Friday, February 29, 2008


After tonight's final mission of Chicken Starship, the band and assorted groupies will be adjourning to Leny's - 2219 N 56th st, 98103.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

There Are Other Blogs

Turns out my sister writes one. It seems to be mostly about jewelry and even then mostly about jewelry using quotations from Shakespeare and even then mostly earrings. Shakespearrings she calls 'em, as you might expect. I think she should work up a set of earrings with the opening lines from The Merchant of Venice where Antonio says "In sooth I know not why I am so sad," (left earring) "It wonders me, you say it wonders you" (right earring). You know, for chronically depressed people! Then maybe with a picture of, like, a dour Patrick Stewart or David Suchet or something. My sister calls her blog Bijou Bliss but I DON'T KNOW WHY!

I have another sister but she doesn't appear to have a blog. So what can I do, really?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Final Voyage of Chicken Starship

On Friday night, there will be a concert. By the most important rock band in the WORLD. It is the final performance of Chicken Starship, a combo I have been fronting for most of the past two presidential administrations.

Oh yes.

The idea is that it's not a farewell show, it's just a pre-reunion show. There will be more shows but just not as many and not for a while.

Chicken Starship has been a wonderful part of my life for many years. Some key points in the history:

1993ish - I am living near Green Lake with Joe and Sean. There is an evening of Beer Theater (self explanatory, no?) coming up and we decide to form a band: Sean and I on wooden spoons and car keys and vocals, Joe on guitar. Band is named Free Range Chickens after a product spotted at Albertson's. And we are Joe Chicken, Sean Chicken, and Little Jackie Chicken (me).
1994-95 - Randy Chicken joins on bass followed by Scott Chicken on drums and Steve Chicken on more guitars. There are amps, there is noise.
Mid to late 90's - Much playing, many bass players, Weird Al comes to see us. Stardom never grasped, never reached.
Very late 90's - Following a wretched gig at a tiny club with a bass player who hates us, we kind of realize it's done. Sean Chicken moves to Bellingham.
2003- Jill Chicken (my wife) secretly arranges a surprise party for my birthday and gets the band back together with a new bass player. It's supposed to be a one night only thing but we realize it's still fun. Also realize that we can approach it like a bowling league with beer and fun and non-sexual male companionship. Band is re-christened Chicken Starship, using the "starship" name to denote bands that should have stayed broken up but ill-advisedly re-formed. I decline Grace Slick style jumpsuit.
2005- Tom Chicken joins on bass. Only took us a decade to find the right bassist.
2007 - I announce my imminent departure to St Paul.

Thus, the prereunion show. Afterwards, there will be adjourning to a bar. Don't know which one.

So come!

Hear hits like Let's Go Camping, I Don't Wanna Die, and Divorced White Male Seeks Anybody.

See the chicken suits!

Meet Charlie (age 7) and Kate (age 5)!


Friday, February 29, 2008
7:00pm - 10:00pm
Seattle Drum School's L.A.B.
12510 15th Ave NE
seattle, WA

Why "Pre-Reunion"? Well, Jack Chicken is moving to Minnesota to be closer to Target, but rather than break up the band we're going to "go on hiatus". So this is our pre-reunion show, since the next one will be an actual reunion. Unless, of course, we replace him with Gary Cherone or something...

Anyhow, we're sending Jack off with a final show at the L.A.B. at Seattle Drum School, up at 15th NE and 125th in Seattle (the address is 12510 15th Ave NE, and the map is here). Relatively easy access from I-5, and while the show is all-ages, there is a tavern about a half mile north on 15th for those of you who can't watch us without getting your drink on.

Kicking off the evening's entertainment are Dapper Jones, a band we've never played with but sound cool, at least based on their MySpace stuff. Kind of a power-pop-punk thing.

It's an early show - 7:00-ish start - and it's a Friday night, so get off work early, come on out, and give Jack Chicken the all-ages sendoff he so richly deserves!

