This is Chris dot com
Music, Movies, & General Geekery: Life.
by Christopher Grant Harris

Friday, 17 February 2017

Swim With the (Funny) Fishes at Fools Play This Saturday!

Fools Play on February 18th!

Fools Play on February 18th!

Fools Play Improv returns to its fishy Olympia venue, the South Sound Estuarium, this Saturday, February 18th! Join me and some other Fools for the funnies in this very unique space. Just take a look at a photo from a recent show:

Me and Cap'n Josh! (My jeans are really that purple in real life)

Me and Cap’n Josh! (My jeans are really that purple in real life)

Details:
Fools Play in Olympia (Faced Book Event)
Saturday, February 18th 8:00 PM
@ The South Sound Estuarium
309 State Ave NE, Olympia, WA 98501 (map)
All-Ages, Only $5!

Fools + Fish = WINNING

Fools + Fish = WINNING

Categories: Concerts/Shows, Fools Play.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Happy Valentimes 2017 (Goodbye, Winter Beard)

It's Time. Ladies.

It’s Time. Ladies.

A new video in which I transition from my mighty Winter Beard to my more sensible Spring Beard.

For the Ladies.

Categories: Life.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

“Of the Month” February 2017

Album of the Month:

Heart Tones by Julia Massey and The Five Finger Discount

The latest release from JM+FFD is another joyous album. I’ll have a full-length Album Review up soon. Honest!

Company of the Month:

Sago Mini

An absolutely delightful Canadian company that makes gentle, funny, and engaging video games aimed at toddlers and younglings. All the games star a group of friendly characters. They’ve recently expanded to make toys and books and we’re in trouble because our daughter absolutely loves them. I love the way they make my daughter giggle. And I really love the art style and art direction of Sago Mini. This team knows how to make stuff that appeals to kids while not being off-putting to adults. I mean, just look at how frikkin’ adorable “Hugbot” is here!

hugbot

I’m jealous of this design.

Website of the Month:

Can’t Do Nothing

Now is not the time to do nothing. If you can’t do nothing, DO SOMETHING.

Categories: Of the Month.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Movie Review: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire. During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire's ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet.

Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire. During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) ★★★½

There are a lot of things to really love about Rogue One. It turns away from the high-opera, swashbuckling theatrics of the magical Skywalker family and their ilk and looks at the people who work behind the scenes of their heroics. The grunts of the Star Wars world, if you will; intelligence agents, freighter pilots, on-the-ground resistance fighters, people just trying to survive in a galaxy gone mad. As such it has a much different feel that the main Star Wars series.

Let’s face it, the Star Wars movies have basically been overblown Saturday morning cartoons. Sure there’s some great subtext and Joseph Campbell’s The Hero With a Thousand Faces, but come on. You’ve got wizards and princesses knights and silly jesters droids. But in Rogue One you get a real feel for how this universe actually functions for regular people.

I also really loved how it played up the ambiguity of using violence to fight evil. The Rebellion, which in Episodes IV-VI is held up as this shining beacon of hope, and the ultimate force of good against the evil of the Empire. But the Rebellion has Cassian do some really awful things (including straight-up murder someone as his first act in the movie), and it turns out a lot of the people in the Rebellion are complete assholes and cowards who condone some really bad things in the name of good. It’s a fascinating slippery-slope peek behind the curtain that I thought was great. No heroes are perfect, and no movements are devoid of evil.

