Monthly Archives: January 2010

Seattle’s 1st church — circa 1855 — is now its newest; Sunday marks its opening

  Homeless for more than a year after the sale of its historic Beaux Arts sanctuary, Seattle’s First United Methodist Church held services week after week at Seattle Children’s Theatre at Seattle Center while awaiting construction of a new church building. Now, Sunday marks the grand opening of the new church, prompting the slogan: “Seattle’s oldest church is now its newest.”

 The congregation plans to mark the passage at 10 a.m. Sunday by walking from the Children’s Theatre to the new church a few blocks away at 180 Denny Way for their first service. (Festivities lineup here.)

  Much has been written on the historic-preservation battle waged over the century-old former sanctuary at Fifth and Marion, since saved from development. (See stories here.)

  But what about the first church — the city’s very first church building? It was far more modest.

  According to Historylink.org, today’s First United Methodist Church traces its origins to the following:

  On May 12, 1855, Seattle’s first church building, called the Little White Church because of its white paint, is dedicated. The Reverend David Blaine (1824-1900) had established the church’s Methodist Episcopal congregation on December 4, 1853.

  The building was 24 x 36 feet wide and could seat 150 people. It had a low square steeple tower “designed for a bell as soon as the people can afford to buy one” according to the minister’s wife, Catharine Paine Blaine (1829-1908)…

 … In a letter home, Catharine Blaine described the deplorable behavior of the people who came Seattle’s first church service held in a church building: (more)

 

Mariners add a healthy Byrnes to outfield mix

    The Mariners, one of the teams that led the charge for adding pitching and defense this winter, went against the grain Friday by signing outfielder Eric Byrnes to a one-year deal.

    Byrnes was added for his potential offense, pure and simple. He’s not a great defensive player, thanks in part to injuries that have sidelined him for much of the past two seasons.

    He is, however, a right-handed hitter with some power, which is an asset the Mariners badly need. He has hit only 14 homers the past two years, but he had 21 in his breakout 2007 season, when he was healthy all year for the Diamondbacks, hit .286 and stole 50 bases as the catalyst for a Diamondbacks team that made it to the National League Championship Series.

    The 34-year-old probably will not be starting regularly for Seattle, but there’s a reasonable likelihood of his starting some in left field against left-handed pitchers, with manager Don Wakamatsu perhaps moving left fielder Milton Bradley to designated hitter in the process.

    “I have not talked to Don yet,” Byrnes said after signing. “After speaking with (general manager) Jack (Zduriencik), the role wasn’t necessarily specified, except that he said he believed I would contribute. And that’s all I needed to hear.”

    Zduriencik, who spent his Friday flying to Kansas City, Mo., to receive the Negro Baseball League Museum’s Rube Foster Award for American League executive of the year, wasn’t available to comment.

 

    But in a statement released by the team, he was effusive over his perceptions of what Byrnes brings to the team.

    “We think Eric is a great fit for our team,” Zduriencik said. “He is a high-energy player with a veteran presence. We look forward to him competing for a spot on our roster when spring training starts.”

    Byrnes has played for the A’s, the Rockies, the Orioles and for the past four years the Diamondbacks in a career that stretches back a decade. He’s been limited the past two seasons by injuries, including a two-month absence caused by a fracture of his left hand and getting into only 52 games in 2008 because of hamstring problems in both legs.

    “I am healthy for the first time in two years,” Byrnes said. “I just needed a team that believed in me half as much as I believe in myself.

    “It’s about me getting back on the baseball field and proving that I can play this game at a high level. In talking to Jack, I felt I would get that opportunity.”

    Byrnes hit .226 in 2009 for Arizona with 14 doubles and eight home runs in 52 games.

    The Mariners opened a spot on the 40-man roster by moving first baseman Tommy Everidge to the designated-for-assignment list. The club has 10 days to trade, release or move Everidge to the minor league roster, should he clear waivers.

 

John Hickey is a National Baseball Writer for AOL FanHouse ( www.fanhouse.com ).

