NFT Feature: A (Karaoke) Place to Call Home

This is a pretty long article about karaoke X-Posted (with pictures and nice formatting) from Not For Tourists.

The Seattle karaoke scene is a far cry from the stereotypical scenes of geeks or Japanese business men (not that they’re the same thing) poorly belting pop songs to half-empty bars. This is a city in which one has their pick of karaoke venues on literally any given day. But just because karaoke is rampant, doesn’t mean it’s all worth doing. Here’s where things gets really subjective. Allow me to provide some context:

I knew I was going to love karaoke well before I had the opportunity to try it. I’ve always been compelled to sing anyplace, anytime. It’s not because I have the voice of an angel. While my voice isn’t unpleasant to the ears, my range is extremely limited. But what I lack in talent, I make up for in enthusiasm.

In college, my slightly older boyfriend frequented karaoke bars with his friends. Being under 21, I was left to tend the hearth. They would return from the bars, invigorated by their performances, and regale me with hilarious tales about the audience and other singers. They were rock stars for 3 minutes at a time. My god, did I want a piece of that action.

When I finally came of age, I accompanied them to one of their favorite joints (a now defunct Tacoma dive which may or may not have been a mafia front) and signed myself up for my first moment of glory. I chose “Daydream Believer” by the Monkees. It was sort of a disaster. I quickly learned that just because you like a song doesn’t mean it’s in your range.
The bar was virtually empty, but “singing” in front of 3 friends and 6 weird, wasted, possibly dangerous strangers was still a huge rush. I wanted more.

Eight years and countless songs later, I fancy myself somewhat of an aficionado; a connoisseur, of the karaoke arts. I’m still not the most talented singer, but I know my way around a mic and monitor. I’ve noted patterns amongst fellow karaoke-ers. Some of these patterns are amusing to me (everyone will always sing along to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing”). Others annoy the poop out of me. Go on, sing “Love Shack” again. I double dare you. The prevalence of these patterns figures heavily into my criterion for rating a karaoke venue.

Like in any performance, a karaoke audience plays a significant role. From this, one might conclude that a packed bar is ideal. The 3 busiest karaoke destinations in Seattle offer it 7 days a week. At Ozzie’s in Lower Queen Anne, there are often lines to get in. Should you be lucky (or early) enough to get your number in, you will be singing to a packed house. The downside to Ozzie’s… Well if you ask me, it’s ALL downsides. For starters, good luck making the cut with the DJ. My friend actually bribes the DJ so that he doesn’t have to wait till last call, only to learn he’s not singing. If you DO manage to get called up, and you sing anything other than Bon Jovi, Britney Spears, or effing “Love Shack”, the seas of White Hats will meet you with blank stares. These people don’t know about the other Elvis (surname Costello). My fiancé’s performance of the White Stripes’ “Fell in Love with a Girl” was too obscure for this crowd. And he practically does the White Stripes better than the Goth Albino Wondertwins themselves.

There is rarely a lull on the mic at the International District’s Bush Garden. But again, steady business does not good karaoke make. It is more difficult to get called up here than at Ozzie’s. Though the DJ actually REQUESTS bribes here, they don’t seem to work. The DJ simply looks at all his slips and decides which songs he wants to hear. Apparently what he wants to hear is 5 frighteningly inebriated girls shrieking “Take My Breath Away” into one microphone. He also wants to hear himself sing. A lot. I’ve been to Bush Garden 4 times and have only gotten to sing once. What’s more, the place is a magnet for bachelorette parties. I don’t have anything against bachelorettes per se, but one does tire of hearing a chorus of “Whooooo!” every 5 minutes.

Not every nightly karaoke smacks of Date Rape Nightmare. Though The Crescent on Capitol Hill is frat free, it is still not idyllic. The mic competition is fiercer in such a diminutive space. It’s also incredible how out of 5000 song choices, the same ones seem to come up over and over again. Friends who live nearby testify that they hear someone belting “What’s Up” by 4 Non Blondes almost every single night. They also say it’s never done well.

On the other hand, The Crescent has a fun, inclusive party vibe. Even if you don’t get to sing, you will still enjoy yourself. It’s a fine place to attempt a conversion of conscientious objectors to the practice.

Not all Seattle karaoke spots are hopping. You can arrive half an hour late to Mandarin Gate, a Chinese restaurant in a strip mall off Aurora, and still be able to get your kumbaya-yas out. On the other hand, it’s in a strip mall. Off of Aurora. Moreover, if there’s no one there to listen, you may as well be at home with your Fisher Price boom box.

The same goes for Mondays at the U-District’s Dante’s and Tuesdays at Purr on Capitol Hill. You do NOT want to be the only hope for the DJs as they hover over you while you pick songs. And you REALLY don’t want to see the dismayed look in their eyes when you head for the door leaving them with 2 hours of begging a smattering of disaffected bar patrons to sing.

