Category Archives: Seattle

Everything I needed to know in life I learned from improv class.


Jollity Theatre

This fall I signed up for Improv 100, one of the classes available from the Seattle improv group Unexpected Productions.   It was one of the most enriching and entertaining things I’ve ever done.   Every Tuesday night, I could count on bonding with complete strangers, laughing till I cried (I think I got abs from laughing so hard at this class), and having at least  three Oprah-style “aha moments” about art and story and life.   Improv class is both a playground for adults and a high-velocity lab where you can see truths about life and creativity unfolding and developing before your eyes.

Danielle LaPorte once said that taking an improv class “could teach you more about innovation, relationships, success, and sexuality than any therapist or self help book.”  After having duly experimented, I conclude that she’s right.  Everything you need to know in life you can learn from an improv class:

Be present. If you listen, you don’t have to think so hard.   Never underestimate instinct.  But you do have to be totally present, grounded, and ready for that  killer instinct to kick in.

It’s always better to be told to scale it down than scale it up.  Start by giving  things 100% energy & enthusiasm, the best, boldest, brightest you have.   You can always chill the eff out later.

Say yes, and…to other people’s ideas. Don’t block them.  One of the fundamental rules in improv is to say yes…and!  If someone in a scene says, “hey, let’s steal this car!,” you’re not supposed to say,  “No, you idiot, that’s a terrible idea.  Let’s go to the movies instead.”  That makes for a boring & negative scene.  What you’re supposed to say is “YES!  And let’s break all the windows and hot-wire it!”

Your life experience is an incredibly rich source of imagination rocket fuel.  Nobody has a boring life.  I thought I did, then I realized how based on the little I’ve seen and experienced, I had a bottomless source of off the cuff ideas.   And so did my classmates.   I realized I never have to be afraid of running out of ideas.

You don’t always have to be the star of the show.   Sometimes, you need to be a supporting character.  Sometimes, you need to be a tree. 

Learn all the rules first, then break them.   But just because you’re gonna break the rules doesn’t mean you don’t have to learn them first.  How are you going to know what rules to break (or why, or how) if you don’t know them?

Have you taken an improv class before?   If you haven’t  what are you waiting for?   If you have, I’d love to know what you thought of it & what you learned.


Paint Dancing


As part of my ongoing exploration of all things daring & dancy,  I decided to check out Seattle’s monthly paint dancing party.

Paint Dancing is a painting party that devolves into a dance party.   Paint dancing parties rock 13 different cities, but the original was started by abstract artist Matt Jones at Gasworks Gallery in Seattle.  For $15 you get tempera paints, brushes, paper & snacks. For an extra $5, you get wine (but don’t let people dip dirty brushes into your wine.)  Proceeds go to, a non-profit that gives potatoes & other easily stored food items to food banks around Washington.

There are a lot of primary colors,  party songs everybody knows, and friendly people of all ages.    People make everything from finger-paintings to masterpieces, and everybody dances!  There are paint-brush-armed conga lines,  people decorating each other’s faces and clothes, and even limbo (scroll down) Verdict:  Highly Recommended! 

Here are some shots from my paint dancing experience.

December’s Paint Dancing Party is December 9th from 8-10pm at Gasworks Gallery.  It’s  Crazy Hat Night.

Saturday Night Madness…Halloween Edition


Creepy Tree in Fog
I hope you have some delectable plans this Halloween.   Just in case, though,  here are some last-minute ideas.

Check out the world’s creepiest recordings on Listverse, where you can also find such oddball delights as  unusual ways to die throughout the ages, famous elephants and their bizarre deaths, and great zombie depictions.    You could also browse the world’s creepiest wikipedia articles.

Make hot apple cider (rum optional).

Turn off all the lights and watch terrifying movies!  Pair with drinking games.  With jello shots,  which are my all-time favorite Halloween treat, but you can also make some of those fancy, sexy halloween drinks (or disgusting ones.)  Halloween pajamas are encouraged.

Make some feather lanterns to cast an eerie glow across your living room.

Go to a haunted house.  Here are a ton in the Seattle area.

Sign up for your city’s scariest ghost tour.  I’m *dying* (har) to go to Spooked in Seattle  or take the Pike’s Market famed ghost tour.

Check out the Northwest Museum of Legends and Lore (a weird, one room museum filled with slightly creepy stuff–wax heads, UFO stuff, Bruce Lee Memorabilia)

Try to book a last minute weekend at a haunted bed & breakfast. 

Make adorable food:  wicked witch lemon lollipops.

I love this Dia de Los Muertos makeup.  It’s La Catrina.

What are your Halloween plans?


Strange & Wonderful Things, or Ghostly Seattle


A couple of nights ago, I decided to walk down First Avenue from downtown to the Seattle Center.    It’s normally bustling, but tonight it was cold and clear and quiet.   I looked around and saw incredible things, things that most people never get to see. I love those lonely, beautiful things that can only be seen when you open your eyes and choose to see the city as if time is standing still and you’re the only one in it.

Pike Market, totally empty.

Under the bridge street art:

A desolate storefront with weird mannequin heads…
Blazing Western sunset.

Ghost Space needle:

Ghostlier fountain at the Intiman Theater

What strange & wonderful things have you found on your regular routes?

Seattle Mini Guide#1 Lazy Date Night at the Seattle Center


Last Saturday night we found ourselves bored with no plans at 8pm.   So we decided to hang out at the Seattle Center.

Here’s our triple threat cure for Saturday night ennui:

LAUGH: Unexpected Productions.  At 8:30, a motley cast of improvisors builds an improvised musical out of audience suggestions.   It’s small, totally goofy and interactive, with surprising moments of brilliance. An improvised rockabilly soul ballad. A quirky storyline about chauvinistic boy scouts and girl scouts in disguise.  A little boy  pulled out of the audience to accompany an improvised aria at the keyboard.  Tickets are $15 (free for improv students).  Stick around after Build Your Own Musical & watch UE in Seattle’s longest running improv show–Theater Sports.

NOTE: UE is conveniently squatting at the Intiman Theater  (201 Mercer Street) while its regular home, the Market Theater, undergoes renovations.  Also, there’s a bar in the Intiman for all you lushes 🙂

EAT: McMenamins Queen Anne (200 Roy Street ) has a happy hour 3-6 and 10-close.  Their signature ales are $3.75 and you can get huge portions of snacks and burgers for $2-5.  Or you can spring for their cheesy, juicy Irish Reuben sandwich, (rye bread stuffed with Swiss, corned beef, buttermilk coleslaw and a sweet/spicy mustard-$11).  Oh, and the coasters are really awesome, don’t forget to steal some (free).

ROCK OUT:  Ah the midnight Laser Floyd experience.  At 11:59 PM,  hunker down in the Pacific Science Center’s planetarium.  Lie down on the ground, if you want.  And wait for an explosion of light and sound.   The laser show, synchronized to Pink Floyd’s The Wall sounds fun and quirky. But the immersion in laser lights and one of the greatest albums of all times is sensory overload; a little disorienting and trippy, and surprisingly moving.   Highly recommended.  $9.

Now go make out in Myrtle Edwards Park.  🙂

EXTRA CREDIT:  Show up early and check out the Explore Music Project. (Closes at 5:00pm in the winter–tickets $12-15).