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

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Be Foolish: Fools Play Open Auditions This Saturday!

Be a Fool!

Be a Fool!

Hey, I know I talk a lot about Fools Play Improv here on this here website thingy. But that’s because it’s been a pretty durned huge part of my life for the past 22+ years. Well, now you’ve got the opportunity to have it be a part of your life as well: Fools Play is holding Open Auditions this Saturday!

Fools Play Open Auditions (Facebook event)
Saturday, November 28th 3:00PM
@ Tacoma Youth Theatre
924 Broadway, Tacoma, WA 98402
All-Ages; FREE!

Then stick around after the auditions for FREE admission into Saturday night’s performance of Fools Play Improv! Marvel in horror at what you’ve gotten yourself into!

See the Fools!

See the Fools!

Haha, just kidding, we’re all friends in Fools Play. See:

Friendly Fools!

Friendly Fools!

I probably won’t be able to make the auditions, but I’ll mos’ def’ be in the show at 8:00. See you there/then!

Categories: Concerts/Shows, Fools Play, Tacoma.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

My Top 10 Favorite Julia Massey Songs

Photo by Gary Lappier

Photo by Gary Lappier

As a mental exercise recently I decided to see if I could figure out what are my favorite songs from my favorite musician. It took a while. Some of my choices might surprise you! But here is what I have:

10: Motorcycle Bong
An instrumental (a rarity for JM), this song is all funk and swagger and some great bombast. It’s like the Best 1970s Cop Action TV Theme Song Ever.

9: Here Is a Stone Wall
This is just lovely and heartfelt, with only Julia’s voice and a single guitar. The lyrics are meditative and celebratory, about small moments and well-lived lives. Just reading through the lyrics gets me all teary-eyed.

8: Aghadoe
Ugh, so catchy. A very distinctive synth hook anchors this song and the added choir effect during the chorus really elevates it into something special. The lyrics are about passing time and death and the impermanence of all things, but are also super-uplifting (so, pretty much the usual Julia Massey lyrics :P). But even if I’m just some ash that kicks up in the wind, I know I’ll find my way to fields of wheat in Ireland.

7: Spaceships
This song is just pure pop goodness. It’s peppy, it’s upbeat, there’s some really cool bass stuff going on from Geoff. Sometimes I picture Julia Massey and the Five Finger Discount going on a late-night talk show to perform (usually Conan), and this is the song that they always play in my head. Also: you should listen to the previous song on the album (“#712” – an adaptation of poem 712 by Emily Dickinson) before listening to this one, because they blend seamlessly into each other and it makes “Spaceships” even better.

6: Skatepark
This one is just a masterpiece. It’s epic, it’s loud, it’s got awesome drums and bass and it just kicks ass. The intro and outro instrumental segments are some of the finest instrumental segments that JM+FFD have ever put out. And the lyrics are sweet and funny. It’s also more than five-and-a-half minutes long, but it’s so interesting a song that the time just flies by.

5: There Is a Song
This is an anthem. This is the most exquisitely-sung song on any of JM+FFD’s albums. Julia’s voice is full of power; she belts this song, and it is glorious. The swing tempo is delightful, and the sleigh-bell outro give it a magnificently gentle ending. The lyrics are very empowering; it’s like Julia is standing behind you and shouting, “You can do it!” while you’re trying to do something difficult. JM+FFD would often end their live sets with this song, and it is so complete and final a song that it’s sometimes hard to imagine anything else coming after it.

4: Montana Capri
This song is not high on this list just because it was written about my daughter. That’s right: we didn’t want to announce the baby’s name until she was born, so “Montana Capri” was the fake codename we used for the baby while my wife was still preggers with her. It’s not just because of that; It’s also just a great song. The first part of this song has such a strong, focused drive to it. It’s like a train speeding through a tunnel, chugging forward relentlessly. And then in the second part it completely opens up and becomes epic and spacey. It’s like the train comes out of the tunnel and bursts into a beautiful moonlight vista, all mountains and stars and valleys. It’s awesome.

3: Jenny Towner
A beautiful and funny portrait about a real-life person whom I’ve never met. My favorite lyrics are the adorable (and slightly creepy) “Got the goddamn cutest face / It’s already in my suitcase / She’s coming with me everywhere I go.” One time JM+FFD did a full-band, rockin’ version of this song for me on my birthday. “Jenny Towner” hasn’t ever been released on an album. There used to be a link to download it on Julia’s website, but I can’t find it anymore. Alls I can find is this YouTube video of a live version from a long time ago.

2: Don’t Worry ‘Bout Us
A loud, almost-bluesy, piano-banging romp with a fascinating time signature. It is nothing but unadulterated happiness for six full minutes. Gobs of solos show off each of the instruments, and the music is just so voluminous it’s hard to imagine that it was all made by just three people. This song is just joy, joy, joy.

