Arts and culture

Come home for the holidays to Seattle’s most welcoming celebration of the season. The proud voices of Seattle Men’s Chorus will envelop you in harmony for an evening of heartfelt holiday magic — sprinkled with a festive pinch of fairy dust. We have presents under our tree for everyone: beloved carols, soaring holiday classics, and the cheeky antics you expect from SMC. Bring your friends and family and share in the tradition.

*KPLU offers you the chance to win a pair of tickets to the December 4th show*


Around this time in 2014, ABC had just canceled the sitcom Selfie, starring everybody's ideal boyfriend John Cho and Karen Gillan. Cho was the first Asian-American male to play the lead in a rom-sitcom — he called his role "revolutionary" — and fans lamented that the show was just finding its legs when it got cut.

Hours after launching a Kickstarter campaign to revive a TV show that made it fun to watch horrible movies, Mystery Science Theater 3000 creator Joel Hodgson has raised more than $500,000 — a quarter of his $2 million goal.

Ever have a great run of great ideas — one after another?

Announcing what could be a string of projects from the former host of The Daily Show, HBO says it has reached an exclusive four-year deal with Jon Stewart. In the first phase of the deal, Stewart will produce "short-form digital content," HBO says.

"Appearing on television 22 minutes a night clearly broke me," Stewart says in a news release about the deal. "I'm pretty sure I can produce a few minutes of content every now and again."

Welcome to the third session of the Morning Edition Reads book club! Here's how it works: A well-known writer will pick a book he or she loved. We'll all read it. Then, you'll send us your questions about the book. About a month later, we'll reconvene to talk about the book with the author and the writer who picked it.

Tomorrow, some kid named Marty McFly will arrive in a flying car.

Oct. 21, 2015, is when the first act of Back to the Future Part II is set. In the sequel, Marty McFly goes forth and back in time, and complications ensue. It's a 2015 that's different from the one we know now — but not that different.

My rule when booking Tiny Desk Concerts is to see artists live before they come to the office. I've heard many a great record only to be disappointed by a live show. But when I heard Andra Day sing "Forever Mine" from her album Cheers To The Fall, I decided to break my rule, sight unseen.

Viola Davis made history at Sunday night's Emmy Awards when she won for best actress in a drama for How to Get Away With Murder: It's the first time that award has gone to a black woman.

When Davis' award was announced, Taraji P. Henson — nominated for the same award for her work on Empire — gave Davis a fierce hug and a one-woman standing ovation.

You probably never will see most of Jason deCaires Taylor's public art projects firsthand — at least, not without goggles and fins.

Most of his sculptures stand at the bottom of the sea. His life-size statues — ghostly figures of men, women and children — seem to walk the ocean floor as they hold hands, huddle, even watch TV.

Ed Ronco

The photo of Michi Hirata North’s professional debut is in black and white. She’s 8 years old, sitting at a piano on a concert stage in Tokyo with an orchestra behind her.

“I couldn’t even reach the pedals,” she said.

The photograph suggests that this little girl is about to become something big – a professional musician whose talents as a performer and teacher are still respected, 75 years later.

AP Images

A towering fish trap standing on end . Hundreds of pristine white ceramic shapes eating their way into the bark of a fallen tree. Or an estuary sculpted out of shipping containers. These are just a few examples of the dozens of art installations that have recently popped up alongside Seattle’s only river.

The exhibition is called Duwamish Revealed. It’s meant to remind viewers that the waterway running through the city’s industrial core is more than a toxic Superfund site. 

The efforts to expand perspectives on the Duwamish include works by 40 artists from around the world.

You can experience the work of a local sound engineer by venturing out onto a pier at West Seattle’s Jack Block Park. You might not see anything unusual right away, but you could find yourself startled by the sound of art emerging from the water beneath you.

Robb Kunz co-created an 8-channel installation that surrounds the pier with sound together with composer Joshua Kohl of the Degenerate Art Ensemble. The piece is called “Under Pier Pressure.”

Kunz says he wanted to contribute to the show because he's enamored with the strange confluence of the industrial and natural that he finds on the Duwamish. His composition aims to match the physical surroundings.

“So, found sounds, concrete sound of nature and industry,” he said.

You can push a button to activate the sounds, but Kunz says he likes it best when people happen upon them mid-stream.

Team Totem

A long-lost treasure of Tacoma’s past will come bursting to life on the big screen this fall, if enough money can be raised to make it happen.

The silent film, “The Eyes of the Totem,” made in Tacoma between 1925 and 1928, was recently found. A Kickstarter campaign has been launched to bring the film, complete with newly composed music, to Tacoma’s Rialto Theater on September 18.

