Archive for December, 2009

flickr find: cultural transcendence preview

cultural transcendence preview

photo by Lele Barnett [flickr]

This snap from Cultural Transcendence at the Wing Luke comes to use from Metblog pal Lele Barnett, who curated the exhibit. The show, which opens tonight, features art from Robert Hodgin, Eunsu Kang, Heidi Kumao, Horatio Law, and Brent Watanabe who explores the importance of technology in our modern experience and technology’s influence on contemporary installation art. Doors open to the public at 6:30; show up early to catch an interactive dance performance by Diana Garcia-Snyder.

Free Tip of the Day

Yoga is stupid expensive. Even “free” donation days are a suggested $10 sometimes, making anyone who gives $5 or less feel like a cheapskate. But Urban Yoga Spa is doing what others should be – trading services for free yoga! Pulled straight from their site, read on about how with just a bit of elbow grease you can sweat your downward facing dog off for free:

TRADE SERVICE FOR YOGA: Learn about our Karma Yogi Program. You can earn unlimited free Yoga classes at the Urban Yoga Spa in exchange for 3 hours of Cleaning service per week. Contact us at 206-420-0222 for more information.

Weekend Film Agenda December 11

One of my favorite bits of sports trivia is this: the first American team to win the Stanley Cup was neither Detroit nor Chicago not even New York, Pittsburgh or Boston. Not one of these traditional ice hockey powerhouses was the one to bring the Stanley Cup to the US for the very first time; instead, it was the Seattle Metropolitans who way back in 1917, won Lord Stanley’s Cup after a heated battle with the Montreal Canadiens, themselves a hockey powerhouse who would eventually rack up an amazing 24 Stanley Cup wins, the most of any pro hockey team.

The makers of Sonicsgate, opening Friday night at SIFF Cinema Friday night aren’t the first to overlook the Metropolitans’ place in history and they probably won’t be the last. Sports fans (myself included) do tend to have a bit of tunnel vision when it comes to their favorite teams, but hearing “…in 1967 the Coliseum welcomes Seattle’s first professional sports team…” and “…the Sonics returned to the finals…to secure the city’s first major league sports title” burned. Early 20th century ice hockey was hardly the big business the NBA had already become by the time the Sonics rolled into town, but still, I’m vexed.

Nevertheless, I did my best to put aside my irritation and give Sonicsgate a fair viewing. Producers Jason Reid and Adam Brown intentions were obviously not to make a simple recitation of Seattle sports history; Sonicsgate is a fans’ labor of love to celebrate the team to which they were so devoted and to share their feelings of betrayal and loss when their team was “stolen” away from them.

To that end, Sonicsgate works well. Even after watching the whole thing, I still can’t be bothered to work up much upset about the team’s move to Oklahoma City–and, yes, I was a Sonics fan, too; after hockey, basketball is my favorite sport–but I do feel a lot more sympathy for fans like Reid and Brown than I did before watching the movie. Sonicsgate is well put together and quite honestly a lot more interesting than I thought it would be. Any Sonics fan can appreciate the look back at the team, particularly the many interviews with players and coaches as well as the commentary by local media and community members. Any sports fan, even one who couldn’t care less about b-ball, can appreciate the passion that went into making it, and anyone who doesn’t fit into either group can still find entertainment in the movie–even with the filmmakers’ obvious bias, it’s still an interesting look at politics, big business, and just how important being a fan can mean to people on both a personal and a civic level.

You can get more information on the film by visiting the Sonicsgate site and you can see the movie through Thursday at SIFF Cinema where every one in attendance gets a free copy of the DVD after the screening.

A different, but no less intense, sort of passion is on display at NWFF where La Danse: Le Ballet de l’Opera de Paris has been held over for another week due to popular demand. Legendary filmmaker Fredrick Wiseman’s fascinating documentary presents an intimate look at the legendary dance company, following the rehearsals and performances of seven ballets. Ballet dancers work as hard as pro athletes–sometimes even harder–and while their fans don’t paint their faces in company colors, they’re every bit as devoted.

Also at NWFF: Once Upon a Time in the West, Saturday and Sunday at 8:30. Sergio Leone’s classic Western is a dark, twisted thriller of a movie with an engrossing story and brilliant performances by the likes of Henry Ford and Jason Robards, Jr. It closes out NWFF’s Spirit of ’69 series by following True Grit, the Henry Hathaway-directed film that showcases John Wayne at his best, at 6:00 pm each day.

Sunday afternoon at 1:00 or 2:30, stop in to NWFF to check out Northwest Boychoirs as they sing songs of the season to accompany vintage holiday film footage.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a rock musical that tells the story of fictional East German rocker Hedwig whose dreams of fame and fortune inevitably fail to humorous and often genuinely touching effect. Sing along with the excellent soundtrack at Central Cinema Friday through Wednesday.

