Archive for September, 2005

Hand-Painted Street Signs

If the future of Seattle’s transportation system is looking grim, its past remains visible all around us. No better example than the (dwindling?) number of hand-painted street signs still in use around the city.


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Beer Review

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A friend and I headed out to Oktoberfest [#] today and, in the interest of science and beer drinkers everywhere, decided to use our 20 combined pogs to sample 20 different brews. I’m not going to pretend that the last couple aren’t just a fuzzy memory, but I did have the wherewithal to write them all down with little check marks next to my favorites. Here are my top five for those of you heading out tomorrow (keeping in mind that I’m not a stout drinking girl):

1. Yakima Brewing’s Mandarin Hefeweizen. This beer was as light and refreshing as you’d expect a Hefe to be, but with a slight orange hint to it that made it just yummy. I was sorely tempted to use up two tokens for this one.

2. Rogue Ale’s Bullfrog Ale. A little darker than the Hefeweizen but certainly a wheat best served with lemon, this one was not at all sweet and very tasty.

3. McMenamins’ Margaret Trudeau Pale Ale. This particular beer was so intensely hoppy it took me half of a thimble to decide whether or not I liked it. In the end I realized that I did, and it’s a beer that’s medium bodied enough to stand out against an early afternoon of wheats.

4. Wyder’s Cyders’ Raspberry Cider. After a couple of Pilsners and one accidental lager, my compatriot and I decided to refresh ourselves with a cider. I don’t usually drink them–they tend to be a little too sweet for me–but this raspberry one tasted nothing like a Jolly Rancher in a glass. It was crisp and quite enjoyable.

5. Elysian Brewing Company’s Night Owl Pumpkin Ale. This beer was delicious, an amber all pumpkins and spice. It will be best tasted hanging out with us, though, on Tuesday at the Elysian. [#]

Anti-War Rally at Westlake Plaza

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This morning the boyfriend and I went to a yoga class at Eight Limbs and then headed over to the Globe to meet some friends for a very vegan-y brunch. So, it’s probably not too much of a surprise that after eating we walked down Pine to Westlake to the anti-war rally. Talk about being your target demographic …

The problem is that as much as we might seem to fit the model, both of us are fairly ambivalent about the whole protest rally thing. Sure, there was a time when these sorts of public protests actually had an impact, but nowadays they seem almost like an easy out. My political activism tends to be very utilitarian — Does it get the message across? Is it effective? Does it do more than give the participants a warm feeling in their tummies? And, probably most importantly, does it speak to more than the narrow concerns of the die-hard faithful?

I’m not sure if the Westlake rally succeeded on any of these counts, but it sure was big and well-organized. By the time we got there, probably around 12:30, the plaza was packed with a fairly diverse mix of people. There were lots of colorful signs and amusing costumes, and a series of speakers addressing a variety of war-related issues, including a student condemning military recruiting in the schools and a American of Iraqi descent discussing anti-Muslim sentiment in the US.

We hung around for a while, but fled when a folk singer came on. (I’m all for suffering for the cause, but there are certain things I just don’t feel it’s necessary to endure.)

parklife : cal anderson


Originally uploaded by joshc.

Careful observers of the city parks scene may have noticed that the fences keeping people from tromping over the newly seeded lawn in the recently renovated Cal Anderson Park [seattle.us] were quietly removed early this week. While the park is now once again open to children, addicts, dogwalkers, bums, sunbathers, and other recreation-seekers, the official grand opening ceremony takes place tomorrow afternoon.

Now that the Lincoln Reservoir has been successfully “undergrounded”, the park has room for things like “water features”, basketball courts, a reflecting pool, and an all-weather surface at the playfield. Be there from noon to 3 pm to witness the cutting of a ribbon (possibly with a giant pair of scissors!), walking tours, and free bookmarks for the first 150 attendees.

I guess the budget was too tight for Cal Anderson or Olmstead bobble-headed dolls?

monorail : the long goodbye

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The monorail may have a posse, but it no longer has the right to be built and it’s taxing authority is about to be revoked. 2045 Seattle reports that the city council used this morning’s meeting to unanimously vote to (essentially) kill the project. [#]

From the sounds of it, this decision to abandon four votes of support means that the monorail will need yet another public vote if it is to rise from the ashes. Meanwhile, with the council’s decision, hopes of Seattle’s becoming a somewhat modern city with grade-separated public mass transit look grim.

Enjoy your last chance to experience our only glimmer of modern transportation by taking a final ride through the bus tunnel before it closes tonight for the next two years.

Getting to know the Fifth Ave.

Thursday night was a night of firsts for me. It was my first time at the 5th Avenue Theatre [5th], and also my first time seeing Rogers and Hammerstein’s The King and I. Both should be surprising given my thespian background, but there you have it. It is fortunate that this production is happening at the 5th Ave, because the Asian-inspired decor lends itself beautifully to the setting of the show.

Stefanie Powers, best-known for the 80s television series Hart to Hart, stars as Anna Leonowens, a widowed schoolteacher who comes to Siam to teach the children of King Monkut. Her singing is clear and her accent is passable, but she is continually a frantic, forceful schoolteacher, and never a contemplative, conflicted woman, which leads to a very energetic, but one-dimensional portrayal of Anna.

