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Tag Archives: Sunday

SIFF! (Need I Say More?)

23 May

This past week, one of the events that I wait for all year finally began! The Seattle International Film Festival opened its latest since the first festival in 1976.

Not many people know this, but SIFF is actually the biggest film-focused festival in all the world. This faire runs longer than any other festival – from May 20th to June 13th – and shows more films than many other (more well-known) fests the world over.

Primarily supported through film-loving volunteers (like myself!), SIFF is a wonderful way to dive into international culture and independent filmmaking.

Prefer glitz and glamour? SIFF provides the goods there, too. Attend one of the events hosted throughout the run of the festival, like the Centerpiece Gala, the Closing Night Gala or the Tribute to Edward Norton.

The Centerpiece Gala takes place on May 29th, and features a film called Farewell. Tickets for the whole night are $25 for non-SIFF members, and include entrance to the film, followed by a party at the DAR Hall on Capitol Hill. I volunteered at the party last year, and things were crazy until the wee hours of the morning. Absolutely everyone (even us lowly volunteers) had an amazing time.

The Tribute to Edward Norton is on June 4th, and features his latest film, Leaves of Grass, followed by an on-stage interview that includes clips from his body of work. There are also tickets available for the “pre-Tribute” which is a more intimate event, and Ed will be there as the guest of honor! As a continuation of the honoring of Mr. Norton, there will be special late-night screenings of three of his best films (25th Hour, Fight Club, and American History X).

The Closing Night Gala takes place on June 13th and features Get Low. Tickets include a couple of drinks, entrance to the film and entrance to the fabulous party at the Pan Pacific Hotel. Aside from the awesome location, the Gala will have food from Seastar and Long Provincial.

As a volunteer, you get vouchers for the hours you’ve worked. It’s a wonderful way to experience the festival for free, and give back to (what I believe) is an important cause. The vouchers are good for an entire year, too. So, if you can’t make it to SIFF this time around, you can still see movies at SIFF Cinema for free. There are shifts available, so if you’d like to volunteer (and you SHOULD), get all the information here.

Trust me when I say that SIFF is something you don’t want to miss. Even if you only make it out to one movie, it will be worth it. I’ve seen films I’d never have a chance to see elsewhere – movies from countries all over the world – from Bolivia to Uruguay. Movies that have big stars like Bill Murray and Robert Duvall, and movies that star people you’ve never heard of from countries you didn’t know existed.

Any way you slice it, the festival is an opportunity to expand your horizons and dip your toe into the fantastic world of film.

Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay….

16 May

“The finest sustainable Northwest seafood, artisan cheeses, local produce and meats, a Wine Spectator award-winning wine list of over 700 selections…”

Ray’s Café and Ray’s Boathouse on the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks in Ballard is a great place to visit, and a perfect way to spend an afternoon on the water (without actually going on the water).

If there is an ounce of sunlight hitting the water, I highly recommend hitting Ray’s Café for an appetizer, or a quick drink. They’ll have blankets at the ready if a chilly breeze makes it over their glass railing. Everyone is extremely friendly, and you really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu.

Not only is Ray’s a treat on a sunny day, but they’re currently hosting a “Year of Sustainable Stories,” as well.

Ray’s 37-year commitment to sustainability, and buying local, is observed in the quality of the ingredients, and that starts at the heart. The next Sustainability Event is with Stokesbery Sustainable Farm + Airfield Estates.

The farm is in Olympia, and everything on the menu is completely perfect. Stokesbery Estates night starts at 6pm (as do all the other sustainability nights), and features poached chicken egg, grilled duck heart, red wine braised chicken, slow roasted duck, and cherry clafouti. It’s $60 per guest, and nothing is included outside an amazing menu.

The items listed above are only the most recent menu – which is set for June 3rd. If you happen to miss out next month, next up on the list of the year of sustainable stories is the Local Farm Dinner with Anselmo, Growing Things and Stoney Plains is set for July 1st.  There will be one per month until the end of the year.

I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the Northwest than by enjoying the local, sustainable bounty, and if the weather is agreeable, the deck’s sweeping views with a cocktail in hand.

Recapture the Majesty of the Past

2 May

In the heart of Ballard, there exists a wondrous family-run, three-screen movie theater that delivers the audience back to a time when a night at the movies was an affair to remember.

