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Sunday, October 19, 2014

A Recap of the 2014 Genius Awards

Posted by on Sun, Oct 19, 2014 at 6:46 PM

Arne Bystrom and Marta Browns acrobatics warmed up things as attendees filed into the Moore Theatre.
  • Beth Crook
  • Arne Bystrom and Marta Brown's acrobatics warmed up things as attendees filed into the Moore Theatre.

Kim Roy leads the Seattle Rock Orchestra through a stunning rendition of Pink Floyds Atom Heart Mother Suite.
  • Beth Crook
  • Kim Roy leads the Seattle Rock Orchestra through a stunning rendition of Pink Floyd's "Atom Heart Mother Suite."

Stranger publisher Tim Keck and editor-in-chief Christopher Frizzelle reveling in the laughter their opening speech inspired.
  • Beth Crook
  • Stranger publisher Tim Keck and editor-in-chief Christopher Frizzelle reveling in the laughter their opening speech inspired.

Stranger Genius Awards nominees are toasted (in more ways than one, in some cases).
  • Beth Crook
  • Stranger Genius Awards nominees are toasted (in more ways than one, in some cases).

The 12th annual Stranger Genius Awards at the Moore Theatre lived up to its reputation as the smartest and most hedonistic party of the year, even though several attendees were hungover from former visual art Genius contender Amanda Manitach's Space Cowboys-themed party the night before. But they persevered to witness five deserving artists go home $5,000 richer, thanks to sponsors like Alaska Airlines VISA Signature Card (film), Amazon Authors Grants (literature), Frye Art Museum (performance), Microsoft Research's Studio 99 (visual art), the Space Needle (music), and a Kid from Kent and his special vintage of Sparkman Cellars wine, “Genius Juice” to laypeople. For a bunch of creative people, the folks who went to this event sure looked great. Below are some of the things that were said and done last night at this heady bash.

*In the lobby before the ceremony, DJ Riz of KEXP said he wanted Hollow Earth Radio win the music award because "we need more radio." It's great to see a veteran programmer be so supportive of a potential future competitor.

*Seattle Rock Orchestra surprised with a compelling version of Pink Floyd's strange, circuitous "Atom Heart Mother Suite." Sadly, Ron Geesin couldn't make it to the venue.

The Strangers Charles Mudede and David Schmader introducing this years incredibly talented nominees for film Genius.
  • Beth Crook
  • The Stranger's Charles Mudede and David Schmader introducing this year's incredibly talented nominees for film Genius.

*Film Genius winner Drew Christie seemed a bit stunned that he won. He related that his father told him “you're not going to get that award, but have fun.” In your face, pops! Christie praised his partner Amanda Moore for offering moral support and encouragement regarding his art, saying without it he'd probably be in his parents' basement eating knock-off-brand Ruffles chips and watching reruns of Full House tonight, instead of being coronated by The Stranger. By the way, Moore is an animator/graphic designer who runs Christie's retail shop on Whidbey Island, “which we are transitioning into a bar/restaurant called Kalakala Co.,” Christie said.

Film Genius winner Drew Christie, looking animated with his new light sabre.
  • Beth Crook
  • Film Genius winner Drew Christie, looking animated with his new "light sabre."

*Music contender Erik Blood duetted with former Eighteen Individual Eyes singer Irene Barber on his gorgeous, triumphant song "Quiet,” with help from SRO. Let's hope that Blood and Barber continue this fruitful collaboration.

Irene Barber and music Genius candidate Erik Blood sing his song Quiet angelically along with the SRO.
  • Beth Crook
  • Irene Barber and music Genius candidate Erik Blood sing his song "Quiet" angelically along with the SRO.

*Literature Genius victor Gary Groth, of the world-class comic-book publisher Fantagraphics, said in his acceptance speech that his company “is an economic engine to publish real geniuses like Robert Crumb & Jaime Hernandez.” He was very modest, praising his coworker Eric Reynolds and the late publisher Kim Thompson.

Stranger books editor Paul Constant drops some knowledge about this years literature nominees.
  • Beth Crook
  • Stranger books editor Paul Constant drops some knowledge about this year's literature nominees.

Literature Genius winner Gary Groth heads up Fantagraphics, considered by many to be the most important publisher of comic books in the world.
  • Beth Crook
  • Literature Genius winner Gary Groth heads up Fantagraphics, considered by many to be the most important publisher of comic books in the world.

*SRO played cult singer/songwriter Jan Terri's "Get Down Goblin," an absurdly giddy ditty that's a fave of Hollow Earth Radio bosses Garrett Kelly and Amber Kai Morgan. It charmed the hell out of everyone in the house equipped with a working heart.

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Bartender Crush: Jackie at the Dubliner

Posted by on Sun, Oct 19, 2014 at 5:57 PM

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  • Brooklyn Benjestorf

Name: Jackie

Where: The Dubliner

Buy Her A Shot Of: Hussongs

Ask Her To Make You A: Vitamin C. “It’s vodka, orange juice, and energy drink, shaken,” Jackie says.

