Video Game Heaven

I had a great time with Yachi's family for the last three days. Her brother had just bought a WII and a 360 so I got to play my fill of games. The second day we were there her younger brother and I beat Gears of War in one day. It was a good time but I doubt I will play the game again. The rest of the time we watched video games and played some WII. I think I will probably end of buying one of those machines. They are a lot of fun. Hell I would get it just for tennis.

Here is a picture of all of us at lunch. I thought it pretty amusing that I was a full head above the rest of her family and friends:

We also played some poker with her family which was cool. Her mom was quite a force to be reckoned with at the table. I managed to squeak out a win though.

Here is a picture of Yachi and I with some of her friends:


Cleaning up the tags as I am still getting used to this jazz.

From the Air

On the flight from Seattle to Detroit, there were two thoughts that I spent a lot of time with. The first was about the war in Iraq and the impact it has on people's life.

In Yachi and I's row there was a guy from some branch of the army. I am guessing he was in a special sort of unit because he had a beret and when I see a beret I think of green beret which makes me assume special. I was reading articles in the Washington Post about the war in Iraq. They were talking about the impact of the ISG report and how that would affect our progress on the war.

It was surreal reading about something that played such a large part in this guys life and I wanted to talk to this guy about his feelings on being a celebrity. I was not curious what his politics on the war were and to be honest I had / have not the right to ask him about his convictions. I was just really curious about seeing something that envelops your entire life be one of the main topics of discourse in America. It would have to be an interesting feeling.

Any ways I am doing a poor job of explaining this as it is really late and I think I lack the words to adequately express what I am thinking. Look at this pretty picture from the plane.

The other thought occurred to me when we flew into Phoenix. The way we build our civilization is fucked and backwards. All we try to do is increase our distance from one another. Seeing a city as big as Phoenix from the air really drives this point home.

There are a bunch of single family homes with as much distance as possible between one another and miles of concrete connecting them. This just is not a sustainable model and it saddens me to see this happening in the second fastest growing city in the US.

A large part of me cannot wait for the peak oil moment to occur. A city carved in the midst of a desert is a monument to hubris and this part of me would like to see the fall.

Enough ranting, I need to get some rest. One last picture from the sky.


The Hidden Meaning of a Children's Story

Yachi and I went to see the Nutcracker as performed by the Pacific Northwest Ballet last night. Overall the performance was really entertaining. The dancing was good and the set was amazing. As Yachi pointed out though there was a weird air of racism to the whole story. The mouses were very African and the soldiers very German. Guess who was not portrayed in the best light, like running around with spears light.

Here is a cute picture of us though:

Also I got a piece of mail that I think might be the most awesome thing I have ever got. I apparently am a good driver according to Pemco even though my last insurance company had to give me $2000 less than MSRP on the car I broke.


Ohh Arty!

My holiday party for work was a while back. It was not terribly exciting so basically I killed a lot of time by messing around with my camera. Here are the results of that boredom:

This was fun just because of the ceiling:

For some reason I really like this picture:

This one would have been cooler if I had held the camera a little more steady and Yachi was not blurry but it was fun to try to get this effect:

Snow Day

Due to more extreme weather in Seattle, I got another snow day on Friday. By extreme weather I mean 69 MPH winds. I have never really experienced a wind storm and most of it happened while I was asleep but it seemed to be more intense than I would have originally imagined. The power is still out on most of the east side of the Seattle metro area. Also they closed the bridge across the lake so of course I could not go to work.

I love snow days. Marques, Eric and I finished up our holiday shopping, making new friends along the way:

Afterwards Marques and I drank some beer and watched movies. All in all a most relaxing day. Makes me keep my fingers crossed that the electricity is not back up on Monday.



Not sure where I ran into this video but it reminds me of why I like the interweb. This is something I doubt I would have seen without it:


Better than hipster bingo

It is the new fad sweeping the nation, the ugly dress drinking game. At the Joanna Newsom show it was in full effect. Backing up a step, Yachi, Marques and I went to the show last night at the Showbox. As we walked in I realized Smog was the opening band which was cool because I really like his records. Unfortunately he is the sort of performer not suited to a venue as large as Showbox (the start of a trend). He was a little too quiet and reserved to be engaging.

