Archive for April, 2009
One is often reminded of the failings of one’s memory. I went to see My Bloody Valentine last night in Seattle. I’ve been trying to remember some of the details about the first time I saw them. I know it was in Sheffield, and I know it was in a building at the university. Or maybe it was Sheffield Polytechnic. The venue might’ve been the Octagon. But it might have been a Student’s Union hall of some sort. I think it was 1989, but it may have been 1990. I’m pretty sure, though, that the ticket was a yellow square with black type on it. And I doubt it cost more than a tenner to get in.
Last night, it cost $38.50 plus a we’ve-made-it-up fee. And rather than being a university room, it was in the “[Name of a Bank That's in Receivership] Theater @ [Name of a Telecommunications Company] Field.” It was a big arena in a building between the Seattle Seahawks’ stadium, and the Seattle Mariners’ ballpark. The venue was as un-My Bloody Valentine as one could imagine. We were shepherded along a cordoned off bit of pavement – ladies to the left, men to the right – to be frisked. Then we walked passed the four policemen who were stationed outside the venue the whole night. What!? This is an indie-as-you-like band. It’s not a 50 Cent show. Do we really need a police presence? People in uniforms scan the barcodes on our tickets and we’re in.
Twenty (or nineteen) years ago, me and my mates stood in the front row. Gripping the metal barrier in a sweaty indie t-shirt (not MBV t-shirts, of course; one should never wear the t-shirt of the band you are seeing), I was probably at that moment losing my tinnitus virginity. To carry on the sex/ear condition metaphor, I’m now a total slut. Last night, as we entered the cavernous, bland [Name of a Bank That's in Receivership] Theater, were yellow-jacketed stewards handing out earplugs. I’m thirty-eight now, not nineteen; so I took a pair.
This was the first concert I’ve been to in the United States. And the whole experience felt like what it must’ve been like seeing a Soviet rock band in the eighties. Security everywhere. But not to stop people doing things the State doesn’t want them to do, seemingly to make sure there’s absolutely zero chance that the venue will be sued over anything at all. I stood for a few seconds on a piece of the concrete floor that was bordered by fluorescent yellow tape. A security man came up to me and told me I had to stand one side or the other, but not in the walkway. I shuffled forward four or five inches so my toes were on the tape, and raised a “is this okay?” eyebrow. He nodded.
Beers – Budweiser, Bud Light, some Belgian-style white beer – were eight dollars. Of course, my British driver’s licence isn’t acceptable identification of being over 21-years-old. So we just wander over to another bar where no-one asks to see my ID. The bar area is huge with a handful of tables and chairs, so we wander into the arena bit, which is seperated by an enormous blue curtain. “You can’t take beer inside.” says a yellow jacket. “Why?” “It’s an all ages show, but there’s a beer garden inside if you want to drink in there.”
Now, beer garden. You and I both know what a beer garden looks like, right? What a beer garden doesn’t look like is a holding pen at the back of a concert venue. But that’s how we are supposed to enjoy our beer and the band at the same time. Except, come ten o’clock, when I wander over there to neck another delicious Budweiser, I’m told the beer garden is closed.
I won’t go into the thing about not smoking at venues, cos I know how you non-smokers feel, you can guess how I feel. Simply to say, we have to go out, get our tickets scanned, smoke, come through the whole security frisking line again, passed the coppers, and back into the venue. Fun! Fun! FUN!
So, to the show itself. First up was Brightblack Morning Light. From what I heard, they sounded as though they might make lovely records, but [Name of a Bank That's in Receivership] Theater wasn’t really the place to experience them for the first time. We shuffle forward a bit, assuming that next up would be My Bloody Valentine. A tall dude with an acoustic guitar wanders on stage, says a few words, so we decide to go and smoke again. When we get back, though, he’s finishing up a song, then tells us the next one is called “Returns Every Morning.” He plays the first few chords, and I’m all like, “This is a cover of a Lilys song!” I go on to bore Claire with tales of yore, how the Lilys were FUCKING AWESOME and how I saw them live at the Blue Note in London in 1997. After that, the guy played another Lilys song. OMG! That’s THE GUY FROM THE LILYS! Kurt Something… (Google says Kurt Healey.) Gone is the Sixties mop of hair. He just looks like a regular dude now. A few songs later he plays The Hit Song. It was magnificent to hear those Lilys songs again.
