We got back from the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo yesterday and I’m all jittery with leftover excitement. I’d gone primarily to see Kirby Krackle (for those just tuning in my husband Scott plays bass in the band) when they opened for Weird Al. Look, I tried to play it cool but this was a big, exciting, “if only I could tell my 15-year-old self” type deal. And it was indeed amazing and fun and I’m so grateful I got to be there for it.
After we arrived in Calgary I was given I Guest Pass to the expo and a Backstage Pass to the concert, neither of which I was expecting. I resisted my urge to jump around and squeal.
The band got a peek at the arena the day before when things were still be setting up. Three thousand some seats. No pressure.
The afternoon of the show was load in, including piles of rented equipment. The behind the scenes halls of convention centers are very sexy, as you can see.
The theater was more dramatically lit than the day before.
Weird Al’s equipment had already been set up and I fell in love with this drum. Hello cutie.
First Weird Al’s band did a quick monitor level check, along with dramatic lighting. Either they have a band member that does a really great Weird Al singing imitation or they have a Weird Al voice modulator (for harmonies?) but at some point a Weird Al sounding voice (not a recording) was tested and I wanna know how they did it.
Next came Kirby Krackle’s sound check, still with some dramatic lighting. They had smoke machines running before we arrived and I tried to get video of how cool it looked being pumped into such a huge room while they ran through various lighting cues but I completely failed.
During sound check they went through and set the sound level for each band member’s instrument and microphone. During Scott’s turn Weird Al came over to greet the band. (You can see his elbow in the photo above, just behind Scott’s knee. I promise!) So Scott didn’t get to say hello, which was a bummer. I was on the wrong side of the stage to grab a good photo of the moment. But we hear from close and trusted sources that he was a nice guy.
My husband wielding his huge instrument. Hey there.
We did a panorama of the theater with Kyle and Scott appearing at both ends. It’s possibly funnier when you’re scrolling the picture on the iPhone.
The band’s green room was really posh. Ok, not really. It was the locker room for a hockey team. The away team. It smelled like the inside of rental hockey skates and was all cement and wooden benches. It was awesome, actually, because the band ran through an acoustic version of Grandma’s House and really made the echo-y surfaces work.
I make fun but I should also say that the expo took really great care. There was nothing that wasn’t provided backstage (including private space) and everybody was professional and great at their jobs and happy. Calgary you’re great.
I attempted to keep a low profile while blatantly abusing my backstage privileges. Behind the stage was a curtained off area that contained piles of costume changes and from the right angle you could spy Weird Al’s jacket for Eat It! I wonder how many versions of this have been made over the years? Or is this the same one? Is it real leather? Pleather? I was too timid to run up the ramp and touch it. Also, I’m very certain that I would have been stopped and then kicked out. Maybe.
This was innocently sitting stage right. I walked past it a dozen times before I realized that oh my god this is Weird Al Yankovic’s accordion!!! I wish there was some haze-and-halo filter I could have put on this photo. I didn’t touch the accordion. I should have. Just to say I did. Also because nobody was looking and I totally could have gotten away with it. (“I touched Weird Al’s accordion” sounds misleading though, no? Funny, yes.)
Kirby Krackle took the stage to a swell of cheering. Which was amazing and made me smile. I have shaky video of the moment that contains a loud off camera “thank you” (from a volunteer photographer that I’d just helped sorta kinda sneak into a semi-backstage photo vantage point) and a whispered “you’re welcome” as the camera wobbles. I regret nothing but maybe it’s time to invest in a good video recorder and some big headphones?
(Photo taken while sitting slightly backstage, the screens were projected from behind so I could see a clear but mirrored image.)
On either side of the stage were big screens that showed the live footage as it aired by flipon.tv. You can (for free!) view the entire Kirby Krackle performance. I am listening to the show while I type this. It sounded better in person, but then again it’s hard to capture the awesome. Right around 17:35 I believe you can catch a glimpse of Kyle’s younger brother sneaking onto stage to capture iPhone video from behind the drums.
