Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Soundgarden Reunion?

This riveting story found here.

Soundgarden Inadvertently Reunites At Area Cinnabon

August 8, 2008

SEATTLE—Members of the popular 1990s grunge band Soundgarden shocked critics and fans alike Tuesday, appearing together publicly for the first time in more than a decade after accidentally running into one another at the Northgate Mall Cinnabon.

The former bandmates come out for an encore of Chillattas.

The unplanned 15-minute reunion was the result of a number of unrelated events, including lead singer Chris Cornell stopping by the baked-goods franchise to buy a Caramel Pecanbon, drummer Matt Cameron taking a break from shopping at the nearby Banana Republic, bass player Ben Shepherd walking by and noticing his one-time bandmates in the food court, and former guitarist and Cinnabon daytime supervisor Kim Thayil working the 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. shift.

According to those in attendance at the packed fast-food venue, the highlight of the incidental Soundgarden reunion came when the rockers reconciled their differences and teamed up for the first time in years to finish off an order of Cinnabon Stix.

"At first it was pretty awkward and none of them seemed like they were really into it," said Al Helbling, 30, a Northgate Mall Sam Goody employee and Soundgarden fan. "But then the drummer comes in and right after that the bass player comes in, and it was like, 'Yes, Soundgarden is back.' It was so intense."

The former members of Soundgarden, who have not released an album together since 1996's Down On The Upside, reported that it was initially difficult to find common ground, but once they began exchanging ideas and riffing on which sugar-filled dessert they were going to order, the chemistry felt "as strong as ever."

While Shepherd told reporters he enjoyed seeing his old bandmates, he admitted to experiencing some last-minute doubts about going through with the encounter.

"I got all the way there, but then I just didn't know if I could do it," Shepherd said. "I had a huge lunch that day. And Cinnabon, that's some really sugary stuff, even if you have a sweet tooth like me."

Thayil, who joined the band shortly after it was formed in 1984, said some tension arose between himself and former front man Chris Cornell early on in the reunion, after Thayil scolded Cornell for entering the cinnamon-bun snack purveyor without a shirt.

"Honestly, I didn't even recognize Chris at first," Thayil said. "All I saw was this bare-chested guy entering the store, and that's unacceptable in the food-service industry. I hate to be the enforcer, but just because we were in a band together doesn't mean I can allow him to create an unhygienic environment."

The heated situation was quickly settled, however, when Thayil offered Cornell a complimentary 12-oz. CarmeLatta Chill. In turn, the 44-year-old lead singer responded by serenading Thayil with a version of the group's hit song "Black Hole Sun" in which he replaced the titular phrase with the word "Cinnabon." Cornell, former singer for the now-defunct group Audioslave, then stuffed his pockets with napkins, saying he needed them for a later solo project.

The two soon moved to a back table, where they joined Shepherd and drummer Matt Cameron, the latter of whom said he was overjoyed to see his old bandmates, since he had to "kill some time" before Pearl Jam practice.

Although Tuesday marked the first time the group has fully reunited, the members of Soundgarden have had a few near-misses in the past 10 years. In August 2000, all four members were seen entering Seattle-area Arby's restaurants, but the reunion never materialized: Cornell and Cameron visited the Meridian Avenue location, while Thayil and Shepherd decided to visit the Michigan Street franchise. The afternoon did, however, mark the largest Temple of the Dog reunion to date, when Cornell and Cameron ran into the rest of the supergroup's members in the restroom.

After the success of the Cinnabon reunion, Soundgarden is reportedly planning a tour of the Sunglass Hut and Piercing Pagoda.


I couldn't stop laughing when I read this. Good times.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Radiohead--In Rain(bows)

Radiohead is one of Ken's favorite bands and is certainly up there for me too. The mutual appreciation for this band's music and the fact that we both liked it prior to meeting each other is simply refreshing. Their body of music is prolific and taps into something deep inside our forlorn, over-stimulated, technologically-advanced generation.

