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Playlist Seattle: Women Who Rock
This series asks theater artists to perform plays inspired by the songs of local Seattle women rockers, who'll also do special sets. This week's featured musician is ethereal songwriter Brenda Xu.
Who knew that there were so many awards for light art? Maja Petrić knows, because she's either won or been nominated for a number of them. A PhD in DXARTS (digital art and experimental media) from University of Washington, she's now the artist in residence of Redmond. Her light boxes collect data through artificial intelligence and transform them into "unstable environments" that evoke the fragmentation and anxiety of her childhood in wartime Yugoslavia. In her hands, light can mirror human movement, the workings of the mind, and even cosmic phenomena. Explore Winston Wächter's back gallery for proof of her artistry. JOULE ZELMAN
Holly Andres: The Homecoming
Photographer Holly Andres enjoys telling "compelling and dramatic stories," often rooted in her own experiences. In this series, a woman leaves behind a suitcase with all her worldly possessions, and it is found by two young sisters. In secret, the two girls go through the contents of the suitcase and discover many objects associated with "adult femininity."
Basketball isn't the only March Madness: Bellevue restaurant Pearl will be hosting a four-week celebration of all things oyster, with special menus and different preparations (raw, baked, fried and grilled) and tips and education provided by Taylor Shellfish oyster expert Call Nichols. Plus, get gratis oysters while they last on their Free Oyster Fridays.
Manual Cinema: Ada/Ava
An old woman who's just lost her twin wanders into a carnival mirror maze and finds herself traveling "across the thresholds of life and death" in Manual Cinema collective's trippy-sounding play, which incorporates shadow puppetry, old-school projection, and other nifty, classic techniques.
Discovering Seattle Parks with Author Linnea Westerlind
You're probably aware that Seattle is full of wonderful parks—but did you realize we have more than 400 of them within city limits? Linnea Westerlind decided to visit them all, and she's here to report back and share her new book, Discovering Seattle Parks: A Local’s Guide.
Dr. Sarah Myhre: A Climate of Unclarity: How to Call BS on Bad Climate Science Communication
This lecture offers a "toolkit" that helps identify "anti-evidence climate narratives" in public discourse.
John Boylan's Next Conversation: 'Music and Mixed Reality'
John Boylan, who runs the new media/tech/arts festival 9e2, will host a conversation about VR and music with Aliysha Kaija, Arami Walker, Evie Powell, and a fourth panelist TBA.
Mark Sarvas with Charles Johnson: Memento Park
In Mark Sarvas's novel, a man learns of a painting that may have been stolen from his Jewish relatives in WWII-era Hungary. To find the painting, he must mend relations with his father and rediscover his roots. Sarvas, a PEN/America and National Critics Book Circle member, addresses generational trauma and legacies. He will be accompanied at this talk by eminent local author and professor emeritus Charles Johnson.
A Reading with Honor Moore
Discover the multigenre work of Honor Moore, who writes poetry, fiction, and memoir (including her most recent book, The Bishop’s Daughter, which was favored with Editor's Choice by the New York Times).
Erin Armstrong, Carlos Donjuan, and Julia Lambright: Portraiture
These three artists take divergent—and non-literal—approaches to the portrait, eliciting themes of "cultural identity, societal acceptance and self-definition."
Ginny Ruffner: Reforestation of the Imagination
Ginny Ruffner, with help from new media artist Grant Kirkpatrick, has created a glass and bronze sculpture forest depicting natural and creative regeneration, including "unusually evolved flowers" which spring virtually in handheld devices from glass logs. The spirit of environmental sci-fi optimism is as welcome in visual art as it is in Black Panther. Ruffner has been called "the most irrepressible spirit in Seattle art" by former Stranger art critic Jen Graves; you can also see one of Ruffner's pieces in the Olympic Sculpture Park. JOULE ZELMAN
This multi-genre festival will boast talks, readings, music, art, and film screenings in the last weeks of March and most of April. This week's highlights include an evening with poets Anis Mojgani, Nikkita Oliver, Karen Finneyfrock & Ebo Barton and a screening of selections from the Port Townsend Film Festival.
