Archive for March, 2009

Your tax dollars at work

Photo courtesy of Randy Wick via our Flickr pool

Photo courtesy of Randy Wick via our Flickr pool

It’s been a busy week for Washington in Washington DC. On Monday, Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell introduced S. 668, the Northwest Straits Marine Conservation Initiative Reauthorization Act of 2009. Now referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, this bill creates (or, more accurately, re-creates, since this is an effort to reauthorize the 1998 bill. In any case…) a 14 person Commission that includes a representative of 7 counties, two tribal representatives, someone appointed by the governor to represent the Puget Sound Partnership, and four civilians. The goals of the Commission would be to protect and restore marine habitats, populations, and water quality, and to promote these goals to the public and relevant organizations through education and research. [FULL TEXT]

Tuesday, March 24th was the 20th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez spill. To mark the occasion, Senator Cantwell cosponsored S. 684, the Oil Pollution Prevention and Response Act of 2009, with Senator John Kerry of MA. The bill would strengthen the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, and give the Coast Guard and NOAA additional powers, to deal with the rise in oil polution over the last 16 years– although the number of vessels actually spilling oil into waterways has declined, the volume of oil spilled has increased. This bill has also been referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. [PRESS RELEASE]

Also on Tuesday, Sen. Cantwell introduced S. 672: A bill to amend the Natural Gas Act, the Natural Gas Policy Act of 1978, and the Federal Power Act “to modify provisions relating to enforcement and judicial review and to modify the procedures for proposing changes in natural gas rates.” S. 672 has been referred to the referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. The title of the bill is a little confusing, but basically S. 672 puts some muscle behind previous legislation, allowing for investigation of violations and enforcement of cease and desist orders. [TEXT] Referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

Seattle Representative Jim McDermott introduced H.R. 1683, the Clean Environment and Stable Energy Market Act of 2009, in conjunction with 3 other representatives, on Tuesday. The resolution would revise IRS codes to require a permit for gas emissions, something like a cap and trade mechanism, if I’m reading it right. [TEXT] Referred to House Energy and Commerce Committee, and the Ways and Means Committee.

Not to be left out of the Tuesday fun, former governor Gary Locke was confirmed as Secretary of Commerce, which occasioned blessedly brief speaches from Senators Cantwell and Murray. [TEXT] The rapid confirmation of Locke only reinforces my belief that the man is so squeaky clean that you could… suddenly what I was going to write seems a trifle naughty. Never mind.

Finally, on Wednesday Congress passed the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009 (H.R.146), a huge win for Western states. This bill has been a year in the making, facing significant opposition from Republican lawmakers, who objected to the measure because it blocks energy development on public lands, and protects an additional two million acres of wilderness, and a thousand miles of river, including some of the most beautiful and pristine territory in America. Thanks to this act, some of that protected territory is now designated the “Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail”: the trail is 1200 miles long and runs from the Continental Divide to the Pacific Coast, through the Rocky Mountains, Selkirk Mountains, Pasayten Wilderness, North Cascades, Olympic Mountains, and Wilderness Coast. It passes through three states, crosses three National Parks, and through seven National Forests. [TEXT] Hip, hip, hooray!

[EDITED: Photo caption updated with apologies to the photographer. Bad proofing on my part. Great photo on his.]

Weekend Film Agenda: March 27

"Sullivan's Travels" opens Friday at SIFF Cinema A commercially successful film director has the idea to make a socially-concious film that takes a hard look at the realities of the world outside the gilded-walls of “Hollywood” but his studio bosses want him to deliver another blockbuster hit to fatten their wallets. A common scenario in the contemporary film industry? Sure, but it’s also the plot of Preston Sturges’ 1941 movie Sullivan’s Travels with Joel McCrae in the title role as a movie director wanting to make a difference. Frustrated by the studio’s insistence on churning out mere product, Sully disguises himself as a hobo and goes out on the road to research his project himself. With a plush studio van and assistant Veronica Lake in tow, Sully’s not quite suffering himself, but his journey opens his eyes to both the good and the bad of real-life human drama. Opens Friday at SIFF Cinema.

Also at SIFF: Duck Soup, one of the best of the Marx Brothers comedies is Saturday morning’s Films4Famlies movie. Saturday and Sunday see Wagner’s Das Rheingold in HD at 2:00 pm.

Actor Mary Stuart Masterson makes her debut from behind the lens as the director of The Cake Eaters, opening Friday at The Grand Illusion. Two families in a small town caught up in a complicated web of emotions by death, reunion and the exposure of old secrets have to find a way to come to terms with their lives.

