Well, a brand new Starbucks just opened this morning in the building adjacent to my marina, which means I'm now confronted with a dilemma: on the one hand, I don't really like Starbucks -- their roast is too bitter IMO -- and furthermore, I can't stand the McDonaldification they've brought to the whole coffee-drinking culture. But, it's so damned convenient! They even have a drive-through! AND they're going to be putting in a Wi-Fi hub in the next month or so!
So, now I'm torn. While I don't want to support their predatory ways, bad roasts and stupid made-up nomenclature, how do I resist the obvious convenience of having a place to hang out with my laptop a mere 150 feet away from my boat? Why couldn't it have been a Tully's or better yet an Uptown or Cafe Ladro instead? Why, oh why in the name of all that's just did it have to be the 800-pound gorilla of the coffee industry?
I suppose I could just order the double-short Caramel Macchiatto...
The 13th Annual Seattle Fringe Theatre Festival is in full swing, and I've seen and written reviews (they're here at TheatreSeattle.com) for ten productions in the past two and a-half days, with four more to go in the next three. By the time it's over next weekend there will have been over 500 performances from 90 different local, national and international companies.
This is the second year the Festival has gone up in its new mid-September slot, which places it in a better sequence for acts traveling the North American Fringe Festival Circuit, and frankly I've been pleasantly impressed with the overall quality of what I've seen to-date. Because of the itinerant nature of these shows, production values tend toward the sparse-to-almost-non-existent, so the emphasis is put squarely on writing and acting (where it rightfully belongs), and I've seen some darned good examples of both:
Local playwright John Longenbaugh's work doesn't always impress me, but his most recent effort How To Be Cool is the best I've ever seen from him. Intelligent, funny and with a great sense of playing with as well as to the audience.
Joe Boling is a living institution amongst the local theatre cognoscenti, and his fascinating one-man lecture What Is It Like To Be Joe Boling? gives us a fascinating glimpse into his complex, obsessive, but consistently humane personality.
Likewise, Maria Glanz is a consumate performer who's garnered a whole bunch of awards for her work, both locally and on the fringe circuit, and her latest outing And The Cowgirl Jumped Over The Moon promises this enchanting writer/actress even more well-deserved accolades.
And those are just the things I've seen personally. We've got five other reviewers out there scouring all the little performance spaces on Capitol Hill, digging through the rough for the gems that lie beneath. Fortunately for us, this year at least there seems to be a strong vein of really good theatre ore to mine, and that can only bode well for future prospects.
If you can, go see some shows. If you can't go read about all the great (and yes, not-so-great) stuff you're missing.
Ahoy, mateys! In case ye didn't know, today be National Talk Like A Pirate Day. So, shiver yer timbers, limber up yer rum-hole, and make with the Yo-ho-ho'ing, already, or count yerself a lilly-livered, landlubbering son-of-a-narwhal!
For those of you who haven't heard, the company where I work during the day locked out 140 teamsters while I was on vacation two weeks ago as part of a contract dispute, and for the past four days we've been in a virtual lock-down situation at my office. Because we have union employees who work in our testing labs here, the local has the right to picket our premeses, and so we've been forced to park at an off-site location, then get bussed in; it's a pretty surreal situation, what with the butcher paper over the windows, the security guards riding along, the shouts from the picketers as we pass, the intermittent car honks of support. Not to mention the fact that we're virtually locked in here, sort of like the old closed campus high school I went to 25 years ago. Some wag even facetiously christened our bus, "The Shawshank Express".
I'm in a bit of a quandry over the situation. Normally, I'm a strong pro-labor supporter (seeing as I belong to an AFL-CIO affiliated union myself), although I don't personally have a problem crossing this particular picket line, since it's MY job I'm going to, and I'm not scabbing one of their's. But, at the same time I feel a bit of torn loyalty. Early on, when the company started putting together a contingency plan to deal with any possible work action on the part of the union, I made it clear to my boss that I would not feel comfortable crossing a union picket as a replacement worker at one of the struck plants, if it came down to that. Fortunately, my services were considered vital to holding down the fort here at HQ, so it turned out not to be an issue. And hearing things from management's perspective, I have to admit that I think overall they've been very fair and upfront with the union during the contract negotiations, with the result being that the employees at three other plants ratified our contract proposal by overwhelming majorities. IBT Local 66, the union in question, however, seems to feel they can leverage a better wage/benefit package than what we offered, and now it looks like both sides are going to get into a pissing match to see who can get the other to flinch first. Regardless of the outcome, it's a lose-lose for everybody; for our producer/owners who are suffering from oversupply in the market and the lowest raw milk prices in 25 years; the union members who now probably won't get as good a deal as we originally offered them; management, which is pushing staff to the limit to try to keep the plants operating; and the rest of the employees who are having to deal with the negative publicity, emotional and psychological stress of being virtual captives in our own office. And there doesn't seem to be any imminent end to the situation.
