Archive for March, 2010

Conan does Spokane!

If you’ve been scouring the Internet for Conan O’Brien tickets in Seattle and can’t find anything under $200 don’t waste your money. Instead make a weekend out of this once in a lifetime event and go to Spokane! STG is proud to have the short-lived Tonight Show host at the INB Performing Arts Center on Friday, April 16th at 7:30pm.

The “Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television” tour kicks off in Eugene and will include longtime sidekick Andy Richter and the former Tonight Show band to at least 20 other states and two Canadian provinces.

You can still get tickets the good ol’ fashion way, with fees and everything, at $79.50 a pop (the cheap tix are all sold out via Ticketwest). So hurry before you have to hit up some sketchy dude on Craigslist. Spokane, Conan and jokes about the year 2000 will be waiting for you.

INB Performing Arts Center
Spokane, WA
Friday, April 16, 2010
Get tickets now!

Oh! You Pretty Things

Oh! You Pretty Thing

Last Friday my wife and I went to see the Seattle Rock Orchestra and their tribute to David Bowie at The Moore Theater. The format was rather interesting, with local indie-rockers The Kindness Kind opened with the orchestra backing them up on a set of their melodic bjork-esque songs before a short intermission before the main event that every was there to hear, the David Bowie covers. The Kindness Kind accompanied the orchestra, and a bevy of local singers came out to do their own renditions of Bowie tunes, for the most part two from each singer.

First up was Tom Beecham of The Raggedy Anns, who really looked the part, and did a fantastic job, though I confess I’m not enough of a Bowie nerd to know which songs he sang.

Next up was Ian Williams of The Thoughts who did Heroes. All of the singers, and many of the other performers were made-up with face-paint. There were a lot of classic lightning bolts over the eye, but somehow Ian Williams gave his an almost zombie-bowie look to it, which was extra-fun. And of course he had the entire crowd singing along with him. His other song I didn’t recognize (kudos to everyone for playing deep-cuts and not just the hits!)

After that Alessandra Rose of The Kindness Kind came back up to sing an incredible cover of Oh! You Pretty Things. I didn’t recognize the other tune she did.

Then came Tim Keller of Discs of Fury who, despite a broken foot, did a fantastic job on Boys Keep Swinging, and even whipped off his shirt to catcalls from the crowd. He only did the one song, but I won’t hold that against him.

Next up was David Terry of Aqueduct who did two songs that I actually recognized. He did Changes and Man Who Sold The World and danced along gleefully in his formal suit and hat and cheesy sunglasses.

Next up was Jon Auer of The Posies who brought his acoustic guitar up on stage and played 2 songs including an awesome version of Starman.

Lastly was Nouela Johnston of People Eating People. Though I didn’t recognize either of her songs her vocals were simply incredible. She has an incredible soul voice that just rips out of her. Definitely check her out!

For an encore Jon Auer came out and sang another tune, and then Alessandra Rose ended the night with Life On Mars. A beautiful way to end the show!

We had a blast. We had only two complaints. The sound where we were sitting (about halfway up on the floor level) just didn’t have the oomph it really should have, but that was pretty minor. The main complaint is it just wasn’t long enough. Sure it lasted for a good couple of hours, but it was just so good and so fun that it should have lasted till about 2am. Next time, guys… next time!

Sakura-con returns

Previous year Sakura-con attendees in a photo by Roger Abramson via Creative Commons

It started as a small event for Otaku – devoted fans of anime and manga, Japanese cartoons and comics – back in 1998 at the Double Tree Inn in Tukwila, but in the past few years Sakura-Con has grown huge, necessitating a move to the Washington State Convention and Trade Center in downtown Seattle. Starting April 2, fans of anime, manga, and Japanese culture as a whole will be gathered together for lectures, classes, screenings, contests, shows, games, and just hanging out together and having a good time.

With three full days of activities from morning through night, Sakura-Con truly does offer something for everyone. Diehard fans have some tough decisions to make as they attempt to fit in everything and casual fans or the merely curious get a great opportunity to sample a little bit of everything to determine what they like.

If you are a casual fan, experienced attendees have some tips for you: go with friends who are more knowledgeable to keep from being overwhelmed, or go Friday, the most (relatively) quiet of days and make sure you check the schedule in advance to find a day that offers the most of what interests you. DoktorZetsubou, going for the fifth time, suggests that if you’re not sure you’re ready for a con, you sit on the bottom floor and observe for a while, but adds, “If you’ve got a casual interest in anime, I’d definitely recommend spending one of the days there just to see if you’re into it or not and get an idea as to what the ‘anime fan community’ is like. Sakura-Con’s website has some great tips for con attendees that are particularly helpful for the first-timer.

