Foy Vance takes the stage

Foy Vance is a brilliant artist.  His vocals soar and lyrics inspire.  Moving from piano to ukulele to guitar, Foy without a band at The Triple Door was a totally different experience than when we last saw him at the Columbia City Theater.  Less rocking and more talking.  He opened the show with Free Falling, a Tom Petty tune, and finished with a haunting Irish song in acapella.  Awesome.

A Northern Irish musician and singer-songwriter, he was signed to Glassnote Records in 2013 and has been touring non-stop.  The Triple Door gig was his next to last U.S. stop before a well-deserved break to go home.

Clink, Clink, Clink.  W.T.F.  Foy was not amused.  Clearly used to playing larger venues opening for artists like Ed Sheeran, Elton John and Josh Groban, you could tell it was painful for him to sing and endure the irritating noise from the audience dining.  “Are you still on the first course?  Entrée? Dessert?”  Will it never end?  Clink, Clink, Clink.

Inspiring singalongs on a few songs, the sold out crowd knew the words and didn’t want to stop being Foy’s back-ups.  When one patron yelled out “More”, Foy let him know that he was not a “fecking jukebox” and that was that.

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I do love The Triple Door because the seats are comfy and they pour an amazing strong and plentiful Old Fashioned.  However, the crowd can be noisy when enjoying their food and tend to chat as most tables seat 4-6 and encourage groups.  Of course, we were at one of the counter tops and the guy next to us thought we had paid to hear HIM sing not Foy.  Wrong!  I quietly protested by covering my ear closest to him with my middle finger to block out his musical stylings.  I wonder if he saw or cared.  Probably not but it made me feel better.

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Next time Foy needs to share his artistry at The Moore or The Paramount.  No delicious shrimp noodles but better acoustics and focus on the really important thing.  His gorgeous voice and storytelling.  Until next time, Foy, cheers!

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Blade Runner 2049 & Biscuit Bitch-A Perfectly Seattle Combo

How do you top seeing Blade Runner 2049 on a 70mm wide screen on opening weekend?  Well, after this dazzling movie you hop on over a few blocks after the flick and hit up Biscuit Bitch for an AMAZING basket of bliss.  Damn. Perfect. Saturday.

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First, Seattle Cinerama (owned by Paul Allen) is THE best place to see movies, possessing surround sound, comfy seats and a 70MM wide screen.  Seating 500+ on opening weekend, the chocolate popcorn and alcohol were flowing as the sold out 11 a.m. crowd buzzed with excitement pre-movie in the lobby.  It’s highly unusual for crowds these days not to look incessantly at their phones during a film or get up to go for bathroom/food runs but nobody moved the whole 160 minutes of this flick, glued to their seats not knowing what the hell was coming next.  A retro Merry Melodies cartoon featuring Michigan J. Frog  amused the 20-something and predominantly  male audience after the previews.  They probably had never seen such a thing before in their young lives.

Not to stereotype male Seattle tech nerds but this movie seemed to be squarely made for their lane with lots of naked females, high tech everything and violence galore.  Still, amazingly, I enjoyed it though it was definitely NOT in my normal preferred genre of light comedy, but even I could respect the complexity of this flick.  And Ryan Gosling’s adorableness.  Just saying, he is too CUTE and boy can he kick ass!

No spoilers but let’s just say the whiskey-loving dog got a good laugh and Harrison Ford still rocks.  How is it Harrison has gotten older and yet I never age?  Hmmm…   Ryan Gosling played his complex character well and if this film doesn’t win all the lighting awards, I would be surprised.  Stunning.  This future world was just harsh in all aspects and, while the women dominated the power roles, they were seriously evil bitches and this civilization had a whole lot of prostitutes and gigantic naked holograms.  No one needs to see ta ta’s that large looming over them or is just me?  Disturbing.   Prior to Trump, I couldn’t imagine such a bleak world but unfortunately now I can.  With just one tweet, we too could be looking at forgotten cities condemned forever after being nuked.  While not an uplifting film, it was well done.  Go see it!  While we’re all still alive.

So after contemplating a world where the rain never stops and there are no trees or flowers, what’s a girl to do?  Hit up some biscuits, bitch!  Starting out small and now with 3 locations in Seattle, Biscuit Bitch was just as good as the reviews make it out to be.