1: Catacombs
This was no contest. Not even close. And it’s completely bizarre: I usually do not like repetitive songs at all, and “Catacombs” is basically just the same set of lyrics sung three times in a row. But this song pushes all of my musical buttons. From the opening drums to the opening piano riff, to the vocals coming in, then the strings and bass and backing vocals. It all just such a lovely build to the first time Julia belts out the chorus. I’m a sucker for songs that build like this. And the lyrics about “I know somehow you’re more than memory / ‘Cause I feel you in my bones, weaving caves in my marrow / Where I feel the echo of your memory / Where I feel the echo of your Earthly dream.” When Julia finally does belt out the chorus, “I’m not hollow” sounds almost like a statement of defiance. The world may take from us, but it cannot take our memories of each other. You fill me up. I’m not hollow. I would love this song to be played as a sing-along my funeral—I’m completely serious!—with everyone there belting out “I’m not hollow!” all together. Beautiful.

Honorable Mentions:

These are the songs that were all fighting to get the coveted #10 spot.

Turn It Into Everything
This song is a clever little pop ditty metaphor about games turning into something more. It’s just so catchy I can’t resist it.

Always Been There Anyway
An early song that was never put on any albums. Like “Jenny Towner” you used to be able to download it from Julia’s website, but I can’t find it anymore. It has a very different feel from any of her other songs due to a fascinatingly different choice of instruments like a sitar-sounding thing and some bongos. I guess you’ll just have to take my word for it.

Come Here, You
This one I can’t post any links to audio because it hasn’t been recorded yet! And I couldn’t find a video of it uploaded to the internets anywhere. But this song has a great part towards the end where the audience starts clapping along to the song, and then the song ends. And every time I’ve seen this song performed, the audience just keeps on a-clappin’ even after it ends! It’s very charming. If you go to a show nowadays it’s very likely that you’ll hear it!

And there you have it. What do you think? What songs would you add and/or remove from my list in order to make your own?

I’m very looking forward to Julia’s next album; there are some really good new songs happening in her live sets these days. If you’d like to experience more Julia Massey, you should come to her next show! It’s this Friday, November 20th at Columbia City Theater in Seattle!

JM+FFD are the 2nd band!

JM+FFD are the 2nd band!

MoZo (CD Release) // Julia Massey // Richie Aldente (Facebook Event)
Friday, November 20th 9:00 PM
@ Columbia City Theater
4916 Rainier Ave S, Seattle, WA 98118 (map)
$8 adv / $10 door

We shalle seee yeeee theeeeere!

Categories: Articles, Concerts/Shows, Music.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

My Famous Friends: Jessi is 60 Gorgeous German Scientists!

Gorgeous enough for 60 women!

Gorgeous enough for 60 women!

My pal Jessi appeared in an episode of the comedy sci-fi webseries Dead Drift! In the series a man’s wife died and he was so distraught that he created 60 identical clones of her as his “daughters” (all played by Jessi). They’re described in one episode as “60 gorgeous German scientists.” DAMN RIGHT. You can watch her first on-screen appearance in Episode 5 as Ellen Schneider here:

You should prolly watch Dead Drift from the beginning, too. Oh, and also watch the new episodes as they’re released! Dooooo iiiiiit. I do hope that as the series progresses we get to see more than just one of these 60 gorgeous women.

Hellz Yeah

Hellz Yeah

Categories: My Famous Friends, Videos.

Friday, 6 November 2015

My Famous Friends: Julia Massey + FFD & Electric NoNo on TV!

Band in Seattle: JM+FFD&ENN

Hey, I know these guys!

Last Saturday a bunch o’ my friends were on TV!

That’s right: Jared & Dom of Electric NoNo (formerly The Jesus Rehab) and Julia, Dom (the same Dom), & Matt of Julia Massey and the Five Finger Discount were all featured on the CW11/KSTW TV show “Band in Seattle.” Yes, the same “Band in Seattle” that just happens to be my TV Show of the Month right now. Coincidence? You decide!

You can watch the entire episode on the YouTubes. The behind-the-scenes interviews are rather charming. Mostly because my friends are rather charming.

If you’re interested in watching the entire concerts, and not just edited-down versions, you’re in luck there my friends! Here are the complete songs from each of the groups:

And as an added bonus, you can see me in the audience a couple o’ times:

Meee on TeeeeVeeeee

Meee on TeeeeVeeeee

Categories: Concerts/Shows, Music, My Famous Friends, Videos.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

“Of the Month” November 2015

TV Show of the Month:
Band in Seattle

An extremely well-produced show that airs Saturday nights on CW11/KSTW that showcases performances and interviews with an incredible variety of Seattle bands (hence the name of the show). I’ve been in the live studio audience for a couple of the tapings. And many of my friends have been fortunate enough to perform on the show! It’s fun, and the interspersed interviews give great insight into these Seattle bands that (as the hipsters might say) you’ve probably never heard of.

