid and complete sound, with hands and fingers where and moving as one would expect. But, there was a whole other layer. While still playing and fingering the primary layer, Paul’s hand on the neck of the bass would hit each far corner, in sequence, like a metronome ticking along. I have no way to fully describe even what I witnessed with my own eyes. I still cannot seem to understand how it happened and I was actually there watching. There seemed to be some magical extra arm playing the four corners of the neck while the rest of the music was being played as would require two fully dedicated sets of hands and fingers; like witnessing the god of destruction himself, Shiva, play the music of eternity. With two arms playing what a normal human could manage, another arm was methodically marching to the elemental directions of the music like a steam-powered clockwork tarantula made of love and struggle doing argentine tango together until the end of time.

And then, after being thrown down the rabbit hole by Sadhappy, next came The Tone Dogs … There are some things that are simply ineffable. By this point, the mundane world was merely a dream carried away by deep, rich tones of ecstatic music. I cannot even begin to describe the rest of the show to you. It was simply beyond words and was one of those memories I carry with me. This was a show to which all other shows are inevitably compared.

And, then they both played together again at the OK Hotel, but this time The Tone Dogs opened for Sadhappy. Over the years I was in Seattle, I saw both Sadhappy and The Tone Dogs several times, but after those two shows never together again.

I got to see Amy Denio play in a lot of other bands. At various times, I think I’ve seen her play 20 different instruments or something like that and in a variety of styles. It was Amy that actually introduced me to the actual Sound Garden at Warren G Magnusson Park, which I believe is now off-limits because of fear that someone will try to shoot at planes heading to Seatac from the hill there. We went on one of the stormiest, windiest days I remember there, so the sound was really active.

When I was in Olympia, I did see Amy Denio play once at the Experimental Music Festival. But, for so long while I was in Olympia there really wasn’t much I could do to feel connected and alive with music, though I did try on occasion. There were a few groups in Olympia, but nothing like it was in Seattle back in the day.

Now I’m in Portland, I’ve seen several reminders of that time in Seattle and how important live music was to me. I’m pretty sure I saw Fred Chalenor show up a the Monsters of Accordion show a while ago here in town where Amy Denio was playing. I saw Skerik play as part of Critters Buggin at the Doug Fir. And, for me the spiritual successors to my memories of music in Seattle have been filled by local Portland bands like Portland Cello Project, Loch Lomond, and so many more I’ve been following when I can. I may have finally found that profound feeling again.

Teatro Rossetti – The Tiptons

The passing of a great human being

I am writing this to tell you about the passing of a great human being.

I learned on Thursday that Patrick J Hill has passed.

I want to share with you that someone you probably did not know has recently been lost to this world. I am telling you this because he deserves to be honoured by voices from every hill top and every hollow. The summer sun today may seem brighter than it should be because a light the rivaled the sun itself, that burned bright and brilliant, has gone out.

In the dedication of my Master’s thesis, I wrote these words:

“If, as suggested by Mary Parker Follett, the true test of a teacher-student relationship is whether the student can build on the work of the teacher, I hope that this work is in some way a monument of success for Dr. Patrick J. Hill of The Evergreen State College. Without hesitation, I dedicate the success of this paper as celebration of Patrick as a teacher in the best meaning of Follett’s notion and more.”

But how can such reserved words convey the depth of my love for this man that is no more?

What do I say about a man I barely knew but meant the world to me? I knew him for too brief a time. I met Patrick at The Evergreen State College, in his program, “The Power and Limitations of Dialogue.” Every moment of my life since has been deeply influenced by Patrick J Hill.

The light of him that was reflected in my eyes has grown dim, but I must keep it alive somehow. Every life I touch is touched by him.

I’ve been trying to write my thoughts down, but am having a hard time capturing even a fraction of the full impact Patrick had on my life. I was blessed to drink from the sacred water of Patrick’s well of knowledge and care for the world and to share the experience of his mentorship, and I have been forever changed by that miraculous reciprocity.

Taking a cue from another former student of Patrick’s, I offer this excerpt from a poem Patrick read to his students as an anthem, a cry, a gentle demand to be the best of yourself in this world:

“Il est l’heure de s’enivrer!
Pour n’être pas les esclaves martyrisés du Temps,
enivrez-vous sans cesse!
De vin, de poésie ou de vertu, à votre guise.”

“It is the hour to be drunken!
If you would not be martyred slaves of Time,
be drunken;
be drunken continually!
With wine, with poetry, or with virtue, as you will.”

