The Washington State Film Office was quietly marked for elimination as part of Governor Gary Locke's fiscal 2002 budget. The office, based in downtown Seattle, chiefly promoted Washington as a location-filming site for Hollywood productions, but it was small and underfunded in relation to other states' similar efforts. And due to the siren song of the Canadian exchange rate, the office's efforts were increasingly futile. By the office's own statistics, local spending by feature-film productions dropped 60 percent since 1997 (its peak year), from $20 million to $800,000 in 2000. Network TV production in Washington did spurt up in 2000-2001 after years of decline, but only due to two huge projects (the already canceled new Fugitive show and the forthcoming Stephen King miniseries Rose Red). The City of Seattle's separate film office will continue, at least for now.

Stanley B. Blumenthal, 87, was a longtime regular performer at the Magic Castle in Los Angeles. He invented several illusions still widely used in the business today, and taught tricks to such celebrities as Muhammad Ali and Cary Grant. In 1984, Blumenthal was named the honorary magician of the Los Angeles Olympics. After Blumenthal moved to Seattle in 1994, he often performed at private parties under the name "Stanley the Great," and regularly appeared at the Market Magic Shop in the Pike Place Market. He died December 6 from a stroke.

Bill Bissell, 70, ran the University of Washington's Husky Marching Band from 1971 to 1994. He accepted part of the blame for inflicting the song "Tequila" and the "Wave" cheer upon long-suffering stadium attendees throughout North America. Despite those dubious achievements, he consistently added an element of fun and showmanship to the sometimes grindingly dull spectacle of big-time college football. His upbeat and even whimsical arrangements also added a human touch to a UW football program that was otherwise more slick and corporate than the local pro team. Bissell died December 19 from unspecified causes.

Susan Despenich, 41, was a longtime social-services volunteer in the Seattle area and a front-office employee at Renton Technical College. She was also part of the local Rocky Horror Picture Show cult in the '70s, a regular follower of Dina Martina's stage revues, and an author of Xena fan-fiction stories. As her friend, former Stranger writer Gillian Gaar, remembers her: "Perhaps she didn't make more of a name for herself because she was more concerned with doing things for other people." Despenich died on December 20 of toxic hepatitis.