Sunday, September 30, 2007

"Clash between Faith and Reason"

No matter what your views are on religion, faith and spirituality, you owe it to yourself to listen to this thought-provoking and well-thought out speech examining the impact religion has on our global society.

Author Sam Harris is worried about the role religion plays in our world. Given that 90% of Americans believe in a biblical god, it is not surprising that religion is the only ideology systematically protected from any sort of criticism. But common sense and a love of humanity require us to really look at the lasting effects of Christian, Muslim & Jewish dogma--faiths that continue to shape and direct the world we live in.

"Clash between Faith and Reason" from 7/4/2007
Length: 60 minutes

Two ways to listen:

1) Streamed via Internet:

2) Download MP3 to your computer for offline listening: Click here: Size of download: 24MB

I look forward to your comments.

Engagement Congratulations!

A hearty and loving congratulations to Suzanne and Sumeer (Sam) who became engaged this weekend! There could not be a more amazing & wonderful thing then having two dear friends from very separate parts of my life find each other, fall in love and decide to marry. These two fine performers are shown at the Karaoke bash we had in May. I'm sorry I don't have a more serious picture of the two of them but really, the amount of fun and sparkle surrounding these guys is summed up pretty well. Congratulations again!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Ohioans conquer Seattle

I met Anne in September 1994 when I moved to London to study abroad for a year. She was one of my eight flatmates and the first one I met. Since that moment, she has been one of my dearest friends. After London, we have only seen each other 4 times: her wedding (to Matt) in 2000, my brief visit to Ohio in 2004, our wedding in 2005 and just now. But it's like no time goes by and we pick up just where we left off. When she told me they would be coming out for an extended weekend, I was ecstatic. They had never been to Seattle so we endeavored to represent our city well and make it a rock & roll good time. When you think of what to highlight for out-of-towners, it can be overwhelming to try to encapsulate what Seattle is in a handful of days. Anne & Matt let us know that they had no burning desire to go up in the Space Needle and honestly once you get up there, you are looking down at a city you don't know. Aside from the views (if the weather is cooperating) is that really very exciting? So I suggested we thoroughly embarrass ourselves and take a "Ride the Ducks" tour.

Photo by Sean Testa.

As a local, I usually cringe when I see those things on the street but with company it seemed like a unique & comprehensive experience. But if that weren't enough, Sean and Shannon were willing to do it too so we wouldn't be the only locals on board.

Like the Hummer, the Ducks are former military vehicles commercialized to capture their true potential. Who would have thought that vehicles designed to storm the beaches of Normandy would later be driven around cities as people blew through plastic duck lips? I knew these things went in the water but I had never seen that part with my own eyes. I can't adequately describe the flash of doubt that takes hold as the thing rolls down the boat launch. A vehicle that can be sound on both the road and in water? Of course it was fine. But if you are curious to know how they look in water, here's one in Lake Union.

Photo by Sean Testa.

Both Anne & Matt are landscape architects in Ohio. Our activities on Sunday centered around green things and we took them over to the Arboretum and Japanese Garden. They saw a few plants they'd never seen before and impressed us with their ability to identify trees, shrubs and flowers with ease and confidence. They were very impressed with the Seattle Japanese Garden and said it was second only to the one in Portland that they visited around the time of our wedding.

Here are purple flowers that almost glowed--they were so vivid. Not that you can really tell from the picture. I forget the name of them now. Behind them were some zebra grass which were also quite exotic looking. The Japanese Garden doesn't seem to have raccoon problems. These Koi could get night jobs bouncing in Pioneer Square, they are so huge. And these lunkers and will hurt you if you don't feed them. (More Japanese Garden photos HERE.)

