Year End Meme 2009

It’s that time again…

1. What did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before?
Got knocked up. Remodeled a house.

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I never really make New Years’ resolutions because if there’s something I want to change, why not start right away?

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
I know a few people, but I think 2010 is going to be a bigger baby year for people in my life.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
My maternal grandmother died this year. We were not very close though.

5. What countries did you visit?
Canada.

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?
Wine on my birthday.

7. What date from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
October 31st – Skaraoke. December 11th – remodel completion.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Becoming an enemy of the Twitards. Also, being cold-turkey sober for the baby. Prior to getting knocked up, this is the longest I’ve gone without illicit substances since I was 16.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Nothing too tragic but I do wish I’d done more writing this year. Maybe finally finished that screenplay…(But if I finished it, I wouldn’t be able to complain about having an unfinished screenplay.) I also wish my stress management had been a little better.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Being knocked up can often feel like illness. And I’m constantly injuring myself in small ways. But other than that, not really.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
A finished basement and a new master bathroom.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My husband who’s been absolutely awesome helping me deal with stress and putting up with my occasional irrational episodes. My terrific friends who are kind, helpful and, most importantly, fun. The small majority of Washingtonians who voted to approve domestic partnership rights in Washington state.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Any person responsible for bigotry and enacting/enforcing laws that deny equal rights. The people responsible for the abortion “compromise” bill.

14. Where did most of your money go?
On the remodel and baby stuff.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
A new president. SXSW. A finished remodel.

16. What song will always remind you of 2009?
“Poker Face”, I guess. That song is everywhere.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder?
The same.

– ii. thinner or fatter?
It’s not fat, exactly. But I’m definitely way heavier.

– iii. richer or poorer?
Poorer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
See movies in theatres.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Freak out.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
With husband, cats, hobbits and Chinese food.

21. Where will you be spending New Year’s Eve?
With my best friends at a house party.

22. Did you fall in love in 2009?
I continued to be in love.

23. How many one-night stands?
Another resounding zero. This question probably needs to go away because I doubt it will ever be relevant in my life again.

24. What was your favorite TV program?
“Dollhouse”. “Supernatural”. Every other episode of “Fringe”.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
I wasn’t so thrilled with the basement remodel people. But they’re out of my life now so no need to dwell.

26. What was the best book you read?
“Downtown Owl” by Chuck Klosterman. It’s just a terrific piece of fiction. “Be Prepared: A Practical Handbook for New Dads”. I bought the latter for my baby daddy but then I read it too and it’s so much more straightforward and useful than any of the mommy books I’ve come across. None of that “magical journey” bullshit. Just the facts about how to keep a baby alive and entertained.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
I completely love The Northern Key. Also, some bands I really like (Built to Spill, the Flaming Lips) came out with new records. But I’m definitely getting to that point where it’s hard to find new music that really impresses me.

28. What did you want and get?
Knocked up. The perfect house. Some small advancement in civil rights in my state.

29. What did you want and not get?
Prop 8 overturned. Universal health care.

30. What was your favorite film of this year?
“Moon”, “Grace”, “The Bad Lieutenant”.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 31 and had a very low-key birthday on account of my lack of ability to party. I went to a birth class and then out to dinner. First sober birthday since 1997.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
A cute, affordable line of maternity clothes.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009?
Pre-pregnancy, nothing changed. Post-pregnancy, things got challenging. Maternity clothes are, for the most part, awful (what’s with all the flared sleeves, mumus and horrific patterns? I don’t need help feeling like an Oopma Loompa). I’ve had to do a lot of creative layering and working with my current wardrobe to feel at all attractive.

34. What/Who kept you sane?
My husband and friends.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
I continue to love Steven Colbert and Jon Stewart for all they’re doing in combating the evils in politics and national “news” coverage. Also, Joshua Jackson is pretty cute.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
Definitely the issue of gay marriage. The fact that we are still having to debate equal rights for all Americans is so appalling. Recently, I am also a bit terrified/sickened by the abortion “compromise”. More human rights being challenged by the ignorant, bigoted, meddlesome religious right.

37. Who did you miss?
Friends who moved away. My waistline. Beer.

38. Who was the best new person you met?
I didn’t really meet anyone new but I got to know some great people better.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009.
It’s very difficult to get people to change their minds. It’s OK to take it easy sometimes.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
“It might save time if I meet you there/but I don’t care/I’d rather wait for you”

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The Following is an Unpaid Advertisement

It’s finally here! The Not For Tourists iPhone app for Seattle is hot off the virtual presses today! Application software created by some programming geniuses, concept by the incredible Not For Tourists guidebook company. Content by yours truly. Of course, I am a little biased, but I wouldn’t recommend NFT to anyone and everyone if I didn’t truly think it was the best city guide out there (no royalties deal for moi). And now, if you are an iPhone user, all the useful snarkyness of the book is available in convenient pocket-size and at the touch of a button. It’s not free, but you definitely get what you pay for. The best feature: It works without the internet so you can find that next drink or meal anytime, anywhere. If you do download it, please also take a minute to review it on iTunes.

