Archive for May, 2007

SIFF Notes: Fido

If you’re looking for something to do on Saturday evening, say around 9:15 pm, and you’re willing to drive over to Lincoln Square in Bellevue, I urge you to get tickets to see Fido.

Fido tells the tale of quaint little Willard, a small town fenced off from the dangerous zombie infested world outside. You see, the Earth has been contaminated by a cloud of space dust and now, whenever someone dies, they rise again as a zombie (unless of course, their head is removed). Willard isn’t just quaint though, it’s Leave It To Beaver, just with a little twist. You see, ZomCon, a mega corp born during the zombie war, has figured out a way to domesticate zombies. So of course, everyone in town has at least one domesticated zombie.

Now, if you’re well versed in zombie lore, you might have a few issues with this movie. The zombies in Willard aren’t perfectly true to conventional zombie wisdom, but the movie is just so campy and fun that I’m willing to overlook these little issues. The movie is highly entertaining and funny with a very rewarding ending.

For all you Starbucks types…

Starbucks announced this morning that by the end of the year, they will replace whole milk with 2 percent for all espresso drink standards throughout U.S. and Canadian stores. But don’t you worry. Those who just can’t imagine ever drinking anything less than whole milk can still request their drink to be made with the thick stuff.

Our hometown coffee giant listed their reason for the switch as 1) an increase in requests for drinks with lower-fat milk and 2) an increase in low-fat milk purchases throughout the U.S. Three-hundred stores spanning California, Florida, Oregon and Canada have already made the switch. New York will offer 2 percent starting June 5th, but a specific date has not been set for Seattle yet. WTF? Aren’t we supposed to be one of the healthiest cities, or something? And don’t you think Starbucks would pioneer an idea in their pioneer city?!

Since a grande latte with whole milk has 70 more calories than the same drink made with 2 percent, I guess I can give Starbucks credit for contributing in the attempt to making America a little less fat.

Now, if only they could make their coffee drinks 2 percent good…

Local man arrested for spam

Have you noticed less spam in your e-mail inboxes today?

If you have, it might be because authorities put Robert Soloway under arrest. Soloway, 27, is a Seattle resident who is known throughout the world as an aggressive spammer who sends out millions, maybe even tens of millions, of unsolicited, unwanted e-mails every day. He was indicted yesterday and is now at the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac awaiting a detention hearing on Monday.

If found guilty, Soloway might have to spend decades in prison, a sentence far kinder than the one I’d hand down to anyone found guilty of spamming. The P-I has an article with an easy to follow detailing of the situation: [P-I]

Why Dominos will recieve an email from me today

I’m beginning to feel like perhaps I should just write a crazy ranting food blog of my own instead of subjecting the metblog world to these. Last night, after discovering that Eastlake, home to my boyfriends apartment, is like the delivery black hole of the world, at least when you want food at 11pm, we finally gave in and decided to order from Dominos. Being a snobby food geek as I am there is exactly one thing that I like from Dominos, and if you have ever had their bread sticks with garlic butter dipping sauce, you understand why it is of the utmost importance that this sauce come with the bread sticks. If you are ever in a situation in which you must eat Dominos, I absolutely reccomend that you get this. If you can.

So BF calls to order, I tell him, ‘you must say garlic butter dipping sauce at least 4 times, otherwise they never bring it’. He looked at me like I was totally insane. I continued to badger him to say the words throughout his ordering. He managed to work it in only twice. For this, I believe the problem was partly on our end. Needless to say, the food shows up, BF brings it up from downstairs, clearly with out checking for GBD sauce. And of course, no sauce.

Now, if you can’t tell, I have run in to this problem before. Why would they offer this option if they cannot deliver it? Why is it the only good thing on the menu and I can’t get them to bring it? Why does BF live in Eastlake where nobody else will bring us food???? Anyways, I’m writing to Dominos today to see what they say about this. Maybe I’ll get some free GBDS out of it, if I can get them to bring it to me.

Rivet magazine, interview with the editor

I really like magazines which is why I subscribe to a dozen of them and still end up buying a few issues off the rack here and there. That might seem like a lot but if you’ve taken a look at a newstand recently, you realize that at any given time there can be hundreds of current issues of magazines covering any topic imaginable. Mind you, just because they’re out there doesn’t mean they’re any good. rivet.jpg

One that is: Seattle’s own Rivet, a quarterly magazine that publishes original nonfiction, fiction, poetry, photography and graphic art. Each issue is based on a particular theme which for the current issue is “Secret”. This is the first issue of Rivet that I’ve read and I enjoyed it very much. The magazine is skillfully edited–the works included are complementary but not repetitive. Contributors come from all over, including Seattle, to provide a good blend of voices and perspectives. Rivet can be purchased online or at select newstands and bookstores, check the site for locations.