What She’s Doing When She’s Not At The Bar: “Either playing video games, watching movies, reading, or hanging out with friends, usually. Right now I’m playing Destiny.”

Words To Live By: “For Aiur. It’s from Starcraft.”

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Ann Hamilton Has Filled the Henry Art Gallery with an Entire World (Including Lots of Dead Animals)

Posted by on Sun, Oct 19, 2014 at 2:15 PM

This panoramic view of a single gallery at the Henry Art Gallery shows just one part of Ann Hamilton’s new museum-wide installation. In the center, the woman in red is reading aloud to a picture on the wall.
  • THE STRANGER
  • This panoramic view of a single gallery at the Henry Art Gallery shows just one part of Ann Hamilton’s new museum-wide installation. In the center, the woman in red is reading aloud to a picture on the wall.

Ann Hamilton went deep into storage at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture in Seattle, and picked out 200 dead animals. Their bodies were taken to a room where Hamilton awaited them with scanners. She set each animal on a scanner, one by one, and took its portrait.

Arranging an animal on a scanner for the first time was emotional. Hamilton is not a scientist, not an observer with conventional goals, so she was seeking other ways of honoring the creatures she held and laid out. The first several portraits felt tender. But after an arkful of repetitive handling, the emotional poignancy faded. What arose in its place was curiosity. "Not so much curiosity about the particular species, but about the way their touch registers in these images," Hamilton explained to me.

The images now hang on the walls at the Henry Art Gallery, where midsentence, the 58-year-old artist absentmindedly reaches out a thumb and two fingers to an image of three long and bony toes...

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the common SENSE will be at the Henry Art Gallery through April 30. Click here for more info!

The Stranger's Endorsements for the November General Election! (Plus CHEAT SHEET!)

Posted by on Sun, Oct 19, 2014 at 11:00 AM

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  • JAMES YAMASAKI

This is a demolition derby of a ballot, caked with mud and soaked in ugly. We have needy Metro buses crashing up against slack-jawed yokels with Monorail fantasies. (SPOILER: We aren't siding with the Monorail fantasists this time!) We have two dueling and confusingly intertwined measures about how to educate your stupid fucking brats your children, who are our (potentially dystopian) future. We have a bunch of judges going at each over dicks not sucked, "carpool" Corvettes, and who disbarred whom and when. (Really!) And if all that's not enough to make you glad you don't have a weapon at home, well, we also have two totally incompatible measures on access to firearms!

Wheee! But as anyone who's been within earshot of the SECB at any bar, legal pot shop, SM sex dungeon, or endorsement meeting in the last few months knows (our insincere apologies to all the candidates we got belligerent with) if the SECB were to have its way there'd only be one question on this fall's ballot. That question is this: Do the feckless, spineless, gonadless cowards who run our state government deserve to be hauled away on a prison bus right now, or soon? To which we say: RIGHT FUCKING NOW.

Even before this clusterfuck of a ballot came to be...

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What Are You Doing Today? What Are You Doing Tonight?

Posted by on Sun, Oct 19, 2014 at 10:00 AM

Tonstartssbandht - surprisingly not as great of a Scrabble score as you might think.
  • Tonstartssbandht - surprisingly not as great of a Scrabble score as you might think.

Two White Guys: With a weirdly-named band, playing some trippy psych-rock, along with Mac Demarco & friends' weirdo side project Walter TV.

Two Funny Guys: Being funny for you at the Pocket Theater.

Two British Guys: Go to Italy, make some funnies and eat some food: surprisingly charming! Go check out The Trip to Italy at the scenic Crest.

TurkFest: At Seattle Center.

DJ Qbert's in Town: The legendary turntablist mans the 1's and 2's at Nectar this evening. Ch-ch-ch-check it out.

We'd be remiss if we failed to also mention that the Seahawks will play the non-controversially named St. Louis Rams today. And if that's not up your alley, here's a boatload of other fun activities.

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The Best of Slog: We Celebrated Indigenous Peoples Day and Mark Driscoll's Resignation

Posted by on Sun, Oct 19, 2014 at 8:51 AM

See You Later, Asshole: Mark Driscoll resigned from Mars Hill Church. Dan Savage posted a video for Mars Hill-goers who are feeling bad about this whole situation. Most of you think Driscoll will get back in the pastor game somewhere else. Brendan Kiley talked to former Mars Hill insiders about what they think.

A Majority of the City Council Goes to a Swanky Resort: They were partying with the Seattle Chamber of Commerce.

Stop Panicking: If Ebola comes to Seattle, public health employees will let us know.

Seattle Observed Its First Indigenous Peoples Day: We celebrated. We investigated the possibility of more indigenous artwork for the waterfront. We told upset Italian-American folks to calm down about it, already.

Rising Rents Affect Everyone: Even college students. But do major employers have a voice in all this?

Did Mayor Murray's Office Discriminate Based on Gender and/or Race?: Rosalind Brazel, who is black, worked as press secretary for Mayor Murray. And check this out:

Brazel made $95,000.