– Charles Baudelaire

I ask you to please help all who knew him personally, in whatever way you can, send Patrick every blessing possible for his journey.

The Rocky Horror Show in Olympia opens June 5th

Harlequin Productions is putting on The Rocky Horror Show which opens on June 5th.

This is not the movie. This is the stage production. If I were in Olympia still, even crazed weasels attacking could not keep me away from this. I had the joy of seeing a live production of The Rocky Horror Show in Seattle by the Empty Space back in the day, could it have been in the late 80’s? It was unimaginably good. The movie has a place in history, but the stage version I saw has a place in my heart.

Go see this. Let nothing stand in the way of going. And, I’ll hope for you that it’s even half as good as the version I saw so long ago.

The Rocky Horror Show
by Richard O’Brien
June 5 – July 6, 2008
Tickets $34 – $38
Rush Tickets $12 – $20 available at the ticket office 1/2 hour before curtain.

Sponsored by 94.5 ROXY

Rocky marks Harlequin’s 100th Production! Celebrate with us!

Forget the movie. This is live and not to be missed! On a dark and stormy night, a couple of newly-engaged squares get a flat. (How ‘bout that?) They seek assistance at the castle of a strange host who is more than willing to help in every way he can. But first, there’s a party in progress, and you’re invited! Tighten your corset and loosen your libido. This castle is rockin’! Let’s do the Time Warp again!
The Rocky Horror show contains adult language and sexual situations.

Filming a porno in downtown Olympia tonight

Driving through downtown, I noticed a very large touring bus for “Girls Gone Wild” sitting outside a venue. WTF? They’re filming a porno in downtown Olympia?

Apparently, this is some tour across the country, and tonight is the Olympia stop.

My guess is that “The Mint” isn’t going to be around for very long, but at least the new tenants are busy living up to the history of the building. I guess the call for protests didn’t work. There doesn’t seem to be any articles about this on the Olympian’s website either about the event tonight.

Community not Communism

In this morning’s Oregonian (Wed, 18jul07; D2), there is an article, “Postage-stamp-sized service suits N.J. townsfolk,” that I cannot find on their own website. But, the Newhouse News Service is the source of “Tiny Post Offices Deliver More Than Mail“.

From the article:

“These smaller post offices are important hubs of the community.”

I’m reminded of the row over postal service in Olympia, and the Libertarian-Conservative hatred of any community gathering space. Places where people gather in community seem to be under some kind of reactionary knee-jerk encoded response to a threat of Communism.

We need community. It’s part of what makes it possible for a city or region to be flexible and creative in the face of adaptive challenges, like natural disasters or economic disruption. There has to be space for people to learn about themselves through interaction with others that are not like themselves. Too often, it seems to me, people assume their community is people like them and that anyone not like them in their community is some kind of alien intruder that doesn’t belong. It is our spaces where we gather together that allow us to see and become stronger because of our diversity; not by ignoring or destroying it, but because of that diversity.

I’m pretty sure that I ran into something about this in Place and the Politics of Identity [also], about the tension over postal service offices and community. I’d have to go back to find out, but I recall a discussion in this collection of essays about how social gathering places were being dismantled, and that post offices represented one of the important places where people could gather.

Of course, one merely need to wander in to the downtown or west side post offices in Olympia to realize that these spaces have become store fronts, places of business. These are no longer places where people come even in part to be in community. These are place that one stands around with a number waiting to be serviced as a customer and then get the heck out as fast as possible after.

That book, Place and the Politics of Identity, also has some other very interesting things to say about the waterfront in London that reflect for me on the layers of struggle in Olympia around the nuclear-free zone, the militarization of the port, and the gentrification of downtown. I also found the discussion of “spacialities” to be enlightening in relation to my sense that there are many layers of community in Olympia that exist in the same space but interact as if in different places from each other. I recommend checking that book out.

I think it was through engaging with that book that I also started to think about how it may be that the reaction to community space in American culture is coloured by some kind of learned, internalized fear of anything that suggests Communism. This is something that I haven’t remembered in a while, but deserves some more thought. If it’s true that the general hostility to community space is due to this learned reaction, then that might suggest a way to address that hostility through making a distinction between community and the fear of Communism.

Of course, Communism isn’t the same thing as communism, but maybe that’s something best left for the “advanced” class.

You make that sound dirty

This last week has been all about Harry Potter. Okay, not all about, but it’s been a recurring theme.

