Your Thanksgiving Day Song for this year is…

Thanksgiving means different things to different people.

Brent Amaker and the Rodeo - Thanksgiving song of the year

Troubled Times, by Brent Amaker and the Rodeo

Troubled times on the horizon
The Watchman keeps his eyes on you
It ain’t my place to say
But things can’t always go your way

Give thanks for what you got
Eat all that’s on your plate
‘Cause troubled times might come today

As darkness falls upon you
You’ll find the pain won’t go away
Nothin’ hurts so bad
as losin’ what you thought you had

Give thanks for what you got
Eat all that’s on your plate
‘Cause troubled times might come today

The band’s description of themselves from their website:

From desolate deserts to snow washed mountains Brent Amaker and The Rodeo have been searching for the Truth. This pursuit has produced numerous albums and taken them to venues across the world, in spotless matching threads, to perform their songs for a dedicated cult following.

Their sound, which could aptly be described as a Morricone soundtrack written by Kraftwerk with dead serious classic country vocals, has garnered them placement in television shows such as “Weeds” [YouTube] and “Califonication”.

In 2013 Brent Amaker and The Rodeo [released] their … full length Year Of The Dragon [that’s a link to the full album]. The album’s 13 all new tracks take square aim at Truth – to spill a weathered wisdom across the current musical landscape. The album also features original cover artwork by Afro Samurai creator Takashi Okazaki.

We at agree. And Thanksgiving is one of our favorite holidays as evidenced my our many posts on the subject. Check out our post on  explaining the holiday to children. It’s been an annual favorite for readers unfamiliar with for years. It’s a tough subject for some and there’s some sound advice in there.

photo from seller's website

photo from seller’s website

What dedicated follower of the Lord Jesus Christ wouldn’t covet this beautiful weapon designed for killing people in a gloriously efficient manner?

This semi-automatic rifle manufactured by Spike’s Tactical isn’t just any old secular assault rifle though, this one is emblazoned with the cross of the Knights Templar, a religious order that fought Muslims in the 12th-century Crusades. Read More →

My 8 year old’s big plans for this past weekend: “Can we go to the Mystery Soda Machine? You really don’t know what’s going to come out and then you have to drink it no matter what it is. The buttons just have question marks all over them. And it’s really dirty.” Nobody knows who fills it, it’s empty until you put your coins in, and there’s a magic rule that you have to drink what you get.

That machine has been there for as long as I can remember. Seems like it only had one “mystery” button before, though. Now they’re all “?M?Y?S?T?E?R?Y?” buttons. It’s been forever since I even paid attention to it.

Adding to the silliness of the whole thing, the mystery was amplified by my never letting on that I knew exactly where we were going and that there was nothing actually mysterious about the mystery soda machine in any way and I have walked by it (with both of them!) more times than I can count and have lived around the corner from it more days of my life than I have not.

Read More →

Highlights from today’s monthly customer support chat with AT&T regarding my cell phone bill:

AT&T Logo

I never really looked at this logo closely until just now. It’s kind of cool.

Jarvis: Hello! My name is Jarvis. How may I help you today?
Tony: My bill is indecipherable again. Can you help?

Jarvis: Please go to the OVERVIEW page and click on the I WANT TO drop down. Once there, click on VIEW & PAY BILL and then VIEW MY BILL.
Tony: I’m looking at it right now. I’ve been looking at it for 20 minutes.

Tony: Ok, so the bill is for service from 8/11 to 9/10, right?
Jarvis: Yes, well actually not that full cycle because the prorated charge […]
Tony: So looking at my bill on your website is … well, what am I looking at on your website?
Jarvis: You must be looking at a different bill date […]

Tony: Ok, I’m going to go insane dealing with your website […]
Jarvis: No worries Tony i understand you are confused […]
Tony: I’m not confused. I’m understanding the information as it’s presented. The presentation is confused.
Read More →

For reasons unknown to me, Bumbershoot lost money last year even though it drew pretty big crowds and had one of the better musical lineups of the past decade, including The Replacements. As a result of the loss, One Reel handed over the reigns to AEG Live for 2015.