Last night Ken and I traveled to Auburn's White River Amphitheater to see them perform, an odyssey that took no less than 2 hours since the venue is deep inside South King County, far from the freeway and only accessible via quaint one-lane farming roads. I'll describe the traffic in one word: Nightmarish. Seriously, who's idea was it to put such a large venue in such an inaccessible area? Well all was not lost. Thanks to our Garmin. The little marriage-saving, frustration-defusing GPS device quickly rerouted us around the mess (and included a picturesque tour of the area). We then only hit super bad traffic within 6 miles of the venue. Instead of, say, 35. When we finally arrived in the middle of their 2nd song, excitement and pot smoke filled the air. The section we sat in was mercifully undercover but I can't say the same for the lawn area. Anyone not under cover got absolutely drenched. (We too got soaked walking back to the car.) Anyway, we had excellent seats and an excellent vantage as evidenced in the pictures. Though we arrived a few songs into Radiohead's set, I got to hear some of my favorites: All I Need & The Gloaming. Full setlist: (Setlist & memories compiled by "Flaaneuse" found on 01. 15 Step 02. Reckoner 03. Optimistic 04. There There 05. All I Need 06. Pyramid Song 07. Talk Show Host 08. The National Anthem 09. The Gloaming 10. Videotape 11. Lucky 12. Faust Arp [Thom messes up lyrics several times, starts singing Neil Young's "Tell Me Why"; Jonny tries to follow along but can't quite get the chords. Phil comes out and drops an American dollar bill out in front of Thom and Jonny and runs away laughing. Thom and Jonny crack up completely to loud cheers. Thom tries again, says "Fuck it!", but then continues and finishes the song.] 13. Jigsaw Falling Into Place 14. Climbing Up The Walls 15. Dollars and Cents 16. Nude 17. Bodysnatchers Encore 1 18. How to Disappear Completely 19. Arpeggi/Weird Fishes 20. Idioteque 21. In Limbo [Tambourine accompaniment by Nigel Godrich. Thom, 'This is Nigel', Ed, 'He makes our records.'] 22. Street Spirit Encore 2 23. You And Whose Army? [Thom dedicates to the people who demonstrated against the WTO in Seattle in 1999] 24. No Surprises 25. Everything In Its Right Place

Thom & Co. put on a very honest show with guitars and other instruments being switched out between each song. One really neat moment came when Thom was playing at the piano where a very small camera was mounted. He got so close to the lens that it only showed the upper right quadrant of his face. As he played with his back to the audience, the video screens came alive with his one winking eye and raised eyebrows. Small thing, but for a band that remains pretty mysterious, any chance to see something intimate is surprising. I loved the lighting design and the judicious use of video screens--of course you don't want much to distract from their music because of the artistry that is involved in making many of the sound scapes. But I thought what they did was a good balance of a straight forward live set coupled with interesting visuals. Video of the "light icicles" in motion. Apologies for the shakiness as first but it does stabilize. Visually stunning.

Musical Taste--Prerequisite for Relationship

Have you ever dated or married someone who simply does not share your taste in music? While this is not an issue for Ken and I, I've been in relationships where I've been ridiculed for my musical taste. Remember when it was a rite of acceptance for people to scan your CD collection and judge you based on what you had in there? You were either the right or wrong sort of person if you had Pearl Jam's Live in Atlanta 3-disk set.

Naturally, there are lots of issues you can attribute to the success or demise of relationships: religion, political leanings, desire for children, philosophy on recycling--but musical taste can be an unspoken deal breaker because it can so succinctly reflect your ideals, attitudes and lifestyle. I am happy to report that while Ken adores bands like Genesis, Rush & Talking Heads, he also has a healthy respect for Depeche Mode which to me is the platinum standard for a musical canon. He may not share this exact view but as a musician himself, he acknowledges that everyone has their own way to express and appreciate music. I like that a lot.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Hanging with the Gov