YouTube – Red State Update: Harry Potter

Travelled to Portland to see Harry and The Potters [also] on stage. The show was at the Wonder Ballroom, which was a pretty cool venue. I mean that it was spiffy. The temperature was astonishingly hot both outside and inside the venue.

The opening band was Blubird. The music was pretty good down-beat emo with a bit of punk. I was initially disappointed that there were not other Wizard Rock bands playing that show. But, when I realized the two women on stage were only 13, then I had a whole new sense of how good they were. The women in Blubird also made guest appearances during the Harry and The Potters set. Apparently these women graduated from Portland’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls, which is such a cool notion that I wish I was a young woman. Er, never mind that. Nothing to see here; move along.

Then, came the main attraction: Harry and The Potters. It was a short set of short songs, but played with so much energy it felt like a full show by a big name act. These men have a very polished act comprised of audience participation, witty banter and savage punk with some emo rock. All in all, quite a show that I heartily recommend.

I also highly recommend bringing earplugs to save you the damage you will otherwise suffer.

One of the particular attractions to going to Portland for this event was that the boys in the band announced they would be going to a midnight showing of the new Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix movie after.

So, after the concert, I waited around for a couple of hours eating sushi with friends, or not eating sushi because the lame restaurant plonked down all the vegetarian sushi on a big plate with the nasty fish flesh stuff in a way that made it impossible to tell them apart … and I ended up with a mouth full of disgusting fish and lost my appetite for any more.

Then, went to the movie. This was no ordinary showing. The media showed up. They gave away presents in what really seemed to be a rigged costume contest. I say rigged because it seemed to me like the winners had been picked before the popular voting had even started … I guess art imitates life, eh?

This midnight showing was very lively and rambunctious. Lots of jokes, even unintended ones, got laughter and there were boos for some characters and applause for others. I mean, really: how can one not laugh at the dirty joke inherent in the guy in a kilt following a goat in a mangy pub? or, guffaw at the inappropriateness of a naked adult wearing a fur overcoat huddled with a strikingly handsome young boy in a train station waiting room? That’s only a couple of the strange things in this movie …

… that I really wish had been in focus. My, but how lame is that? For shame, Lloyd Cinemas!

One of the other highlights of the night was that pre-arranged song everyone that was at the concert knew about for Hagrid’s first appearance on screen:


The night was not over until I could hit the sack around 4 am for a few hours before driving back to Olympia.

And, then, a few days later, Harry and the Potters were in Olympia. At the library. For free! Only, they were sold out. Wait, what?

Yeah. Apparently, there were tickets issued in order to control the number of people in the building because of fire code. But, the band apparently didn’t know there would be tickets issued. I certainly didn’t know until someone told me they heard someone saying that … it was sold out.

But, my partner got tickets! She was given tickets to the show. Then, she gave them away to someone that wanted to go. Well, fine. That’s cool and all since we’d seen them a few days before, but still a bummer to have to be in the waiting line hoping to make the cut in without a ticket.

Only, my partner decided that since we didn’t have tickets we wouldn’t leave the house until the doors opened … Um. No, we need to go early to see if we can get tickets and to get in the freakin’ line! But, we were late enough that we were just a couple people away from the cut off point. However, we did get to see the people we gave up our tickets to skip past us inside …

We decided to wait outside and see if we could make it in. But, man, people were really a bunch of whiners about not getting in, and bitchy about who was next in the line to go in when space was available. Blah.

Lots of people in costumes and lots in Wizard Rock shirts. At one point, I was saying, “I really need a Remus Lupins shirt.” And, someone with exactly that showed up in line behind me. Cool.

There was a group of people behind us in line in costume. One member of that group was a young woman with a wand in her hair, and a great Hogwarts school uniform. Wow, she was sad about not getting in. She was probably one of the people that didn’t know there were going to be tickets because she would have freakin’ camped out in the library just for tickets. So sad! She was rocking herself back and forth with her eyes closed trying not to bawl.

My partner and I tried to convince the staff holding the door to let the costumed people go in first, because they deserved it. But, no go.

One woman came out of the library and the staff person told her to pick someone to take her place. So, I leaned over and whispered to her that she should pick the girl in the costume with the wand in her hair … and she did.

Yeah, faith in humanity restored!

