July 30, 2010

Five for Friday

It's full-blown monsoon season in Phoenix, but that won't stand in the way of my weekend goals, which include staying dry.

1. Eff you, rut: I began last week's list detailing my ever-growing frustration with the stalled project that was decorating the office-slash-guest bedroom. Well, I'm happy to report I kicked the design block's ass. 

The look of the space has progressed in a direction I'm totally happy with this week. The addition of curtains, a restyling of the bookcase and a few wall decorations getting a home makes me a happy wannabe interior design maven. Stay tuned for the full reveal.

2. Retirement temporarily suspended: I'll be dusting off my reporter's notebook next week. My college homie and fellow Daily Evergreen alumnus Kyle Bonagura asked me to cover two Bay Area baseball teams at a tournament in Surprise for his Web site, Patch.com.

I'll admit I'm a little nervous considering I haven't written a gamer since leaving the Tri-City Herald in 2006. My time at the Fresno Bee was all about copy editing and page design. But I'm embracing this challenge. I should've known sports journalism wasn't going to let me get away that easy.

3. Second-hand search: A trip to the thrift shop across the street is in order. I have a little nook in the office/guest bedroom begging for a small chair or table.

4. Lack-luster: If the mission to find something at the thrift store fails, I have an IKEA Lack side table from 2002 that needs to be repurposed. I'm thinking something like this.

5. Gone too soon: Tomorrow is not promised and that was never more evident Wednesday when I learned a friend I'd known since junior high had passed away. Les was an extraordinary person, touching so many with his musical talent, infectious smile and comforting embrace. 

One of Les' songs.

Cherish one another, be grateful for each breath and appreciate the beauty in the little things. Rest in peace, Les.

July 29, 2010

Phoenix's gift of live music keeps giving

After the amazing Silversun Pickups show and Tuesday's announcement of Best Coast's tour stop about 10 minutes from my house, it's only fitting to preview what's ahead in the realm of live entertainment. And there's much to discuss. Phoenix actually has a legit music scene, something my previous place of residence was desperately lacking.  

Don't get me wrong. The Jonas Brothers, Britney Spears and Nickelbacks of the world came to Fresno, which is great if you're into manufactured music without substance. And those types of acts also play the Phoenix area, but there is an indie scene to balance out the garbage. Fresno had non-mainstream tours visit, but they were few and far between.

For quality up-and-coming artists, music lovers had to make 44-mile trip down Highway 99 to Visalia, where Aaron Gomes and his Sound N Vision team have cultivated an indie live show hotbed.

Fresno's little sister obviously has better taste in tunes, bringing the likes of Modest Mouse, Rogue Wave, Helio Sequence, The Thermals, Akron/Family, Great Northern, Menomena, Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore, Dirty Projectors, Pinback, Jay Reatard, Maria Taylor, Land Of Talk, Times New Viking, The Tallest Man on Earth, Conor Oberst, M. Ward, Whispertown 2000, Vivian Girls, Local Natives, Los Campesinos!, Vampire Weekend, Surfer Blood, Titus Andronicus, Ra Ra Riot and Best Coast's Bethany Cosentino's old band Pocahaunted to town.

So what's a girl looking for those same types of shows in Phoenix to do? Let's just say Stateside Presents fills the void in my indie music heart.  

Check out their Web site for the entire offering of live shows, including stops by The National, !!!, Sea Wolf, The Tallest Man On Earth, Menomena, Ratatat, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, Spoon, School Of Seven Bells, Matt & Kim, Azure Ray, Built To Spill and of Montreal.

It's like Christmas each day ... Waiting to unwrap the next sonic gift from Stateside. And this is the concert goodness waiting under my tree:

Titus Andronicus / Magic Kids / Candy Claws
Friday, Sept. 3 | 9:30 p.m. showtime | The Trunk Space | $12 adv.

The Walkmen / Japandroids / Dan Mangan
Friday, Sept. 17 | 8 p.m. showtime | Clubhouse Music Venue | $14 adv. / $15 day of

Surfer Blood / The Drums / The Young Friends
Monday, Sept. 27 | 8 p.m. showtime | Clubhouse Music Venue | $14 adv. / $15 day of

Land Of Talk / Suuns
Tuesday, Oct. 12 | 8 p.m. showtime | Rhythm Room | $10 adv. / $12 day of

Ra Ra Riot / Villagers 
Friday, Oct. 22 | 8 p.m. showtime | Clubhouse Music Venue | $14 adv.