The upside to places like this is that every once in a while, there ARE other singers. Some of these people are eccentric gems and my life is richer for having shared a room with them. There is a man who brings his OWN AC/DC karaoke CD to Mandarin Gate and positively brings the house down. I’ve never seen him sing any other music. At Dante’s, I once witnessed an adorably awkward performance of “Cracklin’ Rosie” by a bespectacled nebbish man in a Cosby sweater. Once he finished his song, he disappeared into the night. These are the treasured moments you just won’t find at an Ozzie’s.

While there are many adequate places in Seattle to scratch one’s singing itch, I’ve found it very difficult to find a place that meets all of my karaoke needs. Still, there are a few places that have come pretty close. The Rickshaw in Greenwood is one such place, offering karaoke 7 days a week, 365 days of the year. I spent Christmas here last year and I dare say it was my best one yet. The place was packed with holiday orphans enjoying delicious Chinese food and warming each other with the gift of rock.

Sunday night karaoke at The Twilight Exit on Capitol Hill can be hit or miss in terms of attendance, but when it hits, it’s a blast. There’s no stage as such, but there’s plenty of prancing room. The crowd is very supportive and really gets into it. In the divey atmosphere, you will feel like a rock star playing a secret show to your most loyal fans.

But my personal favorite is The Sunset Bowl Lounge in Ballard that offers karaoke Wednesday through Sunday. There are a million reasons to love this little bit of heaven in a 24-hour bowling alley (like the friendly, quirky staff and the wacky drink specials), but the 40,000 song state-of-the-art computerized system is a big one. Yes, that’s right. Forty THOUSAND songs. If they don’t have the song you wanted to sing, you didn’t really need to sing it. Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday, DJing is in the capable hands of the delightful Michele who has quite a set of pipes herself. And here’s the best part: The bar is always crowded during karaoke times, but most of the people there are just waiting for an available bowling lane. That means you have a captive audience with NO mic competition. Order a round of Speedy Gonzaleses from Nick and your crooning crew will be rocking on full throttle till last call.

Last but not least is Seattle’s Best Karaoke. This downtown karaoke company rents private rooms for small groups (just like in Lost in Translation). You can bring in food and liquor (with purchase of a banquet license) or have an all ages party. This is a great way to bring your mic-shy friends out of their shell. But that’s not all. They also rent their system out for larger parties and will deliver and set it up anywhere in town! For twenty-four hours of bliss, it’s very affordable, especially if party guests kick in a few bucks. My beau and I have rented the machine several times, including, but not limited to, our annual Scaraoke Halloween party. If our overflowing recycling bins are any indication, these parties are a raging success.
Undeniably, there is no shortage of karaoke in Seattle and, like anything; one person’s gold is another’s guano. Enough people have bewilderingly professed their love of Ozzie’s and Bush Garden to me to prove this idiom. I hope that you can use the very subjective information I have provided to find the perfect home for you and all your karaoke needs.

Happy singing.

THESE ARE THE PEOPLE IN YOUR KARAOKEHOOD:

The Perpetual Grecian: Identifiable by their baseball caps (men) and halter-tops (women) and their penchant for shouting “Whooooo!“ in response to any and everything. The males will sing “Total Eclipse of the Heart” a-la “Old School”, Bon Jovi or “Sweet Caroline“. Every once in a while, they will surprise you with an ear-splitting rendition of Radiohead’s “Creep”. The women will sing “Love Shack” or turn any numbers of solo songs into a group sing along. Popular song choices for the females include “I Love Rock and Roll” and “Pour Some Sugar On Me.”

The Eccentric: Anyone from the nebbish man in the coke bottle glasses and Cosby sweater to the ambiguously gendered. Their song choices are impossible to predict and this, among more obvious qualities, makes them the most interesting karaoke attendees. They are usually just here to do one song and then leave.

The Veteran: These are mostly men, upwards of 65, sharply dressed and who, more often than not have fantastic voices. They won’t sing anything written after 1965.

The Country Crooner: Country might be one of the most popular genres of music in the United States. Who knew Kenney Chesney had SO MANY SONGS? If you’re not into country, these can become lost moments in your evening. Country Crooners stick around till last call and sing as many times as they are allowed.

The Hipster: Identifiable by their perfectly coiffed, died hair and ironic t-shirt, the Hipster will either sing a new wave song from the 80’s (theme to their very favorite John Hughes movie, perhaps?) or some Johnny Cash. If a songbook carries any Radiohead song other than “Creep”, they will be ecstatic.

The Theatre Geek: They sing show tunes.

The Left Fielder: I place myself and many of my singing companions in this category. We sing against type. Though I’ve spent much of my adult life arguing against the Goth label, I do wear an awful lot of black. So it must come as a surprise to the crowd when I pull out the Carpenters. If the crowd is more mainstream, I will do a surefire pleaser like Pat Benatar‘s “Heartbreaker” or some Billy Joel. My fiancé is tremendous with his renditions of David Bowie songs. My tall, slender white-girl friend is all about the 80’s rap songs. My emo musician friend sings Foreigner songs better than Foreigner.