Recently I spoke with editor Leah Baltus about the magazine; read on past the jump for the questions and answers.

My rant will rise again

So while writing about the fantastic frozen dim sum treats I buy in Costco-like portions from HT Oaktree in the comments of that report, it reminded me of my favorite rant about Seattle, and that I have yet to broadcast it to the MetBlog-o-verse. Why, why oh why, can I not get dim sum in the North End? I know that Chiang’s has ‘northern style dim sum’, I live across the street. But I don’t want to order sweets off a menu, that is not why I go to dim sum. I want carts rolling by me filled with steam racks full of a rainbow of dumplings, carts with little fried cakes and treats so bad for me that my heart attacks at the sight. I want unlimited tea, preferably just straight to the vein, though I’ll take it in a tea cup if I have to. Dim sum is all about the atmosphere, and while I’ll take the trek to the ID sometimes, I’d love to be able to wander in within 5 minutes of lifting my bedhead from the pillow. Dim Sum is the quintessential cure for a hangover. You don’t even have to order–you can just grunt and point. How much better can it get? With the recent demise of the Hakka House on Aurora, my roommate and I are on a quest to convince one of the many Chinese restaurants north of the ship canal (but not too far north, we don’t do suburbs) to start this service. Any suggestions as to which restaurant might take kindly to this suggestion? Chiang’s was not exactly thrilled at our suggestion, so it looks like we won’t be able to walk…

Also, is there any other meal that is so cornered into one section of this city??

First Hill’s M Street Grocery

If we’re going to have grocery talk around here, then I think it’s important to mention the new grocery store in my neck of the woods (First Hill , the best neighborhood in Seattle), M Street Grocery.

When I first moved to First Hill way back in the mid-90s, our grocery options were limited. The Harvard Market QFC was still in the process of being built and on my way to classes at SCCC every morning I’d pass by it. From time to time I’d ask for a progress report. Apparently so did everyone else in the area because one day a worker exclaimed, “Boy, you people are crazy about supermarkets here!” We had another grocery store down at 9th & Madison (I’ve completely forgotten the name now, anyone remember?) that was probably very nice at one point but by the mid-90s was starting to struggle. I remember that they had a lot of exotic meats (I swear I saw lion there once, which was a little odd–who in Seattle eats lions?) and very excellent produce but the limited footprint of the building made it a real challenge to be flexible about stocking product.

The M Street Grocery is located next to where that old store used to be, at the bottom floor of a brand new building. The store isn’t very big, but it is big enough to stock a wide variety of products and the space is used very efficiently, allowing them to have a whole lot of stuff on hand without making the customer feel claustrophobic. There’s an excellent deli with an excellent salad bar and all the usual items you’d expect to see in a grocery store. Their smaller size prevents them from carrying everything QFC does, but I was pleasantly surprised to see on hand all kinds of nifty products that QFC doesn’t have–unique brands of water, gourmet items and a seriously awesome array of baked goods. Their produce, meat and cheese all looked fresh and wholesome and their prices were competitive. I don’t know that M Street Grocery would be worth a trip for someone who lived crosstown, but if you live in the First Hill area, you should definitely check them out. They’ve been open only a week or so, so stop in while it’s still got that “new car” feeling.

HT Oaktree: Behind the chicken feet, cheap food

When the Oaktree Larry’s was bought with ambitions of becoming an Asian market, we all got ready for the plethora of they-eat-that-stuff? sights and tastes coming to the North End. And as those dishonorable cowards at Seattlest have begrudgingly noted, it’s exactly that — a global paradise of all sorts of edibles. And not all Asian, either — they have more Mexican/Central American food products than all the Whole Foods and Safeways in this town combined. But, it is a mile wide and an inch deeo. They just about carry the entire Herdez line, but they only have four brands of salsa, all national brands. And as far as I can tell, they have one brand of toilet paper. (At least it’s two-ply.)

But buried behind all that, the prices on staples are, well, ridiculously good. You know how miserable the California onions have looked due to the freeze earlier this year? Safeway has been charging $1.99/lb for them. HT, $.49/lb. Same awful quality onion (they’re really dry and blistery), but $1.50/lb less.

