Archive for November, 2008

Sunday Seals


Foggy Sunday courtesy of the Shawnmebo[flickr] via our group pool [#]

I have a confession: Until today, I had never been to Discovery Park. Sure, it’s only 12 minutes from my place, and I love to hike. But somehow, I had managed to avoid it in favor of the I-90 corridor for nearly two years. When I mentioned that I was going to go today on Facebook, I even got incredulous remarks from out-of-towners who had been someplace I hadn’t been.

Of course, today might not have been the best day to decide to check it out, seeing as how the whole of Seattle got eaten by a fog monster, as pictured above. The beach was rather one shade of gray merging into another- sand into waves into fog. Which is not to say that it was a bad trip- now that I’ve ‘discovered’ Discovery Park, I will definitely be returning. It’s amazing that we have a park that large in the city, with 11+ miles of trails through all manner of wilderness.

But as I said- while the day was perhaps not ideal, I still saw something I’d never seen before: Harbor Seals! From my vantage point they looked like driftwood for a while, until the one I was watching deliberately dove underwater. We watched them play for a while, and then returned to our hike. But… seals! I knew that people had seen them out here; in fact, some of my friends have posted Flickr photos of seals out in West Seattle. I just assumed that I would never see them myself, and would have to settle for living vicariously through my friends’ occasional seal spotting. Of course, my general tendency during these moments is to immediately share the moment- to let someone else live vicariously through me, which usually includes calling the landlocked parental units, who allow me to spill my excitement without getting too annoyed. I’m still excited, though- seals! In Seattle! So close by! We are so spoiled to live in such an amazing city, where we can stumble across seals on a Sunday stroll.

A little nostalgia for somewhere I’ve never been


Alpine Self-Serve Restaurant, 1960 courtesy of the Seattle Municipal Archives [flickr] via our group pool [#]

While enjoying a cup of coffee and some live jazz at Zoka tonight, I ran into a self-described Seattle old-timer. He was more than happy to tell us about Tangletown’s history, and spent a long time musing about this place that no longer exists- at least, not near Green Lake.

Once upon a time, there was a place called Honey Bear across the street, and in the good old days, that was where everyone went. You’d run into people from Denmark and Sweden while getting $1 cinnamon rolls, and people talked to each other- it wasn’t unheard of for customers to just randomly ask if other customers wanted to go walk around Green Lake after their meal. According to our new friend, Honey Bear was world-famous, because it was so homey and cozy, and one visitor attempted to recreate it in his home country, but was unsuccessful. As these things often go, Honey Bear’s owners sold it, and the new owners weren’t engaged in the day-to-day management, and changed the staff and the atmosphere, leading to its eventual death.

Stories like this make me miss the Seattle I never knew. It’s hard to imagine a restaurant where Seattleites actually talked to each other, and hung out together after meals, though this gentleman’s personality made me believe that perhaps once upon a time, Seattle was the kind of place where these things could happen. Honey Bear has reincarnated in Ravenna and Lake Forest Park, so perhaps I’ll discover a similar community if I manage to venture up that direction; but it does make me nostalgic for this magical place this man described, that I won’t ever be a part of.

It does make me wonder if there are other places that have that kind of friendly following that I just haven’t discovered yet… and also, whether there are other places old-timer Seattleites get nostalgic for that I should know about, even if I won’t ever be able to experience them. So, those of you who have been here for a while, what am I missing?

Weekend Film Agenda: November 28, Turkey Coma Edition

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  • After you’ve finished feeding your body with your Thanksgiving leftovers, head down to SIFF Cinema and feed your mind with Louise Bourgeoise: The Spider, the Mistress and the Tangerine, an intimate look at a larger-than-life figure of the art world who has been at the forefront of new development for 60 years. Bourgeoise’s passionate nature leads to passionate, provocative works with an immeasurable impact on the art world.
  • SIFF’s Saturday morning Films4Families selection is the delightful Mary Poppins in which a luminous Julie Andrews portrays the subversively charming nanny who effortlessly brightens the lives of everyone around her.
  • NWFF offers up Frontrunners, an examination of the hotly contested election season at Stuyvesant, NYC’s high school for the “gifted” students. Alumni of the school include people like Tim Robbins, Jimmy Cagney, Thelonious Monk, Lucy Liu and a host of politicians, business people and Nobel prize winners. You just might be watching one of the future captains of industry grab his or her first brass ring.
  • The Grand Illusion warms you up for the forthcoming George Bailey season with a second week of James Stewart, this time in the form of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, an endearing fantasy about a dreamer of a small town senator who finds himself pitted against the bad boys division of the good ol’ boys club. Contrary to the claims of many a candidate, there never really has been a true real life equivalent of Mr. Smith, but, boy will Stewart make you wish there was.