So I was left to look through the crowd making fun of their clothing choices. I determined that a) ugly dresses are the new female hipster style of choice. These are dresses with puffy sleeves and fabric in weird places. One woman I was particularly hard on later ended up on stage playing with Joanna Newsom so I guess in the grand scheme of things I really do not know much. B) was that Yachi and I’s fleeces are mega-uncool like so uncool I think they should have turned us away at the door. Fortunately I have ass of iron so they let me in because that bumps me way back up the cool ladder. Yachi basked in the halo effect of the butt of steel.

Her show in itself suffered from the same problem as Smog. It was great music but not a show. It was as if you were watching a recording session for her album. The interest in seeing someone playing a harp on stage quickly faded as she and her fellow musicians proved to lack the ability to put on a good live show. The worst was that she had 5 other musicians on stage that played every 3 songs. In between they just sat there and stared admiringly / creepily at her while she played.

Maybe Blood Brothers next week will put on a better show.


Partying like my 2nd Senior year

going to a club and a show all in one night, reminds me of why I was in college so long. Details to follow maybe.


Why don't you ring my doorbell?

My new nemesis

while waiting for the bus I had an epic duel with this pigeon. he feinted on way and I another. Always going for my delicious blueberry scone. After what seemed hours of his continued lunging and my continued half kicking at him, the bus arrived and I was able to beat a hasty retreat.

While this was going on there was an elder across the street yelling at all the denizens of the bus stop about ringing his doorbell. It made me love the Stewart bus stop all the more.

As a side note since I am wearing a jacket again, i am carrying my camera again and more likely to take random photos, such as the one below (and one could argue the one above).


Opening Salvo

The original posting that raised my ire (Click on the image to read the small print):

My amateurish (yet amazingly funny) response:

My photoshop skills are not ideal but good enough to get my point across. I decided to use impeach because I thought it a comfortable enough term for everyone. After all Clinton was impeached and Bush is about to be. Everyone should be familiar with it.

The next step is to post them all over. That might be a late night commando raid.


The Iran-Contra Scandal

Don't tell anyone but I am planning a coup. Not a big coup just a small condo association sized one. I have decided that the current board of something in my building is completely incompetent and the only way to deal with this incompetence is a (hopefully peaceful) violent uprising.

I am going to start tomorrow with flyers, everyone loves flyers. I just have to be careful and watch out for moles. Can't have someone loyal to the board coming to my meeting. I am trying to come up with some questions I can ask them to determine their loyalties but have been unable to think up any good ones. Let me know if you can think of any.

Alright I have to go plan some more for this but if you have any practical tips for revolution let me know.



Title says it all. Vote, vote , vote, vote , vote.

I can get apathetic too but you can get over it. Just like most Americans get over their fear of making an ass of themselves in public by wanting to be on reality TV.



Now is when the depression starts…

With the passing of a time change (Daylights savings or it’s reverse daylights spending, I can never remember) sadness has returned to Seattle. When I first moved out here and started meeting other new transplants to the city, I (and others, I am not claiming I was the first to notice, just that I did) noticed that people, including myself, started getting all types of depressed towards the end of October. It remained a mystery for a year or two but then in a sudden flash of genius (we like to call them ‘Eureka’ moments in the genius biz) I realized it was related to how dark it got so early.

Once the clocks change it gets pitch black here by 3 PM which makes the rest of the day kind of lose time and stretch on forever. This condition tends to cause at least momentary spurts of depression in even the cheeriest of people. Not all is woe though (Hahaha that rhymes, I’m a poet and I didn’t even know it), the weather does lend itself to a particularly frightening Halloween season. It looks like it might even be clear out this year. I hope for all the youts that it stays that way.

Speaking of Halloween, I went to Marques’ annual shindig and had a great time. I even managed to bribe / cajole my way into a prize, MOP. Mash out posse you say? No this isn’t Brownsville, most outstanding partier, mostly for my way with the music and the guests. It seemed like a great time was had by all and those who might not have classified it as great probably classified it at least as pretty damn good. Drinking, costumes, breaking boards and mysterious bruises, what more could a party be?