How to preserve glaciers in a warming world: Reducing methane can make immediate impact

Reducing carbon dioxide emissions is important, but a big focus in the next few years should be methane, because it traps heat in the Earth’s atmosphere much more efficiently than CO2, say Robert Watson, former chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and Mohamed El-Ashray, a senior fellow at the United Nations Foundation. And methane converts to carbon dioxide after 10 or 12 years — compared to CO2’s residence time in the atmosphere that’s measured in hundreds of years.

Methane’s quite a bit easier to control, too (for now). So, to buy time to invent better ways to reduce CO2 emissions, focus on methane, Watson and El-Ashray argue:

“If we need to suppress temperature quickly in order to preserve glaciers, reducing methane can make an immediate impact…” (more)

Read more here at InvestigateWest

—–

Below are images of receding South Cascade Glacier in Washington, courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey:

 

 

Go here to see an animation model of retreating glaciers from the years 1850 to 2100 at Glacier National Park, which, despite its name, is expected to have no glaciers at all as early as 2020

Commentary: Is it time to restructure higher education?

The Legislature is considering numerous proposals to grant higher-education institutions expanded tuition authority. The proposals have received mixed support from the state’s four-year institutions.

In light of the state’s long-term budget outlook, serious consideration must be given to reforming the way the state finances higher education. The Washington Policy Center believes the state’s four-year universities need to be empowered to have more control over their budget and finances and be less dependent on taxpayer subsidies.

One potential model is to allow the state’s universities to transition to business enterprise status. In 2004, Colorado and Japan moved in this direction.

Here is what Colorado lawmakers decided:

The General Assembly finds that greater resource flexibility for state institutions of higher education can enhance more educational opportunities, as well as increase educational excellence.

The General Assembly hereby finds and declares that:

(a)  The provision of higher education services is a business and;

(b)  For the purposes of determining whether an institution or group of institutions may be designated as an enterprise, it is sufficient that the institution or group of institutions receives less than 10 percent of its total annual revenue in grants from all Colorado state and local governments combined, and the governing board of the institution of higher education or group of institutions has authority to issue revenue bonds on behalf of such institution or group of institutions.

 

Here are details on what occurred in Japan:

The Japanese higher education system has recently undergone a dramatic change. Reforms, passed in 2004, granted independent corporation status to the 87 national universities. Whereas they will still be part of the public sector, they are to be independently managed with their staff no longer being civil servants. They also will be able to set their own tuition fee levels, but may not exceed 110 percent of the standard tuition fee set by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Finance. (Source)

Even after reform, the new National University Corporations remain basically “national” in the sense that the state remains responsible for their functions, providing the major part of the money they need. Their personnel and other operational costs will be covered by “operational grants” from the government. The grants will be “block grants,” which can be used at the discretion of each university without designated applications. It also will be possible to carry the grants over to subsequent years. For facilities of national universities, “capital development funds” will be allocated separately. (Source)

In Japan, the majority of universities are private versus public.

Moving to a high tuition/high financial aid model while providing the smaller state universities with the type of “block grants” used in Japan to help with the transition may hold promise for restructuring how Washington teams up with the four-year universities.

Jason Mercier is the director of the Center for Government Reform at the Washington Policy Center. He serves on the executive committee of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force and is a contributing editor of the Heartland Institute’s Budget & Tax News. Mercier also serves as treasurer on the board of the Washington Coalition for Open Government and was an adviser to the 2002 Washington State Tax Structure Committee.

 



Film Review: “The White Ribbon”!3{2}Relishes the Darkness of Nazism’s Infancy

When very bad directors imitate very great ones, the effect can swing  from hilarity (Steven Spielberg counterfeiting Stanley Kubrick in A.I.) and desecration (Brian dePalma degrading Alfred Hitchcock in “Obsession”) to class-project mediocrity (Walter Hill studiously copying Sam Peckinpah in “The Long Riders” and sneaky underhanded rip-off (Jim Jarmusch unofficially re-making Jean Renoir’s “Grand Illusion” with “Down By Law.”)  “The White Ribbon” is such a perfect copy of Carl Dreyer’s films that it is destroyed from the beginning merely by the comparisons it invites.

In his portrait of Germany’s devilish children on the eve of the first world war, writer/director Michael Henke is drawn to the quiet darkness of the Dreyer universe, but blind to the spiritual light illuminating it.  The white ribbon, worn as a punishment by those children who cannot keep evil at bay by any other means, is a mockery of the innocence it supposedly represents, just as Henke’s ancient black and white contrasts mock the images he so slavishly imitates.