Kevin Durant? Weirdly, he's a fervent Mike Gravel loyalist

Greg Oden comes out for Obama. Norse God Odin still undecided but leaning toward Ron Paul.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Oh well hello old friend

Good lord, it's been since last Saturday? Well then:
1. Early on in this blog's life, I kind of felt it necessary to sort of blog In Character, you know? Be arch, be snide, be above it all. But now it's just talkin'. Oh, I'm still snide and arch and above it all from time to time, but I come by that sincerely now.
2. Thing is, Obama is just running a better operation. They haven't panicked once. Dude used to organize GOTV efforts in Chicago. Dude's a Chicago politician. Some would argue Obama's got better positions, some would say the same about Hillary, I'm not saying that about either one, but he runs better plays. It's like football. They're both good quarterbacks, but one of them happens to also be a brilliant head coach.
3. I drove from Seattle to St Paul in a little over two days. It was me, a loaded minivan, and Fuzzy the hamster. First night we reached Billings, MT. Second night was harrowing, driving through North Dakota at night when THERE ARE NO TOWNS FOR MILES AND MILES and therefore no lights along the freeway. And through parts of it, Fargo for example, the temperature was 20 below. 20 below. Such things happen, evidently.
4. We stopped in Fergus Falls, MN that night, a few hours north of St Paul. It was 15 below. Here's what you do in that situation: run from the van into the hotel. Run. Get the room. RUN back to the van, get the hamster, and RUN back in when no one's looking at the fact that you have a hamster.
5. I ate at Applebee's that night. It was packed. In 15 degree below zero weather. If 15 below happened in Seattle, buildings would explode, people would physically shatter apart, newscasts would be nothing but shrieking for 30 minutes straight. This would not be an illogical response or even an incorrect one. Mastering living in Minnesota will involve carrying on with life as if these temperatures are acceptable. That's what I've done with rain most of my life. Okay then.
6. The lady at the hotel in Fergus Falls used the term "Uff Da" unironically.
7. Reached Twin Cities, dropped Fuzzy off at the sitters, put stuff in the new rental house, soon headed to airport to fly home.
8. Numbered lists make you feel like you're getting somewhere, even if all you're getting is to the end of the list.
9. I've got to stop ripping off John Hodgman's technique of CAPITALIZING things for COMIC EFFECT. But the thing is, it WORKS.
10. I spent much of the van trip listening to cassette tapes of my college radio shows. Which was PAINFUL.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Venus has more weekend getaway locations than Mars

We are a little more than two weeks from the move now. The packing is in pretty good shape. The planning is in pretty good shape. The Moe children are in pretty good shape. The Moe adults? Well, they're in different shapes. The lovely and talented Mrs. Moe is having a weekend away with some very good girlfriends. They're at a...cabin?... or something? I'm not sure. I just know her phone doesn't work there. Or, more accurately, I just know that she says her phone doesn't work there.

Me, I had the members of Chicken Starship (the most important rock band in the world) over for a rocky roll rehearsal tonight, in advance of our big Pre-Reunion Final Concert of All Time. There was beer. And electric guitars. Led Zeppelin noodling. In many ways, Mrs. Moe and I were having similar friendship times, living up to our gender archetypes.

But! BUT!

Tom Chicken, the bass playing Chicken, is the husband of one of Mrs. Moe's friends up at the cabin. And he asked, quite sensibly, "can you imagine anything worse than the five of us (in the band) having a weekend retreat together? To just hang out and talk?"

He's right. It would be unbearable. And these are some of my favorite fellas. But a weekend just hanging out in a cabin with them? No. God no. No. I think we'd be drunk by, like, 7pm on the first night, and then what? Braiding our hair? We're mostly balding. Discuss feelings or hit ourselves with hammers? Comparable! I guess we could watch Caddyshack but it's only about 90 minutes and even then I suspect it's not as good as I remember.

No no, a rocky roll practice, a few Alaskan Ambers, and we're just fine, thank you.

Mars has more amps.

Monday, February 11, 2008

I'm on to you...

This was a big hit last time. So I wonder what you're on to since then.

As for me:

I'm on to you, gourmet cupcakes.
I'm on to you panini sandwiches.

