This Week's Cover


Mary and Joseph

Immaculate conception is pretty cool—unless you don’t believe in God, have never wanted to give birth to a baby, and have a sweet-but-stoned fiance who’d rather take bong hits on the floor with you than shop for furniture for your shared apartment.

Such is the case with Tim Greger’s Mary and Joseph…A Bible Story currently playing at the iDiOM Theater.

But, despite the reticence of the titular couple to embark on their own Christmas miracle, don’t go thinking that this modern-day take on

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This Week

The Gristle

Divergent Streams

DIVERGENT STREAMS: A ship broke loose from its mooring along Whatcom Waterway last week but grounded in shallows before it could swing far. It’s a sham ship, mothballed here as a dodge of arcane U.S. maritime restrictions, parked along a sham pier generating rents in the illusion of a working waterfront. Briefly it became a shipwreck piled against an even bigger shipwreck—the Port of Bellingham’s plan for the central waterfront.

Port commissioners earlier this month authorized $216,333

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Mi Casa

Bellingham approves a rental safety program

Details remain, but Bellingham City Council made history this week, unanimously approving a program intended to ensure the health and safety of the city’s rental housing supply, an effort more than 16 years in the making. The program is intended to make sure rental housing in Bellingham meets minimum health and fire safety standards.

Designed in two parts intended to complement each other, the rental registration and inspection program will attempt to register and catalogue thousands of

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The Hobbit

The Battle of the Five Armies


After six films, 13 years and 1,031 minutes of accumulated running time (far more if you count the extended versions), Peter Jackson has concluded his massively remunerative genuflection at the altar of J.R.R. Tolkien with a film that may be the most purely entertaining of any in the collection (tellingly, it is also, by far, the shortest of the sextet).

Much as The Return of the King wrapped up the Lord of the Rings saga on an action-dominated high note, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five

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One unlovable orphan


Think you’ve got a hard-knock life?

Try sitting through the new Annie.

A rewritten, re-orchestrated but far from revitalized version of the old Broadway musical, this latest edition moves it out of the Depression and into a modern, tech-driven New York.

That’s a big change but not necessarily a bad one. Since the script starts off in a classroom, with Annie summing up the idea of the New Deal as “work hard and get rich,” perhaps the less this movie tries to deal with the Roosevelt

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Warmed by Wassail

Making spirits bright


I’m sitting next to our Christmas tree—a Noble fir covered with 700 tiny lights and taller than my 6-foot husband. Heavily laden with sequined ornaments made by tiny hands, draped with strands of fake jewels and wooden cranberries, dotted with dried orange slices and shimmering bows, the tree has become a visual archive of our family’s history. It holds remembrances of people we have loved and places we have lived.

I find that each branch holds a symbol of the deeper meaning in my life

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The Round House

Mystery on the reservation


Cold nights cry out for spellbinding books that captivate readers and take their minds off the weather howling outdoors. 

Louise Erdrich, one of our country’s master storytellers, delivers just such a tale with The Round House. If you missed it when it won the National Book Award a few years back, now’s the time to pick up a copy at your local library and settle in for some rewarding reading.

The novel begins on an Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota in 1988. Geraldine Coutts, a tribal

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On Stage

Mary and Joseph

Oh little town of Bellingham


Immaculate conception is pretty cool—unless you don’t believe in God, have never wanted to give birth to a baby, and have a sweet-but-stoned fiance who’d rather take bong hits on the floor with you than shop for furniture for your shared apartment.

Such is the case with Tim Greger’s Mary and Joseph…A Bible Story currently playing at the iDiOM Theater.

But, despite the reticence of the titular couple to embark on their own Christmas miracle, don’t go thinking that this modern-day take on

Continue Reading »


Solstice Burn

Stoking the flames of winter


I’ve lit a lot of things on fire in my backyard.

Years ago, for example, I had a group of female friends who would gather under the light of the full moon every month to engage in a fire-fueled cleansing ritual.

On small scraps of paper, we’d write about the things we wanted to let go of—everything from petty grudges against our fellow humans to self-pity about the paths we’d not taken in life, to anger against men or women who’d done us wrong—read them aloud (if we chose to), put a

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In the Moment

Seeing the world in black and white


A profusion of ferns seems to grow out of a trio of stone and iron trestles under a dark and mossy bridge, making the scene one the Three Billy Goats Gruff would be hesitant to enter into lest they encounter a sinister, hungry troll.

A closer look at the black-and-white image, however, reveals that the scene looks decidedly more familiar than fearsome. In fact, says photographer Shawn Pagels, it’s a scene he shot within the Bellingham city limits.

“Some people have lived here all their

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Bellingham Folk Festival

The beginning of something big


We like to think of our music community as a unique entity—which, in some ways, it is—but it shares some commonalities with music scenes both near and far, one of which is in the underrepresentation of women. Without getting all political about it, this scarcity of ladies is problematic in the same way that not having viable all-ages venues or gritty rock bars or open mic nights are problematic: weakness in one part of the community limits the strength of it as a whole.