I hadn’t bought tickets in advance, and heard on Saturday that it was sold out that day. I really wanted to go on Sunday to See Israel Nash and Neko Case, so I checked the paper Sunday morning and read about how the torrential thunderstorm shut it down for a while. I’m glad I didn’t go that day. But that wasn’t the only thing wrong. I read this by Danny Westneat:

Tickets were surge-priced at an eye-watering $109, plus another $14 in service fees.

I can’t pay that, I thought. The first year I went to Bumbershoot, in 1985, a ticket cost only $4. Seriously, $4. Adjusting for inflation, $4 then equals $9 today. So somehow we’ve tacked a hundred bucks past inflation onto the value of what is euphemistically still called the city’s arts festival.

Only suddenly, even those $109 tickets weren’t for sale. The festival’s producer, the global sports and entertainment presenter Anschutz Entertainment Group, blocked all sales of Saturday-only tickets, even as it insisted the day was not sold out.

Why would it do this? Because it was pushing sales of higher-priced passes. Now we were told we could still go to Bumbershoot on Saturday, but only if we bought a three-day pass instead. The price for that? $189!

So I headed up to Seattle Center early thinking I’d have a better shot of getting a ticket if I was there when the box office opened. When I arrived there were no lines, and they were selling one-day tickets for $109. The ticket wasn’t paper. It was a tracking chip on a nylon bracelet designed to be non-transferable. (Anyone with minimal sewing skills or experience with Super Glue could make them transferrable).

I had an hour to kill before the gates opened, so I got some pizza and a beer at Pagliacci and started texting friends to find out when they’d be getting there. They were all planning on showing up around 1:00 when the gates opened.

I walked back down to the entry and was surprised to find a very long line of people waiting to get in. Forty-five minutes later the line started to move, but not very quickly because they were making everyone go through a very thorough search. Randy came walking in my direction just as I turned the corner towards the security gauntlet. He said, “Yeah I forgot to tell you about this. It’s really ridiculous”. And it was. I had to remove everything from my pockets, spread eagle, turn my back to the pat-down punks who clamped down on my legs from crotch to ankles and on my arms from pits to fingers. Seriously? Back in the good old days we bought tickets for reasonable prices and walked right in.

I think it was around 1:30 when we were free to walk the grounds. Israel Nash was scheduled to start at 2:15 at the Fisher Green stage. First thing I noticed on our way there was the lack of a stage northwest of the fountain like there usually is. However, there was a huge beer garden. Not just beer though, you could get cocktails this year. Beer has gone up to $8 and cocktails were $12. We went by that one and walked into a very large fenced-off beer garden a little left and back from the main viewing area on Fisher Green. Security guys checked our ID’s (We are old, why bother)? At least they gave us wrist bands so we wouldn’t have to pull out our ID’s every time we entered. Something so easy that they’ve never done before at Bumbershoot. So an improvement! Extra large drinking cages and an easy procedure for getting in and out of them.

One thing AEG got right was moving the Fisher Green stage to the south end of the lawn to take advantage of the hill that slopes down to the stage. The change made it a much better venue for viewing and listening to the shows.

As I stood there drinking my Hilliard’s 12 in a can, I surveyed the grounds and saw nothing much going on and not many people around the fountain and in the grass. That’s unusual for Bumbershoot. Normally there are dancing troupes, circus acts, and buskers entertaining the crowd as they go from show to show. None of that this year. Well the Sound Wave band went marching by once and played some music for a short while. There wasn’t even a KEXP booth anywhere around. Hmmmmm….

Israel Nash

Israel Nash

Israel Nash came on stage promptly at 2:15. The sound system was high quality, so the show sounded great – all thirty minutes of it. A thirty-minute set? I know sets are short at festivals, but I’ve never seen one scheduled for 30 minutes at Bumbershoot before. You’d think they could do 40 minutes and have twenty between acts. Nope. 30 between acts. Israel did invite us all to come and see him on Saturday, December 12th at The Crocodile for a whole show.