Work has been a little crazy recently. Things are heating up and deadlines are approaching. With this pressure I have found myself more and more asking WWJD? I want to throttle that person because of the drivel pouring forth from their vacuous mind but WWJD? I want to scream at the top of my lungs till this person actually listens to me but WWJD? I want to do things that I cannot type about here as they might eventually be used as evidence in a criminal case but WWJD?

Fortunately I came down with a bad case of the stigmata recently…

And was able to just look down at my hand to remind me, oh yeah that’s what Justin would do.


Germans and Goths

Saturday night I managed to see another sublime show. It is good getting back out and seeing music again. For this concert I had never even heard the band which usually results in a rather lopsided show. It is either kick ass or so awful you feel like leaving.

I think this is related to the effect music has in general and how the live setting causes it to be intensified. Your familiarity with music will allow artists to grow on you that upon first listen were some of your least favorite. Alternatively the live show of a band that immediately clicks with you makes that bond much stronger. It is always a pleasure when you attend a show of the latter variety.

On Saturday it was the Dresden Dolls, a band that I had heard a lot about on the blogosphere (who are being referenced on my blog, how meta and self-referential) and from Marques. I did not really know what to expect and a quick view of their allmusic entry did not help me out that much. Piano and drums, punk and pop, burlesque and well, burlesque.

The show blew me and my confused expectations away. It was a female lead singer playing piano and a male playing drums. The musicianship of both was spectacular and the passion with which they approached their music was relentless. They carried amazing energy throughout the show and the attention of the crowd never wavered.
The music itself was a staggering mix of many different styles and influences that managed to be much more than the sum of its parts. The show itself was entertaining in the way not that many shows are these days. The enthusiasm of the band made even the stoic Seattle crowd enjoy themselves. They also managed to convince some of the dancers from the opening circus to come up and dance for them.

Both musicians added a great deal in their own way. The voice and presence of the singer dominated the stage even when she was focusing her and the audience’s attention on the dancers. The drummer beat the drums like Ike beat Tina and was singing along with the crowd to every song.

The encore though was where they really placed themselves in another tier. They first let the opening band sing the majority of a cover they performed and then played a 10 minute instrumental piece that segued into one of their more popular numbers (I am assuming because of the reaction of the crowd). It reminded me of Liquid Swords (Also known as the best Wu album ever and a contender for best rap album ever). Both allow(ed) a different artist to close the mood which shows a confidence in the art they are creating that few have.

The rest of the night was typical Seattle fun, a stop at Garage and a run to Satellite to close the night out.


Seattle Perks

A couple of night it ago there was a really pretty sunset in Seattle. Reminded me of one of the reasons I like it here every once in a while.

Oh yeah, these pictures are taken off our balcony. Hows that for a decent view?


Happy Christmas


Make your day and download this album. Biggie and Gnarls Barkley, I am posting this while downloading it but with that combination it is going to be hard to go wrong.


The Tail Side of the Coin

After such an amazing show I was hungry to see brilliance again. There was a rumor (That I think I might have had a small part in starting) that Shadow was going to show up at the James Lavelle show later that night.

Quick background on why this would seem likely, pretend you are seeing Wayne’s World flashback effects. Lavelle started a label called Mo’ Wax that put out some of the most innovative and important music of the early to mid 90’s. This music of course included Shadow’s early work. They had a pretty fruitful partnership progressing to U.N.K.L.E., a super group of sorts that was the two of them and everyone they wanted to work with. I am not a big fan of this work but it is good (More in a Radiohead vein than I care for). After U.N.K.L.E. Shadow moved on to the bigger and better and Lavelle kind of started to fall off.

This brings me back to the present; we showed up at Element to see this show and were greeted by the sounds of a completely generic star DJ set. Lavelle is a man who was responsible for sheparding a lot of sublime music and making some great music himself along the way. He has been reduced to a phenomenon that it largely part of the reason I don’t see DJ sets in clubs anymore.

