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Mónica Guzmán

Stories at the intersection of tech and life from a boldly connected city.

Category: Art
March 1, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Seattle sketch comedy show ‘The 206′ finds scrappy path to success

I could see where this joke was going. Seattle comedians John Keister and Pat Cashman faced the cameras in Fremont Studios and ticked off the latest accomplishments of some of their former fellow cast members on “Almost Live!” the Seattle sketch comedy show that preceded “Saturday Night Live” for much of its 15…

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December 2, 2013 at 2:24 PM

Seattle team wins world’s largest media scavenger hunt

Well what do you know. They did it. The Vatican Cameos won GISHWHES, the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen. From the contest’s characteristically long-winded announcement: And the champion, the numero uno team, the victor, the bee’s knees, the best of the best, the creme de la creme, the big cheese, the least sane…

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November 24, 2013 at 12:46 AM

Seattle contestants go wild for world’s largest media scavenger hunt

Joy Scott and Kat Selvocki stage a chance meeting at Seattle Center for item #61 of GISHWHES 2013, the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen, in August. Their team, the Vatican Cameos, ranked in the top 10 last year. This was item #61: C.S. Lewis once said, "Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: What! You, too? I thought I was the only one!" Take a picture capturing this exact moment. (Courtesy Vatican Cameos)

Joy Scott and Kat Selvocki stage a costumed chance meeting at Seattle Center for item #61 of GISHWHES, the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen, in August. Their team, the Vatican Cameos, ranked in the top 10 last year. (Courtesy Vatican Cameos). Photo gallery.

Jesse Mazur, a colleague of GISHWHES team member H.B. Siegel, folds clothes in his Storm Trooper costume for item #5 at Ballard's Lunar Laundry. (Courtesy Vatican Cameos)

Jesse Mazur, a colleague of GISHWHES team member H.B. Siegel, folds laundry in his Storm Trooper costume for item #5. (Courtesy Vatican Cameos) Photo gallery.

Update: They did it! They won! Congrats, Vatican Cameos! More on the win here…

If you had walked by Rachael Vaughn’s office at Microsoft on any of three days in August, you might have been confused by the away message on her whiteboard:

“OOF for GISHWHES!”

“OOF” is “out of office.” GISHWHES, pronounced “gish-wes,” is the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen. Yes, it’s a real thing and, yes, Vaughn, an attorney specializing in intellectual-property law, took most of a week off work to do it.

Oh, where to begin.

There was the seated Japanese tea ceremony in the elevator of the apartment building on 12th and Jefferson. The nun who swung from a rope into a river outside Vancouver, B.C.

There was the robot barista who served customers at a San Diego Starbucks, the storm trooper who folded clothes at Ballard’s Lunar Laundry, the woman who collected signatures to “pave all of California’s beaches so we don’t have to get all sandy to go swimming” and that time the guard waved Vaughn into the University of Washington’s Center for Experimental Nuclear Physics and Astrophysics, because she wasn’t the first person that day to show up in a Flash costume and ask to pose with the particle accelerator.

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November 16, 2013 at 10:28 PM

Scarecrow Video: How an endangered Seattle icon could win you back

Matt Lynch of Scarecrow Video on Roosevelt. Scarecrow’s video inventory is over 100,000. (GREG GILBERT / THE SEATTLE TIMES)

Matt Lynch of Scarecrow Video on Roosevelt. Scarecrow’s video inventory is over 100,000. (GREG GILBERT / THE SEATTLE TIMES)

"We don't need to be a viewer's only or even main source of movies, but we feel what we offer can more than comfortably coexist with streaming," Lynch wrote in an email. "It's just that people have forgotten us or don't understand what they're giving up by letting us go."

REWIND YOUR WAYS: “What we offer can more than comfortably coexist with streaming,” Lynch said. “It’s just that people have forgotten us or don’t understand what they’re giving up by letting us go.”

I hadn’t given any thought to Scarecrow Video in months, maybe years, when I heard the news a couple weeks ago.