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Weekend Recap

FRIDAY
B. and I began our night at a friends’ periodic Wine and Cheese party series. Tonight's theme was blue cheese. We brought a creamy young Gorgonzola that B. had purchased at the Pike Place Market and a Camelot Chardonnay from Trader Joe's. We were the first to arrive which was kind of lame, but we had plans later and we wanted to get our fill of cheese.

A lot of people were a little suspicious about the blue cheese theme, but there ended up being quite a few tasty and varied cheeses. I particularly enjoyed the creamy ones and one hard cheese, an Apricot Stilton. It was all about the Apricot for that one.

We also met a nice mutt named Tobe (probably not spelled the same way, however), for whom the hosts were babysitting.

Around 9:00, we took our leave and headed to meet the gang at Sunset to use our coupons and (more importantly, sing karaoke). Michelle, the DJ, was pleased to see us as usual. For some reason, she LOOOVES us, even though we are kind of obnoxious. She must get some real jerks in there.

Anyway, we met Sherwood and he relayed to us his gasoline story. Christy and Chris were also there, and they sang an adorable duet. Christy also sang a Prince song to Chris. It was pretty cute. Around that time, I noticed my assistant at work sitting in the back of the bar. He waved to me and I went over. He apparently had just gotten there so he missed my rendition of The Police's “I Can't Stand Losing You” with Arsenio's unsolicited Death Metal backing vocals. The pressure was on to pick something good for my first performance in front of a co-worker. Let me take this time to say, I LOVE my assistant. He's really cool and we seem to have similar taste in Cinematic Train Wrecks so work is definitely a lot more fun that it used to be.

ANYWAY, eventually, I settled on a tried and true number of mine, “Midnight Confessions” by The Grassroots. It worked out OK.

As they often do at the Sunset, events began to blur eventually. I had already consumed a great deal of wine before getting there, and they always seem to have a vodka drink on special so…several Screwdrivers later, I was kind of too drunk to bowl. But I did anyway and, pathetically enough, I was only slightly worse than I am sober.

We'd originally put ourselves on the list for 2 lanes, but by the time we got called, our party had whiddled down significantly.

After bowling, we were still up for doing something, so B. called Andy to see where he'd gone. He was at a random house party. We assumed that he had roommates with him and so we decided to crash it. At this point it was just me, B. and the Brunswicks. Turned out the roomies had gone to the party with Andy, but left after a short while. He'd followed a lady there. We stuck around for a while but didn't know anyone. After I broke their toilet seat and someone else, simultaneously, broke a box of light bulbs, we decided to leave Andy and sneak out the back. We caught a cab on the street corner and headed home.

SATURDAY
I spent the day putzing around the house before we met up with B.’s crew for a birthday party at Buca di Beppo.

It couldn't have been a more entertaining time to be at Beppo. It's prom season, after all. So gaggle after gaggle of formal-wear clad high school couples streamed into the restaurant while we slowly consumed a 3-liter bottle of Chianti. Most of the couples seemed like they had been thrown together, with girls running around independent of their dates. But there was one couple who actually seemed like they were out TOGETHER. The boy was in an all black tux with what must have been his most formal black baseball cap. Head gear aside, they were pretty cute. I've also never seen so many of the CW Haircuts in one place before. This haircut is the young male equivalent to the Rachel of the 90s.

Midway through the meal, I went to use the bathroom. My timing was good. I got in there right before a mob of girls came in. Whilst in the stall, I overheard Pastel Blue Chiffon Girl complaining to Pastel Yellow Chiffon Girl about how cumbersome her dress was. Obviously, she didn't use the word “cumbersome”.

Pastel Blue: Oh my god. This dress is so annoying. This thing is out of control. I keep tripping over it!
Pastel Yellow: True. But it's good practice for when you get married.
Pastel Blue: You make a good point, girl.

Back at the table, the boys were ogling the illegal eye candy. This reminded me of a conversation I'd had with a co-worker of mine. She was having inappropriate thoughts about our 17-year old intern until I brought up the point that the reason more men lust after teenage girls than women lust after teenage boys, is because we remember what it's like to make out with a teenage boy. They aren't good at it. At all. Back then, I didn't have anything else to compare it to and I still wasn't impressed. Brugos seemed to think it had more to do with teenage boys being poor. That might be the case for some women but for me, that's never been a priority. Brugos is actually the first boyfriend I've ever had who makes more money than me.

After dinner, we stopped in at Jillian's, since it was right next door. We played some air hockey and video bowling (which is kind of like shuffleboard). If only real bowling were like shuffleboard, I would rock it. Brugos played some ping pong and kicked my ass in darts. Around 9:30, we had to take our leave to go to the Showbox for the Blonde Redhead show.

Blonde Redhead sounded amazing, but Brugos and I agreed that it's just not all that fun to see an “ambient” band live.