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Film Threat Interview: Until the Light Takes Us

“Until the Light Takes Us”, a new documentary by Audrey Ewell and Aaron Aites, tells the origin story of Black Metal without getting into any of that pesky music stuff. Instead, it focuses on the two main pioneers of the genre, Gylve “Fenriz” “Nagell and Varg “Count Grishnackh” Vikernes, letting them explain their social and political reasons for creating this unique and very controversial scene. While the violence, church burnings, and occasional murder associated with Black Metal were all true (Vikeres is currently serving a 21-year sentence for fatally stabbing a fellow musician), the media fabricated the motivation. Satan was in no way involved. Though Paganism (the original Norwegian religion) was part of it the crimes had more to do with cultural imperialism than anything secular. Apparently, Satan gets a lot of undeserved credit for the world’s misdoings.

To get an insider’s look at the truth behind the scene, Ewell and Aites moved to Norway for two years and completely immersed themselves in Black Metal . The result is a film as raw and gritty as the music that inspired it. Film Threat’s Jessica Baxter spoke with the pair about their inspirations, the arduous process of documentary filmmaking, and just what those Norwegians are so pissed off about.

Continue reading

Film Threat Review: Me & Orson Welles

2009
Rated PG-13
114 minutes

***

“Sometimes you remember a week for the rest of your life,” says blue-eyed puppy dog Richard Samuels (Zac Efron) to his jaded, older love interest. That’s certainly true if your week involves scoring a bit part alongside Orson Welles. The trouble lies in how to keep Orson from outshining everything and everyone else. In some ways, Richard Linklater struck gold when he found Christian McKay. The man completely embodies Orson Welles in appearance and charisma alike. He’s like walking Cliff’s Notes for the legendary genius and charming egomaniac. Unfortunately for the rest of the film, he’s easily the most memorable thing about it.

Set in 1937, Efron plays a plucky teenage actor who scams his way into bit part in Welles’ fascist adaptation of “Julius Caesar”, a week before it’s due to open. Along the way, he becomes smitten with Orson’s ambitious assistant, Sonja (Claire Danes) and learns a few important lessons about “how the world works”. Since this is show business, the “world” in question is theatre, and the lessons are learned the hard way.

“Me & Orson Welles” is Zac Efron’s first real attempt to shed the cheesy teenybopper image bestowed upon him by the Cult of Disney. It’s an admirable career move. He wants to grow up and he wants to do it without snorting anything. And though Efron does show a lot of promise as an actor (he handles old-timey posturing very well) it’s almost unfair to, in his first non-family outing, pair him next to Christian McKay. True, being outshined by Orson Welles is part of Richard’s character. But it backfires because Christian McKay similarly steals the spotlight from Efron, even when they’re not sharing a scene.

Another problem with the film is that it lacks the usual depth of a Linklater story. There are no existential conversations here, nor keen observations about finding your potential. Perhaps it’s because the story is about actors, but it all seems rather shallow and self-absorbed. The principal lesson here is that one does what they have to in order to get ahead, be it calculated sexual liaisons or refraining from talking back to your boss, even when you know you’re right. Is everything really as simple as “you can’t always get what want, but if you try sometimes you get what you need”?

There are some wonderful moments and a few gems of dialogue. But what everyone is going to be talking about is Christian McKay. Sonja says that the “principal occupation of the Mercury Theatre is waiting for Orson.” Similarly, the principal occupation of the “Me & Orson Welles” audience is wading through the Me parts to get to more Orson. Better luck next time, kid.

 

Originally published on FilmThreat.com (now defunct). 

NFT Radar: Roxy’s Diner

Roxy’s website states that they’re “Seattle’s only NY Jewish Style Diner.” But this is not a case of beggars-can’t-be-choosers. Roxy’s is the poo. Their gargantuan menu lists an endless array of delights for chosen people and Goys alike. Have a burger (or veggie patty) any way you like it, eat breakfast all day (bagel sandwiches, latkes and eggs, tater tot omelet), or go the traditional sandwich route with a Rueben, Patty Melt or enormous Pastrami on Rye. Naturally, it all comes with a crispy pickle. Wash it down with a pitcher of beer or the bubbly chocolate goodness of an Egg Cream. Weekends bring $2 Champagne Cocktails or Mini Marys. As for sides, they’ve got ’em in spades. Potato Salad, Slaw, Matzoh Ball Soup, Sweet Potato Fries, and Tots just to name a few. If you’re still hungry after all that, you can get some pie or Rugelach from the glass case. It doesn’t hurt that the decor, with the cushy booths and colorful mural, is as sunny and inviting as the wait staff. The only downside is that they close at 7 pm every day. But they’re Seattle’s only NY Jewish Style Diner so you’ll eat when they’re ready.