Roadies do their thing for a while, and the mixture of young hipsters and people my age who were old enough to have bought My Bloody Valentine records when they came out, all start to gather in the central part of this furniture warehouse of a venue. A Beach Boys song, a Tinariwen song, something else, then the lights go down, and we’re off on a journey back in time. Every member of the band looks exactly the same, as if they’ve been mothballed in a cupboard and brought out to play a show. The only real difference I could notice was that Kevin Shields’ hair was a bit lighter, possibly greying. The visuals projected behind the band looked the same as they did back then, too: a blurry, out of focus, lo-fi attempt at psychedelia.
The main difference for me was the songs. The last time I saw them was before “Loveless” was released. So it was lovely to hear songs like “Only Shallow,” “I Only Said,” “To Here Knows When,” “Soon,” and “When You Sleep” live. And, being a snobby dick, I was exceedingly happy when they played one of their b-sides (“Slow”). I spent the first couple of songs fairly close to the stage with my ear plugs in. I toyed with them a bit and moved further back, and found that I could do without them when I was near the back of the standing area. It was nice not to have the sound dulled by the ear plugs. They finished, as I’d expected, with “You Made Me Realise,” a song which on the recorded version has a short section of noise. Live, though, it was over fifteen minutes long. It was superb. Just a trouser shuddering, chest-punching, amazingly loud noise, which towards the end gains in pitch, and really does sound like the journalistic cliché of an aeroplane taking off. It was at this point that I found Claire. We’d got separated early on, and about ten minutes into the noise – as some people were giving up and leaving, and the yellow jackets were probably wondering what the hell all these people saw in this Bloody Valentines band – I found her, lying down on the floor looking for all the world like she was asleep. She wasn’t though, she was just in her own little world, enjoying the noise. Impressive considering she’s seemed less than impressed with the couple of plays of their albums she’s heard since we bought the tickets.
The lights went up, we went to the car, drove through a drive-thru McDonalds and ate crappy food on the way home. Is it just me who experiences this, but does the salt on McDonalds fries really sting when it gets underneath the fingernails?
This is what I looked like after drinking too much beer and rum, and then vomiting at two o’clock this morning. I can’t remember getting home, but I do remember a random guy in a hot dog shop telling me I was “great” and “amazing” because I supported Liverpool FC.
A lovely spring day in the Pacific Northwest yesterday. It’s been like that all week, actually, but yesterday was special as it was the first baseball game of the year for me. We went to see our local team, and Claire’s faves, the Seattle Mariners playing against last year’s American League champions, the Tampa Bay Rays.
We got there nice and early to see batting practice, and after moving around the stadium a bit, found ourselves very close to where a ball was coming… closer… closer… closer… bounced off the floor, and like a panther, Claire was on top of it. Little did she know as she was going for it, there was a little old fella trying to get it too. We had made a decision that if a pre-teen kid was going for the same ball, we’d let them get it. We didn’t have an upper limit, so the old fella came up empty-handed. He wasn’t really that close to it, to be honest, but I’ve not told Claire that. She never reads the blog anyway, so I’m gonna let her think she was mean to a senior citizen. Anyway: beer, peanuts, garlic fries, and, of course, a hot dog.
And it was a good game, very enjoyable for those who enjoy a good pitcher’s duel. Ichiro hit a solo home run of the second pitch of the game, 1-0 to the Mariners. Two hours and twenty-two minutes later, the game was over. 1-0 to the Mariners. Off we dashed back to the car park; Vroom, vroom, and we’re in another car park near to the Paramount Theatre, just in time for the show to begin: Jerry Seinfeld. And he was everything I dreamt he would be. Just really, really funny. Laughing pretty much for the entire eighty minute show. And near the end, he said the two words I guess we all secretly hoped he’d say…. Hello, Newman.
I suppose it’s the logical next step after generic cherry flavour-type things, but Twinkies lip balm? Reese’s lip balm? Milk Duds lip balm? It seems so wrong… (photo taken in Big Kmart.)
First haircut in fifteen months…
Apart from George Washington, today’s new Minipops are mainly sports-related: three NBA players, Kobe Bryant, Yao Ming, and Carmelo Anthony; Cuban Olympic gold medallist in the 400 and 800 metres, Alberto Juantorena; 1972 and 1982 world snooker champion Alex Higgins (represented with the trophy and his baby); Ethiopian middle and long distance runner, Haile Gebrselassie; the former Detroit Tigers pitcher who sadly died recently, Mark Fidrych; every Cubs fan’s favourite fan, Steve Bartman; and Liverpool FC manager, Rafael Benítez.
Anyone know what the name of this flower is?