Yes, Virginia, it’s that time of the year again: after spending the previous 11 months showcasing vintage noir, zombies, splatter, the unusual, the offbeat, and the just plain weird, the fine folks at The Grand Illusion turn their attention to the heartwarming with their annual nightly screenings (6 and 8:30 pm through the week, additional shows on weekends) of Frank Capra’s beloved It’s a Wonderful Life. If it’s been a while since you watched this film or if you’ve simply tuned it out, figuring that it’s just another boring holiday movie played to death on TV, do yourself a favor and make sure you go see it this year. It’s far from the piece of gooey schmaltz that people who’ve never really watched it seem to think it is; in fact, for a large portion of the film, It’s a Wonderful Life is dark and depressing, making its ultimate message all the more wonderful in the end. Tuesday, December 15, the Grand Illusion hosts their It’s a Wonderful Life Holiday Party with free admission, food, drink, the presentation of their annual “George Bailey Award” and, of course, a screening of the film.

Never ever feed it after midnight: Gremlins, in which a young boy receives an unusual Christmas present in the form of…well, you know the story. Midnight at the Egyptian.

Free Tip of the Day

Who doesn’t love gingerbread houses? I mean, the fact that anyone has that kind of time to bake all those cookie bits and not eat them is beyond remarkable.

Well, right now (through January 3rd) you can see some pretty impressive gingerbread houses on display at the Sheraton Hotel. It’s all to benefit JDRF, which is ironic since JDRF stands for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. But regardless, go for FREE (or donate to a good cause) and gawk at the hand-crafted foodie masterpieces.

Sheraton Hotel is located at 1400 6th Ave.

Rockettes kick off holiday season with Toys for Tots toy drive


The world-famous Radio City Rockettes are arriving in Seattle for the “Radio City Christmas Spectacular” that opens at the Paramount Theater this Saturday, December 12, and runs through January 3.

To kick off the celebration of the season, the Rockettes and the US Marines are collecting toys for needy children with the Toys for Tots campaign. Follow the searchlights to the Paramount by 7:00 pm for the arrival of the Rockettes and a dozen USMC members decked in full Dress Blues as they are conveyed to the theater by Duck, courtesy of Ride the Duck.

Inside the theater, the Mosaic Arts NW Choir will sing carols and Mariners announcer Dave Niehaus will read “T’was the Night Before Christmas” on stage.

At 8:00 pm the curtain rises on a show filled with music, dancing, a trip to the North Pole, a “Living Nativity”, and, of course, a whole bunch of leg kicks.

Tickets for all performances can be purchased at Ticketmaster or through the Paramount Box office. The Sunday, January 3rd 2:00 pm matinee will be ASL translated by Lisa Reynolds and Ginevra Deianni; the 5:00 pm show the same day will feature Open Captioning.

Tbirds 12 hour sale raises $7K for Police Guild, hopes for more

This morning at 9am, the Seattle Thunderbirds began their 12-hour sale for tickets to the game Friday, December 11, against divisional rival Tri City Americans. During this sale, 100 percent of the ticket revenue for all tickets sold for this game through the Thunderbirds’ website will be donated to the Lakewood Police Independent Guild, to the aid of the children of the four recently murdered Lakewood Police officers.

Friday’s game should be a good one; the struggling Tbirds are working hard to drag themselves out of basement ratings and the Ams are working hard to stay ahead of the Portland Winterhawks and the Spokane Chiefs, a mere one and two points behind them in the standings. The sale continues tonight through 9pm for anyone who wants to get in on it–so far the sale has raised $7,000 and the team is hoping to raise much more.

Burn ban expands to four counties

Baby, it’s cold outside, and you want to keep nice and warm inside, possibly by lighting a nice, toasty fire. If your wood burning fireplace is your only source of heat, you can use it, provided it creates no visible smoke. Everyone else? At least through Saturday and possibly longer, the Puget Sound Clear Air Agency has issued a Stage 2 burning ban for King, Snohomish, Pierce and Kitsap counties which means:

-No burning is allowed in ANY wood-burning fireplaces, wood stoves or fireplace inserts (certified or uncertified) or pellet stoves, unless this is your only adequate source of heat. Residents should rely instead on their home’s other, cleaner source of heat (such as their furnace or electric baseboard heaters) for a few days until air quality improves, the public health risk diminishes and the ban is cancelled
-Even if your fireplace, pellet stove, or wood stove is your only adequate source of heat, no visible smoke is allowed.
-No outdoor fires are allowed. This includes recreational fires such as bonfires, campfires and the use of fire pits and chimineas.
-Burn ban violations are subject to a $1,000 penalty.

