January 17, 2007

The Dockyard Derby Dames

Filed under: photography,tacoma — sparkrobot @ 11:40 pm

Last Sunday Tacoma’s new all-girl, flat-track roller derby team The Dockyard Derby Dames put on their inaugural bout at the Skate-n-Station in Parkland. For the first bout the four league teams (The Trampires, Femme Fianna, Hellbound Homewreckers, Marauding Mollys) divided up into two teams, the “Good” cued up to square off versus the “Evil”. The girls gave it their all for two twenty minute sessions of roller derby action.

I arrived at Skate-n-Station around 6pm after charging up my rechargeable battery all day for the event. When I pulled out the camera to get ready for the event, I realized the battery for the camera I intended to use was still on that charger… AT HOME. Suckage. And that’s why I’m not a professional. I did have a Nikon film body, but a slim selection of film in the bag. I had to shoot Fuji Neopan 1600 black and white film. This will stand as my excuse.

Here is my Dockyard Derby Dames slideshow on Flickr. My photos kind of suck but I’ve posted them anyway. If you want to see some really great shots of the bout, check out Type2B’s photos from the same night.

Though there was some hope for the girls in white, in the end, Evil prevailed over Good by a slim margin 86-72, and I sort of enjoy saying that.

There are more events planned. According to the League’s myspace site for instance one can meet “Tacoma’s most bad-ass women” at the following upcoming events:

Pajama Party at Bob’s Java Jive Saturday, January 27th, 9 PM! Featuring music by the Gold Teeth.

AND if you missed your prom, don’t miss out on our Valentine’s Ball. Scour Goodwill for that perfect 80’s prom dress or tux and come party with us… prom pictures, dancing, food, drink, and all the 80’s hits you can handle! Saturday, February 10th at Varsity Grill.

January 13, 2007

Two Koi Japanese Cuisine – Downtown Tacoma

Filed under: tacoma — sparkrobot @ 3:57 pm

We went downtown last night to meet some friends for dinner downtown. Their suggestion, the relative newcomer Two Koi Japanese Cuisine on Jefferson around 9 pm. Two Koi opened in September and I’d been looking for an excuse to check it out. When we were pulling up on Jefferson, I got a call from our friends. They were canceling. Fine. Whatever jerks.

The restaurant has a nice open and contemporary atmosphere. There’s a large dining room and a sushi bar to the right on entry. The lighting was moody and featured the entire front features windows looking out directly at the Tacoma Art Museum. Inside there were a few flat screen televisions, one of which featured an aquarium screen saver thereby qualifying as best use of a televison I’ve seen since last Thursday’s airing of The Office. Non traditional music was in the air. As I recall, ol’ Blue Eyes among other loungey classics.

I had read a few comments about Two Koi that suggested the service had not yet worked through the kinks, but this was not our experience at all. Our server was attentive, friendly and “totally adorable” according to my wife. Who am I to argue? From the window seat, we were able watch people stirring about the snow-covered plaza and participate in a favorite pastime; pointing at people and making fun of them. (Oh come on, you know you do it too.)

My wife is not a huge fan of raw fish, or anything from the sea for that matter, so we started with an order of edamame and some California Rolls. A pretty safe bet no doubt. I ordered Yakisoba Chicken plate and Dionne the Tonkatsu. Both were promptly prefaced by miso soup and house salads with a lemon ginger dressing. My dish arrived sizzling on a skillet. The presentation was well arranged and garnished with seaweed. I might add it was among the best Yakisoba I’ve tasted. A lot of places have a penchant for delivering a ginormous greasy plate o’noodles and calling it Yakisoba. Thankfully, this it not the Two Koi approach. The Tonkatsu plate served with white rice was also well garnished and tasty.

Though we did not have much sushi or sake, Two Koi is open late (2am) on the weekends for late night sushi fix and features 40 varieties of sake for the binge-drinker deep inside you.

With one glass of Pinot Noir and a Sapporo, we dined for $52 sans tip. We’ll definitely be back.

Two Koi Japanese Cuisine – 1552 Jefferson Ave, Tacoma (253) 274-8999

The Film Clearance

Filed under: photography,tacoma — sparkrobot @ 1:40 pm

I had to drop off some film yesterday to be developed so I braved the icy roads and headed to Robi’s Camera Center & Labs in Lakewood to drop off a couple of rolls. Robi’s is one of the only photo labs left in the area where one can drop off black and white film by 10am and pick it up by 6pm same day. There are plenty of places that still do C-41 color processing, or that will send out black and white film to a specialty lab, but you can’t get it the next day. It usually takes up to a week.

On arrival, the first thing I saw was a huge clearance table loaded with film. Expired film. My favorite. Generic ASA 100 slide film for 50 cents a roll. Killer. One could expect perfectly unpredictable results from practically any film camera, but especially from the super-contrasty lomo lc-a variety which I’ve been using for couple years. I also found some brand name Fuji Sensia 400, 8 rolls for $18. Slide film is usually expensive, up to $10 a roll, so this was a great find. Considering I usually dunk the film in the wrong chemicals, essentially ruining the film to make it trip out unpredictably… Score.

Everyone’s gone digital. I understand this. Me too. Quite an assessment of the state of film vs. digital over at Photon Detector yesterday.

I began to wonder how long places like this will continue to exist. As photography completes the transition from a specialty goods/services business to a consumer electronics business, it seems more unlikely that these businesses can continue with the traditional models. That sucks. Sure we’ll still be able to cruise to the mega-warehouse-mart of our choice and find a stellar deal on the latest well-stocked gear, but the real loss becomes the guys and gals working behind the counter who have been shooting for 20, 30, even 40 years.

Don’t take my word for it, go into one of these places on a Saturday morning and strike up a conversation with one of these cats sometime. (Better go soon) In contrast, bump on over to the nearest overstuffed (Costco, Best Buy, Circuit City, et al) and ask the 18 year old kid working the counter there questions about photography. They can sell you whatever you want—and an extended warranty of course—but they don’t know shit about it. In the quest to acquire the most stuff for the lowest price few people win, and everyone else loses.

Custom Black and White

The remnants of Custom Black and White Photographic Lab downtown Tacoma taken in October 2006.

R&K Photo in Auburn was another one of these local shops until recently when they caved after 31 years. I was dropping off some film there a few months back and the sign in the window indicated they were closing “in a couple of days”. Ironically, the owner of the shop was magnanimous while describing to me the reason for the closure of the store. He explained they could not get the inventory because the large retailers who moved more volume of the product had priority. He stated in a modest, almost self-deprecating tone “if Best Buy could sell 100:1, they deserved the business” citing consumer need and a changed marketplace as the fulcrum in the dissolution of what was, presumably, his life’s work. He took it standing up—no small feat—but it was hard not to feel sympathy while overhearing the tale repeated almost verbatim to some of the last regular customers in the store.

Robi’s also has added digital printing kiosks (where the film refrigerators used to be) so digital photos can be printed in the store and they also offer digital photo printing services online and great deals on film, framing and photography services. They’re super-friendly, provide great services and I think most importantly, host a local wealth of knowledge and imaging experience. Tap in.

January 11, 2007


Filed under: photography,tacoma — sparkrobot @ 3:03 am

snow treeIt’s snowing. Like mad. The weather is pretty incredible out there. The stars are out now, but it snowed nonstop for a few hours. I took a few long exposures out in front of my house. They’re up on Flickr.

I haven’t posted to this part of the blog in a while. I thought perhaps you needed—even deserved—a weather report.