Here is a new exhibit at the Japanese Garden called "Faces." Just kidding. This was in Fremont near where we ate dinner: a great Italian restaurant that doesn't look like much from the road but has excellent food & homemade desserts: Fremont Classic Pizzeria & Trattoria. Yes, they bite. The one thing Anne & Matt wanted more than anything during their visit to Seattle was to eat lots of seafood. And wouldn't you know it, the salmon are running. The first night we dined at Chinooks and the next night we served some home-cooked Coho but forgot how pungent cooking salmon can be and got to live with the smell for a few days (sorry Anne). To further our salmon knowledge, we made a stop at the Ballard Locks to see them hop the ladder. It really is an amazing place to visit, tourist or local. The gardens: exquisite and well cared for, the locks: an amazing human invention to behold and the salmon ladder: up-close and personal with wild salmon--and it's all free. So. Freaking. Cool. We also spotted winged wildlife, a heron and other birds. And this was in the garden there. Looks like it's from another planet. It's one the most bizarre and beautiful flowers I have ever seen. Does anyone know what it is? Naturally you can't visit Seattle without a little Farmer's Market action so I took them to the largest one in the country: Pike Street Market. Can I tell you how much more sane it is on a Monday? Lots of room to move around and the vibe is almost zen it's so relaxing. We bought some flowers and produce, like you do. Saw some fish get thrown, ate at Lowell's for lunch, cruised by the first Starbucks and stopped in at Le Panier (The Very French Bakery). Beautiful day to boot. It's been a thrill to have Anne & Matt here and show them some gems of this city. Safe travels back to Ohio and next time it's our turn to come see you! Thanks also to Sean and Shannon for their participation in the Duck Tour and dinner. Always a thrill to have great friends together at the same table.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Lasers not so much

It's Symphony week on "Evidently..." and tonight's performance of the Seattle Symphony Pops "Sci-Fi Favorites" inspired a little Haiku-action.

(Performance featured a laser light show to the music of John Williams, conducted by Jack Everly, narrated by George Takei)

Symphony Sci-Fi
Nostalgic Fuzzy Feelings
Lasers Not So Much

Odorous faux pas
Perfume jams my frequencies
Take It Easy Lady

Pan-Asian In Space
George Takei Looks Like My Dad
Sulu Is A Sea

Ponder That For Now
Explanations Coming Soon
Bedtime For Bonzo

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Open Letter to the Seattle Symphony Musicians

Dear Seattle Symphony Musicians,

First I want you to know, I love you best.

Given a choice between the Opera, Ballet, Symphony or Sports Teams of this town, I'll always pick you. What you create and deliver night after night astounds and delights me like nothing else. As I look at each one of you, I see a lifetime of devotion to the art of music and the mastery of the instrument resting in your hands. It is my honor to hear you perform in such a hall, in such a city.

But imagine my dismay last Saturday when you all stood to take your bows and it looked like you were headed to a funeral after the show. Not a smile amongst you, just expressionless, dour faces as you clutched your instruments. Yo-Yo smiled and laughed and hugged. So did Schwarz. But you were not moved by the Bravos and ecstatic clapping. And it wasn't just at the end of one piece--it was all of them. Did you not like standing and taking bows? Did you not want our appreciation? It certainly seemed that way.

Not being a musician perhaps leaves me in the dark on some things you go through. When my husband practices a piece on the piano, he plays it again and again and again to the point where I have to go somewhere else. There must be an inherent solitude that one endures as a musician I'm sure. And so when you come together with 50+ other individuals of the same ilk--I can only imagine there is some friction.

I did some research on you to see if the answer was out there and found a local paper had fun with conspiratorial scraps of fact and gossip not too long ago. I couldn't help but feel sad. It sounds like some of you have a boss you don't like. I've certainly worked for bosses I didn't like. (Current one excluded for those of my co-workers reading this.) It's frustrating when you don't respect that person or find their decisions questionable.

But I thought (probably naively) that the arts would transcend human frailty--that the making of music especially, showcased the best of our creativity and possibility. This week kicks off the beginning of a new season and we will be seeing many of your performances. I just hope you find it in yourselves to remember that in the audience, there are those of us who marvel at you and wish you back every bit of joy you bring to our ears and hearts. Receive our gratitude with graciousness is all I ask.


Monday, September 17, 2007

Yo-Yo rocks

Saturday night, Ken and I delighted in the ever-smiling, ever-uplifting Yo-Yo Ma and the Seattle Symphony Orchestra as they kicked off the new season. We sat in different seats this time and while we couldn't see the entire orchestra because we were low and up close, we got a really good view of Yo-Yo.