Late night at the Grand Illusion: George Romero’s original 1968 creepfest, Night of the Living Dead, clever social commentary via a genuinely frightening story that set the gold standard for all the many zombie films that followed it.

A father walks out on his job without telling his family and spends his days hanging out with others who are secretly unemployed. One son spends his lunch money on secret lesson and another joins another nation’s army. The mother who holds the family together finds herself starting to come undone. Tokyo Sonata opens Friday at NWFF, accompanied by a five-minute short, This True Story of Dad Club.

Also at NWFF: A man who loves two women faces spiritual crisis and redemption in a Mennonite community in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. Silent Light‘s cast is made up of non-actors from actual Mennonite communities speaking their native Plautdietsch. With English subtitles and accompanied by a short called Chronicles of a Professional Eulogist Field Report No. 3, the Juror’s Choice Award winner from the Black Maria Film & Video Festival.

Midnight at the Egyptian: Madeleine Stowe is a psychiatrist, Brad Pitt is the emotionally unstable son of a famous virologist and Bruce Willis is excellent as the time-travelling prisoner from a devasted future Earth who encounters both of them during his trips back and forth in time at the behest of scientists seeking a solution to the destruction that’s befallen them.

Twelve very different people are brought together as a jury deliberating the guilt of a young Chechan man accused of the murder of his step-father, a Russian army officer in 12, opening Friday at the Varsity.

That Blue Velvet is a disturbing film is no news to anyone with even a passing familiarity with the movies of director David Lynch but as a definite non-fan of the man’s work, I was surprised by how much I liked this when I watched it simply to humor a friend. A fine cast (including Kyle MacLachlan, Isabella Rossellini, Dennis Hopper, Laura Dern and Hope Lange) is a big part of what makes this movie so great but Lynch deserves the bulk of the credit for the choices he makes, turning what could’ve been a garden-variety “things aren’t always what they seem” mystery into a provocative and stylish dream of a story. Central Cinema

This Weekend: Green Festival

Seattle’s Green Festival showcases some of the best green products and services available in the Pacific Northwest, as well as highlights information on how neighbors, community nonprofits, and city departments have worked together to make Seattle a better, healthier place to live.

Here is the schedule of events. Certain events that may be of interest:
A Call to Action: Green Bag Fee (Saturday at noon). Relevance: Seattle will soon vote on adding a fee for using bags at the grocery store.
An Energy Efficient Home (Saturday, 4pm) Relevance: we all need to save money. Your home is a key starting point.
Vicki Robin: Getting Down with the Joneses (Sunday, 4pm) Relevance: Vicki Robin, co-author of Your Money Or Your Life, an essential book about personal finance.
Composting for Apartment Dwellers (Sunday, 1pm). Relevance: ever wonder how to compost when you do not have a yard? I have.

Time: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday.

Cost: $15; $10/seniors, students, union members and all who arrive by bicycle, admission includes both days; free for ages 18 and younger. Valet bicycle parking free. $75/Friends of the Green Festival pass includes admission, discounts and a special tour. Free festival admission pass available with any purchase of $5 or more at PCC Natural Markets or by signing up on the Seattle Climate Action Web site at

Location: Washington State Convention & Trade Center, 800 Convention Place, Seattle.

Directions: From Interstate 5 North and Interstate 90 West, take Madison Street exit, go right on Madison Street, then left on Eighth Avenue. From I-5 South, take Stewart Street exit, go left on Boren Avenue, right on Seneca Street, then right on Eighth Avenue. Convention Center garage entry is from Eighth Avenue. Metro bus service, 206-553-3000 or

Catch Live Blogging on Twitter by searching for #GreenSea or by following PCC’s Twitter stream.

Readings, signings, and other events vaguely literary for Friday, March 27, 2009

7:00 PM – Artist Trust’s EDGE Professional Development Program for Writers: Final Presentations: Readings
Richard Hugo House, Cabaret
Half of the artists participating present their work. The other half do so tomorrow night.

7:00 PM – Catherine Clinton: Mrs. Lincoln: A Life
UW Bookstore, U-District
Another Lincoln biography joins the flood. Clinton’s biography of Mary Todd Lincoln is adequate, but not particularly original.