As you’d expect, Seattle’s world-famous video store is in trouble. Rentals have dropped 40 percent in six years, despite efforts to draw people in with coffee, beer, screenings, all kinds of deals and even bar trivia, and owners are wondering if it’s time to fade to black.

The culprit, of course, is change. Video-store rentals hit their peak, $8.5 billion, in 2001. Last year, we spent as much on those rentals as we did in 1984, a measly $1.2 billion, according to analyst IHS.

Blockbuster Video, founded in 1985, operated 1,700 stores when the company filed for bankruptcy in 2010. This month, parent company Dish Network said it would close the 300 remaining company-owned Blockbuster stores next year.

Scarecrow owners Carl Tostevin and Mickey McDonough put out a call for help in October. Scarecrow is no Blockbuster; it has collected 118,000 titles and a lot of love. The store’s fans will step it up. Supporters of independent businesses will stop in on principle.

But what about the rest of us? I’ve done nothing but rent or stream from Netflix, Amazon.com, Hulu or iTunes for years. Same with most of my friends. I’d love for Scarecrow to stick around, but online convenience rules. Is there something I’m missing?

I went in last week to find out.

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0 Comments | More in Art, Column, Disruption, Entertainment, Habits, Seattle

September 28, 2013 at 8:00 PM

4,000 and counting: The handwritten letters of Shoreline’s Charles Morrison

Teacher Charles Morrison pens letters from the back yard of his Shoreline home every day of the year. (GREG GILBERT / THE SEATTLE TIMES)

Teacher Charles Morrison pens letters from the back yard of his Shoreline home every day of the year. (GREG GILBERT / THE SEATTLE TIMES)

When was the last time you wrote a letter?

Charles Morrison will write four today. He wrote four yesterday. And the day before that. And the day before that. All told he’s penned 4,000 letters to about 110 people in the past 11 years, hardly ever missing a day. They’re nothing grand. Just “letters by a guy of modest intelligence who likes to write,” as the 71-year-old put it. He mailed 150 of them at his Shoreline post office two weeks ago. Each was written with one of 36 calligraphy pens, and each is about something completely different.

I have no idea when I wrote my last letter. I told Morrison as much at Caffe Umbria in Pioneer Square last week. Most of the people walking by on Occidental Avenue South, I guessed out loud, probably wouldn’t know either.

Morrison laughed.

“It’s so easy to get information, give information, dash off an email. The very ease of it makes it so convenient,” he said.

“Convenient,” he added, is not one of his favorite words.

“When everything needs to be convenient, you lose sight of the process, how important the process is,” he said. “It’s just: Get it done.”

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0 Comments | More in Art, Column, Education, Nostalgia, Seattle, Social

September 21, 2013 at 9:13 PM

Seattle designer turns century old inscription into new digital font

Andrea Leksen, freelance graphic designer and adjunct professor at Seattle Pacific University, is now selling her recently created typeface “Bemis.” (LINDSEY WASSON / THE SEATTLE TIMES)

Andrea Leksen, freelance graphic designer and adjunct professor at Seattle Pacific University, is now selling her recently created typeface “Bemis.” (LINDSEY WASSON / THE SEATTLE TIMES)

The five capital letters are 96 years old. They’re embossed on terra cotta panels mortared into brick on the north face of the historic Bemis building in Sodo, and they’re beautiful. Almost regal.

Andrea Leksen just turned them into a font.

The embossed letters on the Bemis building in Sodo inspired Seattle designer Andrea Leksen to develop the Bemis typeface. (Photo: Andrea Leksen)

The old Bemis building in SODO inspired freelance designer Andrea Leksen’s new font. (Photo: Andrea Leksen)

The 249 letters, numbers and characters in the all-caps Bemis typeface took Leksen, a freelance designer and an adjunct professor at Seattle Pacific University, a year and a half to complete. Bemis is the first typeface she’s ever put up for sale; it was the No. 39 “hot font” on online marketplace myfonts.com Friday. It’s also what’s known as a font “revival,” script from a nondigital past made a part of our technological present.

The Bemis font grew out of a classroom assignment: Draft a font from something old you see in Seattle, Leksen told her Applied Type students last year, then joined them in the hunt.

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