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January 10, 2014 at 8:04am

5 Things To Do Today: Echo Echo Echoes, extreme filmmaker, Indigo Girls, Stop Light Party and more ...

Echo Echo echoes makes us feel fine.

FRIDAY, JAN. 10 2014 >>>

1. The Echo Echo Echoes are a Seattle band, far from the sunny beaches that they love to evoke. Though they call themselves a surf-pop band, and they have a song nostalgically titled "Surfer Girl," they are very quick to joke that wearing wetsuits and catching waves is something very far from their own experiences. Read Rev. Adam McKinney's full feature on Echo Echo Echoes in the Music & Culture section, then catch the band with Retrospector and Battersea at 9 p.m. in The New Frontier Lounge.

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January 9, 2014 at 8:19am

5 Things To Do Today: Green Drinks, locavore chat, The Shy Boys, comedian Matt Braunger and more ...

Green Drinks Tacoma welcomes you to meet new people and discuss environmental issues tonight over, well, drinks.

THURSDAY, JAN. 9 2014 >>>

1. Green Drinks Tacoma, known locally as Tacoma's Green Happy Hour, is a monthly forum for business owners, students, academics, entrepreneurs, and members of the public to meet, exchange ideas, and grow their level of sustainability. It's a get-together for Green people - No, not individuals from other planets, but rather those interested in the environment, conservation and sustainability. Green Drinks kicks off 2014 at 6 p.m. with an informal get-together and brief discussion lead by Tacoma Power regarding its energy conservation efforts and programs at The Office Bar & Grill.

The locavore movement is real. It's in the Oxford Dictionary. So are the words doughnut hole, red velvet cake, panko, bibimbap and affogato. The English language has never stopped and will never stop evolving. Same with the locavore movement, thanks to authors such as Whidbey Island resident Vicki Robin. Her book, Blessing the Hands That Feed Us, is loaded with practical tips on adopting your own locally-sourced diet, in a candid, humorous, and inspirational voice. Grab a hold of Robin's views and tips at 7 p.m. in Orca Books.

The Tides Tavern has been an anchor in Gig Harbor nightlife scene. If the waterfront watering hole wants to have its New Year's kickoff party on Jan. 9, who's to argue. Appropriately Gig Harbor '70s and '80s acoustic rockers The Shy Boys will be the entertainment from 7-9 p.m. Happy New Year!

4. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Now that's what we call a play. Three acts of two married couples screaming and crying into the existential void of Cold War America. Nice. Catch the pay at 8 p.m. in the Lakewood Playhouse, and pay-what-you-can.

As you read in this week's Nerd Alert! column, Rev. Adam McKinney has been following comedian Matt Braunger. "With a boisterous and animated style reminiscent of Brian Regan, Braunger has been receiving a lot of attention for the past couple years, culminating in the release of his 2012 Comedy Central special, Shovel Fighter. Coming out of a remarkably fertile scene in Chicago that also nurtured the careers of peers such as Pete Holmes, Kumail Nanjiani, T.J. Miller and Kyle Kinane, Braunger is a comedian still on the rise, and one that seems poised to keep getting better as time goes on." Catch him at 8 p.m. in the Tacoma Comedy Club.

LINK: Thursday, Jan. 9 arts and entertainment events in the greater Tacoma and Olympia area


January 6, 2014 at 7:22am

Monday Morning Joe: Cyberattacks, al-Qaida militants, weather, Falling Downton Abbey ...

Valhalla Coffee hand roasts coffee in small batches at 3918 Sixth Avenue in Tacoma. It also serves espresso drinks with awesome music daily.

GRAB A CUP & READ THE MORNING REPORT FOR 1.6.14 >>>

Defense officials see cyberattacks as the greatest threat to U.S. national security, according to a survey released today.

Iraq's prime minister Nouri al-Maliki urges residents and tribes of Fallujah to "expel" al-Qaida militants from this western city to avoid an all-out battle - remarks that may signal an imminent military move to retake the former insurgent stronghold.

Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States is ready to help Iraq in any way possible as that country began a major offensive to wrest control of two cities from Al Qaeda-linked militants. But he made it clear that no American troops would be sent.

Read more...