The Merchant of Venice
This is the year where Stranger Genius Award-winning actor Amy Thone plays all the challenging lead male roles in town, and we should all rejoice. Her performance of Nixon in Strawshop's Frost/Nixon made it impossible for anyone in the audience to dismiss the president's crimes as an unfortunate side effect of male ambition. I have a hunch that her performance of Shylock in Seattle Shakespeare's production of Merchant of Venice, the classic/infamous comedy about a merciless Jewish merchant who demands her pound of flesh, will resonate with the conversations swirling around the #MeToo movement. Desdemona Chiang will direct. RICH SMITH
Moisture Festival is devoted to the variety of performers Seattle has fostered over the years, from circus acts to comedians, burlesque dancers to musicians, and jugglers to tap dancers. It's been going for 15 years in Seattle, a testament to the popularity of cabaret-style entertainment in town. Variété is the main, recurring event, with a rotating lineup, and there are also matinée and rather racier late night versions. The bawdy Libertease Cabaret is for adults only and features burlesque and scantily-clothed aerial acts. There are also workshops, talks, and special opening and closing nights. If you love circus acrobatics, clowning, comedy, and/or sexy dance, you owe it to yourself to go.
The Vagina Monologues
Celebrate Eve Ensler's campaign against violence towards women at this theatrical production of The Vagina Monologues.
No performances from Wednesday-Friday.
Sense of Place: Stories from a Changing City
As Seattle upzones and (much-needed) housing units begin to tower, filmmakers and storytellers will gather to share short films and three-minute stories about the transforming city. You're welcome to tell a story yourself—just let them know when you reserve a spot. Donations will benefit the Firs Home Owners Association, a union of Firs Mobile Home Park residents in SeaTac who are trying to keep from being evicted.
Capturing Bertha & the Biggest Tunnel in the World through Photography
Catherine Bassetti documented the State Route 99 tunnel, known as Bertha, through photo and video. She'll present some of her images at this talk with Jennifer Ott of the excellent website HistoryLink.
Chelsey Johnson: Stray City
A young woman who's fled the Midwest for Portland's lesbian community finds herself pregnant after a careless encounter with a man in Chelsey Johnson's book.
Niti Sampat Patel: Moon Goddess
Mumbai-based scholar Niti Sampat Patel will share an excerpt of Moon Goddess, a multigenerational tale of women in India, the US, and Lebanon. If you're interested in women-centered epic multicultural narratives, this is for you.
This energetic, gestural painting of a screaming skull by 21-year-old Jean-Michel Basquiat is on view on the West Coast for the very first time. You have just a few months to see the tragically short-lived Brooklyn artist's work without leaving Seattle.
Humaira Abid: Searching for Home
Born in Pakistan and based in Seattle, Humaira Abid works in wood carving and miniature painting—two very different mediums, related by their capacity to hold rich, meticulous detail. Her previous bodies of work have tackled sociocultural norms, gender roles, and relationships, often expressing very intimate and personal narratives. Abid's first solo museum exhibition in the United States, Searching for Home, is a site-specific installation revolving around the stories of immigrants and refugees in the Pacific Northwest. Political yet poignant, this work renders the humanity of families affected by far-reaching forces into magnificent, stunning forms. EMILY POTHAST
Walter McConnell: Itinerant Edens
Artist and ceramic art professor Walter McConnell is known for doing something unusual with his clay pieces: not firing them. His wet ceramic works are often intricate, complicated, and enormous, and anyone looking at them would never question how "finished" they are. His latest exhibit, Itinerant Edens: A Measure of Disorder, looks terrifying. McConnell took full-body scans of live models, made 3D plaster molds based on their bodies, and cast terracotta clay models from the molds. He then created nature-inspired pedestals, put the human figures on top, and sealed the scenes in tall, thin terrariums. The end result looks like a dystopian version of the Natural History Museum. Because the pieces are unfired, they have changed and morphed over the course of the exhibit, so visiting now will provide maximum uneasiness. JULIA RABAN
The Gin Game
One of the all-time chestnuts of the legitimate stage comes to Everett featuring two of Seattle’s all-time favorites, Kurt Beattie and Marianne Owen, as aging residents of a nursing home, who sublimate the dread of death by playing cards and tearing each other apart with words. However familiar the play might be from drama classes and monologue books, The Gin Game has a seemingly infinite capacity for renewal in the hands of the right actors, which is to say that the only way this show can go wrong is if the building floods. SEAN NELSON
Alfred Hitchcock's Britain
Sure, with the exception of the modestly budgeted, black-and-white Psycho, Hitchcock is known for his lavishly Freudian Technicolor thrillers from the ‘50s and ‘60s. But the films he made in his native Britain are just as worthy of note—taut, intricate, their perversity more elaborately disguised. This series, which begins at SAM this week, includes the masterpiece The 39 Steps and the excellent Young and Innocent, plus the better-known but more Hollywoodized Dial M for Murder.
