Shades of Grey or Twilight in Washington’s most popular names?

The Social Security Administration just recently released its annual list of the most popular baby names for the proceeding year.

In Washington state in 2009, more little boys were named Alexander and more little girls were named Isabella than given in any other name. The show not being what it once was, it’s hardly likely that Grey’s Anatomy‘s Alex and Izzy are immediate influences but could the effect be a lingering one?

Okay, probably not. Isabella is not only Washington’s most popular girl baby name, it’s the country’s, and it’s very much because of that series of vampire stories set in Forks. Jacob, another name from the series, is the most popular boy’s name in the US and the second-most popular in Washington. (Then again, Jacob’s long been a popular name for boys, so it’s not much of a leap for it to hit the top five.)

The top five baby names in Washington for 2009:



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Weekend Film Agenda May 14

The festival kicks off Thursday night, but you don’t have to wait until next week to see great film at SIFF Cinema. SIFF celebrates the work of screenwriter Stewart Stern, now a Seattle resident, who has an amazing place in Hollywood history. The nephew of Adolph Zukor, the man who created Paramount Pictures, and the cousin of the Loews who controlled MGM, Stern is an award winning screenwriter whose works include The Ugly American, Sybil, and Rebel Without a Cause. Friday through Tuesday, SIFF screens eleven of his films, all worth seeing. As a special highlight, the Friday at 7:30 screening of The Ugly American begins with screenwriter, producer and director Christopher McQuarrie interviewing Mr. Stern and discussing his long and illustrious career.

Central Cinema presents the Alfred Hitchcock classic North by Northwest in which dashing Cary Grant is mistaken for a spy and chased across America by a group of thugs intent on stealing the microfilm they believe he has. Along the way Grant meets and romances lovely Eva St. Marie, a femme fatale with her own motivations, and is chased by an airplane in one of the most iconic scenes of movie history.

Live at the NW Film Forum: Performance, video, song, dance and fantasy explore the ongoing urban history of Seattle as written and directed by Marya Sea Kaminski, inspired by the transformation of the Pike-Pine corridor.

Jean-Paul Colmor lives near Montreal, surrounded by old cars and other discarded objects. Four teenagers with Down syndrome enter his life, joining him in his unique landscape as refugees from the outer world. Director Denis Côté examines this unusual man in his extraordinary self-made world in the documentary Carcasses, making its Seattle premiere at The Grand Illusion.

Late night at the Grand Illusion: the second weekend of early 80s voyeuristic nerd fantasy Getting It On.

Midnight at the Egyptian: Malcom McDowell is creepy as all get-out in Stanley Kubrick’s film adaptation of Clockwork Orange, a sharp, disturbing movie whose trenchant commentary on violent society seems to get more and more relevant with every viewing.

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Win tix for Landon Pigg at Triple Door

Like a good number of his fans, I first heard Landon Pigg while I was watching TV. One of his songs was played on Grey’s Anatomy and another on One Tree Hill but the song I first noticed was “Falling in Love at a Coffee Shop” which was first featured in a De Beers commercial and then in a commercial for AT&T.

As anyone who has ever gone to see a performer based on a single song know, you never really know what you’re going to get. When Pigg came to Seattle last fall, I found him to be a warm, engaging performer whose style encompasses a number of different influences and ranges; plus, I really liked that he had enough confidence in his material to open with his “hit”.

He’ll be back in Seattle on Saturday, May 22 at the Triple Door and you do not want to miss this show. Tickets are $12 in advance or $14 at the door, but one lucky Metblogs reader will get to go for free.

E-mail your name to no later than noon on Tuesday, May 18 and you could win a pair of tickets for the show. Make sure to put “Landon Pigg tickets” in your subject line, winner will be drawn at random.

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Seattle Fashion Expo Friday, Saturday

If you love fashion, the place for you to be this weekend is the Seattle Fashion Week Fashion Expo at the WAMU Theater.