While what you see

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Best of Bellingham

What's the best neighborhood? The one you live in, judging from this fiercely competitive category. With more than 2,400 entries in the Cascadia Weekly readers choice awards, every neighborhood was named again and again. But with so many terrific places--Trader Joe's, Hardware Sales, Kulshan Brewing Company, Jeckyl & Hyde, Homeskillet, on and on--Sunnyland comes out on top.

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Dec 20


Allied Arts Holiday Festival: The annual Allied Arts Holiday Festival takes place for the final week from 10am-6pm Wednesday through Tuesday, and 10am-3pm Wed., Dec. 24 (Christmas Eve) at 4145 Meridian St. (near Park Bowl). The works of more than 100 local artisans and craftspeople can be perused and purchased at the festival. more »

Christmas Capers and Carols: The Whidbey Playhouse's youth theater troupe, the Would Be Players, presents "Christmas Capers and Carols" at 7pm Thursday and 2pm and 7pm Saturday at the Star Studio at the Whidbey Island locale at 730 SE Midway Blvd. Audiences will see what happens when Santa loses his Naughty and Nice List, listen to traditional carols, witness some dance and witness a production of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas go wrong. Tickets are $5 for kids and $10 for adults. more »

Bob’s Your Elf: Comedy and the holidays combine when Bob's Your Elf concludes this weekend with 7:30pm shows Thursday through Saturday at the Anacortes Community Theatre, 918 M Ave. The play focuses on an elf who's been banned from the North Pole and is ordered by Santa to learn a lesson or two about cooperating by others—via helping out a small town with the production of their annual Christmas pageant. Tickets are $18. more »

Mary and Joseph: Playwright Tim Greger's Serial Killers-winning play, Mary and Joseph: A Bible Story, returns as a full-length production continuing this weekend with shows at 7:30pm Thursday through Sunday at the iDiOM Theater, 1418 Cornwall Ave. The show features a modern take on the trials and tribulations of one young couple's unplanned immaculate conception. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door. more »

Deck the [Old City] Hall: Shop, sing, see Santa, enjoy dozens of decorated trees and enter to win a special "decked out' tree for your home at part of "Deck the [Old City] Hall" from 12-5pm every Thursday through Sunday through Dec. 28 at Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall, 121 Prospect St. Entry is free with museum admission. more »

Saving Christmas Town: Watch elves defend their territory from the "naughty and ominous" characters of Oogie Boogie Land at the Dance Studio's third annual performances of Saving Christmas Town at 7pm Thursday through Friday, 2pm and 7pm Saturday, and 2pm Sunday at Bellingham High School, 2020 Cornwall Ave. Tickets are $12 in advance at the Dance Studio or at the door. more »

Bellingham Folk Festival: Anna Schaad, Brian Bowers, Laurel Bliss, Clyde Curley, Coty Hogue, Kat Bula, Geof Morgan, Richard Scholtz, Lucas Hicks, Flip Breskin, Jenny Rose, Aaron Guest, Cayley Schmid, Jeff Lefferts, Melanie Flink, Norah McLaughlin, the Gallus Brothers, and Rattletrap Ruckus will be among the performers and instructors taking part in the Bellingham Folk Festival from 7-9pm Friday and 10am-9pm Saturday at the Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship, 1207 Ellsworth St. Prices vary for concerts and workshops. more »

Christmas Concert: Songs from the "Messiah" and other traditional holiday favorites can be heard at Shelter Bay Chorus Christmas concerts at 7:30pm Friday and 3pm Saturday in La Conner at the Shelter Bay Clubhouse, 1000 Shoshone Dr. Suggested donation is $10 at the door. more »

Home for the Holidays: The seasonal "Home for the Holidays" show can be seen at 8pm and 10pm every Friday and Saturday through December at the Upfront Theatre, 1208 Bay St. The improvised hilarity will focus on three characters and their arrival home for holiday get-togethers. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door. more »

Dancing for Joy’s Nativity: View the Nativity story told through the language of dance when Dancing for Joy presents performances of "Nativity: We Danced Our Best For Him" at 6:30pm Saturday and Sunday at the Mount Baker Theatre, 104 N. Commercial St. Dance styles will include jazz, lyrical, modern and ballet. Tickets are $12-$14. more »

Fairhaven Walking Club: Whether you’re looking to improve or compete, all are welcome at the weekly Fairhaven Walking Club led by Cindy Paffumi starting at 8am at various locations in Fairhaven. Walk routes and meeting places change from week to week. All paces are welcome. more »

Pancake Breakfast: Pancakes, French toast, biscuits and gravy, eggs, ham, sausage and more will be on the menu at a fundraising Pancake Breakfast from 8-11am at the Ferndale Senior Center, 1999 Cherry St. (next to Pioneer Park). Entry is $2.50 for kids and $6 for adults. more »

