Monday, December 29, 2008

Luzern Redux

A few pictures of the sights in Luzern, Switzerland. A totally gorgeous, picturesque city...and in the middle of it me.

The Chapel Bridge-Kapellbrücke-at the heart of Luzern.

The Lion of Luzern-Löwendenkmal-a monument commemorating the Swiss Guards who gave their lives at the Tuileries Palace in 1792 during the French Revolution.

My sister and I next to a unicorn fountain and a pizza joint-which looked appetizing, but was closed the day after Christmas.

Standing with the enormous swans by the channel.

More later!

Of Scotch & Sausenberg

I went to church with the family yesterday which was an interesting experience and ran into several people from my high school days. They were all people I would have wanted to see and in small enough numbers so it was not too overwhelming. Lunch was at the kebab place in town. After lunch we drove up through the Black Forest, stopped and hiked no more than fifteen minutes to Sausenberg Castle a structure that is now mostly ruins, however the large tower remains in good condition. It looked especially evocative with frost on the ground and sunlight shining through the clouds.

Regarding pictures, of the few I took on my personal camera-most have yet to be uploaded from another, better camera-here are a few of my activities at Heathrow Airport while I waited for my connecting flight. I was originally only going to have an hour to get from one gate to the other, but with the significant delays due to Seattle's snow storm last week, I had over two leisurely hours in Terminal 5, the newest and most modern at Heathrow. After spritzing myself with Calvin Klein Euphoria from the duty free store as I had been in some state of travel for the last two days I went across the way to my interim destination: the chic little bar in the middle of the terminal-good for relaxation and people watching.

I asked for a Perfect Manhattan and the bartender didn't know what it was. This should have been my first clue that perhaps I should order something different. I figured that drink wouldn't be an issue. He found the recipe in his little book and started to make it-which took him forever and a day. Yes, if the bar is not too busy (and it wasn't) I absolutely expect some time and car to be taken when my drink is being made. This was just shy of ridiculous. He was overly leisurely, watering down my drink by stirring the bitters with ice first for several minutes and then shaking my Manhattan for a minute more. When I finally took a sip, he asked me how I liked it and it was far different than I expected. He had used Scotch Whiskey and not Bourbon Whiskey. It was palatable enough and would do the duty, so I said it was fine despite the lack of Bourbon. He said they didn't carry Bourbon and I looked at the duty-free shelf behind me and pointed at the Maker's Mark. "Oh, I don't think our company owns the rights to serve that." But what bar, anywhere doesn't serve any Bourbon? I should have paid right away as it took fifteen minutes from when I said I wanted to pay to a mere three drinks later when he took my card. Maybe he was new. I really wanted to get behind that bar and do things myself!

Despite the overall quality of the drink, I should have ordered a few more of these to stash in my luggage for the rest of my time here. Really. Thankfully I saved at least one mini bottle from the plane.

Today we are heading into Basel, Switerzland for the afternoon once more. The other day we arrived in the evening after most of the shops had closed, so I look forward to at least perusing some European stores.

I return to Seattle this week.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Supernatural Swirly

End of Indy Four
Like end of Mummy Returns
Explody and dumb

Second screenshot from The Mummy Returns

Trailer for the Buffster

This trailer for Season 1 of Buffy makes me all warm and giddy like.

I'd see that.

"Fruit punch mouth..." hehe.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Old Books

Going through my old things has turned into some kind of strange, subtle torture punctuated by moments of lightness and bold indicators of the evolution of my character, sexuality and personality. Apparently, I feel the need to deal with this by turning it into some form of entertainment. I didn't end up making it into Germany this afternoon; on the agenda for today was childhood books-and making an Apple-Raspberry Pie which turned out marvelously. I felt a little like Ned in Pushing Daisies.

A few highlights or lowlights of the book fest depending on how you take it:

A selection of Misty of Chincoteague novels by Marguerite Henry from my lengthy "horse phase."

The Black Stallion by Walter Farley-one of my favorites from times past, again with the horse thing.

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit, a book I remember quite fondly-not so much the 2002 movie, however.

The Complete Pendragon Cycle by Stephen R. Lawhead which is still some good semi-historical fiction tracing the lives of Taliesin, Merlin and Arthur.

Aaaand, Help!: I'm Trapped in My Gym Teacher's Body! by Todd Strasser. An interesting concept-kind of kinky. I liked this book as an adolescent. This explains alot of things.

Please wrest me back to the present now.

Friday, December 26, 2008

France, Germany, Switzerland-Repeat

I have had a rather enjoyable time here thus far with my family in France. It is the first Christmas the family has spent together in three years! We were also here in France at that time, a little over a year after I graduated from my high school in Germany, just across the border from where my parents now. I give you fair warning for the long post ahead, dear readers.

I have to say that while I've been having a good time for the most part, it is more than a little odd to be all "living" under the same roof for a week. While it is nice to have the family in one place for the holiday, it doesn't give me all warm and fuzzy feelings but the realization that the time of being together as a unit is long over and can't happen naturally again. I think that because it seems unnatural, I have more of a tendency to feel pressure to "perform" or perhaps a better word is "restrain" in certain circumstances. That's rarely a pleasant behavior to enact. I have this desire that we could all relate to the place each of us are at in our lives and though I'm sure some families successfully navigate that process or make some semblance of that, it's seems impossible to do with those you left sometimes, especially when people treat each other as figures as they were in the past.

