Recent local blog posts

Procession of the Species Photos 2016

Thurston Talk - Sat, 04/23/2016 - 7:38pm


With only a few sprinkling showers, Procession of the Species 2016 rolled through the streets of downtown Olympia.  Experience the sights and relive the Procession through these images.  For a complete set of images from Samba OlyWa’s performance, click here. Photo credit: Shanna Paxton Photography.

I just put down The Prince of Tides

South Sound Arts - Sat, 04/23/2016 - 10:28am
Warning: self-promotion
One of the most treasured things ever written about one of my books was the title of an review of The Backside of Nowhere written by Linda Linguvic, a reviewer from New York City: “Move over Pat Conroy. There’s a new Southern writer in town.”

I just finished reading Conroy’s The Prince of Tides, and I am stunned. The emotional impact of that book is akin to what I imagine someone might feel after electroshock or after recovering lost memories.
I have enjoyed the three books of Conroy’s that I have read, but not uncritically. His humor can be wonderful, but sometimes a tad slick. His descriptive passages are often marvelous and lyrical, but he is overly verbose (is that redundant?). As a fellow Southerner (I’m an ex-pat Southernerner; he has mostly stayed there), I am blown away by how deeply he loves the South while being horrified by its racism and small-mindedness and stupidity. The thing that bothers me the most about Conroy is that he seems to be full of himself. Each of his books that I have read—Beach Music, The Prince of Tides, and South of Broad—is written in the first person by a protagonist I can’t help but see as Conroy himself, and while his narrator/protagonists are extremely self-critical, their self-criticism comes across as prideful. This I do not like about his books, and yet . . . and yet, not since reading Steinbeck’s East of Eden have I read such a powerful novel as Prince of Tides
When I finally reached the epilogue on page 554, I could hardly wait to find out how he was going to wrap things up, but at the same time I dreaded reaching the last page. What could I do then? Find another Conroy book to read? Go back to page one and start over?
I am flattered that the critic chose to compare me favorably to Conroy, but I cannot help but feel inadequate in comparison. I certainly do not have his gift of language, nor do I have the guts to open myself up in the way he does. I don’t think I could ever express in writing the kind of passion his characters express, because I have never felt such passion.
So thank you, Linda Linguvic for your kind review. I hope I can live up to it in future books. Here is her review of The Backside of Nowhere:

 Set in a Gulf Coast town, this novel does more than just give us a story typical of the region. Yes, it includes high school romances, a competitive football game, corrupt political leaders and a devastating hurricane. And yes, it deals with the endemic racism inherent in such towns. But yet the story is so engrossing that I could not put the book down. I loved the characters, including a Hollywood star who comes home to visit his ailing father. Naturally, he meets up with his old-time girlfriend and they reignite their high school romance. We learn about his parents' background and his adopted sister with a secret. Then there is his sister who loves her hard drinking husband no matter how much he strays. All these characters came across as very real and there is a slight comic nature to the book which made it even more interesting to me and kept the story moving.

Frankly, I loved this book and actually found it better than Pat Conroy's latest, "South of Broad" because the characters seemed more real and not just stereotypes. Alec Clayton hit the mark perfectly, held my interest throughout and even surprised me at the end. Bravo! This is a really good book. - Linda Linguvic (New York City),
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Improving Gary Edwards' math

Olympia Time - Sat, 04/23/2016 - 10:09am

A few weeks ago I took a shot at Gary Edwards' fuzzy math on population change in Thurston County. In this post I wanted to take a closer look at the deeper assumptions in what he's trying to get at.

His point (basically) was that although the population has increased in Thurston County, the number of deputies has stayed the same. The problem was that the population has increased (in unincorporated Thurston County) only half the amount he claimed. Which is okay, from his point of view, I suppose because population still went up while the number of deputies stayed flat.

But, that statement seems to assume a result, such as an increase in crime. So, let's take a look.