One of the things I’m most looking forward to seeing is all the costumes – a significant number of people participate in “cosplay” – dressing up as their favorite characters – and ever since the con moved downtown a few years ago I’ve always looked forward to seeing costumed guests walking around downtown. Costumes are a big draw – says Sailor Tweek (who has been six time), ” I’m also a big fan of the costumes. No matter how good or bad the costumes might be, I love the ocean of creativity that is cosplay at a convention!” Michi, an attendee since 2002 and staff since 2006, is looking forward to “being able to wear the costumes that I’ve put several months worth of time and effort into.” Says Small Rini Lady, in her third year on staff with eight years of attendance, “I love to see people dressed up in their outfits and get into the roles and I love to dress up myself (i have 7 outfits ready for this year). It’s so fun to join in games and jump into conversations with people you’ve never met before but its like your best of friends because you assume the roles (the characters) that have known each other forever.”

Not everyone’s comfortable dressing up, of course, but it’s definitely always cool to see those who are. Plus, there’s are many other attractions. Small Rini Lady says, “I’ve brought many friend who just liked to people watch and enjoy the atmosphere. They love to look at the costumes, try the new things, practice their photography, watch the anime to see why it’s so popular. It’s like going to a museum in a foreign country for them, tons to learn and spark new interest from.”

Amplexicaule, going for the second time, says, “[M]y favorite things have been the exhibitor’s hall, and the Anime That Scarred Me For Life panel.” DoktorZetsubou will be happy to see other fans: “I really love the people there, everyone’s so friendly and I’ve met some really incredible fellow fans there. Otherwise, I’m a figure maniac, and so the shopping aspect is really exciting. The panels, too… I just love the whole convention, I guess. This year I’m most looking forward to shopping, being around other anime fanatics, and seeing DJ Sharpnel.”

Most people attending are from the area, but Sakura-Con’s a big enough draw that people travel here for it–besides Washington, con-goers come from all over the US and Canada, too.

Among the activities this year: “Being a Digital DJ” with DJ Shrapnel, Comic Production with Chloe Chan, Ancient Anime from Japanese History, Chado Urasenke Tankokai Seattle Association presenting the Way of Tea, Kabuki Academy, and What Not To Wear, Kimono Edition, are just a few of the panels; there are three dances including a formal ball; a charity auction to benefit the Make-a-Wish Foundation, Sakura-Con Cosplay Chess, in which convention attendees in cosplay serve as the pieces; art shows and exhibitors.

Pre-registration for Sakura-Con is closed, but don’t fret: you can still purchase a membership, full or pro-rated, at the door that allows you to attend.

Pearl Jam: tree huggers

Photo by Dan via Creative Commons

Pearl Jam has spent an awful lot of their long career on the road, which means whether it was by van or truck or bus or airplane, they burned up an awful lot of fuel, sending an awful lot of carbon into the air. In fact, Michael Totten, chief adviser, climate and water for Conservation International, estimates Pearl Jam’s actual carbon emissions from its 32-date 2009 tour to be 5,474 metric tons of CO2. That’s a lot.

However, since 2003 the band has been actively working to make a difference by actively tracking their carbon output and making donations to worthy organizations fighting the good fight to help preserve and protect the environment. This year’s group is Cascade Land Conservancy (CLC), a local organization whose mission is to conserve and steward Washington state land and to build community within the state. Their primary goals are to protect 1 million acres of working forests and farms and 265,000 acres of shorelines, natural areas, and parks, as well as maintain rural economies and enhance the livability of cities and towns.

Pearl Jam’s donation to CLC’s urban forestry program will allow them to plant approximately 33 acres of native trees and plants in communities around the Puget Sound.

“Trees are incredible at absorbing carbon,” said Gene Duvernoy, CLC president. “Pearl Jam’s contribution will enable us to plant urban forests throughout the Puget Sound and restore native trees and understory to ecosystems that have faced intense human pressures. This sort of approach has an enormous impact on improving forest health, connecting people to nature, and activating communities to engage in the restoration and stewardship of natural open spaces,” said Duvernoy.

Silence is a virtue.

In case you missed the last three installments of Trader Joe’s Silent Movie Mondays, you’re in luck! The Paramount Theater is hosting the event one last time, tonight March 29th. Live music by the critically acclaimed organist, Jim Riggs, will perform against three short films from the Charlie Chaplin library that will surely bring on the laughs. Mainly a show for the adults, everyone is bound to enjoy the Might Wurlitzer Organ.

Trader Joe’s Silent Movie Mondays: Silent From The South Seas
The Paramount Theatre
Show starts at 7pm, March 29th

To find out more and get your tickets, visit STG Presents.