Sam and our neighbor Ian are likely the most politically savvy friends we have but imagine my surprise at being invited to a primary night function that they and others hosted for Governor Gregoire. Perhaps 75-100 folks turned out at the Spitfire Bar on 4th last Tuesday to hear comments from the Gov and shake her hand. Sam, Ryan & Casey even got snapped in a Seattle Times photo waiting to talk to her. These events are naturally for fundraising but they are also outreach to people who may have passing interest in local politics but don't have a pre-existing connection.
One thing that I've noticed with politicians on all levels is their uncanny ability to recall faces and names. I was noticing as the Gov got closer to us, she'd shake hands, look you right in the eye and listen very intently for the :20 seconds she's focused on you. And it was like she was putting you and what you said in a mental Rolodex--should retrieval ever be necessary. Memorization also comes into play when she give her stump-like, quasi-inspirational speech. She led off by addressing a laundry list of issues and differentiating herself from "her opponent." It smacked of speeches I seen from Hillary and she used the closed fist, thumb up gesture. It's hard to boil down complicated issues into a eloquent sound bite and still sound sincere. But that's the artistry of being a politician. To round it out she came back down to Earth and told us about a light-hearted mistaken identity incident involving her and another lady in a restroom. It shows she's one of us and like us, not afraid to tell you what goes on in the restroom.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

So Many Guitars, So Little Time

With Jim being an accomplished guitarist and guitar collector, we spent not one but two days at Guitar Center. The setting proved to be a great inspiration and I just so happened to have the video camera. Jim and Ken did some jamming in the acoustic guitar room. It's a great backdrop and, from the list of other YouTube Videos recorded at Guitar Center, we are clearly not the first to think of this. Each clip less than a minute long.

Ken & Jim Jam Part 1, Bon Jovi

Ken & Jim Jam Part 2, When I Come Around (Kali on drums at the end, off screen)

Another Memorable Waller Birthday

UPDATE 8/19: I've decided to replace YouTube with Vimeo as the video service for this blog entry. It seems to perform better. Thoughts?


We generally assume that whatever the Wallers put their mind to, enchantment and delight is bound to be the by-product. So it should come as no surprise that when we celebrated Mika's birthday on Friday, we drank, danced and reveled in poetry (literally and figuratively).

The party started with the adults learning how to mix some of the most popular bar drinks: the Cosmo, the Mojito & the Trash Can. I learned that bartenders don't measure alcohol by shots but rather by counting as they pour. So they might put a five count of vodka into a Cosmo for example. With a 4-count equaling an ounce of alcohol, you can calculate how much liquor goes into any one drink. We also got to learn the fine art of muddling mint and lime. It was great fun and being a light-weight myself when it comes to drinking, I pulled back on the counts of vodka & triple sec for my mojito but it messed up the mixture and made it super limey--more practice needed I guess. Here is our guest teacher showing us how to make mojitos.

Once the adults had enough "liquid courage," we moved on to the physical activity part of the night and learned a hip-hop dance routine. Our friend Jim Lizzi a former hip-hop/aerobics instructor was coincidentally visiting us the same weekend as Mika's party and agreed to make up a special routine and teach it to the group. Jim was a great sport and everyone seemed to be in a dancing mood.

The surprise of the night came when Jeremy Richards performed an original poetry composition entitled TS Eliot's Lost Hip Hop Poem. It is absolutely sublime. See it in night vision below. (There is some strong language, just a few words, be warned.)

Watch him perform it at the 2002 National Poetry Slam HERE.

Glad to have been on hand to celebrate Mr. Mika, converse with such cool people and participate in some unique experiences. Great job to Sarah for organizing and again, Happy Birthday Mika!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

CSI Ballard -- Cat Pee Investigations Unit

You don't know true pet-owning joy until you are crawling around on your hands and knees in the basement in the dark sporting a blacklight and a sponge.

What I used to get the stain/smell out is any one of a number of enzyme-based cleaners that remove all traces of the pet urine and leave behind a "fresh" scent. As an added precaution, I also doused the areas he marked with a citrus spray because cats hate citrus.