One of her successors in the press secretary position, Megan Coppersmith, was making $98,000 in the same role, according to the mayor's office. Another, Jason Kelly, is making $100,000 in that role now. Both Coppersmith and Kelly are white.

Absolut Local National: A vodka giant is pretending to be a tiny Ballard-based micro distillery.

Bike Share Started This Week: Ansel Herz tells you everything you ever needed to know about our new communal bike seats but were afraid to ask.

Living Computers! Jen Graves visits a museum for computing.

The Politics of Ebola: Republicans are to blame for the inept American response to Ebola. Mark Zuckerberg donated a lot of money to the fight against Ebola, even though his company dodges taxes left and right. Rand Paul mocked important contraception research. Ron Paul thinks the free market will save us from Ebola.

Video Stores, Scared People, and a Lena Dunham Fan: This week, The Stranger interviewed staff at Scarecrow Video, people who just walked through the Georgetown Morgue Haunted House, and Mindie Lind, a local musician who was chosen to open for Lena Dunham.

The Seahawks Lost: And other observations by Spike Friedman.

"Ginger pubes represent." It's almost time to get your HUMP! on.

Nipper Vs. Motörhead: Sorry, but Motörhead's cover of "Louie Louie" is a dud.

Mystery Penis? Mystery penis!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Jinkx Monsoon Gets Out the Razors for The Vaudevillians

Posted by on Sat, Oct 18, 2014 at 4:30 PM

SANTIAGO FELIPE
  • Jerick Hoffer and Richard Andriessen both seduce and assault their audience.
  • SANTIAGO FELIPE

There's an old vaudeville rule that performers should never share the stage with children or animals—both are unpredictable, are impossible to not watch, and will upstage everyone. Jerick Hoffer (also known as drag star Jinkx Monsoon) merrily breaks that rule in The Vaudevillians by managing to be both child and animal at the same time. His character, Kitty Witless, is a coked-up, sex-charged, century-old cabaret starlet, who, along with her wiry husband and pianist Doctor Dan Von Dandy (Richard Andriessen, aka Major Scales), got frozen in an avalanche, recently thawed out, and found that decades of pop stars had stolen their songs. ("Hit Me Baby One More Time," Kitty tells us, was about domestic abuse.)

Kitty is as selfish, impetuous, and prone to throwing tantrums as the most terrible of 2-year-olds, and performs with animal heat—she purrs, chirps, coos, and slinks around the stage, then will erupt into bracing screeches and roars. She's in constant emotional motion, oscillating from playful kitten to a cyclone of tigers, alternately seducing and assaulting her audience...

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The Vaudevillians runs through November 2 at the Seattle Rep. Click here for more info!

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2014 Social Justice Film Festival

Posted by on Sat, Oct 18, 2014 at 3:30 PM

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The Social Justice Film Festival opens on Saturday with Invitation to Dance, a 90-minute documentary about Simi Linton, a “wheelchair-riding social activist” who lives and teaches in New York City. Linton, who lost use of her legs in the early '70s as a result of an automobile accident, provides the audience with a view of the city and architecture from the perspective of a wheelchair rider. One of the best moments in the documentary is when she shows how a curving ramp at the front of the Frank Gehry–designed Walt Disney Concert Hall is a nightmare for those who use it...

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Shift Drink: Drinking Fun Shots at Re:public

Posted by on Sat, Oct 18, 2014 at 2:15 PM

BRITTANY WRIGHT
  • John Nugent works at Re:public and loves drinking at Damn the Weather.
  • BRITTANY WRIGHT

Seattle native John Nugent has just taken over the cocktail program at Re:public (429 Westlake Ave N, 467-5300) in the hopes of spreading the fun within Seattle's bar community. His brand-new menu features several local bartenders' favorite shot and beer pairings, like the "Chris Elford"—Victory Prima Pilsner and Amaro Montenegro, in honor of the Canon barkeep. Nugent created the named pairing list in an effort to unite the cocktail scene across Seattle in an accessible way; they're the favorites of "people who I've known or worked with, or who have influenced me." The new offerings include something for everyone, from the "bridge-and-tunnel" crowd that packs the South Lake Union bar on weekends to the industry crowd that gathers on slower nights.

On his own time, Nugent favors his home neighborhood of Pioneer Square, especially Damn the Weather (116 First Ave S, 946-1283). "I like it when you let the room do the talking...

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What Are You Doing Today? What Are You Doing Tonight? Conflict of Interest Edition!

Posted by on Sat, Oct 18, 2014 at 10:09 AM

But what does it all MEAN??!
  • But what does it all MEAN??!

Lena Dunham: The most famous person alive is in Seattle tonight, reading from her new book Not That Kind of Girl. It's sold out, but just so you know: she's here. While you're at the Genius Awards.

Melvins' Molten Rock: Will probably never cease, and King Buzzo is immortal as far as we know. Which is great, because you'll be at the Genius Awards.