The past is something I always have to face when I visit with the family. This year is no exception. Last time I came it was my former alumni from high school; this time it is boxes. Twenty-some boxes of my life, from grade school onward. My parents want me to go through them and downsize all that I have in storage. They are full of papers mostly, personal and academic all jumbled together in a vague order. '98 in one box, '01 and '02 in the second, Biology, Statistics and Creative Writing in another. Sometimes it's not so simple and all kinds of writing falls out on my lap. Some of which are embarrassing, some cute, some useless now, and others...others I would care to forget. Then I realize that forgetting is the easy part, but there is a price in that some of what I wrote then stems from a world from anxiety and hurt. Writing regarding events or ideas that were certainly formative in making the man I am today, but that is too striking to read in the present. I was shocked to experience the feeling that I wish I never had to write certain things about family, for school or otherwise. Some things are better addressed than forgotten, regardless of how strong the drive is to move on. My mom turned to me at one point during my adventures in filing and in a light-hearted tone asked, "So, taking a trip down memory lane, huh?" I swallowed the lump in my throat and mumbled a non-committal reply. Sometimes memory lane is a dark and twisted alley. I've thrown out old math and german tests or the like, some history notes, but I've saved all my writing assignments, journals and drawings. Most of these will remain in boxes, but some I have to take back with me. I can't box them up again.

One of my favorite part of these days here may very well come at night when I can curl up on the couch with my yellow lab, Athena-how I've missed her- at my feet and touch my present life via the keys on my laptop.

That being said, today's trip to Lucerne, Switzerland was most pleasant and the weather cooperated marvelously-except for the temperature which was hovering above freezing with the wind chill. It is one of the most visited cities in Switzerland and for good reason. It is full of stunning architecture-castles, bridges, bell towers, monuments and stone walls. There's a great new vista behind every building. The bridge in the above photo is the oldest covered bridge in Europe. Being the day after Christmas, there were few people walking the streets. However, also being the day after Christmas, there were not many shops or restaurants open. We weren't going to the city for either particularly, so it was fine except when it came to eat. After looking up and down narrow streets, we found an open restaurant-a modern, sprawling three-floor McDonalds. As I said to my dad, menus at McDonalds do differ quite a bit around the world, so it was a cultural experience. I made up for it by having a vanilla Berliner post-"Chicken Mythic" sandwich. I'll share pictures of the whole trip as soon as I can gather them from the couple cameras we used. On our way back we cut across the German border and back into France with a great meal by Mom and a viewing of Iron Man with the family.

Tomorrow will be a quieter day for the most part. I will likely visit my old high school for a few photos along with my old dorm. I'll pick up a German pastry from the local bakery a few blocks from the campus. Tomorrow might also be the day I eat lunch at the best Turkish döner kebab in the world-no joke. In the evening, we will be having my dear, dear friend, professor, drama director and choir instructor, Michele, over for a dinner of Mom's homemade pizza! I'm very much looking forward to the good food and good company.


This week saw the passing of two very important and lasting women in the entertainment industry, Majel Barrett Roddenberry, wife of Star Trek creator, Gene Roddenberry and Eartha Kitt.

The first had a more active role in the formation of my pop culture conscious as the voice of every single Star Trek computer in every incarnation of the series, film and television series alike. I have fond memories of Saturday nights growing up when the family would order bake-at-home pizza from Papa Murphy's and gather to watch that week's episode of Star Trek. First it was Star Trek: The Next Generation, then Deep Space Nine and Voyager when they came along. The former Mrs. Roddenberry was always there. She had just finished her work on J.J. Abram's Star Trek relaunch prior to her death. Come May, we'll all have a chance to hear her tell the crew once more in soothing, neutral tones that the ship is most certainly going to be destroyed.

Majel Barrett Roddenberry
February 23, 1932 – December 18, 2008

While Eartha Kitt was never a huge part of my cultural upbringing, I did have the fortune of meeting her through my previous place of employment a few months ago. She was in Seattle for a string of performances at Dimitrou's Jazz Alley. One Saturday afternoon, I spent about an hour with her and her assistant/make-up artist trying to find an Italian restaurant that was not only open for lunch but that served Capellini-angel hair-pasta. Ms. Kitt was quite particular about this. Nothing else would do. Thankfully, I pulled some strings with The Pink Door and we were able to accommodate. She is one of the few people to have ever been nominated for Tony, Grammy and Emmy awards. She passed away on Christmas Day, ever the "Santa Baby."

Eartha Mae Kitt
January 17, 1927 – December 25, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Not After Midnight

Gremlins is one of my favorite movies and if I kept a list of favorite Christmas movies it would surely appear close to the top.

Before the Furby and Tickle Me Elmo, there was:

and the dreamy Zach Gilligan as Billy Peltzer.

