OK, a bucket list is technically a list of things you want to do before you "kick the bucket." We've bent the definition a bit to serve our own purposes: Our bucket list is a list of things to do before 2011 comes to an end - from arts and entertainment events you don't want to miss to great food to try to things that might take you a little out of your comfort zone.
And just for good measure, we’ve offered up a few things to avoid during this new year as well.
Iconic American art, Jewish-American theater, local choreographers, New Orleans jazz and temporary pop-up art – 2011 looks to have some fun things in store for Tacoma’s arts scene.
Illuminate yourself, then celebrate the species: Two of the most festive festivities in Olympia are the Illuminated Ball and the Procession of the Species, so it’s only appropriate that they are related. The ball, which will be Feb. 5 this year, is a fundraiser for the Procession; tickets to the 21-and-older affair are $65. The Procession, which is a free community event that draws the city’s largest crowds of the year, will be on April 23. www.procession.org.
See Norman Rockwell at TAM: He may not be the most progressive of artists, but he’s one of the most iconic in this country. The work of Rockwell, famous for sentimental paintings of folks sipping milkshakes and eating Thanksgiving dinners, is coming to Tacoma in the nationally traveling show “American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell,” which features 44 paintings and 323 original “Saturday Evening Post” covers. Starts Feb. 26 at Tacoma Art Museum, 1701 Pacific Ave., Tacoma. 253-272-4258, www.tacomaart museum.org.
Celebrate an amazing native son: Centralia native Charlie Albright, 21, has risen to the top in the crowded international field of accomplished and gifted pianists. Albright, a student at Harvard and the New England Conservatory of Music, will return to the South Sound as part of the acclaimed 21st Century Masters Series March 16, where he will perform at the Washington Center for the Performing Arts. Take this opportunity to hear him play – he’s already played with the likes of renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma, so who knows where he will go next. www. washingtoncenter.org.
“Next to Normal”: “Next to Normal” tells the story of a bipolar mother and the hell she unleashes on her family as she teeters between coping and insanity. The musical opened on Broadway in March 2009 and soon earned Tom Kitt (music) and Brian Yorkey (book/lyrics) the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the 2009 Tony Award for Best Score. It also stars Pacific Lutheran University grad Louis Hobson as the mother’s psychiatrist. When the production comes to Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre, it will feature the musical’s original star, Alice Ripley, reprising her performance as the grief-stricken family matriarch. Ripley earned a Tony Award for her performance. The show opens Feb. 22 and runs through March 13. www.5thavenue.org.
Meet “Asher Lev”: Lakewood Playhouse and the Broadway Center collaborate this February on a Northwest premiere of the stage adaptation of Chaim Potok’s “My Name is Asher Lev,” which deals with the conflicts between traditional Jewish and modern American life. Runs Feb. 19 and 20 at Theatre on the Square, 915 Broadway, Tacoma; then through March 20 at Lakewood Playhouse, Lakewood. 253-591-5894, www.broadwaycenter.org, www.lakewoodplayhouse.org.
Get your dance on at a MOVE show: Okay, this is the year you should finally see a contemporary dance performance. And the one to see? MLKBallet puts on a MOVE dance show every few months, and they completely rock, with innovative pieces, groovy moving and a forgiving atmosphere. (Bring your kids too.) Shows start in spring at SOTA theater, 1118 Commerce St., Tacoma, or Merlino Arts Center, 508 Sixth Ave., Tacoma. www.facebook.com/MLKBallet.
Sample New Orleans with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band: The Big Easy comes to Tacoma this April, thanks to the Broadway Center. “Ma Maison” is a fantastic project combining the ever-cool old dudes in the Preservation Hall Jazz Band with the hip choreography of the Trey McIntyre Project: Think traditional jazz with skeleton-painted, purple-and-green dancers. April 8 at the Pantages Theater, 901 Broadway, Tacoma. 253-591-5894, www.broadwaycenter.org.