Those of you that have seen the Telegraph’s website today may have noticed that they’ve run some pictures of something that my pal Matt Sephton and I have been working on: a Minipops app for the iPhone and iPod touch.
We’re still working on it, but it should be available around the middle of May. It’s not gonna be free, cos Matt and I are putting in quite a lot of time and effort to get it done; but it won’t be expensive. And if you’re wondering why you should bother buying something you can look at for free on the website, or something that you’ve already paid for in book form: well, there’ll be a little bit of text about every Minipop.
You’ll be able to look through them alphabetically, view them randomly without the name so you can play the guessing game, and you’ll be able to search, too. Plus, whenever new Minipops are done, there’ll be free updates for the app. Anyway, we’re kind of getting ahead of ourselves a touch here. Anyway, it should be released in about a month’s time. Any thoughts, feel free to leave them in the comments.
After spending the past couple of months flitting between Claire’s shared house, and my room at Lisa and Cameron’s place, we’ve finally got a place of our own. We moved in last week. It’s about four miles outside of Bellingham, big trees in the garden, plenty of birds eating from the bird feeder, and lots of corners for Ghostface to explore. In that seemingly only-in-America way, a three bedroom house has three bathrooms. Seems excessive to me, but, I’m sure it’ll come in useful now and again.
Anyway, more about the house in the future, I’d imagine. But for now, to celebrate finally getting an Internet connection, here’s a couple of pictures of some deer walking through the garden this afternoon. It really is quite magical to look out the window and see them out there; like the next thing is gonna be fairies and gnomes waltzing across the lawn. I’m gonna predict that it will never be anything other than wonderful to see deer in the garden.
A couple of weeks ago, I typed my name with a full stop and “com” at the end into my browser. It’s something I do every now and again. For a while it was owned by a student at an American university. I never imagined that it’d be available, and if it was, I assumed it’d be expensive. Well, it was available a couple of weeks ago. And it was for sale at a higher price than I ever imagined I’d spend on a URL, but it was within my price range. And after a few days of mulling it over, and deciding that I’d be annoyed with myself if I didn’t buy it, I went ahead and put in a bid for it, which was accepted. So now I own craigrobinson.com. Hurray for me!
But, that didn’t stop my brain from ticking. What to do with it? I thought about rebranding this blog as CraigRobinson.com, cos it’s closer to who I am as a person that Flip Flop Flyin’ is, really. And I though it might be nice to add links to the other Craig Robinsons out there. Eventually that thought took over, and I decided that the site should be a “jump-off point” for all Craig Robinsons, so that none of us lose out by one of us owning the dot com URL.
So, if you want to find out stuff about Craig Robinson (the actor and comedian who plays Darryl in the US version of The Office), or Craig Robinson (Michelle Obama’s brother, and coach of Oregon State University’s basketball team), or Craig Robinson (the former baseball player), or Craig Robinson (the NY-based fashion designer), or Craig Robinson (the Prescott Valley, Arizona-based realtor), or Craig Robinson (err, me), then clickity click here: craigrobinson.com.
And if you are a Craig Robinson with a website, let me know and I’ll add you. Unless you’ve got a MySpace page, cos I’m not linking to a fucking MyfuckingSpace page.
I’m a dog person. Never been a big fan of cats, ambivalent at best. But there was a little fluffy cat that needed rescuing from a volcano, so wearing the correct protective gear, we did the right thing and dragged her to safety. We pretty much risked our own lives to do so. She’s a cutie. She’s called Ghostface Killah. Here she is:
There’s a few reasons for the name:
1) She’s white apart from her face.
2) At the moment, she only really seems to come out from hiding and enjoy our company at night.
3) Like Method Man said about the other Ghostface Killah, she’s “now you see me, now you don’t.”
4) I find it incredibly amusing to have inappropriate names for pets (see also Claire’s goldfish, Carrot, who I’ve re-named Megatron).
So, this post more than anything is a warning in advance of a possible avalanche of cat photos. God, I hate myself…
I’d much rather not put a picture of a bank’s logo on this page, but every time I see the Key Bank logo, I can’t help but see a lion instead of a key.
This time last year, I was in Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. As happens a lot, I’m mentally re-living each day of my South American travels. When I looked at Ushuaia on Google Maps, there’s a couple of interesting things. First, if you zoom right in on the water by the town, there’s this kinda weird, almost tartan pattern. And second, a lot of the buildings in the town have the white glare on the roofs. Not sure what the technical term is for that, but it’s like when the TV contrast is too high or something. Anyway, not particularly interesting, but it’s better than no blog post today, I suppose.