The misses arrived via Über in time to see Michael Cronin at 3:15 play his thirty-minute set. She also felt violated going through the pat-down search area, but somehow she managed to get an airport mini of vodka past them. I didn’t ask where she stashed it.

Michael Cronin

Michael Cronin

We had some time before the next act, so we visited the cocktail lounge on the Fountain Lawn. Like I said before, there wasn’t much happening on the lawn, and that’s a bad thing. It’s just not Bumbershoot if there isn’t stuff like this going on to entertain the crowd. The misses picked up some free stuff from the Coppola winery booth, and then we went back to Fisher Green to see Nikki Lane, a country singer I’d never heard of before.

Nikki Lane

Nikki Lane

We all liked her show. Jonny “2 Bags” Wickersham from Social Distortion joined her for one song, and she closed her set with a great cover of Dylan’s “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere“.

After that show we went to the Wild Turkey Bus.


They scanned all our wrist bands. I asked why, and they said so we couldn’t come back the same day. Tracking chips? Do you like tracking chips and whiskey? No I do not like tracking chips and whiskey! The rye whiskey was good though.

Randy and I headed over to the Memorial Stadium to catch a bit of Social Distortion. We stopped for fried oysters before heading through the gate where we had to get scanned again before entering. They moved the stage back to the West end of the stadium this year. I liked it on the North side last year. Worked great for The Replacements. Social D sounded great. Quite a production with the huge stage and big screens (making Mike Ness’s tat’s very large). We caught “Ball and Chain” and a few other songs before heading out. We soon found we were supposed to get scanned again before exiting. I asked why and was told that you had to scan out to so you could get scanned back in on the same day. Huh? Why? I can’t think of a good reason. Can anyone? Do you like Social D and wrist-band scans? No I do NOT like Social D and wrist-band scans! Social D was good though.

The Punch Brothers were on when we got back to Fisher Green. There was a large crowd on the lawn that appreciated their music. I wasn’t all that into their muted acoustic music, but they got to play for an hour or so before Neko Case, because the set-times grew longer as the day progressed. If I was in charge of scheduling, I would have switched their time with Israel Nash’s morning slot so he could have played an hour-long set of Laurel-Canyon-style, electric-guitar music leading into Neko’s show.

Neko Case with Rachel Flotard

Neko Case with Rachel Flotard

Neko saluted Washington State firefighters, who have sacrificed a lot this year – some their lives – trying to control huge forest fires in the Okanagan Valley, by wearing a fluorescent firefighter vest and firefighter boots. She played a loose set of songs spanning her career. Her voice was strong with perfect pitch as usual, and she had a good time connecting with her backup singer Rachel Flotard who retired from Visqueen a few years ago.

After the show we did what we always do.

Café Mecca

Café Mecca

At the Mecca we discussed what was good and bad about this year’s Bumbershoot. Good: big drinking cages with easy entry and exit, Fisher Green stage location, sound quality, and great performances. Bad: Expensive, short sets, tracking chips, aggressive pat-down searches, and the lack of performance art on the lawns – the stuff that makes it Bumbershoot instead of just another music festival.

Is this what Bumbershoot will be in future years? The Seattle Times already reported that the festival was a success and will be back next year. But if it’s this fucked up, I’ll probably give up on it after the thirty or so years I’ve attended.

I’m rarely as impressed by a viral video as the descriptions suggest I will be. But I don’t think this one can be over-hyped. It is technically tight, doesn’t overreach creatively, and combines iconic moments from some of the best movies of the last 40 years that give you that archived serotonin rush from your love of those movies, the chosen scenes in particular.

It makes masterful use of audio and music. Flawless as far as a non-audio tech nerd can tell (me). I was especially impressed by the Stayin’ Alive/The Wall segue/superimposition.

I’ve watched it three times. Be sure to watch past the credits (this is the only spot I noticed flaws).

Hell’s Club

All movies listed in the credits, except “Air Planes”, which I don’t understand.