January 3, 2014 at 10:57am

Cool Kids Friday: Big Cadet, Little Cadet

Clover Park High School JROTC cadet Athziri Macias helps Park Lodge Elementary second-grader Elia Aguilar during the "Big Cadet, Little Cadet" after-school mentoring program. Courtesy photo

Keeping schools safe and creating positive learning environments for Lakewood children are critical concerns. Keeping Air Force Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps active while they wait to get their first planes is essential, too.

Wouldn't it be cool to kills two birds with one stone, so to speak?

The Clover Park School District has figured it out.

Air Force Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps sit with CPSD elementary students, helping the youngsters read, accomplish homework tasks and play games. Called "Big Cadet, Little Cadet," the JROTC troops base their operation out of Park Lodge Elementary School, as part of the Lakewood Family YMCA after-school program.

"It's really fun to work with the students," said sophomore Athziri Macias in a CPSD press release. "They may not have someone at home who can help them with homework."

Besides dealing with fraction equations, the cadets also stress the importance of volunteer work and community to the kids.

"It's really a win-win for the cadets and the elementary students," said Lt. Col. Gary Roberts, CPHS JROTC instructor, in the same release. "The students benefit from a having a positive role model and the cadets learn how to work with younger students."

Win-win, indeed.

Filed under: Air Force, Schools, Lakewood,

December 30, 2013 at 10:57am

Nerd Alert!: The finest nerdy projects of 2013

Sharlto Copley (District 9) stars in trippy sci-fi mystery "Europa Report" about a crew of international astronauts sent on a private mission to Jupiter’s fourth moon.

Besties, 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.

Welcome to the first week of January, aka the annual geek doldrums. Good movies came out at the end of December to qualify for Oscar nominations, leaving only a sad Paranormal Activity sequel debuting this week. With the nerd-neutral exception of Downton Abbey, TV season premieres don't begin till later this month. There are no geek events planned locally this week. There isn't even a new play opening (though I will be at the debut of Lakewood Playhouse's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Friday). I thought about filling this void by compiling a Best of 2013 list, but the truth is I haven't caught up on all last year had to offer. Instead, please allow me to rattle off the finest genre projects I have been able to take in over the last 12 months. That'll at least give you some quality entertainment to binge on through this cold winter hiatus.

No one ever accused Doctor Who of excessive consistency in tone, but when it's on its A game (usually meaning showrunner Steven Moffat, who also runs the excellent Sherlock, wrote the episode) it's as entertaining as anything on TV. I thoroughly enjoyed a cuddly telefilm about the origins of the series, An Adventure in Space and Time, and the massive episode it introduced, "The Day of the Doctor." All this was to set up the departure of 11th Doctor Matt Smith, in Christmas Day's poignant ep "The Time of the Doctor." Here's the good news: the BBC's rerunning the lot of it on New Year's Eve.

I can't pretend to be a fan of modern horror, thanks to its overreliance on shock effects and sadism. (Seven Saws plus two branded video games in a decade? No, thanks.) The Conjuring was a rare and welcome exception, however, thanks to great performances from Vera Farmiga and Lili Taylor, plus a goosebumpy script by the Hayes brothers of Portland, Ore. It's available now on Netflix, including Netflix Streaming, and I dare you to watch it with the lights off.

Though it probably slipped under your radar, the "found-footage" sci-fi film Europa Report gets impressive mileage from a mere seven-digit budget. An international team of scientists is en route to an ecologically promising Jovian moon when its ship loses communication with the earth. What happens next will remind you less of Prometheus and more of 2010: The Year We Make Contact. The action and settings feel unusually plausible, and it's a fun change of pace from less cerebral efforts. (Oh, Pacific Rim ... where should I even begin?) Europa Report is also available on Netflix Streaming.

While Gravity fudges near-terrestrial orbital mechanics for maximum impact, it also boasts a fine performance by Sandra Bullock, plus what I think we can all agree are the most dazzling visual effects of the year, maybe ever. Sadly, Alfonso Cuarón's epic two-hander vacated Tacoma and Olympia cineplexes, but it arrives on Blu-ray, including a 3-D edition, Feb. 25, flush with what I expect will be a raft of Oscar noms.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is, however, in area theaters. If you passed on it because you found its predecessor lacking in the thrills department, now's a good time to reconsider. Every conceivable aspect of this installment is better, thanks in large part to a change of director. It has visceral excitement, better effects, richer acting and a promising setup for Mockingjay, Parts 1 and 2. Between this and American Hustle, that lovely young Jennifer Lawrence is having quite an annus mirabilis.