The show ended early because I guess all the oldsters had to be in bed, so we re-convened with the Birthday party at the Beer Stube for last call.

SUNDAY
It was a beautiful, sunny day. So sunny, in fact, that the light woke us up early. After some DDRsizing, we decided to try and find somewhere with a patio to have an early dinner before league night. We invited the Brunswicks to meet us at Tacos Guaymas in Greenlake (which is, apparently, really close walking distance to the house. I had no idea). Of course, there were no outside seats available, so we settled for a table by the door. That's the trouble with only having sun 3-4 months out of the year. On a rare, sunny day, the competition for outdoor seating is fierce. I bet in LA everyone wants to be in the shade.

B. and I enjoyed happy hour margaritas and food. And I enjoyed the GIANT poster of Rikki Martin above the ladies toilet. The Brunswicks were running late so they ended up just picking us up on the way to bowling.

Our team this week was pretty evenly matched to us. We won the first game and they won the second. They were really happy because it was the first time they'd scored. We were pretty happy to win the first game because we'd only won against one other team. So this way, we get to finish out the season, not anywhere near the top, of course, but at least not at the bottom.

After bowling, we got a few karaoke songs in and then we headed back to the house for Brugos' Big Boy poker, while I relaxed with a Futurama marathon.

Weekend Recap

FRIDAY

Not having gotten a real rest since getting back from Austin, Brugos and I decided to stay in on Friday. We ate home-made pizza and watched Idiocracy before falling asleep. Not very exciting, but it needed to be done.

SATURDAY

We spent much of the day on the couch. In the evening we decided to use the bowling coupons we received from out league organizer. Jon and Emily picked us up and we got to Sunset around 7:00. Andy had already put our name in for two lanes. He was sitting in the bar with two of his friends I'd never met and Roxy. We set about drinking while we waited for our lanes. The special was the Bay Breeze, so Brugos and I ordered round after round of those. They actually didn't seem all that strong but they were mighty delicious, so we kept ordering them.

We bowled 3 games. The first two were pretty good. Better than we'd done on our first league night. The last one was pretty crap for all of us. We were tired and the alcohol was kicking in. It was time to karaoke.

The Sunset Bowl Karaoke crowd is a strange one. You have your frat boys, your spunky college kids, your slutty townies and your just plain odd ducks. Brugos and I attempted to sing Paradise by the Dashboard Light but it turns out he didn't know it that well, so I sang most of it rather awkwardly. Brugos sang some Led Zeppelin on his own. Emily sang The Humpty Dance and I put in a staple for myself: One by Three Dog Night, to make up for the awkwardness of our first performance. The weirdness was intermittent. While Emily and one of Andy's friends sang Pour Some Sugar On Me, some random girl got up and started dancing. Right in front of them. Suggestively. She bend over and showed her thong to the crowd. She rubbed up against the girls. She jiggled her stuff until the karaoke host came over and politely asked her to sit down. She complied, but not before giving one last defiant ass-shake to the crowd. When she got back to her table, she lifted her shirt high above her head and placed it over her male companion's head.

Seattle Karaoke Notable, Anne, was there. You might remember Anne from previous blog posts about karaoke nights. She used to be at Jai Thai when Angel hosted karaoke there on Saturdays. From what I can gather, she's either a pre-op trannie or a post-op who needs to sue her surgeon. She seems very sweet though. Apparently, she goes by the name of Krissy, these days, and is meeting everyone anew under new name. She introduced herself to all the girls in the bar who did a number, told them they were beautiful and sung well.

Right before everyone tired of the scene, a group of, I guess, college kids in “dress up” came in and took over the back table. I'm not sure what their deal was. Roxy described their look as kids who'd raided their mother's closet. They wore mismatched outfits and boas and hats with no discerning theme unless “Elton John has gone blind” is a theme.

Anyway, we paid our tab, and I discovered that Brugos and I had imbibed 7 Bay Breezes each. They must not have had too much alcohol in them because we were both still standing and somewhat coherent. We retired to the 4A house.

At the 4A house, we stood around for a while. Roxy and I went on a beer run and I impulsively bought a box of macaroons. I definitely must have been drunk. After we returned, I coerced everyone into a game of Asshole. Before we knew it, it was 3am, and Brugos and I were ready for bed. Rocko had called a cab for him, Roxy and us, but Roxy wasn't ready to go, so Brugos and I gladly took the cab straight home.

SUNDAY

It was a beautiful day, but Brugos and I had the rather daunting task at hand of picking up my bed from and cleaning my old apartment. I am finally out of there and everything is spotless. By the time we finished, however, I could barely lift my arms so I wasn't really expecting to do well at out league night, even with Saturday's practice.

In the end, however, I did about the same. No better or worse. We got home around 9, with enough time for some well needed vegging, including watching the season finale of BSG which was…well, OMG.

So…Holy crap! I definitely though Chief or Tigh MIGHT be Cylons, but certainly not BOTH of them PLUS Roslin's crappy P.A. and a professional Pyramid Ball player. Whoa. I'm really happy Chief is a frackin' toaster though. Makes me love him even more as I, myself, am a toaster lover. I wonder what Sharon will say!