Friday, February 08, 2008


All those cards, letters, and notes I said I was throwing away? I didn't throw any of them away. I'm turning them into a radio story.

The Curse of Reach

So I pretty much started this blog in order to keep the writing muscle in shape. I could keep a journal but I'm way too insecure for that. What's the use of writing if no one's reading it? Who's going to give you the approval you so desperately crave? I figure a few friends would read it as well as the occasional stranger stumbling across the transom or someone who knew my work, somehow wanted to see more of it, and googled me. But then more friends started reading it. Then my family. Then my extended family. Latest horrific discovery: lots of people at my old college are reading it too.

That's where I am now. Back at the college. Whitman College of Walla Walla, Washington (they use the buildings vacated when the Wishy Washy Washing Machine Company shut down). I gave a talk here yesterday to loads of students who showed up for some reason (McSweeney's? Boredom?) and a few professors I had when I was here. Many seem to have read the blog.

I've always kind of avoided the relentless self promotion that some of my contemporaries practice on their blogs because I guess I've been sustaining this idea of this being a more personal side away from the book and the radio. But then again, the book was really mostly about me and loads of stuff on the radio is about me.

I'm sitting in the big Campus Center building. "Dancing in the Dark" is playing. "Man, I ain't nothing but tired / I'm just tired and bored with myself". Screw you, Springsteen. I don't need your ham-fisted soundtrack. Why does he appear so chipper in that video anyway? And when will Ben Gibbard cover this song? Tomorrow please?

Anyway, I had a lovely visit to Whitman College, something I would have said even if I didn't know people from there may be reading this. Among the advice nuggets I gave to students (often without provocation):
- Don't go directly to grad school.
- Don't ever go to journalism school.
- Attend a lecture on something you're not interested in.
- Everything you do in college will be on the final. Except the final is life. And it's not a test. But everything will be on the final.
- It doesn't matter what you major in.

College boys look like they're from the 1970s these days.
I'm all, "where's your dune buggy?"
I'm all, "when does Frampton next come alive?"
I'm all, "where is the innocence as to the eventual brutal cost of your excesses?"
Oh, there it is.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Got a good night's sleep

Feeling less morose. Thanks!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Sometimes I can't quite believe it's happening

The last time I moved to a new city was when I came out to Seattle from Missoula. I had everything I needed/owned in the back of a car and there was still room in the car for my girlfriend. And all her stuff. And our friend Bob Knutson. We stopped at Senor Frog's in Spokane on the way. It was tacoriffic.

Well, that was almost 15 years ago. The girlfriend is now the wife of almost 13 years. A home got purchased. Kids got had. Old got got. And stuff accumulated. Up until lately, that stuff has been the big issue. Getting rid of the stuff, throwing it away, donating it, selling it. We seem to have found a moving method, though, that will be cheaper than the full on Van Lines and less shameful than attempting to fix friends' ruptured vertebrae with pizza and beer so stuff management does not weigh quite so heavily. More on that in future posts.

So as the stuff anxiety lifts, other anxieties now creep in. Because something must always fill the anxiety hole. Team Moe is launching this exciting new life in this new city soon. There will be cheaper bigger houses, friendly people (at Caribou Coffee and elsewhere), great schools, mind shatteringly cold temperatures, more and better career opportunities, less of a chance that I'll inevitably end up working at Microsoft. And we brought this all on ourselves. IT WAS MY IDEA with the full support of my employer. But now I think about what I leave behind. The relatives and neighbors who formed an astounding support network that we never managed to repay. The friends and colleagues. The fact that really most of the time a jacket will do.

I think it's easy to see the duality of destination and former home in stark terms: I left there and went there, that's old and this is new, I want that now and I don't want that any longer. But while I don't regret our decision to move (except when St Paul had a high of -4 the other week), I am increasingly aware that it's not a promotion or an escape or a copout or a triumph or anything. It's just a trade. We give up our veteran pitcher to get a hot young prospect. Swap our point guard for a center. We embrace change. And it will be hard and it will be easy and it will be confusing and it will be wonderful and it will sometimes be lonely as hell.