Welcome Winterfest!

Winter Space Needle by Zee Grega

Winter Space Needle by Zee Grega


One of my favorite annual events at the Seattle Center every year is WinterFest, a celebration of the season that offers many an antidote to the gloom and damp that so often accompanies it.

The festival kicks off Friday, November 28 at 1 pm with opening ceremonies that include the Keith Highlanders Pipe Band, speeches by the Mayor and by Seattle Center Director Robert Nelliams and performances by a host of local dancers and musicians.

Over the course of the next few weeks the WinterFest will offer up such activities and events as ice sculpting, bonfires, a big band dance, piano playing in the Center House, concert bands, jazz bands, choir performances, dance, flute music, performance art, stage magic, a fire festival, visual art, and so much more that I couldn’t possibly list it all. Check out the Center’s website for specifics or just head on down (take the Monorail or one of the many buses that pass it) and you’re bound to find something fun. The whole of the Center is festively decorated and promises an atmosphere of excitement and magic. Don’t forget to head over to Fisher Pavillion for the Starbucks sponsored rink, lace up your skates and hit the ice.

Mumbai Metblogs covering terrorist attacks

Our friends at Mumbai Metblogs are updating from the ground with what they know about the terrorist attacks that are happening over there, with so far 80 dead and some fighting between police and terrorists still going on. The attacks seem to be targeting British and American tourists. Two terrorists have been killed and nine arrested.

This One Is For You, Seattle

As the baby boomers begin forgetting to renew their big regional theater subscriptions, the administrators and theater-makers have been freaking out about bringing in the next generation of theater patrons. Dying subscribership is a cyclical matter, nothing new, really. But how is this playing out currently in the middle of a recession-turning-depression?

A great many producers are playing to the lowest common denominator, to a varying degree of financial success. Shrek the Musical, Young Frankenstein, Beauty and the Beast and High School Musical is the sort of fare currently keeping the suburbanites and high school groups happy on their annual trips to New York City.

The regional theater circuit, however, can’t possibly stoop that low. They seem to be at a loss lately offering awkward seasons ripe with haphazard guesses.

How will they bring in the next generation – or even the now generation? What appeals to this untapped demographic?

Perhaps the folks at New Century Theatre Company have been having this conversation long enough to make some informed choices, and short enough to take some risk. Someone has to grab the reigns soon and it’s people like the core company at NCTC who could get the tired horse of Seattle theater galloping apace again.

When was the last time you saw some theater?

Unless I’m on Capitol Hill I rarely go to the theater and see people who look like me in the house. I’m an average urban dweller in my thirties seeking to be challenged by theater and simultaneously entertained a bit too. I am progressive politically and I don’t make very much money while doing what I mostly love. I look back fondly on what the Capitol Hill and the Fremont neighborhoods used to be. I’d live in Ballard if it weren’t so hard to get to and from. I see “me” everywhere in Seattle – but not in Seattle theater audiences.

But NCTC’s inaugural production of Elmer Rice’s classic The Adding Machine boasts an audience full of “me”. The now generation of theatergoers was out in full force on Saturday night.

The Adding Machine - Photo by Chris Bennion

The Adding Machine - Photo by Chris Bennion


The show is smart and finely crafted. The acting is superb and you get the sense these performers are just tickled to be involved. The opening monologue is a testimony to the breath support of a practiced and well-trained actor. The direction and the design, however, is the reason to see this production. The sound design may very well be the best thing I’ve heard all year. Designer Rob Witmer has a fantastic way of building tension; you’ll want to own the soundtrack. Jennifer Zeyl’s set design is an exercise in antiseptic angles morphing into cold landscapes of symmetry and bursting into warmth, color and fantasy. I contemplated sculpture. The costume design by Pete Rush explores shades of grey and flat textures so thoroughly that when color is introduced you have to reckon with it for a moment or two. Geoff Korf’s lighting design makes you feel. It’s creepy; at one moment I felt so alone even though I was in a room full of people. Black and white and shadow feels so oddly isolating.

