Archive for February, 2010

2010 Hockey Challenge featuring former Mariner Dan Wilson Saturday

The Seattle Thunderbirds haven’t been having the greatest season ever this year, but as a diehard fan that hasn’t stopped me from going to every game. Hockey’s fun whether you’re cheering on the champion or the underdog and I have a good time every time. Part of what makes the experience so great is the enthusiasm of the crowd; in my perfect world, every game would be a total sell out. But to learn just how great hockey truly is, you’ve got to get to a game. This Saturday there’s a reason for even the most casual fan to head down to the ShoWare Center, the 2010 Hockey Challenge.

The day begins at 9:40 am with a series of games between sponsor groups that have raised money to participate. This year it’s the Amazon Women v. the Microsoft Exchange Women, the Microsoft Spartans v., MS Entertainment & Devices v. Microsoft Mystery Team and Windows Live v. MS IT. From years of experience I can attest that these techie people are pretty solid hockey players; these aren’t pro quality players but their games are exciting and well-played. All of their donations–over $3.5 million over the past eleven years–go to help the Ronald McDonald House serve their mission to provide a home away from home for seriously ill children undergoing medical treatment and their families. Last year the Seattle Ronald McDonald House provided some much needed support for 700 families.

At 5pm there’s a celebrity autograph session with some of the players for the evening’s All Star game; this year’s All Stars include Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville), Jason Thompson (General Hospital), Brian Basset (cartoonist of “Adam @ Home” and “Red and Rover”), Kelly Tysland (formerly Kelly Stephens 2006 U.S. Women’s Olympic hockey bronze medalist), Bill Wixey (KCPQ news anchor), Paul Silvi (KING 5 sports anchor), Ian Furness (KJR 950 AM Host) and Cameron Bancroft (24: Day 4, Hockeyville on CBC) as well as former Mariners catcher Dan Wilson, who played goalie on the hockey team at his Chicago area high school long before he spent a dozen years in the Seattle baseball uniform. Also on the ice: TBirds and Breakers alumni including Danny Lorenz, Al Kinisky, Blake Knox, Regan Mueller, Pat Smith, Jamie Huscroft, Ryan Gibbons, and Lloyd Shaw.

As an added bonus, there’s an auction for a Team Canada jersey autographed by former Thunderbirds/San Jose Sharks/Team Canada player Patrick Marleau. Patty’s a Thunderbirds legend for good reason and the bidding will be hot and heavy, with the proceeds helping the RMDH help the families they serve.

The All-Star game immediately follows what is bound to be a thrilling match between the Tbirds and their longtime nemesis, the Portland Winterhawks. The Hawks have held the upper hand in most of their previous meetings this season, but the rebounding Birds look to extend their three game win streak by taking down their longtime rivals and both teams will be out for blood. Birds/Hawks match ups are always intense; no less an authority than Sports Illustrated has listed seeing one as an experience every sports fan should have.

A single ticket gets you in the door for the whole day long extravaganza; tickets can be purchased at the ShoWare Center box office day of game or online. State Farm will be handing out Roll-a-bannas to the first 2,000 fans through the door.

The Tbirds play again Sunday at home against the Tri City Americans; Valley Medical will be handing out blinking safety lights and selling bike helmets with custom fitting right there at the arena. The final four home games of the season are versus Spokane on March 6, Tri City again on March 7, Portland again on March 13 and versus Vancouver for the final game of the season, March 14.

Weekend Film Agenda February 26

Based on real crimes including those of the notorious “Yorkshire Ripper” who was convicted of murdering 13 women and attacking many more, English author David Peace’s Red Riding Quartet, a four volume set of novels about corruption at all levels of police and government in England were converted into a trilogy of movies broadcast on British TV in 2009 and then adapted for film release. NW Film Forum is screening each of the three movies sequentially, screening Nineteen Seventy-Four February 26 through March 1, Nineteen Eighty from February 26 though March 4 andNineteen Eighty-Three from February 27 through March 4.

Each film has a different director but they all share common themes of exploitation, degradationl, deceit, corruption, and betrayal. The story begins in 1974 when a newspaper correspondent begins investigating a missing persons case tied to the Ripper and becomes entangled with a real estate developer with his hands in a number of messy pies. The second film focuses on rampant corruption in the police force charged with investigating the Ripper cases and the possibility that at least one of the murders tied to the serial killer was done by an opportunistic copy-cat. The third segment rips a bandage off all of the festering wounds carried over from the first two, revealing the even uglier disease hiding beneath but offering at last some hope of redemption.

Excellent technical work is enhanced by fine performances from cast members including Sean Bean, David Morrissey, and Andrew Garfield. Each of the segments was helmed by a different director – Julian Jarold (1974), James Marsh (1980) and Anand Tucker (1983) influence their films with their own styles in a way that enhances each segment as a separate chapter of the ongoing story but still keep it a cohesive whole. Often gloomy but never dreary, the Red Riding Trilogy films tell an interesting and complex story; each film can stand alone but the best experience is to see all three.