.tg {border-collapse:collapse;border-spacing:0;} .tg td{font-family:Arial, sans-serif;font-size:14px;padding:10px 5px;border-style:solid;border-width:1px;overflow:hidden;word-break:normal;} .tg th{font-family:Arial, sans-serif;font-size:14px;font-weight:normal;padding:10px 5px;border-style:solid;border-width:1px;overflow:hidden;word-break:normal;} .tg .tg-yw4l{vertical-align:top} .tg .tg-9hbo{font-weight:bold;vertical-align:top}
1995 Most recent Difference Lacey 50.00 64.60 14.60 Olympia 67.80 86.30 18.50 Yelm 75.90 78.00 2.10 Tenino 86.00 42.00 -44.00 Tumwater 75.30 84.20 8.90 Thurston unincorporated 32.90 36.30 3.40
So, what it looks like here is that the crime rate did go up in Thurston County, but not nearly the rate that it increased in Lacey and Olympia. If we have a problem with an increase in crime, its in the urban areas, not in rural Thurston County with its stable level of policing.

Also, let's take a look at another metric, the total number of police in each Thurston County city and the ratio of police to population:

.tg {border-collapse:collapse;border-spacing:0;} .tg td{font-family:Arial, sans-serif;font-size:14px;padding:10px 5px;border-style:solid;border-width:1px;overflow:hidden;word-break:normal;} .tg th{font-family:Arial, sans-serif;font-size:14px;font-weight:normal;padding:10px 5px;border-style:solid;border-width:1px;overflow:hidden;word-break:normal;} .tg .tg-yw4l{vertical-align:top} .tg .tg-9hbo{font-weight:bold;vertical-align:top} .tg .tg-jogk{font-style:italic;vertical-align:top}
1995 total 2015 total Change 1995 ratio 2015 ratio Change Lacey 38 50 12 1.51 1.08 -0.43 Olympia 67 68 1 1.8 1.33 -0.47 Yelm 9 12 3 4.3 1.47 -2.83 Tenino 5 2 -3 2.38 0.87 -1.51 Rainier 4 0 -4 2.78 0 -2.78 Tumwater 20 22 2 1.93 1.41 -0.52 Thurston unincorporated 79 80 1 0.72 0.57 -0.15
Every police department has seen a decrease in the number of police on patrol compared to the population. By this metric, the ratio of police per person has dropped the least in the Thurston County sheriff's office than anywhere else locally.

So, while Edwards is still right that population went up and the level of policing stayed stable, he's implying a connection that really isn't there. The Thurston County sheriff's department saw a stable cop to resident ratio (compared to other local law enforcement departments) and this did not result in an increase in crime. 

Also, here's the spreadsheet (plus references) I was working from all along, just in case you want to check my math.

Spring Arts Walk Photos 2016

Thurston Talk - Sat, 04/23/2016 - 7:01am


Spring Arts Walk is an adored event in downtown Olympia that attracts families, couples, and people of all ages.  Visitors meander through the streets of downtown Olympia, stopping to watch street performers and stepping into shops to see the artists on display.  Spring Arts Walk continues today, Saturday, April 23 until 4:00 p.m. Photo credit: Shanna

Luminary Procession Photos 2016

Thurston Talk - Sat, 04/23/2016 - 6:47am


The Luminary Procession kicks off an arts-filled weekend in downtown Olympia.  Participants created luminaries during two workshops and then filed into the streets of downtown Olympia on Friday, April 22, 2016 (Earth Day).  The Procession of the Species is slated for 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 23.  Find a map of the Procession route here.

Explore Trail Running around Olympia

Thurston Talk - Sat, 04/23/2016 - 6:00am


Olympia has a storied running history. In 1984, our city was home to the first Women’s U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon, and we haven’t looked back. Daily, hundreds of local runners plod along Capitol Lake, taking in the sights while enjoying the exercise. Our community holds numerous road races and road running routes, but there are more

Summer Camps around Olympia for any Personality

Thurston Talk - Sat, 04/23/2016 - 6:00am


Despite the recent stretch of hot weather, summer’s not quite here yet. But with school in its final weeks, sign the kids up for one of Thurston County’s many exciting summer camps to provide a smooth transition into their time off. Not only will they minimize summer brain drain, but the play time and social interactions