And my most-anticipated show in the second-half of the year ... Even though I was a little disappointed by "Crazy For You," I'm still looking forward to seeing what Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno can do live.

Best Coast / Sonny & The Sunsets
Tuesday, Nov. 9 | 8 p.m. showtime | Rhythm Room | $13 adv. / $15 day of

July 28, 2010

Link love

Many thanks to Joi over at Nuestra Vida Dulce for featuring my Poladroid post. I started following her blog because of the fun series she does called "What's Good In Your Hood." She uses super sleuthing skills and great taste to find furniture with potential in need of a little TLC on Craigslist in a respective city. She scoured Phoenix the other day and discovered these fabulous chairs and dresser.

Wazzu ... And Bruce ... Wednesday

I snapped this cute moment between my two loves last week. I am so incredibly blessed to have the fiance and feline in my life.

July 27, 2010

Poster of success?

If that's true, the Cougs will be the 28th best football team in the country this upcoming season. If not, well, they still have the 28th best schedule poster in the land according to Bleacher Report. Criteria for making the list included clarity, schedule (Is it clear and easy to follow? ... Not strength of), photo quality, uniqueness, eye appeal and coolness factor.

You can request WSU schedule posters and cards here. It looks like they're out of football ones, though. I still haven't found a place to get past posters. Maybe it's worth a call to the marketing and promotions department?! I have a collection of sports schedule posters from my time in Pullman sitting in the closet waiting to be framed when we have a house with a game room.

And on a geeky note, I couldn't be more pleased to see three of my favorite things, college football, visual design and my school, combined.

Oregon State was the only other Pac-10 school on the list, coming in at No. 25.

Vanderbilt was No. 1, but I didn't think it was anything special.

Honorable mentions:

No. 3: Bowling Green

No. 4: Iowa State

No. 5: Minnesota 

No. 7: LSU

No. 26: Louisville
 No. 35: Baylor

No. 43: Wake Forest 

 No. 48: Navy

[All posters courtesy of schools' sports information departments]

July 26, 2010

Shake it like a Poladroid picture: A new spin on a blast from the past

It seems that all things vintage aren't so vintage anymore. Items from another era are ever the rage, whether it be in furniture [thrift and antique store finds], fashion [jumpers], transportation [cruiser bikes] or technology [record players]. What is old is new again. Much of this attitude stems from the emphasis on being "green." Recycling and reusing doesn't stop at pop cans and newspapers. 

And summer provides the perfect backdrop to reminisce. It's no coincidence nostalgia is rampant in the middle months. Lazy days at the lake. Riding bikes in the twilight. Basking in the sun's rays at the beach. Time seems to slow down, prompting people to recall days when checking a Facebook page, updating a Twitter status or ordering that [whatever people drink at Starbucks these days] didn't exist.

The recent recession also has people watching what they spend, making second-hand items even more appealing. Who could really afford that Restoration Hardware coffee table or Williams-Sonoma waffle maker, anyway?

So now you have a bunch of carefree and nostalgic consumers with a conscience on the hunt for a bargain.

But many today are so plugged in, it's hard for them to imagine life without the luxury of modern technology. They want what is old and new.

Enter the Poladroid. An updated twist on a blast from the past. The best of both worlds. The software is free, fun and simple to use. A "Polaroid Camera" icon appears on your desktop and you drag and drop whatever digital photo you want to age in the camera. When the Poladroid spits the picture out, complete with the signature sound, place your cursor on the photo, grab the image and shake it over your screen to "develop" it. You can save the picture in the various stages of developing, depending on how "vintage" you want it. You can also join the Poladroid Flickr group and submit your prints.

Even further evidence of the vintage craze: The real Polaroid Camera was revived this year for an entire new generation. And more proof of the old-new mixture: Lady Gaga signed a deal to be a "creative director" for the company. Marketing an instantaneous product to a bunch of tweens, teens and young adults with short attention spans and immediate gratification mindsets using one of the most recognizable figures in recent pop culture is like trying to convince the "Jersey Shore" cast to drink alcohol and whore for the camera.

And what better way to capture and chronicle these "new vintage" and possibly alcohol-induced moments of the summer then on the epitome of old-and-new-school technology. 