And I KNEW Starbuck wasn't dead. I can't wait to find out what happened to her. And who the fifth Cylon is (Brugos still thinks it's Starbuck). But I guess I'll have to wait till…2008! Ack!

Weekend-ish Recap

Since I was sick this weekend, I didn't really do much so I kind of felt like I was cheated out of a weekend. That is why I am including last night in my recap. It was kind of like my delayed Friday if I had an early mellow Friday but still went out.

(True) FRIDAY
Sick. Did nothing.

SATURDAY
I was still not feel tip top, but I was kind of stir crazy so we got out of the house. I had a bit of bad luck with cab drivers taking me to and from the doctor on Friday and ripping me off so I had Brugos teach me how to drive the Stang in case of emergencies. She's a bit tricky, and my driving skills are rather rusty, but I think I can handle her if I need to. We picked up Brad and then I drove us to Ballard to the Chai House with the travel Cattan. We played a game and then drove back to the House of Fun to hang out. We played another game and gorged ourselves on girl scout cookies whilst listening to Brad's MTV Party to Go Vol. 2 CD. At first, I mocked the CD, but after reading the track list, I got a little excited at the prospect of listening to PM Dawn, The KLF and DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince. It was a pretty fun little nostalgic trip.

Brugos and I dropped off the Stang and caught the bus downtown to Marrakesh for Erin's birthday dinner. Erin had reserved half of the back room for her 30 guests. Since we arrived early, we managed to score a seat on the couch rather than the floor pillows. My back was grateful for our promptness. We soon learned that when you are a party of 30, you waive certain rights like being able to choose what you order. We told the waiter who were vegetarians and that was the extent of our choices. He handed out our towels and we may have committed the first faux paux of the evening, passing things down. He seemed frustrated that we weren't keeping the towels we were handed.

Towels, it turns out, are for more than just drying your hands after they are washed in the big basin. It is also to keep the copious amounts of crumbs off of your clothes that fall when you have to eat with your hands. Course after course arrived, each time with one vegetarian option. The waiter was a little bossy, demanding that all of the vegetarians sit together. I guess it was along the lines of him having an aversion to passing things. We didn't mind though.

During our meal, we caught the belly dancer show. She was dressed like She-Ra and danced with a sword on her head. If only gamers realized how much they would enjoy a place like Marrakesh.

After eating for 3 solid hours, we lumbered over to Re-Bar for Bacon Strip: A half dance/half drag show night. Brugos and I realized that we were far too full to do any dancing and we were both still feeling kind of under the weather, so after watching the first act of the drag show, we took our leave. The show started with two men doing a strip tease to “In The Navy”, which resulted in stripey and camo jockey shorts respectively. That part was very enjoyable. The drag show was kind of half-assed. Most of the performers didn't seem to know their songs that well and were a bit off. The costumes were interesting though and I always enjoy the humor that a drag show affords.

I wish we'd been a bit more energetic because the music they were playing was pretty good and it was a rare opportunity to party with both Erin and her awesome mom. Alas, it was not to be.

SUNDAY
After (what I assume was much needed) sleeping in till noon, we lazed around the house for a bit. So as not to waste the nice weather, we headed to the tennis court. I was playing pretty poorly. Even worse than last time. I blame the dizzying side effects of my antibiotics. Luckily for Brugos, Darshan showed up so he was still able to get in a good game while I watched the bizarre high school sports photo shoot going on in the neighboring basketball court. At least I assume that's what was happening with a girl in an oversized basketball jersey (and nothing else) shouting “GRRRRR! We're number ONE!” and having her picture taken by 4 guys.

Later on, Brugos and I watched the “Comedians of Comedy” documentary (mostly hilarious, slightly sad) and then Brugos' high stakes poker buddies arrived. I watched some more TV and then went to bed.

MONDAY
My work day was typically irritating for a Monday so I was definitely itching to go out. The Bunswicks came over and we walked over to Dante's. Every time I've been to Dante's on a weeknight, it's been dead dead dead. Tonight was no exception. We had the place to ourselves for $2 wells and Hales night. We played some air hockey and Bram Stoker's Dracula Pinball (which is hard but the music is AWESOME) and some foosball. Eventually, a karaoke DJ showed up, along with one of the strangest karaoke crowds I've ever seen. We had a woman and her companion who was her demanding boyfriend or her demanding gay friend or her manager. He insisted that she sing her songs in a particular order because she must “save the best for last”. There was a pretty amazonian girl and her surly, fashionably dressed nerd of a boyfriend who didn't speak or move the entire time. There was a really geeky looking guy in a Cosby sweater and coke bottle glasses who showed up to do a shy rendition of “Cracklin' Rosie” and then left. He was like a character in a movie and he was awesome. There was the host who may or may not have been friends with the “team of professionals”, based on the fact that he was engaged in a game of suicide karaoke with them. And then there was us. We sifted through the two volume song book “organized” by song title in MOSTLY alphabetical order) and each found a song. Brugos put in “Dead Leaves on the Dirty Ground” and I did “Manic Monday”. Rocko decided to put in “Never Tear us Apart” which he did VERY well under the name “Mr. Johnson”. Roxy still couldn't be convinced to put in a song. Maybe next time. :)