My partner was wearing her Harley Quinn shirt, which, you know, is pretty hot. Only, I felt horrible because while we were standing in line waiting outside, the staff on the door spotted the shirt and started to talk really very shockingly loud about Batman and Harley Quinn. Here we are outside a concert, about 20 people, trying to hear the music from inside that we’re not allowed in to hear … and this guy is going on about Batman.

Ugh. And, it was hurting my head. Loud music, loud conversation and even louder Batman trivia …

A few songs into the set, apparently the fire marshal had given the okay to let everyone in that was outside, so we did get to be inside for most of the show.

I was a bit surprised at how much of the set was the same as the Portland show, but there was a great moment under the library skylight when the band was doing “Enchanted Ceiling” and pointed out the reflection of the crowd above. “The Enchanted Ceiling is you!”

Damn, but I forgot ear plugs again! What? I couldn’t hear you, sorry!

This was definitely a shorter show than Portland, but had good energy. The crowd in Olympia was definitely more high school and junior high than the Portland crowd was. In Portand, I was surprised how the crowd was a lot older than I thought it would be. Sure, there were a few adults with little children at both, but not so nearly so many young adults as in Olympia.

Then, I saw the film again because someone had bought tickets for others that could not go. I say I saw the film, but really I only saw part of the film. Who knew it would take a freakin’ hour to drive across Olympia? When did traffic get so bad here? I just don’t drive in town enough, or during rush hour, to know. And, how strange it seems to talk about rush hour in a town like Olympia!

The second time watching the film … was surprising. The film was the same, but the audience was cold fish. They were apparently slept through most of the film, for all the silence and stoicism they mustered.

Then again, some friends were at the same showing and I was introduced to someone wearing a Harley Quinn shirt, and who had a Harley Quinn costume for Halloween. Oh, be still my cheating heart! Luckily I was saved by the power of my sense of propriety from asking for pictures.

Somehow, I ended up going to the movie again yesterday for a matinee. I haven’t seen a movie multiple times in the cinema in a long time, and just in the past week I’ve been to 3 showings of this movie.

I know how I felt the first night, morning actually, in Portland. I felt that there were some great bits, but even going to see it with a crowd of really good fans didn’t shake a feeling that somehow this was the end. The whole thing felt over, and that it just wasn’t worth it from here on out.

The 3rd movie was astounding, and the movies have been down hill since. They’ve been fun and all, but the 3rd movie was a great movie. It was not just a good Harry Potter movie, but all around a great movie. I remember being in the cinema with my jaw dropped open at how awesome the 3rd movie was as a piece of cinema artistry.

But, this 5th movie … was too predictable, too arch, too much a formula action film. It just didn’t have the extra spell of magic about it that it should have, that the 3rd movie had in spades, and was already fading fast in the 4th.

The thing about the books is that they are detective stories at heart, to me. And, to take a detective story and turn it into an action film is much the same as just making another installment of the Batman franchise … hey, even the palette of colours in this 5th Harry Potter movie could have been a match for one of the early Tim Burton Batman movies.

I miss the magic already. I get some of it back when I listen to my CDs of Harry and the Potters, Roonil Wazlib, and The Remus Lupins, but I loved the 3rd movie so much I want to marry it. And, I feel like I’ve had my heart broken with what’s become of the movies to which I proposed. What happened to the movies I fell in love with?

I guess, we’ll always have our memories … until we don’t.

And by footprint, they mean floor plan

I noticed this headline in The Olympian: “Olympia woman shrinks her footprint — to 84 square feet“.

Of course, the author of the headline should have known better, but headlines aren’t always written by the author of the article. However, this person’s footprint is not 84 square feet, but it appears that her floor plan is.

Further, there was a much better article about this in the June/July 2007 South Sound Green Pages [LGT a sad, stale blog], and was written by the owner of the house. That better article also appears directly next to another article about what an ecological footprint actually is. Because, it’s not a floor plan, that’s for sure. Unfortunately, there’s no version of the two articles online that I found when I looked.

However, the South Sound Green Pages articles do offer a now broken link to a page that helps one calculate one’s ecological footprint [instead] and a short film about the little house viewable online.

It’s nice for The Olympian to pick this story up after it ran in another publication, but of course there are a lot of people finding ways to live on little; whether that’s their floor plan or their footprint, whether by choice or necessity. And, the tiny house meme was so long ago. On the other hand, I suppose some coverage is probably better than none, right?

Update @ 17jul07, 10:56am:

I keep thinking about this. For one thing, I find it amusing that the owner of this house is respectable enough for the mainstream to talk about. There’s plenty of people living like this in Olympia, just, apparently, not with as respectable day job. So, that demonstrates the high water mark of socially acceptable minimalism.