SIFF continues its popular Cinema Supper Club with a Sunday melange of melodramatic magical realism in the form of Like Water for Chocolate and mouthwatering Mexican food at Bellevue’s Barrio with a menu that includes four courses of exquisite food and wine pairings. Reservations are required; see the event page for details.

Somewhat less extravagant but no less delicious: Central Cinema‘s pizza and beer menu paired with the misadventures of Jake and Elwood, The Blues Brothers, Friday through Wednesday.

Fifty million Americans are convinced that the world’s end has already been accurately predicted and are waiting for those predictions to come to fruition. Who are these people? Directors Kate Davis and David Heilbroner reveal them in Waiting for Armageddon, a chilling documentary starting Friday at the Grand Illusion.

Late night this weekend at the Grand Illusion: Gums, like Jaws only with a “fellatio-mad mermaid”, a “bungling sheriff”, a “weirdo virgin scientist” and a “crazed Nazi Captain” named Carl Clitoris.

Late night at the Egyptian: The Neverending Story, the well loved fantasy so sweet and charming that you won’t mind the often hokey special effects.

Dinner Club: Moshi Moshi

Being 30-something, I’ve traded in drinking all night with my friends to having a dinner club that lets out by 9pm so I can get my 6 hours of z’s. Our biggish group comes in all shapes and sizes, and most recently added a baby to the clan. The rules are you pick a place you’ve never been to, but always wanted to try. This time we went to Moshi Moshi, in January – sorry for the tardiness.

The atmosphere is delightful and welcoming. Beautiful cherry blossom lights dazzle in the center of the space and everyone has room to breath, even when there’s a crowd of 8 pushed together. The only eyesore seemed to be along the wall, on the way down the stairs, where black plastic garbage bags seem to be covering wall damage or a bad paint job. And while the bathroom isn’t as awesome as the butt warming one at Mashiko, it was spotless. I know it’s weird to remark on a restaurants’ bathroom, but it’s one of those things I use at least once while restauranting and if it’s dirty or smells bad, it immediately gets downgraded in my book.

As far as sushi goes, this was the freshest I can remember having in quite some time. Some favorites included the very soft crab, the Spanish mackerel – which is my tall-tell sign of a good sushi joint – and the very sweet Inari. Other crowd pleasers were the succulent Kalbi short ribs, and apparently the eggplant got rave reviews from the vegetarian of the group.

The bits I wasn’t thrilled with didn’t actually come from the sushi menu. The chicken satay seemed way too salty, and the seaweed salad, which I usually love, tasted a little too slimy.

And now, for what you’ve been waiting for: dessert! Since we can never decide, as a group, on just one sugary item we always end up getting everything. That meant we had the chocolate cake*, a crème brulee and the typical green tea sorbet. My favorite was the chocolate cake, and if it means anything I am not a chocolate cake person. Especially when it’s chocolate on chocolate. But I am a sucker for things oozing, and boy oh boy, did this ooze. Now before you go all teenage boy on me, just remember that I hold dessert close to my heart. So giggle all you want about the ooze, but it was delicious. And if you only could order one thing off the menu, this would be my favorite recommendation.

*My apologies, but I forgot the actual name of this dessert and it’s not on the menu on their website. I’m pretty sure it’s the only chocolate cake though, so go for it. You won’t be disappointed.

Moshi Moshi
5324 Ballard Avenue
Seattle, WA 98107

Weekend Film Agenda February 19

Marthe, Michel, and their three children live an idyllic life in a remote house until the long-unused stretch of highway that passes their house is open to traffic in Home at NW Film Forum. Young Judith can’t sunbathe without being harassed and her younger siblings Julien and Marion can’t safely catch their school bus. Driven to madness, the family fights back.

The Grand Illusion screens Unmistaken Child, director Nati Baratz’s thoughtful documentary about the four year search for the reincarnation of Lama Konchog, a search conducted by the deceased monk’s disciple at the direction of the Dali Lama himself.

The first time I saw The Usual Suspects was in a drafty, damp theater with no heat in Boston’s Davis Square. Although I was so cold that I had to keep buying cups of coffee simply to keep my hands from freezing together, I stayed for the whole film. It’s that good. You’ll get to see it in much happier surroundings at Central Cinema.

Midnight at the Egyptian: Hedwig and the Angry Inch, the fabulously funny story of Hedwig, the would-be rock star, her tragic–and yet comedic–miseries and her uplifting victories.

Oscar time approaches and the Varsity is screening 2010’s nominated short films in two separate programs, animated and live action, so that you’ll be able to make your predictions for who takes home the trophies.

