Another banner show

Pleasantly surprised to see the art that @ekimtiki & I made is now on a big vinyl sign on stage.

We had a blast at last week’s 8bitSF show. Enjoyed checking out everybody’s sets and it was cool to meet Attract Mode‘s Adam. Mike and I were happy to see our flier art featured on a big banner onstage. Thanks to @crashfaster for putting together another excellent show.

If you missed it, you can still download the March show sampler here.


Ultramagnetic Fields

Nashville’s music scene was really kicking ass in the late 90’s. For a while, there was a huge gap between small venues like Lucy’s Record Shop and larger venues, but then some genius decided to start throwing indie rock shows at Victor/Victoria’s, Nashville’s one and only drag bar. The first show I saw at Victor/Victoria’s was Lambchop with Magnetic Fields. It was ’97, so I would have been the svelte 20 year old with a full head of blond hair and an iconic pair of Buddy Holly glasses.

The clubs modest front door was an interesting contrast for the secret within. Most of the smaller clubs used christmas lights as year round decorations, but every inch of ceiling at V/V’s was covered with christmas tree lights and mirrored disco balls. As I walked through the bar a tall black man with a HUGE blond beehive wig and red ruby heels walked up to me and “Mmmm… fresh meat.” The jukebox was filled with Village People and Madonna records. Even though I was there an hour before show time, the area around the stage was already filling up with indie rock boys and girls. I remember thinking it was the only rock stage I had ever seen with a cat walk.

I had never heard the Magnetic Fields before, but my friend Andy told me not to miss them. They took the stage an hour late and as they started plugging in their instruments the lead singer, Stephen Merrit, complained about the blinking lights to the sound man in the back of the club. He waited a bit, blocking the lights with his hands, then spoke into the mic again with his baritone voice “Fucking seriously, turn the fucking blinking lights off.” The room went silent during for a few seconds, but when the blinking lights suddenly got more intense, a few of us laughed. Merrit didn’t wasn’t laughing though, in fact he stormed off the stage and through the crowd.

We sat on the floor waiting for him to return. 20 or 30 minutes later he passed through the crowd again and took the stage. “I’m fucking epileptic.” he boomed in to the mic… then the band started playing. They opened with All The Umbrellas In London, a fantastic song, and my heart was won over. It was one of those special performances were everyone in the crowd was captivated. The band took turns switching up instruments, but mostly consisted of piano, cello, drums, mandolin, and guitar.

I loved the music so much that the next day I bought both of their available albums from Lucy’s Record Shop along with a 7″ single of All The Umbrellas. What I didn’t know was that Magnetic Fields were an electronic band and that last night’s performance had been a special acoustic show. I was heartbroken and lied to. What I had heard on stage was, to me, a new music. It was a sound I kept searching for for many many years in record stores and even with my own live bands. I hated those albums, but loved the songs, so when friends kept telling me I needed to listen to Magnetic Fields’ new albums I just scoffed. I rediscovered them many years after their album “I” was released. I remember hearing it for the first time and being instantly transported back to that summer night in ’97 when I 1st heard this new sound coming from a low voiced auteur in a drag bar in downtown Nashville.

Thanks to my friend Reed, I’ll be going to see Magnetic Fields tonight. It will be the first time I’ve seen them since that fantastic show 13 years ago.


The Best Thanksgiving Ever

My favorite Thanksgiving ever was easily the one I shared in 2000 with my roommate Dwayne. I lived in Chattanooga at the time and most of my friends had big holiday plans, but even though Dwayne had local family, he had no intention of visiting them.
We decided to go to Ryan’s Steakhouse, a buffet chain in the style of Sizzler, for dinner. We got there early and stayed for about 4 hours, drinking sweet tea and eating jello salad. I brought a chess board and a copy of Knightmare Chess, a chess variant that involved Magic The Gathering style playing cards that altered the gameplay.
During one of our most exciting games, Dwayne played the “Doomsayer” card which states that the next player who mentions the name of a piece loses a piece of that type. The only exceptions being when a player says the “king” or when they say any pieces that they don’t currently have.
I waited a few moves before I picked up the ketchup bottle on the table and remarking “It’d be awesome to make a chess board out of ordinary condiments. The Ketcup bottle could be the king… and the salt shaker could be a rook…” Keep in mind I had already lost both my rooks. “…but what would this big hot sauce bottle be?”
Without missing a beat, Dwayne answered “A queen, obviously.” before he realized his mistake.
Taking his queen felt good, but I believe he still one.
After years of bullshit big dinners, this break from the “holidays” was everything I could have ever dreamed of. It was the best Thanksgiving ever!


Dreams on a plane

For the last few weeks, we’ve been working on a deal with a BBC property that would require our game design team to fly to London. Every week we’ve been told “we’ll probably leave next week” and every week the deal has fallen through. The pressure of almost leaving the country for several weeks in a row has been a heavy load emotionally, so it’s no surprise that last night I had a crazy ass dream about flying:

I was visiting my parents in Tennessee when I got a last minute call requesting my immediate return to SF. My dad and I rushed to the airport, were we could see people boarding the plane. It was a brown Boeing 747 with a few missing windows and one of the emergency doors was missing. It looked unsafe, so my dad decided to come with me. We abandoned the car on the tarmac and boarded the plane without any luggage.

The plane started moving before we had even found our seats. It was a full flight and no-one else seemed concerned about the missing windows. The take off was smooth, and I started to relax, but after a few minutes in the air I looked out the window and saw that our plane was drastically losing altitude and swerving around unstably. At first I was the only one to notice how the terrible flying, but then other people started looking out the windows and all the passengers started panicking.

We were now flying right above the ground and nearly missing big buildings as we flew through some city. I made sure my buckle was fastened and braced for a crash, but it never came. A few minutes later my dad and I decide to take control of the plane and rescue everyone, so we storm the aisles and bang on the door to the pilots cabinet. No one answers so we tore the door of the hinge.

The flight cabinet had wall to wall shag carpeting. Red curtains hung in front of all the windows, tinting all the incoming sunlight red. There was a steward washing his hands in an elegant sink, he was face was covered with a mud mask and he had cucumber slices over his eyes. “Where is the captian?” I asked, adding “We have to save this flight.”

The steward pointed casually to the pilot, who was sitting in a nearby chair. He was facing the front of the plane, but had a curtain over his head, like the sort that old time photographers had when taking portraits of early pioneers. I touched his should and pulled his head out from under the sheet so I could see his face. The pilot, who turned out to be Ms. Jay (from America’s Next Top Model), said “Am I doing a bad job? Maybe you should fly this plane.”

I sat down at the pilot’s chair and prepared to fly. When I lifted up the red curtain, I expected to see a big window, but was surprised to find a wooden wall. Near the lower right hand corner was a tiny window, about 3 inches wide, that was the only way to see where I was flying. The plane jerked back and forth and I suddenly realized that Ms. Jay had done a much better job of flying than I was. I felt certain we were going to crash, but tried as best as I could to keep us up high and stable. Finally the plane seemed under control, and although I couldn’t see much, I felt that I finally understood the controls. A few minutes passed before my dad slide one of the big red curtains open that were on the sides of the cabinet and we could finally see out the sides of the plane. That’s when I realized that the reason the plane felt so stable was because I had accidentally landed the plain on a highway.

Since we were almost there, I decided to just keep piloting the 747 on the highway until we reached San Francisco.