The other thing that keeps rattling in my brain is: how is this legal? It must be due to the fact that it’s a mobile trailer. That’s how she’s getting around the need for full plumbing. The reason this is a thing for me is that the Ecovillage in Port Townsend was having trouble with building small houses that weren’t en suite, and there was work needed to convince the city to allow people to live in spaces that had shared plumbing in a central location. So, ironically, the way around this is to have each person in what amounts to a Romani Bardo … making houses mobile is the way to skirt the rules.

Well, that’s only one step away from the people that find themselves living in their cars or campers on the streets of the city. And, what’s amusing to me, in a not really funny way, is that it’s those very car campers that the city can’t say is probably a major target of on street parking reform …

Minimal living then is pinched on both sides …

I know people living in what are officially designated as garden sheds, but are quite nice spaces. But, those people can’t risk talking about their places in the paper.

Harry and the Potters in OLY and PDX next month

So, Harry and the Potters are on the move. They will be in Olympia and in Portland again. In fact, the Olympia show is free. Also, while the Portland show is not free, after the show they are planning on raiding a local cinema for an early screening of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

From the website’s show page:

“July 10th, Tuesday
Portland, OR
Wonder Ballroom
6:00pm doors, $10/$5 for under 12
128 NE Russell, Portland, OR 97212
ALL AGES show! With Blubird opening. We know that Portland is full of some of the most hardcore readers on the planet! It’s one of our favorite places to play. After the show, we’re all going to see the HP5 movie and boo that stupid Dumbledore off-screen. Seriously, would anyone really object to Voldemort taking down Dumbledore during their battle at the Ministry? At least wouldn’t have to deal with that jack-ass ruining the 6th movie too, right? Be there to boo with us! Theater TBA.”

(And, what’s with the steady dis on the big D?) and:

“July 12th, Thursday
Olympia, WA
Olympia Timberland Library
9:30pm, FREE!
313 8th Ave SE, Olympia, 98501
Very special after-hours show in the library! We’re gonna TEAR IT UP!”

Olympia Ecovillage gets a nod in the shower

The Seattle Times has an article today about the Phinney ecovillage and Sustainable Ballard that gives an essentially anonymous nod to the Olympia ecovillage, as well as the Port Townsend ecovillage:

About 28 groups from Bremerton to Mercer Island are developing along the lines of Sustainable Ballard, and the EcoVillage concept has spread to Port Townsend and Olympia.

That’s all the article says about Olympia and Port Townsend. They don’t even link to them in the online article. What’s up with that?

Anyhow, I linked to them, for what ever that might be worth.

I was intrigued by the mention of the Phinney pledge. It’s on the Phinney ecovillage site, downloadable in PDF format.

Seems to me that could be the basis for a large-scale community awareness campaign, to form a kind of virtual ecovillage within a city. What if some Olympia group used something like this flyer to get people in the community to pledge some slice of the ecovillage lifestyle and tracked that information, like many non-profits track their donations, and made that available as a community health indicator?

One of the items on this list is to install a low-flow shower head. However, I remember there was a buzz going around a few weeks ago for “navy showers” which save even more. A “navy shower” is simply to shut off the water while soaping up, instead of letting the water run the whole time. The Wikipedia entry on “navy shower” points out, along with step-by-step instructions for the perplexed, that the opposite, lavish kind of shower is called a “Hollywood shower” as a bit of interesting trivia.

So, what if there were first and second steps to each pledge item, like first low flow and second navy showers?

But, wait. Whatever happened to Uncle Bucky’s fog-gun shower device? [also, also, also]

Also, if one were to use something like a pledge to help develop community interest in and tracking of ecovilliage-like values, there should be pledge items about being in community and that encourage social connection and sharing. Then again, maybe there should be a pledge for each indicator of community health, so that there would be a climate change pledge and also a pedge about being in community? One could go through the process of developing one’s own set of indicators, or start with those developed by the Cascadia Scorecard project at Sightline and create a pledge for each indicator.

Wake me when the ambient sound is live

Over at Slashdot, there’s a post about a new mash-up:

“The BBC is reporting that a Californian company has created software that can layer relevant recorded sounds over locations in Google Earth.”

But here’s the thing:

The analog to the high resolution images of the real earth would be to layer those images with the actual ambient sounds of the same location. I mean live, real sound.