7:00 PM – Dr. Steven Farmer: Earth Magic
East West Bookshop, Seattle
“Earth Magic: Ancient Shamanic Wisdom for Healing Yourself, Others and the Planet”

7:00 PM – Untitled [Intersection] Another Poetry Reading!?: Poetry Reading
Phinney Neighborhood Center
Jeff Encke, Jacob Jans, Priya Keefe, Amanda Laughtland, and Danae’ Clark

7:30 PM – Stacey Levine: The Girl with the Brown Fur
Elliott Bay Book Co.
Her, again. “”Levine’s work is, at least technically, ‘surreal,’ but like much of the best writing that maps the borders between dreams and conscious life, its subtle disjunctions create a zone that often feels more real than ‘reality’ itself. She is one of the most interesting writers working in America today, startling and idiosyncratic in the best sense.” – San Francisco Bay Guardian”

Tonight: Katherine Hepburn’s Voice @ the Josephine

khvKatherine Hepburn’s Voice are a band that plays quirky and infectious pop songs that are ambitious and lackadaisical all at once.

The stripped-down trio is comprised of Shannon Perry (keyboards/vocals), D.W. Burnam (drums/vocals) and Eli Chukovich (bass).

The group just self-released “Stand Up,” an eclectic mix of lo-fi pop that is at times goofy (“Shake It”) and others somber and serious (“Meaning of Your Face”).

The album packs 17 diverse songs in a quick 30 minutes. Among the highlights are “Elevator,” in which Perry playfully sings “I wish I were an elevator, bring you home and see you later.” In “Stupid Stimulants” Perry lists and bemoans her vices all at once: “Cigarettes. Alcohol. Marijuana, but that’s all.”

As a songwriter Perry is lyrically clever and vocally restrained. Listening to these 17 songs I get the impression she has a much more commanding voice, but is holding back for the sake of subtly–which she does to great effect.

KHV celebrated the release of “Stand Up” with a show at the Sunset Tavern on March 20 with Partman Parthorse. Both bands are prepring for a run of shows down the west coast in April.

KHV will play an all-ages show with the Drug Purse at 8 p.m. on March 26 at the Josephine, 608 N.W. 65th St. N, in Ballard, $5-8.

Readings, signings, and other events vaguely literary for Thursday, March 26, 2009

murder-in-the-latin-quarter212:00 PM – Cara Black: Murder in the Latin Quarter
Seattle Mystery Bookshop
To reiterate: book nine, in an excellent series, has Aimée Leduc searching for a mysterious Haitian woman who may or may not be Leduc’s half-sister.

5:30 PM – Ann Holmes Redding: Out of Darkness Into Light: Spiritual Guidance in the Quran with Reflections from Jewish and Christian Sources
Town Hall Seattle, Downstairs, $5
The Seattle Episcopal priest and practicing Muslim visits Town Hall for a lecture and panel discussion about interfaithism. A reception will follow.

6:30 PM – Steven Rinella: American Buffalo: In Search of a Lost Icon
Pan Pacific Hotel, $45
“In 2005, Steven Rinella won a lottery permit to hunt for a wild buffalo, or American bison, in the Alaskan wilderness. Despite the odds, Rinella managed to kill a buffalo on a snow-covered mountainside and then raft the meat back to civilization while being trailed by grizzly bears and suffering from hypothermia.”

7:00 PM – American Historians: The 2008 Election as History
Panel Discussion
Town Hall Seattle, Great Hall
How many on this panel will end up publishing a book about the election? In any case, it looks interesting: “The 2008 presidential election is only months behind us, but already its historic significance and initial impacts are evident. The Organization of American Historians, an Indiana-based group founded in 1907 to promote U.S. history teaching and scholarship, present a lpelnary panel chaired by Harry Rubenstein of the Smithsonian Institution. Topics and panelists include: Race and Politics, by Clayborne Carson of Stanford University; Blogging From the Center as a Historian During a Contested Campaign, by Gil Troy of McGill University; The Gallup Poll, Public Opinion, and the Presidency, by Fred L. Israel of City College of New York; and Gender and Politics by Blanche Wiesen Cook of John Jay College and City University of New York.” And, hey, free! Free is good.

7:00 PM – Cheap Wine and Poetry: Poetry Reading
Richard Hugo House, Cabaret
The reading series presents Rebecca Agiewich, Roberto Ascalon, Nicole Hardy and Sean O’Connor. Hosted by Charla Grenz.

7:00 PM – Stacey Levine: The Girl with the Brown Fur
Bailey/Coy Books
Levine’s next book, The Girl With Brown Fur: Tales and Stories (formerly The Kidney Problem) is due out this spring. And that’s all I know.
7:00 PM – Susan Jane Gilman: Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven
UW Bookstore, U-District
Gilman’s wacky memoir about roughing it through Communist China, way back in 1986, right after she graduated from college.