Not to be outdone, Apple offers three vintage-style photo-maker apps for the iPhone ranging from $0.99 to $1.99. ShakeItPhoto was a go-to pre-Poladroid. The Hipstamatic offers the most opportunities for creativity. You can swap film, lens and flashes for a number of combinations sure to please even the most vintage picture snob. Finally, there's the Photo Booth Classic, which turns your phone into an old-school photo booth complete with four chances to make those crazy and cute pictures without the cramped space and long wait between shots.

If you still have time after testing out all the above-mentioned applications, check out this rad Polaroid project. Maybe you could start one of your own?!

[Click to enlarge image of Poladroid demonstration.] 

Instant vintage photo circa 2009:
 [Polaroid picture, left. My original photo, right: Boat Trip, August 2009, Orcas Island, Washington]

July 23, 2010

Five for Friday

It looks like our plans to go camping are literally getting rained out, so a weekend at the townhouse is in store. And that probably is a good thing since there's plenty to be done around these parts.

1. Makeover rut: I had big plans for the office-slash-guest bedroom when we moved in, but progress on the multipurpose space has been halted. Too many ideas and an unclear design vision has led to inactivity. 

Five months later, only the desk and bookcase are assembled. The pictures sit on the floor waiting to be hung; the shelves aren't properly styled and there aren't curtains or a window-seat cushion. To make matters worse, the room has turned into a landing place for miscellaneous items. 

My expectations for designing the space were probably too high, and now I'm afraid the end result will fall short of what I wanted initially. But it's to the point where the room is starting to bum me out. Not conducive to a job that calls for creativity. Outside of my bedroom, it's where I spend the most time. So I'd like the space to be pretty, organized, inspirational, fresh, functional and clean. And most of all, a reflection of me.

After seeing this before and after, it's the push I need to give the makeover another shot. The first step is to clear everything, minus the desk and bookcase, out of the room this weekend.

Do you have any tips or tricks to break through a creative block?

2. Destination: Forever: The fiance and I are throwing around the idea of an international wedding. We have a place in mind, but more research will be done this weekend to make sure it's the right decision for us.

3. Write away: The goal is to put the finishing touches on a few upcoming blog posts. Stay tuned. Have I mentioned how good it is to write again?!

4. Seeing stars: It's been forever since the two of us have seen a movie in the theater. We've been Red-Boxin' it lately. Angelina Jolie's spy thriller "Salt," which has been on my radar for months, and the hyped-up, mind-bending trip "Inception" are worthy candidates to end the drought.

5. The perfect storm?: As mentioned above, thunderstorms are in the forecast, setting the stage for some cool photo opportunities. 

What are your plans or goals for the weekend?

July 22, 2010

Year-round Fireworks

One of my favorite shops is in an airport. Yes, a place of hustle, bustle, connections, hellos and goodbyes also houses one of the coolest stores in the Pacific Northwest. 

Fireworks in the Sea-Tac airport is a must-visit for those in search of extraordinary gifts, hip housewares and other unexpected and one-of-a-kind merchandise. Think of it as your one-stop shop for some of the most rad apparel, barware, books, food, handbags and luggage, jewelry, lighting and stationary between take-offs and landings.

The prices can be a little unforgiving, but the extra coin or plastic is worth it, considering the shops support and host many Northwest artists' work.

Thankfully, all this amazing stuff isn't confined to just an airport. The company has six Seattle-area stores: The one in Sea-Tac I always hit up when I go home and locations in Pioneer Square, Westlake Center, Bellevue Square, University Village and Southcenter.

The Web site isn't the most user-friendly, but they do accept online orders.

Don't forget to check out the trinkets at the register. It's definitely not the usual crap. No 5-Hour Energy, cheap lighters or beef-jerky sticks here.

This is the one time you might want to miss your flight.

The one "WTF item" I found in the store. It's pretty self-explanatory as to why it sucks.

Fireworks lovelies in my home:

Remember the letter box from above? I couldn't resist it. The peace and four leaf clover coins were finds at the register. It really is in the details.

My first Fireworks acquisition was this sweet little iron heart box. It was too cute to pass up. LOVE the dainty chain. And the precious glass hearts ... more check-out goodness.

Because who doesn't need fun trinkets in their life? Stunning Waterford crystal jewelry holder was a birthday gift from the fiance. He has good taste.