It was pretty much just us singing to the rotation went around fast, with one angry young man singing some nu metal song as a drop-in. So the host kind of guilted us into singing a second song each. Sadly, Cosby Sweater left after his one song. I would have loved to have heard him sing again. Since there were so few people there, I decided to be annoying and put in “November Rain” in the hopes that THIS TIME they would have the whole song. Almost as soon as I started singing, the motley crue of weirdos ALL left the room. I guess they aren't Guns n' Roses fans. The karaoke DJ didn't seem to be familiar with the song because after the second instrumental he said “I guess this IS the long one” to which I replied “No, we're not there yet. We'll know for sure after the third instrumental”. To my delight, the third instrumental arrived, and I was able, for only the second time in my karaoke career to rock out to the end part of “November Rain”.

Shortly after my song ended, the weirdos came back and Brugos sang “Brandy (You're a Fine Girl)”. Mr. Harry Johnson sang his third song, “Float On” (which was also awesome). After he sang, the bossy manager/boyfriend/gay friend said “You think THAT'S funny (referring to Harry Johnson), when I was in the hospital, my doctors were named Dr. Hurt and Dr. Ow. True story.” He received polite laughter for his hacky stand-up. I guess some things aren't funny just because they're true.

Around 11, we decided we'd had enough of the Dante's universe and headed home. I would definitely like to sing with the weirdos again sometime. Especially Cosby Sweater.

Weekend Recap

FRIDAY

I packed my bag full of booze and Brugos and I met Ben at the Oak Tree Cinema to see Ghost Rider. About 10 minutes in, I realized that this was the greatest bad comic book movie ever made. It was truly glorious. Actors were hamming it up right and left and, at the center of it all, was Nicolas Cage. Brugos and I are both now convinced that he is am incredible actor. It takes a tremendous amount of talent to be able to pull of hammy lines like that and be engaging. I was also very impressed with Wes Bentley who proved that he's not just a bag-obsessed dramatic actor but camp it up with the best of them. (The best being Nic Cage. God damn. He was awesome.)

Ben wasn't quite so enamored with the whole thing. But, by the end, most of the theatre was laughing along which was great because it meant that mine and Brugos' constant cackling wasn't as annoying to others as we'd feared. We weren't making fun. We were genuinely enjoying the shit out of Ghost Rider. I'm excited to write my review for the work blog.

After the movie, we wandered over to the Mandarin Gate for some karaoke. We were met by Elyse. The place was pretty crowded and we were surprised to see a few hipsters in attendance. One of them sounded like Cat Power, if Cat Power sang fun songs. I felt a bit off but everyone insisted that I sounded OK. Still, I couldn't really hear myself and I was getting kind of frustrated. We left around midnight but I never did get the post-Ghost Rider high back, we Brugos and I just went home after dropping Elyse off.

SATURDAY
We spent all day getting the house in order and got SO much done. It was really nice to be so productive. After picking up some food from Taste of India, we had Andy and John over for poker. Brugos won both games. We finished the evening with some very intense Catan which we were all pretty close to winning. John pulled it out in the end.

SUNDAY
We did a little more clean up and then decided we needed to get out of the house. We were going to play some tennis, but I realised I didn't have any sneakers. I had gotten rid of my last pair because they hurt and I hadn't replaced them. Brugos suggested a trip to the mall, which I am always quick to nay say. In the end, he convinced me that we could get in and out fast and then play some tennis. So we hit the Payless at Northgate and it was, indeed, very fast. Best of all, they were having a buy-one-get-one-half-off sale on ANYTHING in the store. So I ended up with a pair of sneakers and boots for $40 and Brugos got some dress shoes and hiking boots.

We got to the tennis court around 3:30. It was raining a little bit but we managed to get about 45 minutes of play in before the wind and exhaustion got the better of us. I hadn't played tennis in about 10 years so I was, naturally, terrible. But it was very fun and I improved quite a bit during the short time we were out there. I look forward to playing more once the weather improves.

When we got home, we cooked up some dinner and then put in Guerilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst. Neither of us knew very much about the story, but the documentary was amazing. Not only was it a fantastic story, but they had SO much actual footage of the events, and all of the tapes that the S.L.A. sent, that you really felt like you were watching the events unfold as they happened. They also interviewed the 2 members who were in prison during the kidnapping. I also had a revelation, during the movie. I didn't realize that Cecil B. Demented is basically the Patty Hearst story re-told with radical filmmakers. Cecil has been my favorite Waters movie since it was released, but now I can enjoy it on a whole new level. Waters is a genius. I also now understand why so many college kids identified with Hearst and elevated her as a hero. I wish I'd sought to learn about this story years ago.

