Seattle Weekender: Nifty youth films, songs inspired by Seuss, and a polar bear dance party

Crosscut's guide to a culturally enriching weekend in the city. Or at least some fun.

Crosscut archive image.

A polar bear dances at Funk the War, a dance party protest in Washington DC

Crosscut's guide to a culturally enriching weekend in the city. Or at least some fun.

Seattle Poetry Slam 2012 Grand Slam

The war of words has been heating up the Seattle slam community every week since September, and this Saturday comes “The final verbal throwdown to determine who will comprise the 2012 Seattle National Slam Team.” This year’s finalists include the intense and vulnerable Roma Raye, unprecedented  talent and vocalist Amber Flame, regular slam host Ela Barton, and previous national team members Greg Bee and Rose McAleese. The slam also features guest poet Airea Dee Mathews, a two-time Women of the World finalist and Detroit Grand Slam Champion, who will be leading a workshop at Richard Hugo House on Saturday.

For those who have never attended one of Re-Bar’s weekly slams, prepare to be inspired, prepare to be challenged, prepare to be soothed, and prepare to be involved. Judges are selected from the audience at random, and all observers are encouraged to throw their voices out there and influence the judges with their cries — a good slam session should be louder and more heated than a Ligue 1 football final between Olympique de Marseille and Paris Saint Germain.

Note: That the season culminates this weekend is no accident. April is National Poetry Month and the Seattle community is celebrating it big time in the next few days with more events than this weekender can hold, so be on the lookout — c’est le Printemps des Poètes!

If you go: Seattle Poetry Slam 2012 Grand Slam, Town Hall, Friday, April 27, 7 pm, $15, $10 if you're under 21.

NFFTY 2012 and the Future of Film Expo

Every year the National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY, pronounced “nifty,” because it is) brings Seattle a showcase of some of the world’s most talented up-and-coming filmmakers — all under the age of 22. This year the festival received nearly 700 entries and Artistic Director Jesse Harris declared that it is the best selection they’ve ever had. “The films of NFFTY 2012 represent the voice of this generation. The stories are heart-stopping, gut wrenching, and truly unforgettable,” writes Harris.

Films showing at the festival’s Centerpiece Gala include It Ain’t Over, a haunting and hopeful documentary short about a doctor’s struggle with Lou Gehrig’s disease, and The End, a superpower love story in which “17-year-old Brendon McKellar is instantly shown the end of his relationship with any new person he meets — whether he wants to see it or not.” All it takes is watching the NFFTY trailer to see that filmmakers of this weekend will be the Oscar winners of next.

This year, the four-day festival is accompanied by the first-ever “Future of Film Expo,” in partnership with the Next Fifty. The free, 2-day exhibition features hands-on workshops and panels on topics like 2D to 3D conversion, choosing music for film, and LGBT people in the film industry.

If you go: NFFTY 2012, SIFF Cinema at the Uptown and various other venues, Thursday April 26-Sunday April 29, various times, individual tickets $10 for youth, $11 for adults.

Seattle Globalist Launch Party

With more than 25% of Seattle residents foreign-born, and an estimated 100% foreign-philic, the founders of the Seattle Globalist decided our global locals could use a unified internet locale. Saturday evening the site is hosting a launch party for their “daily 'hyperglobal' blog covering the connections between Seattle and the rest of the globe.” The project is co-sponsored by the Common Language Project and the University of Washington Department of Communications. Since December, Globalist writers have been covering topics ranging from bhangra dance parties to voter registration in Seattle’s Asian Pacific Islander community to Serbian Orthodox Easter Celebrations.

The evening will feature a dance workshop from The Seattle Fandango Project, music from local blog Last Night’s Mixed Tape, with beats ranging from hip-hop to soul to electronica, and $3 beer and wine from the Georgetown brewery and Chateau Ste. Michelle, respectively. There will also be a brief talk from award-winning journalist and community organizer Naomi Ishisaka. The event sounds awesome and it’s no fundraiser — just a way to bring the community together. They only ask that you RSVP on Brown Paper Tickets “so we know how much champagne to get.”

If you go: Seattle Globalist Launch Party, Washington Hall, Saturday April 28, 6 pm, free, $3 for beer and wine.

Bushwick Book Club Seattle Presents!: Original music inspired by Dr. Seuss

It’s a good thing Sam I Am’s grouchy friend never said anything about green eggs and jam, because this Saturday Seattle’s Bushwick Book Club will be meeting to present songs inspired by Dr. Seuss. For those familiar only with traditional, non-melodic discussion-based book clubs, the Bushwick Book Club is a group of local musicians and literary lovers who present monthly concerts of original songs inspired by a particular author or book.

It should be no surprise that great art breeds even more great art — reviewers note that all of the songs are good enough to stand on their own apart from the works that inspired them. This weekend the group will hold two meetings — an early family-friendly show and a later one recommended for adults-only, because oh, the places they might go! This intern, for one, can think of about 10 different R-rated definitions for “sneetch.”

Many book club regulars will be playing, including Debbie Miller, who wrote a song about the pleasure of chopping off heads for December’s Alice in Wonderland show, and Tai Shan, who sang a jazzy lament to Mark Twain last April about the difficulty she had getting through A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. Since I can’t resist, here’s my contribution to this month’s meeting:

Oh the songs that you’ll hear
at the book club Bushwick
rhymes right up to your ears
if you knew how they tick!

with your feet a-stomp-stomping
and hands a-clap-clapping
your mind a-romp-romping
your heart a-pip-papping

There you’ll hear maestros
of rhythm and metre
get thee to the bookclub
my dear Crosscut reader!

If you go: The Bushwick Book Club Seattle Presents!: Original music inspired by Dr. Seuss, The Fremont Abbey, Saturday April 28, 5 pm children's show, 8 pm adult show, $8 advance, $12 at the door, free for children 10 and under.

Polar Bear Dance Party

Feel like breaking a record this Saturday by spending a half hour dancing in downtown Seattle dressed as a polar bear, surrounded by hundreds of other citizens also dressed as polar bears? Then you’re in luck! Because the Arctic, unfortunately, is not. The Sierra Club, the Alaska Wilderness League, and other environmental organizations have come together to organize a day of action to raise awareness about Shell Oil Company’s plans to begin drilling in the Arctic’s Beaufort and Chukchi seas — home to the United States’ entire remaining polar bear population. According to the event website, “If President Obama doesn't act, drilling will begin this summer, putting this special wild place in enormous danger — threatening the polar bears, ice seals, walrus, whales, and Native cultures.”

The Seattle flash mob/dance party will be one of hundreds taking place across the country in what they expect will be a world record for “most dancing polar bears.” The group has already posted a mix for the event on their website, featuring such arctic gems as “Ice, Ice, Baby” by Vanilla Ice, “Salmon Dance” by the Chemical Brothers, and “Polar Bear” by Eric Polaire. You have several days to develop a way to “dance like a polar bear.” How about one where you swim dejectedly in search of the last remaining ice cap? Polar Bear masks will be provided.

Bonus: The event is immediately followed by The Rally to Unite Women. Come for the Polar Bears, stay for the women.

If you go: Polar Bear Dance Party, Westlake Park, Saturday April 28, 11:30 pm, free.


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