Saturday, May 31, 2008

Why no Sasquatch next year*

I went to the Sasquatch music festival this weekend. As usual, the location is beautiful and the music ranged from good to mind-blowing (another post on the music later). But unless the organizers manage to resurrect John Lennon, I don't plan to go next year. At one point, waiting in some annoying line or other, I said, "I can't wait until next year, when we're NOT going to Sasquatch."

First of all, the price is too high. Usually for festivals, I do a little calculation of how much I'd pay to see each band individually and that decides whether I go. This year, I was so excited about The Cure that I'd bought two (non-refundable Ticketbastard) tickets for all three days before I did the calculation and realized that I wouldn't have paid $75 for any of the days. So again Sasquatch, next year it'd better be zombie Lennon. And if you're messing with necromancy, why not Cobain, too.

The ongoing frat-guy-ization of Sasquatch reached fever pitch this year with some annoying morning-zoo types blaring music and trying to get people to humiliate themselves for free ad t-shirts next to a pitching cage, a corporate SUV (hott!), and a semi truck parked on the lawn where only two years ago, a guy dressed as a banana had done quiet interpretive dance. I missed Banana Man.

And holy shit is the alcohol situation bad. Of course you can't bring your own, and they charge through the nose. PBR was $11. For those prices, I decided to keep my self-respect and stay sober. But having been wildly envious of people who stayed dry in the bar during the hailstorm a few years back, I decided to go into the bar as soon as the crowd started cheering on the rain.

Sure enough, rain started to fall, the crowd started to cheer, and we rushed over to the bar. I was surprised by how short the line to get in was. And yet, we were in line for ten minutes while one gal looked at every ID as though it were an Israeli checkpoint. Then she spent two minutes each putting on a wristband just so.

When I got inside, the gal at the bar carded me again for my $9 mini-Sutter Home. So the hard-won wristband was useless. At that point, I was okay with it. She was nice, and it's a little flattering to be carded when you're 33 years old**. That is, it's flattering every now and then.

We left the tent ASAP (they had the concert showing on little tiny TVs, but no sound on), wherein I got yelled at for carrying out my empty mini-wine for later label use in my wine journal. The Fiance said he understood -- I might get wild and start smashing people over the head with my empty plastic miniature wine bottle.

We came back to the bar when the skies got threatening again. Longer line, even with two additional people on ID duty. One guy waved his bracelet and zipped through. I waved my bracelet at ID Dude #1, he spied my myriad gray hairs, and waved me through. But as I tried to move forward, ID Dude #2 said, in full authoritarian mode, "Your ID! Where's your ID!"

Now, nothing pulls my trigger faster than a mean person.

"This is ridiculous!" I said. "I've been checked!" I said, waving my wristband. "YOU checked me!" I said to the gal who was studiously ignoring the scene I was making. By this time, I'd pulled out my ID (after 12 years, I've no doubt I can do this in my sleep) and been waved through by ID Dude #2. "I'm 33!" I said as I stalked into the bar. "Then act like it," I heard the sheepy obviously-old fattened multitudes who haven't been carded since they were 15 behind me think. Still, I swear to God my tantrum (or probably dozens like it) had an effect. The next day, ID Dudes were circulating in the crowd, giving out wristbands at people's leisure. That'd be fantastic, if the wristbands weren't utterly useless to anyone under forty and 200 pounds.

I decided it'd take a Biblical flood to get me back in the bar, so we just stuck out the brief little rain showers for the rest of the festival. Much more pleasant than the Kafka-esque bar. But more beverage-related hassle awaited! In addition to either cheap or high-quality beer, I enjoy a good cup of coffee. That is, an afternoon without any coffee is an afternoon with a bad headache. On Sunday, they were out of coffee. On Monday, they were out of coffee cups. How do they not want the all-profit $4 they were charging badly enough to ensure they have coffee and cups to serve it in? Market forces. Pfff.

How the Gorge management treats its guests was embodied perfectly in signs on various beverage vendors. "As requested by the artists, all bottle caps must be removed and confiscated upon purchase." Now, people who throw bottle caps should be banned from attending any concert ever, but I am fucking certain Chris Walla did not request that all of his fans be treated like criminal infants (with giant trust funds). But that's exactly the way the Gorge did treat us, every step of the way.

Though nothing, not even the jaw-dropping Battles, was "too loud," I guess this all amounts to: I'm too old to be treated this way (though apparently I don't look it).

*Barring zombie Lennon.

**Thanks for the youthfulness, fat Irish cheeks! I've seen what gravity will do to you come age 50 though. Must mentally prepare.

Server problems, episode III

If you've tried to use my playlist makers in the last week, I apologize that they didn't work. I went over my server quota and, as I was mostly way off-grid last week, I didn't realize things weren't working until yesterday. The problem should have been fixed yesterday, but it just got worse and worse. I deleted everything I could to free up space. But it still wouldn't let me create new files. Worse, trying to save changes to existing files resulted in those files getting emptied of all code.