But we will go. In early March. On a train. The reason for the train is that we felt driving out there would be TORTURE and flying would be strange because you sit down for three hours and there you are in your new home. We want that feeling of transition. But something tells me a feeling of transition will happen no matter what we do.

Sometimes I think I get less funny all the time. Other times I feel like well hell I just don't need to be funny all the time. But that doesn't really change the first feeling.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Official Monkey Disaster Super Tuesday Analysis Spectacular

1. Republicans behaved in a predictable way, choosing the candidate they knew best. Because Republicans almost always do this.
2. The Evangelical candidate did well in the South, as Evangelical candidates almost always do.
3. The Mormon candidate did well in Utah, a state that is home to many Mormons.
4. The Democrats had a hard time making up their minds.
5. Super Tuesday did not resolve the presidential race.
6. The campaigns of the Democratic candidates tried to explain the results in a way that favored their candidates.
7. Noisy people shouted things into television cameras in an attempt to attach greater meaning to all this.*
7. Fish swam. Birds, on the other hand, chose to fly.
8. Bears shit in the woods.
9. The Pope is Catholic.
10. Bacon is delicious.

John Moe, professional political author and pundit.
Conservatize Me, now available in paperback.

* I assume they did. We don't have that kind of cable anymore. Ditched it after the '04 election. We're happier.


In stores today!

Here's the difference between hardback and paperback.
10/06 (hardback release): I'm gearing up for a nationwide tour with several media appearances. There's a release party at The Big Picture.
2/08 (paperback release): I'm getting ready to wake up at 5:30 tomorrow to do a phone interview with some drivetime DJ in Baltimore.
10/06: I'm working at KUOW.
2/08: I'm working for American Public Media.

Can a lightsaber cut through Superman?

Answer here.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Late Breaking Local Radio Firestorm!

In case you Seattlesque people are checking blogs at this hour*...

I'll be on 710 KIRO tonight at 9:30 or so flogging the paperback edition of Conservatize Me. The new paperback is less lethal when hucked than the hardback. It also features new browner cover design (because brown = funny) and a smattering of supportive blurbs. Plus, three fewer typos. The paperback is expected to win the Delaware caucus tomorrow but finish a disappointing 12th in New Jersey, after which the paperback will drop out of the race, throwing its support behind a dream ticket of a Kucinich/Tancredo tag team co-presidency.

The KIRO thing will be part of Too Beautiful To Live, the new evening show hosted by my friend, former Rewind collaborator, and NPR escapee Luke Burbank. I'll try to mention things like sustainability and Howard Zinn just to see if I can make him snap back into pub radio mode.

Afterwards, Luke and I might go to Azteca cause it's just across the street. Also, if you haven't seen Luke's legendarily painful Sigur Ros interview, well, I'll show it you some day. But not now.

* don't check blogs. Spend time with your family.

Saturday, February 02, 2008


If you wrote me a letter or scribbled me a postcard or even left a memo on my dorm room door from ~1985 to ~1995 (when email started to obliterated all), I want you to know I probably saved it. Today, however, I threw it away. Piles and piles of papers and letters and programs from my late adolescence and early adulthood. Heartfelt letter from people I could not remember. Cryptic letters from people I did remember. Just no room for them anymore. Don't want to pack them.

I did save all the letters from my wife. I destroyed letters from ex-girlfriends, which, if they're reading this blog, they'll understand, I'm sure. Although really, why would they be reading this blog? Also, why do I seem concerned? See, these are the issues to not bring with.

Several eastbound trains leave Seattle in early March. One will be Moeful.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Famous People Who Are Nice: David Sedaris

A series I've been meaning to start for a while now. I've met a fair number of famous folks through my work. Some are NOT NICE. But lots, most even, are very nice indeed. Among the nicest: David Sedaris. A few days after I interviewed him, I received a post card from David thanking him for the interview. Nice fella.

Don't be fooled by what the web content says here. It's me interviewing him.