It seems like a lot of DJs who have made good music and have a lot of skill on the decks put on these really vapid shows. It is the equivalent of just checking it in at your 9-5. The set comprises some funky breaks and a lot of bad house mixed in a way that does not offend anyone. The scary thing about these sets is that they are coming from people I consider giants, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Afrika Bambatta, etc… It is hard to put on a good show as a DJ, there is always the tension between the music and the performance but these are people who have shown they can rise above this. Instead they basically play a tape and collect their check. They play such a banal set that they really should just be putting a tape in.

After seeing such a great show with DJ Shadow it was even more apparent and made me spin my head around the dichotomy for a week or so. It was a fun night minus the music. There was a drunken girl making such an ass out of herself that she provided lots of amusement for us. Among the other usually fun club activities, drinking and making fun of the patrons, I managed to enjoy myself. It will be a while before I go to a show like this again though.


Midnight in a Perfect World

This is one of the most beautiful pieces of music I have ever had the pleasure of listening to and last week I got to hear it live from Josh Davis himself. If you have never heard it do yourself a favor and check it out now. Now go buy Endtroducing, you might not like all the songs on it but don't tell me that cause I will start reconsidering our friendship.

The Shadow concert was invigorating. I had forgotten what seeing a good concert is like as I have not been to a good one like this in a while. He mixed his own stuff with a pretty interesting video that he and another guy had put together. This show was different from previous shows of his because it was a personal journey through his career which has lasted over 15 years now (A scary side note, he mentioned this at the concert and I realized how long I had been listening to him and by proxy how old I am now) and it was exciting to see his take on his progression as an artist. I remember the first time I saw him and it was just him and the wheels of steel. He tore up an amazing set. The mix still stands as one of the most eclectic yet complete I have ever heard. This show was as focused as that set was sprawling and I liked seeing both sides.

I like artists who refuse to stop growing. I do not like all the new songs of his new album or even off his old album but the fact that he continues to push himself and his craft is an inspiration. This most recent album could be argued to be schizophrenic because he tries so many different approaches to music. What is amazing though is the way in which he is able to produce masterful songs in styles he has never touched surpassing those who spend their whole focus on these areas. The David Banner track is truly a standout.

Overall an amazing concert and one that I know I will look back on fondly. The rest of the night proved to be the other side of the coin and I will talk about that soon (Hopefully tomorrow but we will see).


The Real World Seattle

One of Morgan’s friends visited Seattle yesterday for a couple of hours. She works on a cruise ship and it was docked here briefly so me and Chris Clark met up with her. She has just spent four months in South America and Chris is heading there soon so I thought it would be good for them to meet up.

After getting a full body search and the now obligatory “do you have any other ID, this license is expired” talk we finally got into the port to pick her up. We went to Le Pichet and the market for a couple of hours and had a nice time catching up. Chris was able to ask some questions about his trip. All and all a successful little visit.

When we left to drive her back to the boat we decided to go through an alley to a one way street heading in the direction we needed. This is where Bianca saw the real Seattle. After one crack head poked her head out of a recessed doorway we were on our guard. Passing the next dumpster we saw a circle of people sitting down filling up syringes with heroin, staring at us as we drove past in Chris’ beemer. With Chris shuddering from the needle sighting we passed another dumpster and saw two men smoking crack, one of whom was in a wheelchair. Way to go Seattle. The three of us agreed that this was something you don’t see every day and we sent Bianca off with a great story about the joys of Seattle.


The Drunken Race

This Saturday was the pub race. For the non-Seattle residents a quick primer is located here. For those too lazy to read that site the gist is that you cross a scavenger hunt and a pub crawl. We ran around Seattle for 5 hours drinking heavily and looking for McDonald’s happy meal toys (note I did not say a hard scavenger hunt).

My team mate was Marques and our team was team champion. Due to our combined weight being much higher than everyone else and our ability to drink (coupled with Marques' competitive streak) we were the favorites entering the race. On the walk down to the first bar we prepared by grabbing some maps, water and protein bars which according to the FDA lower your blood alcohol level. At the restaurant we engaged in much strategizing and general bullshit with everyone else, thoroughly enjoying ourselves.