Sign up for the Washington Coast Cleanup

Point of the Arches by Sam Beebe/Ecotrust via Creative Commons

Earth Day 2010 happens on April 22 but you can get a head start on the celebration by joining in the Washington Coast Cleanup 2010 on April 17.

We’re lucky to live in a state with such a beautiful coastline as ours and to show our gratitude to Mother Earth, we really ought to give her a helping hand or two by taking out the trash that accumulates on our beaches. Thousands of marine mammals, fish and seabirds are gravely harmed, even killed, by household plastics, fishing nets, tires and other bits of junk and waste.

Help clean up this trash by signing up as a volunteer to clean Washington beaches from Sooes Beach in the north all the way down to Long Beach. Washington Coast Savers have plenty of opportunities for anyone interested in taking part. Volunteers will collect trash and carry it off beaches to designated collection points. Additional volunteers are needed to help coordinate all this activity so if you want to help but have a hard time walking far or carrying trash bags, you still have a chance to participate.

Want to help but can’t make it out to the beach? You can donate funds used for purchasing garbage bags, paying disposal fees, creating signs and getting all the other supplies needed for the event online through Discover Your Northwest or by sending a check (payable to “Washington CoastSavers”) to:

Washington CoastSavers Program
c/o Discover Your Northwest
164 S. Jackson St.
Seattle, WA 98104

Foodie fun at Sur La Table at The Bravern

This Saturday head over to the Eastside for a cooking demo by Artisanal Brasserie & Wine Bar head chef Terrance Brennan at Sur La Table at The Bravern in Bellevue. At 2:30 pm, Brennan will be preparing a sheep’s milk ricotta gnocchi with wild mushrooms and asparagus; diver scallops with blood orange grenobloise and cauliflower silk, followed by a thin apple tart with caramel ice cream. Individual tastes will be available for everyone on hand so they hope you’ll RSVP at 425-372-2200, though it’s not required.

Seattle dims the lights for Earth Hour Saturday

photo by Juan Carlos Del Olmo / WWF-Spain

photo by Juan Carlos Del Olmo / WWF-Spain

Earth Hour began three years ago as a way for people around the world to come together to make a statement about climate change in a simple way by turning off their lights for one hour.

Global participants include Sydney’s Opera House, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament in London, the Great Pyramids of Giza, the Acropolis and Parthenon in Athens, Christ the Redeemer Statue in Rio de Janeiro, and the Elysee Palace and Eiffel Tower in Paris, to name a few. In the US, the Empire State Building, the Vegas Strip, Mount Rushmore, St. Louis’ Gateway Arch, SeaWorld in Orlando, the Golden Gate Bridge, Santa Monica Pier, and the National Cathedral in Washington, DC are among those taking part.

Locally, Earth Hour happens Saturday, March 27, at 8:30 pm. Mayor McGinn has announced that the City of Seattle will do its part by shutting off all non-essential lighting at the Seattle Municipal Tower, City Hall, and the Justice Center, Parks and Recreation Community Centers. In city facilities, all building lights will be turned off except for emergency lights, lighting for around-the-clock operations at Civic Campus buildings and all outdoor lighting where not required by code to remain on.

Also taking part: the Key Arena, Pacific Science Center, and the Space Needle. ART Restaurant at the Four Seasons has cooked up a special meal for the event – guests will dine by candlelight and have the opportunity to purchase the Glassybaby votives on their tables with 10 percent of the proceeds going to Conservation International.

Participation in Earth Hour is simple – turn off your lights from 8:30 to 9:30 pm. For more information on the event, visit their website.

Weekend Film Agenda March 26

Save the Date now for NW Film Forum‘s Annual Gala, taking place this year on May 6.

In the meantime, head over to NWFF this weekend for too, “an ecstatic interplay of live and recorded movement by dancers Amy O’Neal and Ellie Sandstrom”. choreographed and directed by O’Neal. The two interact with strangers, friends, acquaintances, and family in a work that explores the challenge of human contact in this complicated modern technological age. Friday and Saturday.

Sunday at NWFF begins a five day celebration of the 20th anniversary of Pere Portabella’s Warsaw Bridge, a loosely plotted and beautifully filmed movie with an exquisitely surreal touch as delightful to the senses as it is challenging to the intellect.

Veit Harlan’s name is not as well known today as Leni Riefenstahl’s, but his career stands as a testament to the power of film – after World War II he became the only artist from the Nazi era to be charged with war crimes for his anti-Semetic propaganda. German director Felix Moeller uses archival footage, film excerpts and home movies to examine World War II film history and Harlan’s notorious role in it, particularly the creation of his infamous work “Jew Süss” made on behalf of the Nazi regime meant to fan the flames of hatred and oppression. Harlan: In the Shadow of Jew Süss also examines how Harlan’s family has been affected over the years by his notoriety. At SIFF Cinema in association with the Seattle Jewish Film Festival.

