The Family Barber (of Seville)

John Moore and Kevin Glavin in Barber of Seville Photo by Jacob Lucas c/o Seattle Opera

When I saw The Barber of Seville at Seattle Opera in October, I declared it my new favorite opera and left McCaw Hall determined to come back with my whole family. That proved easier said than done, but I did it. Here’s how. Continue reading

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An Arts Snob Attends Disney On Ice

When a middle-aged white man complained on Twitter with a picture of one of my favorite graphic novels captioned “Can you believe they expect us to buy this stuff?” a woman replied, “It’s not for you.” So before I review the Disney on Ice “Follow Your Heart” show I need to disclose that Disney-themed ice shows are not for me.

I am an admitted urban snob who has worked tirelessly to protect my daughters from the Disney princess cult and made a niche writing about sharing the art I like with my kids rather than spoon-feeding them the idiotic drivel our culture tells us is the only stuff safe for their consumption. My taste is high-low eclectic, running from ballet and opera to heavy metal festivals and comic books, but if there is one unifying thread, it is almost always noncommercial.

I associated figure skating with hired thugs and baseball bats until my daughter discovered Yuri!!! On Ice and I found myself driving to Shoreline twice a week for skate lessons and studying the merits of heat-molded boots. When I got an offer for press tickets for the whole family to attend an ice show, I overcame my knee-jerk response of “I’d rather have my eyes picked out by crows,” and accepted the tickets because I knew my daughter would want to see professional figure skaters live.

What happened next will astound you (sorry, couldn’t resist.) Continue reading

In This Corner of the World

My kids discovered anime this year, and finally being able to share my love for the art form has been a tremendous joy to me. When I saw that a new feature-length anime was to be released in Seattle on August 18, I hesitated to make it a family movie night choice because of the subject matter.

Unlike the childish quest and adolescent romance series with magical and/or martial arts elements that make up our usual fare, In This Corner of the World is a realistic story of one young woman’s experience of World War II. Ultimately, despite the heavy subject, we decided to watch it and I’m so glad we did. Continue reading

Eistnaflug: The Movie

Earlier this year I was contacted by Siggi Jensson, the creator of the Eistnaflug 2014 10th Anniversary four-DVD box set. Was I interested in receiving a press copy for review? Unfortunately, I had to say, ‘No’ because I had already purchased the box set in question. But why would I sit on a historical document like that without reviewing it? No reason at all. So here it is. Continue reading

Solstice Giraffe

 

My neighborhood has hosted a summer solstice parade since 1989. Without really knowing anything about it, I attended the festival the first summer I lived in Seattle (1993) when it just seemed like any other summer festival and the Fremont neighborhood seemed very far away from my central area apartment. I still have the batik bedspread I bought that year. Now I live two blocks from the parade route and have a much more intimate understanding of the festival.

It’s not your regular summer festival. The parade rules:

  1. No printed words, signage or recognizable logos.
  2. No live animals (except guide animals).
  3. No motorized vehicles (except motorized wheelchairs)
  4. No functional weapons.

The festival is a completely nonmotorized, noncommercial celebration of sunshine, life, art and creativity. The better for basking in the sun, a festival of this sort involves a fair bit of nudity.  Most famously, naked cyclists. I used to love their creative body paint costumes, the double take when you tried to figure out which riders were clothed and which were not.

But the naked cyclists have proliferated in recent years, in my opinion to the detriment of the festival. Just as the belly dancers once did, the cyclists’ numbers threaten to overwhelm the parade. Many of the newcomers don’t bother with artistic paint designs. Worse, their fame has drawn hundreds of pervs from the suburbs who have no interest in the rest of the celebration and just want to take pictures of naked people.

But the rest of the festival is still there, and it is still filled with incredible creations. Like this 15-foot-tall puppet from 2014.

Snorri Sturluson

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I once stood among a group of writers at a talk presented by then-Icelandic President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson. He said that we would notice Iceland had no statues of presidents or generals, but had many of artists and poets.

In Reykholt, I saw a statue of a man who may have qualified as both. A big man of his time, Snorri was engaged in all sorts of power struggles and eventually died a violent death. He is also credited with preserving (and possibly writing some of) some of the world’s greatest literary treasures, Iceland’s sagas.

Weather Diaries

weatherdiariesI went to Iceland again this year, and there was so much I wanted to write about it and never got around to. Likewise, there were a lot of things I wanted to do when I was in Iceland that I didn’t get to. Determined to maximize my experience, I usually run myself into the ground when I’m there – I’ve gotten sick on every trip so far, and this time I decided to try a more moderate approach. One of the things I missed was the Weather Diaries exhibit at Nordic House. Continue reading