The trip begins as you stand under the traditionally styled marquee at the Majestic Bay Theatre. After you purchase a ticket to your cinematic adventure, be sure to check out the handcrafted fused-glass fixtures (created by a local artist) in the lower lobby.

As you continue to your plush chair, you may notice a nautical theme that is prevalent throughout the building. This is a nod to the customs of older movie palaces in the Northwest, which all paid homage to the difficult lifestyle of the fisherman.

After taking your seat, a waterfall curtain rises at the start of the presentation – the largest waterfall curtain made in Seattle since the early 1970s. You won’t be bombarded with ads, as in most other cinemas around the world, you’ll only be treated to coming attractions. Upon the completion of the previews, the curtain falls and rises again to signal the start of the film.

In keeping with the legacy-style, before the film is a signature (a short identity film that plays before the movie). It is simple, a replaying of series of pictures taken by Eadweard Muybridge to prove that a horse’s feet don’t all leave the ground when they gallop (he was wrong).

The signature works perfectly for the theater, as owner Ken Aldadeff used to love helping out at his grandfather’s successful Thoroughbred stable – Eltteas Farms. Ken even named his company Eltteas Theatres in honor of the farm (Eltteas is Seattle spelled backwards).

The family vibe is apparent in every nook and cranny, especially at the beginning of certain shows. A few summers ago, I was there on opening day to see a big summer movie that was completely sold out. Before the previews began, Ken himself went to the front of the theater and handed out prizes to people who could answer movie questions, or those who were sitting in specific seats.

After the film has ended, be sure to check out other curiosities around the building. The restroom doors have likenesses of Ken’s parents, and the hallway on the third floor showcases annual top-grossing films and community events. One of the 100 pigs created to celebrate Pike’s Market’s centennial resided out front for a time, but now lives upstairs. The pig is dressed as a traditional movie usher on the front half, with popcorn painted on the other. Lastly, don’t miss one of the steerage benches used on the set of “Titanic.”

Whether you’re interested in the tradition of the place, or simply want to catch a movie at a convenient time, you shouldn’t ignore the chance to take in the wonders of this Ballard gem.

B-I-N-G-Oh Yeah!

25 Apr

This ain’t your Grandma’s bingo!

Once a month, Lifelong AIDS Alliance takes over Fremont Studios for a night of outrageous and over-the-top fun.

Each month has a different theme (May 22nd is “Blue Hair Gay Bingo,” and June 19 is “Beach Blanket Gay Bingo.”), and if you dress appropriately, you are entered in a contest run by the always-entertaining Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. The Sisters also fill the role of BINGO wardens to keep things moving along.

Your host for the evening is the delightfully naughty Aleska, who loves to call out a certain number, and prefers to use a soft ‘G.’ Make sure you get your tickets early, because they frequently sell out, and you don’t want to have to wait until next season to check it out. $25 gets you into the event, and cards for 10 games. Special games are held throughout the evening, and are $2 apiece. One blackout game is held each evening, costs $4 to play, and could potentially net you $1,000 cash.

Want to get even more involved? Sign up to volunteer at the event. They are always looking for people to help with set-up, tear-down, ushering, working merchandise tables, or serving Queen for a Day tables. Would you rather be treated like a queen for a day instead? Tables for eight are available for $35/person, and include 10 games, a free dauber per person, a complimentary drink per guest, and a free item from the food court. Side note: I really hate the word “dauber” – let’s call it a “dabber” instead, people.

A little tip – bring plenty of actual cash. The ATMs ran out when I went, and it was a while before they were restocked. Cards are no good there (except to withdraw more cash), and there’s plenty to enjoy outside of the games.

Now in it’s 17th season, Gay Bingo runs from January to June. So, come out and join 750 of your closest friends in supporting the Lifelong AIDS Alliance.

It's That Time of Beer…

11 Apr

I don’t know if it’s something in the air, or hops, as it were, but there are three festivals in the next two weeks that celebrate the similarities and differences in that brew known as beer.

Next Saturday, head down to Leavenworth for “an-ale-of-a-party” at 2010’s Ale Fest. Thrown yearly to benefit the Leavenworth Nutcracker Musuem, Ale-Fest will feature beer tastings from 20 different micro breweries, “delicious foods and popular Northwest bands.” Tickets are already on sale here, and are $20 in advance, but $25 at the door. The festivities begin at noon and you must be 21 to attend.