Brad arrived just as the movie was ending, and we broke out the Catan board. We played a rousing game and finished in time to watch a TiVod BSG. I must admit that I feel like this last episode of BSG kind of jumped the space shark a little. Come on, guys. Blowing Chief and Callie out into space and catching them in a Raptor? Because apparently people CAN survive for up to a minute in space with no suit. And does a hull breach really sound like a wind storm is going on outside? I didn't think space was all that windy. But what do I know? And every year on his anniversary, Adama has to put up with the bitchy ghost of his ex-wife? The only good thing about this episode was the Lee finally got to give a rousing speech that didn't sound whiny or insolent. Otherwise, it was pretty weak.

Or wait mortician

WEEKEND RECAP

FRIDAY

Dom and I met Brugos at the Wild Rose early so that we could secure a table for karaoke. We ordered dinner and, after a while, started to become suspicious about the lack of set-up for the night’s events. Eventually, one of us got the bright idea to actually ASK if karaoke was happening (in accordance with their online schedule). It wasn’t. Wade and Elyse arrived in time for us to deliver the bad news, but we still needed to wait for their friend Alief (sp?) from “the lab” so show up. This gave us time to decide where we would go to satiate our karaoke hunger. We bandied between two choices: China Gate and Bush Garden. But since it was late, and our waitress suggested it, we chose China Gate because we were more likely to get a table and plenty of singing time. Alief arrived, and we all piled into Brugos’ Mustang (which feels a LOT smaller when you’re crammed on top of your boyfriend in the front seat, as I was). But we made it to China Gate without incident.

We had our pick of tables in the bar. After confirming that there was, in fact, karaoke that night, we set about ordering. Alief hadn’t eaten so she got a combo meal for the rest of us to munch on. It was all meaty but it looked pretty good.

We got our mitts on the karaoke books and confirmed what Brugos had told us about the selection being rather weak. Still, there were a few songs for each of us to pick, and since the place was empty, we didn’t have to worry about embarrassing ourselves.

Eventually, other people did show up. A group of girls sat in front of us and a fratty fellowship sat across from us. No matter. We still got to sing as many songs as we desired. Alief and Wade broke their karaoke cherries. Alief sang “You Can Find Me In The Club” (or whatever that song is called) in her adorable Turkish accent, and then she and Wade shared duties on “La Bamba” and “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record). Brugos and Elyse sang several terrific duets and Dom sang “Live and Let Die”. I did “One More Try” by George Michael and “November Rain” (the shortened version…again. I’ve only had the pleasure to sing the long version once). Later, I squeezed in a little Belinda Carlisle. I took a few good pictures, which I will upload later, but my battery died early on, so I didn’t get a picture of the fantastic triple threat of Dom, Wade and Brugos singing “500 Miles”.

I drank a bit more than I’d planned too, but I spaced it out enough so that my magical 3-glasses-of-water hangover prevention worked just dandy.

SATURDAY

I spent the morning resting and pampering myself for the epic evening ahead. I did a few last minute preparations, gathered my decorations and makeup, and headed to Fremont in my new dress to meet Gene and Brugos at American Music. We picked up the MASSIVE stereo system that we’d rented for Gene’s DJing duties and somehow got the whole thing in Brugos’ Mustang. Unfortunately, we had to sacrifice one passenger in the process. Gene was chivalrous enough to volunteer, and he set off to get a bus to Brugos’ house. Meanwhile, Brugos and I drove the gear to his house, unloaded it, gained a Brad, and went to Trader Joe’s for some last minute shopping. I bought some bread and cheese and Brugos bough a case of Two Buck Chuck. Next, we met Gene at the Wayward Café for dinner. I had never been there before, but was very excited about the prospect of a menu that not only contained ALL VEGAN food items (meaning I had free run of the place) but that also received rave reviews from 3 rabid meat eaters. I ordered the Brit Breakfast, which consisted of veggie sausage, beans and an English muffin. Simple yet delicious. I also stole a bite of Gene’s Portobello Mushroom Biscuits and Gravy which were incredible. I definitely must go back there.

Around 7:30, we headed back to Brugos’ to begin decorating, and setting up the DJ equipment. We had a few technical difficulties to start. We didn’t have the right headphone adaptor and the antiquated equipment wouldn’t properly recognize Gene’s burned CDs. However, where old technology fails to adapt to change, new technology thankfully makes concessions for the elderly. Brad was able to hook his lap top up to the stereo and Gene could play his CDs, and run i-tunes through the speakers. Problem solved.

Meanwhile, Brugos whipped up a few batches of Sangria and I lit candles, blew up black balloons, and artfully placed the black paper roses I’d spend the last week making. We were ready!

People began to arrive and everyone looked great. I was really impressed with how accurate and painstaking peoples’ outfits were. There was a lot of attention to detail. I began to chug the way-too-delicious Sangria, forgetting how much rum was actually IN the recipe.

