Friday, March 23, 2007

The Emerald City Is Not In Australia

I went to Seattle last Friday for an intra-office meeting with work colleagues. The meeting was great – informative and fun. But the best part was spending Saturday morning walking around Seattle’s touristy hot spots.

I watched the flower venders haul in their buckets upon buckets of daffodils at Pike Place Market, sampled the Daily Dozen Doughnuts (yummy), and sipped Chai from the original Starbucks. I waited for the Dragon’s Toy Box to open to get Critter this amazing Treasure Hunt/Secret Code game. And I browsed the Oriental markets for purses, wallets, coin purses, and shirts. (Funny that they don’t make embroidered shirts in American-sized 2x.)

I stood awed by the beauty of real peppers strung together in swags. At Choice Produce, I broke down and purchased two of the strings. One to decorate our home, and a second to decorate my brother’s home. They are completely edible, or you can allow them to dry naturally and use the dried peppers as spice for up to two years!

At the request of my family, I also picked up iced pumpkin cookies from Cinnamon Works Bakery (sorry, no website). This bakery on the corner of Stewart has a side window which is open early. Later in the morning, they roll up the industrial garage door, so you can see their yummy offerings in their display cases. Catch the main baker (owner, I presume) when he’s there alone in the mornings, and he’ll chat you up a little while he hustles around the kitchen working on the last-minute batch of specialty bread. ANYTHING from here is wonderful, but the pumpkin cookies are TO DIE FOR. They even have Vegan offerings, if that’s your preference.

A quick Monorail trip took me to the Seattle Center and the (in)famous Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum. I splurged on the double-entry ticket, and spent the next 2 hours in sensory overload. One look at the EMP website will give you a good idea of the immensity of the content. I told JewelGeek that I could have spent DAYS there, reading everything. One part hands-on/interactive science lab and one part Smithsonian exhibit, the EMP is a Mecca for musicians. While I was there, they were hosting an exhibit on Disney’s music. OMG… It took me 40 minutes to find the exhibit, and another 20 just to get through a piece of it. No pictures or recordings allowed, of course. But there are some nifty photos on the EMP website and some audio clips you can listen to.

Another neat exhibit at EMP is the Oral History Program. About 30 computers are set up around the sound-proof space with headphones, and you can listen/watch artists and celebrities tell their stories in their own words. LOTS of musicians and related professionals, of course. And a few surprises… I listened to Nichelle Nichols relate the hilarious story of how the first interracial kiss on TV came to be. And I found a random story from George Takei about using a fencing foil instead of a Samurai sword. [If you’re a Geek, you know to what I’m referring.] I could have spent another hour in that room, listening to Harlan Ellison talk about science fiction writing, and the hundreds of musicians with their “on the road” stories.

The Science Fiction Museum was cool – but pretty small. I loved the collection of robots, for example. And while they paid nice homage to some of my favorite SciFi shows and novels, there are a LOT of holes. I didn’t see any reference to Space: 1999, for example. And Star Trek references stopped after the original series. (Oh – I may have seen an alien from the later series, come to think of it.) They had lots of pulp fiction books, which were interesting, but hard to understand the significance without some extensive reading of very small information-panels. Did I have fun? You bet. Would I pay for it again? Um… no. Where can I donate to expand the space and collection??

I love visiting Seattle. I wish I could have spent the whole weekend there. I didn’t make it to Ye Olde Curiosity Shop on Pier 54, but I understand from my coworkers that the mer-mummy is still there, as is the guy who can write your name on a grain of white rice. And I didn’t make it to Pirates Plunder on Pier 57, my all-time-favorite pirate memorabilia store. Pieces of Eight, anyone?? And somehow I forgot to check out Golden Age Collectibles when I was wandering around the Market. Although I haven’t purchased anything at GAC since I started “simplifying” my SciFi collecting habits several years ago, I love the way the store takes me back a few years and allows me to revel in all that is comic books, Goth, role-playing games, SciFi, and Hollywood. (Eclectic!)

When are we going back???