Check out Spaceworks art downtown: If you haven’t already found the cool installation art that’s part of Spaceworks, it’s still up in many empty retail storefronts downtown, as well as in Tollefson Plaza. It’s part of a global trend of pop-up shops that JWT Marketing says will drive 2011. And the good news is there’s going to be more this spring and summer, revitalizing downtown and (hopefully) attracting long-term tenants. Properties include 1250 Pacific, 906 Broadway and the Woolworth Windows. Keep a watch on what goes up at spaceworkstacoma. wordpress.com.
“The Tree of Life”: Written and directed by the enigmatic Terrence Malick, this movie has big Hollywood stars, but it’s art house to the core. The story centers on a family in the 1950s and tracks a son (Sean Penn) into adulthood as he tries to resolve issues with his father (Brad Pitt). There’s been a lot of secrecy and rumors about the film so the details are sketchy but the trailer has a lot of surreal and Hubble-worthy space imagery. Released by Fox Searchlight, it’s probably too arty for wide release, which means you’ll likely have to catch it at The Grand Cinema in Tacoma and at the Olympia Film Society’s Capitol Theater.
What not to do: Don’t assume that just because it’s happening in Seattle, it’s better than what’s happening in your own backyard. Yes, you do have to travel up north for big concerts and performances that only happen there (such as “Next to Normal”). But South Sound offers its own excellent symphonies, opera, Broadway traveling shows, ballet, live theater and art. And when you go to Seattle, you need to add in at least an hour’s driving, $10-$15 for parking, gas money, an expensive meal, stress and much higher ticket prices, so you’ve really got to wonder if you couldn’t have had more fun seeing a performance closer to home. The answer is, you could. And you’d also be supporting local artists and businesses, keeping your town vibrant.
MUSIC AND NIGHTLIFE
Sasquatch festival: Only the Foo Fighters have been announced so far for the Gorge Amphitheatre’s annual kickoff gala, which will run May 27-30 this year. But Live Nation has already started selling four-day passes – for $285 a pop, no less. Pretty cocky, but with dozens of bands performing before that majestic Columbia River backdrop, festival booker Adam Zacks could stick Little River Band and Winger up there and it would still be worth headin’ east for a day, at least. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster.com and Livenation.com.
EvergreenOne & Todd Sykes: 2010 was a good year for Tacoma’s rap duo. They opened for Tone Loc and Warren G. They formed a new side project, City Hall, with Olympia’s DJ Slimrock. And they released a tight album, “Milk on Wax,” that you can download free at evergreenonetoddsykes.bandcamp.com. Expect bigger and better things in 2010.
The F-ing Eagles: Can’t use their full name here (it’s a reference to that hilarious cab scene from “The Big Lebowski,” in case you were wondering). But if you haven’t checked out Tacoma’s rowdy garage-rock torchbearers yet, what are you waiting for? With several song placements in movies, TV shows and video games this year – most recently Sony’s “Gran Turismo 5” – expect their cult to grow bigger.
Mahnhammer: This local sludge-punk super-group boasts members of Gold Teeth, Cody Foster Army, Dirty Knockers and probably a couple of other bands we’re forgetting. Their raucous, cathartic live shows live up to the pedigree. And soon they’ll put the finishing touches on their first bona fide CD, which they’ve been recording in the loft space above the new Frontier Lounge in Tacoma.
EXPAND YOUR HORIZONS
Expand your diversity IQ: Resolve to acquaint yourself with people of an ethnic background different from your own. To start, experience one of the many cultural festivals in South Sound. Enjoy music, dance and displays from around the world at the Ethnic Celebration at Saint Martin’s University Marcus Pavilion & Worthington Conference Center in Lacey on Jan. 22. Drop in at the Asia Pacific Cultural Center’s 13th Annual New Year Celebration at the Tacoma Dome on Feb. 12. See American Indian dancers and drummers from throughout the country participate in the Puyallup Tribe’s Powwow held each Labor Day weekend at Chief Leschi School in Puyallup.
