Friday, March 31, 2006

Cooking the Books...Literally

Prepare to eat your words. (Please forgive me for the pun.  I hope you keep reading anyway.)In one of the most interesting discoveries in weeks, Saturday (in addition to being April Fool's Day), is the date of the International Edible Book Festival (no, I'm not joking). Around the world, people will be coming together with their book-related confections, rejoicing in their love of both print and pastry. In Seattle this will be recognized at 826 Seattle, with attendees coming together at 2pm to show off their wares. At 3pm, it all gets eaten with tea, coffee and milk. And to reiterate, no, this is not a joke. April Fool's Day jokes can be funny, but this event just sounds tasty (and admittedly a little funny - well, punny at least - but mainly tasty).

Red Tricycle]

Drowning in a Sea of Cute

Alpacas:  They're like cute on steroids.The past week has been a rough one for many in Seattle. Even if last Saturday's events didn't touch you directly, it's been hard if not impossible to remain unaffected. It's time for a collective raising of spirits, a time for turning those frowns upside down. Coincidence so happens to be bringing out the big guns for that task this weekend, with the whimsically-named Alpacapalooza.

Sponsored by the
Alpaca Association of Washington, Alpacapalooza brings together over 400 alpacas from over 90 farms in various events (fleece show, halter show, a photo contest, etc), but regardless of any activities they can think of, this is really all about being near the alpacas. Have you ever seen an alpaca chew something? It's like a giant-sized version of Cute Overload. They've got all of the oddness of a camel, but without the attitude issues. And that's what makes this event so great. How can you possibly be in a bad mood when you're surrounded by all these cute animals, eating funnel cake, and bidding in an auction for some fancy alpaca slippers? That's right, you can't. So make your way to the Fairgrounds this weekend and get your smile on.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Eat Local Now! A Ballard Foodfest

These people really really really love Ballard.By definition, if you add the suffix -fest to a noun, it automatically makes it sound fun. I'm not complaining or anything, but it does seem as if -fest is being tossed around left and right these days. It does succinctly tell you what to expect though, and that is certainly appreciated in today's culture of marketing and spin (yes, this is a large part of my heretofore unmentioned mini-obsession with Snakes on a Plane, but this post isn't about that). Tonight Ballard is celebrating itself (or rather its food) with its Foodfest, hoping to inform the public on not only its cuisine, but the benefits of using locally grown foods. Sporting collaborations between local farms and chefs, the event promises not only wonderful food, but intelligent conversation as well. spanning_time supports both of those things, especially the part about food.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

A Collision of Caterwauls and Commerce

No, they don't take requestsThe Infernal Noise Brigade is known worldwide (in some circles anyway) for their particular brand of sonic disruption. This weekend they're going to be interrupting the sound installation of one of their former members in the middle of Westlake Park, bringing their new dance team along for the ride.

The sound installation by Inphaseprod (aka Robb Kunz) doesn't stray far from his INB roots. Funded by the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs and 4Culture, Kunz has set up a circle of speakers playing a series of recordings from various INB performances. As potentially disturbing as this might be for Westlake shoppers, the addition of an INB invasion (at 4:30 today and Sunday) takes this situation from interesting to can't-miss, if only for the disturbance of an otherwise calm environment with organized chaos.

Can you Spell A-W-E-S-O-M-E?

He's too young to realize that winning the Spelling Bee won't get him girls.What's better than watching a bunch of college students crumble under the pressure of competition? Watching a bunch of pre-teens crumble under the pressure of competition. It may not get the same ratings, but Sunday's Regional Spelling Bee is where the real March Madness is. It has all the drama and suspense of the NCAA tournament, but has the benefit of being over in just a few hours.

