Weekly Volcano Blogs: Walkie Talkie Blog

December 30, 2014 at 7:36am

5 Things To Do Today: Orden Mundial, Sassparilla, DJ Li'l Mascara, Old School Jam ...

This could happen tonight at Le Voyeur in downtown Olympia. Photo courtesy of Facebook

TUESDAY, DEC. 30 2014 >>>

1. The Spanish hardcore outfit Orden Mundial lay everything out on the line in their recent LP, Obedienca Debida, with 10 tracks that almost never make it past a minute and a half. Still, within these unfathomably tight structures, Orden Mundial find compelling melodies and enough crunch to satisfy those that normally blanch at hardcore punk. There's a ferocity to the vocals that almost upstages the instrumentation, creating a roaring drive akin to a train barreling down on you. Catch the band with Combat Knife and Spetsnaz at 7 p.m. in Le Voyeur.

2. Found inside a shining stalk of bamboo by an old bamboo cutter (James Caan) and his wife (Mary Steenburgen), a tiny girl grows rapidly into an exquisite young lady (Chloë Grace Moretz). The mysterious young princess enthralls all who encounter her - but ultimately she must confront her fate, the punishment for her crime. What? Oh, wait ... it's the animated film The Tale of The Princess Kaguya screening at 2:30 and 6 p.m. in The Grand Cinema.

3. Maybe you're the type who is thinking "Hey, let's do something Tuesday" and stay in and cuddle New Year's Eve away from the madding crowds. Tonight would, in fact, be a good time to take in Portland blood-jug holler band Sassparilla, complete with washtub bass, cigar-box guitar, washboard and a dude with about 50 different harmonicas in his vest, at 7:30 p.m. in the Olympic Club Theater.

4. DJ Li'l Mascara will spin punk beginning ta 9 p.m. in Obsidian in downtown Olympia. The waffles are delicious.

5. DJ Freshwell and DJ Dirty White host "2x4 Old School Jam" after the comedy show at 10:30 p.m. in Jazzbones. Warning: It's also Brandon Escovedo's bachelor party ... so there goes your New Year's Eve plans.

LINK: Tuesday, Dec. 30 arts and entertainment events in the greater Tacoma and Olympia area

December 29, 2014 at 11:16am

Nerd Alert! The Head That Wouldn't Die! Downton Abbey! Galavant! Robots! ...

"Marvel's Agent Carter": In the 1946-set spin off of "Captain America," Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) takes on spy missions for Stark Industries. Photo courtesy of ABC TV Network

Just saying no to the Polar Bear Plunge, this is Nerd Alert, the Weekly Volcano's recurring events calendar devoted to all things nerdy. I myself am a Star Wars fan, mathlete, and spelling bee champion of long standing, so trust me: I grok whereof I speak.

THURSDAY, JAN. 1

Jay Hollingsworth is one "big dude" (those are his words, as are "I'm six-eight. I weigh right around twoooo much") who tells some big-ass jokes. He was born in Portland, moved from Seattle to Los Angeles and happily refers to himself as "Big Irish." He's a fixture on podcasts including Doug (Benson) Loves Movies and his own HollingsWorthless. Louie Anderson calls him "a great joke writer," and I agree. He's also industrious enough to fly to Tacoma for a week of shows in winter, on New Year's Day no less, and that seems worthy of our mutual respect. Give him a shot; see if he doesn't deliver serious laughs per minute.

JAY HOLLINGSWORTH, 8 p.m. Thursday-Sunday, 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Tacoma Comedy Club, 933 Market St., Tacoma, $10-$15, 253.282.7203

FRIDAY, JAN. 2

The only downside of compiling my year-end "Carvy awards" for Olympia theater practitioners is that you, our devoted readers, forwent your chance to see all my favorites months ago. I'm happy to report that's not the case for my top pick of 2014, Theater Artists Olympia's The Head! That Wouldn't Die! No, that show sold well enough to justify two reprise performances this week, not to mention two italicized exclamation points. It's a toe-tapping musical that'll put a smile on your face and a song in your heart and other clichés in your brain, then cut that brain full of clichés out and set it in a pan for future audiences to enjoy. It's just so damned! Entertaining!