I'm working my way slowly through critics' top 10 lists of 2013 novels, having just finished Meg Wolitzer's expansive The Interestings, but few include the book I found most un-put-down-able: Lexicon, by Australia's Max Barry. It's about an underground society in which so-called "poets" wield linguistic "persuasion" tricks to manipulate the masses, for crusades both kind and abominable. It's a riveting thriller with a cerebral, satirical pulse, my favorite since Ready Player One.

If you have Xfinity On Demand, you can binge-watch all 10 first-season episodes of the BBC's Orphan Black for free, and you totally should. It's amazingly good, y'all, especially the manifold performance of Tatiana Maslany. That she didn't receive an Emmy nomination casts that entire nominating process into serious doubt. Here's the setup: A young British woman named Sarah (Maslany) spots another woman, Beth (also Maslany), in a tube station, just before Beth leaps to her death in front of a train. Sarah then swaps identities with Beth to get herself and her daughter out of a jam. That's how she meets Katja (uh, Maslany) and Alison (holy crap, Maslany again), plus three more vivid characters - all played by, yep, Maslany. Defiance be damned, Orphan Black was far and away the smartest sci-fi telly of 2013.

That said, I sure enjoyed me some Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Season 5. Memories of embarrassing prequels faded thanks to killer episodes like "Point of No Return," culminating in a series-finale arc in which a young Padawan is wrongfully accused of mass murder. It's true Clone Wars was all over the tonal map, perhaps by necessity, but it sure made my DVR fun on Saturday mornings. All five seasons are available on DVD or Blu-ray, harder to find on legal streaming services.

The summer movie season was bracketed by two apocalyptic comedies, This Is the End and The World's End. Both were hysterically funny. Both are available on something called HitBliss Streaming, or for disc rental on Netflix. Neither, I promise you, is G-rated, but only the former includes Jonah Hill getting menaced by a priapic demon. So yeah. Good luck wiping that image from your brain.

This was an unexpectedly strong season of The Walking Dead, especially episode 3.8, "Made to Suffer." Oh! And I gather there was some sort of wedding on Game of Thrones? I don't subscribe to HBO, so my wife and I are eagerly awaiting the Blu-rays Feb. 18. Don't you dare spoil anything for us! Nothing warms our hearts more than a glorious wedding. Felicitations and mazel tov, you beautiful Stark kids!

Until next week, may the Force be with you, may the odds be ever in your favor, and vartix velkor mannik wissick, may you send me a stack of Regal gift cards courtesy of the Volcano head office.

See Also

Judging by the Trailer

December 23, 2013 at 4:13pm

South Sound Military & Communities Partnership continues its mission

Representatives from 14 South Sound county and city organizations met Dec. 20 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord to renew the SSMCP partnership. Photo courtesy of Facebook

Representatives from 14 South Sound county and city organizations met Friday to sign the Memorandum of Agreement, agreeing to increase their financial support to the South Sound Military & Communities Partnership.

With federal government support shifting from the SSMCP's general fund to focus more on specific projects, the city and private organizations from Pierce and Thurston counties agreed to kick in more money.

Since SSMCP's inception in May 2011, its support has been predominately from federal funds - 90 percent federal and 10 percent local.

Read more...

December 11, 2013 at 11:05am

Christmas 1863 at Fort Steilacoom

Cutline: Joe Lewis holds an 1860s era lantern that will be used during a guided candlelight tour of Fort Steilacoom Saturday, Dec. 14. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

Ever wanted to step back into American history?

Christmas at Fort Steilacoom, a guided candlelight tour that depicts the history of the holidays, will be held Saturday, Dec. 14.

"This is a signature event," Joe Lewis, secretary of the Historical Fort Steilacoom Association, said as we talked in Quarters 4. 

"We picked the year 1863 because it allows our guests to see what Christmas was like here 150 years ago."

It will be quite an historical look back.

Read more...

November 25, 2013 at 11:08am

Eat This Now: Burgers from Five Guys

Buttered buns from the griddle, fresh ground beef, and hand-cut potatoes all make Five Guys Burgers and Fries the place to drop in for a "fast" food meal in Lakewood.