One of Marlon Brando’s best known–and perhaps best–roles is Paul, an American roaming the streets of Paris while he comes to terms with his wife’s suicide in Last Tango in Paris, at the Grand Illusion. He begins a strange affair with a woman (Maria Schneider) he meets one day while apartment hunting; when Paul decides he wants more from their encounters than anonymous trysts, tragedy ensues. The Grand Illusion is screening director Bernardo Bertolucci’s X-rated uncut version.

Late night at the Grand Illusion: Gone with the Pope in which four ex-cons travel to Rome to kidnap the Pope and hold him for ransom for a dollar from every Catholic in the world. Director Duke Mitchell died before the film was complete and it was lost to time until Sage Stallone and Bob Murawski of Grindhouse Releasing discovered the forgotten footage and spent 15 years piecing it together to complete the film.

The truth about Purple Rain is that it’s an awful movie, really. This semi-autobiographical vanity piece about “The Kid”, a Minneapolis musician played by the artist who at the time had only ever been known as Prince is a mess that might’ve fallen through the cracks of time to be nothing more than a bit of rock historical trivia if it weren’t for the one thing about it that is genuinely valuable – the music. Twenty-six years later, “When Doves Cry” is still as fresh and exciting as it was when it was first released and the rest of the soundtrack is so good it elevates Purple Rain into a fascinating slice of the times. Starts Friday at Central Cinema, concluding Thursday, April with a sing-a-long screening.

Fans of The Dude get excited: The Big Lebowski is The Egyptian Theater‘s Midnight Movie this weekend.

It doesn’t open wide until April 9th but Seattle deservedly gets an early shot at The Runaways biopic, on screen at the Regal Meridian, the Guild 45th, Lincoln Square Cinema, Regal Thornton Place, and AMC Southcenter.

Brooklyn Boy at Taproot Theater

Jesse Notehelfer and Jeff Berryman in “Brooklyn Boy”, photo by Erik Stuhaug”

The question of “Can we go home again?” has already been asked and answered, but what about “Do we want to?” This question is at the heart of Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Donald Margulies play Brooklyn Boy making its regional premier in a show directed by Karen Lund at the Taproot Theater in Greenwood.

Eric Weiss (Jeff Berryman) is a literary sort whose third novel, a semi-autobiographical story about a Brooklyn family, has finally brought him the success he’s always wanted but his joy is somewhat tampered by his dying father’s lack of enthusiasm. Robert Weiss is perfect as curmudgeonly Manny Weiss who just doesn’t “get” his son’s career and seems almost indifferent to “Ricky’s” need for validation. Eric Weiss is further unsettled by a chance encounter with childhood chum Ira Zimmerman (Alex Robertson) and he snarls out a rejection of Ira’s attempt to reconnect. Soon after, Eric is the one being rejected himself as his wife Nina (Lisa Peretti) makes it clear to him that she’s not kidding about wanting a divorce.

Eric’s trip to LA to work on the movie adaptation of his novel isn’t quite the victory lap he’s imagined either. Jesse Notehelfer turns in a finely nuanced performance as the pretty young thing he brings back to his hotel after a book signing; her mixture of bravado and insecurity perfectly echoes his own, forcing him to take a look at himself that he’s been desperately trying to avoid. A visit to film producer Mealanie Fine (Nikki Visel) begins as a satirically comical poke at the way “Hollywood” views the way the world looks at its product and becomes even funnier when Eric is introduced to teen idol Tyler Shaw (Nicholas Beach) who insists that he’ll be perfect for the lead role just as soon as he gets a new hairstyle. Reluctant Eric is badgered into reading the script along with Tyler and it is then that he is finally driven to his emotional breaking point. Finally back in his childhood home, Eric puts up one last fight but his defenses are destroyed and he must now, at last, open up the baggage he’s been carrying around with him the whole time.

As always, Taproot gets maximum impact from a minimalist set; sound and light make for rich, genuine environments. Brooklyn Boy is both serious and funny, often within the same scene, and the cast does an excellent job of balancing both drama and comedy without slighting either. Eric Weiss isn’t always likable, but Jeff Berryman does a great job of keeping him a sympathetic character throughout. Even at his most frustrating, you can’t help but keep pulling for him.

Brooklyn Boy continues through April 17, stick around after Wednesday shows for a post-play discussion. Advance tickets through the box office at 206.781.9708.

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