The tale is told through the recollections of a schoolteacher whose courtship of a shy young tutor  coincided with the wiretripping of a doctor, the burning of a barn, an assault against a young girl, and the near-blinding of a retarded boy.  The schoolteacher and his fiancé are the only decent people in the village, but so thickly homely as to elude audience sympathy. Henke must have wanted it this way, perhaps in rebellion against the nonsensical belief that purity can be justly represented by physical beauty.

 

His best scene is also the ugliest.  The doctor, who we later discover is in the habit of sexually tormenting his daughter, has returned from the hospital and resumed his sordid couplings with the midwife who cares for him and the children.  No longer able to restrain his disgust for her flabby ugliness and bad breath, he unleashes a tyrannical invective of rejection against her very existence.

Hateful a film as “The White Ribbon” may be,  Henke cannot, unlike the directors of “The Lives of Others” and “The Counterfeiters,” be accused of being a Nazi apologist.  At the end of the film, it is easy to imagine the horrible children in this rotten German village heartily embracing the Nazi party in twenty years time.  What Henke conveniently overlooks, however, is that it took more than one  creepy village to spawn the Third Reich.  The guilt for that abomination rests on the the whole of Germany.  

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Ichiro will retain M’s leadoff job even with addition of Figgins

    The Seattle Mariners’ 2010 lineup is far from a sure thing.

    The only part of it that you can take to the bank is the part where Ichiro Suzuki leads off and where Chone Figgins bats second.

    It will be a change for Figgins, who batted leadoff during most of his career in Anaheim with the Angels.

    But what it means for the Mariners is that they have two men at the top of the lineup who are good at getting on base and scoring lots of runs.

     Ichiro led the AL in hits last year with 225 while hitting .352. Figgins hit just .298, but he led the league in walks with 101, giving him a slight edge on Ichiro in on-base percentage, .395 to .388.

    Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu, in town for a week as the club gears up for the start of spring training in three weeks, said he’s planning on sticking with Ichiro leading off – unless he hears differently from his right fielder.

    “It would be my right fielder,” Wakamatsu said Thursday when asked who would be leading off for him. “We’ll go into spring training thinking that. (But) if Ichiro says to me that it’s time for him to move (to another spot in the lineup) or that he wants to try and hit more home runs, we’d be open to that.”

    It’s clear, however, that the leadoff spot is Ichiro’s as long as he wants it. And although a couple of his former managers have toyed with the idea of having Ichiro bat third, the right fielder has never developed a liking for that idea. It would seem unlikely in the extreme that he’d change his mind now.

 

    He doesn’t have to, at least not on Figgins’ behalf. 

    “I’ve talked to Chone, and I know it’s not a problem for him,” Wakamatsu said. “Chone wants to win.”

 

    NOTES: Trainer Rick Griffin said catcher Rob Johnson (two hip surgeries and one wrist surgery) will be brought along slowly this spring but should be ready to play regularly come Opening Day. … Griffin also said Ken Griffey Jr. (knee surgery), reliever Sean White (labrum injury), starter Ryan Feierabend (Tommy John-style ligament-replacement surgery) and reliever Chad Cordero (labrum repair) all should be good to go when the camp opens. … After picking second in the MLB draft in June last time around, the Mariners will draft 43rd this year. That’s the cost of having signed Figgins as a free agent. … The Mariners are high on the possibility of that No. 2 pick, Dustin Ackley, making the conversion from being an outfielder/first baseman to being a second baseman. Ackley will be brought into camp with the idea that he’ll give second base a go. … First baseman Casey Kotchman is the only arbitration-eligible player on the roster not to have signed a contract for 2010. Negotiations are continuing. … General manager Jack Zduriencik flies Friday to Kansas City, where he will pick up the Rube Foster award from the Negro League Baseball Museum as the American League Executive of the Year. … Zduriencik said the club is still looking to add a right-handed hitter – either a first baseman, outfielder or designated hitter – to strengthen the bench. … Randy Johnson, who retired as an active pitcher after last season, has agreed to throw out the first pitch April 12 in the home opener against Oakland.