Since the '80s Five Guys Burgers and Fries has been burger flippin' its way to our hearts and, in the last few years, it has spread like wild fire opening several locations in the South Sound. If you've haven eaten at Five Guys, this isn't shocking news. One greasy sackful of burgers and fries will make you a believer.

The chain burger joint serves juicy burgers from hand-formed patties that have never been frozen. Sure, the patties nestle between old-fashioned sesame seed buns, but the real treat is how your burger comes dressed. It's not all an assigned setting based on burger type. You get to choose your own toppings from the condiments such as mayo, ketchup, mustard, A1 and hot sauce to the veggies, which includes traditional toppers lettuce, tomato, onion - even fresh sliced jalapenos or green peppers and the grilled sorts such as onions and mushrooms. This means the possibilities are endless, you're not confined to just the basics.

The burgers ($6+) are cooked well-done, but not dry. Then, they are paired with your favorite toppings and a side of fries, seasoned to perfection after taking a swim in peanut oil.

It's just a good ole American fave fast food without the fast food flavor. You can even order online, though I have yet to give it a go.

FIVE GUYS BURGERS AND FRIES, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, 5605 Lakewood Towne Center Blvd., Lakewood, 253.582.4897

See Also

South Sound Dining Guide

Pumpkin Town

Filed under: Food & Drink, Lakewood,

November 22, 2013 at 7:20am

5 Things To Do Today: Polar Plaza ice-skating, coffee and cheese samples, "Avenue Q," A Happy Death, Mirrorgloss and more ...

Hit the ice today from 4-10 p.m. Photo credit: Hans Brinker

FRIDAY, NOV. 22 2013 >>>

1. Franciscan Polar Plaza ice rink opens at 4 p.m. The Polar Plaza is on its third year of setting up an ice-skating rink decked out in wintery goodness at Tollefson Plaza, just across from Tacoma Art Museum. With two 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 2013. What's New in 2013? Click here and discover the magic.

2. Hungry for holiday cooking inspiration and ideas? Hungry for real? Food lovers, there's a terrific 24-hour market in Tacoma's Proctor District offering great food samples, food advice, and so much more during the make or break week before the Thanksgiving holiday cook-off madness. From 3-6 p.m., Zola coffee and Somerdale Cheese nibbles are at Metropolitan Market.

3. It's been 10 years since Avenue Q, the racy Sesame Street parody for adults, garnered a raft of awards on Broadway, including the Tony for Best Musical. It uses hand puppets to represent 20-something New Yorkers dealing with the ennui of post-collegiate life. My friends, you are not precious daisies, and the landlord demands his rent no matter how hard you try at your failing artisanal muffin shop. Ain't existence crappy? Perhaps you can relate. So if song titles like "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist," "The Internet Is for Porn," and "What Do You Do with a B.A. in English?" sound intriguing, rest assured they brighten the mood of a deeply funny show, which begins at 7 p.m. inside the Fort Steilacoom Theater at Pierce College.

4. Though they have a song that's explicitly called "Surf Rock Band," it would be a mistake to call them one. A Happy Death plant their feet firmly in the court of garage-pop madness, seemingly content to thrash away in blissfully psychedelic, noisy bliss, while never crossing the threshold into noise-rock or brain-melting chaos. Mostly, reverb is utilized to create a haze of '60s revivalism, though it finds itself imbued with a sweetness frequently found in the hordes of garage nostalgists. Catch the Portland band at 8 p.m. with Thunders of Wrath and Our Burgundy at O'Malley's Irish Pub in Tacoma. Read Rev. Adam McKinney's full feature on A Happy Death in the Music and Culture section.

5. Mirrorgloss is a very new band, having only played a handful of shows thus far. Even still, their sound is so clearly drawn out and natural, so well-defined and - the best part - relatively novel for Tacoma. With the exception of a couple bands, like Death by Stars, there isn't much in the way of electro-rock to be found in these parts. Made up of singers Del Brown and Najamoniq Todd, guitarist Danny Kenny and drummer Bryan Robertson, Mirrorgloss is a dance-rock band in the vein of LCD Soundsystem. The band joins the Pecos and I Like Science at 8 p.m. in Medi's Pizza on Tacoma's Sixth Avenue.