Cocktails and Couture 3: Fashion, art, vision, cocktails, the latest from "exclusive and elusive known footwear enthusiast, James Grow," at Roq La Rue tonight. There will be all of the above as well, AND MORE (minus James Grow), at the Genius Awards.

It's Good That You Saw Bob Dylan Last Night: Because you're all booked up. But if not, he's pretty much an American treasure, and he's playing again tonight.

The Hygienic, Euphoric Rave-Lite of Slow Magic: At Neumos, for those of us "born after 1993."

Abdullah Rashim: Werks his magic at Kremwerk. And honestly, this show will probably go until two in the morning, so consider it the after-party to the party.

Here's pretty much everything else happening on this fine Saturday, but let's be honest: we all know what you're up to today.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Song of the Day is Bonnie St. Claire & Unit Gloria: "(Like A) Locomotion"

Posted by on Fri, Oct 17, 2014 at 5:35 PM

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I just got this sublime junkshop glam jam on 45 last week! The top side, "Rocco (Don't Go)," is okay, but the godamn 'B' side, "(Like A) Locomotion" KILLS!!!

Y'all, I'm deep into them "aahh"-ing back up singers draping their business over the boogie and the wha-wah. The bestest sides are almost always on the flip!! I reckon you kids might know Bonnie St. Claire from her Euro hit "Clap Your Hands And Stamp Your Feet," or perhaps via her other enduring '60s club hits sides: "I Surrender" and "Tame Me, Tiger?" Well, if NOT you do NOW! Oh, this was the last single for St. Claire with the band, Unit Gloria, backing her up.

St. Claire was discovered in 1967 by Peter Koelewijn, of the band Peter and the Rockets. Her (Dutch) hits stretched into the '80s, but hasn't had much pop success since; she still can be seen acting on Dutch TV.

Fishing Without Nets: Yet Another Film About Africans Going Apeshit with Machine Guns

Posted by on Fri, Oct 17, 2014 at 5:15 PM

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If you saw Kim Nguyen's War Witch last year, then you pretty much saw the new movie Fishing Without Nets—you saw black Africans with machine guns, black Africans and their superstitions, black Africans getting high all the time. This is not to say that there aren't black Africans who love the look and feel of Kalashnikov's bloody gift to the third world, who believe in some really crazy shit about spirits and such, and who are in the habit of totally blasting their minds with whatever drugs they can get their bony hands on. These people really do exist. But a demographic analysis of European and American films set in or about black Africa would surely lead one to conclude that these violent types account for about 90 percent of the population in the Dark Continent.

Produced by Vice, directed by a young and white American (Cutter Hodierne), and concerned with the underworld of Somali pirates, Fishing Without Nets is a film that imagines it has one up its sleeve. These other features set in war-torn Africa...

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SL Letters of the Day: Tears For Gears

Posted by on Fri, Oct 17, 2014 at 5:05 PM

Female, 42, just dumped by the 48-year-old man I've been dating for six months. It started out as a Craigslist "Casual Encounter" and turned into something wonderful, caring, monogamous/exclusive from early on, and the first opportunity I've ever had to explore D/s (I'm the "s"). He "met someone new." My burning issue: a couple weeks ago I dropped $250 on bondage gear for us, and it's at his house. What's the protocol on sex toys when your boyfriend and Dom dumps you? On one hand I never want to see the stuff again and be reminded of him, and on the other, that was my money and the idea of him tying someone else up with my gear makes me want to cry. And throw up. I'll take any advice on mending a broken heart while you're at it.

Thank you, Dan. I've learned so much from you.

Gutted And Grieving

My response—and a bonus letter—after the jump...

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Hardly Art Records Heads into Rudy's Barbershop

Posted by on Fri, Oct 17, 2014 at 4:45 PM

You can now buy some cuts while getting your hair cut at Capitol Hill Rudys.
  • Dave Segal
  • You can now buy some cuts while getting your hair cut at Capitol Hill Rudy's.

If you’ve frequented a Rudy’s Barbershop or just walked by one in Capitol Hill or Bellevue lately, you may have noticed a rack of records from the Seattle-based Hardly Art label in there. This isn’t your typical strategy for the music industry or the haircutting business, but tough times for the former has led to some interesting new partnerships. How did this arrangement come about? “Hardly Art's partnership with Rudy's sprang out of our collaboration on Tacocat's just-wrapped West Coast ‘Cut and Ride’ tour, wherein Rudy's stylists followed the band along their tour in an airstream trailer, offering free haircuts to concertgoers,” Hardly Art publicist and former Stranger freelancer Jason Baxter says. “We sensed an overlap between the typical fan of Hardly Art or our bands and Rudy's staff and patrons, so it seemed like a no-brainer to start stocking our LPs there.”