Noir City at SIFF

Human Desire, part of SIFF's Noir City series

Noir City, the popular series of noir films curated by Czar of Noir Eddie Muller returns to SIFF Cinema for its fourth year. Each previous incarnation has included noir films both classic and obscure, screened many times over the years or rarely seen since their debut, and all well worth seeing. The 2010 series continues that trend with an excellent selection of films tied to this year’s theme of “Lust and Larceny”.

Double features are an attractive part of the package: your ticket for the first screening of a double feature admits you for free to the second. Or, if you want to see all 14 films (and who could blame you?) you can buy a pass for the whole series for a mere $50. (It’s even more affordable for SIFF members at $35, a steal for so many fine features.)

Friday is a double feature of Pitfall at 7:30 followed by Larceny at 9:30. Pitfall examines the dark side of the American dream with dashing Dick Powell as a successful businessman who cheats on his wife (Jane Wyman) with the alluring Lizabeth Scott; his guilt over the affair is exploited by unscrupulous PI Raymond Burr. Standout performances from all of the stars. Larceny has stars John Payne, Dan Duryea, Joan Caulfield and Shelley Winters reelling off quick-witted one liners in a stylish story of two grifters intent on defrauding a wealthy war widow. Neither film is available on DVD so be sure to see them on screen at SIFF.

Saturday starts off with Cry Danger at 2:00 pm, another film not available on DVD. For years theaters had to rely on actor Dick Powell’s personal 16mm print of the film but finally you get a chance to see it in newly restored 35mm glory. Robert Parrish’s directorial debut stars Powell as an ex-con in search of the guy who really did the crime for which he did crime. It’s double-featured with The Mob, another Parrish film. This one stars Broderick Crawford as a tough cop who goes undercover on the docks to bust up mob activity. Afternoon too early for you? They play again at 7:30 and 9:00 pm.

Sunday’s screenings kick off with a killer film: the incendiary Lana Turner and John Garfield play lust-mad lovers who plot murder in one of the most classic of all classic noirs, The Postman Always Rings Twice. (1:30 and 6:00). It’s paired with John Garfield’s final role in He Ran All the Way (4:00 and 8:30) as a small time hood whose life rolls out of control after he shoots a cop and falls into the arms of Shelley Winters, the sweet girl who takes him home to meet her family, the family he holds hostage while he plots his escape.

Inside Job stars Preston Foster as a gangster who forces newlywed ex-cons Ann Rutherford and Alan Curtis into helping him rob a downtown department store. It plays Monday at 7:30 and is followed at 9:00 by Human Desire in which Glenn Ford and Gloria Grahame scheme to rid themselves of her inconvenient husband, played by Broderick Crawford.

Tuesday turns on spotlight on San Francisco, the beloved noir landmark. George Raft is a truck company owner seeking the killer of his brother, a priest, in what may be the genre’s only “Biblical Noir”– Red Light at 7:30. In Walk a Crooked Mile, Dennis O’Keefe’s FBI agent and Louis Hayward’s Scotland Yard inspector track a leak (appropriately creepy Raymond Burr) spreading nuclear secrets to San Francisco. (9:00).

Wedneday features at 7:30, Deported, the rarely seen film inspired by real-life gangster Lucky Luciano’s forced return to his native Italy. At 9:00 is Fly-by-
, another film not available on DVD that combines screwball comedy with the elements of noir in a movie starring Richard Carlson and Nancy Kelly.

The series concludes Thursday with Richard Widmark’s starring turn as a fighter pilot facing court martial for flying suspicious cargo around the Caribbean and drama between his loyal girlfriend Veronica Lake and his old flame Linda Darnell. Slattery’s Hurricane screens at 7:30 and is followed at 9:00 by Pickup on South Street, an “exceptionally fast and hardboiled tale of a New York pickpocket caught between the Commies and the Feds”.

Want to really get into these movies? SIFF is offering two special events with curator Muller: Sunday, February 21 join Eddie Muller for a free Intimate Fireside Chat at the Sorrento Hotel’s Fireside Room at 3:30 pm. Wednesday, February 24, $40 gets you an exclusive dinner at The Signature hosted by Mr. Muller.

Today in Seattle history

Speaking of taking a historical look back at Seattle…

Today marks the 30th anniversary of The Day After.

The day after the rulings in the infamous Chicago Seven trial raised the conciousness and tempers of protesters all over the US, protesters led by the Seattle Liberation Front fought the Man in front of the Federal Courthouse. Nowadays it seems like no one remembers the Seattle Seven (the leaders of the protest for were indicted for “conspiracy to riot” in April of the same year) or The Day After, but when I was a kid, this was a major event.

And, yes, people complained about the protestors blocking traffic even then.

Thanks to HistoryLink for the reminder.