In fact, I could see at first he kept his eyes closed through most of Faure's Elegie, Op. 24. His face contorted with emotion as he played. But during the second piece, Saint-Saens' Cello Concerto No. 1, he looked around a lot and smiled as he made eye-contact with fellow musicians and audience members. At times he popped-up while still playing like he was going to stand but then sat back down. It was electrifying to see him get so into the music.

But the structured playing of symphonic music is not the true draw to a Yo-Yo Ma concert...oh no, you go for the encores. And he did two. Both duets: one with the concert mistress Ani Kavafian and one with the 23-year-0ld principal cellist Joshua Roman. The interaction Yo-Yo displayed while partnering with these people was truly a joy to witness. The first piece was a modern-sounding pluck fest with plenty of laughs and a welcome reprieve from the regular program. Then the double cellos gave the audience a rare treat. How often to you hear only two cellos with such masterful skill behind them? And let me just say, Yo-Yo turned the pages of music for his fellow musicians. It's this and all the other acts of graciousness and obvious love of music that make Yo-Yo so endearing and watchable. When he was done, Yo-Yo departed the stage amid cheering and thunderous applause.

The symphony had one more piece to play that night: Ravel's iconic Bolero. (Also known from the movie, "10" with Bo Derek.) I have always liked this piece as it builds and repeats seemingly simple patterns but takes a great deal of focus from it's players to maintain the momentum. And it sounds so "full" when you get to hear it live. Ken and I talked about what it was that really made live symphonic music great and we concluded it's the fact that the sound envelopes you and comes at you from all sides as opposed to from just 2 speakers where the music seems "flattened." From my seat I could see deep into the cello section and who to my wondering eyes should be sitting last chair but Yo-Yo himself. Apparently he snuck back on stage and not many people noticed because after the fantastic ending, Maestro Schwarz pointed out people to stand and take bows so when Yo-yo stood up gasps of surprise and hollering erupted. Great ending.


Meow alert: This was a black tie affair for some, a more dressed-up event for the rest of us but nothing special for one teenage girl I spotted wearing soccer shorts and athletic shoes. I know it sounds snotty as hell, but if you're going to go to the symphony at least make an attempt to look presentable. Have a little respect for the musicians and your fellow audience.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Conversations after dinner

KS: "My application form says to Describe Yourself. What should I say?"


KM: "How about: light brown with dark parts?"


Hysterical laughter.

Friday, September 14, 2007


The Blogosphere is truly an amazing place that makes connecting to one another even easier. When I look at where my blog traffic comes from on Google Analytics, I am delighted to see readers from far away places like Turkey, Kenya, Peru, Hong Kong and New Zealand. Another interesting bit of trivia: since the inception of the blog, somebody from almost every U. S. state has visited, except from New Mexico and both Dakotas.

So I've been thinking what can we do to get a visitor from New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment and the "It grows as it goes" state. The state of the Road Runner, Yucca flower and Bolo Tie--seriously there is a "state tie". (I already checked and Washington doesn't appear to have a one.)

Or from the mysterious lands of North & South Dakota. North Dakota also known as the Roughrider State--I like the sound of that--doesn't have a state tie. South Dakota home of the Black Hills and Mt. Rushmore doesn't either. But they have plains and very cold winters. Fargo, anyone?

Well I hope someone from those states will visit this blog and know that their presence fulfills a lifelong dream--a dream of connecting one nation under blog.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Breaking up: Fruity Cherrios + Me

A helpful reader responded to the Fruity Cherrios post and the honeymoon's officially over.

"What else is in Fruity Cheerios?
Well like Froot Loops it's also got such yummies as Red 40,
Yellow 6, Blue 1 and butylated hydroxytoluene (listed as BHT on the box).

What's BHT?

Well BHT is produced by an alkylation reaction of p-cresol with isobutylene
and it's used not only as a food additive, but also in cosmetics,
pharmaceuticals, jet fuels, rubber, petroleum products, and embalming fluid
(according to Wikipedia). As a food additive BHT has been banned in Japan,
Romania, Sweden, England and Australia and the Center for Science in the Public Interest recommends it be avoided whenever possible."