The direction is the true gem of this production. There’s something awesomely pure about it. To discuss more would give away much of what is so enjoyable about discovering within the show. John Langs is a visionary and you’ll see why when you go.

Because you have to go!

There are moments when you try something again because you know you’re missing out on something. I had this moment with sausage recently. I never eat it. I always order something else. I had it at Denny’s maybe and it was kind of greasy and overly processed. But then I had this… Bratwurst! It was made with love and craft and, man: sausage can be righteous. I have a whole new relationship going on with cuisine.

The Adding Machine - Photo by Chris Bennion

The Adding Machine - Photo by Chris Bennion


The Adding Machine is like Bratwurst.

You will rediscover something here with theater. Theater can be like this.

Trust me: this one’s for you, Seattle.

Get your tickets HERE.

The Adding Machine
Through December 13th
ACT Theatre’s Falls Theatre Space
700 Union Street
Thursdays – Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 2pm
Tickets: $25 General, $15 Students, $15 Rush (1/2 hour before showtime)
Tickets: 206-292-7676

in other blogs: if you aren’t as worn out from the last week, see M83 + School of Seven Bells tonight

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photo by zeebleoop [flickr] via our group pool [#]
  • AGENDA: Listening to M83’s latest, Saturdays=Youth, it is excessively difficult to believe that it was recorded this year and not sometime in the mid-1980s. But that’s just a trick of the album art and memory. The gauzy ephemera throughout sounds like what you think the 80s should have sounded like, but probably didn’t. The last time I saw their live performance, my ears rang for days. With School of Seven Bells, a near-supergroup from Brooklyn that includes members of Blonde Redhead and the Secret Machines wrapping you in warm fuzzies. $13, 8p. [neumos]

Elsewhere:

  • Just in time for your wishlist, Barsuk re-issues Something About Airplanes [$12], along with liner notes from Sean Nelson and a recording of Death Cab for Cutie’s first-ever Seattle show at the Crocodile. Those extras might just be enough to make you repurchase one of the band’s best albums. [threeimaginarygirls]
  • The Sounders will be green. And blue. [goalseattle]
  • Business is booming for Little Orly; so they’re moving from Ballard to Rochester WA. I’ve eaten far too many (or not enough) of their caramel apples since QFC started stocking them for the autumn holiday season. [myballard]
  • Vivian Girls consumed alcohol during their show at Nectar. The “no drinking on stage” rule is stupid stupid, but whining about it and/or making a big scene instead of casually breaking it or dealing without drinking for forty minutes is kind of sad, no? [lineout]

Pre-Agenda: Bird Show of North America on 11/28

I think that, instead of shopping on Friday, it would be much more fun to go to this: Bird Show of North America [myspace] are playing a happy hour show at the High Dive, and they’re giving away copies of their last album to everyone.

Bird Show are an instrumental band with songs named after birds who liven up the show by having the band’s painter paint pictures of birds while they’re playing. The paintings are available for purchase after the show. Spear + Magic Helmet open, the cover is $5, and it goes from 6:00 to 8:00.

fleet foxes get the blogotheque treatment

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/2143576[/vimeo]
In June, the geniuses behind La Blogotheque snuck the Fleet Foxes into an abandoned wing of the Grand Palais, where they played a takeaway show “Blue Ridge Mountain” and performed “Sun Giant” on the lawn. The post also includes a flashback to February “before their album was out, before they were praised by Pitchfork and others (including us). They had long hair, they were smiling, living in a van hippie-style, and they waited for Nate Chan and me on the parking lot of a McDonald’s, in an area of San Francisco hamming the flower power nostalgia.” [lablogotheque]

(via waxy.org)

pictures of you : it’s beginning

Pine Street sheen

photo by El Gregein [flickr]

A few days from Thanksgiving and downtown is already taking on a shimmery blur.

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