The Fashion, Beauty and Lifestyle Expo opens at 2 pm on both Friday, May 14, and Saturday, May 15, giving patrons a chance to view and purchase hot new fashions from designers both locally and internationally based. Each day concludes with an evening fashion show at 8 pm. On Friday night, the show focuses on Urban design featuring the work of the Comcast Student Fashion Designer Top 4 Runners up Cameron Levin (New York Fashion Academy), Jonguen Kim (Seattle Pacific University), Justin Bartle (Art Institute of Seattle), and Michelle William (Art Institute of Seattle).

Saturday the focus switches to Established and International Designers including the IDCW-Product Runway in which interior designers, architects, and students demonstrated their design chops by crafting couture garments from interior materials and finishes. Also represented on the catwalk: B’ZMA of Dubai, Romania’s Catalin Botezatu, Eva Chen of Canada, House of Versailles Styles from Washington (DC), MONAPALI from India and Seattle’s own Richard Blayne Walsh.

Tickets for each show start at $35 and include admission to the expo; expo only tickets are just $10.

Three finalists selected for Seattle Police Chief

The search for Seattle’s next Police Chief progresses; yesterday the search committee made their final recommendation of three candidates for the office. Mayor Mike McGinn will select one of them to be the new police chief.

The candidates are:

John Diaz, currently acting police chief; Rick Braziel of Sacramento and Ronald Davis of Palo Alto.

The candidates are currently scheduled to appear at the City Council’s Public Safety and Education Committee at 9:30 a.m. on June 2. Mayor McGinn expects to make his decision in early June.

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SIFF Preview: Films4Families, FutureWave

Mountlake Terrace High School student Nicholas Terry makes his film directorial debut with Senior Prom this year at SIFF

Two of SIFF‘s most exciting programs are the closely aligned Films4Families and FutureWave, both aimed at giving young audience members a chance to get to know quality film from both sides of the camera. Both programs have year-round components but get a special gloss during the festival, with films from all over the world, including our own backyard.

FutureWave’s focus in on teens and young adults. This year’s festival features nine feature films curated specifically with them in mind. FutureWave Features 2010 includes such films I Kissed a Vampire, an American made musical about teen vampires balancing budding romance and bloodsucking; New Zealand sci fi film about psychic twins Under the Mountain and Samson and Delilah, an Australian love story about two Aboriginal teens.

Of particular note in this year’s FutureWave features is Senior Prom, an improvisational comedy along the lines of Best in Show and Waiting for Guffman that was shot by local director Nicholas Terry, 17, and features his Mountlake Terrace High School classmates as actors in a seriously funny look at the drama and excitement of the senior prom, told in a series of intertwined stories by actors who are as close to the subject as one can possibly get.

SIFF Educational Programs Coordinator Dustin Kaspar says that the goal of FutureWave is to give young people a chance to see as much as possible of what’s out there, presenting films that anyone at the festival can enjoy but that particularly appeal and engage youth. He recommends Bilal’s Stand, an inspriring story based on real life by 25 year old first time director Sultan Sharrief; Turn It Loose, a documentary about the World Championships of Breakdancing, held in Soweto, South Africa; and Regeneration, a world premiere film that “takes a hard-hitting look at youth and young adults and the culture of apathy” featuring appearances by the likes of Howard Zinn, Mos Def, and Amy Goodman in an examination of why the current generation of youth are not more active and how to get them engaged, a film that seeks to be a catalyst for change for people of all ages.

The FutureWave Shorts program takes youth film a step further – these films aren’t just aimed at young people, they’re made by them. Young filmmakers use a variety of film forms – documentary, fiction, animation – to tell stories encompassing all kinds of different subjects, from body image issues to family dynamics to pollution to identity issues and much, much more.

Kicking off the FutureWave Shorts program is the always exciting SuperFly Filmmaking challenge. Partnering with Longhouse Media, SIFF’s SuperFly Filmmaking Workshop takes 50 young people from all over the country and hooks them up with experienced mentors to create short films based on a script by Peter Bratt, giving them a mere 36 hours from start to finish.