Gerald: If it isn't Captain Clip-On. Guess who almost signed for unemployment today?
Billy Peltzer: I give up.
Gerald: You... But Mr. Corben had second thoughts. He gets so sentimental around the holidays.
Billy Peltzer: Imagine that.
Gerald: If it was up to me, I would have fired you in a second.
Billy Peltzer: Well, a merry Christmas to you too.

If only real businesses worked that way. I was laid off early this month just in time for Christmas, but thankfully, I was offered a new and exciting job this past weekend. I hardly had time to celebrate before heading off to France! Champagne when I return to the US of A!

All Kinds of Shiny

A fantastic Christmas themed Firefly fan video.

Have a wonderful, shiny Christmas, everyone!

Dear Old Danny

Dear Daniel Radcliffe,

You look neither youthful nor overly charming in this picture of you visiting the London cast of Spring Awakening.

Please take note.

And shave.

Thanks, Dan.

Christmas in Alsace

After literal days of travel-including cancellations, delays and flight connections, I finally touched down in Zurich, Switzerland around 2:00PM local time on Tuesday, December 23rd. On the way back to my parent's place, we stopped at the local butcher to pick up a ham for Christmas day and two baguettes from the bakery down the street. My dinner, was, naturally, bread and brie. And in fact, that may be what I have for the majority of my meals during my time here.

We spent a good portion of the evening in Basel, Switzerland sipping sweet, hot glühwein out of real mugs as we walked through the Weinachts market downtown. Basel was beautifully strung with lights of all kinds and huge Christmas trees were erected in every square and street corner including the Rathaus-Basel's red stone town hall as seen in the picture to the right. Within its courtyard, carolers surrounded the tree and sang traditional holiday songs in German. Basel is only twenty minutes away from our house here, so spending the day between Germany-ten minutes away-Switzerland and France is fairly typical for my family here. I look forward to going back to Basel during the day sometime this week and visiting all the great stores big shopping centers, modern European shops and quaint boutiques alike.

I stayed up until a typical bedtime as you're supposed to do and then slept for thirteen hours. So far so good-I'm sure the two cups of espresso this morning and afternoon helped a little. I'm ready to head out for an afternoon of traipsing about Alsacien villages along the Rhein River culminating in the town of Colmar for their Christmas market. Then its back to my family's house in Kembs Loechlee for an evening of decorating the tree, baking cookies and eating raclette-a delicious French meal with melted cheese and potatoes. Carbs and cheese-how could you possibly go wrong with that?

Foxy Ladies

This is how you ensure the gays of America are pleased on New Years Eve.

The Silver Fox and the Queen of the D-List host the New Years Eve celebrations live at Times Square, Wednesday December 31st.

Thank you, CNN.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Play Nice, Kitties

It's my 100th post on this blog and I write it on this cold floor in the airport while having waited over 24 hours for my plane to take me to visit my family for Christmas. Cabin fever has started to set in. Could that be why I find the following video absolutely hilarious and kind of awesome?

Is it frightening that I am excited for a movie that may never happen based on an entirely fake trailer?

And Thundercats at that?

Three more hours.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Winter Haiku

Hear the devil laugh
When the weather reporters
Fail in prediction.

It is in cold hours
Candles are weak and I seek
the light of your eyes.

This cup was not meant
For hot liquids; you now run
The risk of melting.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

"I like a good head on my snowmen"

On a recent excursion to the Nordstrom flagship store in downtown Seattle with my friend Keith, we stopped by the home section. We were looking to see if there were any good vases, pillows, tchotchkes to buy for gifts. We did not end up getting anything, though we did see these fine articles of home decor:

Keith could not resist reaching for these...phallic, Christmas-themed...snow-people...?

Needless to say, we quickly vacated the premises after the traumatic encounter.

Enough said.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Happy Hour

There are still a few places in town you can get a cosmopolitan under $5.00 during happy hour. What about $2.00? Believe it or not, Bleu Bistro serves $2.00 cosmos and lemondrops during their happy hours-often bringing them to the table two at a time. You also can't go to Bleu without having their Wasabi Grilled Cheese sandwhich served with three dipping sauces. Bread, cheese and dipping. Yes please.

Still my favorite happy hour in town has to be at Palomino from 4-6PM everyday. Who can beat $5.00 pizzas and $4.00 (formerly $3.00) wine, appletinis and draft beer?

Today's haiku:

I am at happy
hour on an empty stomach.
I will eat this lime.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


I am writing an exciting new paper for a new conference. Grad apps are in. I completed my annual tradition of watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy-the extended edition, of course-during the month of December, though not in one sitting. It snowed. My apartment is freezing. I am going home for Christmas.

And poor as I may be, I allowed myself to buy a pair of suspenders this afternoon. I haven't owned suspenders in two decades-give or take. I also wrote just shy of a dozen haikus today. They will make their way onto the blog in due time.

Here is the first of the lot:

These new suspenders
Will make many more outfits
From this small closet.

And yes, dear readers, these are the very suspenders I now own.

So many wardrobe possibilities-possibly paired with a black bow tie or any number of the colorful and fanciful-and by fanciful I mean absolutely ridiculous-bow ties passed down to me from my father's childhood collection. Seriously, there's a box. Don't get me started on the neckties.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

What's That On Your Shelf?