The combination of the Siamese accent and the augmented vocals echoing in the theatre makes it difficult to pick out many of the lyrics during Monkut’s musical numbers, but the role is played with a nice dynamic, and he comes across as strong and willful, yet sincere. Tuptim has a skilled soprano voice, but it seems a bit too mature for the young, romantic character. Lady Thian is a knockout. She was well cast, and her rich, resonant vocals are mesmerizing.
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oral fixation : thumbsucker

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Thumbsucker, Mike Mills’s first foray from the world of stylish advertisements and sexy music videos [tdb] makes its way to Seattle this weekend. As part of my “the people at CMJ gave me a shiny badge that allowed me to see this cool thing” series, I thought I’d give you guys a heads up in case you’re having trouble choosing a movie to see as we approach the season of lots of good films being available for your consumption.

In this era of ironic titles, you might not guess that the movie is actually about a kid named Justin (Lou Pucci) who sucks his thumb. It is. Based on a Walter Kirn novel of the same title, this element of the movie’s plot really seemed to gross people out and was something of an obstacle to getting funding. Although it took something like six years, Mills managed to assemble a surprisingly all star cast around Tilda Swinton (credited as a producer) and made his movie. And the rest of the cast is pretty stellar — Vince Vaughn as a high school debate coach, Vincent “creepy detective from Law & Order: CI” D’Nofrio as Justin’s former football star dad, Benjamin Bratt as a small screen idol (o.k., this is more of a stretch than it sounds), and Keanu Reeves as a new-age orthodontist. While this last one may sound like stunt casting, he is actually really good and rather funny in the role as a dentist who believes in hypnosis and power animals as secrets to thumb-avoiding success.

From this description, it’s clear that this isn’t your typical high school comedy. Instead, it’s about trading an uncommon addiction for other typical teenage obsession like sex, drugs, and debate club. Along the way, themes include the ways we deal with being alive, protective familial behavior, the mating ritual of envirochicks, feeling normal, being honest while trying out new personalities. Most of this is beautifully shot with anamorphic lenses and available light.

Because everyone loves a comparison, I’ll predict that if you liked Me and You and Everyone We Know, you might also enjoy Thumbsucker. And not just because both seem to have a thing for white titles on pink backgrounds, although I think there’s a certain sensibility to title design that seems to inform the breed of movie that concerns itself with the intricate and messy details of being human.

Oh, and it has a great soundtrack, with music from Elliott Smith (who was supposed to do the whole score with covers until his untimely demise got in the way) and the Polyphonic Spree (of whom Mills said, “the Spree know about sadness”).

digression: It’s sort of interesting that the opening of Thumbsucker coincides with the opening of another book adaptation, Everything Is Illuminated. Convergences abound as Elijah Wood was originally cast in the Lou Pucci role, until the perilous funding journey resulted in him being too old to play a seventeen-year-old. The film version of Jonathan Safran Foer’s Everything Is Illuminated, which might be better described as “inspired by” instead of “adaptation of” since it covers about 1/3 of the material from the novel, is also worth your time and $10. This is somewhat of a selfish recommendation — I’m really anxious to talk to someone who has seen the movie without having read the book or the New Yorker excerpt to compare opinions.

this is also to illustrate: I’m pretty much on the same page as The Minor Fall, the Major Lift w/r/t linkola [#].

friday to do list: the rosebuds at the crocodile


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Originally uploaded by joshc.

Tonight brings the Rosebuds, North Carolina’s favorite husband and wife singing songwriting duo duo to the Crocodile Cafe. I caught their set at Rothko for the kexp showcase at last week’s CMJ Music Marathon and recommend that you check them out if you’re looking for something fun to occupy your Friday night.

As I mentioned, the Rosebuds are usually described as a husband and wife duo, because music critics seem to be keen on this sort of thing. Still, when I saw them they had a drummer along for the ride and I’d expect that tonight’s show will also be a trio and not a duo. How the rotating third member fits into the central married life metaphor for the band remains unclear, but that’s part of the mystery.

The point being that their relationship status isn’t as relevant as the fact that they played a very fun and energetic set. Because of the intricacies of the getting into clubs with CMJ badges situation, I suspect that many who made it to the headliner portion of the show had been holed up inside the bar for much of the evening; so it was very much like entering a den of drunken sailors of the mid-Atlantic variety. That is, the band played to a crowd that was especially appreciative of their poppy songwriting wisdom. While they might find a slightly different dynamic at the Crocodile, they’re still the sort of band enjoyed with a beer or two balanced in hand while the band throws high kicks and trys to evoke a little bit of Elvis to get you to clap along and think about dancing.

Of course, it’s your Seattle-given duty to resist these urges while still having a completely good time. Show them that it is possible, o.k.?

Oktoberfest

Just in case you’ve missed it, this weekend is the Fremont Oktoberfest. There will be bands, chainsaw pumpkin carving, and 75 different kinds of beer. Do you need anything else out of a weekend?
As far as the bands go, I recently saw The Saturday Knights at the Crocodile, and these guys are my pick for a really fun, high-energy show. (While you’re there, stick around for The Pale Pacific.) If you’re around on Saturday, that’s where I’ll be.

This is going to be my first Oktoberfest in Seattle, so I’m certainly looking forward to it.

addendum : wolf parade

In yesterday’s gushy post about the Arcade Fire show at the Paramount, I neglected to mention that opening band Wolf Parade has a show of their own tonight at the Crocodile Cafe. So, if you missed them last night or saw and loved them but didn’t understand their self-promotion, here’s one last reminder to cart yourself and your $10 to Belltown tonight after the o.c..

Although their stage banter suggests otherwise, they’re not “just another punk band”. They’re a punk band with a wolf name [spin] and a theremin!

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