Historically, Asian-Americans have been underrepresented in television, theatre and film and are rarely seen in leading roles. In response, some of West Seattle’s own residents have been working with SiS Productions to produce several successful productions with Asian casts.

Currently SiS is working on “The Theory of Everything,” a play by Prince Gomolvilas. The show is produced by Miko Premo who grew up in West Seattle, and co-produced by current residents Lorna Chin and Lisa Marie Nakamura.

“There are not a lot of roles out there for Asian-Americans, especially Asian-American women,” said Nakamura. “In order for us to be seen in those roles we have to create them. We need to show that not only can Asian-Americans do these leading roles but they can do them well.”

Premo has been acting since she was in second grade and was also involved in performing arts at Holy Names Academy. She later went on to earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in directing and acting at New York University.

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Photo credit: 
Rick Wong

A DRAMATIC POPOSAL: Miko Premo and Jose Abaoag star in the upcoming production “The Theory of Everything.” The play features an entirely Asian-American cast.

Have you ever loved a tree? A huge, stately tree that has always been there. You admire it every time you see it, and secretly resist the urge to stop and climb it. Or, maybe to just sit on it’s branch-like-arms, even if just for a little while, and let its majesty soak in.

And then, one day, it’s gone.

Most times, you never had a clue it was close to the end of its life span – it was just always there. You can see the stump and the fresh sawdust still on the ground, and all that’s left above is big sky. You may go by in a few days to see the stump has been ground down even further, preparations made for something new.

We have a similar thing happening in our garden community here in Seattle. The Northwest Flower and Garden Shows have always been there – or it seemed so. After 21 years of bringing the big show to our fair city, the owner is taking his ball and going home, even if he can’t find any buyers.

But, unlike that big tree that was gone all of a sudden, we now have a chance to pay homage, to visit with, to spend some time reveling in the magic created by many. We have time to still be a part of it, and to say, “I was there, and I saw it.”

Photo credit: 
Janit Calvo

A big ol' little tree, this slow growing Jervis Canada Hemlock is about 12 inches tall.

Students at Loyal Heights Elementary in Ballard are performing the opera "Siegfried and the Ring of Fire" Feb. 13 in collaboration with staff, singers and musicians from the Seattle Opera.

The fourth and fifth-grade performers worked with the Seattle Opera as part of an Artist in Residence program for the week leading up to the performance but had been practicing their parts for nearly a month.

"Siegfried and the Ring of Fire" was written by Jon Dean, Seattle Opera's education artistic administrator.

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Photo credit: 
Michael Harthorne

OPERA FOR A NEW GENERATION: Fourth and fifth-graders at Loyal Heights Elementary participate in "Siegfried and the Ring of Fire" with artists and staff from the Seattle Opera.

A respectable-sized crowd filled about one third of Key Arena’s 15,000-plus seats to witness Season-5, Bout 1, between two pairs of teams belonging to the Rat City Rollergirls, the Seattle-based all-female roller derby league that originated in White Center. The Rollergirls have four teams, Grave Danger, Sockit Wenches, Derby Liberation Front, and Throttle Rockets. Each team has about 20 players. There is also a fifth, traveling team. Ballard and Greenwood were well represented during the league’s Feb. 7 debut at Key Arena with players, a mascot, and many enthusiastic volunteers.

“ I volunteer so that I get to hang out with all the kick-ass ladies,” said Jasmine McKenzie, of Ballard, who was stationed at the season pass-holder check-in table.

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Photo credit: 
Kim Robinson

Photo of Gorditos Restaurant owner, “Sassy Chassie.”

Lon Chaney may have been the man of a thousand faces, but West Seattle's Jim Cissell may be the guy with a thousand voices. The award-winning "VoiceGuy" as he calls himself can be heard narrating Disney trailers, promoting Levi's jeans, California avocados, and asks, "Did somebody say 'McDonald's?'"

Cissell, who has been working in Seattle since 1986, may be the city's least recognizable big-time celebrity, working for more than half the Fortune 500, as his voice and not his face is familiar to many. That said, he has appeared in front of the camera on some Boeing and other commercials, more so in the past.

"Less since these ears got bigger over the years," said the modest but successful, youthful 61 year-old as he practiced reading a script for a snowmobile ad in his basement home studio on the water in Fauntleroy.

"Let's see. This asks for a man, age 30, slightly aggressive, and manly," he said, scrutinizing the script. "OK. Here we go." He punched at the dialog like a boxer and flailed his arms as if speaking to a large audience at a recreational vehicle convention. Then he read the disclaimer real fast at the end.

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Photo credit: 
Steve Shay

SPEAKING OUT. "VoiceGuy" Jim Cissell gives voice to a product he has been hired to promote for a future radio spot. He works from his basement home studio on the water in Fauntleroy.