A week ago, I saw the Tacocat (who include Stranger music editor Emily Nokes) and La Luz LPs on the shelf. Today they're gone, replaced by albums from La Sera, S, Shannon & the Clams, Fergus & Geronimo, and Colleen Green. “The selections are being rotated on a monthly basis,” Baxter explains. “I select five titles that I think would be a good fit and write a little summary on each (which can be read on a clipboard next to the LPs on the retail display). Additionally, we're making sure all of the records on sale are also being added to rotation on the Rudy's in-house playlists, so if you go in for a cut, there's a chance you'll hear some of our artists coming through the speakers.”

Vy Le, Rudy's president and chief brand officer says she's always been a big Hardly Art fan. "I threw out the idea that we’ve done in the past with Easy Street Records—which was to have them provide us with a curated playlist of artists they wanted to feature. Rudy’s has always been an amazing place to hang out and listen to music. We are constantly looking for ways to support artists. Plus Jason [Baxter] has been an amazing partner…it’s been great to work with a label that has such amazing credibility with musicians and artists."

This is the first time Rudy's has worked with a record label directly during Le's time with the company, although it supported Pearl Jam and other bands when they boycotted Ticketmaster. Le says this arrangement with Hardly Art has benefited Rudy's in that "Our customers and shops get to listen to amazing music and be associated with an amazing partner. For me it always comes down to the relationship… we don’t work with assholes (I’m allowed to say that). I liked more than anything the people behind [Hardly Art]. They're passionate about what they do and are eager to share it with an audience that gets it—so, it's a huge benefit for us in terms of working with like-minded individuals."

Le didn't reveal sales figures, but notes that Rudy's carries only a small number of records. "Again, we’re not looking to be a record store or make money off this collaboration. It’s truly for us a great way to showcase musicians to the 40,000+ people walking through our doors every month, across Seattle, Portland, LA and NYC."

Drunk of the Week: What's Your Favorite Vodka Cocktail?

Posted by on Fri, Oct 17, 2014 at 4:45 PM

What your favorite companion for, in the words of Ms. Pak-Man "fermented potato juice"? And let's just hope poor Kelley never ever has to drink vodka, all plain and mixer-free like this, ever, ever again...

City Auditor Turns Up Little Evidence of Meaningful Paid Sick Leave Enforcement

Posted by on Fri, Oct 17, 2014 at 4:31 PM

TKK
  • City of Seattle
  • After overcoming intense opposition from local businesses, former Mayor Mike McGinn signed Seattle's paid sick leave ordinance into law in September 2011.

We know several things about paid sick leave in Seattle. We know:

(a) A lot of local businesses opposed the idea of mandating that employers pay for their employees to take sick days, and many predicted there would be major business and job losses as a result;

(b) That didn't happen, according to two studies;

(c) But the ordinance will have limited effect unless it's properly enforced.

A new report by the city auditor investigates the issue of enforcement, and specifically efforts by Seattle's Office of Civil Rights (OCR) during 2013. What they found isn't pretty. In short, Seattle's paid sick leave enforcement is incomplete, isn't based on solid evidence, and often doesn't hold employers to account or make sure employees aren't being denied paid sick leave after they've complained. Here's the full report (PDF).

When someone complains to OCR that their workplace is acting illegally by denying them paid sick leave the office usually attempts to resolve the complaints with "non-adversarial advisory letters," rather than with fines, according to the report. What this means, the auditors found, is that "resolving" a complaint doesn't actually ensure compliance with the paid sick leave law. Instead, these so-called resolutions are geared toward encouraging employers to do better in the future—not holding them accountable for violations or ensuring that employees receive back pay.

The auditors note that San Francisco has "largely abandoned" the use of these non-adversarial advisory letters. (Man, don't you wish you got one of those whenever you broke the law?) Instead, officials there focus on conducting investigations that result in recovered back wages, penalties, and civil fines.

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David Schmader Reviews Prince's Excellent New Album and Other New Album

Posted by on Fri, Oct 17, 2014 at 4:30 PM

That skinny motherfucker with the high voice returns.
  • That skinny motherfucker with the high voice returns.

From the beginning, Prince has been a master of concept. Arriving on the Minneapolis music scene in the late 1970s, the teenage singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist was regarded as an R&B whiz kid in the vein of Stevie Wonder, and celebrated for creating full-blooded recordings by himself in the studio, layering instrumental tracks—bass, drums, piano, guitars, vocals, everything—all played by himself. Questing to stand out in the long shadow of Stevie, Prince got conceptual. As Touré explains in 2013's I Would Die 4 U: Why Prince Became an Icon, the almost eerily self-possessed young artist applied himself wholly to two new ideals. First, to represent, as Prince said verbatim to a friend at the time, "pure sex"—at all times, in all ways, to all people. Second, crafting his every move to create maximum controversy.


His achievement of this second goal was particularly dazzling. After placing himself naked on the back cover of his self-titled second album (sitting astride a winged white horse, no less) failed to achieve the desired shock...

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Fury Can't Decide if Killing Nazis Is a Metaphor or Not

Posted by on Fri, Oct 17, 2014 at 3:30 PM

The World Wars of Brad Pitt...
  • The World Wars of Brad Pitt...