Ultimately, my desperate attempts to regain control of my files resulted in my entire web folder turning inaccessible to me. Grr.

So once again I'm trying to move everything (oh yes I have backups) to a more reliable server (Freehostia doesn't pull this baffling crap) and I'm dreaming of turning my elderly Toshiba into my very own Linux server. And again, I'll get two things moved, the crappy server will start working again, and I'll want to write new code instead of tweaking old code for a new server or figuring out how to get Linux to authenticate to a shared wireless router...

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Brunettes at Crystal Ballroom 5/25

the brunettes
Originally uploaded by mr. mammoth
The Brunettes will play at the Crystal Ballroom May 25. I'll be at Sasquatch, but if you like a sweet bubblegum duet, check 'em out!

The Brunettes - If You Were Alien [Buy mp3!!!]
The Brunettes - Loopy Loopy Love
The Brunettes - Small Town Crew
The Brunettes - These Things Take Time
The Brunettes - Cotton Candy

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Blow at the Aladdin Theater 6/14

The Blow
photo by nikki birdflu
The Blow will play at the Aladdin Theater Saturday, June 14 (tickets). It could be interesting to watch a dance-centric band in a chair-centric venue...

Here are links to some mp3s to check 'em out.
The Blow - Pile of Gold [Buy mp3!!!
The Blow - Hock It (YACHT Remix) [Buy mp3!!!]
The Blow - True Affection [Buy mp3!!!]

Saturday June 14th at Aladdin Theater (3017 SE Milwaukie), 8pm, $13, All Ages.

Native Oregon purple flowers, August blooms

In my on-going quest to make my wedding as complicated as possible (and my blog as random), I'm looking into potted plants native to Oregon for centerpieces. Here's my attempt to track down purple flowers native to Oregon that bloom in August. They don't have these at Freddy's or Walgreen's, and at the nurseries I've visited, you're not gonna find someone who knows what's native, when something blooms, and what color it is. So again I turn to The Internet for my over-specific, long-tail demands.

It's possible some of these are not Oregon natives -- I haven't systematically double-checked my assumptions.

Downingia elegans
Elegant calicoflower
[Oregon Plant Atlas]
[Paul Slichter]

Gentiana sceptrum
King's scepter gentian

photo by foliosus

Pedicularis attolens
Elephant Heads

photo by molas
[Native Plant Society]

Gentianopsis simplex
[Native Plant Society]

Penstemon davidsonii var. menziesii

photo by msanseve
[Buy plant!]
[Portland Nursery]
[Washington Native Plant Society]

Calochortus macrocarpus
Sagebrush mariposa lily

[photo by brewbooks]

Lupinus macrophyllum

photo by dleroy
[Portland Nursery]
[Native Plant Society]

Penstemon richardsonii
[Native Plant Society]

Hoary aster

photo by delayedneutron
[Paul Slichter]

Rosy owl clover
[Paul Slichter]

Larger Western Mountain Aster
[Paul Slichter]

Collomia larsenii
Talus Collomia

photo by brewbooks
[Paul Slichter]

Eurybia radulina
Rough-leaf aster
[Paul Slichter]

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Useful tools is doing right what Facebook did right -- letting developers use its data to make new applications as they see fit.

I've blogged, ad nauseam, my Podcast Finder and Windows Media Player playlist makers (by most-played artists, calendar, and tag).

In the last few days, I've come across a couple cool tools made by other folks (each causing me brief bouts of crushing envy and despair). One tool improves the mp3 recommendation process, allowing you to subscribe to mp3 recommendations like they were a blog. And now there's lasttube, which finds videos from artists you play most on

These new tools have me curious what other useful gems are hidden in the graphs-and-pretty-pictures mess at

I'll let you know what I find.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Taverns shown thus

I'm working in a coffee shop, and I just noticed a cycling map of Portland from 1896 on the wall.

First thing I noticed was an ad for a fabulous olde timey women's cycling sweater. Do want!

Then I noticed that practically everything was marked orange, like it was a great road for cycling (like, say, Foster). So I checked the map key to make sure I was reading it right.

The map key said:
Good roads shown thus. ===
Fair roads shown thus. - -
Rail roads shown thus. ---
Taverns shown thus. []

Portland cycling culture is much older than I thought.

Friday, May 2, 2008 Podcast Finder

I wrote some code I'm pretty excited about yesterday.

I've already blogged about my Podcast Finder, for podcast listeners in the market for recommendations.

This new bit of code makes podcast finding easier for users. Just put your username in here, and you'll get some podcast recommendations based on what you've "scrobbled" the most.

If you're a podcast listener who uses and Firefox with Greasemonkey installed (anyone left?), there's a Greasemonkey script that puts a link at the top of most-played artists pages, so you can just click to get podcast recommendations.

photo by Beard Papa