Last year's Spelling Bee had the benefit of being a Stranger Suggests, so Town Hall was filled with a healthy crowd beyond the family members of the participants. There was comfort in knowing that I wasn't the only linguaphile in the room. I don't know if the others in attendance were also keeping track of every word that lead to an elimination, or if they were mentally picking favorites, but I like to think that I wasn't the only one taking the event that seriously. The crowd noticeably thinned at the mid-way point, but at the end there was enough of an audience to fill Town Hall with thunderous applause for the winner. Without the Stranger's endorsement, the crowd will probably skew more to relatives, but it's hoped that the wordsmith contingent shows up in full force once again.

If the drama inherent in a single-elimination tournament isn't enough for you, here's another reason to show up Sunday (in the case that last year's setup is repeated): free cookies at intermission.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Keeping it Randumb

Yeah, this seems likely when drunks and Jenga combine.Sure, there's the Serena Maneesh show tomorrow, but what to do after that? Well, if you're feeling particularly adventurous, you could head to a party listed on the sometimes funny, sometimes creepy, always entertaining Craigslist. Touted as being for geeks, nerds and musicians, it draws our interest not because of its open, welcoming nature, but because of the jumbosized Jenga game that's planned. Imagine the added suspense of trying to avoid the destruction of a tower ten Jengas high. The drunken three-legged race sounds entertaining as well.

Gratuitous Jenga link:
The Sears Tower in Jenga blocks

Capitol Hill Blog, who recently added us to their blogroll. Feel the blog-love!]

Postscript: Prince vs. Michael

Kent Brockman knows Michael Jackson should have won.I left around midnight, but even without staying it was obvious that Prince was going to win the evening's votes. The DJ called out to get a feel for the crowd. Michael received a mediocre response, while Prince received a thunderous roar. Fair enough. What irks me about that is that the DJ then proceeded to play "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" followed by "Thriller," which had the crowd going nuts (although I was expecting more people to bust out their zombie choreography than actually did). From there he went to a Prince song (you know, that groovy funky one where he plays guitar), and the dancefloor emptied. And Prince is still the winner? Whatever.

Sure, MJ may have a predilection for little boys, but this was supposed to be about the music. It's not like Mr. I'll Change my Name To an Unpronouncable Symbol, become a hardcore Jehovah's Witness and Disown Much of My Back-Catalog doesn't have some skeletons in his closet too. People voted with their feet, but then voted with their emotions when it came time to turn in the ballot. To quote Kent Brockman, "I've said it before, and I'll say it again; democracy simply doesn't work."

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Man in Purple vs. The Man in the Glove

So very very masculineRebar is going to play host to a battle that's been in the making for two decades. Some might argue that it's a fight whose time is passed, but for sheer entertainment value, you'd be hard-pressed to beat it. It transcends being just a musical event, but instead is a cultural happening.

Prince versus Michael. It's an argument I remember having in the 80s, with some falling into the Prince camp, while I held strong to my Michael Jackson leanings. I mean, he did Thriller. Thriller! The whole vs. thing won't really play out since Michael's already won before the first record drops, but it'll be interesting to hear a mix of both artists and their associates (Morris Day and the Time - oh yeah).

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Postscript: Seattle Idiotarod

Seattlest made mention on Thursday of the Seattle Idiotarod. As soon as the concept was read, I knew I'd be in attendance. Ultimately, while it was too late to participate this year, I'm already starting to think about next year. Who wants to be on Team Ninja?

The details of where the race would occur weren't available on the race website, so it took a bit of frantic emails to get that information. Coupled with the late start that morning, and I was convinced that there would be no way to find the actual race, despite the spectacle of a bunch of people with shopping carts. As it turns out, while driving down Leary, I ran into the racers at the second checkpoint.

The scene had only the loosest semblance of order, with people in costumes ambling about, beer in hand. Each team was required to take a twenty minute break, although there were games to be played that could reduce that wait time (namely dropping darts from your ass into a pitcher). Carts also had to remain on guard, as the potential for sabotage was high, with some teams all too willing to chain other carts to fixed structures.