This is a very sad day.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Mokai Productions 1st Original Song: "Amy's In Amsterdam"

This all started when I asked Ken to forgo playing Wii Tanks Tuesday night after work and spend some time interacting with me. He was riffing on the piano as I cleared the dinner plates. While he played I made up lyrics about Oliver, an endless inspiration for songs about anal grooming, vacant looks and unexplainable behavior. But eventually we crossed over into other subject matter and lyrics about our friends started coming out--specifically our friend Amy who just left for Amsterdam. Armed with a few tidbits of knowledge about the Netherlands and a recent email from Amy, we set out to write a song called "Amy's In Amsterdam." Personally, it's a bit cringe-worthy in spots but it was so much fun to make and Ken, who not only is a consummate musician and audio tech wiz, made it look so easy. So now I'm like why haven't we written & recorded songs before? Hear the song (MP3)! CLICK HERE Read the lyrics! CLICK HERE

Good Day for the Cougs @ Qwest Field

After a slow and scary start, the WSU Cougs emerged victorious against the San Diego State Sp(a)ztecs. (Someone who went there said that's what they themselves call the team.) The WSU receiving corp & the quarterback were phenomenal once they found their rhythm. In my many years of cursorily keeping track of this team, I have never noticed such a well-coordinated offense. Usually it's the defense saving every one's behind but this time the defense looked um, slightly overwhelmed. Shannon and I lamented that the Jaws theme + the ridiculous vertical clap that has become synonymous with Cougar defense is a confusing message to both the players & fans and should be retired as soon as possible. Anyway, it was a beautiful day in Seattle, perfect temperature and not a cloud in the sky. To kick things off, a six-member Navy SEAL parachute jumping team LANDED on the field. Amazing. More pics of that in the album and this guy barely made it around the roof edge. But these are experts--I'm sure it was not as close as it seemed. Dad secured some excellent seats down low on the 50-yd line. Among other friends of Dad's, Sean & Shannon joined us for their first Coug football game in a long while. They visited WSU West and got some new Coug Gear. They look very stylish just in time for the game and for Fashion Week. The pretzel completes the ensemble, don't you think? And let it be said that the Huskies had a good day yesterday as well, (surprisingly) beating the #22 team Boise State. Since that game ended prior to the start of ours, I can only surmise that this death-wish prone Husky fan strutted through the student section due to sheer boredom and abject stupidity. He attracted a lot of attention as cups, food and other things hurdled toward his head. Overall, a fabulous day all around. Maybe next year we'll make arrangements to do some tailgating since this game brought a bunch of other friends out. So put it on your calendar: Cougar Gridiron Classic 2008 (what they call this annual exhibition game now) is on August 30 versus Oklahoma State. Can't wait! Full album HERE.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Don't Get Chumpatized

Wanna see a movie that will thoroughly entertain and inspire you? Wanna understand what that title means? Go see "King of Kong: Fistful of Quarters." It's likely playing at an art house or independent theater in your area. First of all it's a documentary about guys who play arcade video games for world record titles. Okay, I know that sounds boring and freakishly nerd-tastic. But this is a story of David and Goliath proportions.
What happens when a sensitive, likable family-man dreams of being the best at Donkey Kong but comes up against the calculating mullet-clad defending world champion? A damn good movie, that's what. Don't just take my word for it, critics love it too.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Growing Stuff: It's Not Just For Looks

Our neighbors Ian & Christina were featured by KPLU because they have a "farm" in their Ballard backyard--sans chickens. It's very impressive and with the whole movement of eating local and organic produce, they seem to have found the answer. We were treated to quite an array of beans & other veggies at their recent dinner party. Fabulous! We, on the other hand, will need to keep going to the farmers' market. Because I don't see our patch of yard turning over anytime soon. Though we do have one ridiculously large fennel plant sprung from the area formerly an herb garden for the previous owners. But it's plotting to take over Seattle. We are afraid of it.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Flight of the Conchords Fix

Tonight is the last installment of The Flight of the Conchords Series on HBO. Because we only have basic cable, I have to depend on YouTube or to see the episodes. I'm hoping they'll just release it on DVD.
Even if this is the only season of the Flight of the Conchords show, they've shown their versatility and amazing talent at comedy/songwriting. So without further ado, here's some of my recent favorite bits & songs.


David Bowie Dream

You're So Beautiful

Not Crying