I enjoyed the ensemble cast; it ends up being a fun group of merry outsiders kinda like Robin Hood’s merry men. They don’t all get a lot of character development apart from Jyn and Cassian, but their characterizations are strong enough that you get who they are quickly and you like them. Shining star among them is the reprogrammed murderbot K-2SO, who is definitely one of the good guys now but who just can’t help but let that murderbot programming be simmering right under the surface. Most of the movie’s funniest moments are because of K-2. Alan Tudyk (who was also the voice of the robots in I, Robot) is becoming one of my favorite voice actors (look him up in the last five Disney movies). Also as a side note: wasn’t it nice to see such a diverse cast? Anyway…

There are a couple of minor action sequences in the first couple acts of the movie, but really it all just builds to a masterful third act action climax. There are so many things going on in this climax, but it is scripted and edited masterfully so that you’re never confused where anyone is or what they’re supposed to be doing (or what their current obstacle is). The space battles above the planet are top-notch. We know that this plan is successful because the opening crawl of Episode IV says it is (“Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire. During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet.”), but we don’t know how it was done or at what cost, so there is a surprising amount of suspense.

That said, the pacing of the first act of the movie (not counting the prologue, which is great) is f★★ked up. It bounces from scene to scene with no context and no introduction. The exposition is awkward and weird. You don’t know who characters are. Things happen for no known reason. What the heck was with that “truth monster” thing that Saw Guerrera uses? What was that doing in the movie at all? People spend way too much time talking about other people doing stuff instead of just showing us those people as they do stuff (“Did you hear an imperial pilot defected?” “I heard an imperial pilot defected!”). It doesn’t finally settle into a cohesive rhythm until Jyn ends up on Jedha.

There is also the matter of a seemingly important plot thread being dropped with no consequence. Jyn et al are going to rescue Jyn’s father, until some asshole in the Rebellion gives Cassian a countermanding order: to kill Jyn’s father. And eventually Jyn’s father is killed by the Rebellion, and Jyn learns that this asshole ordered his death and does… nothing. It’s immediately dropped and never mentioned again. It just seemed really bizarre to have that sub-plot in this movie at all.

But this is still a thoroughly enjoyable movie. It’s a grittier (I hate using that word but it applies here), more grounded Star Wars movie in which the heroes have to use guile and pluck and damnable determination to win instead of magic and mythology. It is a worthy entry into the ouvre. I plan on owning it to watch at my leisure.

Categories: Movie Reviews.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Photos (& Music) of Stereo Embers, Fine Prince, Julia Massey, & Chris Blount at the Crocodile

Can you find me in the crowd?

Can you find me in the crowd?
(Photo by Bebe Labree)

Last Thursday my wife and I went and stayed out late on a school night. Gasp! What could tempt us so? Why, none other than an amazing music show at The Crocodile filled to the brim with amazing local musicians!

First up was…

1. Stereo Embers

The Embers, Now in Stereo!

The Embers, Now in Stereo!

Stereo Embers is one of the many, many musical projects fronted by Seattle musical mainstay Robb Benson. This is a very straight-up rock band. Lead guitarist Tim DiJulio could be described as someone who “wails/shreds/rips.” They’re very good live. They’re also very good recorded. Take a listen:

2. Fine Prince

Mmmm, damn... them princes be FINE.

Mmmm, damn… them princes be FINE.

I had never heard of Fine Prince before. It’s a rather large band for Seattle, with six full members including two keyboardists and two guitarists. Their sound is kinda hard to describe; it’s kind of light, gots a slight groove to it, and is just thoroughly… pleasant. They were a lot of fun. Take a listen:

I had to take off my glasses to hear this Fine Prince (thanks, Howard).

I had to take off my glasses to hear this Fine Prince (thanks, Howard).

3. Julia Massey & the Five Finger Discount

JM+FFD at the Crockie!

JM+FFD at the Crockie!

Miss Joooolia.

Miss Joooolia.

Here’s the real reason there was a show at all: This was the release party for Julia Massy & the Five Finger Discount’s new album, Heart Tones. It’s now available to purchase on Bandcamp! You should download it now!

Dem tones, dem tones, dem Heart Tones!

Dem tones, dem tones, dem Heart Tones!

Not sure if you really want to own this amazing album? Well, then (1) you’re an idiot and (2) you should listen to this song and watch this joyful video. Then go and buy Heart Tones.