Did you know war is hell? Fury spends a lot of time reminding you of that as it follows the crew of a single tank called Fury in the waning days of World War II. Brad Pitt, as Sergeant Don "Wardaddy" Collier, leads his men through apocalyptic scenes of devastation, with body parts from soldiers on both sides of the conflict strewn everywhere. The first time we meet Collier, he tackles a Nazi off the back of a white horse and stabs him in the eye until he dies. Then he frees the horse—did I mention that it's white?—and watches it run away across the butchering fields. That scene is a microcosm of Fury as a whole: unflinching in its brutality while still kinda reveling in the coolness of the aforementioned brutality, pausing only to occasionally reflect on a bit of over-obvious symbolism.

Don't get me wrong: Fury is a well-made movie. The action is intense—I found myself white-knuckling the armrest of my seat during an impeccably choreographed tank battle. Pitt gives his typical solid performance, although without any opportunity to relax...

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Left Behind: Here's a Movie That Will Make You Feel Bad for Nicolas Cage

Posted by on Fri, Oct 17, 2014 at 2:33 PM

Heres Nicolas Cage, sitting in the seat he sits in for most of this movie. Note the pleading look in his eyes.
  • Here's Nicolas Cage, sitting in the seat he sits in for most of this movie. Note the pleading look in his eyes.

Last night at 9:40, a friend and I watched the Left Behind film adaptation at the Regal Meridian. Though the movie opened two weeks ago, this was the last screening of Left Behind in Seattle city limits—it's still playing in Federal Way, Silverdale, and Everett—and we were the only people in the theater. Left Behind currently sits at two percent on Rotten Tomatoes, a number so insultingly small that a zero would somehow be preferable.

I normally don't hold much truck with Rotten Tomatoes, but in this case two percent is just about right. I've watched nearly every film in Nicolas Cage's late-stage oeuvre—the artless movies he's starred in just to dig himself out of crippling tax debt. This is the first time I ever felt sorry for Cage as I watched a film. He looks puffy and acts like he's not quite aware of where he is. He doesn't move from a chair for the vast majority of the movie. His line delivery would probably be more lively if he read the informational text from the side of a pill bottle. I wondered after the film if this is what it felt like to watch Elvis Presley perform in 1976, the sense that you're watching a magnificent wild animal laid low by civilization.

This iteration of Left Behind was clearly intended to be a crossover hit, an evangelical film that convinces mainstream audiences to investigate Christianity through the magic of entertainment. The God talk is actually pretty light. We meet airline pilot Captain Ray Steele (Cage) as he's taking his wedding ring off in an attempt to seduce a flight attendant. He's blowing off his own birthday party, which his daughter Hattie (Nicky Whelan) came home for. Seems that Hattie's mother, Irene (Lea Thompson, in a thankfully brief role), became a hardcore Christian last year, and now her husband and child can't stand all her ceaseless God talk. The joke's on them when the Rapture hits, sucking all devout Christians up to heaven and leaving piles of clothes in their wake.

Most of Left Behind consists of Ray trying to land a plane after his copilot and many of his passengers disappear in the Rapture, even as Hattie tries to figure out what happened on the ground. Ray is assisted by a world-famous and universally loved investigative journalist named Buck Williams (Chad Michael Murray, the second-best actor in the cast), who has just fallen hard for Hattie. You think you know where the story's going to end, but it doesn't end there. By the time the credits roll, the characters have only just realized that they're witnesses to the Rapture. Left Behind really only has enough story to cover the first act of a movie, stretched over an entire film's running time.

Look, this movie doesn't even deserve the number of words I've already committed to it. It's bad. It's boring. The score, by Jack Lenz, is an abomination featuring truly terrible soft-jazz saxophone and an easy listening flavor that doesn't match the apocalyptic proceedings. The special effects are garbage. It's painful to watch Cage barely turn his head to address his fellow actors. This movie has all the soul, artistic accomplishment, and spiritual depth of a Precious Moments figurine.

If You Love Girls, It's Actually Hard to Say Whether You'll Love Lena Dunham's New Book

Posted by on Fri, Oct 17, 2014 at 2:15 PM

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Lena Dunham's neurotic, chronically melting-down character on her hit series Girls isn't necessarily the kind of person you'd turn to for advice. But from its cover font to the cartoony spot illustrations by Joana Avillez peppering the text, her new book, Not That Kind of Girl, has the feel and aesthetic of a certain era of advice books for women. Helen Gurley Brown's bizarre 1982 guide Having It All is specifically called out in Dunham's introduction. And as the subtitle indicates, albeit in scare quotes, Dunham seems interested in providing actual guidance on how to become a woman.

Dunham's style is relatively plain and not especially nuanced. If there are any David Sedaris–style joke grenades that go off in a reader's brain a minute after reading them in Not That Kind of Girl, I didn't find them. And occasionally, Girl lapses into unfortunate cliché, as when Dunham is overcome with sentimentality...

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We Asked 12 People at the Georgetown Morgue Haunted House: How Scared Were You?