In fact, I’d go further an say that what I want is a tool that layers the actual ambient sound of a location as it would sound from the scaled distance that location is zoomed to. I mean, if I’m zoomed so that the image appears to be couple hundred feet in the air, then I should be able to see and hear a location as that location would be heard from 100 feet in the air.

So, some company need to wire into all those spy and surveilance cameras all over the globe and add those sounds to the visual environment of Google Earth.

Also, I want a “police scanner” option that automatically pans to loud sounds at some surface distance setting. So, if I’m hanging out I want the app to zoom and pan to nearby shouts or other loud noises, and then continue to play the current ambient sound of that location after panning there.

Now, if that’s not an argument for broad implementation of multicast, or for Google to finally use all that dark fibre in order to transmit audio data …

And then, I want Maxis to use the simcity engine to model buildings, people and cars using the same visual and audio data …

Morning power outage on the westside of Olympia

This morning, around 6 am, I noticed my power was out.

I called in to report it and there had been 79 reports with an estimated more than 2000 people without power. However, about 30 seconds after I hung up from reporting the outage, I heard the fridge turn on. Now, that’s what I call service.

All in all, it was a blissfully quiet morning.

Of course, thinking back to the storm outage that began on Dec 15th, I realize that I have done nothing to be better prepared. Not only have I failed to be better prepared, but I’ve even failed to re-stock the supplies that I used. So, in fact, I’m significantly less prepared than I was then. Although, I still had my old corded phone out, so I didn’t have to rummage around to find it again.

As I was dreamily sitting in the dark, I found myself wondering about several things.

I started to have such a strong memory of the cuckoo clock in my grandparent’s house. All those years, I found the hourly noise of it so annoying. Thinking back, I find that I have strong memories of the textures of the carving and the metal pinecone weights. I found myself wondering if my grandfather’s love of that clock had anything to do with a sense of security in having a clock that needed no electricity. So much of that generation’s attitude towards the world was based on the experience of scarcity during the great depression, that I wonder about a possible connection.

Thinking about the generation of my grandparents being so formed by scarcity, I think about the way that the culture of the US seems rooted in the idea of scarcity. This was one of the points made by Frances Moore Lappé, when she spoke at the Willi Unsoeld Seminar Series on 17 Apr 2007. The body blow of uncertainty and scarcity had life-long effect on my grandparents, and cannot have left my parents unaffected in turn.

When I think about the effect of scarcity on the following generation, I find myself thinking about the history of Europe as re-told by Barbara Tuchman in A Distant Mirror. There is a desperate exuberance for life and sensation in the generations to follow the calamity of the plague, maybe with a tiny echo heard in the desperate explosion of emotion and life experienced by my parents and their generation. Each followed by generations of selfishness and greed.

I find myself wondering about this pattern of contraction and expansion in terms of a possible Post-Oil culture in the US. I find myself wondering about this pattern of trauma and post-tramatic stress in terms of the culture of the Middle East, and the culture in the US that hopes to welcome home soldiers sent to foreign lands.

What, I wonder, would it take to avoid another generation of coke-addled greed monkeys several curves around the bending response to scarcity? Can an engaged eco-progressive movement do better than to turn on and tune out the future consequences delayed in time that eventually cause more harm than what healing occured to our selves and our world?

I hope so.

Another one gone: Best Buy buys Speakeasy

Got an e-mail today that Best Buy is now the owner of Speakeasy.

Speakeasy was one of the original local internet service providers in Seattle. Speakeasy always had character. Back in the day Speakeasy was a cybercafe in Seattle, and one of the first. They had text terminals, even. Located in an old building in Seattle’s Belltown district, just north of downtown. That was before Belltown became a hot new spot for gentrification. The original cybercafe was located above a pool hall. That sure was an odd crowd going in and out the front door: geeks going up the stairs and sharks and barflies going down to the pool room.

They used to have events there. I didn’t go to many, but I remember that the silent film festival showed there sometimes.

They were one of the local internet service providers in the old days. They offered dialup accounts along with their cybercafe offerings. I remember that there was a group of small local ISPs that tried to form a supporting organization. I tried to get Seanet to be involved, but Seanet was kind of the enemy to the little guys. Also, the sort-of owner was hostile to the idea of teaming up with that group; wrongly I felt. It was essential because the mom and pop outfits were already getting killed, and the telecom providers would have loved to off all the regional providers given the chance … the writing was on the wall if one paid attention to that sort of thing. The industry had expertise, but was living in a niche created more by ignorance and regulatory restraint than design on behalf of the large teleco providers.