And, as is my nature, I made an animated .gif of the proceedings:

Animated JM+FFD.

Animated JM+FFD.

So I got a lot of pretty good photos. Unfortunately, as is often the case when I see JM+FFD, I was not at a good angle to get a good photo of Dom Cortese (the drummer). Here’s the best I could do:

Sorry, Dom (sad trombone).

Sorry, Dom (sad trombone).

4. Special Guest Chris Blount!

Photo by Bebe Labree

Photo by Bebe Labree

Chris Blount (pronounced “Blunt”) is a good friend of mine who also happens to be an exceptional hip-hopster. He guests on a song on JM+FFD’s new album, which you can listen to (and watch the video) right here:

He guested on that song live on stage as well. I was gonnnnnna take a photo of him performing, but I got so wrapped up in the moment that I plumb forgot. He absolutely killed it up there, and got probably the biggest pop of the night at the end of his verse. So big thanks to Bebe Labree for providing me with some photos from the show and letting me use them here!

You do you, Mr. Blount.

You do you, Mr. Blount.
(Photo by Bebe Labree)

Coming “soon” — a full-length album review of Heart Tones! Honest!

Categories: Animated .GIFs, Concerts/Shows, Music, Pictures.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

It’s TWO, TWO, TWO Times the Fools Play This January!

In Olympia on 1/21 and Tacoma on 1/28!

Laugh with the fishies in Oly!

Laugh with the fishies in Oly!

Fools Play Improv continues to perform in Olympia in 2017! You can see them at The South Sound Estuarium on Saturday, January 21 at 8pm. Tickets are only $5 at the door Olympia is a great community for the arts—to the degree that even a marine life discovery center by day features Fools Play’s hilarious spontaneous theater at night! Don’t miss it!

Details:
Fools Play In Olympia (Faced Book Event)
Saturday, January 21st 8:00 PM
@ The South Sound Estuarium
309 State Ave NE, Olympia, WA 98501 (map
All-Ages, $5

Come on down to T-Town!

Come on down to T-Town!

For those of you in Tacoma, Fools Play performs at Tacoma Little Theater on Saturday, January 28 as part of series of shows occurring the 4th Saturday of each month. Tickets are $10 at the door. These late night shows feature booze at the concession stand and many of Fools Play’s freshest faces onstage. Fun for everyone but especially those over 21!

Details:
Fools Play In Tacoma (Faced Book Event)
Saturday, January 28th 10:30 PM
@ Tacoma Little Theatre
210 N I St, Tacoma, WA 98403 (map)
All-Ages, $10

The Fools are excited to offer two shows on two different Saturdays in two different cities. And guess what: I SHALL BE PERFORMING AT BOTH (health and circumstances permitting). If I can be at both shows, SO CAN YOU!

See you there/then!

Categories: Concerts/Shows, Fools Play, Tacoma.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Julia Massey & the Five Finger Discount CD Release Show This Thursday!

Dem tones, dem tones, dem Heart Tones!

Dem tones, dem tones, dem Heart Tones!

That’s right, true believers, JM+FFD are releasing another album THIS THURSDAY (January 12th, 2017)! It’s called Heart Tones and it is excellent (I was given an advance copy to listen to last month because I’m just that awesome).

Here’s the video to my fave songo from the album, featuring another musician friend of mine, hip-hopster Chris Blount!

See? Excellent.

The CD release show is happening at The Crocodile in lovely downtown Seattle.

Details:
Julia Massey and the Five Finger Discount (Album Release) at The Crocodile (Faced Book Event)
Thursday, January 12th 8:00 PM
@ The Crocodile:
2200 2nd Ave, Seattle, Washington 98121 (Map)
$10 Adv, 21+ (Tickets)

My wife and I will be there! We wouldn’t miss it. Would you? WOULD YOU!? DO NOT!

Categories: Concerts/Shows, Music, Videos.