I realize I've been a very bad blogger as of late. I assure you, I have my reasons, and most of them are legitimate.

Graduate program applications are ridiculously involved. I had my birthday. I dressed up for Halloween. I've been seeing shows. The world has been a stressful place and I've been busy helping elect our new President.

I hope to be able to return to the regular scheduling programming soon-ish.

In the mean time:

"What's that on your shelf there?"

"Oh, that? It's just a Tyrannosaurus Rex Vs. Triceratops Diorama that cost $300.00..."

Don't worry. I don't actually have one. But, it would be kind of cool, right?

Also, be sure to check the blog regularly for Twitter updates-or just go ahead and sign up then follow me. They range in tone and informational quality, but they are most certainly frequent.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Britney & I Are Back

I made my return to Seattle on Friday evening on a direct flight from JFK leaving the music, lights and relentless buzz of New York City behind. I was glad to have been able to spend such a significant amount of time there to experience so much of the city.

On my last night in the city, my friends there took me out to a multi-level club in Manhattan called Splash and we danced the night away in the over-the top atmosphere of the "Campus Thursdays" theme night complete with Go-Go dancers and $3 Long Island Iced Teas-which, I'm not keen on ordering any other time except for when they're a third of the price of everything else offered at the bar. It was also Madonna night-in anticipation of her tour stop at Madison Square Garden on Saturday-which apparently only meant they were showing Madonna videos and really not playing many of her songs. All in all, I'd go back for sure.

Half the time I kept thinking that the DJ was playing the same three songs over and over again. That thought probably wasn't entirely true but thankfully one of the songs that was definitely played a handful of times was the following. I thought of my friend Ryan-Britney supporter-as the first beats of the song boomed over the stereo. Check out his admirable "Defense of Blackout" over here. I have to admit, this one is growing on me with its shameless repetitive pop beats and simplistic yet sassy lyrics.

Of course, some songs are just better when accompanied by dancing, pretty people, a splashy club scene and Long Islands.

I was pleased to find the music video for "Womanizer" had been released whilst my absence from the internets.

And, if the song doesn't do it for you, the music video is nice, flashy and very..."charged." Who is that guy?!

The director of this video Joseph Kahn also directed Britney's “Stronger” and “Toxic” videos-the latter of which remains my favorite Britney music video. Kahn's pop-saturated aesthetic most recently won the Pussycat Dolls a VMA for their “When I Grow Up” video, which I haven't seen-and is for a song that has not grown on me like other pop singles of late.

I'm happy to be back-maybe not the whole working part-and Britney too, will be coming back full force December 2nd with new album, Circus. I'm sure Splash will be hosting a release party. Ryan?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

After These Messages...

I am thrilled to say that I am going on vacation in New York City this week. Amidst museums, boats, bars, restaurants, skyscrapers, shows and other exciting things I may not have as much time to devote to the blog while I am gone.

Don't worry. I'll be back.

Monday, September 29, 2008


It's hard to determine what the best part about this year's Definitely, Maybe, which I thought was one of those surprise enjoyable and adorable romantic comedies that I don't have a problem confessing I liked. Ryan Reynolds is handsome as always as Will Hayes-though his characterization is a bit bland when all is said and done. Abigail Breslin, in her biggest role at the time since Little Miss Sunshine, is exceptional and given a decent script to play out. But the stand-out, step-out role was that of April Hoffman played by Isla Fisher, who had not been in more than one or two films I had seen prior-and nothing as substantial. She wafts between the sweet, comedic and meaningful.

There's just something about her that's incredibly charming. I also find her very attractive-her redheaded-ness is a plus too-crushing just a bit here. With that confession-here are a few more of those in the trailer for Confessions of a Shopaholic hitting theaters in February of next year.

Will this be the next Devil Wears Prada or a forgettable chick-flick? Regardless I'm glad she's doing well-still looking cute-and hopefully we will see even more of her in the future.


For all the Americans that need a good laugh today-that would mean everyone.

Kristen Wigg as Judy Grimes in this past weekend's Saturday Night Live.

Thanks for the suggestion, Kj!


It is important for the American public and for the markets to stay calm because things are never smooth in congress and to understand that it will get done. That we are going to make sure an emergency package is put together because it is required for us to stabilize the markets and to make sure that when a small business-person wakes up tomorrow morning, he will be able to make payroll. ... I am confident we are going to get there but it's going to be sort of rocky. It's sort of like flying into Denver. You know you're going to land but it's not always fun going over those mountains.

-Illinois Senator Barack Obama addressing the rejection by congress of the $700 billion bailout plan in a speech delivered at Mountain Range High School in Westminster, Colo. Monday September 29, 2008

The Banana: Atheist's Nightmare

This was too entertaining to pass up. Kirk Cameron and co. proving the existence of God with a banana.

This clip resurfaced after the numbers rolled in for Kirk Cameron's new message-based film Fireproof came in with a $6.5 million dollars in receipts making it the highest grossing movie on opening weekend this year that came out on less than 1,000 screens (Hannah Montana's 3D concert extravaganza was #1). Word is church groups all over the country bought up tickets and sold out theatres like it was a front row seat to the the second coming.