At this point it's safe to say that teams were into the event. Considering the work many of them put into their costumes and carts, I should hope so. One team was dressed as pirates, their cart rigged with "working" sails. Another team replaced the standard wheels with bike tires, before attaching that to a bicycle, making a shopping cart rickshaw.

The teams themselves were just as creative. In addition to the pirates, there was a team based on the website (called the Burninators, naturally). Another team wore diapers, and used that as the theme for their sabotage, diapers filled with chocolate pudding. My favorite were the Freedom Food Fighters, who chose to dress as all French food items (two fries, a slice of Brie, a bunch of grapes, and a jar of olives). Their costumes alone made the event wonderfully surreal, as noted by the looks on the faces of people that passed by.

The race concluded at the Ballard Locks before the group headed to the Sloop for (more, unneeded) drinks. While waiting for the results, there was cart jousting to keep everyone busy, and an "oh man, that's such a bad idea" case of cart jumping. The winners were announced in a variety of categories, but this competition wasn't dominated by that. First and foremost was the desire to have a good time, and considering the number of people intoxicated by two in the afternoon, it's safe to say that mission was accomplished.

Time to go work up a preliminary cart design for next year. If you see me doing speed runs inside Safeway, you'll know what's going on.

Here are the
pics. And some more.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Sneaker Freaker

It takes a shoe-obsessive to get excited about a shoe where you do all the work yourself.I have a bit of a shoe fetish. Sneakers specifically. I take a lot of pride in finding a pair that fills just the right niche in my wardrobe (latest acquisition). I don't read the blogs, I don't subscribe to the magazines, but I do like to keep tabs on what's going on. In particular, I've had a soft spot for the Nike Cortez for years, which puts me in a shoe-worshipping minority, since the world has decided that the Dunk/Air Force One/Air Max triumvirate is the way to go in the Nike Universe (which is complete and utter crap, since the Cortez' simple, sleek design is exactly the source of its appeal).

But never mind that. This weekend is about Adidas. Goods, who by now should have gained their Tier-1 Nike distributor status, is presenting the newly-released
Adicolor White series this Saturday along with new works by Shawn Wolfe. The reception runs from 7 to 9pm, with the festivities continuing at Yo Son.

So why should you care about a shoe release? The Adicolor series predates the
NikeiD (which doesn't even have Cortezes) project by decades. In both cases, the goal is to customize a pair of shoes, but rather than designing them online or in an ultra-exclusive boutique, Adicolor (started in 1983) adopted a far more DIY approach, giving customers a set of weather-proof permanent markers with which to color their all white shoes. It's good to see Adidas paying more than lip-service to the retro aesthetic with the re-release of the series, with some design updates as well. It's too early to say whether I'll buy a pair, but I'm definitely going to check it out. If they've got a pair of Titans, I might not be able to resist.

[thanks endquote]

Place Joystick In Hand

I'm not even going to try to add commentary to this snippet from the Grand Illusion. I can't add to the brilliance. This and next weekend only. Who's down?

“Totally Awesome Video Games” is the theme song of JOYSTICKS, the only film to star Pac Man, Donkey Kong AND Joe Don Baker! Set at a video arcade called "Video Arcade", Joe Don plays an uptight and corrupt city councilman who is trying to shut said business down. With their hang out, lifestyles and games of strip “Joust” on the line, the kids take a break from make out sessions in custom vans and fight back against Joe Don. The delirious action concludes with a video game showdown between a virginal nerd and a sinister punk named King Vidiot. Totally Awesome is right!
In keeping with the theme, here's one of the funniest moments ever to air on Futurama.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The REAL Running Man

Look at those eyes.  Not even lasers would slow him down.  Not even lasers.I'm self-indulgent. If I decide on a whim that I want to go get a cupcake, I'm going to get a cupcake. If I want a nap, I'm taking a nap. I just don't buy into the whole "existence is suffering" ethos. I lean more toward measured hedonism: enough fun to stay happy, but not enough to get me into (too much) trouble.