So You Want to Make a Documentary?
Interested in making your own documentary? Learn the process from start to finish from Seattle filmmaker Lisa Hurwitz, whose project The Automat explores Horn & Hardart’s cafeteria chain.
The Golden Girls Live
Welcome four queens from San Francisco as they embody the Golden Girls: Heklina, Matthew Martin, D'Arcy Drollinger (who also directs), and Holotta Tymes. Sasha Velour (RPDR Season 9) is the guest star.
Bruce Holbert in Conversation with Richard Chiem
Kirkus Reviews called Bruce Holbert's latest novel, Whiskey, "a gut-punch of a bleak family saga that satisfies on many levels." The story's set south of the Colville Indian reservation in Washington state, 1991. Two Native brothers—Andre and Smoker—are trying to get custody of Smoker's daughter. Along the way, they get into some Wild West scrapes involving bears, booze, and bar brawls. Holbert's prose is stone-cut, vivid, punchy, and it should delight fans of Jim Harrison and Cormac McCarthy. Following the reading, local fiction writer Richard Chiem (author of You Private Person), will join Holbert onstage to lead a conversation about the book. RICH SMITH
Junot Díaz: Islandborn
The often darkly funny and profane author Junot Díaz has produced a much kinder, gentler story for kids. It's about a little girl, Lola, who is upset when she can't remember the place where her family immigrated from, the Island. Her family and friends help her discover her homeland through her own imagination and her identity.
Roxy Music Horror Show
Whether or not you've seen a million iterations of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, this improvised parody will definitely involve the unexpected in every performance: new songs and a new take on the story of two straitlaced victims falling into the clutches of a sexy scientist.
Dave Calver: Limbo Lounge
The title of Dave Calver's graphic novel, Limbo Lounge, is quite literal: The dead wait in a bar to find out their final destination, passing the time with wandering denizens of hell. Calver's work is informed by his time in New York City, where he won an award for a poster commissioned by the public transport agency. Limbo Lounge looks like it portrays the same atmosphere of transience as in the public waiting spaces of a city. You'll want to see this sinister bedlam of doomed souls, homicidal princesses, vigilante nuns, and a couple of "flower-headed freaks," rendered in Calver's muffled textures and circus colors. JOULE ZELMAN
Bye Bye Birdie
A rock star named Conrad Birdie disrupts life in a small Ohio town as he asks for one last kiss from one lucky girl before he goes off to war. This musical loosely based on Elvis Presley has been a favorite of nostalgic types and teens for the past 50+ years.
Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan
Taiwanese dancer and choreographer Lin Hwai-min has spent his long, laureled career creating performances that induce meditation through spectacle of many kinds. He likes overwhelming the senses by filling the stage with stuff: washes of rose petals, mounds of dried rice, massive pools of light and shadow. Against these gorgeous backdrops, graceful and powerful dancers combine Tai chi and indigenous Taiwanese dance with contemporary Asian forms in an effort to explore the contours of Taiwanese identity, which has been shaped by years of colonization and Chinese influence. Min's new production, Formosa, very much continues in this vein. It takes its name from the word that 16th century Portuguese sailors used to describe the island, and it features abstract, fluid dances in front landscapes made of text. RICH SMITH
Melissa Kagerer: Museum of the Irrational Self
Photographer Melissa Kagerer's self-portraits are colorful, dramatic, and odd. In one image, her face is covered with tiny scorpion tattoos and her mouth is stuffed with a yellow plastic chain. In another, she's positioned in front of a leopard print background wearing an ill-fitting wig and braces. Kagerer's work deals with the ambiguity of self-curation. By choosing what we decide to display and what we keep hidden, we are constantly creating and presenting cultivated images that only tell part of the story. The Museum of the Irrational Self invites the viewer into Kagerer's world of fantasy and awkwardness—braces and all. EMILY POTHAST
Immerse yourself in four days of pure oenophilia with this behemoth event billing itself as "the nation's largest single-region wine and food" event, which unites over 225 Washington wineries, 65 top restaurants, and a number of acclaimed local and national chefs. Dress yourself in rouges et blancs (and drink accordingly) for the Red and White Party, taste food and wine and view chef demonstrations at the Grand Tasting, and hobnob with famous chefs while eating fancy food and drinking rosé for the New Vintage event. Plus, sign up for special farm visits, seminars, a Pike Place Market tour, and Sunday brunch at Quality Athletics. JULIANNE BELL
In this show written by Sonya Schneider and directed by Laurel Pilar Garcia, an artist joins her father on an isolated Pacific Northwest island after her latest opening. There, she meets an aspiring poet who may restore her faith in the power of art.