Source: Slash Film.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Comic Books & Juice Part II

Part I of Comic Books & Juice revolved around an excursion to purchase the latest issues of Angel: After the Fall, Buffy Season 8 and an Odwalla juice.

Last night's events paralleled the geek-saturated nature of that former experience in the viewing of two movies of the science-fiction variety and "juice" by which I mean "juice + booze."

First up on the agenda was a screening of Cloverfield for an under-the-weather friend at his new apartment. It was the first time he had seen it. Mid-way through the attempt at characterization early on in the film (pre-devestation) and the 90210 meets Gossip Girl meets American Apparel models I went to the store to buy among other things, Prosecco and Orange Juice-the latter did double duty as extra Vitamin C for my sick friend and half of my mimosas throughout the evening.

As was the desire of our ill and gracious host, we followed Cloverfield by watching another disaster movie, this one entitled The Day After, no not that Day After. It was produced for television in 1983 with an array of actors in the early stages of their career including John Lithgow and Steve Guttenberg-whose character's name I appreciated: Stephen Klein. The Day After is a disturbing look at the possibility of a full on nuclear war with rather graphic depictions of doomsday.

If you're interested, The Doomsday Clock currently reads five minutes to midnight, last updated on the 17th of January 2007.

While "juice" was not strictly "juice" and the movies weren't based on comic books per se, the tag "Comic Books & Juice" just seemed appropriate for the occasion.


Lisa Donovan aka LisaNova on YouTube does a spot-on impersonation of Sarah Palin that rivals Tina Fey's iteration of the Alaskan governer on two recent episodes of Saturday Night Live. Watch the hilarious LisaNova spoof of the Charlie Gibson/Sarah Palin interview below.

"This is the hand that has shaken John McCain's hand...this is the hand that has'...heads."

Saturday, September 27, 2008

R.I.P. Blue Eyes

Paul Leonard Newman

“I picture my epitaph: "Here lies Paul Newman, who died a failure because his eyes turned brown".”

Friday, September 26, 2008

Valkyrie Trailer

With new still photos and a fine-looking poster a full-length trailer was bound to be released soon. You can see it below courtesy of JoBlo or you can check it out in high definition at Yahoo! Movies here.

Now that is a great trailer. It portrays a compelling story, it's beautifully shot and it definitely gives me more hope for the movie coming in December.

If Tom Cruise's love interest in the film looks über-familiar, it is because the beautiful Carice van Houten had a starring role in another recent big-budget World War II film, Black Book, which, again, I loved. Granted, it is probably a safe bet that the percentage of Americans who saw Black Book is probably quite small, it her casting in Black Book awfully trite. Yes, she was amazing as the bold character, Rachel Stein in Black Book and I understand why Bryan Singer wanted to cast her, but it does not seem "natural" in my mind as what we have seen of the character is too close to her role in the Dutch film. I just hope van Houten's career is not permanently intertwined with Nazi infiltration/World War II films in the same way Keira Knightley is locked in a perpetual cycle of period pieces.

As a side note related to the casting of van Houten in these films, there was a great discussion on the topic of "Intertextual Casting" at Slayage Conference 3 in June which touched on some very interesting career choices by actors and casting decisions by producers in television and film. One of the examples was the casting of Amber Benson-who played Willow's witchy companion Tara on Buffy The Vampire Slayer-as a Vampire on Supernatural.

Intertextual Casting is a bit like textual poaching in its attempt to make the performance evocative of previous "texts" the with which the actor was involved, inevitably drawing comparisons with a similar character or set of actions or serving to intensify the contrast between the actor's prior performances and this new role. Either way, it is clear that producers recognize the narrative potential of association and see the strengths those kind of decisions can add to their show.


I cannot imagine any other actress portraying Buffy than Sarah Michelle Gellar. SMG gave those performances her all. In some talkbacks online I recently saw someone suggest Buffy be recast and continue with the girl who played Ruby on Supernatural as Buffy. I cringed...multiple times. I just can't see it nor would I desire it.

Since leaving the small screen, Sarah has made some interesting career choices including playing Daphne in Scooby-Doo and its sequel, two gos at the lead role in the Grudge films, which I'm not sad to say I missed, the it's-not-actually-related-at-all-to-The-Grudge-movies-despite-overwhelming-similarities, The Return and a small but memorable role as a porn/popstar in Richard Kelly's bizarre take on politics and the future, Southland Tales-worth the watch if for nothing other than its sheer strangeness. I have been meaning to watch the highly metaphorical Korean-directed film, The Air I Breathe wherein she also plays a popstar-is Gellar living out some fantasy of music fame?

Just announced is Gellar's return to television in an HBO series called The Wonderful Maladys penned by screenwriter Charles Randolph-The Life of David Gale, The Interpreter. The full Variety article here.

Can Gellar carry a television show again? Can she even be said to have "carried" Buffy having been backed by strong scripts, production and a great cast?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Valkyrie in Three

I think this newly released poster for Bryan Singer's WWII epic, Valkyrie, is an example of some great design.