Photos of six of the seven can be found at this Seattle Times special section page.

Flickr find: flooding on Seattle Streets

The Seattle Municipal Archives are an excellent way to get to know Seattle’s history. This 1936 photo of flooding from a broken water main shows that the intersection of 2nd Ave Extension and Main has always been an awkward one.

Free TIp of the Day

Go to Hing Hay Park today to witness the celebrations and firecrackers that are The Year of the Tiger’s Chinese New Year. It’s free and the last few years I’ve gone, it’s never let me down. Go!

Chinese New Year
Hing Hay Park
423 Maynard Ave. S
Lion dance starts at Noon.

Weekend Film Agenda February 12

SIFF Cinema continues their tribute to Kurosawa with screenings of The Hidden Fortress (Friday), High and Low (Saturday), and The Seven Samurai (Sunday).

Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s 1948 film The Red Shoes transforms the classic Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale about a young woman whose magic shoes compel her to dance without stopping into a lavish technicolor ballet. A magnificently refurbished 35mm print screens at NW Film Forum.


Continuing the theme of classic cinema on screen around Seattle, the Grand Illusion presents Federico Fellini’s first English language production, 1976’s Fellini’s Casanova, an Oscar winner for best costume design that blends a fascinating story with hypnotic visuals to tell the history of the famed rake from his imprisonment in Venice to his service to a Bohemian noble.

If you like your romance a little more frothy, the Grand Illusion has another option for you: Rock Hudson and Doris Day in Pillow Talk, a cute, fluffy romantic comedy of lies, loathing and love between a man and a woman stuck sharing a party line.

Not romantic at all: late night at the Grand Illusion see Night of the Living Dead: Reanimated, a mash-up of puppetry, CGI, hand-drawn animation, illustration, acrylics, and claymation that transform George Romero’s groundbreaking zombie film into an experimental film that illustrates the many ways the original movie informed a variety of other artistic works.

Fans of Central Cinema‘s previous sing-along events take note: Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 10:00 pm, Central Cinema’s hosting “The 80s Love Song Sing Along”.

For a full-on romantic extravaganza, however, be there each night at 6:30 (advance tickets highly recommended) for a sing-along, quote-along screening of Baz Luhrman’s spectacular spectacular of a film, Moulin Rouge, the movie that proved that modern audiences will go see a musical, particularly if it stars the sexy, sexy Nicole Kidman and the sexy, sexy Ewan McGregor, both of whom have much better voices than one expects in an actor and most convincingly play a pair of sexy, sexy star-crossed lovers. To add to the experience, Three Dollar Bill‘s Cineoke hosts Scott and Lance (who sang Moulin Rouge‘s “Come What May” at their own wedding) will be on hand to help make the night special with goodie bags, pre-show Can-Can lessons and more. Admission to the movie alone is a mere $10 but you’re really going to want to splurge for the prix fixe dinner – a mere $44 gets you four delicious courses, including an option for vegetarians.

A gripping drama in which a wheelchair-bound man suspects that the neighbor he’s been spying on has murdered his wife might not sound like the most romantic of films to you, but Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece of a movie Rear Window isn’t just one of the greatest suspense movies ever, so intense that even seeing it a zillion times doesn’t keep my heart from quaking during the thrilling climactic scene; it’s also a charming and intelligent portrait of romance between suave James Stewart and impossibly glam Grace Kelly. And it’s this weekend’s midnight film at the Egyptian.

Happy Anniversary, Big Ol’ Jet Airliners

A 747-400 flies over the ocean in a photo by Aaron Escobar, used via Creative Commons.

This week Boeing’s jets reach a trifecta of anniversaries: The maiden flight of the Boeing 247 was on February 8, 1933, and today marks the anniversaries of the maiden flights of the 727 Trijet (February 9, 1963) and the 747 Jumbo Jet on February 9, 1969.

One of the most distinct memories of my childhood was making the long-trek across the Atlantic Ocean coming home from Europe to the USA in a Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet that carried us all the way from London to New York City in what felt like days instead of hours. Fun days/hours, though; as young children there were few things my brothers and I loved more than going somewhere on a plane. Back when the 747 Jumbo was still a new model, taking a flight was still a pretty big deal for most people. I remember that people used to dress for their flights the way they used to dress to go to the theater or church or a business meeting. While I am perfectly happy to live in a much more informal society, I do wish that taking a plane ride was still the thrill it was then.

Oh well, it’s not Boeing’s fault: they continue to build bigger and/or better planes all the time, including the new Boeing 747-8 Freighter which yesterday had its first flight up in Everett in front of more than 5,000 employees, customers, suppliers and community leaders. According to their press release here which has some nifty photos of the plane both on the ground and in the air (the 747-8 is rather an attractive plane, I think), Boeing’s Freighter 747s carry over half the world’s air freight. Pretty impressive.

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