Once the race was on we were off running all over Seattle quickly becoming more and more inebriated. If you saw me in Capitol Hill running around let me know what I was doing as things got fuzzy at that point. It was a fun time and many thanks go out to Teresa and Jacob for organizing such an enjoyable time.

After two pounds of water weight and about 20 drinks Marques and I lived up to the hype. We took the title with Ben and Stina coming in a close second. Here is a nice picture of the trophy.

I have a good picture of Marques with the bartender at Linda’s but cannot get any pictures of my camera at the moment. They will be added once I pull the right cable out of a box somewhere.

The one thing I don’t have a picture of but wish I did was Marques’ shirt right before we had to switch them as one of the last challenges. Now I will be the first to admit that I sweat a lot but that shirt was dripping water. It was awesome. The people who loved it the most though were the people in the deluxe who had to hear in graphic sailor blushing detail why I did not want to wear it anymore and then see Marques and I’s naked bellies as we switched back getting fore-mentioned sweat all over their dinner. Nice.

I am already looking forward to next year.


Goodbye China

So it has been a long time coming but it needed to be done. I am finally finishing up my China trip on the blog. In the month hiatus I am sure my loyal readership of two has dropped to zero but I need to finish this anyways.

The last day in China was pretty fun. The day itself was relatively pedestrian (packing , work and another torn down restaurant)

The team took me out for a farewell dinner at AFunTi. This is a place where they serve Western Chinese food and have lots of dancing. The food is mostly Middle Eastern and was pretty good. The dancing was pretty crazy though. Basically the whole night was watching various dances and performances.

It started with dancing from the staff of the restaurant and quickly progressed to lots of audience participation. I even got dragged on stage with my co-worker LuLu (of the awesome glasses, check them out). We had to try to spell out letters between the two of us (A-F-U-N-T-I, surprisingly enough). We did not do as well as some of the other groups but gave it a valiant effort.

There was more dancing and a skit involving a snake being draped on an unsuspecting guy. I was happy I managed to sit that one out or I would have embarrassed all Americans by screaming like a girl and running like hell if they had dropped a snake on me. After the snake they switched it up to belly dancing which was interesting enough. After the female belly dancing came the male belly dancing. I had never witnessed this but apparently they man dancing was the premier male belly dancer in China (and judging from the crowd’s reaction, one of the few).

They switched to hip hop kung-fu after the belly dancing which was a bizarre mix of 50 Cent and wushu (AKA cool looking martial arts like you see in movies). They threw in a lot of dancing as well which was pretty entertaining but not the most authentic display of kung-fu I suppose.

After this it was back to the crowd participation. I managed to sit this one out but LuLu was not so lucky. The participants had to do a medley of all the routines from the night and one involved spinning a girl around in your arms for a while. She got a little dizzy from the whole thing and needed to be helped to the side of the stage.

After the medley everyone pretty much jumped on the tables and started dancing. I was kind of flabbergasted, sure people had been telling me for a week that this was a place where people danced on the tables but I had kept assuming they meant it was wild. I found out otherwise and joined in for a little bit.

I left dinner with a cool watch (going away gift) and a neat hat form the restaurant. The watch can play Mp3s which would be great right now as my iPod is dead. We took the subway home and it was a much more subdued affair than the trip out.

One cool thing about the train though was their posters warning against bears. You can see the bear here:

And what to do here:

Well that is the China blog. I feel somewhat anti-climactic after having written the last post. I think I will probably keep posting things and hopefully on a more regular basis than once a month. We will have to feel it out.


Hot touches all around

Sunday was one of the best days I had in Beijing which was a good way to spend an almost last day. It started off with being late to meet Lianfeng, his wife and his friend for lunch. We decided to go to a traditional Beijing style restaurant which was good. It was a lot of food for my just waking up belly. We had to place food on a nearby table because we ordered so much. I tried all the food Beijing is famous for while everyone else ate food that they thought was much better. It was all good though.