One week from Friday marks the beginning of the two-day Hop Scotch Festival. While this event isn’t strictly about the hops, it does feature more than 80 different beers, wines and spirits. Proceeds from Hop Scotch go to support the Seattle International Film Festival (not surprisingly, an event that is near and dear to my heart). I’ll be volunteering, so stop by Fremont Studios on Saturday the 24th and say hi.

I’d recommend getting tickets in advance – especially if you want to attend any of the scotch seminars. One day entrance with a souvenir glass is $20 in advance, and the price goes up to $25 on the day of the event. Grand admission is $25 in advance, and $30 day-off and that gets you five extra tasting tokens. Hop Scotch starts at 5pm on Friday and goes until midnight, then starts at 1pm on Saturday. You might want to get in there early – once a beer runs out, you miss out.

Last, but certainly not least, the 8th Annual Hops and Props will take over the Museum of Flight from 7-10pm on the 24th. Unfortunately, member and general admission tickets are sold out, but there are a limited number of VIP tickets available. Tickets are $100, but aside from admission, VIPs are treated to an exclusive food and beer pairing event, the VIP Hops and Props Gourmet Soiree. If you do make it to the festival, you can look forward to catering by McCormick and Schmick’s, live music from the Dudley Manlove Quartet, a commemorative glass, an informational tasting guide and access to the Museum’s galleries.

Whatever your preference, spring certainly seems to be off to a hopping good start.

On a Day of Celebration, Seek Out Seattle's Seamier Side

4 Apr


In honor of a dark time in American history (prohibition), a host of trendy speakeasy-esque bars have popped up all over the country. Seattle has a few of its own, and in the spirit of celebration of spring and new beginnings and trying new things, get out there and experience, you flat tire.

‘Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world,’ a good place to start would be Belltown’s Bathtub Gin & Co. They (quite rightfully) don’t have a Web site to let one canvass the place beforehand, and although the style is somewhat current and casual, it manages to have the feel of a true ‘juice joint.’ It’s located in the basement of Humphrey Apartments, and is only recognizable by the small brass plaque next to its alley entrance.

Next is Tavern Law on Capitol Hill. The bar itself isn’t the secret. It’s actually a charming place that serves classic cocktails, and fare described as “as good products prepared simply.” Seattle Magazine recently honored Tavern Law as Reader’s Choice for the Best New Bar of the year! And, bar manager David Nelson has earned his fair share of press due to his passion for recreating long-forgotten cocktails.  The hidden speakeasy element of Tavern Law is called Needle & Thread. Look for the telephone, and you’ll get access. I don’t want to get whacked, so I dare not reveal more at this time.

Last on the silent tour of places you didn’t hear about from me is Knee High Stocking Co. (also on Capitol Hill). A nondescript little place that doesn’t have the outward appearance of a bar, Knee High has embraced technology to regulate entrance. Send a text message to 206-979-7049 and they’ll text you back with your wait time or reservation confirmation. Your seating will be held for 15 minutes, and you need to retext a reservation if you’re running late. The house rules are simple:

  1. Please Speak-Easy
  2. Keep your seat & no standing at the bar
  3. Moderate consumption makes for merriment
  4. We may ask for your table 1-hour after your last drink is served
  5. Don’t bring anyone here you wouldn’t take to your Grandmother’s house for dinner
  6. No cell phones or cameras
  7. Please exit briskly & quietly

If you want to embrace the fun and secretive aspects of the Roaring ’20s, you must try any of these underground gems. The era of blazing tommy guns and bawdy broads is a gas to commemorate, so get a wiggle on and enjoy some giggle water – just don’t tell ’em who sent ya!

Dance Inside…for FREE!

28 Mar

The title to a great All-American Rejects song, as well as a perfect all-encompassing definition of life beyond this post, as well.

Velocity Dance Center had a major move. Not major in the sense that things were awful or cramped in the past and are now simply amazing, just that Velocity outgrew the necessary space and happened to find a hip, new place on Capitol Hill.

In honor of this momentous occasion, Velocity threw a parade and Three Ring Circus Party to celebrate. There are three studios in the new place (get it? Three rings?), and each had a different feel for the party.

The largest and most-open housed a really amazing dance party. It was illuminating to see so many people being so free with their bodies, content to move for the sake of loving dance. Everyone simply enjoying the act of creation – from the age of 3 to the age of 63 – had a great time moving.