  • Saturday Night Fever
  • Carlito’s Way
  • The Terminator
  • Trainspotting
  • Boogie Nights
  • Star Wars (multiple episodes, awesome)
  • John Wick
  • Blade 2
  • Collateral
  • The Matrix
  • Miami Vice
  • True Romance
  • Robocop
  • The Mask
  • Charlie’s Angels
  • Austin Powers
  • Casino
  • Dirty Dancing
  • Basic Instinct
  • Cocktail
  • American Psycho
  • Moonwalker (Michael Jackson)
  • Scarface
  • Hellraiser
  • A Night at the Roxbury

I sat down with my iPad last night and was bored out of my skull because there was nothing engaging on Facebook and I was at least three days caught up on all of my newsfeeds, so I started up Paper by 53. Previously I had looked at it and played with it. But then I dismissed it completely when I discovered the useful brushes and tools were in-app purchases.

Until last night. Bored and grumpy, I opened it up just to draw something. It presented me with a blank sketchpad with around 10 pages and I started experimenting. Well, to make a long story short, this morning I posted this to YouTube. I don’t even know where all of this came from. A very limited set of tools, fingers for brushes, and a complete lack of familiarity with the UI of this app and my imagination went somewhere completely unfamiliar to me. Read More →

Parental Controls with Steam

Steam Powered Parental ControlsAccording to Steam, I can either disable parental restrictions, anti-malware, anti-virus, and browser privacy settings, type in my root password, and give Steam unfettered access to control the operating system as if it were sitting at the computer using its fingers, or I just tell them they can’t play Portal 2.

Apple’s Safari Brower

Parental Controls in aApple's Safari is a restricted site that requires an admin password to access.

YouTube is Strictly Bad About Restrictions

Parental Controls with YouTube are Amazing! (ly bad)Even the most basic restrictions on YouTube block them from 75% of the Minecraft videos they want to watch.

Is Disabling Parental Controls the Only Option?

So my options are to disable parental controls or type in my password 17 times a day. Both options suck. Sorry, now this post is blocked due to foul language.

Also, this stupid editor in WordPress. I formatted the shit out of this post and it looked fucking awesome. Then I had to add some super hacker secret html tags to make it even more awesome. And when I went back to the visual editor ALL OF MY FORMATTING WAS COMPLETELY GONE! So parental controls and the WordPress visual editor. Perpetual state of suck.

What you can do about it:

Basically nothing, really. Disallow internet access. Watch their every move. Install Windows 10.

So here I sit with my head in my hands, swearing in front of my kids because I can’t restrict them from hearing other people swear. I can’t keep them away from bad influences that aren’t me. Parental controls are a joke, but YouTube, Apple, Steam, among others, tout these features as reasons to use their products. Parental controls bog down the parents, requiring constant oversight – even if it is a sort of passive oversight. It’s a lose-lose situation that is untenable, annoying, and sorely needed when giving your kids a way to explore the vast information resource called The Internet.

Raw Power

Seattle super group RAW POWER. From left to right that’s Duff McKagan on bass, Mark Arm singing, Barrett Martin on drums, and Mike McCready on guitar. They played a forty-five minute set of Iggy and the Stooges covers at this KEXP/Market Foundation fund-raising event.

Here’s the set list.

Little Doll

T.V. Eye

I Gotta Right

Need Somebody

Down on the Street

Search and Destroy


And here’s a Rolling Stone Magazine review of the show:

The coup was bringing Arm in to play the Iggy Pop role. Possessing one of the best voices in rock, and stage presence to burn, he would have been the obvious choice regardless of his status as hometown icon. Crucially, he was smart enough not to mimic Pop’s wild-card stage antics. Instead, he bent and bowed his body, and saved his energy to belt each tune with a perfect mixture of snotty disregard and growling disgust. He had a little fun in the frontman role too, introducing his bandmates by referencing their pre-fame bands, like McKagan’s punk days as a member of the Fartz and the Fastbacks, and McCready’s pre–Pearl Jam band Warrior.

And here’s a YouTube video.

And Charles Peterson photos here.

And for those of you wondering why the sky is white in Seattle on sunny, summer evening (The Bluest Skies are in Seattle), it’s  because of all the huge forest fires in the Okanagan Valley east of the mountains. The winds blew the smoke into the Puget Sound for the whole weekend. Our skies looked East Coast white. Pretty weird…

(Updated August 26th with Rolling Stone review, video, Peterson photos link, and comment about the white sky).