THE HEAD! THAT WOULDN'T DIE!, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Midnight Sun Performance Space, 113 Columbia St. NW, Olympia, $15, 360.259.2743

SUNDAY, JAN. 4

The art form our English readers refer to as "the telly" returns this week, beginning with the long-awaited Downton Abbey premiere on PBS (9 p.m.). I say "long-awaited," but of course that's assuming you aren't really a recent immigrant from the United Kingdom. If you are British, then you caught Downton's season five starting over three months ago and have probably moved on to Walking with Beasts or The Blue Planet. Also, you say "al-yuMINium" and "adVERTis-ment" and "vitt-amin" and frankly, we're all getting just a bit sick of your superior attitude. Also, Nigella Lawson is getting clobbered on The Taste again, so put that in your calabash and smoke it, guv'nor.

Speaking of stupid jokes about a mythical land, ABC's Galavant premieres Sunday at 8 p.m. It's almost certainly terrible, but it does feature a couple of songs composed by Disney vet Alan Menken. Or you could check out the broadcast premiere of Life Itself, a biography of dearly departed columnist Roger Ebert, at 9 p.m. on CNN. Two thumbs sad.

TUESDAY, JAN. 6

My wife and I caught the Master Chef Junior bug late, but boy, did we. I actually thought about calling ex-girlfriends on the sly, not to catch up but as it occurred to me I may have unknowingly fathered some of these junior-high competitors. Chubby kids with outsized vocabularies and culinary ambitions? An 11-year-old gastronome who referred to another guy's food choices as "pedestrian?" Yeah, remind me to screen calls from Maury Povich. Anyway, season three debuts on Fox at 9 p.m.

Also at 9 p.m., set your DVR for the premiere of Disney's, ABC's, Marvel's Agent Carter. It stars Hayley Atwell as Captain America's former squeeze, then recruits her as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent to clear the name of Howard Hughes - I mean Stark! - aka Iron Man's superrich daddy issue. Also: amazing hats.

Tuesday marks the DVD/Blu-ray release of what a fair number of critics are calling the best movie of the year, director Richard Linklater's Boyhood. It's the film that cast Ellar Coltrane at age 6, then followed him to legal voting age at Sul Ross State University. I haven't seen it yet, so I'm rooting for Birdman till a Netflix viewing of this movie changes my mind.

WEDNESDAY, JAN. 7

Speaking of boyhood, how much would your kids enjoy building robots out of Legos at the library? Well, today brings your first of several chances, which continue through the spring. Remember to teach your kids how to code Asimov's Three Laws of robot behavior. You and the rest of humanity will be so glad you did.

ROBOTS!, 3 p.m. Wednesday, Pierce County Library, 3609 Market Pl. W., Tacoma, free, 253.272.8801

Until next week, may the Force be with you, may the odds be ever in your favor, and thank the Maker, this New-Year's-Day, post-hangover oil bath is going to feel so good.

December 29, 2014 at 8:06am

5 Things To Do Today: Model Train Festival, "The Butterfly Effect," Surf Monkeys, Maria Joyner-Wulf ...

Remember to look both ways before crossing, and keep your pennies to yourself at the Washington State History Museum today.

MONDAY, DEC. 29 2014 >>>

1. Just so you know, you might miss the train today - seeing as how it's scaled down to one and a half inches. Get it? At the 19th Annual Model Train Festival, every floor of the Washington State History Museum features model trains of all sizes and eras, landscapes, train experts plus the museum's permanent HO-scale 1,700-square-foot model railroad layout that portrays Tacoma and surroundings in the 1950s. The wee ones will go nuts over the Model Train Festival. Slip your budding trainiac a couple candy canes along the way and their little heads will practically explode. The trains run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

2. The Thurston County Family & Juvenile Court is not a place people are likely to go with the intention of viewing art, but the court is open to the public and there is a lot of exciting art to be seen. "The Butterfly Effect" is a new permanent installation in the stairwell of the court house that was created by stringing together many hundreds (probably more than a thousand) butterflies cut out of plastic juice pouches, the work of nearly 700 students. Read Alec Clayton's full review of the art at the Thurston County Family & Juvenile Court in the music & Culture section.