Following the Big Top theme, there was a face painter, a caricaturist, peanuts and popcorn. NO one was shy about having crazy glitter all over themselves, and most people gave in to the face paint (including myself, pictured to the right below).

A couple of dance acts broke up the evening (y’all were AMAZING), and everything ended with Airpocalypse – a band that plays air-instruments. The set started with Final Countdown, then moved on to Rock You Like A Hurricane, My Sherona, Rebel Yell, and Paradise City before ending on O, Fortuna. It was the performance of a lifetime!

If you missed the party, no worries. Velocity is offering FREE (can I say this enough?! FREE FREE FREE!!!) classes all this week.

If you’ve ever been remotely interested in modern, ballet, yoga, hip-hop, African or Indian, then you should check out Velocity this week. You’ll probably see me there, as the party was a wonderful introduction into the dance world.

The brilliant folks at The Adventure School were responsible for the event, and I must say that if they are in charge of any free events in the future, I will most certainly attend.

It was a good time, a work of art, a chance for expression, a ribbon-cutting, a first-time, an education and a wonderful Saturday night on Capitol Hill.

Hope to see you in class!

Rock Out With Your Spock Out!

21 Mar

Last weekend, a horde descended on Washington State Convention Center. It was a battle of light vs. dark, but everyone managed to win. That’s right, last weekend was the 8th Annual Emerald City Comicon.

Anyone familiar with the world of comics and graphic novels is probably aware of the more recognized Comic-Con in San Diego. First held in 1970, the conference has gained major attention, especially in recent years, and is now a tactical event for many big movie releases. Last year, over 140,000 people attended the 4-day event, and if you’re looking to get tickets, only the one-day Sunday passes are available (and even they won’t be for very long).

Emerald City Comicon is not as big as its San Diegan forefather, but it has grown in popularity since its inception. This was my first year in attendance since I moved here three years ago. I thought I had an idea of what to expect, but I was blown away.

When I first entered the convention center, it seemed like a normal large businessy-type conference. There were scheduled panels and booths, and lots of folks milling around talking. Then I saw Master Chief. It was a pretty impressive costume, I have to admit. After that, I wasn’t at all surprised to see Dr. HorribleAlice, Uhura, Indiana Jones, Wolverine, Spider-Man, Frank the bunny, Spock, various Jedi, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Pikachu, Hulk, Harley Quinn and assorted generic pirates and people in medieval dress mingling among the civilians.

The whole event was pretty overwhelming. I am not a comic connoisseur or aficionado by any stretch of the imagination, with my knowledge of comics and graphic novels propelled only by my knowledge of movies based on such characters. Although, had I knowledge of such things, I probably would have been even more overwhelmed. I basically used my time between panels wandering the rows of comic paraphernalia in a daze, trying to take in the experience.

Storm troopers would appear on occasion and their suits were AMAZING. They were pretty good-natured for clones sent to destroy the Jedi. Everyone was in high spirits, and willing to stop for pictures, or geek out about one booth or another. Much of the event seemed to be crazy, random happenstance.

I came across Lou Ferrigno is my meanderings and he is HUGE in person. Also very nice to everyone who wanted a quick picture or signature. I later came across Leonard Nimoy‘s booth, and while I didn’t wait in the eternally long line, I did get pretty close. Sorry, Leonard, but at the moment you’re just looking a trifle aged. Okay, more than a trifle.

My two favorite parts of the event were panels that I attended. The first was a Spotlight on Thomas Jane. It was entirely unplanned (other than him showing up, and it being called a Spotlight), so he just talked about all the stuff he’s working on, and then answered a ton of questions. He is working on a LOT of stuff at the moment, so it was a long panel that ran over time. He gamely stayed afterward and talked to people and signed things. He’s very nice (even though he was somewhat harried), and signed my badge with a ready smile.

The last thing I attended was NERDprov. It was put on by the good folks of Unexpected Productions, and was an improv show that focused solely on all things geeky. The best skit was a simulated date that played by the rules of Dungeons & Dragons. A 20-sided dice provided all the moves for the hapless actors. It was hysterical.

Dates are already posted for next year – March 4th – 6th – and I want to see everyone there! I will hopefully attend on Saturday, because it’s supposed to be the most fantastic day of the conference, but I still had a good time on Sunday.

Even if nerdiness isn’t your cup of blue milk, Emerald City ComiCon is worth it.