Luckily, the Belltown location didn’t have a line by the time we dropped by, close to their 3 p.m. closing after our movie, so we walked right up and got us a “Hot Mess Bitch” meal to share.  Cradled in a paper boat, the layers of biscuit, gravy, cheese, eggs over easy, garlic grits, grilled Louisiana hot link and jalapenos were plenty big enough for 2 to split for $11.70.  Holy Smokes!  It was hot and messy and DELICIOUS.  Their motto is “trailer park to table” and they keep the menu simple and focused on biscuits.  Smart.

Love their smiling staff, the cool tunes being played, bitchin’ logo and the upbeat décor.    I’ll be back.  Hope everyone’s Saturday was just as fun as ours has been.  Now, it’s time for Seahawks football!

 

Japan to Italy in One Seattle Morning

On a sunny fall Seattle morning, it was time to visit different cultures without leaving downtown.  Thom and I love to experience new places so, from Japan to Italy, we decided to get out and savor the warm weekend weather.  Time to explore!

First stop-Seattle Japanese Gardens in the Madison Park neighborhood is a 3.5 mile oasis of tranquil ponds and flowering trees.  Now, parking is scarce especially as the garden parking lot sits next to soccer fields filled on a Saturday morning with cheering/jeering parents coaching their little ones on ferociously.  Be quiet, Mom and Dad, and let the tykes play.

After driving by and circling back with no spot in the lot, we just parked on Madison St. and walked down.  For only $6 per head, you can achieve zen and see some very hungry koi.  Bring your camera as everywhere you look is an Instagram moment.  They have a teahouse where you can buy tickets for an authentic Japanese tea, which I’ll have to try sometime.  Winding through waterfalls, streams and bridges over the ponds, I was so happy to see lots of turtles (I have a fascination with these ancient creatures) sunning themselves on the plentiful rocks in the pond.  The koi were colorful and hungry, being fed by the small children visiting the gardens.  A few of these koi may want to consider eating less carbs and swimming a few more laps around the pond-they were HUGE!

After wandering back by the soccer fields (we can’t wait until Mia starts playing!), we enjoyed putting the top down on Sexy Beast and driving back home to check out the Festa Italiana Seattle at the Seattle Center.  Oh my holy Hell those meatballs were delish and I rarely eat meat.  I didn’t even take a pic of them because I ate them so fast.  Swimming in lots of spicy sauce, my “tub of meatballs” went down quickly-tub being an overstatement as there were only five so I refused to share with Thom.  Waddling down to the exhibits where they had music, dancing, a wine garden and lots of vendors, we quickly sought out the Borracchini Bakery table and purchased cannoli’s, biscotti and other treats to take home to enjoy later.  When in Italy and all.  To be honest, they didn’t last long after we got home so I just might have to visit the Festa Italiana again tomorrow for another bakery run.  So. Good.

In another building, there was a fierce bocci tournament going on.  Such a game of finesse.  A show with elaborate puppets for the kids was enchanting and well attended.  The festival also showcased Italian dogs, Cirneco dell-Etna, small, wiry and high-strung Sicilian hound that hunts rabbits, as well as cute Vespas and classy Maserati cars.  Oh those Italians know how to live!

I love living in Seattle and going from zen to festa in a matter of minutes.  I’ll never take living here for granted.  Now it’s time to lift a glass of vino to toast the start of another great Seattle weekend.  Cheers!

Taking it to the streets

Wake up and smell the coffee, folks.  While I would like nothing better than to write only about travel and taking fun adventures around the world, I fear if we don’t all take action soon, there won’t be a world left to explore.  Or at least not a world we can be proud to live in.  So today, I took to the streets.  Loud and proud, taking a stand.

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As protest details started to be posted on Facebook, the Seattle march popped into my newsfeed. Done.  No discussion, no thinking about it, off we went with Thom in his Icky Trump protest shirt to Denny Park to march with the Solidarity Against Hate group whose motto is “an injury to one is an injury to all” .   Good stuff.