3. Franciscan Polar Plaza is the place to be once winter hits. Think you can find something better to do than busting out some ice skates? Yeah, good luck with that. Polar Plaza is on its fourth year of setting up an ice-skating rink decked out in wintery goodness at Tollefson Plaza, just across from the Tacoma Art Museum in downtown Tacoma. With three fabulous years behind them, the Plaza folks put their heads together and found a few key ways to make this ritzy rink even better for 2014. Skate from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. today.

4. Our ears perked up and our stomachs flipped a little when we heard the phrase "ultra cool spy themes." It sounds dangerous and sexy. Blues, that most American of musical forms, will receive a dose of spy music, as well as surf tones, at The Swiss' Monday Blues Night at 8 p.m. Seattle guitarist and singer Chris Stevens will fill the downtown Tacoma watering hole with electric blues lines via a big Gibson archtop. Taking their unusual name from a song title by legendary blues guitarist Freddy King, Stevens' back band, the Surf Monkeys, keep a firm footing in the blues while stretching the boundaries with "ultra cool spy themes," reverb drenched surf twang and Chris' own "blues on the edge of jazz" originals.

5. Jazz drummer Maria Joyner-Wulf performs with many groups in the region including Seattle Women's Jazz Orchestra, Jazz Senators and Bevy. She's also a music educator, band leader, composer and multi-instrumentalist. She'll join pianist Reuel Lubag, bassist Wayne Bliss and saxophonist Cynthia Mullis for Rhythm and Rye last jazz night of the year, beginning at 8 p.m.

LINK: Monday, Dec. 29 arts and entertainment events in the greater Tacoma and Olympia area

December 28, 2014 at 4:50pm

Words, Photos & Video: Forest Beutel live at the Franciscan Polar Plaza ice rink

Forest Beutel brightened spirits at the Franciscan Polar Plaza ice rink in downtown Tacoma Dec. 27. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

Americana music owes its existence to the collision of post-punk insurgency with a modern take on the often rude sounds of old-time country, blues and bluegrass, with singer-songwriter fetishes thrown in for good measure. If that sounds like a mouthful, it's meant to be: Americana covers a pretty wide range of styles and performers, and last night Forest Beutel covered all aspects of Americana.

Tacoma musician Beutel performed at the Franciscan Polar Plaza ice-skating rink in downtown Tacoma as part of the Weekly Volcano's "Rhythm & Ice: Down Home Holiday Hoedown" music series. The Tacoma Art Museum asked us to produce the live music stage at the rink every Saturday night during its run. In conjunction with the "Art of the American West" exhibit across the street at TAM, we have booked seven Saturday nights of bluegrass, country rock and old-timey bands.

Beutel - a fixture of Tacoma's bluegrass scene, playing banjo for The Barleywine Revue, punkgrass outfit The Rusty Cleavers and matching Julie Campbell's fierce fiddle in Dixie Highway - picked at his banjo, blew his harmonica, pumped his bass drum and hi-hat, performing a mix of high-energy bluegrass, down-tempo blues and introspective lyrics for the skaters going in circles. Beutel held an ice-skating trick contest throughout the night, pointing out potential candidates in between songs off his new solo CD, If You Label Me, You Negate Me.

I shot a little amateur video last night, which features Beutel's songs "Don't Know No Other Way" and Good Ol' Boy" at the rink, and "Angus' Romp" during my intermission session at The Social Bar & Grill.

The Franciscan Polar Plaza ice rink at Tollefson Plaza is open to public ice-skating sessions across the street from TAM daily through Jan. 11.

The Weekly Volcano's last Rhythm & Ice: Down Home Holiday Hoedown bluegrass concert stars The Oly Mountain Boys 7-9 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 3. The quintet from Olympia will, no doubt, play tunes off their new bluegrass concept album, White Horse, which tells the story of a man named Charlie McCarver and his rough life in Washington state during the early 20th century. If you like your bluegrass complex, melodic and focused on weighty matters, then ice skate to this show Jan. 3. In the meantime, enjoy a few photos and a video (above) from Forest Beutel live at Polar Plaza Dec. 27.