Another great aspect of the FutureWave program is the FutureWave jury, a diverse group of young people from the Seattle area who will watch all the films in the program and cast their votes for the best films in the festival, making their award presentation at the Golden Space Needle Awards. YouthWave jurors might be budding filmmakers themselves or they might just be kids who are very interested in watching movies. In either case, the young people on the panel must learn that while it’s easy to say “This is my favorite film”, it’s a little harder to find consensus with the whole group but once they’ve made their decision it’s always a chance to for a fresh perspective on what makes a film worth watching.

The Films4Families program presents children’s films from all over the world, suitable for the whole family to watch. Short and feature length fiction and documentary features include live action and animation. Among this year’s standouts:

Eleanor’s Secret is a French animated film (dubbed in English) about a seven-year-old boy who moves into his late aunt’s house and discovers that Tante Eleanor left him an entire library of classic books. Problem one: Nat can’t read. Problem two: since Nat seems disinterested in the books, his parents sell them to a collector. And that’s when the real trouble begins – the character’s in Eleanor’s books come to life only in the library and if left unread will disappear, taking all their stories with them. Nat has to join them to save them but can he make it in time?

White Lion uses actual white lions to dramatize a folktale in which a legendary white lion, a messenger from the gods in Shangaan culture, must struggle to survive on his own with only a young Shangaan named Gisani to protect him from the dangers of the wild.

A young Spanish orphan named Carlos manages a dual life as an obedient student during school hours and a member of the Spanish national junior team behind the back of nasty orphanage director Hipolito in Carlitos and the Chance of a Lifetime.

Other films include From Time to Time, a British story of a time travelling boy who discovers a secret that could change history forever; Princess Lillifee, an animated film from Germany about the fairy who rules over the magic land of Pinkovia; Turtle: The Incredible Journey, the story of 25 years in the life of a sea turtle; and The Family Picture Show, a program of animated and live action shorts.

This year for the first time Films4Families has its own youth jury, consisting of kids from Seattle area elementary and middle schools.

Every year, some of the best films in the festival happen as part of one of these programs. Whether you have kids or ARE one, there’s definitely a lot on screen for you to enjoy, but even if you don’t fit into one of those groups, you should definitely check these films out.

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Annuals, The Most Serene Republic Tuesday @ The Croc

If you’re looking for a way to shake off the doldrums of another boring Tuesday, head down to the Croc for Raleigh, NC’s The Annuals, sharing the bill with The Most Serene Republic.

The Annuals blend everything from soft, almost twee melodies to soaring sonics into a pop eclecticism that carefully navigates the line between multi-genred and mishmashed. Sometimes jangly, sometimes gentle, sometimes raucous, The Annuals are easy on the ears.

$12 at the Crocodile Cafe; doors at 8, 21+.

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Love The End? Join their Online Music Panel

Radio station 107.7 KNDD – better known as The End – wants its loyal readers to stay loyal, so they’re reaching out to their audience and inviting listeners to join their Online Music Panel. Give them your name, e-mail and some basic demographic detail and then you’re off to answer a series of questions aimed at making sure that what gets on the air is what people really want to hear.

As an added incentive, sign up soon for a chance to win tickets to see Sublime play Marymoor Park on July 7th.

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Weekend Film Agenda May 7

What could possibly be better than a theatrical screening of the 1971 film version of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory with Gene Wilder in the charming, yet frightening, titular role? How about a screening in Smell-O-Vision? Your Golden Ticket lets you into the factory (okay, it’s really SIFF Cinema) where you’ll be dazzled by sights and sounds, and yes, the smells (courtesy of goodie bags filled with fragrant and tasty treats) of Willy Wonka’s wonderful world. Friday only at 7 and 9:30 pm.

Anna Halprin has been spreading wonder of her own through the power of dance for over 80 years; at an age when many people are content to rest on their laurels, Halprin remains on her feet. Her fascinating, inspirational story is told via interviews and archival footage in Breath Made Visible at NW Film Forum.

Looking for a special Mother’s Day Gift? Nevermind the cutesy mugs or bottles of cologne, take your mom to NW Film Forum on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 9 for a special 4 pm screening of the 1924 silent film Peter Pan with live harp accompaniment by Leslie McMichael and special refreshment for mothers and their children.