Norma Miller / Courtesy Photo

At 95, Norma Miller can still bust a move. “Swing baby,” says Miller, who will dance with a partner as she hums the Count Basie song “Shiny Stockings.”

That song, she explains, gets any Lindy Hopper dancing. Lindy Hop – that’s a type of dance borne from the Swing Era of the 1930s and ‘40s. It was the dance style that evolved in Harlem alongside all the jazz greats from Basie to Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington. And Miller, who first stepped into Harlem’s famous Savoy Ballroom when she was just a child, is the last great Lindy Hopper from that era.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

A maritime festival taking place in Seattle this week is a good reminder of our city’s strong ties to the ocean. Thursday evening, an event called Stories of the Sea takes place at a pub at Fishermen’s Terminal. It’s like a story slam for fishermen, ferry captains and other mariners. 

For a taste of the event, I tracked down emcee John van Amerongen, who pulled out his guitar and sang his song, "Trip to the Bering Sea," a wry tale about a guy on a crabbing boat for the first time. The young man has an unfortunate encounter with the bait chopper, a machine that grinds up fish.

Photo: David Bazemore

There’s no question Ira Glass is talented. But among those talents, let’s just say that, according to him, he’s not the greatest dancer in the world.

Pike Place Market

A major addition is coming to the Pike Place Market. The $65 million dollar project includes a pedestrian connection to the waterfront. Monday, the Seattle City Council approved selling $34 million in bonds to help pay for it.

Paula Wissel

Volunteers spread out around downtown Seattle today carrying buckets filled with daffodils. Handing out the flowers on the first day of spring is an 18 year tradition.

Pike Place Market spokesman Scott Davies says it's a way for the market to celebrate spring.

“We share the floral love with people downtown," said Davies.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

When Lucas Smiraldo became Tacoma’s poet laureate two years ago, he had the spark of an idea. He wanted to get the people around him writing their own pieces and then share them through an interactive map.

Now it’s ready

Jacquelyn Martin / AP

March 2 is the birthday of Theodor Geisel, better known to readers everywhere as Dr. Seuss. He would have turned 111 this year.

KPLU's Kirsten Kendrick and Ed Ronco remembered the children's author during Monday's Morning Edition ... in full Seussian rhyme.

Jennifer Wing / KPLU

On a Saturday at the Pacific Science Center, life-size robotic dinosaurs roar. A giant video monitor shows a person sneezing as a spray of mist shoots down from the ceiling. Nearby, naked mole rats scurry blindly through a maze of tunnels.

And since it's all mud and rain outside, the place is packed with curious children and adults trying to keep up with them.

Loud noises, bright lights, crowded spaces: This is exactly the situation Mike Hiner tries to avoid with his 20-year-old son Steven, who is autistic.

Courtesy of Peregrine Church

Next time you’re walking on a sidewalk in Seattle and it’s raining, look down. You just might see a message reveal itself.

At least that’s the intention of a 21-year-old magician who has created unusual sidewalk art. His stenciled messages are only visible when it’s wet outside.

Read the story and see a map of the artwork on >>>

Joel Ryan / Invision/AP Photo

Dame Edna brings her special brand of comedy to Seattle this weekend for the launch of her farewell tour. For nearly 60 years, the Australian housewife-turned superstar has entertained audiences around the world. Now, the character created by comedian Barry Humphries is saying goodbye to her fans. 

Courtesy of Ian Cheney. Copyright Wicked Delicate Films LLC. A Sundance Selects release.

Consider apple pie and how we regard it as quintessentially American.

Now, says Jennifer 8. Lee, consider Chinese food.

“How often do you eat apple pie versus how often do you eat Chinese food?” she asks.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Listen closely to the music playing next time you’re grabbing coffee at Starbucks. If it’s a relaxing piano piece, it might just be the work of Tacoma teenager Marc Estabrook.

Courtesy of Eric Frommer

December is an especially busy time for the members of The Beaconettes. There are loads of benefit events and holiday concerts, not to mention the annual Great Figgy Pudding Caroling Competition to perform in. There is also a whole heck of a lot of thinking that goes into just how decorative you’ll make your 15-inch, festooned-in-lights beehive wig.

Courtesy of Craig Downing

Helping people make new friends is one of the goals that inspired the creation of “Couch Fest," a one-day film festival that happens in homes across Seattle and all over the world this weekend.

Olson Kundig Architects

This weekend the Tacoma Art Museum is inviting the public to explore its new spaces. An addition was built to hold a collection of art that was donated by a German family with Northwest ties.

Courtesy of the Burke Museum

Just where did the Seattle Seahawks’ logo come from?

Amid the fever pitch of last year’s Super Bowl run, one of the art history classes at the University of Washington got curious.