 

John Hickey is a National Baseball Writer for AOL FanHouse ( www.fanhouse.com ).

An Open Letter from City Books; ‘it is in your hands how many more days we are here’

City Books, like many other small businesses, is in dire straits right now.  Over the last 2 ½  years,  our sales have dropped more than 35% while, of course, our underlying costs have risen.  This store has never been a money-making machine, nor was that ever our priority.  I like being on the sales floor; I like knowing my customers and recommending just the right title for them.  Kirby thrives on selecting perfect cards and dynamite gift items for the store and then using her considerable talents to arrange those items in appealing displays.  We like being able to run this business and still maintain a level of balance in our lives.  We enjoy hearing about your children, cats or dogs or simply what’s going on in your lives.

Some of you have expressed your concerns, and they are appreciated.  Others have commented on the declining number of books on the shelves and want to know if we are going to stay in business.  Our standard answer is “We are here today.”  But if you want us to be here for many more todays, we need to be honest about this situation and say that quite frankly, it is in your hands how many more days we are here.  If we are no longer important to you or to the quality of life in this neighborhood, then it is indeed time for us to close and move on. 

However, if you think we still can contribute in a positive fashion, let us know by shopping here.  Ordering books that we don’t have in the store is never a problem, and special orders usually arrive within a week.  Ordering gift items or cards is a bit harder but we always make the best effort to meet your requests. 

If  we stay in business or not, it has been our privilege to be a part of this community and your lives for the past 12 ½ years. And for that opportunity, please accept our gratitude.

Cindy Russell & Kirby McCoy

City Books

1305 Madison Street

Seattle, WA  98104

City_books@juno.com

206-682-4334

 

more at

CHS Capitol Hill Seattle capitolhillseattle.com

Support for tax to pay for stormwater pollution appears lukewarm… so far

A proposal to increase the tax on petroleum, pesticides and other chemicals is being floated in Olympia as a way to raise as much as $250 million to clean up polluted stormwater. But so far, support the for the idea among leading lawmakers appears lukewarm at best.

Environmentalists are pushing the idea, which would mostly tax oil refineries to clean up stormwater runoff, the largest source of pollution to Puget Sound and other waterways in the state. The measure would sink money into the general fund initially to help meet the state’s $2.6 billion budget shortfall, with stormwater pollution getting a bigger share in future years.

As key as stormwater cleanup is to the health of Puget Sound, the measure faces an uncertain future. Business groups think the tax is anti-jobs and business. (more)


The Art House Beat: “Police, Adjective” and “Sissyboy”

Police, Adjective (Varsity, Jan. 29-Feb 4)

Police officer Cristi (Dragos Bucur) has  the school playground under surveillance.  Although drug use is evident, he is hesitant about making an arrest. With Romania the only European country in which marijuana use and distribution is still a punishable offense, he feels he would be pointlessly ruining a kid’s life by sending him to prison for 3 ½ years for violating a law that is likely to be repealed.   He wants to wait a few weeks and trap the older brother, who he suspects of serious drug dealing. The chief doesn’t see it that way.  In his view, Cristi has succumbed to the chaos of subjective morality and gives him the ultimatum of  either enforcing  the law and being  a police officer or following  his own moral code and leaving  the force.  In “Police, Adjective,” writer/director Corneliu Porumboiu (12:08 East of Bucharest) uses a dictionary to define who and what we are when our only means of self-knowledge is the subjection of our variable moral codes to the objective definitions of words.

The length of the average shot in today’s movies is between two and four seconds.  In “Police, Adjective,” it is one minute and twelve seconds.  So slow down your heart rate before entering the theater, because this is an emphatically slow-paced movie.  In addition, few of the scenes in the first hour have any dialog.  Mostly the camera follows Cristi around as he runs surveillance on the suspected drug dealer.  When Christi  leaves  the frame, the camera either follows another character who has entered it or cuts to the next shot.  Sometimes it seems Christi has left the frame, when in fact he is just lurking behind some camouflage, and the camera waits for his emergence into open space.  There is much fun and fascination in yielding to the camera as it draws us into the daily mechanics of the police officer’s exacting and often dull surveillance methods.