462 N 36th St 98103
206-632-3963

X-posted from Not For Tourists.

NFT Radar: Snacks!

Snacks! is the sort of place that Charlie Bucket would have stood outside with longing, his poor little face pressed up against the window. For those of you who don’t have to share a bed with all of your grandparents, Snacks! is open Thursday through Saturday till 2:30am (10 am-6 pm Sunday) and provides a rotating array of treats with the Ballard post-bar and munchie-laden in mind. Catering to both savory and sweet palettes and contrary to logic, it’s best not to have any idea what you want when you walk through those doors because you never know what you’re going to find. Their signature items, including pints of Molly Moon’s ice cream in seasonal flavors, Dante’s hot dogs, and the Chilly Dog (soft serve ice cream in a toasted bun with peanut butter and jelly) are mainstays, but their beer, wine, general snack and candy selection is constantly changing. Their best offerings are not portable over long-distances, so Snacks! isn’t the best option if you don’t already live in Ballard, or you’re not planning to hang out there. If only there were a Snacks! in every neighborhood.


5219 Ballard Ave NW 98107
206-453-3806

X-posted from

What’s Your Vector, Victor?

Though it was, perhaps, inevitable, there are many reasons I am going to miss Dollhouse. Right now, Fox is in the middle of its episode clearance sale, throwing up back-to-back episodes every Friday until their warehouse is empty. And while it’s nice to see such a serialized show in larger chunks, it also feels a little cheap, because it’s very clear that they are just trying to get to the end of their deal as fast as possible and fill the time slot with some trite garbage. I know Dollhouse isn’t a perfect show but it could have gotten pretty close. It has the strongest ensemble cast on TV right now. Sure, Dusku lowers the curve a little bit. But there are so many candidates for valedictorian that it still looks like a class full of geniuses.

We’d already seen what many of these actors were capable of. Amy Acker played two roles on Angel: The beloved Fred (though it took me a while to warm up to her) and the powerful god in an indifferent world, Ilyria. She played the latter with complexity and deadpan humor. Harry Lenix played the conniving Aaron with a hint of sympathy in Julie Taymor’s Titus. As Miss Cross in Rushmore, Olivia Williams played a widow and scholastic Helen of Troy and it was clear what all the fuss was about. Even Fran Kranz, whose character started out a little on the annoying side, has turned Topher Brink into an incredibly multi-faceted persona with almost an excuse for his moral dubiousness.

And then there’s Victor. When we first met this doll, played by Enver Gjokaj, he was acting as a Russian informant, and leading FBI Agent Ballard astray in his Dollhouse investigation. His accent was terrific, or, at least, nothing like Harrison Ford’s in K-19: The Widowmaker. But what else could he do? It turns out, a better question is what CAN’T he do? Along the way, he has shown the most astounding range in doll characters. From dashing to dorky, and with all the necessary accents, Victor is easily the most versatile doll they have in their arsenal. Even his blank slate “doll state” is full of personality, as he exhibits a love and loyalty to fellow doll, Sierra, that no machine can erase. The narrative also hints at some sort of post-traumatic combat stress from his former life, though we still haven’t seen (and perhaps never will) his backstory. In one episode, he is imprinted with the mind of a comatose serial killer and plays it with all the necessary Anthony Perkinsness. Later, in the episode, his personality switches with Echo’s light-hearted party girl, and his transformation is flawless and hilarious.

Most recently, he was imprinted with Topher’s personality to hold down the fort in Topher’s absence. Gjokaj’s performance is air-tight. He nailed the cadence and mannerisms that Fran Kranz has built for his character. Even without the sweater vest ensemble, it was immediately clear who Victor was on that particular day. That level of acting goes a long way toward being able to use “show-don’t-tell” writing.

So who is this Enver Gjokaj fellow? Why have we never seen him before? And when can we see him again? He played “remote pilot” in Eagle Eye and a few bit parts on other TV shows, but that’s about it for priors. He has all the potential to be the next Gary Oldman. I sincerely hope that other casting directors see this too so that he’s not relegated to a career in doomed Joss Whedon projects.