After the lunch we went to the Tianyi market which I wish I had know about when I moved into Beijing. It is the wholesale market where most stores buy their goods. You can buy single items but start getting pretty steep discounts as you buy more things. There is not much bargaining which is really pretty nice. It is amazing though how much the things they sell there are marked up for at other places. We walked around so I could get a good taste for what was being offered. After that I bought more presents than I have room for. Hua is coming back this weekend though and is willing to carry everything for me so I got that going for me which is nice.

After the awesome market I headed up to Hou Hai which is the lake area north of the Forbidden City. This was one of those areas that I had gone to early on in my time in Beijing. It was cool then but looked like it would be nicer as the weather improved. I had always meant to go back and did make it back for a minute with my dad but never really spent any time there. That was a mistake. If I ever go back to Beijing I would like to stay in that area. It was a lot of fun just walking around and taking everything in.

I ended up staying there for around 5 hours which is a lot of time to spend walking around but it was all worth it. I saw people with tattoos which were a rarity and they had good music stores. I was sold at that point. The rest was just icing. The stores were cool. I do not even like browsing that much but ended up going in most of the stores around there and buying a couple of small things for the house when I get back.

This reminded me one of my friends tattoos from high school. He got the Alpha and the Omega on either arm and the text "I am the begining... (Other arm) and the end". Look up the spelling of those words when you get a chance and you will experience the shock he did.

Grrr... Angry bear.

I had dinner at Nuage which was a pretty good Vietnamese place and then had a drink a la fresco (which means to the fresco or outdoors in French Italian). Overall a really pleasant way to spend my last weekend day in Beijing.

Trifecta, say it with me

Saturday continued the fun. I packed most of my shit. For the observant out there you realize that I have said I was packing for about three days at this point, well I pack slowly with lots of hearts in between putting stuff in bags. Besides I learned that I had too much stuff really and not enough room, I did not realize how much stuff I accumulated over six months until I actually tried putting it all in bags.

After lots of fun packing I went to work for a while and did some work. After this unique achievement I went with Miao, Hua, and Michael to dinner at three men from Guizhou which was a Guizhou style restaurant. Supposedly this is the third style in the trifecta of Chinese spiciness (Hunan and Sichuan being the other two). It was spicy and also very sour. It actually reminded me a lot of Khmer food.

The dinner was fun. It was good having a chance to catch up with all those guys before I took off. The restaurant was pretty fancy as well, it was near the Green T House and the Worker’s stadium for those familiar with Beijing. Again we ordered way more food than we could possibly eat. The soup alone could have fed us all and Hua said that in Guizhou the bowls are even bigger. Basically one bowl of soup feeds a family for a couple of days.

After dinner we cut through the stadium and got my last foot massage at Bodhi. We talked about cameras for a while until we were hushed by the people in the room next to us for being too loud. I will miss that place as well. It is hard to beat $15 massages like that.

Going for that wet dog look

Friday was the beginning of the “Justin’s leaving” dinners. This one was with Xu who was the person I worked the closest with in the ATC. His wife was supposed to join but had left the day before for a conference. We could have used her expertise as she is a meteorologist and it was raining and neither Xu nor I brought an umbrella to work.

We had dinner at my favorite restaurant (Boiling Fish). The manager was so excited I brought someone who spoke Chinese. She could finally get all the questions she had about me answered. So we talked with her for a while and then Xu proceeded to order everything on the menu. We had a lot of food of which we probably finished a third. I got to try some more exotic things before I left like boiled pig’s feet. They are actually much better than you would imagine giving even more credence to my anything but muscles theory.

After dinner I walked home in the pouring rain cursing my utterances of Beijing never raining. I packed some more and went to bed. Not the biggest party night but it was fun having a nice dinner with Xu.

Artsy fartsy

Thursday was slightly more interesting than Wednesday but not by much. I decided to head up to Wudaokou for a last dinner there and ate at this Japanese restaurant that was pretty good. Afterwards I went to a coffee shop I had heard about from some people at work. It was a nice place and I took lots of pictures. Mostly messing around with my camera and different ideas I had seen in other peoples photos. I am aiming for a gallery show by the end of this year, it will be called great works of art (as plagiarized by Justin).