 

Excepting some exchanges of dialog at the police station, the first conversation that is connected to the emergent theme takes place when Cristi breaks from his surveillance work to go home for lunch, where his girlfriend is enjoying repeated listening of a song by Mirabela Dauer, the lyrics of which annoy Cristi with what he considers their poetic absurdities.  After eating alone in the kitchen, he confronts his girlfriend with his dislike of the song.  She tries to explain the meaning of the lyrics, which he rejects with a vulgar parallel.  This scenes sets up Cristi’s engagement of dialectics with the chief that occupies the film’s final twenty minutes, the first ten of which are dispatched in one astonishing shot. 

If this all seems academic and dull, it is not.  Porumboiu’s camera is both straight-faced gagmaster and laughing tease. One scene has Cristi walking cautiously toward a house.  As he approaches, a man walks into the frame.  The men near each other in a way that suggests an eminent confrontation.  Instead, they silently pass, without even an acknowledgment. The absence of an event after such a long period of monotony comes as a hysterical sight gag.  There are also some hilarious bits of dialog between Cristi and his pre-occupied co-workers, with whom he has to beg, plead, and negotiate in order to get them to do their jobs.  The stretches of real-time boredom are filled with the minutia of real-time living, all of which makes those moments when life whips into active form the more memorable. 

 

Sissyboy (Grand Illusion, Jan. 29-Feb. 4)

“Sissyboy” is Portland’s drag queen answer to the lusty ladies of Seattle’s “A Wink and a Smile.”  Both documentaries focus on erotic performance art as an expressive form of self-discovery.  The gender painters of “Sissyboy” have more in common with John Waters’s “Pink Flamingos” family    than the fabled  pretty boys who want to be pretty girls. These guys want to be monsters so they can let the freak out.  For the most part, their monsters are a petty lot.  Far worse horrors are liable to be set loose during a poetry slam than one of these lip-lining Lysistratathons.  Really, these guys need to take some make-up lessons from Paula Begoun.  Neophyte director Katie Turinski does a fine job of introducing the twelve  members of the Sissyboy troupe, but fails to  communicate both the essence of their show and the audience response to it.  Even by the lowest standards of performance art, most of the skits are trite and infantile, lacking any real wit or bite.  But the troupe, which is more of a support group than a serious collective of artists (although several of them hilariously refer to themselves as such),  forms a self-entertainment unit that  didn’t start to malfunction until they started selling tickets.

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Seattle Film Guide for Jan. 29th: Mel Gibson Journeys to “The Edge of Darkness”

Seattle Film Guide for January 29th

OPENING THIS WEEK

Edge of Darkness   Mel Gibson directs himself as a cop who goes on the rampage after his daughter is killed

When in Rome    Unpopular girl is beset by suitors after stealing some coins from a love fountain in Rome.

The White Ribbon Bill White reviews it for Seattle PostGlobe

 

IN LIMITED RELEASE

Police, Adjective  (Varsity, Jan 29-Feb 4)     Bill White reviews it for Seattle PostGlobe

Sissyboy   (Grand Illusion, Jan 29-Feb 4)  Bill White reviews it for Seattle PostGlobe

Mystery Team (Central Cinema, Jan.22- Feb 4) “wildly inconsistent, yet possessing a few undeniable moments of awesome” Andrew Wright, The Stranger

Visual Acoustics (NWFF Jan 29-Feb 4)  “All of this is so wonderful.”  Charles Mudede, The Stranger

 

REVIVALS AND SPECIAL PROGRAMS

Seattle Art Museum

King of Cool: The Films of Steve McQueen

Thursday Nights Jan 7-March 11

Plestcheeff Auditorium

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Nevada Smith (January 28, 7:30 pm)   Bill White Reviews it for Seattle PostGlobe

The Sand Pebbles (February 4, 7:30 pm)   Bill White Reviews it for Seattle PostGlobe

Single-film tickets are $7 for everyone, sold day of show at the auditorium (cash only). Tickets are also available through Scarecrow Video: call 206.524.8554

 

Sci-Fi on Blu-Ray  (Siff Cinema, Jan 28-31)

Thursday, January 28 Double Feature!