I like the starkness of the black and white contrasted with the red-it's hard to go wrong with that color combination. The use of blueprints in the background is a fantastic graphic element and the inclusion of the red line running through it recalls the spy-centric narrative of Valkyrie, which surrounds the failed plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler. The bent red line is reminiscent of a swastika further contextualizing the movie. In addition, I'm always a fan of incorporating the credits into the overall layout of the poster.

This movie has had numerous release dates-I counted a total of five-a reshoot or two, and more than a few controversies and after all of that Valkyrie finally has a release date of December 26, 2008.

I am trying not to be bothered by the casting of Tom Cruise-a bitter point increased by the fact that Patrick Wilson was once set to be in the film-but the movie has had several successfull test screenings and I really enjoyed what Bryan Singer did with the X-Men movies.

I do also have a great affinity for World War II films and stories, which if nothing else, will get me into the theatre for Valkyrie come December or early January. One of the most moving experiences in my life was playing Anne Frank's father, Otto Frank, in a stage production of The Diary of Anne Frank in Germany. The cast had the opportunity to meet with Anne Frank's last living relative, Buddy Elias. Props I kept from the show were my wedding ring, a yellow felt Star of David with "Jude" printed on it, and the scarf my "daughter" knitted. That whole period of my life has stuck with me and for good reason. I'm continually drawn to that narrative. Recently, I have enjoyed Intiman's production of The Diary of Anne Frank and before that I was awed by Paul Verhoeven's phenomenal film, Black Book.

I probably won't see Valkyrie the day after Christmas when it opens, but I will make an outing of it soon after.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Pop Eats: Seattle

While I do not mean for this to become a food blog, it is an inevitability that much of my social and professional life revolves around the visiting, discussion and subsequent reviews of restaurants and bars-the countless social hubs present in one's post-21 world. Recent months have seen the opening of several new restaurants in the Seattle area. Along with the premieres of new and favorite television series this fall, the arrival of new restaurants here is point of much excitement. As I have had a busy summer, so have the restaurateurs and their staff who have prepared to give my city some exciting new culinary destinations. I share some of these with you below:

10th Ave E & E Roy

The highly anticipated restaurant by the acclaimed chef, Jerry Traunfeld, formerly of
The Herb Farm, is now taking reservations. The restaurant, named after Traunfeld’s mother, is an invigorating entry into Seattle’s restaurant scene based on the chef’s experiences with the Indian culinary art of Thali during his travels. The main feature of the restaurant’s menu is a prix-fixe Thali at $32 with ten different dishes not meant to be shared. As the restaurant just opened, Traunfeld and his staff are still working on the development of an à la carte bar menu for those looking for a less intimidating option. The menu blends Indian tradition with Traunfeld’s dynamic use of fresh herbs in his cooking-he even has an herb garden right behind the restaurant. I slipped into Poppy’s “soft” opening on September the 16th to survey the space and meet the staff behind Poppy and made a return visit for dinner a few days later. The restaurant is beautiful. In speaking with Jerry, I saw how much passion he has for Poppy and how invested he has been in its inception and growth-from the food to the custom-made chairs to the lighting fixtures. With an authentic tandoor oven, Poppy is able to make original and delectable dishes and always fresh naan-Indian flatbread. The highlights of my meal there included scrumptious tandoor chicken marinated in a yogurt sauce, creative specialty cocktails-try the “Turkish Delight” an enticing fusion of vodka, orange curacao, maraschino liqueur, lime and pomegranate-and a dessert that is absolutely not to be missed, the “Rocky Rose” ice cream-homemade with real chocolate, geranium/rose essence from the backyard, marshmallows made from scratch and marcona almonds, all served up in a martini glass. If you don’t get anything else-but please do-go for this. Their website.

Harvard Ave E & E Roy

The Loveless Building, built in the 1930s with gorgeous stone, has housed many restaurants over the years and Olivar appears to be a perfect fit. Translated from “olive grove” Olivar’s menu focuses on small plates born of an investment in locally-sourced, organic, seasonal foods, including chorizo with white beans, rabbit with garlicky pasta, and salmon dressed in Bernaise sauce. The menu is set to change every so often. The classically trained chef Philippe Thomelin grew up with a Catalan grandmother in France, spent many years in Spain, and possesses a love of Italian food. Olivar is next on my list of new restaurants I aim to visit personally as soon as possible. As a couple friends and I walked home from Broadway Grill (which I still like despite its triteness) last night-deciding that it was too late to go bowling at the Garage as intended-we peeked in to the intimate dining area through the windows and perused the menu next to the heavy wood door. Everything looked pristine and inviting. Between Poppy and Olivar-not to mention the new
Vivace coffee shop opening with the Brix condominiums-the north end of Broadway gets a well-deserved injection of fine urban dining. Their menu and more.

2nd & Bell

The bold pine wood that makes up the patio and furniture and the bright blue signage makes this restaurant stand out along 2nd Avenue.  Kushibar opened for business just a couple weeks ago next to Tavolata in Belltown. Chef Billy Beach and Umi Sake House owner Steve Hanis are marketing the restaurant as "Japanese street food meets home cooking." Billy has said he is looking forward to mastering grilling and sauces. His menu will be skewer-centric with various meats and fish accompanied by what he calls "the best ramen in town." The restaurant is filled with light, sustainable woods, a year-round outdoor deck-which looked great as I walked by this morning-and an open kitchen that affords guests a view of the incredible grilling. Updated website coming soon.