Noises Off

South Sound Arts - Fri, 04/22/2016 - 4:18pm

Out of Control Bedlam at Lakewood PlayhousePublished in the Weekly Volcano, April 21, 2016From left (back): Shelleigh-Mairi Ferguson, Gary Chambers, Jim Rogers, Jennifer Davy, Jonathan Bill, Ana Bury, Nick Fitzsgerald and Diana George; on couch, Steve Tarry. Photo by Tim JohnsonThere is practically an entire genre of theater about theater, typically farces about bad theater companies doing bad theater. Often these are as bad as the plays they lampoon, but there is one exception — the mother of all farces about theater: Noises Off by Michael Frayn, now playing at Lakewood Playhouse.Ensemble cast. Photo by Tim JohnsonHere’s the thing I’ve noticed about farces: they usually don’t wear well. See one for the first time and it might be funny; see it again and it’s just stupid. But I’ve seen Noises Off three times as produced by three different companies, and every time I have laughed like a madman. At the opening performance at Lakewood Playhouse, the show ended with a standing ovation from a full house with screaming and whistling the likes of which I have never seen in that space.From left – Steve Tarry as Selsdon, Ana Bury as Poppy, Shelleigh-Mairi Ferguson as Dotty, and Jim Rogers as Frederick. Photo by Tim Johnson.It’s the story of an inept theater company directed by a harried director named Lloyd (Jonathan Bill) who struggles to temper his urge to kill half his cast and who is having affairs with the assistant stage manager, Poppy (Ana Bury) and with one of the cast members, Brooke (Jennifer Davy), who pulls off a funny dumbfounded look, loses her dress in the first act and runs around in her underwear and stockings throughout the show. The director also has to contend with, among others, a drunken actor far past his prime (Steve Tarry as Selsdon Mowbray); an actor who has constant nose bleeds and is a walking disaster (Jim Rogers as Frederick Fellowes); and another, Dotty the housekeeper (Shelleigh-Mairi Ferguson), who never knows where she’s supposed to be or what to do with props.The play-within-a-play opens with a disastrous dress rehearsal less than 24 hours before opening night. The set, designed by Larry Hagerman and Dylan Twiner and built by Hagerman and Art Fick, is a two-story home with at least nine doors. It is a marvel of planning because it is almost too big for the little thrust stage space and has to turn completely around between acts — a great design. It’s a shame that the walls are of such dull unfinished wood, looking more like the interior of a barn than an upscale country home.The dress rehearsal is like a Marx Brothers movie on steroids, with props misplaced, forgotten lines, pratfalls, and wild improvisations. Playing out underneath the farce of a rehearsal are the rivalries and the love lives of the cast and crew, and the wild struggle to hide the whiskey from Selsdon.The second act takes place backstage during the opening night performance. Everything is done with silent gestures, since the cast and crew can’t make noise during the show. What we do here are the bungled lines of unseen actors on stage, while cast and crew run around backstage like chickens with their heads cut off, fighting with each other (even with an ax at one point), making fast costume changes, and entering through the wrong doors and windows.In the third act, the set is turned around again for the final performance of a play that has progressively worsened.The ensemble cast does a good job, and the real life director — not “Lloyd” but Lakewood Playhouse Artistic Director John Munn — has managed to do what “Lloyd” was unable to do: herd his troop of actors through almost three hours of beautifully choreographed chaos.Noises Off is a play everyone should see at least once. Performances are expected to sell out, so get tickets early.Noises Off, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, through May 8,Lakewood Playhouse, 5729 Lakewood Towne Center Blvd., Lakewood, $25, $22 military, $21 seniors and $19 students/educators, pay what you can April 21, actors’ benefit April 28, 253.588.0042,

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Edvard Munch and The Sea

South Sound Arts - Fri, 04/22/2016 - 4:06pm
 See Beyond the Scream at Tacoma Art MuseumPublished in the Weekly Volcano, April 22, 2016