7:30 PM – David Shields: The Thing About Life Is That One Day You’ll Be Dead
Santoro Books
I’ve been collecting morbid witticisms for decades (“Life is an STD,” “Breathing is an addiction”), which probably indicates that I have some sort of death wish. I don’t know if Shields has a death wish, too, but his book assembles personal anecdotes, quotes by famous people, and death-related trivia for our entertainment and edification.

7:30 PM – Mark von Schlegell: Mercury Station
Elliott Bay Book Co.
The sequel to Venusia, which officially makes this a series. It even has a series title: the System Series. Science fiction, obviously.

7:30 PM – Yusef Komunyakaa: Poetry Reading
Benaroya Hall, Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall, $20-$35
Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Yusef Komunyakaa was born in 1947 in Bogalusa, Louisiana. A Vietnam-era vet, his work is considered some of the best writing on that war. He is the editor of The Jazz Poetry Anthology (1991) and his most recent collections of poetry include Taboo: The Wishbone Trilogy, Part 1 (2004) and Pleasure Dome: New and Collected Poems, 1975-1999 (2001). [Source: Seattle Arts & Lectures]

Mirah @ Vera Project, 4/2/2009

This Philly native, now based in Portland, OR is coming to the Vera Project on April 2nd. Her seductive whispery, indie voice will make you question your sexual preference for a split second (at least she did for me).  Mirah got her start singing and performing in Olympia while attending college at the famed Evergreen State College. Some of Mirah’s recorded stuff sounds a bit like Los Angeles native, Jesca Hoop who I had the pleasure of seeing whilst she performed with The Ditty Bops. If Mirah is as wonderful a vocalist as Jesca Hoop, or the Ditty Bops then this is definitely a show worth seeing. You can even check it out for free!

How? Email with “Mirah” in the title. These tickets are guest list spots, so be sure to include your name (and maybe the name of your guest.) You email ASAP, we choose by Friday, March 27th

Free Tip of the Day

For the last few months I’ve been learning how to sew for free. I kinda wanted to keep this little gem a secret, but knowing Seattleites I probably won’t have much competition. You see this freeness takes place on Saturdays during brunch time, right when you’ll probably be scarfing down eggs at Glo’s or doing the University Farmer’s Market thing or maybe, if you’re the 25 year-old version of me, you’ll probably still be sleeping (at a stranger’s house). So with that said, I present you with a FREE sewing class. Here are the details:

Email: to reserve your spot
Next FREE class: This Saturday from 11-1pm

You must email the teacher to reserve your spot. Sure the class coming up is learning how to make a chef’s hat, which you will have no use for, but other classes are Alterations 101 and Unfinished Projects (UFOs). Las month I made my very first apron! The month before I learned how to put in a zipper! Space is limited. Your own sewing machine isn’t required, but you are welcome to bring one.

Readings, signings, and other events vaguely literary for Wednesday, March 25, 2009

experiments7:00 PM – George Johnson: The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments
Burke Museum
Science as art– Johnson writes of beautiful experiments and elegant theories.

7:00 PM – Steven Rinella: American Buffalo: In Search of a Lost Icon
Vita Loft
“A dinner with the author of American Buffalo and The Scavenger’s Guide To Haute Cuisine. Hosted by One Pot and Caffe Vita. Expect a sumptuous feast – Steven Rinella will hopefully be spending some time in the kitchen with One Pot – and a lengthy conversation with the author about his work. BYOW.”

7:30 PM – Cara Black: Murder in the Latin Quarter
Elliott Bay Book Co.
Book nine, in an excellent series, has Aimée Leduc searching for a mysterious Haitian woman who may or may not be Leduc’s half-sister.

tuesday agenda : rumpus & the pig hunt

  • The Rumpus, a new daily online culture magazine (i.e., a culture magazine that is online) started by Stephen Elliott and pals, is making its IRL debut in Seattle tonight. Start by getting happy at Vermillion, which is currently playing host to a collection of the Stranger’s most favorite rock posters, and continue at the Northwest Film Forum where they’ll be screening Pighunt. From the description — “the tale of a guy’s weekend of hunting gone wrong in the backwoods of Northern California, set amidst the chaos of marijuana, meth, rednecks, and a killer cult that worships a legendary 3,000 pound wild boar.” — it could be either hilarious or horrifying, likely both. The film will be bookended by readings from Ryan Boudinot (before) and a Q & A with the writer (Robert Mailer Anderson) and director (Jim Isaac) afterwards. If you can’t face the scary hog, return to Vermillion around nine for more, much-needed drinks. $15-30, 7pm screening. [brownpapertickets]

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