At a few points Kyle (the bright blur in the middle of the photo) jumped down off stage to run through the seats. The first time he did it he nearly gave me a fit because I thought he was going to jump all the way down. Happily he knew better than I and used a row of big speakers as a giant step. I heard later that Kyle had been caught examining his route down during sound check and had been given a stern “no” by a stage manager. Rule breaker!
The lighting and sound guys were quick. During Ring Capacity they threw up green lights.
Shortly after I took this photo the band ended their set and as I was turning back a guy (who had no idea I was connected to the band) bounded past and said to me “that was great!” Indeed it was, mystery man.
We watched most of the Weird Al concert from the arena seats that were behind the big screens. We’d situated ourselves in the shadows far back from the stage and early on a manager came over and indicated that we all needed to move closer to the stage. Turns out during Weird Al’s show all of the band members have a costume change for each song (the time is covered by Al TV clips, which are hilarious). From where we were sitting we possibly could have seen rushed clothing changes. They were a very good looking band but, yeah, I would have made sure we all moved too.
I live in Seattle so I had to include this picture of the wig that Weird Al wears during Smells Like Nirvana, his drummer was wears a wig of amazing dreadlocks. I’d seen the girls with pom-poms who are onstage during this song practicing backstage, they had a room with a window and as I passed by I thought one was waving frantically so I glanced over. It was awkward. I hope they don’t think I was peeking. Oops. In any case, Scott and I later saw them doing a full cheerleaders-with-pom-poms rehearsal in the hallway. I think they were dancers hired just for that show and if so they learned the routine the few hours before they went on. Bravo gals!
· comments  · 04-30-2013 · categories:links · misc ·
Awesome poster by Jeremy Haun.
Later this week I’m headed off to the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo. I’m look forward to the con but mostly I’m looking forward to getting to see Kirby Krackle play a huge theater when they open for Weird Al Yankovic. I’m so excited for them!
While I’m in Calgary I’m hoping to see some theater during lunch, eat good steak, shop for cowboy boots and look at some shops from the Design*Sponge guide to Calgary. I’m also going to investigate reports that Canada has the extra large tissues and if so I’ll have a lot of boxes of something to report to customs.
People of Calgary! Is there anything I should make sure not to miss/eat/buy while I’m there?
· comments  · 04-24-2013 · categories:misc ·
Last year I took part in a Bing Focus Group with a bunch of bloggers, which was a really interesting experience. We were invited to visit with Bing in one of the Microsoft buildings (as far as I remember they have fancy coffee machines and great views) and asked us about how we used search engines as bloggers as well as in our everyday lives, all with an eye towards how they could make Bing better. A large part of the conversation that day was how much Pinterest is a tool we as bloggers use and have come to rely on. As part of this concern Bing has added a Pin to Pinterest option right inside the Bing image search and they’ve also added a few handy search filtering options.
Great thing #1: There is no bookmarklet to install. Bing has the Pin It button right there on the image search result page. Easy as can be.
Great thing #2: For image searches Bing includes a set of filtering tabs at the top. I can look up Dalek dresses (I’m headed to a comicon next week so what to wear has been on my mind) and with one click I can sort out dresses that are red, then brown, then white. (Look at this one! Also, shout out to Seattle’s Emerald City Comicon where that photo was taken.) You can also narrow your image search by image size, vertical or horizontal layout and how people appear in the photo. Very handy.
Tip: If you are looking for something on a specific website you simply add “site:sitename.com” in your search options. So, say you were looking for Easter eggs on this here website you’d put “Easter eggs site:notmartha.org” (like so) in as your search. From there you can narrow down by color, size, etc. I find this particularly useful for when I’m shopping. Does Nordstrom have any yellow cardigans I’d like? Why, yes they do.