Bone up on Tutu: Before retiring, Archbishop Desmond Tutu is slated to make one of his last public appearances at the Tacoma Dome on May 13. To prepare, read one of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate’s many books, including this year’s inspirational “Made For Goodness.” Get involved in “Be the Spark,” a community empowerment initiative by the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation, which is bringing Tutu to South Sound. See www. tacomafoundation.org.
Murray Morgan, I presume: Watch for the opening of the Morgan Family Room at the Tacoma Public Library sometime in 2011. The space will honor the late Tacoma historian and writer and his wife, Rosa. Visitors can see Morgan’s manuscripts and personal library collection.
E-books: Try one out this year. Electronic books are the digitized copies of books that can be read on handheld computer tablets such as the Kindle, iPad, Nook or eReader. You can even view them on iPhones and other handheld devices. The price of the readers has plummeted, but you don’t have to buy one to see what the fuss is about. E-books can be downloaded for free from Timberland Regional Library system, Tacoma Public Library and other public libraries, and, depending on the book, read on a desktop computer.
Tap into computer coupons: Bargain hunters who haven’t dived into the latest shopping craze should at least take a peak at it this year. Online shopping took a new twist last year as Groupon, LocalTwist and similar sites exploded onto Western Washington computer screens. Users register at one of the sites to receive regular e-mails announcing a deal at a restaurant, spa, candy shop or other business. Nearly all the offers are at local businesses and entice buyers with hefty discounts, typically of 50 percent or more. The catch: Most are only available for one day, or sometimes a few days, which encourages users to open the site’s e-mails so they won’t miss a bargain.
What not to do: Resist the hype to buy a 3-D television. Wait until the price falls and more 3-D movies and programming are available.
SEE SOME SIGHTS
Check out the new Olympia City Hall: It’s been a long time coming, but city of Olympia staff members expect to move into the new City Hall at 615 Fourth Ave. E. in March. Since it is a manifestation of your tax dollars hard at work, stop in and see what you think. It may or may not contain some new public art, depending on whether City Council members can agree on pieces. www.ci.olympia.wa.us/news-and-faq-s/ olympia-city-hall-project.aspx.
Chinese Reconciliation Park: It’s hard to reconcile – a beautiful waterfront park and a shameful event in Tacoma’s history. But that’s what the Chinese Reconciliation Park is meant to do. Talked about since the early 1990s, under construction since 2005, and opened to the public in 2008, the park on Ruston Way remembers the 1885 expulsion of Chinese residents. And sometime early this year it’s going to get its crowning glory: a Fuzhou Ting, or pavilion. The structure is full of decorative components in the guise of bats, fish and dragons. We can’t wait to sit on the Beautiful Lady’s Benches.
The LeMay Museum: That huge pile of dirt next to the Tacoma Dome has been an eyesore for months. Come October, it’ll be a distant memory when LeMay – America’s Car Museum opens. The $60 million, 165,000-square-foot museum will feature 175 vehicles inside the gleaming structure. A 3.5-acre show field will host car shows that can accommodate as many as 300 vehicles. www.lemaymuseum.org.
The Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium: Tacoma’s zoo will be full of eews and mews this year. First up is “The Scoop on Poop” – a temporary exhibit that celebrates all things fecal. Opening in mid-May and running through Labor Day, the exhibit examines the science behind scat. Kids (and undoubtedly their parents) will be able to listen to a bear’s digestive system, examine fecal samples, track wild animals through their scat, and race dung beetles. In midsummer the final phase of the Asian Forest Sanctuary – “Cats of the Canopy” – will open. It will display one to two of the zoo’s six clouded leopards. The endangered cats will be able to enjoy flowing water, climbing trees and romantic digs to encourage leopard nookie. The zoo’s goal, says spokesperson Whitney DalBalcon, is more cubs.