You can still use your natural gas and propane inserts during this ban.

To check on the status of the ban, visit the PSCAA’s website.

It’s a Wonderful Life at Taproot

photo by Erik Stuhaug

Everyone knows It’s a Wonderful Life: George Bailey is having a horrible day and is on the brink of ending it all when he meets novice guardian angel Clarence and gets a chance to see just what an impact he’s made on the world. While Taproot Theater waits out repairs to their arson-damaged Greenwood theater, they’ve taken up temporary residence at North Seattle Community College to present a live radio play version of the classic Christmas story.

Audiences are transported back to 1947 where they become the live studio audience for an imagined radio broadcast starring Grant Goodeve and Mark Lund and featuring Jesse Notehelfer, Eric Riedmann,Alex Robertson and Candace Vance.

The show continues Tuesdays through Saturdays except for Christmas Eve and Christmas day until the end of the month. Since the Taproot Box Office is currently being reconstructed, tickets can be purchased over the phone at 206-781-9707 Tuesday – Saturday, noon – 5pm or in person 30 minutes before the show.

Weekend Film Agenda December 4

Rashomon, the legendary movie that propelled director Akira Kurosawa and Japanese film to world prominence in 1950, influencing uncountable filmmakers to follow, has been beautifully restored to 35mm film for a week of screenings at SIFF Cinema starting Friday, December 4. The story centers of the rape of a woman and the murder of her husband, told from four different viewpoints that don’t quite mesh and allow Kurosawa to address questions about the meaning of both justice and truth. Author James Selvidge will be at SIFF for two special screenings on December 5 to introduce the film and sign copies of his new book Bergman, Fellini, Kurosawa: The Foreign Film in America.

Fans of ballet and/or documentaries get a great opportunity to go inside the Paris Opera Ballet in Frederick Wiseman’s La Dance: Le Ballet de l’Opera de Paris which follows the rehearsals and performances of seven ballets by the illustrious company and screens at NW Film Forum for a week that begins Friday; from Friday through Wednesday each screening will be introduced by a different member of the dance community here in Seattle.

Also at NWFF: Jose Bold‘s annual December album makes its debut Saturday night at 11:00 pm with a film-laden concert and special guests.

Paul Jones, lead singer of Manfred Mann, stars in 1967’s Privilege, screening at the Grand Illusion as a pop singer in a future society where even the entertainment is controlled by the totalitarian government. When the government decides to revamp his image, he decides to rebel. A rarely seen film, Privilege also features 60s fashion icon Jeannie Shrimpton.

Terry Gilliam’s 1985 film Brazil also takes place in future world ruled by a totalitarian government (is there any other kind in films about the future?) that sends up industry and government efficiency and screens at Central Cinema

Midnight at the Egyptian: Danny Boyle’s 1996 film about a group of heroin addicts in a run-down part of Edinburgh, Trainspotting.

Xanadu on sale at the Paramount

image courtesy STG Presents

Despite the fact that Xanadu, the 1980 movie musical starring Olivia Newton-John as a roller-skating muse to struggling artist Michael Beck and the legendary Gene Kelly in a reprisal of sorts of his role in 1944’s Cover Girl. is a seriously bad movie, I’ve always liked it. Not because of its badness, but in spite of it. Most people who like it–and there are quite a few, despite barely breaking even at the box office and being soundly panned by critics, Xanadu later went on to cult film popularity–see it the other way around, which is totally understandable to anyone who has ever seen it. Still, I wasn’t the only one to see some potential in it; Douglas Carter Beane (whose playwriting credits include The Country Club, 2007 Tony Award for Best Play nominee The Little Dog Laughed and As Bees in Honey Drown) wrote Xanadu into a stage musical which went on to be a big hit on Broadway, earning Tony nominations and winning Outer Circle Critics and Drama Desk awards as well as selling out show after show after show.

The show plays up the campy and ridiculous aspects of the movie, but it’s not all snark–it’s a colorful spectacle of story, song and skating. The play includes the ELO and Olivia Newton John songs that made the original film soundtrack a smash hit and throws in a couple extra by Jeff Lynne and John Farrar.

Xanadu hits the stage at Seattle’s Paramount Theater for a week in January, opening January 19 and closing January 24 as part of the ongoing Broadway Across America series. Tickets are going to be a hot commodity, so you’ll want to get yours as early as you can.

Tickets go on sale Friday, December 4, and are available at the Paramount box office, by phone at 877.STG.4TIX (4849) or online at, STG Presents or Broadway Across America. Ticket prices range from $20 to $60.

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