It's OK, Pluto . . . I'm Not A Planet, Either

7 Mar

As many of you (or simply those who have read my profile) are aware, I’m actually from Arizona. And I was an Arizonan all the way, being fifth generation, raised and schooled – including my tenure at Northern Arizona University – until a few years ago. Thus, when the International Astronomical Union (IAU) reclassified Pluto as a dwarf planet, I was deeply insulted.

After all, Pluto was discovered in the small town of Flagstaff, AZ (home to my alma mater, the NAU Lumberjacks) at Lowell Observatory. Although most people don’t feel betrayed by the reclassification, most can agree that it just feels wrong. We were brought up with NINE planets in our solar system, and even Saved By The Bell had a special moment when Zack named the planets in order (“Teacher’s Strike“), although he nearly forgot Pluto.

In 2006, the IAU was faced with an interesting question, and had to finally come up with specific classifications for what defines a planet. So, 76 years after being discovered, Pluto was voted off the island. Or, solar system, if you will. Instead, it joins four other dwarf planets – Ceres, Haumea, Makemake and Eris as part of what appears to be a large family of not-quite-planets in the Kuiper belt.

If you love the idea of the nine planets you knew, Greenwood Space Travel Supply Co. is on your side. Every year since the reclassification, they have arranged a protest and rally to support Pluto. The first protest was even featured on the National Geographic Channel.

On March 13th (next Saturday – be there!), they will hold the 3rd Annual Pluto IS A Planet Protest March and Rally starting at 1pm. Show up at 15 minutes to 1pm with only yourself, or deck out in Pluto gear and bear a protest sign. The march is only a few blocks and will end at Neptune Coffee (see last week’s post) for the rally.

If you’re interested, you can sign up for a small 826 Seattle workshop before the march and rally. The workshop will cover persuasion and arguments, and how you can convince the audience of point-of-view through use of facts and professional opinions. If you want, you can share your essay at the Pluto IS A Planet rally after the march! Space for the workshop is limited, so check it out and sign up here.

If you’re short on Pluto gear, stop by Greenwood Space Travel Supply Co. before the protest (all proceeds go to 826 Seattle), and then get ready to march on the 13th.

C’mon everyone – Pluto needs some support from loyalists who grew up thinking it was a big deal, even though it was already among the stars.

A Stroll Down Greenwood Avenue

28 Feb

Specifically to my two favorite coffee houses – Neptune Coffee and Wayward Coffeehouse.

Neptune Coffee is a fun place with lots of booths, FREE Wi-Fi and a great selection of nibbles and beverages. They work hard to provide a menu that doesn’t include things with trans-fats or high fructose corn syrup, and partner with local vendors and distributors that also believe in environmentally and socially sustainable products. A couple of examples of their partnerships include their pastry supplier (Little Rae’s in West Seattle) and their dairy provider (Sunshine Dairy).

One of the best things about Neptune is the neighborhood involvement. The proprietors and members of staff truly love Greenwood, and want to help in any way they can. A couple of the guys grew mustaches for one of the many Greenwood Space Travel Supply Co. fundraisers, and their trivia nights are hosted by Seattle Geekly. This month’s was Princess Bride trivia, and next month will test your knowledge of Dr. Who. Allow me to talk myself up and say that I and my former roomies WON a Buffy-themed trivia night. I will give you a moment to sit in awe.

Speaking of Buffy, there is another great little place a hop, skip and a jump down the street from Neptune. Only this coffeehouse is dedicated to the memory of a different show from the Whedonverse – Firefly (as well as the movie Serenity). There are regular Browncoat meetings, and Wayward is a self-proclaimed haven for geeks.

The Wi-Fi is FREE here as well, and there are a bunch of events throughout the month. Fridays and Saturdays are full of free music, and the first Friday of every month is Sci-Fi/Fantasy Film Night. Next week’s film will be Them! and entrance is completely FREE.

Wayward offers only 100% organic, fair trade, shade grown espresso (if you’re into coffee…), and rBST/hormone-free milk. You can also order a vegetarian or vegan sandwich, to go with a steaming bowl of soup. The sandwiches are named for Firefly characters, and my personal favorite is the Mal. Whether you’re a Joss Whedon fan, or someone who likes a comfortable place to grab a bite and enjoy a cup o’ joe, Wayward is the place to be.

So, take a gambol along Greenwood Avenue, and visit two of my favorite neighborhood spots. You’ll be glad you did.