This new century needs new rules for walking mostly because of cellphones. Some people are so engrossed by what’s happening on the tiny screen in their hands, they have no idea what’s going on around them or how many other people are out walking at the same time they are. So here’s a list of rules: Some of them haven’t changed since a hundred years ago when cars took over roads, and people had to learn rules for walking on sidewalks or sides of roads; the new ones are pretty cellphone-centric.

  1. When you step onto a city sidewalk, take to look at all the people walking, biking, and driving around. Be aware that you are not the only person on the street.
  2. Stay to the right and keep up with traffic just like you do when you drive a car. Walking down the wrong side of the street confuses people coming toward you. They’d rather not have to step into the paths of the oncoming pedestrians on their left in order to avoid you.
  3. Don’t stop suddenly unless you know for sure that nobody is right on your heels.
  4. If you have to do more than just glance at your cellphone to see what time it is or check who just texted you, then you should start to move out of the way of other people, because if you start texting or checking your calendar or websites, you will slow down. Not a terrible violation on a quiet street, but during rush hours or lunch hours, people have no patience for it.
  5. Never stand still in the middle of the sidewalk unless you are the only person on the block.
  6. When walking with a group of people, don’t walk two or three or four abreast and take up the whole sidewalk. Groups normally walk at a slower pace, so there will be people behind you that want to get around your group, and people walking towards you who need an unobstructed path to continue in their direction. Not everyone is into playing “sidewalk chicken”.
  7. Don’t hog your pedestrian “right of way”. Sure, pedestrians always have the right of way at intersections, but if there are cars waiting patiently to make a right turn on a green light and you step into the lane they’d like to turn into while the signal is flashing “DON’T WALK” just as the traffic light turns yellow, you are impeding traffic. Some cities, like Seattle for instance, have horrendous rush-hour traffic. Think of First and Madison where cars are trying to turn right to get down to the ferry terminal or the waterfront, or Fourth and Pine where cars are trying to turn right onto Fourth so they can get out of town. When only one car can make the turn each cycle of the lights because of inconsiderate pedestrians, drivers get a little pissed and maybe even a little more aggressive.
  8. Jaywalking is okay if there aren’t any cars coming from either direction. Jaywalking is not okay if there are cars lined up in both directions and you and the mob you are part of continue walking in front of lines of cars trying to get through an intersection when the light is green for them.
  9. If you get to an intersection just as the traffic light turns green for cars going in your direction, and the pedestrian signal requires you to push a button before the traffic light turns green to trigger the WALK signal, it’s okay for you to walk even though the sign says DON’T WALK.
  10. If that same type of intersection has a left turn light that permits drivers to turn through the road you want to cross, it’s not okay to walk against the DON’T WALK signal.
  11. While walking a dog on a crowded sidewalk, keep it on a short leash.
  12. Stay to the right while walking or running on shared pedestrian and bike trails, like the Burke Gilman trail in Seattle. Bikes are going much faster than you can walk or run, so even thought you didn’t see a bike behind you last time you did a head check, there will be one, and the rider doesn’t want to guess wrong about which way you might wander on the path (and you will wander if you are reading texts, emails, or website on  you cellphone). The main idea here is to walk in a predictable fashion on the right side of the path.
  13. If a trail has designated lanes or paths for bikers and walkers, use the correct path.
  14. Don’t stand still and block an entryway to a trail. You don’t have the right of way if you are standing still. You do if you are walking.
  15. Never let your dog run free on a trail used by bikes. If your free-running dog gets hit by a bike or kicked by a frightened pedestrian, it’s your fault. Got that?
  16. If you know you’ll be walking on a dark unlit road, wear at least one item of clothing that drivers can see. Wearing all black is a bad idea.
  17. And again, remember you are not the only person on the street.

Now go for a walk downtown or through your neighborhood, and have a good time. Maybe you’ll end up at your favorite cocktail lounge. You can Über home.