“Neutralia (Girls Picking Apples)” 1915, color lithograph. Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester: Marian Stratton Gould Fund . © 2016 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, courtesy Tacoma Art Museum.
“Summer Evening” 1895 aquatint and drypoint, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Rosenwald Collection, courtesy Tacoma Art Museum.Edvard Munch and The Sea at Tacoma Art Museum includes 25 prints and drawings and one oil painting by the Norwegian expressionist and symbolist master. Like most people, I have seen very little of Munch’s art other than the two or three pieces that habitually show up in art books, so I am grateful to TAM for pulling together this important exhibition.Not included are any of the four versions of Munch’s most famous work, “The Scream,” two oil paintings and two pastels. There is, however, a beautifully executed large silk- screen version by Andy Warhol, which is not a lampoon but rather a respectful homage.Munch was a methodical and masterful printmaker — drypoints, etchings, lithographs. He worked with a few simple and highly personal images including portraits and figures on the themes of love and death, nearly all of which were set on the coast of Norway. He did countless versions of these pictures, and this exhibition provides an excellent opportunity to compare prints of the same images with slight variations. For example, many of his pictures include a moon reflected in water, which in his treatment becomes an iconic lower case letter “i” with the moon as the dot and the stem of the “I” as the reflection. In some it is very bright, and in some almost invisible; often it looks like a Roman column, and in a few instances it becomes a crucifix.Another Munch trope that shows up in many of the prints is pictures of women with heavily shadowed eyes that look morbid or threatening. His wife of 20 years died young, as did a beloved sister, and he was known to have had tumultuous and tragic relationships with women, all of which shows in his complex depictions of women in his art.  Other stylistic devices that show up repeatedly are flowing hair that blendswith the flowing waves in the sea, and white figures or figures in white dresses next to white backgrounds and figures in black next to black backgrounds, so that figures and ground merge. His compositions are masterful in their balancing of dark and light for dramatic effect.Among the most powerful images in the show are two lithographs of the Madonna, one in black and white done in 1895, and the other in color from 1902. Other than the color, the images are identical. Each is of a nude with a stark white body and black hair. Heavy waving lines in the background follow the contour of her head and body. There is a frame with sperm swimming around it, and in the lower left corner a little skeleton that looks like the figure in “The Scream.”   This figure shows up in many guises in a number of his prints, perhaps most clearly in “Alpha’s Despair,” one of a group of images that illustrate the tragic myth of the love between “Alpha,” a woman, and “Omega,” her lover who murders her.Another strong image is “On the Waves of Love,” picturing the head and shoulders of a woman floating in water. Typical of Munch, the waves around her mimic the shape of her flowing hair. The woman looks like a corpse. If you study this print carefully, you’ll see that there is a man’s head on her shoulder. Such hidden images are not uncommon in his work.This is a most fascinating show that, once seen, should linger in your mind.
Edvard Munch and The Sea, Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., through July 17, $12-$14, Tacoma Art Museum, 1701 Pacific Ave. Tacoma,

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Rob Halpern: Wednesday, May 4th, 11:30-1:00 pm in the 2nd floor Recital Hall of the COM Building

Evergreen Artists Lecture Series - Fri, 04/22/2016 - 11:39am

Rob HalpernCommon Place (Ugly Duckling Presse 2015) is Rob Halpern‘s most recent book of poetry. Other titles include Music for Porn (Nightboat 2013), Disaster Suites (Palm Press 2009), and Rumored Place (Krupskaya 2006).  Together with Taylor Brady, he also co-authored the book-length poem, Snow Sensitive Skin, which has been reissued by Displaced Press.  Recent essays and translations appear in Chicago ReviewJournal of Narrative Theory, and The Claudius App.  Rob currently splits his time between San Francisco and Ypsilanti, Michigan, where he teaches at Eastern Michigan University and Women’s Huron Valley Prison.


Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Take Five to Ask about Take 2 from Evergreen Direct Credit Union

Thurston Talk - Fri, 04/22/2016 - 6:57am


Instead of the age-old adage “take two and call me in the morning,” Evergreen Direct Credit Union is upping the ante. With their Take 2 loan feature, you can skip two payments each year for the duration of the loan…for free! Available on almost all of Evergreen Direct’s loan offerings, Take 2 is an ideal

Olympia Weekend Event Calendar

Thurston Talk - Fri, 04/22/2016 - 6:00am


Our sunny skies and record-high temperatures seem to be on their way out, but summer-like temperatures were fun while they lasted. Photos submitted by our fantastic readers showed the amazing beauty and outdoor recreation opportunities that Thurston County has to offer. And this weekend, we showcase one of Olympia’s most beloved traditions – Spring Arts Walk and

Carrie Ziegler Combines Students, Science, and Conservation in New Art Installation

Thurston Talk - Fri, 04/22/2016 - 6:00am


Did you know it takes 2,000 gallons of water to make one pair of jeans? Local artist Carrie Ziegler shared this fact with me while discussing her latest project. Carrie has been working on the project for one year. The finished project will hang at the WET Science Center located inside the LOTT Wastewater Treatment