George and Mike Kuchar became fascinated by Hollywood melodramas while they were growing up in the Bronx in the 1950s; their passion led them to become major figures in the early 1960s underground film scene in New York. Filmmakers like Atom Egoyan, Buck Henry and John Waters would be inspired by their creative works, all made on the cheap and all reflecting the brothers’ offbeat sensibilities. Their chapter in film history is illuminated in It Came from Kuchar, now playing at The Grand Illusion.

Late night at the Grand Illusion: Getting It On, an 80s high school nerd peeping tom fantasy amde on a shoestring budget – all you probably need to know is that one of the billed characters is listed as “Nude Girl with Flamethrower”.

Central Cinema and The Stranger team up for Gloria Trout Presents: CougarFest, a double bill featuring The Graduate and Harold & Maude.

Midnight at The Egyptian: Paprika, a trippy anime thriller in which psychotherapist Dr. Atsuko Chiba goes on a quest to recover a device that allows the user to enter other people’s dreams via her alter ego, Paprika. The elaborate story requires some serious concentration to follow, but the gorgeous artwork makes it more than worth the effort.

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And then there were nine…

On April 26, the 26-member Seattle Police Chief Search Committee presented 11 candidates for the office of Seattle Police Chief, replacing former Chief Gil Kerlikowske who was tapped by President Obama to become the nation’s Drug Control Policy Director. Former Seattle mayor Greg Nickels named a search committee to find candidates for replacement but it never met. Chief John Diaz has been filling in during the interim.

The committee narrowed their candidates down to ten, but former Miami assistant chief of police Adam Burden took himself out of the running while he recovers from recent surgery. Des Moines, Iowa Chief of Police Judy Bradshaw stepped down from the search process last week.

The nine remaining candidates, who include John Diaz in their number, as well as Chief or Assistant Chiefs from Sacramento, East Palo Alto, New Castle County (DE), Spokane, Lawrence (MA), Elgin (IL) and Clark Kimerer, Deputy Chief of Police for Seattle, will be interviewed by the search committee on Saturday, May 8, in sessions not open to the public. The committee is expected to name three finalists for Mayor Mike McGinn’s consideration on Tuesday, May 11.

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Counting down: SIFF 2010 box office, calendar available tomorrow

Based on what I’ve heard about the upcoming festival so far, I’m super excited about SIFF 2010. I bet you are, too, or you will be.

Less than 24 hours from now the box office opens and the schedule becomes available.

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Totally Fresh

Just in case you didn’t know, organic food, composting and letting animals be animals are good – factory farming, giving chickens antibiotics and spraying chemicals on veggies are bad. If you never saw Food Inc. or read anything from Michael Pollan here’s your chance to see a new movie all about where our food should come from. Fresh is a short flick (70 minutes) that will be starting tonight at Central Cinema and ending May 6th. There will be a few short films before the movie and if you’re hungry you can munch on Central Cinema’s new menu. Also, as a special treat you can meet the director when you see the movie tonight (Friday). So, even if you think you know everything about where our food comes from, Fresh is good enough to remind you – and hopefully spread the word.

Get tickets now!

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Weekend Film Agenda April 30

After a spectacular opening night featuring seven great films from young filmmakers and a fun afterparty at EMP/SFM, NFFTY, the world’s largest film festival featuring films by young people continues all weekend long with panels and workshops at EMP/SFM and films at SIFF Cinema. Friday at 4:30 head to SIFF Cinema for the NFFTY Happy Hour. Fifteen films are up for viewing and audience members 21 and older get free beer courtesy of Mac and Jack’s. Later that evening are the International Showcase and Late Night Adrenaline programs; across the Seattle Center campus at the Center House is a free screening of the Best of NFFTY 2007 – 2010.

Saturday and Sunday see still more shorts plus feature films; the festival closes Sunday night with its Awards presentation.