SEE ALSO

Words, photos and video from Dixie Highway's live performance at Polar Plaza

Words, photos and video from The Rusty Cleavers' live performance at Polar Plaza

Words, photos and video from Shotgun Kitchen's live performance at Polar Plaza

Words, photos and video from SweetKiss Momma's live performance at Polar Plaza

Words, photos and a video from The Cottonwood Cutups' live performance at the Polar Plaza ice rink

The backstory and band schedule for the Weekly Volcano's Rhythm & Ice music series at the Franciscan Polar Plaza ice rink

December 28, 2014 at 8:58am

5 Things To Do Today: Stickshift Annie and The Fugitives, Appalachian Country Dance, The Coltranes ...

Stickshift Annie performs at The Spar in Old Town Tacoma tonight.

SUNDAY, DEC. 28 2014 >>>

1. Does Stickshift Annie and The Fugitives really need an introduction? Is there a more professional band? Is there a more respected one? Are you really going to pretend that you don't enjoy hearing America's sweetheart Stickshift Annie on vocals? Let alone watching her front the band with charisma few have, right? Do you not remember how great a guitarist Kimball Conant is? Geez, why are you not at The Spar right now securing a front row seat to watch this awesome blues band perform at 7 p.m.?

2. Franciscan Polar Plaza is the place to be once winter hits. Think you can find something better to do than busting out some ice skates? Yeah, good luck with that. Polar Plaza is on its fourth year of setting up an ice-skating rink decked out in wintery goodness at Tollefson Plaza, just across from the Tacoma Art Museum in downtown Tacoma. With three fabulous years behind them, the Plaza folks put their heads together and found a few key ways to make this ritzy rink even better for 2014. Skate from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

3. In the Appalachians, the holiday season is devoted to dance-happy house parties. That's the tradition celebrated by husband-and-wife mountain music gurus Erynn Marshall and Carl Jones in their "Breaking Up Christmas and Appalachian Country Dance" program at 6 p.m. in the Prosperity Grange Hall. They'll be joined by caller Charmaine Slaven, fiddler Tony Mates and guitarist Catherine Alexander; and, as folks might say up in the holler, it'll be finer'n a can o' snuff.

4. Temecula, California, hardcore/death rock band The Coltranes spread holiday cheer at Le Voyeur beginning at 7 p.m.

5. As the son of longtime Seattle DJ Bob Rivers, Andrew Rivers got accustomed early to the not-always-flattering spotlight. "I was the butt of so many jokes on the radio show," he says. Maybe that's why - despite his jokes about how he's not tough enough to walk those female friends to their cars - Rivers seems to have a pretty thick skin. Read Molly Gilmore's full story on Andrew Rivers in the Music & Culture section, then catch Rivers at 8 p.m. at the Tacoma Comedy Club.

LINK: Sunday, Dec. 28 arts and entertainment events in the greater Tacoma and Olympia area

December 27, 2014 at 8:53am

5 Things To Do Today: Forest Beutel on Ice, Saucy Yoda, Ethan Tucker, Donald Glaude ...

Forest Beutel performs at the Polar Plaza ice-skating rink in downtown Tacoma from 7-9 p.m.

SATURDAY, DEC. 27 2014 >>>

1. Forest Beutel is a fixture of Tacoma's bluegrass scene, playing banjo for The Barleywine Revue, punkgrass outfit The Rusty Cleavers and matching Julie Campbell's fierce fiddle in Dixie Highway. In September, he released If You Label Me, You Negate Me, his first solo album - a mix of high-energy bluegrass, down-tempo blues and introspective lyrics. When performing solo, Beutel picks banjo, blows the harmonica and works a bass drum and a hi-hat with his feet. From 7-9 p.m., he'll perform at the Franciscan Polar Plaza ice-skating rink as part of the Weekly Volcano's "Rhythm & Ice: Down Home Holiday Hoedown."