July 21, 2010

Taking what I can get: My love for Jenny and hate for Johnny

I can admit when I'm wrong. Especially when it comes to misjudging music. A few weeks ago, I was listening to a roundtable discussion showcasing new summer tunes on NPR. And what, to my surprise, do I hear? Jenny Lewis is coming out with an album in August. Holy hell. But ... there was a catch. It was with Scottish singer-songwriter Johnathan Rice. Ugh. They played a sample from the first single, "Scissor Runner," and I immediately hated it. I had adored everything Lewis did ... up until that. What the eff does that title even mean? Enter my Johnathan Rice bias.

It's no secret I have a complete music and girl crush on Ms. Lewis, frontwoman of the amazing Rilo Kiley, who is taking an extended hiatus from the group to focus on her solo career. 

Apparently, she is doing a solo-plus-one thing these days, adding her boyfriend of five years, Rice, to the musical mix. Rice played on Lewis' second solo album "Acid Tongue" and hit the road with her last year to support that record. He's a good musician. I just have never been able to get into his solo music.

Or so I thought until a few days ago. I downloaded the first two songs released their debut album as Jenny and Johnny courtesy of my college friend William. He profiled the lovers' of all things L.A. for Spin.

After hearing both songs in their entirety, I'm convinced you could pair Katy Perry with JL (I don't want that to happen by any means) and that no-talent "California Gurl" could pass for a musician.

 Evidence of said amazing skills. My video taken April 2009 in Sacramento during the "Acid Tongue" tour.

Which brings me to the original point. Rice is actually listenable on what I've heard of "We're Having Fun Now." Perhaps I'm partial to Lewis, so I'm overlooking my past disdain for Rice because he's the reason I have new JL in my life. Or maybe she is just that good and can't help but bring out the best in her musical partners.

So now I have Johnathan Rice booming out of my laptop speakers. I guess I really am having fun now. Thanks, JL.

The bf/gf have perfected the Americana/folk rock sound so it's refreshing to see them go in the pop direction just in time for the summer's end.

Unfortunately, I live in Arizona, and the duo are one of many groups boycotting the state because of SB 1070. But my friends in the Pacific Northwest and California can see them on tour starting Sept. 1.

Until then, "Scissor Runner" and my early favorite "Big Wave" to hold you over until their album drops Aug. 31.

Jenny and Johnny: "Big Wave"

Jenny and Johnny: "Scissor Runner"

Downloads courtesy of Spin.com:

July 20, 2010

Seen live: Silversun Pickups + Against Me! + The Henry Clay People

I can't even begin to describe how amazing the Silversun Pickups show was Saturday night. I had wanted to see the L.A. rockers live for a few years, and it was totally worth the wait. 

The foursome performed a quality mix of songs and pumped up the crowd with witty banter and incredible on-stage energy.

You get the impression the former indie-rock darlings play their music like it's the first time each night and love connecting with their fans via a great live concert.

And in saving the best for almost last, the SSPU granted my wish and played "Three Seed," my favorite tune of theirs, in the three-song encore.

As for the openers, the Henry Clay People put on a show worthy of veteran performers. I got a chance to talk with lead singer Joey Siara on my way back from the bathroom and getting a beer between their set and Against Me!. Joey was totally down to earth and humble in thanking me for coming out to the Marquee.

The highlight of the Henry Clay People's set was drummer Eric Scott, who rejoined the band after getting laid off from his day-job. His loss definitely was our gain as the husky dude killed it on the sultry tune "Saturday Night."

Going into the concert, I was skeptical as to why the SSPU would tab Against Me! as their tour mates, and my suspicions were confirmed after the Florida-based punk outfit's set. Everything from their attire to their facial expressions to their performance was cheesy, unimpressive and the only flaw in an otherwise solid show. I just wasn't feeling it.

Come to find out the SSPU and Against Me! became good friends after doing a radio show tour together. And if we learned anything after Saturday night, it's sometimes you shouldn't take your homies on the road.

Silversun Pickups set list:
Growing Old Is Getting Old
Well Thought Out Twinkles
Sort Of 
There's No Secrets This Year
The Royal We
Little Lovers So Polite
It's Nice To Know You Work Alone
Future Foe Scenarios
Kissing Families
Catch And Release
Panic Switch
Lazy Eye

Three Seed
Common Reactor

Even more visuals from the show:

 Disclaimer: I apologize some of the photos are blurry, have rock hands in them, etc. I need a new camera and there was beer consumed during the taking of these images. Enjoy.

Nothing like a little new vinyl to usher in a lazy, post-concert Sunday afternoon. My ears are still ringing.

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