Category Archives: News

The Necessity of “Oil & Water,” a Local Documentary


Oil & Water is a documentary playing this weekend at the Social Justice Film Festival (7pm at the Northwest Film Forum on Saturday, to be specific). It originally screened at SIFF earlier this year, and will have an abridged version to appear on PBS in Seattle early next year. (It has been playing on PBS affiliates already, but will not be on public television in Seattle until January.) It’s well worth your time to check out the full 78 minute version this weekend. It is about the long term damage being done from oil companies in Ecuador.

The documentary is the newest from local filmmakers Francine Strickwerda and Laurel Spellman Smith. The two names you know from Busting Outa 2004 Showtime documentary about breasts that was unfortunate in reminding viewers that Tom Leykis exists. But, much to its credit, Oil & Water does not feature any talk radio blowhards.

What Strickwerda and Smith accomplish here is an engaging documentary that they spent a lot of time working on. It raised almost twice its modest $5000 goal on Kickstarter back in early 2011. What makes Oil & Water so compelling is that there’s a human element that should draw people in and make it accessible for people who wouldn’t normally care about an environmental documentary. The doc is told through two stories: Hugo, an Ecuadorian who is to the US to get an American education (he graduates from Seattle’s Bishop Blanchet High School in 2006) and David, and idealistic Massachusetts millennial who tries to start a company that certifies “fair trade” oil. Hugo’s from the Cofan tribe, an indigenous tribe on the Ecuadorian Amazon fighting for its survival.

I don’t want to delve too much into the personalities of Hugo and David, or their families, but I’ll just say that Strickwerda and Smith have done a remarkable job of putting a human face to a catastrophe. It is often that the stories of marginalized people get left out when the “freedom” for large companies to do what they want is at stake. I think a lot of people are comfortable with letting corporations do whatever the want when it’s under the banner of “job creation,” but a movie like Oil & Water pushes back against that idea. The humans affected by oil drilling are no longer an abstraction to be ignored, but actual people. It makes it all the more necessary. Oil & Water is not just important and accessible, but it’s also dangerous.

Reykjavik is Calling; gives Seattle a Taste of Iceland


Seattle and Reykjavik seem to have a great Sister City relationship. Each year around this time, since about 2007, Reykjavik has been sending some of their most creative people to Seattle. This year, musicians, an author, an arts curator, a chef, and more will braving the long trip across the Atlantic to share their culture with us. If all goes well, the UNESCO City of Literature may even be able to put in a good word for our own bid for such a distinction.


I was at the media preview dinner for the meals that will be featured at the Dahlia Lounge this week. The lamb was quite tasty and got to drink some Icelandic vodka with a fish head frozen inside of an ice cube, because a friend would do no such thing. It was good and you couldn’t taste the fish until most of the ice cube had melted. I also drank some Aquavit out of an ice luge (see right). Sometimes report can be difficult work, I tell you.

One of the events I’m most excited for is the writing jam at Elliott Bay Book Company on Friday night. An Iceland writer, Bragi Ólafssonand Seattleite, Karen Finneyfrock, created stories based on characters supplied by the other author. They’ll read their stories at EBBC, or so I understand. I didn’t make the connection previously, but Ólafsson is also a musician and he was a member of the band the Sugarcubes, which puts him exactly one degree of separation away from Bjork.

There is also the annual, free concert. This will be held at Neumos and feature the Seattle Rock Orchestra, Eric Anderson of Cataldo, and Say Hi, collaborating with Sin Fang, Soley, and Júníus Meyvant.

The full schedule of events are:


Icelandic Menu at Dahlia Lounge

Thursday, October 9 – Sunday, October 12

Dahlia Lounge welcomes Icelandic Chef Viktor Örn Andrésson, Nordic Chef of the Year 2014 who is working in collaboration with Chef Brock Johnson to craft a prix fixe, four-course menu showcasing some of the finest Icelandic ingredients such as salmon, cod and free-range lamb. Diners can also enjoy two signature Reyka Vodka cocktails with a dash of Brennivín created by Dahlia Lounge Mixologist Amber Gephart.

Chef Viktor Örn Andrésson is head chef at the internationally renowned Blue Lagoon’s LAVA Restaurant.  He was named Nordic Chef of the Year 2014, the Icelandic Chef of the Year in 2013 and has been a member of the Icelandic National Culinary Team since 2009. Chef Örn is no stranger to culinary competitions; in 2010 he received gold and silver medals at the Culinary World Cup, and has participated in two Bocuse d’Or championships. Chef Andrésson derives culinary inspiration from the climate and geography of Iceland, which drives his love of preparing local and seasonal foods, including the high-quality, fresh food provided in abundance by the north Atlantic sea; a passion clearly reflected in the Icelandic menu at Dahlia Lounge.

