Couchsurfing, Revisted

Strangers are not to be feared, but befriended. 

At least that’s what the organizer of the annual Couch Fest Films festival told me. 

Instead of herding audiences into traditional theater spaces, Couch Fest invites viewers to sit back and relax in a stranger’s living room, houseboat, or even tricked-out van.

Craig Downing, founder of the festival, developed the idea shortly after arriving in Seattle from Austin, Texas, when he realized he missed a certain kind of community vibe he’d left behind in Texas. 

“I’m raising my hand to get the high-five and getting metaphorically left hanging,” Downing said. With Couch Fest he “could get people to open their goddamn doors for each other.” 

To read more, click HERE

Theater Review: 'The Picture of Dorian Gray,' dir. Rachel Perlot

I once read that the best student films are in black and white. The muted tones drown out the visual noise and the inevitable mistakes that often accompany a first-time or small-scale production. 

The UW’s Undergraduate Theater Society (UTS) isn’t making movies, but it applies this principle anyway. Its productions are in a black box theater. They are intimate, sparse, and emphasize the performances, not the minor details. 

The latest production from UTS, “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” makes the most of its space, performing theater-in-the-round. Actors enter from four directions and move in a way that ensures each seat a different view. This is the play’s greatest strength, but also its clearest liability. 

Read more HERE

Album review: 'Four,' One Direction

One Direction’s last album, “Midnight Memories,” was just plain fun. No matter how much hate you harbor for boy bands generally, or 1D in particular, each track got under your skin and set your foot tapping, even against your will. 

But their new album, “Four,” which leaked on Tumblr weeks ago but officially dropped yesterday, has none of its predecessors’ infectious qualities. 

The lyrics are weak and the overall vibe is one of contractual obligation, not creativity or musical passion. 

Read more HERE

A Magpie's View of Death

My mom's father died last Wednesday, November 5, at 11:23 a.m. from complications related to his multiple myeloma. I've wanted to write about it since before it even happened, but I've had trouble collecting my thoughts. While I do intend one day to write about my relationship with my grandfather, for now I've assembled a digital representation of the thoughts that have been pinging around in my brain this past week and a half.

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Home and homophones

The theme of 4Culture’s recently reinvigorated Poetry on Buses program centers on both writing and, of course, riding home. 

These simple, routine acts are the source of inspiration for 365 poems by locals, all of which will be featured online; a select few will be displayed on RapidRide buses and in King County Metro stations. 

Hamda Yusuf, an international studies major at the UW, was on a subway in Vienna, Austria, last spring when she noticed she smelled like fresh, juicy bacon. Yusuf, who is a Muslim and does not eat pork, was startled. After a moment, Yusuf realized her roommate had made bacon for breakfast and Yusuf had been coated in bacon scent while sitting in their shared kitchen. 

To read more, click HERE

Edwin Edwards: Convict, Potential Congressman, and 87 Years Young

This summer, my family traveled to Louisiana for an exploratory vacation. We were in pursuit of "the South," a mystical world we had only experienced through Mark Twain books and Matthew McConaughey's slow, syrupy speech. 

We spent time in the French Quarter, observing the behaviors of the midday Bourbon Street patrons. We boated 'round the Bayou, photographing gators and bemoaning the stunning absence of "Duck Dynasty"-like characters. But must memorably, we drove to Baton Rouge, the state's capital city, so I could interview former governor Edwin Edwards. 

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The Maestro

I remember the first and last time I exposed myself as an haughty individual full of hubris.

In sixth grade, several of us were selected to participate in a local spelling bee. We'd be competing against the other religious schools for fame and fortune, or a pat on the back and a coupon for Dairy Queen anyway.

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Play Review: 'Twelfth Night'

It takes time to settle into one of Shakespeare’s plays. The language has a certain rhythm and the stage an otherworldly feel. Unless the audience is well-versed in the Bard’s classic verses, there is a certain confusion, even tension, throughout the first act. It is not until the second curtain that the audience can relax, sit deeper into their seats, and fully absorb the show. 

This is proven true by Seattle Shakespeare Company’s production of “Twelfth Night.” 

To keep reading, click HERE

But that's another('s) story

If, as Joan Didion states, "we tell ourselves stories to live," then do we not kill others, or at least kill their spirits, when we deny the validity of their stories? 

The stories that are denied tend to be the stories of women, gay and transgender individuals, and especially of racial and ethnic minorities. People who are white, male, and educated and wealthy tend to have their word accepted at face value. 

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'No Angel:' Why I'm Not Part of the Bey Hive

Beyonce is a talented vocalist. She is beautiful, a capable businesswoman, and from what I can tell, genuinely kind. But so are many other woman: Mariah Carey has a vocal range considerably larger than Queen Bey, Kim Kardashian turned a leaked sex tape into an empire, and fans lucky enough to meet Lady Gaga rave about her kindness. Of all the women currently in music today, what exactly sets Beyonce apart? 

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