DSL was the sea change. With the advent of faster modems, the technology on the ISP side became a treadmill into the abatoir. US Robotics did a great deal of damage to the industry with their high speed offerings, the proprietary X2 56k stuff, that required really expensive and unreliable equipment, and annual support contracts if there were any hope of support. US Robotics was heavy handed in their marketing too. They would target owners and route around the technical people who had a clue, building pressure from the PHBs to waste money on USR equipment and contracts.

Back then it was still cheaper per line to support dial-up on POTS lines than to aggregate them into thicker pipes to be served by T1 into Portmasters. But, aggregating lines was the beginning of the end. For DSL, enduser connections were moved to the ATM network, and therefore moved to a completely new environment with all kinds of routing rules and priorities that gave the Teleco more and more control over the service. POTS lines were heavily regulated, and so the Teleco really couldn’t do much to push the ISP off them. But, with DSL all the little ISPs were doomed. With each wave of new tech, the price of entry went higher and higher, so no new little shops were starting and the big shops needed to be bigger.

Eventually, I think most ISPs moved to leased infrastructure and became merely services that ran over the network, not even really necessary for the customer. Seanet was looking into that when I left and I’m pretty sure they moved all their dial-up to leased virtual lines. At that point, you’re just a (barely) value-added reseller for the Teleco, and that’s just how the Teleco wanted it all along anyway.

I did manage to make a case for the need, back when cities like Tacoma were trying to tax internet service to their citizens, that there needed to be an industry group with the power to lobby on behalf of our interests. That was back in the beginning of the Washington Association of Internet Service Providers. I notice that Speakeasy is a member, along with some old guard. Zhonka is there, but I don’t remember if the old Olywa was. Of course, Seanet dropped out a long time ago, I recall.

Then there was a fire. I thought Speakeasy was pretty much dead, and I think that’s around the time that I moved so I stopped paying attention. They re-opened, I think, and then closed the cafe …

Then Speakeasy really grew up and became something. They managed to make the transition to DSL, and they offered services that other ISPs didn’t. They really catered to the technical and geeky people, and the gamers. They also had a nice, tight marketing look and feel.

Anyhow, it’s sad to see them go and get purchased, especially by Best Buy. But, you know, the Geek Squad has the same kind of tight marketing look and feel. It’s just Best Buy seems so … K-mart. They look and feel cheap, but actually charge too much for what they sell.

Of course, the irony of the Geek Squad driving around in cars decorated like police vehicles and the rum-running connotations of the Speakeasy … there’s a whole Untouchables narrative there just waiting to be explored.

But, the thing that really gets me is that the e-mail said Best Buy wanted Speakeasy for their VOIP tech:

“One of Speakeasy’s core product offerings is Voice over IP (VoIP), which is becoming a popular choice for small businesses who seek efficient and cost-effective telecommunications services. Best Buy For Business’ mission is to deliver simple, reliable, and affordable technology solutions to small businesses. A product offering such as VoIP, which has immediate compelling appeal to most SBs based on cost savings and simplicity, is an attractive value proposition that allows Best Buy to round out its solutions menu for small businesses.”

I hope Speakeasy survives the corporate urge to take what they want and then trash the rest. And, it seems a little round-about to buy a whole service company in order to get just one particular implementation of a widely known technology. That’s a little like buying Sears because they really know their cash registers …

I can’t help but wonder if this purchase has anything to do with the trouble Vonage has been in with their conflict with Verizon over patents in VOIP calls to land lines.

Update @ 12:51am 28mar:

Wow. I just stumbled across an archived message to talking about the very meeting back in 1996 I was talking about in this post. Crazy to see archives of activity that long ago still searchable, not to mention the nostalgia of it all, back when newsgroups were a useful and daily thing. Of course, most of my activity was in the private Seanet newsgroups, for which there’s no archives.

Also, there’s storytelling to discover at the Spar

I remembered something that I didn’t mention in my previous comment about the new old Spar. That is that there are a line of murals opposite the counter. Apparently these mural pictures are each based on stories that the McMenamins crew was told about the history of the Spar. So, there’s a story to be discovered in each of the pitcures. For anyone with a soft spot for local history, that is a pretty nice touch.

And while I’m at things I didn’t mention, the pictures of old Olympia in the history sheet being offered at the Spar are credited as courtesy of Mr. Echtle whom I recognize as the current Director of the local Olympia Bigelow House Museum.

