Russell Brunelle (russellb) wrote,
Russell Brunelle

Inter Alia in Seattle - December 2009

Here's the latest issue of that monthly arts and events newsletter I maintain for my law school graduating class...

Welcome to the December 2009 issue of Inter Alia, my monthly guide to Seattle events for University of Washington law students. Obviously as law students our free time is drastically limited, but I hope to draw on my sixteen years in this city to identify particularly entertaining, unusual, and/or productive options for whatever free time you do have.

One-of-a-Kind Events

Seattle's Santacon is scheduled for Saturday, Dec 12 @ 11:30am. The idea is simple: you show up at the starting location, possibly drunk already, wearing a Santa Claus outfit. After about 100 or so other people similarly dressed as Santa Claus have arrived, your mob of Santa Clauses starts a day-long pub crawl, visiting random places in downtown Seattle and the International District en masse. From a career development perspective the virtue of participating in this event is that if you later on do criminal defense work, then whenever one of your first-time DUI clients talks about having hit rock bottom with alcohol you'll have an anecdote of your own to share. Either way, since you'll be wearing a fake beard it's not as if you could be identified. The best place in Seattle to get an inexpensive Santa Claus outfit is the Display & Costume shop at 11201 Roosevelt Way NE (9am-8pm Mon-Fri and 9:30am-6pm Sat). See for Santacon details: the starting location should be posted in a week or so.

Author Appearances

If you were a fan of the acclaimed police drama The Wire, then you might be interested in hearing novelist Richard Price speak: he wrote the book this show was based on, as well as five episodes of it. Dec 1 @ 7:30pm in Benaroya Hall, and student tickets are only $10.

Bill Gates Sr. (class of 1950) talks with Dean Testy about his new book Showing Up for Life. Dec 7 @ 5pm in room 138 of our law school. Free.

Alvin Ziontz, senior attorney on the U.S. v. Washington fishing rights treaty case (384 F. Supp. 312), reads from and signs his new book A Lawyer in Indian Country. An MP3 download of the author's KUOW interview is available if you're interested in tribal law but don't have time to attend. Dec 9 @ 7pm in University Bookstore, free.

Jennifer Burns, history professor and Daily Show guest, speaks about her new book Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right. Dec 16 @ 7:30pm in Town Hall Seattle, $5.

Staying Active

One thing I love about Seattle is that even after living here for sixteen years this city can still surprise me. This month's case-in-point is the "Transcendent Church of Bass," a non-alcoholic dance club that I discovered last month. If you see dancing as either exercise or as a way to relieve stress, rather than as a way to see or be seen, then this is probably the best option in the city right now: the lack of alcohol means there are no behavior problems, it's not crowded, the music volume is healthy but not excessive, the DJ's are excellent, and the crowd (in many cases artists in their 30's associated in some way with the annual Burning Man festival) is varied and interesting. Dec 2 and 16 @ 8pm at 920 Elliott Ave W, admission by donation.

Summit at Snoqualmie is now open for skiing, snowboarding, and inner tubing.

The IMA switches to an 11am-6:30pm schedule after December 18, and will be closed Dec 25 and 31.


The comedians who hosted the original "Mystery Science Theater 3000" television show have gotten back together, and this month are offering a live simulcast (via the same satellite-to-theater arrangement the Metropolitan Opera uses) making fun of a series of short holiday films. If you're not sure whether you'd enjoy this, rent "Best of RiffTrax Shorts" (vol 1 or 2) on DVD from Scarecrow Video. Personally, I think they're hilarious. Dec 16 @ 8pm, $12.50.

Local playwright and journalist David Schmader performs a live comic narration of "Showgirls": arguably the worst mainstream movie of all time. Mr. Schmader has become somewhat famous for doing this, having been selected to do the same as an audio commentary on the latest DVD release of this "film." Dec 24 @ 7:30pm at the Triple Door. $15.