2. After a couple years of being stranded in the wilderness of Alaska, Saucy Yoda is once again gracing the Pacific Northwest with her presence. For those who haven't had the pleasure of catching her live, Saucy Yoda is a whirling dervish of gonzo party energy. Combining a garage punk aesthetic with full-blown, hyphy hip-hop, Saucy Yoda brings just the right mixture of bratty attitude and balls-to-the-wall, malt liquor-slamming rave-ups. Catch her with masonapron, Bango Skank, Watermelon and the Beach Boy at 8 p.m. in Bob's Java Jive.

3. The mouth of boxing, former three-division world champion Adrien "The Problem" Broner, is in Tacoma to rock with DJ Taber and his crew at 9 p.m. in the Cultura Events Center.

4. Ethan Tucker may only be in his 20s, but he has already made a big name for himself in musical circles throughout the U.S. The Olympia singer-songwriter has been performing regularly since the age of 16 incorporates multiple genres such as jazz, blues, folk, and reggae in his sound. Catch Tucker at 9:30 p.m. inside Doyle's Public House.

5. In the early ‘80s, Donald Glaude filled Lakes High School house parties with Funkadelic, Commodores and underground hip-hop. From there, he emerged himself in the Seattle house and rave music scene before becoming one of the most traveled international DJs of our time. Always a smile, and women on both side of his decks, Glaude still commands the worldwide house music scene, in front of the turntables and behind the studio mixing board. Glaude returns home for a night at Jazzbones, with DJs Omar and Flave opening, and the Northwest DJ roster before him. Respect.

LINK: Saturday, Dec. 27 arts and entertainment events in the greater Tacoma and Olympia area

December 26, 2014 at 8:04am

5 Things To Do Today: Bod, Dr. Lauren's Holiday Bizarre, Randy Oxford Band, punkgrass ...

Bod performs at The New Frontier Lounge tonight. Photo courtesy of Facebook

FRIDAY, DEC. 26 2014 >>>

1. Befitting an album featuring Ben Roth's first major creative output, Bod's EP, Party Drug, feels like it's crammed with ideas and off-kilter detours. "Gigantor" kicks off the album in a haze, before '70s prog-indebted guitars charge in. Tricky time signatures abound, lending a stop-start dynamic that challenges without taking away from the purely enjoyable drive of the songs. As a frontman, Roth's voice becomes more like just another instrument, awash in reverb as it softens the spikiness of the guitars. Party Drug is a great encapsulation of Roth's attitude: music for music's sake. Read Rev. Adam McKinney's full interview with Ben Roth in the Music & Culture section, then catch Bod with EZTV, Mega Bog and Black Wolf at 9 p.m. in The New Frontier Lounge.

2. The phrase triple threat, meaning a person who excels at acting, dancing, and singing, is among the most overused in all entertainment. Oh, sure, any number of actors can carry a tune. I've even met trained opera singers who can manage a waltz without requiring emergency services. All the same, it's rare to meet a performer who's better than average at all three - yet the phrase seems an understatement when applied to Lauren O'Neill. She's an improv artist, a fixture in the local burlesque scene, and a go-to when, say, a sassy mistress of ceremonies is required. Now there's a new persona, "Dr. Lauren," who'll probably look a lot like Lauren O'Neill but say things distinctly less practical. Read Christian Carvajal's full feature on Dr. Lauren's Holiday Bizarre! on our Walkie Talkie blog, then catch the show at 7:30 p.m. in the Urban Onion.

3. As the son of longtime Seattle DJ Bob Rivers, Andrew Rivers got accustomed early to the not-always-flattering spotlight. "I was the butt of so many jokes on the radio show," he says. Maybe that's why - despite his jokes about how he's not tough enough to walk those female friends to their cars - Rivers seems to have a pretty thick skin. Read Molly Gilmore's full story on Andrew Rivers in the Music & Culture section, then catch Rivers at 8 and 10:30 p.m. at the Tacoma Comedy Club.

4. For 12 freakin' years in a row - never wavering - The Randy Oxford Band has encouraged (hell, inspired!) you to get out of the house the night after Christmas and shake some of the tinsel and stuffing off. It's known as the "Night After Christmas Dance Party."  The gist is pretty simple - the South Sound's mad horn-blower and his gang of bluesy merrymakers tear the house down (in this case, Jazzbones - and not literally) while you shake whatever it is you have to shake on the dance floor, beginning at 8 p.m. In short order, and without fail, good times are had by all.