There's just something about watching dancers drag 20 industrial-sized tables across the stage during William Forsythe's One Flat Thing that delights me every time. Other highlights of Pacific Northwest Ballet Artistic Director Peter Boal's always excellent showcase: the ultra-gorgeous athleticism of Forsythe's Slingerland Duet, the almost percussive rhythm of the solo violin in Ulysses Dove’s Red Angels, and the world premiere of PNB soloist Ezra Thompson's The Perpetual State. RICH SMITH
Hir isn't like the rest of Taylor Mac's plays, but it's the play that made Mac famous. That's because it looks like the style of play repertory theaters jizz over, which is kitchen sink realism. Hir, making its Seattle debut at ArtsWest, seems familiar to contemporary theatergoers: two kids and their parents sitting around their kitchen fighting. That should be a snooze-fest, but it's not because Mac's writing is hilarious, and nothing in the play is as it first appears. It's ultimately a clever, innovative play about gender (and theater) that audiences will continue to unpack for decades. CHASE BURNS
Intersections: A Celebration of Seattle Performance
Improv comedy queens Natasha Ransom, Jekeva Phillips (who made City Arts' Future List this year), and Kinzie Shaw are organizing a festival for performers who identify as LGBTQ+, are of color, and/or have disabilities. Come to see burlesque, improv, drag, theater, dance, and music acts, plus panels and a party. Some highlights include the promising new duo Poop Tooth, stand-uppers Val Nigro and Monisa Brown, "Mother of the House of Luna" Jade Dynasty, and Tootsie Spangles.
Blessing: South African comedian Trevor Noah has control of the bully pulpit of Comedy Central's The Daily Show. Curse: He had to follow Jon Stewart in that slot. It's hard not to seem a tad second-rate replacing a vastly influential and beloved political-satire legend, but Noah's gamely making a go of it. He leverages his outsider status in America—how many other South African comics do you know?—to offer fresh slants on myriad social and political topics. On a recent Daily Show, Noah took Florida's government to task for emphasizing porn control over gun control: “Wow. I think you guys are worried about the wrong kind of mass shooting.” DAVE SEGAL
Arcade Lights 2018
At this artisanal-tasting free-for-all, snack on sweet and savory bites beneath the glow of the iconic Pike Place Market lights. Admission gets you five drink tokens and unlimited tasting privileges for such delicious things as confections from Jonboy Caramels in flavors like absinthe and black salt, handmade German-American sausages from Bavarian Meats, bean-to-bar chocolates from indi chocolate, coffee-infused truffles from Joe Chocolate, and dreamy yogurt from Ellenos, just to name a few. This year also includes the addition of a Night Market with handmade wares from Pike Place crafters. JULIANNE BELL
Richard the Second
Everyone knows Richard III and the Henrys, but Richard II (who preceded Henry IV, who figures prominently in this play, as the ambitious Bolingbroke) is one of Shakespeare’s most complex studies of power, hubris, ambivalence, and the subjective nature of justice when viewed through hindsight’s binoculars. And because the play is less familiar than some of its counterparts, and almost kinkily revealing about the male psyche in relation to power and competition, it’s especially well-suited to the all-female cast treatment being served up by the excellent upstart crow collective. SEAN NELSON
Dr. Nina Brochmann & Ellen Stokken Dahl: The Wonder Down Under
You may think you know a lot about vaginas, but medical students and sex educators Nina Brochmann and Ellen Stokken Dahl will no doubt have new things to teach you in their book The Wonder Down Under. They add, "More than a user's manual, this book is demystification, and tribute to the vagina that we have been waiting for."