In sad city/restaurant news, the oft-extolled restaurant, Crave, on Capitol Hill, has lost its lease in the Capitol Hill Arts Center becoming yet another "I-always-wanted-to-go-there-but-never-did" restaurant. The owner, Robin Leventhall, says they have to be out by Halloween and states “finding a new location and moving in one month will be impossible. Crave might be taking an enforced break.”

As my ancestors in Sweden would have said, Smaklig måltid!

Extra: If you re-arrange the letters in Seattle, you can spell "Let's Eat."

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Reformed Buffy

"You know, I just - I woke up and I looked in the mirror and I thought, "Hey, what's with all the sin? I need to change. I'm-I'm dirty, I'm bad with the sex, and the envy, and that-that loud music us kids listen to nowadays. B-" Oh, I just suck at undercover." -Buffy, 3.01 "Anne"

I just started watching Season 3 of Buffy with my friend Keith-who as I have mentioned is experiencing the Buff for the first time. Another friend, KJ, in a similar situation just finished Seasons 3 and 4 in apparently marathon sessions, commented on how Season 3 takes Buffy to a higher arena of play in regards to plot development, thematic content, and the scripts. "Anne" is a superbly fashioned season premiere. Buffy really does change, reforms and comes into her own, as a character and at the level of the show. A fellow Buffyologist, Ryan ,has a great overview of season 3 on his blog, Beyond The Rubicon.

It's great to be watching Buffy for a second time-and sharing too.

Silly Rich Folk

In the pull-out Style section of the New York Times today, this one-sheet stood out, not just because of the Apple logo and simplistic design but because of the smirk-inducing fine print below.

Valextra MacBook Air Cover, $1,640. Go to MacBook Air, $1,799. Go to


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Top 5: Seattle Sips

Zig Zag Café
1501 Western Ave
This bar perched in the middle of the steps of the Pike Place Hill Climb that bridge the market area and the waterfront, boasts one of the best bartenders in the world. Zig Zag is often referenced in national publications such as Esquire. The bar and the innovative minds behind it, Murray Stenson, in particular, take their drinks very seriously and are credited with reviving the classic cocktail below, The Last Word. A drink with simple ingredients that you could order elsewhere, but Zig Zag is its home. You’ll never order a simple gin and tonic again.

Top Sip:
The Last Word
1 oz. Gin
1 oz. Maraschino Liqueur
1 oz. Green Chartreuse

Muddle lime. Add above ingredients with ice, shake, strain into cocktail glass and garnish with a maraschino cherry.

Sun Liquor
Summit & E Roy
Sun Liquor is one of Capitol Hill’s finest and most accessible bars. The management of Zig Zag never hesitate to recommend Sun if they have clientele heading up the hill or in search of different surroundings. Sun Liquor is out of the way, off the bustling sidewalks of Broadway, down in a largely residential area. The dim, reddish light of Sun bleeds out onto the sidewalk inviting you in to a relaxed atmosphere. Fresh-squeezed fruit juice signaled by the stainless steel press on the bar is one draw of many. Weekends draw crowds, but the bar remains cozy, friendly and unpretentious.

Top Sip:
1 oz. Brandy
1 oz. Cointreau
1 oz. Lemon Juice

Shake ingredients with ice. Strain and serve in a sugar-rimmed cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

5th between Union & University
Vessel is housed in a space formerly the lobby of neighboring 5th Avenue Theatre. The bar maintains some of the original ornate ceiling and wall detail and dazzles with stainless steel, lime green glass accents, vintage glassware and tall glass ceilings with dark wood venetian blinds. The sense is very LA. A chic and respectable bar to run your liver down, but probably not your wallet as the high-class libations do go for a pretty penny. If you order just one drink let it be, their signature cocktail, the velvety, slightly oaky, citrus infused, VESSEL 75.

Top Sip:
3 oz. Woodford Reserve Bourbon
3 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
1 bar-spoon simple syrup

Stir the above ingredients in an iced Boston shaker and strain into a rocks glass.Top with maple syrup foam and orange zest.

Melrose & E Pine

Perhaps I feel more at ease with the echoes of the deceased after having worked for several months at a funeral home. It might help with drinking at the incredibly atmospheric, Chapel, which is a renovated funeral home itself. The high ceilings, dark wood and ten-foot mirrors lend a supreme sense of awe to the space. Candlelight flickers across the room, wax dripping of wrought iron candelabras on the bar-built of cold stone slabs, still numbered as they were during their original use. This great lounge space has been used as the backdrop for music videos and photo shoots alike. If the décor is not enough, it is hard to beat the $4 martinis during happy hour. I try to pick a new drink from the extensive specialty martini menu whenever I go, but I can always go for a Manhattan.