5. It's a final hoedown of sorts as the year draws to a close. The Rusty Cleavers and The Cottonwood Cutups takeover the Half Pint Pizza Pub at 9 p.m.

LINK: Friday, Dec. 26 arts and entertainment events in the greater Tacoma and Olympia area

December 24, 2014 at 8:26am

5 Things To Do Today: Ice skating, Fantasy Lights, Puget Sound Porter Ice Cream, candle service ...

The Franciscan Polar Plaza ice-skating rink in downtown Tacoma is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

WEDNESDAY, DEC. 24 2014 >>>

1. Whether you want to channel your inner Winter Olympics sports nerd, capture the magic of the season in a vibrant urban venue or just have a wintery and sporty adventure, break out the ice skates, people, because the Franciscan Polar Plaza, in partnership with the Tacoma Art Museum, is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Bring family and friends to Tacoma's holiday ice rink for holiday fun and a good time right in the heart of downtown Tacoma.

2. The Harmon Tap Room has teamed up with Ice Cream Social to serve Puget Sound Porter Ice Cream from 2-4 p.m. at the Tap Room.

3. Take a driving tour of Fantasy Lights in Spanaway Park, where carloads of travelers can see more than 300 stunning displays of lights and imaginative animation over a two-mile stretch of Spanaway Lake Park from 5:30-9 p.m. 

4. For Christians the world over, Christmas Eve means being trapped for endless hours with the family while listening to Hall and Oates sing Christmas carols. But for everyone else, Christmas Eve is a pony of an entirely different hue. People of all faiths and no faith are invited to celebrate Christmas Eve at Unity of Olympia. This is an annual community service where everyone lights each other's candles and appreciate the Light within all. If you can, arrive by 6 p.m. to join the Unity Choir for a holiday sing-along. 

5. The Percival Landing boardwalk is the home of the 6th annual Dancing Lights Marine Christmas Show. The Olympia Yacht Club has converted the marina into a holiday light display, computer-animated mind you. Dora The Friendly Sea Dagon greets you, as does a 45-foot yacht decorated with more than 20,000 lights. The 45-minute program consists of nine musical selections and runs twice each evening from 7-8:30 p.m. Hurrah!

LINK: Wednesday, Dec. 24 arts and entertainment events in the greater Tacoma and Olympia area

December 23, 2014 at 11:39am

Nerd Alert! - "The Interview" disaster and "The Imitation Game"

"The Imitation Game" finally gives the life of mathematical genius Alan Turing ??" filled with both triumphs and tragedy ??" the respect it deserves.

Ed. note: Sony Pictures Entertainment said today it will release The Interview in select theaters on Christmas Day.

It would be disingenuous for me to start off this column with anything other than the biggest bit of news in the entertainment industry, right now, even though I might literally be the last person in the world to give my opinion on the matter. With that said, here's my patented TakeTM on the catastrophe surrounding Sony pulling the release (seemingly indefinitely, in all formats) of The Interview: in the simplest terms - it's awful and we should all be very afraid.

That good enough? OK, in more complicated terms, this is clearly setting a dangerous precedent for the state of creativity in mainstream entertainment. Whether or not North Korea was ultimately behind the hacking of Sony and the subsequent threats of terrorist activity (as the US government is now alleging), what we do know is that Sony decided to bury a movie because of some vague threats and the very real possibility of more internal documents being released to the public. While I acknowledge that Sony was between a rock and a hard place (releasing the film to actual terrorist attacks would have made them seem like ghoulish profiteers), what they've actually done is confirm that anonymous threats are enough to inspire an awe-inspiring act of censorship over what was likely a movie mostly about James Franco and Seth Rogen making dick jokes.

Comparisons to The Great Dictator have already been made and, yes, while it's true that that film did not feature Chaplin assassinating a reigning dictator, it did infamously end with Chaplin posing as the dictator and giving a rousing speech decrying everything that Hitler stood for, which would arguably have been just as offensive to Hitler had so many countries not then shunned Chaplin (which, including the United States, was unfortunately the case).