Dean Karnazes seems to be my exact opposite. He probably buys himself things, then immediately breaks it just so he can feel the loss. He probably adds glass to his food just to toughen himself up from the inside out. He'd probably taunt you to kick him in his dangling duo just so he'd know he could take it. For all of those (now-tired) statements about Chuck Norris' badassery, Karnazes is the real deal. He doesn't just run marathons, he runs ultramarathons. Hell, I don't even run to cross the street if a car is coming, let alone from Portland to Vancouver, BC. He is made of much tougher stuff than I am. Hell, he's made of tougher stuff than my car. He's like a real-world comic book character. He runs while sleeping! While sleeping people!

Tonight Dean is going to be at the
Seattle Running Company to give a talk and sign copies of his new book. He'll also probably be laughing at all the weak mortals in the room, knowing that not only could he kill the population of King County without breaking a sweat, he could run to Boise before anyone even realized what happened.


Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Well, It's Free

Drowning in free coffee.I don't drink coffee. Even if I did, I wouldn't go to Starbucks except as a last resort, since there's no shortage of local shops making quality products (I know myself that the local shops make a much better chai). In any case, tomorrow, from 10am to noon, Starbucks is going to be offering a free cup of fresh brewed coffee, in celebration of their first-ever Starbucks Coffee Break. People don't usually go to Starbucks for their drip coffee, so it's hard to see this as more than a ploy to get some increased foot traffic. If they were giving out some of their fancier drinks the case would be different, but this offer just doesn't resonate the same way as Free Cone Day, Doughnut Day, or even the recent National Pancake Day. But gift horses and all of that, so you coffee drinkers go get your free on.

And yes, I realize I just said that this isn't a food blog. It isn't, but "free" is grounds for an exception. Food blog or no, if Ezell's ever has a Free Wing Day, you can rest assured that you're going to hear about it here.

Feeds Within Feeds

I know most readers (all 10 of you) are going to get their spanning_time content through their RSS reader. That's fine, but you might want to check the page for the snazzy badge every now and then (or subscribe to that if you're so inclined). Upcoming hasn't reached any sort of critical mass where everyone posts their events there, but it does provide a pretty good way to keep track of events (although let me know if another site is doing this better). I've taken to using it as an aggregator, posting the events myself in most cases. The badge actually pulls from the spanning_time group, which you could join if you're an user. I won't be writing about everything I come across, so you may find the data useful in filling the gaps (of note this past weekend were the dog show and Norwegian Heritage and Cultural Day).

Monday, March 13, 2006

A Bunyan-sized Curling Obsession

Apparently Paul Bunyan was a curler.  I wonder if he swept.I will be the first to admit that this post is really just an excuse to post the associated image (congratulations to the men's curling squad), but I'll try to make it relevant.

Over the last year, I've developed a bit of a curling fixation. It started with the CBC's broadcasts of various tournaments, reruns of which were often on late at night upon my return home. It worked on that level for a while, then I noticed that these same tournaments were on during the day on weekends. I never really understood the rules, I never knew what was really going on, but I couldn't help but be captivated. I call it Zen TV. You can watch it for hours, and comprehension isn't a prerequisite in the slightest.

From there, I found out about the local facility via Seattlest and tried it out. It was perhaps one of the best Saturdays in 2005. I tried it again a few weeks ago, and while it was ridiculously crowded, it was still a fun time. At this point, I think it's safe to say that the obsession is cemented, and I'm a walking PR machine for this slightly obscure sport, lamenting the lack of good curling t-shirts out there.

Enough solipsism. This weekend is one of the last for this season's open houses. If you've thought of trying it out, I would highly recommend it. It's a bit on the cold side, but it's not so bad once you get moving. The ice isn't that slippery either, so the chance of falling, while present, isn't nearly as high as you'd think. If you like it (and why wouldn't you?), there are also mini-camps opening up next month where you can have a lot of dedicated ice time and have a trial run at curling league membership.