A respectable-sized crowd filled about one third of Key Arena's 15,000-plus seats Feb.7 to witness Season-5, Bout 1, between two pairs of teams belonging to the Rat City Rollergirls, the White Center-based all-female roller derby league. The Rollergirls have four teams, Grave Danger, Sockit Wenches, Derby Liberation Front, and Throttle Rockets. Each team has about 20 players. There is also a fifth, traveling team.

Those at the Key Arena watched the Sockit Wenches edge out Grave Danger, and the Derby Liberation Front, or DLF, beat the Throttle Rockets. The skaters, who do not get paid and actually shell out some expense money, are rough and tumble. While they exhibit athleticism on the oval track, most sport a "bad-girl" persona, and some are clad with foreboding tattoos. Their monikers are cleaver puns, like "Meg Myday," "Burnett Down," "Darth Skater," and "Ann R. Kissed."

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Photo credit: 
Steve Shay

ROLLER GIRLS. Out in front is La Petite Mort, Captain of the skate team Throttle Rockets, and a White Center resident.
Behind her is #55 Skate Trooper, Derby Liberation Front, or DLF who owns Bird On a Wire Espresso in West Seattle.

As Congress considers the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, it is right that an investment in arts and culture be included in the package.

The currently proposed $50 million designated to bolster the NEA's budget will certainly be channeled to working artists and arts organizations throughout the country. While I appreciate the heart and soul impact the arts have on me as an individual and the role they play on building the character of my community, the real power of including arts in the economic stimulus package is the number of jobs it can preserve and create nationally and in our state.

Nationally, there are approximately 100,000 nonprofit arts organizations, which spend $63.1 billion annually. Without an economic stimulus for the nonprofit arts industry, experts expect about 10 percent of these organizations (ranging from large arts institutions like museums and operas to small community-based organizations in suburban, urban and rural areas) to shut their doors in 2009 - a loss of 260,000 jobs.


Slumdog Millionaire
Dir. Danny Boyle
120 min., R

"Slumdog Millionaire," directed by Danny Boyle ("Trainspotting," "28 Days Later"), is your typical love story - boy meets girl, boy looses girl, boy must get girl back. But, because this is Danny Boyle, it's more like boy meets girl, boy narrowly avoids intentional blinding, boy swindles fat tourists, boy gets mixed up with local gangsters, boy is tortured by police, then boy must get girl back. And, it is those detours that make "Slumdog Millionaire" an incredible film experience.

Jamal Malik, a child of an Indian slum, is a contestant on the Indian "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire." When he finds himself one question way from the big jackpot, to the chagrin of the game's host and the delight of the nation, he is nabbed by the police.

The police, certain that Jamal is somehow cheating, interrogate him to discover how he knew each of his answers. This interrogation serves as a device for Jamal to tell of his life experiences, in which he improbably finds the answer to every question, and to ruminate on his lost love, Latika.


Along with 300 others, I was bewitched last Friday night by a small woman with a giant presence in the unlikely setting of the Adams Elementary School cafeteria. The author Julia Alvarez can work as much magic in person as her beloved character Tia Lola. For unrushed hours she was Tia Julia to all.

I cannot imagine another author, especially one as celebrated as Julia Alvarez, talking to cafeteria crowded with all ages, admiring each piece of artwork inspired by their work and then interacting with an hour long line of children clutching a paperback edition of her work to be signed with a personal message. Julia Alvarez clearly loves people, especially children. A purple Mexican head dress woven into her dark hair the Latina writer engaged with everyone in the packed room and seemingly endless line.

Photo credit: 
Peggy Sturdivant

Author Julia Alvarez and Aidan Jereczek, Adams Elementary 2nd grader. Aidan offered is parrot pinata to Ms. Alvarez, inspired by the parrot in her book.


Admiral Theater
2343 California Ave. S.W.
Movie tickets $5.50
Tickets available at

Current films, through March 5
Twilight (PG-13, Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson) 6:45, 9:10
Marley & Me (PG, Owen Wilson, Jennifer Aniston) 1:30, 3:50, 6:50, 9:15
Bedtime Stories (PG, Adam Sandler, Guy Pearce) 1:45, 4

Ama Ama Oyster Bar and Grill
4752 California Ave. S.W.
Happy Hour: 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. to Midnight daily.

Thursdays, 9 p.m.
Live Music (jazz, blues, funk)

Bamboo Bar and Grill
2806 Alki Ave. S.W.
Happy Hour: Sunday through Thursday, 3 to 6 p.m., 10 p.m. to Midnight, Friday and Saturday, 3 to 6 p.m.

Fridays and Saturdays, Live Music
Thursdays, karaoke

Beveridge Place Pub
6413 California Ave. S.W.
Happy Hour: Monday through Friday, 3 to 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, 2 to 6 p.m.

Micro Monday, $3 pints and $12 pitchers
Belgian Tuesdays and Free pool, $1 off all Belgian bottles.

Photo credit: 
Robinson Newspapers
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