And the frozen chicken parts they get shipped in from the poultry factories in Arkansas (usually labeled “Southern grown”)? Safeway has been charging upwards of $5/lb for them. Meanwhile, I walked out of HT with skinless thighs for $2.49/lb. And oh, whole free-range chickens for $8.49. Total.

And that leads to two questions. First, why is HT so much lower? On the walk home, we think we came up with two theories — non-union labor and limited selection of staples. Second, what’s the point of going to Safeway or QFC for staples? If I’m getting the same quality onion at HT as I am at Safeway and they’re charging 75% less, why should I even go to Safeway anymore? It just surprises me that they’re getting away with such low prices in a market where Albertsons is shuttering locations and Safeway and QFC are fighting off Whole Foods usurping the high-end market.

(There should be a picture of HT Oaktree in there, but I couldn’t find a CC-licensed one on Flickr… or anywhere else.)

“Hey, wanna see something cool?”

That’s what my co-worker said to me before pointing out a camera-equipped blimp tethered to the side of a nearby building. We read the text printed on the blimp’s side and went online to Above the Rest [ site] which turns out to be an aerial photography firm that specializes in real estate photography. There are some pretty cool photos there and the rotating panoramas are endlessly entertaining.

Fever of ’57 in focus

Earlier this week I included The Fever of ’57 on my list of SIFF recommendations. [mb] The movie captured my attention because I happened to hear about it just after having a conversation with one friend about how another friend had written in her blog about our fears of nuclear war back in the 1980s. Even though I knew about the Cuban Missile Crisis from history class, it never dawned on me to consider that previous generations had their own nuclear nightmares. Now that I’ve stopped to think about it, I’m curious to know more, so I’m looking forward to seeing the film on Friday at 7 pm. (It also plays Sunday at 11 am; Friday at SIFF Cinema, Sunday at the Neptune. fever.jpg

Director David Hoffman (who will be on hand at both screenings) was kind enough to answer a few questions about the film:

MB: What was the initial spark that inspired this movie? How do you decide “I want to make a documentary about fifty-year old fears of technology?”
DH: I lived through it. I heard what everybody always said. Sputnik was the first man-made thing in space and sparked the space race. I knew there had to be more. Paul Dickson’s great book “Sputnik: The Shock of the Century” got me started. The story seemed so relevant to the present. It helped me and my colleagues to understand present day decisions and the lack thereof and seemed to parallel what we are dealing with now. So I committed to make the film knowing it was risky since there have been no documentary movies like this before.

MB: What was the most challenging part of compiling the documentary? How easy or difficult was it to get your hands on archival footage or to arrange interviews with people whose stories were integral to the film’s story?
DH: I couldn’t have made this movie if I hadn’t been collecting this footage for over 25 years. I made the six-part PBS series “Making Sense of the Sixties” and the four-part series “MoonShot.” “Sixties” had a first hour completely on the 1950s. Finding the archival footage was nearly impossible. Much of it has never been seen before, and the Air and Space Museum archivist told me that they had not seen most of what I present in “The Fever of ’57.” The interviews were a snap. Everybody wanted to tell their part to the story. The story I am telling is about Sputnik and what happened as a result. It is the “what happened as a result” that everybody wants to talk about, as people feel it is important to consider today in light of American and world events.

MB: From the absolute start–the film’s conception–to the end–the film’s completion–how long did it take to make “The Fever of ’57”?
DH: It took one year and two months. The first period of time I worked early in the morning and on weekends because I did not have investors. Once I got investors, I could build my small creative team and commit the time. I couldn’t have done this kind of research without the Internet, and especially eBay, where some of the never before seen footage comes from.

MB: Is there a message to the film? What do you hope that viewers will take from the experience of watching it?
DH: Yes there is. First, this movie teaches us that enemies must talk to one another. The Cold War was such a threatening time. It could have exploded into global thermonuclear war and World War III. It didn’t because two leaders had the courage and the confidence to talk straight in public and in private about the issues that mattered. The second lesson is that nuclear weapons were and are an enormous threat in the world. Nuclear proliferation continues. It is downright terrifying and “The Fever of ’57” presents this in ways that might give some sleepless nights.

MB: What are your future film plans?
DH: I am committed to feature-length movies done with real people about real stories. Currently, these kinds of films are growing in popularity with audiences in the United States and around the world. It is a thrilling time. And being a member of the 60s generation, I tend to be most interested in the life and times that I lived. So I’m focused on several other profound experiences that I feel have been underappreciated and would make for dramatic stories moviegoers would love to see.

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