31 Oct

Movies seen today: The Exorcist (at the Cinerama) and The Chocolate War, on TV. I had never seen the Exorcist; it was pretty good, but I guess it would have been much more shocking in 1973. (I was only eight then, so of course, I wasn’t allowed to see it.) The Cinerama was a good place to see it. The sound was excellent.

I’ve seen the Chocolate War several times, including its initial run (might have been the World Premiere run, even) at the Broadway Market back in 1988. Very few people saw that movie in a theater, but it did run here for a while, probably because it was filmed in the Seattle area. (I used to work with a guy who was in the movie.) I like it a lot. The ending is very different from the book’s ending, but don’t believe the clueless reviewers on the IMDB who call it a happy ending — it’s far from sunny. The 80s soundtrack with Yaz, Peter Gabriel, and Kate Bush suits the film quite well — I didn’t think it made it a period piece as much as just provided a certain mood of loneliness and longing. (Seattle’s grey weather added to that mood as well.) It’s well-worth watching if you get a chance.

Trivia I liked reading in the IMDB: star Ilan Mitchell-Smith (who was also in Weird Science — I never saw that one) went on to get a doctorate in Medieval Studies and is now a professor. That’s really neat — I wouldn’t mind delving into that field of study myself.

25 Oct

Found in MISCmedia: The Rocket is no more. I wrote for the Rocket for several years in the 1980s, back when people really cared about each new issue, and getting on the cover was a really big deal. It was a learning experience. I had a lot of fun, bt a lot of frustration went along with it. I was much happier writing for Backlash later. Still, I do remember the Rocket fondly.

I got the Rocket job by just walking right into their office (in the old ramshackle Second Avenue location, above the Rendezvous) in 1985 or 1986, going up to the first person I saw behind a desk (Gillian G. Gaar, I believe), and saying “I want to write for The Rocket.” I had a packet of clips from my work at the Cooper Point Journal (the Evergreen State College paper) and the City Collegian (the Seattle Central Community College paper). I showed her the clips, and, looking skeptical, she told me to write an album review and bring it in by the deadline. If they liked it, they’d run it.

They did run that review and many others over the next few years, and my name went into the staff box as a Contributing Writer, along with a lot of names more well-known than mine. No money came along with it, but I got free records to review, and I was pretty happy with that.

Eventually I started my own weekly Seattle music paper , YEAH!, to fill in a niche that the Rocket was neglecting (up-to-date performance listings and an exclusive focus on local bands), and that marked the end for me at the Rocket. A couple of months later Dawn Anderson started up Backlash, similar to YEAH!, but with more of a spotlight on what later came to be called “grunge.” (YEAH! was more into the PopLlama goofy pop end of things, with bands like the Young Fresh Fellows and Prudence Dredge.) Eventually, after selling my magazine, moving to Minneapolis, and moving back, I started writing for Backlash too.

There were two events that really marked the beginning of the end for the Rocket, I think. (I thought this even before the mag actually went under; it became irrelevant a long time ago.) The first was the discontinuing of the free “Musicians Wanted/Available” ads that used to fill the back of every issue. The first ten words were free, so everyone ran Rocket ads, and since there were so many, everyone read them. It was the first stop for any musicians wanting to form a band. Like most Seattle musicians of the era, I formed several bands via Rocket ads. (I met boyfriends that way, too, due to my sad habit of always falling for musicians.) Once the free ads stopped running, I’m sure the paper’s management thought that the musicians would just start paying for the ads instead, but that was a major miscalculation. The classified section dwindled to nothing and the musicians moved elsewhere.

The second event was moving to biweekly publishing. When the Rocket was a monthly, each issue was something of an Event. Musicians and fans waited to see who would be on the cover (and it really seemed to matter!), who would actually get reviewed, and so on. You looked forward to it. When it started to come out every two weeks, that changed, and I’m really not sure why. Perhaps it was just the dilution of content that came with trying to fill more issues. Perhaps it was all the Portland-specific content that many of us didn’t care about, added so the paper could expand circulation to PDX. But it just didn’t seem to matter as much. One new issue after another, less interest, big yawns.

I guess I could add a third event to this list. Out of town ownership did the Rocket no favors. A publication like this really needed committed local people holding the purse strings, and I can’t see that publishers from the Midwest or the Bay Area would really fill that role.

So long, Rocket. Too bad you couldn’t at least have gone out with a bang.

24 Oct

Recent buyers of Oregon’s only Frank Lloyd Wright house want to demolish it. They’ve already had the job to design a replacement home on the site rejected by at least one architectural firm, but I suppose some greedy jerk somewhere would take the assignment.

The Portland chapter of the American Insititute of Architects and the Frank Lloyd Wright Conservancy have both tried to contact the owners with offers to buy the property, help restore the house, help move the house, and so on, but the owners refuse to respond, and they have petitioned to have the home removed from the historic resources list — the first step in allowing it to be demolished. Despicable. They have no respect for history.

24 Oct

More than 2,000 people have lost their jobs at local (Seattle-area) technology companies since the end of May. MyLackey.com is the latest. I’m really not liking the look of this. Stamps.com just laid off 40% of their staff — I use stamps.com, but will they still be around when I need them? I think it might be a good idea not to put too much money in my Stamps.com account, just in case…

15 Oct

A couple of Tonya Harding’s skating dresses are up for sale on eBay. Here’s one of ’em. This particular one is actually historic — she wore it to land the first ever triple axel by a US woman. I wonder if the money for this is going to Tonya herself? The location is Vancouver, WA, where she lives now.

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