Olympia Tumwater Foundation Offers Early Childhood Learning Grants

Thurston Talk - Thu, 04/21/2016 - 5:37pm


 Submitted by the Olympia Tumwater Foundation The Olympia Tumwater Foundation has grants available to support early childhood education programs. The grants, which range from $250 to $3,000, were created to support innovative, sustainable classroom projects. Any Thurston County school district, nonprofit, early learning provider or collaboration of those groups may apply for the funding. The Olympia

Sidewalk Receives Grant from Thurston County Realtors Association

Thurston Talk - Thu, 04/21/2016 - 4:59pm


Submitted by SideWalk SideWalk is pleased to announce it has received a $16,500 Housing Opportunity Grant from the Thurston County Realtors Association (TCRA) and National Association of Realtors (NAR). These funds will support SideWalk’s Rapid Rehousing program, which provides short-term rental assistance to people in our community who are experiencing homelessness. “This grant and partnership

The Language Archive

OlyBlog Home Page - Thu, 04/21/2016 - 2:02pm
Event:  Thu, 05/05/2016 - 8:00pm

On May 5, Harlequin Productions opens The Language Archive by Julia Cho at the State Theater in downtown Olympia. This inventive and whimsical play looks at the way language may complicate love and the expression of feeling may find its ultimate form in the scent of baking bread. The show runs until May 28. Tickets are available online at, or over the phone at (360)786-0151.

George is a man consumed with preserving and documenting the dying languages of far-flung cultures. He is immersed in words but tongue-tied when his wife, Mary, announces that she is leaving him. Broken hearted, he turns to his current project: researching a dying language as spoken by an aged couple who are the last surviving speakers. Instead he finds them arguing in English over his claim on an airplane's window seat and her cooking. Meanwhile, George's assistant, Emma, has fallen in love with him but cannot find the words to express it in a way that he can hear. The Language Archive explores the way that words may stifle communication and how profound and incomprehensible feelings look for shapes that may not fit an archive.

     WHO:       Harlequin Productions

     WHAT:      The Language Archive, a romantic dramedy by Julia Cho

     WHEN:      May 5-28, 2016; Thursdays-Saturdays at 8:00pm, Sunday matinees at 2:00pm

     WHERE:     The Historic State Theater – 202 4th Avenue East, Downtown Olympia 98501

     PRICE:        General: $34, Senior/Military: $31, Student/Youth: $20

$15 Rush Tickets available at Box Office 30 minutes prior to curtain logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

read more

26 Local Students Beat Out 2500+ Teams for Chance at World Championship of Robotics

Thurston Talk - Thu, 04/21/2016 - 1:32pm


Submitted by Olympia Robotics Federation FIRST Robotics Team 4450 This month, while most South Sound students were lounging on spring break, 26 motivated students from Capital, Olympia & Avanti High Schools and their robot named USS Kelvin were hard at work competing for a highly coveted spot in the World Championships of Robotics. More than 75,000

Saint Martin’s University Presents a Reading by Award-Winning Brazilian Poet Salgado Maranhão

Thurston Talk - Thu, 04/21/2016 - 10:36am


From illiteracy to recognition as one of Brazil’s most renowned poets, Salgado Maranhão’s remarkable journey progressed from life as a subsistence farmer to a world-class writer. Illiterate until the age of 15, Maranhão spent most of his youth laboring on his family’s subsistence farm. Despite the odds, Maranhão has since become one of Brazil’s most

Thrifty Thurston Makes Music at the Instrument Petting Zoo

Thurston Talk - Thu, 04/21/2016 - 6:41am


My daughter was four when she touched her first violin. She was wandering through Spring Arts Walk in downtown Olympia with her grandmother. They happened upon the Instrument Petting Zoo inside The Washington Center for the Performing Arts. In that moment, she fell in love with the violin. Fast forward five years – my daughter

New Home for Honeybees at the Capitol

Thurston Talk - Thu, 04/21/2016 - 6:26am


Submitted by State of Washington On April 20, 2016, the Olympia Beekeepers Association brought approximately 30,000 European honeybees to the Capitol Campus.  The bees were placed in two hives positioned in the front lawn of the Governor’s Mansion. The bees and hives are part of a collaborative effort with the Department of Enterprise Services and Olympia

Syndicate content