Planet of the Apes  7:00 PM
12 Monkeys            9:15 PM

Friday, January 29

2001: A Space Odyssey  7:30 PM

Sunday, January 31 Double Feature!

The Man Who Fell to Earth  3:30 PM
Logan’s Run                        6:00 PM


Children’s Film Festival Seattle (NWFF, Jan 22-31)

The largest children’s film festival in the Pacific Northwest, Children’s Film Festival Seattle celebrates the best and brightest in international children’s cinema with a 10-day extravaganza of films from more than 25 countries. This year’s edition includes a mind-blowing blend of programs that include live performances, animation, features, shorts, historical films and fantastic hands-on workshops for the filmmakers of tomorrow.

 

Beginning with an opening night performance by the renowned performance duo Lelavision—a blend of film, acrobatics, dance, music and science called The Accumulation of Change—the festival will break new ground with more programs than ever, designed to help kids explore the beautiful and complex world around them.

Join us for a celluloid carpet ride around the globe, to see films that are inspiring, magical, one-of-a-kind—and not available on DVD. Crafted by Elizabeth Shepherd, the Film Forum’s Children’s Film Curator, Children’s Film Festival Seattle includes gentle programs for tiny first-time movie-goers, chills and thrills for older, more adventurous viewers and films that will inspire young people to get involved and make a difference. What better way to spend the chilly days of January than to come together in community in our cozy cinemas, to see international films made for the next generation of movie lovers?

  www.childrensfilmfestivalseattle.org

 

Continuing runs at area theaters:

 Avatar   Bill White reviews it for  Seattle PostGlobe 

The Blind Side White family takes in a homeless African-American youth and helps him fulfill his dream of playing professional football.

The Book of Eli       Bill White reviews it for Seattle PostGlobe

Broken Embraces   Bill White reviews it for the Seattle PostGlobe

Crazy Heart Journalist meets broken down has-been, setting him on the road to recovery.  jeff Bridges is Oscar meat for his portrayal of a country singer on the booze skids.  Its about time he got his statue, as he  has been one of this country’s best actors for decades. 

Daytrippers   ”Daytrippers”  is a movie about Willem Defoe being a badass and making vampires explode”Erik Henriksen, The Stranger

“An Education”    Novelist  Nick Hornby (About a Boy, High Fidelity) has had some of his books turned into successful films.  Now he tries his hand at an original screenplay about a young girl manipulated by an older man in swinging London.

Extraordinary Measures Brendan Fraser and Harrison Ford fight the medical wing of corporate America.

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus   Bill White reviews it for the Seattle PostGlobe  

Invictus Sports and politics in South Africa.

It’s Complicated          Meryl  Streep and Steve Martin play exes who maintain an amicable relationship until   they  celebrate their son’s graduation  with a return  to the conjugal bed.

Legion God sends angels to destroy the human race, with whom he is not well-pleased

The  Lovely Bones  ”a misguided tribute to the magic of the movies”  J. Hoberman, The Weekly

Nine   Paula Nechak’s reviews it for  Seattle PostGlobe

Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire   Education helps a 16-year old African American girl overcome her seedy past.The Princess and the Frog   Get a break from 3D and check out this new 2D Disney cartoon

The Road    Bill White Reviews it for Seattle PostGlobe

Sherlock Holmes   This could be just the ticket for Guy Ritchie fans who have no trouble imagining Jude Law playing Watson to Robert Downey Jr.’s  Sherlock

A Single Man   “Major plot points are revealed through intricate bits of cinematic poetry”   David Schmader The Stranger

The Spy Next Door   “immediately forgettable family entertainment” Melissa Anderson The Weekly

To Save A Life  Christian message-movie aimed at teenagers who are interested in school athletics

The Tooth Fairy   Hockey player knocks out the teeth of his opponents

A Town Called Panic    Bill White reviews it for Seattle PostGlobe

Up in the Air  Will “Juno” director Jason Reitman strike out or establish himself with this high-profile George Clooney comedy? 

The Young Victoria   Paula Nechak reviews it for the Seattle PostGlobe

Youth in Revolt  Michael Cera plays Nick Twist in C.D. Payne’s  virginity-shedding coming of age story.

 

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