Hugo Literary Series: Joshua Ferris, Melissa Febos, E.J. Koh, and Tomo Nakayama
The Hugo House is scheduled to move back to Capitol Hill this July! Like so many doomed taco restaurants in the neighborhood, the invaluable literary institution will reside in the retail space of a six-story mixed-use building. (But unlike those restaurants, the House will be there forever!) All this moving around inspired the House to commission brand new work about real estate and the idea of "place." Critically acclaimed novelist Joshua Ferris (Then We Came to the End) will read along with Melissa Febos (author of the lauded memoir Abandon Me), and local poet E.J. Koh (who's book A Lesser Love won a Pleiades Press Editors Prize in 2017). Local singer/songwriter Tomo Nakayama will serve as the evening's musical guest. His new record, Pieces of Sky, is great. Plus, he's the only person who sings Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" better than Jeff Buckley. RICH SMITH
Jennifer Natalya Fink and Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore
Queer local writer Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore will read alongside Jennifer Natalya Fink, whose novel Bhopal Dance won the 2017 Doctorow Innovative Fiction Prize.
Tess Gallagher and Lawrence Matsuda
Port Angeles writer Tess Gallagher's 12th volume of poetry, Is, Is Not, will be published by Graywolf Press in America in 2019, but you can hear her now at this reading of her graceful, often narrative poetry. Lawrence Mitsuda, a poet and graphic novelist born in the Minidoka concentration camp and preoccupied with Japanese American memory, has collaborated with Gallagher as well as with the artist Roger Shimamura. He is also definitely worth a listen.
The Country Wife
This 1675 comedy by William Wycherly, adapted by Rachel Atkins, was saucy enough to be barred from the stage for nearly two centuries. A rake seduces married women hither and thither, pretending to be a eunuch to avoid suspicion. The titular character, well-intentioned Margery Pinchwife, is so sweet and honest that she threatens the whole charade.
Happiest Song Plays Last
In the sequel to Quiara Alegría Hudes’ Water by the Spoonful, previously staged by Theatre22, an Iraq War vet shooting a film in Jordan finds his traumatic memories triggered by the Arab Spring. Meanwhile, his cousin Yaz tries to shore up her Philadelphia community.
Kidd Pivot and Electric Company Theatre: Betroffenheit
This deeply disturbing clown show created by two of the best dance companies around is back! Jonathon Young and Crystal Pite's Betroffenheit—a German word that refers to "a state of shock, trauma, and bewilderment"—features the living embodiment of Young's personal trauma of almost losing three family members in a cabin fire. Throughout the intense show, the clown-faced protagonist tries and fails and fails and fails to cope with their loss, reminding audiences how much work goes into the act of getting even just a little bit better. RICH SMITH
Say It Loud: Simply Me
Felicia V Loud will star in what sounds like a very gutsy a cappella performance work, which has been in development for the past four years.
Aaina is a weekend-long festival featuring a variety of arts programming celebrating the achievements and exploring the experiences of South Asian women. The signature event is Yoni Ki Baat, an adaptation of The Vagina Monologues starring and directed by South Asian women.
BOOST Dance Festival
BOOST Dance Festival will seek to promote diverse contemporary performers who have fewer opportunities to showcase their talent than they deserve. See Daniel Costa Dance, Kimberly Holloway, Becca Smith, AU Collective, Melissa Sanderson, and Marlo Ariz Dance Project in action.
The Great Leap
Here's another chance to get a sense of the work of Lauren Yee, the 20-year-old playwright who already has more than half a dozen works under her belt. This production—produced in association with the Denver Center for the Performing Arts Theatre Company—bounces back and forth between 1971 China (feeling the after-effects of the "Great Leap Forward," and in the midst of the Cultural Revolution) and 1989 San Francisco.
This play, spanning two decades, dramatizes the working-class struggle for safety through the story of a Polish immigrant woman. The playwright, Polish-born, New Jersey-raised Martyna Majok, seeks to provide an alternative to caricatures of poor people in pop culture. Ironbound won the Charles McArthur Award for Outstanding Original New Play or Musical in 2015.
Shakespeare Dice: Hamlet
Eight actors have memorized the entire script of Shakespeare's Hamlet, and at this performance, presented by immersive/experimental theater company Dacha, an audience member will roll the dice and decide who will play which character. When Dacha gave Twelfth Night the same treatment in 2017, former Arts Calendar Editor Julia Raban wrote: "Based on the premise, you might expect a harried and unfinished production, but this show does not follow the rules of logic. There's beautiful blocking and choreography, constant and clever improvisation."
Culture Fest Vol. 3
Seattle FAM and the Blow Up will join forces for a music, art, and community blow-out that will blend live performances of music and spoken word, lectures and conversations with an expert panel of advocates and activists, fashion by local designers, and vendors of every kind.