The four-course menu is $75 and reservations can be made by calling 206.682.4142. Dahlia Lounge is located at 2001 4th Avenue, Seattle, WA, 98121.


Reykjavik Calling – Free Concert at Neumos Presented By KEXP 90.3 FM

Saturday, October 11 | Doors at 7:00 p.m.

At Reykjavik Calling, Icelandic musicians take the stage with some of Seattle’s most-loved artists for a concert at Neumos. This FREE, cross-cultural musical showcase introduces Seattle to the vibrant music scene that has securedIceland’s position as a musical powerhouse. Presented by KEXP 90.3, the FREE concert will feature performances and never-before-heard collaborations from the following Iceland/Seattle duos:

From Iceland                     From Seattle

Sin Fang                                 Seattle Rock Orchestra Quintet

Soley                                       Say Hi

Júníus Meyvant                    Eric Anderson of Cataldo

The Reykjavik Calling concert is 21+ only and limited to venue capacity. Doors open at 7:00 p.m.

Neumos is located at 925 E Pike St, Seattle, WA, 98122. For more information, visit


Odin’s Eye

Friday, October 10 – Sunday, November 9

The Odin’s Eye art exhibit seeks to build an inspirational bridge between Americans and Icelanders as artists visually interpret the Norse Mythology through various mediums. Participating artists include from Iceland: Gunnella, Kristín Ragna Gunnarsdóttir, Sindri Már Sigfússon, Ingibjörg Birgisdóttir.  From the US: Lulu Yee , Derek Weisberg, Pandora Andre-Beatty and Michael Linton Simpson. The exhibit is sponsored by Icelandair Cargo and Iceland Naturally.

“I lived in Iceland for 4 years and am fascinated with the connection Icelanders have with nature, their colorful heritage, their folklore, hidden people, elves, the Norse Gods,” said Lulu Yee, artist and curator of Odin’s Eye. “Iceland is a nation of great storytellers, and I wanted to work on a group show which addresses an aspect of the Icelandic heritage, while at the same time, viewing it through the lens of a foreigner who has had little exposure to those stories.”

The Nordic Heritage Museum is located at 3014 NW 67th St, Seattle, WA, 98117. For more information, visit


Reykjavik Writing Jam

Friday, October 10 / 7:00 p.m.

Presented by the Seattle City of Literature and Reykjavik UNESCO City of Literature in partnership with Elliott Bay Book Company, Icelandic writer Bragi Ólafsson and Seattle poet and novelist Karen Finneyfrock will join together to read stories based on characters of the other’s creation. This “character jam” will be accompanied by a “zine jam” hosted by ZAPP, Seattle’s Zine Archive & Publishing Project. Each guest who attends this event will be invited to craft their own zines of Karen and Bragi’s work with a variety of materials, and walk away with a one-of-a-kind art object.

Elliott Bay Book Company is located at 1521 10th Ave., Seattle, WA, 98122. For more information, visit and


Nordic Eco: Steps Toward Sustainability

Wednesday, October 1 – Wednesday, November 19

Special Event with Guest Speaker Árni Gunnarsson, National Power Company of Iceland: October 1, 2014 at 7 p.m.

The topic of Icelandic leadership in the field of geothermal and hydroelectric energy production will be punctuated at the opening on October 1st when featured guest Árni Gunnarsson speaks on the history of the industry in Iceland. This event bridges together “Nordic Edo: Steps Towards Sustainability” with the art exhibit, “Elements of Power: Capturing the Icelandic Landscape” as Iceland’s ability to harness renewable energy sources is directly tied to the landscape features recreated in Sigrun’s art installations.

The Pacific Lutheran University, Scandinavian Cultural Center is located at 12180 South Park Avenue, Tacoma, WA 98447-0003. For more information, visit

Elements of Power: Capturing the Icelandic Landscape

Wednesday, October 1- Wednesday, October 22

Artist Meet & Greet:  Thursday, October 16 / 5 – 8 p.m.

The exhibit, “Elements of Power: Capturing the Icelandic Landscape” will explore Icelandic glaciers, rivers, lava fields and northern lights through the medium of touchable textiles. Sigrun Lara Shanko, the featured artist, has garnered attention worldwide for her long running series of silks infused with themes from the Viking Age.

The Pacific Lutheran University, Scandinavian Cultural Center is located at 12180 South Park Avenue, Tacoma, WA 98447-0003. For more information, visit