Saturday night with the Fites
Tim Fite is very weird, and very, very entertaining.
When the Man With Itchy Legs finally took the stage at the UAF Pub in Fairbanks Saturday, March 4, the crowd had been well prepared for strangeness. Q-Dizzle played bass in a giant bunny suit while rapping over beats from his iBook, and Isaac Paris played his usual songs about Transformers, Charlie Brown and being made very uncomfortable by SeaWorld. The Chaos/Mojo Project rocked the place with a two-man marathon slam poem, and plenty of people made buttons and stickers at the arts and crafts table near the bar. Still, after all the local talent, Fite's antics topped it all.
Listening to Fite's album gives an idea of his music's content - Americana and hip-hop squished together - but not its presentation. Live on stage, Brooklyn-based Fite plays an acoustic guitar, but he's got recordings of a bunch of other instruments - keyboards and electric guitars and more - controlled by his brother Greg. On a screen behind Fite, there he is again, playing the other instruments you hear and making spaced-out expressions.
That's just the starting point. After that, Tim Fite cavorts around the stage, makes strange gestures and expressions, recites weird poems that are illustrated and close-captioned on the screen behind him, and refers to himself in third person as “The Man With Itchy Legs.” All the while Greg Fite sits in his corner, uttering inaudible things to the audience.
When the Man With Itchy Legs told us to throw our hands in the air, we did. When a drawing of a barn showed up on the screen behind him and he told us to yell “burn it down,” we yelled “burn it down!” And when he said “I can safely say this is the hypest audience I have ever had,” we just got loud.- Brandon SeifertWeb mushing
Iditarod fans can follow their favorite mushers online now, using a computer application developed at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
EarthSLOT lets you follow the route from Willow to Nome through a 3D computer simulation with graphics comparable to those of late '90s computer games. Each checkpoint is highlighted, and updated from Iditarod headquarters every 15 minutes. Wonder how far your favorite musher has made it? EarthSLOT shows you when he or she has passed through each checkpoint, and you can zoom ahead to see what kind of terrain they're facing in the next leg of the race. You can explore the map yourself or watch automated fly-throughs that follow the trail, and you can even plug a small version of the program into your homepage. The primary map is disconcertingly rendered with no snow, so the mushers look like they're going to have to somehow ford rivers, but there's an authentically snowy version too.
“It basically seemed like a nice public service to us, a way to make the race more real and exciting to those who follow it,” EarthSLOT developer and UAF Institute of Northern Engineering professor Matt Nolan explained by email. “That's basically what we hope to do for science, too - make it more real and exciting to the public who funds it.”
The program is available for PC users at www.earthslot.org/iditarod, which also includes links to a file Macintosh users can run in the globe simulator Google Earth... as if Flashlight needed to waste more hours playing with Google Earth!- Brandon Seifert