The Spar has curtained booths along the lavatory walk past the pool tables. You know, so you can go and, while having food and drinks, use the wireless internet in privacy and conduct your affairs, so to speak. A semi-private place to swap local stories or to start some new ones. It’s all so very speakeasy, don’t you know.

Everything old is newly branded again at the Spar

My partner and I decided to have breakfast this morning at the brand-newly open McMenamins Spar Cafe & Bar. (Hey, I just noticed that has a simple rhyme.) The place was very busy in the front, but there were still about 1/3 of the tables open in the back. The breakfast food was decent and not too expensive. They were still a bit dis-organized. For example, they couldn’t find soy milk for my chai and they had only Habenero hot sauce for my hash browns and not a drop of a more stomach-friendly version.

They still sell tobacco products from a humidor cabinet. I wonder, assuming that the other locations don’t, if selling specialty tobacco will migrate from the Spar to other McMenamins elsewhere? That would be an interesting twist, to have a signature product from one new location move to all the others.

However, they do not have a spot for music. Apparently they are still thinking about that, and will gauge demand. So, if you loved the Jazz and other music, you should let them know. For me, honestly, I never made it down for music at the old, though I thought about it. I was vaguely hoping that the new would offer something that was enticing enough to get me to go there for music.

The presence of a McMenamins in downtown made me think about what a Burgerville might be like up this far. I suppose then downtown would become a regional-brand theme park, but maybe that would be an interesting thing for a state capital to be?

Near the door, there were some stacks of flyers for some McMenamins things, like the White Eagle in Portland and the Olympic Club in Centralia. In addition to these, there is a double-sided sheet with information on the history of the Spar.

The story is interesting, in spite of need for a minor copy edit on the version I picked up. (Like I’m one to point fingers on that score … only I just did.) A secondary message I got from this was an attempt to connect the historic chain of Spar restaurants with the chain of McMenamins. But, the main message I got was that since the start this location has changed hands and faces, as if to say this transition to new old is not so far from the real history of the location. From a various things, including a saloon, from at least the 1880’s, and the Oxford starting in 1905, the beginnings of the Spar in 1935 wasn’t the beginning of the space, and that the Spar also has changed ownership in the past. Therefore, this sheet seems to being suggesting, the passing of the old to the new old is not incongruous nor breaking a much more historical tradition of various saloons and owners. Interestingly, the sheet frankly acknowledges the challenge of change “has caused a few locals to mourn The Spar’s change of hands–and why not?” This is a double message that says history is important to us all, but also not to fear change.

It will be interesting to see how the new Spar is received across the various cross-sections of Olympia, and whether this quasi-local quasi-chain restaurant will be shunned or not. Especially, when the novelty wears off …

Rain is still wet

New Year’s day was blustery and wet here in Olympia. I was heading out of town to pick up my partner at the airport, and noticed a young man hitching. I decided I had enough time, so I pulled over to offer a ride.

“Are you headed to downtown?”
“No, I’m not, but I can get you as far as Harrison.”

“Thanks for the ride. There’s no bus service today, so I really appreciate it.”
“Oh, yeah, I forgot about no service today. That sure sucks. Tell you what, I’ll go ahead and take you downtown.”
“Are you sure?”
“Sure, it’s not a problem.”

“It’s annnoying that I couldn’t get the bus, you know what I’m saying?”
“Yeah, having no service seems silly to me.”
“And, what’s with New Years anyway? I mean, it’s not like anyone important died on that day. It’s just a day … no wars were won or lost on New Years, not that I know of anyway, you know what I’m saying?”
“Holidays are kind of arbitrary anyway. Most of the time, it’s got more to do with making a day for people to shop, it seems to me.”
“Yeah, holidays like Easter … that’s a strange one. What’s easter all about? Where did that get started? I’m a Christian evangelist, and it’s not really Christian, you know what I’m saying?”
“Well, Easter is Ostara, which in some Pagan and Indo-European thought is the time that the Goddess arrives from the underworld, the beginning of spring. Like Persephone for the Ancient Greeks …”
“Um, yeah.”

“Okay, well, thanks so much for the ride!”
“No problem. It’s a blustery and wet day out there, so ..”
“Yeah, but I’m a Christian evangelist, so I believe in Jesus Christ and any day that you’re alive is a great day.”
“Well, okay, but rain is still wet.”