Do the new: Never have Western Washington skiers had so much new terrain and amenities than they do this winter. White Pass opened 767 acres of new terrain served by two lifts. The terrain, Paradise Basin, also has a new lodge. Crystal Mountain is making a bit of history by opening the first gondola ever used at a Washington ski area. The Summit at Snoqualmie plans to reopen Summit East as soon as Jan. 8. The ski area has been closed since a landslide destroyed the main lift in January 2009. When it reopens it will include a bonus – lift access to Hidden Valley. There hasn’t been a lift in Hidden Valley since the late 1980s. Adult lift tickets are $65 (plus another $8 to ride the gondola) at Crystal Mountain, $58 at the Summit and $57 at White Pass. Skicrystal.com, summitatsnoqualmie.com or skiwhitepass.com.
Hang 10: You don’t have to go to Hawaii or California to catch a wave. Westport is the surfing capital of Washington. The small fishing town has two surf shops that rent gear and can direct you to locals who can teach you the sport. Don’t expect to be riding like Laird Hamilton in just one visit. In fact, you might find it hard to even stand up for more than a couple of seconds on your first trip. But you’ll quickly learn there aren’t many more enjoyable ways to humble yourself. A wet suit is a must to withstand the frigid water. Locals recommend starting with a long board. Long boards (about 10 feet long) are more stable than the smaller short boards. Rent a wetsuit and board for $35. Steepwater offers clinics starting at $30 but request that you reserve a spot 72 hours in advance. Steepwatersurfshop.com and westportsurfshop.com.
Ride Rapsody: While the Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic might be the Northwest’s most famous two-day bicycle ride, the Rapsody Ride is quickly carving out a niche as a South Sound tradition. The two-day ride around Puget Sound starts and ends in Tacoma and climbs 9,600 feet (more than three time as much climbing as the STP) over 170 miles. This year’s ride is scheduled for Aug. 27-28. Registration has not yet started for the 2011 ride. Rapsodybikeride.com.
Swim at the Quarry: It might be cold outside now, but it’s not too early to start dreaming about going swimming. One of the most unusual swimming experiences in the state doesn’t require a budget-busting ticket to a water park. For $2 you can take a dip in an old, spring-fed limestone quarry pool in Tenino. The pool opens in July. Day pass is $2, call 360-264-2368.
Take a friend to Mount Rainier: We all know them, people who have lived in the South Sound for decades and have never been to Mount Rainier National Park. Your mission in 2011 is to introduce the park to a friend. This doesn’t mean you have to do the 93-mile Wonderland Trail. But you should get them out of the car so they can feel, touch, smell and listen to the park. Show them the old-growth forest on the 0.5-mile Twin Firs Loop Trail. Gaze at the mountain on the glassy waters of aptly named Reflection Lake. Then on the way home, stop for Copper Toppers at Copper Creek Inn or a pie at Wild Berry Restaurant. To go: $15 for seven-day admission; www.nps.gov/mora.
Visit a new state park: For South Sound residents, it’s easy to consistently visit state parks such as Tolmie, Joemma Beach, Dash Point, Jarrell Cove and Flaming Geyser. But this year, make an effort to visit some new parks. They might take a few extra minutes to reach, but there are more than 65 parks in the area that warrant a visit. You can comb ocean beaches at Griffiths-Priday or stay in a yurt at Grayland Beach. You can skip stones on Hood Canal at Scenic Beach State Park near Seabeck. Fort Ward offers access to Puget Sound on Rich Passage. Watch the water cascade down Twin Falls at Olallie State Park. Right now, there is no day-use fee, but State Parks is considering reinstating fees to meet budget cuts; some parks also may be closed because of lack of funding. Check the latest at www.parks.wa.gov.
Fish for pink salmon: If the 2011 run is anything like 2009, you’ll want to have a fishing license so you can fish for pink salmon. An estimated return of 9.8 million pinks two years ago drew crowds of anglers to Puget Sound beaches such as Dash Point and Brown’s Point and rivers such as the Puyallup and Green. The action typically starts in August and runs through September. Learn more at wdfw.wa.gov/ fishing.