I realize that this is a silly nerd column, so I'll end my rant here: If we're not vocal, this disaster with The Interview will go on to dictate what entertainment the public is privy to watch, which should sound absolutely terrifying to you.

Opening Christmas Day: The Imitation Game

In other, less troubling movie news, the film in competition with The Theory of Everything for the coveted award of Best Prestige Movie About a Great Scientist is coming to theaters. Instead of exploring the life of Stephen Hawking, The Imitation Game follows the life of Alan Turing, who helped the United States to break the Germans' supposedly unbreakable codes during World War II. As if that isn't enough, he also came up with the Turing test, which has challenged scientists ever since to come up with a machine that can believably converse with humans to the point that a human cannot tell if he or she is speaking with a machine. This, Turing thought, would be the barrier we would need to pass before we could actually access artificial intelligence.

Plus, The Imitation Game has Benedict Cumberbatch in it, which is always nice. Just try not to think about The Interview, and you should enjoy your time at the movies just fine.

LINK: Previous Nerd Alerts issued

Filed under: Nerd Alert!, Screens,

December 23, 2014 at 7:40am

5 Things To Do Today: Dancing Lights, "Nutcracker," John Denver tribute, Forest Beutel ...

Check out the Dancing Lights Marine Christmas Show tonight. Photo courtesy of Olympia Yacht Club/Mike Contris

TUESDAY, DEC. 23 2014 >>>

1. It's two days before Christmas. Having exhausted all financial resources barring the sale of various vital organs or offspring, you drive the streets, dejected, unsure of what to do now. You venture into downtown Olympia, and you see stars - white stars, red stars, blue stars, in fact all sorts of colored lights. It's Peace on Earth. Your mouth forms a wondrous "Oh." You reach out for your loved one's hand. He/she slaps it and tells you to stop being so sarcastic. It seems to be coming from the Percival Landing boardwalk. Yes, you're sure of it. Well, God bless us, everyone, it's the 6th annual Dancing Lights Marine Christmas Show. The Olympia Yacht Club has converted the marina into a holiday light display, computer-animated mind you. Dora The Friendly Sea Dagon greets you, as does a 45-foot yacht decorated with more than 20,000 lights. The 45-minute program consists of nine musical selections and runs twice each evening from 7-8:30 p.m. Hurrah!

2. Franciscan Polar Plaza is the place to be once winter hits. Think you can find something better to do than busting out some ice skates? Yeah, good luck with that. Polar Plaza is on its fourth year of setting up an ice-skating rink decked out in wintery goodness at Tollefson Plaza, just across from the Tacoma Art Museum in downtown Tacoma. With three fabulous years behind them, the Plaza folks put their heads together and found a few key ways to make this ritzy rink even better for 2014. Skate from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

3. Hello, holiday tradition! The Nutcracker ballet performance is a holiday forever classic. The Tacoma City Ballet does it up right and with a delightful twist. Did you know that there's a "prequel" to The Nutcracker called Tale of the Hard Nut? Celebrating its 31st performance season, the ballet company takes on The Nutcracker performance in its entirety, which includes the prequel. In short: prepare to be dazzled, delighted and enchanted at 3 and 7:30 p.m. in the Pantages Theater.

4. Folksy, folk-writing folk hero John Denver - born Henry John Deutschendorf Jr. - died Oct. 12, 1997, when the experimental plane he was flying crashed into Monterey Bay off the coast of California. Tonight at 6:30 p.m. in the Red Wind Casino fans both casual (which way to the slots?) and rabid (dude, "Rocky Mountain High"!) will cheer on Ted Vigil - born Ted Vigil - as he pays tribute to Denver - both visually and musically.

5. Forest Beutel is a fixture of Tacoma's music scene, playing banjo for The Barleywine Revue, punkgrass outfit The Rusty Cleavers and matching Julie Campbell's fierce fiddle in Dixie Highway. In September, he released If You Label Me, You Negate Me, his first solo album - a mix of high-energy folk punk, down-tempo blues and introspective lyrics. At 8 p.m., Beutel will perform at the Eleven Eleven with friends Jake Cline and Shootdang from Portland.

LINK: Tuesday, Dec. 23 arts and entertainment events in the greater Tacoma and Olympia area

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