Great thing #3: Bing automatically links the image you’ve pinned back to the original, high quality image source. Proper attribution is a good thing and this makes it easy. When you’re in the early stages of research you can quickly Pin a bunch of images right through Bing and know that the link to the page you will want to find later on is there.
The Bing image search Pin to Pinterst option allows me to quickly gather images for inspiration and reliably keep the sources straight. Meaning I can be efficient and a little bit lazy at the same time. So darn useful.
This post was sponsored by Bing, all thoughts are my own.
· comments  · 04-22-2013 · categories:technology ·
Whimseybox – Jewelry Tools Starter Set. I don’t make jewelry but I do need to swap out earring hooks on inexpensive jewelry and keep a set of tools around. These look especially nice, especially the jump ring opener!
Spring Cleaning – The Crafts Dept. Great list of places to take all those old craft supplies so that they will find a new home.
Grocery Bag Basket | Pintester. She includes some good clarification of the directions, and I wanna make this now.
The Perfect Gift: Gold Leaf Plaster Votives. These are gorgeous, and easier than you might thing. The post includes full directions.
· comments  · 04-18-2013 · categories:craft · links ·
· comments  · 04-15-2013 · categories:food · links ·
• RELISH WARDROBE! Lucy Knisley commissioned clothing for her book tour that matches her book. Super duper awesome.
Assemble Shop and Studio: Those Girls: Smart Girls at the Party with Amy Poehler. Amy Poehler has a YouTube channel? How did I not know this?
defective yeti — Tabletop Day Seattle. Matthew lists all the great events going on here in Seattle. I’m sad that I’ll be out of town for this, Dawgsled Events is taking over the top floor of the Columbia Tower!
· comments  · 04-10-2013 · categories:links · misc ·
Last weekend Scott and I headed to Portland for a weekend where our main goal was to try as much beer as we could. We’d made the plans in January when it was dark and rainy and hopeless and beer sounded like a damn good idea. It turned out that the weather that weekend was one of those perfect pockets of Spring where it’s 70 and sunny and you just want to sit outside and talk about how great sunshine is. Which is basically what we did, every meal and sip of beer was done outdoors. Or at least near a really big open door. It was ah-mazing considering it was still March.
I was armed with a few places in mind and a recent copy of Beer West magazine that has an article on all the beer destinations along Division Street. Most of the restaurant recommendations friends had given me (Pok Pok being mentioned the most often) were on Division Street and I started to wish our hotel had been in that part of town because we kept returning to it.
When we arrived our first stop was at Hopworks Urban Brewery which is huge. They have outdoor seating in the front as well as an upper back deck. Right now they are doing a single hop series of IPAs, I tried a sample of the Simcoe and discovered that I don’t prefer Simcoe on it’s own. I wish I lived closer and could sample all of their single hops beers because I suspect it would be a cheap and enjoyable beer education. Hopworks has an eye towards being friendly to the environment and we’re hoping to take our bikes to Portland (maybe on the train!) and pedal our way up to their BikeBar location this summer.
That night we walked to Ground Kontrol and drank beer while playing console arcade games and it was so damn fun. The upstairs is filled with rows of old electric arcade games, the upstairs is devoted to pinball machines and yes the games take real quarters which you can get from change machines just like the old days. We had the most fun playing two person House of the Dead, with the rubber guns. We nearly made it through Chapter 3 before running out of quarters! We would have planted ourselves in front of Gauntlet: Dark Legacy (which we’ve played on our PS3) if it hadn’t been occupied.
They have all the old games I could remember, including Joust, Paperboy, and Burger Time. They also have a tabletop four-person Pac-Man (a hem: Pac-Man Battle Royale) that was very popular all night long. The lights above are reminicscent of D&D dice, the tiles in the ladies room are Ms. Pacman themed, the entry tiles (shown above) are Space Invaders. Also, on weekend nights there is a cover ($2? $1?) and there might be a line, which is good because it means the place doesn’t get too crowded. When we were on our way out I noted there was a crowd around a few of the machines but there were plenty of seats at the tables near the bar, where the tables are illuminated. I heart that place.