Dina Martina, Seattle comedy legend, creates her traditional holiday train wreck almost every December evening @ 8pm (with 2pm Sunday matinees) in the Re-bar. $20.

Fine Arts

Soprano Renée Fleming performs at Benaroya Hall on Dec 4 @ 8pm. Her program is remarkably contemporary: with one exception, each composition is by a composer who is either still alive or who lived well into the 20th century. Tickets are expensive, and unfortunately given the international fame this artist is enjoying right now it's unlikely either student rush tickets (half-off anything on the main floor two hours before curtain) or "campus club" tickets ($10 for anything still remaining in the house one hour before curtain assuming you've submitted a specific form well in advance) will be available: basically, if you really want to see Ms. Fleming you need to bite the full-price bullet pretty much immediately, the cheapest scenario being $58 for third tier seating. If you can't justify that expense but are still curious what Ms. Fleming sounds like, an excellent fallback position would be one of the $10 downloads (through either Amazon or iTunes) of the Four Last Songs CD she recorded last year.

La Danse, a documentary film which follows the Paris Opera Ballet through several rehearsals and performances, plays from Dec 4-10 @ 7pm at Northwest Film Forum (1515 12th Ave) for $9. This presentation is sponsored by the Consulate General of France in San Francisco, and the film itself so far has a 100% approval rating on

Seattle Repertory Theatre's production of "Equivocation" (which was featured at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival earlier this year) has been getting glowing reviews. It's almost three hours long, but is probably the live theatre pick of the month, and runs through Dec 13. Student tickets are $22, but if you're under 25 tickets are only $12 regardless.

The Metropolitan Opera simulcasts Offenbach's The Tales of Hoffman on Dec 19 @ 10am for $22. This performance will run well over four hours, so you should probably only attend if you're sure you like opera.


The Washington Huskies play the California Golden Bears on Dec 5 @ 3:30pm in Husky Stadium.

Sonicsgate, a documentary film exploring why the SuperSonics basketball team left Seattle, plays evenings from Dec 11-17 at McCaw Hall. $10.

Holiday Gift Ideas

In addition to the "Church of Bass," the other major discovery I made last month was "The Wine Outlet" in Seattle's Interbay neighborhood (946 Elliott Ave W). Basically, a gentleman who has been one of this region's foremost wine experts for the last two decades recently decided to open his own wine shop, but (in classic Seattle style) chose to focus his shop on low-cost wines which taste well above their price point, and which furthermore he was able to secure heavy discounts on. His shop also has a tasting area with individual tables, making it an unique date idea. Putting this all together, it's like going to a fine restaurant that only serves wine, and where you leave having learned quite a bit about wine and with a few affordable bottles which will make excellent holiday gifts. Strongly recommended.

Two books came out recently which might make good holiday gifts for any relatives who are enthusiastic about the fact that you're in law school: Michael Sandel's Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do? and Seth Lipsky's The Citizen's Constitution: An Annotated Guide. The former is probably the best all-around choice, since it covers what most people seem to think the law school experience is all about, and since it can provide good fodder for discussion between lawyers and non-lawyers. The latter may be a better choice for very conservative family members who are unduly concerned that you may be going off some kind of liberal deep end: the scholarship is solid, and the format is definitely engaging, but the author clearly favors small government principles.

New Legal Podcasts

The new "Supreme Podcast" is excellent: each free 20 minute weekly episode covers new opinions, and new denials of certiorari, in the perfect amount of detail for commute listening.

C-SPAN just completed a set of 30-60 minute interviews with each of the nine current Supreme Court Justices, and is offering the entire set as a free podcast.

New Legal Documentaries

Damages, now available for rental at Scarecrow Video, covers both client interviews and attorney-only meetings at Koskoff Koskoff and Bieder over the course of several real personal injury lawsuits. The strategy meetings in which claim figures were debated, and the mock jury procedures, were particularly interesting.
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