At 1:00 p.m., the crowd started to gather in the relatively small park, carrying banners and homemade signs to stand with Charlottesville where neo-Nazis incited violence yesterday.  Today across America, people showed up to make their voices heard at various quickly organized peace marches and prayer rallies.  “Hey, hey…ho, ho…white supremacy has to go” was the chant of the day in Seattle.  As Thom and I jumped in to help carry a huge canvas Constitution, we made our way with hundreds of others through the streets of downtown Seattle.

It’s unfortunate but now is the time for EVERYONE to get off the couch, put down the avocado toast at brunch and STORM THE STREETS.  Right now.  If we wait, the current administration will get us all killed.  Calling Congress and writing checks to progressive candidates and causes is all well and good but desperate times call for desperate measures which will probably involve the mobilization of citizens taking action like I have never witnessed in my life time.  “No KKK.  No Fascists.  USA!”  Chant with me.  March with me.

Yes, there was violence at the Seattle march when police formed a blockade and did not allow the marchers to advance.  Anarchists carrying sturdy signs that doubled as shields did eventually provoke the police as they shut down the progress of the marchers toward a neo-Nazi rally happening in Westlake Park.  We heard the loud bangs from blast balls and pepper spray cannons as the clashes began.  Unlike the anarchists who were protest-ready wearing bandanas on their faces and sturdy boots, I was absurdly styled in a dress and sandals.  Oops.  Protest fashion faux pas. Next time, I’ll dress more appropriately.

Leaving before more violence began,  I wish that everyone had stayed calm but the majority of people marching were peaceful and united against hate.  Together, we can make a difference before it’s too late.  Take a stand.

Pride Takes Over Seattle

“Happy Pride!”  Greeting the crowd as they veered off at the end of the Seattle Pride parade route and toward the celebration at the Seattle Center,  I got lots of love from the fun crowd as we handed out refreshments courtesy of First United Methodist Church.

“Are these plain or “special” cookies?”  Wink.  Wink.  I replied that these were the plain variety but I was sure he would have no problem finding those “special” cookies elsewhere in Seattle.  Surprisingly, this was not the only time I was asked if the free cookies were “special”.  I guess after you walk 4 miles in extreme heat, hot at least by Seattle standards, you’re not only thirsty but hoping for some medicinal aka cannabis cookies.   We had water but no weed.  Still, they were very good cookies and enjoyed by all!  Among the many booths at the Seattle Center was a very popular one where cannabis lotions were being applied and enjoyed by many tired parade goers.  Got to love our hot new industry helping customers to relax and enjoy life in Seattle.

A rainbow of groups from various companies, including a huge force of Amazonians, swarmed the streets as well as many politicians, families and dancers galore rocking out to the steady beat of tunes blaring away.  Super fun.  The parade on Sunday is just one part of the celebration that takes place all over the city all weekend.  We went to the Seattle Storm WNBA game on Friday night and the whole arena was decked out to support the team AND Pride.  All the Seattle sports teams had games in town this weekend and all had special events that tied in with the celebration.  Got to love the support of Seattle sports!

At our outpost, we not only had our free “plain” cookies, cold water, frozen juice slushies and use of the church bathrooms (very popular!) but also our very own music experience.  The friendly Seattle pop cover drag band, The Pop Drops, rocked out and entertained the crowds.  Props to wearing those boots in this heat but they look marvelous, don’t they?

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Pride is part of our Seattle life.  In the past, we have walked in the parade as part of my company’s unit and also one year with the Seattle Storm.  Pride celebrations will remind you that love is love is love and we should appreciate each other and embrace our diverse country.  If you have not been one of the 200,000+ to experience Pride Weekend in Seattle, you need to jump on your Harley, grab a rainbow flag and make this a priority from now on. Go Pride!

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Hamlet amidst the foothills of Boise

“To be, or not to be..”  That IS the question but if you want TO BE entertained and see some damn fine theater, get thee to the Idaho Shakespeare Festival in Boise. Pronto.  Wow!  The level of artistry was top-notch and having seen my fair share of NYC and London theater, I can tell you I am usually a tough critic but I was duly impressed.  In fact, the last Shakespeare play I attended was at The Globe in London for a Goth version of Romeo and Juliet this spring that I loved.  Hamlet, while sticking true to the story, did have an interesting casting twist.  Hamlet might be female or male, depending on the night you attend.  Hmmmm…..