Open Houses
Saturday, March 18th –10am-3pm
Saturday, March 25th –10am-4pm
Saturday, April 1st –10am-3pm

Mini-Camp I: M-W: April 10, 12, 17, 19, 6-8 PM
Mini-Camp II: Tu-Th: April 11, 13, 18, 21, 6-8 PM

And now, in case you missed it, the marriage between curling and heavy metal (featuring the gold medal winning Swedish women's curling team).

Late to be Late

They weren't smiling, but they were open, and that's what's really important.So why didn't anyone share the fact that Hot Mama's Pizza is open late on weekends? It was 2am Saturday night and the pesto pizza was flowing freely. I don't know when this happened, but I'm incredibly surprised at the lack of fanfare. Between the SLOG's wonderful obsession with minutiae (and the fact that this was important enough to write about in the past) and the Capitol Hill Blog I really feel like I should have heard about this sooner, but better late than never I suppose.

(And no, this doesn't mean that this blog is going to lose its focus. spanning_time isn't a food blog, but where to get grub at 2am is great knowledge when your time-spanning runs late.)

Friday, March 10, 2006

Get Your Hippie On

It's not worth trying to convince you that this event won't be filled with hippies, since it's a pretty safe bet that this weekend's Vegfest is going to see its fair share of both hemp clothing and white people with dreadlocks. That said, it's still worth attending for the cooking ideas. Vegfest seems to be modeled after the Bite of Seattle with hundreds of samples to try and cooking demonstrations, but it hopefully won't have the same ridiculous crowd problems. In any case, it's an event dedicated to grazing, hippies or not. Plus, if the vegetarian food isn't enough to keep your stomach occupied, it's only a short walk to Steel Pig BBQ for an impromptu Meatfest.

To put you in the mood, here's an episode of Futurama that deals with vegetarianism (and hippies).

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Postscript: SAAM Showcases Asian Badassery

Buddhist Guardian Statues - not from SAAMThe trip to the SAAM was well worth it. The calligraphy was interesting mainly because of the descriptions more than the visual portion (interesting, but a whole room of writings I can't read can only have so much impact). I never knew that I had a favorite style of Chinese calligraphy, but now I can say that I'm a fan of the balanced running script form, although the formality of oracle bone script is captivating as well. In any case, it's all far more elegant than anything I've ever put to paper.

Top-billing is currently given to the
Orchid Pavilion Gathering exhibit, and the works there represent what one would expect, with watercolor paintings showing graceful scenes of tranquility from a gathering of scholars. While still engaging, the true highlight comes from the Discovering Buddhist Art pieces, with works of sculpture in a variety of media. Documenting the spread of Buddhism throughout Asia, the pieces work individually and in aggregate, showcasing both serenity and conflict within the belief system. My personal favorites were the guardian sculptures. Meant to ward off evil spirits from temples, the attention to detail was incredible.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to rid my apartment of the evil spirits emanating from my trash can.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

First Saturday at SAAM

For the longest time I've wanted to check out the Seattle Asian Art Museum, but never quite got around to doing it. The one time I did find myself in the neighborhood, it was under renovation. Now it's reopened, so it's time to finally go and see what it's all about.

Current exhibits include Chinese paintings and calligraphy, along with a video installation and some Buddhist pieces. As it turns out, the SAAM is free on not only the first Thursday, but the first Saturday of the month as well, so it's already earned some points in my favor. It remains to be seen if it can top the Frye as most-favored museum, seeing as that museum is all free, all the time, but it will be nice to get some exposure on a different forms of art regardless.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Oprah's Got No Love for Seattle

Gayle Not at Red MillI don't plan on making posts that aren't exactly Seattle-based very often, but this is the first such exception. It is relevant though, and will all become clear in a few seconds. Plus, maybe my mentioning Oprah will get me that much closer to meeting her (watch out Stedman).