Top Sip:
3 oz. Bourbon
1.5 oz. Sweet Vermouth
3 dashes Angostura bitters

Stir ingredients in an iced Boston shaker and strain into cocktail glass with an orange twist or maraschino cherry.

Intiman Theatre
201 Mercer St
This selection really takes this Top 5 list to Top 6, but Top 5 just sounds better and I would be hard pressed to choose my favorite over these two drinks as they fit in such different categories. The Lounge at Intiman is the only place where you will be able to order these fantastic cocktails by name. In addition, it is the only bar on this list where one can sit down for a performance at a Tony Award winning theatre-Best Regional Theatre 2006-post libation or even while one drinks, as an individual may take his drink into the theatre provided he makes the exchange for a paper cup.

Top Sip(s):
Grand Theft
3 oz Maker’s Mark
1 oz Grand Marnier
Ginger Ale

Muddle lemon at the bottom of Boston shaker, fill with ice, add liquors, shake and strain into a tall glass filled with ice. Top with ginger ale and garnish with lemon.

The Flood
3 oz. Gin
1 oz. Peach Schnapps
0.5 oz Blue Curacao

Muddle lemon. Add above ingredients with ice, shake and garnish with lemon twist.

For every show at Intiman, my two fellow bartenders and I create specialty cocktails based on thematic elements in the script, bits of dialogue, key dramatic scenes or plot points. It is a way for the front of house staff to be actively involved in shaping the experience of the audience as they come out for a night of theatre. Rigorous taste-testing of these cocktails before their debut on opening night is always an essential part of the creative process. As a team, we are always looking for new ideas and inspiration in preparation for the next show as well as any way to slip a little Campari into a liquid creation.

One of my colleagues actually took the liberty of providing the readers of her blog, including former and future audiences of Intiman’s productions, a thorough list of the “specialty drinks” from our tenure as bartenders over the last few years.

• • •

In other drink and restaurant news, I checked out a new bar on Capitol Hill last night called Buck. It is a western-themed bar on Olive Way-where a number of bars old and new have made their new home in the past year. Buck might become one of my new hang outs, a very comfortable space with an all honey-pine interior. I have one friend that works there: broad-shouldered with a goatee, he could definitely pass as a cowboy. The waitress was gorgeous, very nice and dressed in a cute equestrian outfit. I sipped on a Sidecar-brought to me with a “refill” in a shot glass-while I straddled a western saddle on a saddle-rack. Buck has had a soft opening this week and opens officially tomorrow. I can’t wait to go back.

Now, I’m thirsty.

Top 5: Seattle Eats

While I am probably short of being a “regular” at these restaurants, any opportunity to grab a table at one of them is always welcome. These are the places I crave the food and the atmosphere. On evenings when I simply do not want to cook or those times when a nice meal out with friends is in order, I can always count on my Top 5 Go-Tos for Seattle Dining. The following restaurants are great for dates, small groups or even a meal by one’s self-Txori in particular is that kind of relaxed establishment where it’s never awkward eating alone. I included the number one dish or combination that gets me in the door. The next time you find yourself in Seattle, give these a try.

Café Presse
12th & Madison
Just minutes walk from my apartment, Café Presse is the sister restaurant to a downtown favorite, Le Pichet. Authentic French food in a modern yet comfortable neighborhood setting. I love seeing the sign as I round the corner on 12th—the logo is taken directly from a chain of newspaper stores in France called Maison de la Presse. Reminds me of home.

Top Dish:
Steak-Frites 16.00
Pan roasted Oregon Natural Beef hanger steak, piperade, and fried potatoes

Steelhead Diner
1st & Pine
My introduction to Steelhead Diner came through an invitation to dine with the owner and head PR agent. My friend and I partook of a filling spread of contemporary Pacific Northwest cuisine. My extended review here.

Top Dish:
A Slice of Caviar Pie with Traditional Garniture 12.95
Jumbo Lump Dungeness Crab Cake with Crispy Parsley & Sauce Louis 14.95

Quinn's Pub
10th & E Pike
Sister restaurant to the Belltown must, Restaurant Zoë. Best fries in Seattle, hands down. The drinks are excellent as well and the concept of the restaurant, a “gastro-pub,” is a welcome addition to the trendy Capitol Hill area. Try the oxtail too. Warm, nostalgic, and rustic atmosphere.

Top Dish:
Fries with demi glacé sauce 8.00

2nd & Blanchard
An authentic Spanish and Basque tapas restaurant with small plates called pinxtos ranging from $2-$6. High tables in an elongated, intimate space. Everything I have tried on this menu is heaven-in-your-mouth-good.

Top Dish:
tortilla española 1.75
potato onion omelet, alioli
albondigas 6.00
pork and veal meatballs

Thai Tom
45th & University
Another cozy establishment, this one in the University District. This is the best Thai food in Seattle and the most inexpensive. Watch Tom himself prepare your meal in a cast iron skillet just a few feet away from you with flames licking the stainless steel range above. Shoulder to shoulder, line out the door, you can’t beat it and Seattle knows.

Top Dish:
Swimming Rama 7.00
Chicken simmered in coconut milk, surrounded by blanched spinach,covered in a citrus spiked peanut sauce

Next Top 5: Drinks