Saturday Secret Matinees
Grand Illusion and the Sprocket Society will continue their tradition of pairing an adventure serial with a different secret matinee movie every week. This year, the serial is Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe, and the theme of the feature film will change every fortnight (maybe they stole the idea from the Stranger's new printing schedule. Though probably not). These themes include "Alien Invasion!," "Swashbuckling Heroes!," "Very Bad Deals," "Twisted Intrigues," "Atomic Monsters," and "Widescreen Thrills." The coolest part, from a film buff point of view? Everything will be presented on 16mm.
2018 Washington Cask Beer Festival
As Stranger contributor Lester Black has written, “cask ale is the most underappreciated beer style in Seattle,” and its “mellow carbonation, smooth flavor, and not-quite-cold serving temperature perfectly complement never-ending rainy days.” These unfiltered, unpasteurized beers, also referred to as “real ale,” are conditioned in the cask without any additional nitrogen or carbon dioxide pressure, and are poured directly from the cask using gravity or an electric beer engine. This festival, dedicated to showcasing exclusively cask-conditioned beers from over 40 different Washington breweries, is a perfect opportunity to test out this underrated style for yourself. JULIANNE BELL
Brouwer's Cafe 13th Anniversary and Orval Day
The cathedralesque Brouwer’s Cafe is celebrating 13 lucky years of business with two anniversary beers brewed just for the occasion by North Fork (from Deming, Washington) and Structure (from Bellingham). Their birthday just so happens to coincide with Orval Day, a day created by Seattle specialty beer importer Merchant du Vin in honor of the famed 1000-plus-year-old beer brewed within the walls of Notre Dame d'Orval Monastery, and Brouwer’s Cafe, what with its medieval-tavern vibes, is the perfect place to celebrate. In the altruistic spirit of the Trappist monks who quaffed this fragrant, fruity beer many years ago, Merchant du Vin aims to donate $1,000,000 of direct benefit to nonprofit MAP International, which provides humanitarian assistance and relief aid to those in need during disasters, and every glass of Orval sold in March will go towards that goal. JULIANNE BELL
Ember & Tide
Inspired by "friendship so deep it has become family and the embers we cook over and the tides that nourish our bodies," Taylor Shellfish will serve a dinner in collaboration with their friends at the upcoming restaurant Little Fish. Little Fish chef Zoi Antonitsas will create a menu of old favorites and new surprises created onsite from fresh seafood sourced directly from the tide and cooked over fire, along with "beverages guaranteed to cause gaiety."
Seventh Annual Slider Cook-Off
Nosh on pint-sized sandwiches from restaurants around the South Sound and groove the night away to '70s tunes from the Nines at this retro event inspired by glassblower John Miller. The night promises discotheque decor and a glassblowing demonstration, as well as "local celebrity judges, games, dancing, prizes and more."
Science Fiction & Fantasy Short Film Festival
SIFF and MoPOP bring you the somewhat less pronounceable acronym SFFSFF. The mini-fest is composed of nearly two dozen new sci-fi/fantasy short films judged by a nationally assembled jury. It sells out at Cinerama every year, so they have an encore the day after at SIFF.
SUNDAYREADINGS & TALKS
King-Snohomish County Regional Spelling Bee
There’s nothing cuter than young dorks. For proof, look no further than the regional spelling bee, which brings 90 of the area’s most linguistically astute middle-schoolers to compete in a contest that is both a celebration of language and of adorable youth. This year’s competition will be moderated by Seattle Radio Theatre founder and KIRO host Feliks Banel, but the stars, as ever, will be the kids. The final speller standing advances to the annual Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, DC, so come, pick out your favorites, and support these young spellers as they battle it out. What could be more eudaemonic than that? KATIE HERZOG
Kory Stamper: The Secret Life of Dictionaries
For decades, there has been a war going on between dictionaries. As David Foster Wallace points out in Authority and American Usage, the battle is between two parties: descriptivists and prescriptivists. Their battlefields lie in the introductions of dictionaries and the pages of grammar books. Descriptivists are the cool liberals who think dictionaries should function as a record of language and its inevitable changes. Prescriptivists are the grammar scolds who think words mean something, damn it, and fight to preserve their sense. In Word By Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries, lexicographer Kory Stamper mixes in some of this history with her own as she weighs in on the many word skirmishes playing out in newsrooms, English classes, and even grocery stores. ("10 items or less?" Are you fucking kidding me?) RICH SMITH