So, it was a little nerve-wracking sitting in at the King County Labor Council meeting last night (I'm a delegate), and listening to the whooping and shouting when they announced that local 66 has joined the Council as an affiliate member. It gave me a very strong appreciation for the old adage, "there are always two sides to the story", as I'm sure most of the people in the room only know the union's side, and I couldn't help but wonder if they would have been quite so knee-jerkingly enthusiastic had they heard the other point-of-view. They see it as just another of the many recent anti-labor moves made by Big Business, which is a pretty simplistic way of looking at this particular situation, and are pretty much accepting the union's version of events at face-value, without probing any deeper into why the lockout occured in the first place.
And I just had to sit there and try not to let on that essentially, they had one of "the bad guys" in their midst, even though I don't consider myself one of the enemy, although they probably would.
Well, it's not exactly like All Hell Has Broken Loose, but considering that a week ago I was enjoying the sweltering heat of of the sunny Southwest, coming into the office this morning was a bit of a challenge for a number of reasons.
First of all, I've never been a "morning person", one of those disgustingly cheerful types who springs out of bed at the break of dawn with all the drive and energy of an amphetamine-fueled super-Samaratin, ready to battle the forces of gloom with a mouthful of perfect white teeth, and that annoying twinkle in the eye that just screams, "C'mon! Things could be worse! It could be raining!" Especially when it IS raining. No, I'm more of a "late morning, early afternoon" person, or more accurately a "night" person; I'd much rather stay up until 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. and arise at a civilized 10:00 or 11:00. But of course, one can only do that if one is either independently wealthy, on vacation or working the swing shift. Well, the vacation was quite nice in terms of sleeping in, but that's over and done with now, and it's back to crawling out of the berth at 6:45.
And to make things just a bit more interesting, the company where I work my "day job" decided to lock out 130 union production and lab personnel last week, after they rejected the company's latest contract offer. Fortunately, the union hasn't set up any pickets, but for the time being we have to park at an off-site location to be bussed in to the office -- it's sort of like being in high school again (hence, another example of "life in Hell"), including company-catered box lunches and closed-campus policy. Expressing the mood of many, some anonymous wag put up a makeshift sign next to one of the busses in the parking lot, "The Shawshank Express" it declares.
And of course, it looks like summer is now officially over, thanks to the impending seasonal west-to-east shift of the Jet Stream as it moves off the cooling north Pacific and onto the comparatively warmer North American landmass, dragging a procession of low-pressure ridges behind it like a long stream of soggy parade floats. It's tough going from Phoenix/Las Vegas where the daytime highs hover well above 100, to overnight lows in Seattle that are roughly 50 degrees cooler. It was inevitable of course, nothing this good can last forever, and there's still always the possibility of seeing the last-gasp, Indian Summer conditions of mid-October that are one of this regions best-kept secrets. But, you know in your bones, your stiff, cold, achey bones that winter is just around the corner. Your bones are telling you to by-Gawd get your lazy, vacation dulled butt in gear, put the shorts and tank tops into storage, pull out the sweaters, and give the outer wear a good spray with the Camp Dry, because the Alaska Express is on its way, and now its just a matter of time.
So, the air is getting cooler, the storm clouds are gathering, night is falling earlier, green is turning to gold and azure, the geese are flocking, the tourists flying south, the snowbirds are heading for the desert, and the sun is saying "sayonara Seattle, it's been fun. See you next year. We'll do coffee."
Meanwhile, in a room in a mansion overlooking the City of The Angels, a man on the low side of 60 thinks his final thoughts, the lyrics to a song he once wrote:
From the President of the United States
To the lowliest rock and roll star
The doctor is in and he'll see you now
He don't care who you are
Some get the awful, awful diseases
Some get the knife, some get the gun
Some get to die in their sleep
At the age of a hundred and one
Maybe you'll go to heaven
See Uncle Al and Uncle Lou
Maybe you'll be reincarnated
Maybe that stuff's true
If you were good
Maybe you'll come back as someone nice
And if you were bad
Maybe you'll have to pay the price
Life'll kill ya
That's what I said
Life'll kill ya
Then you'll be dead
Life'll find ya
Wherever you go
Requiescat in pace
That's all she wrote
And then he closed his eyes and went to sleep. He won't be hearing the alarm clock in the morning or the train whistle in the night. He won't see the sun looking angry through the trees. And although I'm not a God-fearing man, I still hope Heaven helps him, because that's what Heaven is supposed to do for those who leave.
Hey, Warren you're ride's here. You're on your way.