Posted by on Fri, Oct 17, 2014 at 1:45 PM

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  • Kelly O
Anna (who ran out screaming) "It was TERRAAA-FYING. I'm terrified of clowns!" David "It was fun. I accidentally head-butted someone in there though, and now I think I have a bruise."

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  • Kelly O
Allie "I didn't open my eyes at all. Maybe twice. I just didn't want to look.
Elaine "Somehow I had to be the leader. I didn't want to go first... I wanted to be in the middle!" Leah "I was pretty scared. Not paralyzed, but scared."

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Ninety Seconds of the Washington Renaissance Faire (It's Mostly Rat Circus)

Posted by on Fri, Oct 17, 2014 at 1:35 PM

The Rat Circus was the peak of the Washington Midsummer Renaissance Faire, which took place in Bonney Lake this past August. Apollo the rat astounded. The rats were better than the jousting, the cannons, and the fake Old English accents. They hit you with the accents in the parking lot. A fair-thee maiden in a neon orange vest succored our mechanized driving carriage into an allotted parking barn. Then, at the ticket counter, you swipeth your plastic computerized debit plank to gain entry unto the grounds.

I didn’t even need to go into the fair; I could have stayed at the ticket window all day and watched the guy swipe credit and debit cards in Old English. (When editing Renaissance Faire footage, the "speed up" function always gives it a certain pizzazz.)

Absolut Phoney: A Giant Conglomerate Is Bringing Its "Local" Liquor to Ballard

Posted by on Fri, Oct 17, 2014 at 1:03 PM

Pernod Ricard owns Absolut, Chivas Regal, Jameson, Glenlivet, Malibu, Kahlua, Beefeater, and on and on and on.
  • Jimmy Yan / Shutterstock.com
  • Pernod Ricard owns Absolut, Chivas Regal, Jameson, Glenlivet, Malibu, Kahlua, Beefeater, and on and on and on.

Behemoth liquor conglomerate Pernod Ricard is bringing its "local"-styled multi-city/global vodka brand to Ballard. Here in Seattle, it's going to be called Our/Seattle Vodka—feels so inclusive, doesn't it?—and it'll have an "urban micro distillery" (very likely including a tasting room/bar) in the former Ballard Camera space on Market Street at 20th.

Pernod Ricard is the corporation that owns Absolut, as well as Chivas Regal, Jameson, Glenlivet, Malibu, Kahlua, Beefeater, and on and on and on. Its Our/[Insert City Here] local-lookalike marketing scheme was first rolled out in Berlin last year; it's now been installed in, or is imminent in, 11 cities around the world.

From a 2013 Pernod Ricard Our/Vodka press release:

Our/Vodka is different. It’s a global vodka made by local partners in cities around the world.

We believe in local power and supporting the neighborhood. Therefore, we partner up with local people who love their city. They have their own take on Our/Vodka and give it the city’s personality and expression. The vodka is produced in urban micro distilleries that we build in each city. It is made with ingredients sourced as local as possible using a global recipe. Our/Vodka always looks the same but each city gives its name and character to the vodka.

The Our/Seattle Vodka website namechecks the Ballard SeafoodFest and the Syttende Mai Parade (which were back in July and May, respectively—someone at Pernod Ricard better hit whoever's in charge of the website with a rolled-up newspaper), and says, "We are super excited to be apart [sic] of the Ballard community."

Steven Stone, who runs actually local Sound Spirits in Interbay, says that Pernod Ricard put out feelers for what they're calling "local partners" in the Seattle distilling community earlier this year, but that as far as he knows, no one wanted to join the big liquor empire. (Right now, Pernod Ricard is looking for a distillery manager and a sales manager in Seattle on Craigslist.) Stone says, "I can't believe they think that it's a good idea. I really don't see it working out." But, he continues, "Every distiller in Seattle and beyond is watching this closely."

Holly Robinson, one of the co-founders of actually local Captive Spirits Distilling in Ballard, says:

I do believe they will be ABSOLUTLY be eaten alive by the community. Seeing they are opening a few blocks away, we are hoping to use some of their dollars to lure more customers to the neighborhood to see our awesome Ballard breweries, distilleries, & such... this is their way to get their foot in the door to a [local] scene that they've [otherwise] dominated for decades.

Lexi (she just goes by that), who runs the actually local Old Ballard Liquor Co., is apprehensive:

Obviously my feelings are none too positive toward it. But if there's one thing that being a small fish in a pond full of whales is, is that most consumers won't know or care. The cynic in me feels like they'll use their big advertising bucks to manipulate accounts away from local craft vodka distillers.

Because it's always smart to send our local dollars to poor Pernod Ricard in another country.

Speaking of cynicism, there's already an Our/Detroit Vodka. Over at Deadline Detroit, Jeff Wattrick has done a fine job of documenting Pernod Ricard's especially disingenuous, icky marketing in Detroit, which manipulates that city's situation in especially disingenuous, icky ways:

We're launching this business as a catalyst for meaningful community conversations, inspiring exchanges and of course, the occasional party.