Video Game of the Month:
Super Mario Maker

This is a dream come true. I was about seven or eight years old when Super Mario Bros. was released into arcades (and shortly afterwards into the original NES). Ever since then there has been a fantasy way in the back of my mind about what kinds of levels I would design if I could. Well, now I can. And it is gloriously fun. One of the reasons why I have posted so few updates on this website in the past month is because almost all of my free time (that I’m not spending with my beautiful wife and beautiful daughter) is spent making levels and playing levels that other people have made.

I’m actually shocked at how few of my friends also have this game. I personally believe that every person in the whole entire world should have this game. This isn’t just the game of the month. This is the game of the year. The game of the decade. The game of the century. Heck, the game of the millennium. So of you have Super Mario Maker, please play my levels (you can see the level code for one of them in the tweet above). And send me your level codes so I can play yours!

Tweeter of the Month:
Ryan Reynolds @vancityreynolds

Hey, Chris, what are you doing? Ryan Reynolds is a huge movie star; he doesn’t need you to promote him! Well, that’s true, but he also just happens to be frikkin’ hilarious, and it’s very obvious that no manager/handler/PR ever gets anywhere near his tweets:

It’s always appreciated when a celebrity gets to have honest fun with the rest of us plebes without any filters in between.

Categories: Of the Month.

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Happy Halloween 2015!

Or as Trevor Peach says, Happy Hallowwon’t!

Categories: Holiday, Music.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Quick Halloween Ghostly Embroidered Plush

Hey guess what! My work let me come up with a sewing project of my own and then post it on their blog! SO I DID! Here’s a link to that blog:
And here, I’ve copied it to my own blorg so you can read it here:

Hello! This is Chris with Quality Sewing, and I’d like to show you how I made these adorable little plush ghosts with the Brother Dream Machine:

I confess I’m actually not much of a sewist; I work behind the scenes of Quality Sewing in advertising. But the Dream Machine is so unbelievably easy to use that even I could do this–so it should be no problem for you!

First off, draw a ghost. Just a simple face and a ghostly outline. Here, look how cute he is!

You can make it pretty much any shape and size that you want as long as it’ll fit on your fabric in a hoop. I used those sheets of felt that you can buy at a craft store for like 35 to 40 cents each. Those are about 8” x 10”, and I used the 5” x 7” hoop to hold them. So I drew a ghost that was about 4” x 6.” We’re going to turn the ghost inside out and stuff it, so try to leave a gap of about 1” to 2” in the outline.

Put your drawing on the Dream Machine’s scanning attachment and press “My Design Center” then “Illustration” then “Scan.” The machine will take just a minute to scan in your drawing.

Then it’ll appear on the screen. We’re going to embroidery just the face first, so use the stylus to select just the face portion.

Hoop up your fabric with some stabilizer (I used Floriani tearaway medium stabilizer behind my felt) and put it in the machine. Make sure your Dream Machine is loaded up with the color of thread you want (black in this case), and embroider that cute li’l face.

Once that’s done, take off the top frame of your hoop, lay another piece of fabric on top of the ghost’s face, and re-hoop it all together. Try to get it to be as close to where it originally was hooped as possible.

Put your ghost drawing through the scanner again, but this time select “Line” instead of “Illustration” before you scan it. The scanner will convert everything to outlines.

We don’t want to embroider the face this time, so what I did was choose the eraser tool and just rub out those face lines.

One of the reason I like using felt for these is because it’s ever-so-slightly translucent, and you can put that to good use. When you get to the embroidery phase, click this button to have the Dream Machine really quickly scan the hooped material, and voila! You can faintly see where your ghost’s face was embroidered. Drag the outline so that it is positioned around the face where you want it.

Then just stitch it out! You’d probably want to switch to white thread for the outline, but I used black so it would actually show up in the photos.

Now take everything out of the hoop, tear off the stabilizer, and carefully cut all the way around your ghost. I tried to keep it about 1/8 away from the seam.

Now turn him inside out and look at just how cute he is!

Now you just have to stuff him and stitch the opening closed and there you go! You have a cute little ghost plush.

This seriously only takes a few minutes to make. They’d be so cute to give away at a Halloween party (or even to Trick-or-Treaters).

If ghosts aren’t your thing, you can easily use the same technique to make Jack-o-lanterns! Here’s one I made, the only difference is that I used orange felt and I sandwiched a loop of green felt between the two layers of orange fabric before I stitched the outline.

If you don’t think your drawing skills are the greatest and you’re worried about how your plushes will look, below are some image .JPG files that you can download and put on a memory stick. That would make the creation of these plushes even faster because you wouldn’t have to physically scan the drawing each time; just put the memory stick in the Dream Machine and pull the design up instantly!

Just click on these images to download them to your computer (if that doesn’t work try right-clicking on them and selecting “Save As”).

I hope these li’l guys make your Halloween happier.

Categories: Articles, Arts & Crafts, Holiday, Work.