The next day we got brunch food from the food carts near our hotel (the standout was Liege waffles with brie, arugula and bacon) and headed out to have a picnic. Our goal was to eat under cherry trees which were blossoming in the most spectacular manner that weekend. But it turns out that was everybody else’s goal that weekend too. The area around the trees near the river (and the Saturday Market) were filled to capacity and the Arboretum was packed. So we took the great advice of Sprizee and headed out to Cathedral Park. It was perfect. An expanse of grass leads down to the water just under the Cathedral Bridge, which makes everything feel very dramatic. We had a huge area in the sun all to ourselves and sat and watched dogs playing fetch. We weren’t right under blossoming trees but we did have a view of some, which was good enough. This morning has become the Happy Place I go to in my head.
Next we headed to Hedge House which is the new-old home of Lompoc Brewing. We grabbed seats on the front porch (there are also tables in the front courtyard area) where we watched families walk and bike past. I had the Calling All Monsters IPA which was very good and I remember as worth going back for if it wasn’t a three hour drive away.
Scott wanted to show me the space where the XOXO Festival had been last year and there just happens to be Cascade Brewing around the block. We had samples of their Noyaux (almond) sour, seasonal IPA and the Oblique Black and White Stout, which has the color of an pale ale but has mellow coffee flavors. (Not shown in order above because they all looked the same and it was freaking 70 degrees and aaaawhhhhh.) The Oblique Black and White Stout was delicious and surprising and on our way out of town we stopped to buy a growler of it, which we buckled into the back seat.
That night we met up with Jenna whom I’d met at Hops Academy last summer. We met at Beer Mongers where she gifted us a precious bottle of Pliny the Elder which we can no longer get in Washington. Beer Mongers is a bottle shop that has a big door they can open in warmer weather. I love drinking at bottle shops, it’s still a novelty for me. Jenna knows what she is talking about when it comes to beer and was sipping this IPA made with brettanomyces, which I dearly wished I’d requested a sip of. In any case it was a perfect end to a beer day.
The next day we managed to made it to Sasquatch Brewery before we left. I got to meet Charlie (aka RagnarBeer) at Hops Academy who the head brewer there. I sampled a beer that is is own recipe, Celilo Cascadian Dark Ale and it was delicious. I’m normally not a fan of dark beers but this made me very happy. Sasquatch has a full menu and outdoor seating in front as well as a nice peaceful deck along the side of the building. I didn’t get to see Charlie because he was busy doing something like the Craft Brewers Conference in Washington, DC. No biggie.
We stayed at the Crystal Hotel downtown which is part of the McMenamin’s empire. It was surprisingly quiet considering it’s in a noisy part of town, though I was roused by the daily 5 a.m. garbage collection. We took advantage of the soaking pool in the basement and had it all to ourselves. Our bed wasn’t very comfortable but the hotel as a whole was good for the price and location. Most rooms share a bathroom in hall, which I’ve never found to be awkward in a McMenamin’s hotel, but I booked an ensuite room because, well, bathroom.
The staff at the Crystal Hotel seem used to asking if people staying there are headed to the music venues later that evening so one day we were asked if we were going to see Anthrax and the next day they asked if we were there to see Bob Seger. I assure you we are not people who look like we’d be headed to either. At least not any more.
Places we didn’t make it too but I want to hit next time we’re in Portland: The Woodsman Tavern, Kask, The Green Dragon and Pok Pok.
Alright Portland people, what else should I seek out next time I visit? Anything particularly spectacular in the sunshine? Or particularly comforting when it’s rainy and dark?
· comments  · 04-8-2013 · categories:drink · travel ·
· comments  · 04-4-2013 · categories:uncategorized ·
· comments  · 04-2-2013 · categories:links · technology ·