A man who wasn’t in costume, and whom I’d never seen before approached me. He asked me if I was Jessica. I said I was. He said that he was from the Stranger’s Party Crashers and he thanked me for inviting him. I didn’t tell him that I HADN’T invited him and that I was surprised to see him there. (Especially considering how many fundraisers and film screenings we have personally invited the Stranger too in the past that they’ve utterly ignored.) He told me that he loved the idea and he asked me some questions about its conception. I explained to him that Elyse had come up with it, but that she didn’t feel she had the proper Goth background to pull it off, so she called in the experts and that our friend with the biggest house volunteered to let us hold it there. He took a few pictures of me and Faye (one, right in front of our “Dark Deadness” poster from “Snow Day”!) and thanked us again. He spent the evening writing notes furiously in a pad and talking to random people. He seemed pretty cool but since everyone else had dressed up, he looked quite out of place. He became the pet project of the party, as people “gothed him up” throughout the evening. It was cute, and I suppose there is a good chance we might actually get written up this week. Look out for that.

Meanwhile, Gene spun the tunes, and oh how people danced. It was a lot of fun. I only wish the Sangria hadn’t been so deceptively delicious. I tried to dance a bit, but realized I was too drunk to attempt agile movements. So I sat on the couch, causing Gene to reprimand me for my lack of dancing. I felt bad, and vowed to boogie when I felt better. I started drinking water but it was too late. The nausea took hold and I had to leave. It was late enough so that no one noticed, and talking to Brugos the next day, it turns out the party didn’t last much longer anyway. I wish I could have cut more wood floor though.

The Party Crasher dude was still there when we left. He seemed to be enjoying himself immensely. All in all, I’d say the party was quite the success. Thanks to Brugos for returning that behemoth of a stereo by himself.

Pictures!
And more Pictures!

SUNDAY

Whenever I feel nauseous from drinking, I need to sleep on the couch. So there I slept, much to the chagrin of my back. I was only able to transport myself to my bed around 7am. I knew I needed to sleep as long as possible, so I didn’t get up till about 11.

Once I got up and had a nice greasy plate of hashbrowns, I felt well enough to DO something with my day. But what? I called Faye and she had no ideas. Eventually, she came up with a (perhaps ill-conceived) trip to Half-Price Books and the drug store. But first: DDR at her house! I hope her downstairs neighbor is gone every Sunday because I’m really enjoying my high-impact aerobic Sundays.

I got lucky because Faye got to the Graphic Novels section before me so she saved me from spending money on all the good stuff. I instead bought a few single issues from the bin that looked interesting, bringing my splurge total in under $20. Thanks, Faye.

After that, we decided to return to my house to pick a movie to watch, and to order Thai food. We ordered from Samui on 15th, which had VERY delicious food. Unfortunately, the guy that owns the place is a total prick, so I don’t think I can ever order delivery from them again. Faye heard me give him my address, apartment number and phone number correctly. He said it would be there in 35 minutes. An hour and a half later, we still had no food, so we decided to call and check on it. The guy sounded really pissed off. “I went to your apartment” he said. “I buzzed apartment 302 and no one answered. Then I tried calling your number and it was a wrong number”. I said that my apartment number was 203 and that is what I had given him. He told me that I had definitely told him 302. He read me back my phone number and he had inverted two numbers. I gave him my correct number. I should have had him read those numbers back to me because he had read my credit card number back to me and had inverted two of those numbers as well. He said he could bring me the food again, but that “I’m really busy now and so I won’t be able to come for a while. You will just have to be patient”. After hanging up, I told Faye what had happened, and she pointed out the fact that I had also given the man my first and last name which are printed on the buzzer RIGHT NEXT to my apartment number. I don’t know why he didn’t want to bring us our food (we’d ordered well over the minimum order amount, they OFFER delivery, and we only live two blocks away). 40 minutes later, he showed up with our reheated food. I didn’t give him a tip. I knew this would seal my fate with the guy and I could never order from them again, but damnit, I was not going to let him be a prick to me for the numerous mistakes that he made. As we ate the food, I began to regret the lack of tip a little bit. Even reheated, it was REALLY FUCKING DELICIOUS. So if anyone wants to order Thai food delivery in Capital Hill, can I come over?

While we waited for our food, we watched Wedding Crashers which was so bad in so many ways. Bad horror movies are usually awesome. Bad dramas can be awesome. Bad TEEN comedies can also be awesome. But bad adult comedies are pretty much just not funny and therefore not at all enjoyable. Bummer. My boss had lent me the DVD because he thought it was hilarious. I’m pretty sure he finds it hilarious because the Vince Vaughn character talks JUST LIKE my boss. He told me that if I liked ZoolanderI would like Wedding Crashers. I have no idea where he got that comparison, besides the presence of Owen Wilson. Oh, Owen…you used to be so talented. But I feel some hacks coming on.