Music and movies have gone together since the beginning of filmmaking. Even the silents weren’t entirely silent as they were screened to live musical accompaniment. Movies about music are a special class, though – sometimes film is the perfect medium for sharing the importance that music has in our lives and sometimes…well, it isn’t. NW Film Forum screens one that works: Soundtrack for a Revolution is a great documentary about the protest songs that helped inspire and shape the direction of civil rights activists in the US during the 1950s and 1960s. Long before mobile technology and the internet made getting a message out to a mass of people as simple as pushing a few buttons, protest songs were a way to spread information and inspiration that brought people together. Soundtrack for a Revolution articulates the history of the protest song in America from slave chants and black church gospel out on to the streets and illustrates just how influential these songs were. Using archival footage and interviews with key figures of the civil rights movement, Soundtrack is honest and intense. Interviews from key figures in the movement add context to the archival footage, but it’s the music that truly tells the story in a powerful way. Contemporary performances of the classic protest songs prove that all these years later these songs still shine.

May 2 at NWFF: Odds and Ends Presents: From Portland with Love, a program of new experimental, documentary and animation filmwork from Portland film and video artists.

There have been enough films about the evils of Big Food in the past few years to have created a whole subgenre. Joining it: Fresh, a documentary call-to-arms to encourage fresh food activism. At Central Cinema.

The Grand Illusion wraps up its tribute to the Swinging Sixties with Lord Love a Duck starring Tuesday Weld as a high school senior in a satirical film about the Sixties teenaged experience. Co-starring Roddy McDowell as her kind of creepy pal.

No One Knows About Persian Cats stars real life Iranian musicians playing fictionalized versions of their real lives in a film about how not even an oppressive government can keep people from making music. At the Varsity.

Midnight at the Egyptian: Do you suppose that while Arnold Schwarzenegger sits in his Sacramento office struggling with California’s many fiscal problems he ever wonders how his job would be different if a cyborg from the future traveled back in time to prevent the passage of Proposition 13? Probably not, but watching robots battling for the opportunity to either save or destroy humanity is a lot more exciting than tax code any day.

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Northwest National Park Family Day Sunday, May 2

Mt. Rainier, by D. Herrera, via Creative Commons

The Northwest is a great place to live for many reasons. One of the most compelling is the stunning natural landscapes. The Puget Sound area alone offers endless opportunities for being awed by nature’s bounty – mountains, bodies of water, and lush, verdant flora. The National Parks Conservation Association wants to make sure that you know all about the opportunities available to you to go out into this beauty by hosting Northwest National Park Family Day this Sunday, May 2.

From 10 am to 3 pm at Seattle’s Seward Park, national park rangers will be on hand to talk about our neighboring national parks, Mt. Rainier National Park, Olympic National Park, and North Cascades National Park Services Complex, which encompasses Ross Lake & Lake Chelan National Recreation Area. If you’ve never been to these parks, you’ve been missing out on chances for hiking, boating, bird watching, fishing, horseback riding, camping, backpacking, mountain climbing, bicycling, walking and just generally being out in nature.

To prepare you for your future visits, National Park Family Day will offer hands-on demonstrations on how to build campfires, cook marshmallows (few things in life are as great as marshmallows toasted over a campfire), and be safe outdoors. Local outdoor equipment retailer REI is sponsoring sessions on “Hiking in the NW” and “Leave No Trace Camping”. San Juan Island Historical Park presents a banjo performance. Washington Trails Association presents a hike through Seward Park to get you warmed up for hikes in the national parks. Lewis & Clark National Historical Park presents “Lost But Safe & Sound” – useful information on keeping yourself from danger should you wander too far from the trail and the Olympic Park Institute/NatureBridge give a demonstration on Water Quality Testing. Campfire stories and songs help make a festive day and a variety of wildlife encounters will teach you about the many species of animals living in our state.

The event is free and open to all.

Partners in Preservation Weekend Open Houses

Last week, I talked about Partners in Preservation and their mission to provide funds to Seattle area preservation landmarks, using a public vote to help guide their decisions.

This coming weekend on May 1 and May 2, the nominees for PiP funds are offering members of the public a chance to come down and check out their sites as part of an Open House weekend. Most sites are open May 1, some with a small fee for admission; all sites are open and free to the public on May 2. All are offering up special activities for their guests and give visitors the chance to see the great work their doing and how preservation funds could assist them in saving Seattle’s history. See the full listing online for details.

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