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The night we attended we were treated to Laura Welsh Berg in the lead role, the only female in the US to be professionally acting the part of Hamlet right now.  How cool is that?  She alternates with Jonathan Dyrud and when they are not playing Hamlet, they are part of the supporting company.  Those actors work hard for their money.  And how on earth do they remember all those complex dialogues for multiple characters??  Throw in needing to know how to throw down some serious sword play and you have quite the acting challenge before they all die. Oops…spoiler alert.

The Elizabethan setting amongst the beautiful Boise foothills features a variety of seating arrangements including a new seating section on the stage so you can be part of the action as well as the standard options of tables, chairs or the hillside.  All good views.  We chose the blanket experience with lots of snacks, booze and fun.  They even provide little red carts to drag in all your picnic stuff from the parking lot.  Convenient.  You can also rent low chairs with backs for only $2 a piece for the hillside area.  After drinking a nice Merlot, it might be a challenge getting out of these low chairs but would provide additional entertainment for nearby patrons.  Beware.

Having been to lots of great outdoor venues and suffering through tough traffic and long lines to get into and out of concerts, we left for the performance fearful of the wait to get in and laughed our asses off when there was no traffic AT ALL and we easily parked in the main lot.  I love Boise!  This is a beautiful facility, moderately priced for such quality entertainment and definitely worth the road trip from Seattle to enjoy Shakespeare.  I can’t wait to go back and see A Midsummer Night’s Dream in August.  Having seen this play staged while we lived in Shanghai when Tim Robbins staged an updated version that I thoroughly enjoyed, I am looking forward to the Boise version.  From Shanghai to Boise, when Shakespeare’s words come to life, it’s a treat!  “Listen to many, speak to a few”  So wise and always relevant.

Seattle Neighborhood: Fremont

Freaky Fremont was looking a whole lot more mainstream on a recent visit.  While it was once THE place to live if you favored tie-dye, nude bike riding during the Solstice and feasting on organic granola, you now had better make some major bucks to call this your home and enjoy the trendy cafes, boutiques and bars.  Fremont is still a cool place no doubt but definitely more trendy and sophisticated than in the past.

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After a quick Metro ride from our Lower Queen Anne hood, I wandered Fremont to check out all it has to offer in an urban community.  We don’t get up here often but did recently enjoy The Barrel Thief with friends for an Ardbeg whiskey tasting.  Right up the street, our friends told us there was a great place to satisfy our foot massage yearnings.  Two Smiling Feet does a 60 minute foot massage for $35 which we plan to check out soon.  One of the experiences I miss most from living in China is our weekly foot massage date.  Damn that was habit-forming!  I look forward to seeing if Two Smiling Feet delivers a true Chinese foot massage that makes me cry with pain but leaves me smiling with happy feet.

Fremont does has a movie theater, Century at Pacific Commons, as well as Ophelia’s Books where you can get a .50 book bargain from the outside rack or wander the many titles inside while the shop cat prowls the book stacks.  I never leave there without at least a bag full of “must read” used books.  Next door to Ophelia’s is Jive Time Used Record Store where Thom likes to browse to feed his vinyl habit.

Of course, there are bakeries, cool cafes, gelato places and more to feed your appetite for anything you could want to eat plus a downtown PCC Market for a wide selection of groceries.  The shopping is good too with an always packed Warby Parker store (trendy and inexpensive glasses) and boutiques selling $200+ upscale clothes as well as some vintage bargain places.  A great walking neighborhood with a concentrated few blocks of everything you could want and need, you can also take advantage of a gorgeous river trail that is shaded and lovely to stroll on a sunny Seattle day.

Fremont is also known for their Solstice Parade in June where a Mardi-Gras style parade proceeds with Solstice Cyclists stripping down and painting their bodies to lead the merriment.  I’ve never been to the parade but look forward to experiencing it soon.  Their Sunday Farmer’s Market is also top notch and showcases lots of vintage clothing, accessories and kitschy stuff along with food trucks/stalls galore.  Not a “farmer’s” market with produce but more a place to shop and eat that is very dog friendly.  All in all, Fremont would be a good place to call home if you want to be outside the Seattle downtown core but close enough for a quick commute.