PLUS: Holiday Events Calendar

PLUS: South Sound Holiday Command Center

LINK: Friday, Nov. 22 arts and entertainment events in the greater Tacoma and Olympia area

November 18, 2013 at 11:59am

Nerd Alert!: Potty-mouthed sock puppets, Katniss, video games and Doctor Who

Christian Carvajal playfully warns that "Avenue Q" is rated "WTF," so don't bring the kids - or the prudish - and expect "Sesame Street."

Exterminate! 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.

FRIDAY, NOV. 22: POTTY-MOUTHED SOCK PUPPETS, KATNISS EVERDEEN AND VIDEO GAMES

It's been 10 years since Avenue Q, the racy Sesame Street parody for adults, garnered a raft of awards on Broadway, including the Tony for Best Musical. It uses hand puppets to represent 20-something New Yorkers dealing with the ennui of post-collegiate life. My friends, you are not precious daisies, and the landlord demands his rent no matter how hard you try at your failing artisanal muffin shop. Ain't existence crappy? Perhaps you can relate. So if song titles like "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist," "The Internet Is for Porn," and "What Do You Do with a B.A. in English?" sound intriguing, rest assured they brighten the mood of a deeply funny show. I caught it at the Balagan in Seattle. Now you can see it even closer to home, for less than the cost of a grande Frappuccino. So here's another Avenue Q song title you'll find useful: "There Is Life Outside Your Apartment." Take a date, a really cool date who'll enjoy the song "You Can Be as Loud as the Hell You Want (When You're Makin' Love)." Catchy!

AVENUE Q, 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Pierce College, Fort Steilacoom Theater, 9401 Farwest Dr. SW, Lakewood, $3, 253.964.6710

As we've come to expect from middle installments of genre trilogies post-Empire, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire goes dark. Katniss Everdeen finds herself on a victory tour of Panem with the boy she bent the rules to save at the end of the first book. The Emperor - er, President Snow, rather - announces he'll mix things up for the 75th Annual Hunger Games by making it an all-star tournament of previous winners, including our gutsy heroine and her ostensible boyfriend. This time, the battleground's a circular jungle; and, thanks to the worldwide box office success of the first film, its cinematic visualization has a workable budget and convincing CG effects. I always felt the books lost the element of surprise as they went along, but I suspect the movie series will peak with Catching Fire. On the other hand, I thought Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Almost Human would be awesome, so feel free to doubt my clairvoyance. (Oh, and by the way, Disney's animated Frozen and an action film starring Jason Statham, Homefront, open Wednesday the 27th. Talk about fun for the whole family.)

Trouble, is there's a good chance you'll be too busy to hit up a theater, any theater, this weekend, because either because you'll be bloodshot-eyeballs-deep in your week-old PlayStation 4 or standing in line for an Xbox One. Microsoft's cutting-edge console integrates a Kinect 2 motion sensor, Skype client, voice and gesture commands, cloud computing, and lightning-fast eight-core processor in a sleek, black Imperial torture droid, streeting Friday with 22 optional games including Call of Duty: Ghosts and Madden NFL 25. The real excitement, however, will coalesce around next year's release of a 343 Industries Halo sequel. Xbox One will set you back just shy of $500, PlayStation 4 about $400. Alternatively, I checked eBay, and the Atari 2600's running about $24. Adventure, anyone?

SATURDAY, NOV. 23: DOCTOR WHO

Does it seem strange to anyone but me that Doctor Who premiered the night after President Kennedy was murdered? It seems a bit cavalier, right? Do missing frames of the Zapruder film reveal a British police box on the grassy knoll? Is it true the Comedian's whereabouts that afternoon have never been established? The History Channel may never know. What we do know is the BBC and BBC America have orchestrated a weekend-long celebration of all things Whovian. Expect a TV movie recounting the origin of the whimsical series, An Adventure in Space and Time, Friday the 22nd. Then, on Saturday, a special episode, "The Day of the Doctor," will be simulcast all over the world - including cinematic showings in 3-D. The plot jumbles a crisis in Elizabethan England, Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor, a monster in the National Gallery, David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor, a battle in space and John Hurt. Best of all, it's written by show runner Steven Moffat, the mastermind behind the BBC's riveting Sherlock. Pop some popcorn and watch it with the kids. Shape new little geeks. Allons-y!

Until next week, may the Force be with you, may the odds be ever in your favor, and may you never cross streams by confusing your hydrospanner with your sonic screwdriver. Isn't that right, K-9?

See Also

Judging by the Trailer

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