Nope. You're launching your business to make money selling vodka. If you truly wanted to create a "catalyst for meaningful community conversations," you would have earned a social work degree, became a community organizer, and formed a neighborhood association.

And what ingredients of Our/Seattle Vodka will actually be local? It's doubtful that Pernod Ricard is setting it up as a craft distillery—which would require that they use 51 percent locally grown materials—so, Lexi says:

This basically means that they’ll be purchasing premade neutral spirits from an industrial factory in another state. To be clear, that’s not a big deal in and of itself if they’re a) presenting it as such, and b) pricing it appropriately. But if they’re doing what Berlin is doing and buying ultra-cheap industrial ethanol and then diluting it with tap water (aside: WHAT. THE. FUCK.?! TAP WATER? SERIOUSLY?!), then charging 2x the going vodka rate, that’s utter bullshit.

Tap water is local, right?

The CEO & Global Brand Director for the project—who also happens to be "Innovation Director" at Absolut—has yet to respond to a query about when the Our/Seattle distillery will open, who (if anyone) they have on board locally, and what locally sourced ingredients will be used.

After the jump: an icky Our/[Insert City Here] Vodka promo video.

Continue reading »

What Are You Doing Today? What Are You Doing Tonight?

Posted by on Fri, Oct 17, 2014 at 12:30 PM

Sometimes it seems like Big Freedia plays in Seattle more than some local bands.
  • Sometimes it seems like Big Freedia plays in Seattle more than some local bands.

Bobby D and Big Free: Are just a few of our favorite things. The man formerly known as Robert Zimmerman will bring his occasionally erratic genius to the Paramount, while Big Freedia will be twerking her way through Neumos.

"It's Like Church for Listeners Who Crave Surprises and Risks": So says Jen Graves of Seattle Symphony's awesome [UNTITLED] series of late night shows.

Sinkane's Gorgeously Shimmering Dance Pop: Can be sampled above. If you dig it, check him out at Barboza tonight.

Cherdonna The drag queen that's not a drag queen opens her new performance, Worth My Salt, tonight at Velocity Dance Center.

Lucid Is for Lovers: ...of jazz, wine, artsy pursuits, and tonight, songwriter Camila Recchio. Check out this funky little U. District spot, why don't you?

Eat and Drink as Much as You Can: It's for the children!!

But don't let us sway you from any number of these other fascinating pursuits.

Reviews of New Releases from Earth, Mecca Normal, and Kane West

Posted on Fri, Oct 17, 2014 at 11:30 AM

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MECCA NORMAL

Empathy for the Evil

(M'Lady's Records)

It's been a while since we've seen a new full-length from Mecca Normal! This long-running Vancouver, BC, group has always been about less is more—they're a two-piece, guitar and vocals. However, no matter their bare-bones lineup, their songwriting has always trumped sparseness; they make little BIG! And with Empathy for the Evil, they've done it again.

The strength of Empathy for the Evil is strident. The guitar riffs and melody lines are strung in tandem with narratives taken from vocalist Jean Smith's two novels, but she doesn't exactly sing to tell a story. Well, maybe she does, but her voice is incorporated as an instrument rather than propelling linear narratives. That, along with a bit of extra instrumentation (famed producer Kramer plays on a handful of tracks), gives the album a distinct moody creep that binds the songs together. That said, the one standout track, for me, was the slightly-delic "Between Livermore & Tracy." It's tense and full of atmosphere...

KEEP READING >>

Meet Mindie Lind, the Musician Opening for Lena Dunham Tomorrow Night

Posted by on Fri, Oct 17, 2014 at 11:15 AM

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Local musician Mindie Lind was buying tickets for Lena Dunham's reading at University Temple United Methodist Church when she saw a button on University Book Store's site announcing that Dunham was looking for local talent to open for her at each stop on her book tour. Lind didn't think twice about entering. Signup "was extremely easy," Lind says—just a spot for your name and a link to a video displaying your talent. Lind even had the perfect recent example of her work: her band Inly had just completed a music video for their song "Mississippi Misfit" with director Ryan Jorgensen:

Unfortunately, two days after Lind sent the submission, she realized that Dunham was looking for solo acts, not bands, so, she says, "I called my video friends" and then made a video for her song "Lowlands," which she re-submitted.

Then there was a lot of waiting.

Continue reading »

Michael Maddux Is Running for Jean Godden's Council Seat

Posted by on Fri, Oct 17, 2014 at 11:02 AM

Michael Maddux: The next Jean Godden?
  • Courtesy Michael Maddux
  • Michael Maddux: The next Jean Godden?

Not too long ago, we told you that parks activist Michael Maddux was considering a run for Jean Godden's seat representing new Seattle City Council District 4. (Which covers a section of the city northeast of the Ship Canal, from the U-District to Wallingford, Ravenna, Wedgwood.) Today Maddux says: "I'm in."

Here's his web site, and here's his epic 2011 debate with Will in Seattle. (Warning: includes brief panty flash.)

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