Tuesday's episode of the Oprah Winfrey Show started with a spanning_time-commendable feature. Oprah's best friend Gayle took it upon herself to eat each of GQ magazine's "20 Hamburgers You Must Eat Before You Die," taking her on a journey across the US. That alone is pretty impressive (even knowing that it was certainly all on Oprah's dime) since it's always good to hear of people taking their obsessions to the next level.

So if the feature was so great, what annoys us about it you ask? Well, as you may have heard, Seattle-favorite Red Mill Burgers is on the list. Did it warrant any coverage or even a mention? Nope. What about additional pictures or footage online? Nope. I'm not on to encumber myself with too much tech, but you can bet that if I was going to spend thousands of dollars on an unnecessary quest, I'd manage to get some digital camera pictures. So Oprah and Gayle, know that spanning_time is a little disappointed. We applaud the effort, but you can do better. Next time you make your way out to Seattle, another trip to Red Mill is in order (your treat).

Dunk Contest? Not Quite.

There was no dunk contest. Instead, the event ended up being an intramural tourament for SCCC students. The gym gatekeepers almost didn't let me in, but they understood the ambiguity on the flyer and relented.

I walked in and immediately realized that there was no dunk contest to be had, since most people on the court will never even approach the rim. Oh well. Turns out the games were fun to watch regardless, due mainly to the intensity of the teams involved. The games were fast-paced and engrossing, even without knowing any of the people involved. In all, I caught four games (team names my own).

Game 1: Angus vs. the Misfits
I arrived in the middle of this game. The Misfits had a lot of heart, but not much in the way of either height or skill. They ended up losing this game because they were simply outmatched. The winning team is named after it's "star" player, who I quickly dubbed "Angus." Why Angus? Because he wishes he were Kobe. I appreciated his old-school footwear (a pair of white Nike Dunks with a red-outlined swoosh), but his lack of teamwork was disappointing. He didn't believe in passing, and while I could see that he had some degree of skill, it wasn't enough to warrant his ego.

Game 2: Back to Africa (B2A) vs. Back to Basics (B2B)
The tournament entrants were largely Asian. At times, 8 or 9 of the people on the court were Asian. This game mixed it up a bit, with one team consisting of Africans, and the other including the player I deemed "Redwood" on account of his height. Overall, this game showed a lot more basketball ability, but B2B was in control the whole game. They weren't anything fancy, but they had great ball movement and effectively used Redwood in the post. B2A had too many egos trying to grab the spotlight, and showed horrible sportsmanship. I was happy that they lost.

Game 3: Back to Africa vs. The Misfits
Somewhere during their break, the Misfits found their rhythm. They passed the ball, and made great shots under a lot of defensive pressure from the B2A squad. B2A, frustrated from their first loss, played with a lot of desperation, which cranked their assholiness up quite a few notches. Hard fouls, trash talking, and unnecessary showboating became their hallmarks, irking the referee along with their opponents (As an aside, the ref was wearing a pair of white Nike Cortezes, with a red swoosh). The Misfits however, spoke softly and carried a big stick, earning themselves the win in convincing, if not altogether exciting, fashion.

Game 4: Back to Basics vs. Angus
In what could have been a battle of the big men, this game ended up being incredibly balanced. Redwood didn't take over, but continued to draw the attention while distributing the ball. Angus toned down his game a bit as well, and let his teammates get some shots off, which is good since his shots weren't falling. The game was close all the way through, but it was the simple approach of Back to Basics that won the day. There wasn't much fanfare at the end of the game, just a few high-fives here and there, while the courts filled up for practice play.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Dunk Contest?

Details are just about non-existent online, but Josh from the Stranger found out about the "So you think YOU CAN DUNK? BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT" today at the SCCC gym from 4pm-6pm. Spectators are welcome, and you can bet I'll be there. It's doubtful the next Vince Carter will be there, but dunks without the hassle of a basketball game are well-appreciated.

Speaking of Vince Carter, here's him winning the 1995 McDonald's All-American Slam Dunk Contest. If we get a competition anywhere near this caliber, we'll be lucky indeed.