Watch an Olympic sunset: There is something mystical about sitting on a beach and watching a summer sunset over the Pacific Ocean at Olympic National Park. Among the easiest options are Rialto Beach near Forks and Kalaloch. Here you can pretty much drive up to the beach. A short walk down a hill will get you to Ruby Beach, a great place to skip stones and play in the sand. About a 34-mile hike from the parking lot will get you to secluded Second Beach, just outside La Push. This is a good trip for families with young children. Two miles north of Rialto is Hole in the Wall, one of the most iconic spots along the coast. Point of Arches, at the southern end of Shi Shi Beach, is a four-mile hike one way. No matter your choice, pack a picnic, sit back and watch the show. There is a $15 entrance fee at some places in the park. The easiest access to Shi Shi Beach is from the Makah Indian Reservation, requiring a recreation permit. www.nps.gov/olym/index.htm.
What not to do: Don’t get lost. Since White Pass opened its new terrain Dec. 4, 14 backcountry skiers and snowboarders have gotten lost and needed rescuing. If you’re heading into the backcountry to ski, hike, bike, climb or whatever in 2011, make sure you have the appropriate skills and equipment. This means map and compass, warm clothes, extra food and water, a light source with extra batteries, sun protection, a first aid kit, a knife, a fire starter and the ability to make an emergency shelter. An avalanche beacon, probe and rescue skills are also important for traveling in the mountains – including out of bounds skiing. Gus Bush of Tacoma Mountain Rescue also says it is also wise to take a buddy with you and to always tell somebody where you are going.
GET SOME GOOD EATS
To market, to market: It’s always a sign that winter has slipped away when the Olympia Farmers Market reopens for the year. This year, it will open April 7, which is a few days later than usual. Grab some noodles, or a panini, or tacos, or some curry for lunch at one of your favorite vendors, then head inside for baked goods, meat, and other locally made goods. (Hold off on your urge to buy any plants – winter isn’t that far in the rear view mirror.) www. olympiafarmersmarket.com.
Dine somewhere new: Make a list of cuisines you’d like to sample. Ever tried El Salvadoran, Hawaiian or Vietnamese food? Ever tried West African goat stew? What about Korean soon doo boo soup? Set aside one night a month to explore new restaurant territory and take along the family or invite friends. Need a suggestion? Find some at the TNT Diner blog, blog.thenewstribune.com/tntdiner. The blog is searchable by key word, so just type in the type of cuisine you’re looking for and see what the search yields. Cruise Yelp or Urban Spoon and other reader contributed restaurant review sites that are good places to discover new cuisine.
Discover new spices: Take a tour of new culinary territory with spices such as the Middle Eastern sesame-thyme-sumac spice mixture called zatar, or the pungent, Ethiopian ginger-pepper spice blend berbere. Or how about grains of paradise? Spice monger Anne Buck, of Olympia’s Bucks Fifth Avenue, can suggest spice after spice to dress up your nightly dinner repertoire. And you don’t even have to try a new recipe. Just coat your favorite meat or fish with the new spices for an unusual spin that may just please your palate.
Get cheesy: Vinotique, Bayview Thriftway, Metropolitan Market, Tacoma Boys and even your local grocery store all carry cheeses you’ve probably never heard of. Break out of your cheddar and mozzarella mold (so to speak) and take a taste of silky formager d’affinois or creamy, pungent cambozola. High end grocery stores employ staffers who can make cheese recommendations, and sometimes even will host free or low-cost cheese tasting classes.
Don’t get stuck in a rut: Stop eating at chain fast-food restaurants, or just cut back. Eschew the drive-through at least once a week and instead get takeout at a small Thai restaurant, stop by a pho restaurant for a big bowl of soup, or get a slice at your favorite pizzeria. If you really need your burger fix, then just visit a locally owned drive-in burger restaurant such as Don’s Drive-In in Puyallup, Pick Quick in Fife or Eastside Big Tom in Olympia. It’s quick eating, locally owned and freshly made food.