Tune in next time to see if Oliver gets the message or if I've kicked off a pissing contest in the basement. Yeah!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Books and other things with words on paper

I am delighted to say that during this weekend I have had long, uninterrupted periods of catching up on reading. Usually this just means getting current on Newsweek and the Sunday paper but this time I also got to delve into riveting material like a graphic (comic) novel, the IKEA catalog and PNW Magazine (which this week highlighted the growing need to pawn items to pay the mortgage and juxtaposed it to a profile of a million-dollar house with custom baby gates--classy.) I got to thinking about the things I've read in the last few months and wondered what it all added up to.

I Am America (And So Can You!) by Stephen Colbert
This is a brilliant satire and back-handed commentary on our society, politics and media. Also a full transcript of his Washington Correspondents' Dinner Address where he roasted Bush and the media--to their faces.

Anita Blake Vampire Hunter Guilty Pleasures Vol 1 & 2 by Laurel K. Hamilton
This is my guilty pleasure: a graphic novel where a sassy & sexy vampire huntress eradicates the city of St. Louis' undead, specifically the shirtless, Fabio-esque kind. I saw this in the WSU Bookstore when we were up at Homecoming last year. Couldn't put it down. (FYI: Graphic novel is the term for comic books that get bound into a compilation.)

Plenty Magazine, monthly magazine
Within the Green movement, a phenomenon known as eco-pretension is fast becoming a national pastime. Now, I own a Prius so I know what smugness is. But in an effort to live up to all the recommendations and do everything "just so," Plenty can come off--dare I say--elitist and inaccessible for most people. But keep trying Plenty, find the balance and include those who don't have mounds of disposable income. Why should "greenness" feel like an indulgence?

Things I Learned About My Dad, essays compiled by Heather Armstrong
Heather is the author of one of my favorite blogs, So it only makes sense that a book put out under her watch would be something I'd like. Sure enough, it's full of some funny, poignant and smart writing about fatherhood/parenthood.

Stuff White People Like by Christian Lander
Spawned by the hilarious blog of the same name, this book should really be called "Stuff Kali and Ken Like--with a few exceptions." My brother, Austin, gave this book to Ken for his birthday and it has been quite a hit. While it claims to make fun of 'white people' for the things they gravitate towards, it's actually taking shots at the upper middle-class, urban, liberal lifestyle. Regardless, it's damn funny.

The Hardy Boys, The Shore Road Mystery (1964 version)
When Ken was a youngster, his neighbor had the entire set of Hardy Boys books. He's never forgotten this so when we were in an antique store earlier this year, he found book #6 and couldn't resist. Since then, he has been reading chapters of the book to me before we went to bed until last night when we finished it. Alarmingly, the further we read, the more convinced we became that no child should ever have been allowed to have this. Not only did these teenage boys find themselves in serious, mortal danger at least 10 separate occasions, one of them sustained severe motorcycle crash injuries only to go out later that night. They frequently didn't sleep and where out all night, engaged in detective work that they were not formally trained for nor paid for nor sanctioned by the police. Their absentee detective father was in NY the whole time and their mother clearly didn't assert the necessary authority/protection/discipline. But at every possible chance, the author reminded the reader that their poor friend Chet was fat by describing him as "portly," "rotund," & "stout" etc. Why did we stick with it to the end? I guess we just couldn't believe such trite literature was considered wholesome and inspiring fare for the youth of this country.

On our nightstands now:
Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder
When You Are Engulfed In Flames by David Sedaris
The Seventeen Traditions by Ralph Nader
McSweeneys Quarterly Concern

We'll see how that nets out in a few months. Until then, happy reading.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Dancing around the World

A little more video fun but no singing this time. This is Matt. He travels the world and speaks the international language of, well, dance. It's an amazing phenomenon. He's been written up by the NY Times and featured on many a morning show & cable news segment about his videos. I find the videos touching and wish more Americans could experience the joy and appreciation that international travel imparts. It might change some of the ignorance one encounters in people who have never left this country. I don't know Matt well but he did some contract work a few years ago for the team I work for and his girlfriend currently works for the company Ken does. Small world.

Check it out:

HERE is his website. Go Matt!