Lake Whatcom Hike: Join members of the Mount Baker Club for a 6.5-mile round trip North Lake Whatcom hike. Meet at 8:30am at Sunnyland Elementary to carpool, or meet at 9am at the trailhead. Dress for the weather, and bring a snack or lunch to eat at the turnaround point. more »

Holiday Centerpiece Party: Attend an all-ages "Kid's Holiday Family Centerpiece Party" at 9am at the Garden Spot Nursery, 900 Alabama St. Entry is $30 and includes all supplies, as well as milk and treats. Please sign up in advance. more »

Shop & Sip at BelleWood Acres: A "Shop & Sip" event takes place this weekend from 10am-5pm Saturday and Sunday at BelleWood Acres, 6140 Guide Meridian. Christmas cookie decorating for kids, a bonfire and s'more bar, live music and more will be part of the fun. Visit with Santa from 1-5pm, and take horse-drawn sleigh bell trolley rides from 2-5pm ($7 with hot cider, $10 with brandy and mulled cider). more »

Community Meal: Glazed ham, scalloped potatoes, mixed veggies, green salad, bread and Christmas cookies will be on the menu at the bimonthly Community Meal from 10am-12pm at the United Church of Ferndale, 2034 Washington St. Per usual, entry is free and open to all. more »

Adult Acting Class: Nello Bottari leads a free "Adult Acting" class from 10am-1pm at the Anacortes Community Theatre, 918 M Ave. The monthly gathering features scripted scenes and a variety of acting games, with a different topic each month. (Classes are independent, so you don't have to commit to every session.) more »

Final Bellingham Farmers Market: Attend the final Bellingham Farmers Market of the year from 10am-3pm at the Depot Market Square, 1100 Railroad Ave. Monthly markets will happen in the new year on Jan. 17, Feb. 21 and March 21 before opening up on a weekly basis in April. more »

Coast Salish Winter Festival: Find unique handcrafted gifts created and sold by Lummi community members at the fourth annual Coast Salish Winter Festival happening from 10am-5pm at Ferndale's Lummi Gateway Center, 4920 Rural Ave. more »

Santa Book Signing: The big fella in red will sign copies of Santa is Coming to Bellingham from 11am-12pm at Village Books, 1200 11th St. In the book, Santa has loaded up his sleigh and, with the help of one red-nosed reindeer, will soar over rooftops in Bellingham neighborhoods, including Birchwood, York, Silver Beach, Happy Valley and, of course, Fairhaven. Those who visit can also expect a treat. more »

Fish Hatchery Tours: In conjunction with the return of bald eagles to the Skagit River watershed system, volunteer guides will provide free tours from 11am-3pm every Saturday and Sunday through Feb. 1 at the Marblemount Fish Hatchery, 8319 Fish Hatchery Rd. Tours start inside the visitor's center and proceed outdoors. Sturdy footwear is recommended. Entry is free. more »

Christmas Cross: Bellingham BMX and Cascade Cross present their monthly "Winter Cross" 5K cross-country race, "Christmas Cross," at noon at Bellingham BMX's headquarters at 5022 Guide Meridian (just north of Kelly Road and south of Smith Road). There is limited parking, so carpool if possible. Entry is $10 (cash) onsite. Costumes are encouraged. more »

Carols and Lunch: Light finger foods and refreshments will be served at a "Haynie Opry Christmas Carols and Lunch" event starting at noon at Blaine's Haynie Grange, 3144 Haynie Rd. Matt Audette and the Circle of Friends Band will provide the songs of the season. Tickets are $15 in advance or at the door. more »

Carriage Rides: Horse-drawn carriage rides with Creamer Classics and visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus will take place from 12-3pm at the Fairhaven Village Inn, 1200 10th St. The festivities are free and open to all. more »

The Innkeeper’s Christmas: The Skagit Valley Lutheran Cluster presents Taproot Theatre's The Innkeeper's Christmas at 2pm at Mount Vernon's Lincoln Theatre, 712 S. First St. The play re-frames the first Christmas, "drawing laughter and insight from the unexpected ways God alters expectations." Tickets are $20. more »

Used Book Sale: If you're looking to do some last-minute Christmas shopping, the Friends of the Everson Library will host a Used Book Sale from 2-5pm at the Everson Library, 104 Kirsch Dr. Sales will support programs and services at the book hub. more »

Library Tours: Adults and school-age children can show up for "Behind the Scenes" tours at 2pm, 3:30pm, 4pm and 5:30pm starting at the SkillShare Space at the Bellingham Public Library, 210 Central Ave. Attendees can visit the library's hidden fourth floor, take a peek inside the "book hospital" and much more. Entry is free. more »

Solstice Celebration: Carolers, hot cider and cookies, carriage rides, visits from Santa and a craft fair will be part of a Solstice Celebration from 2-6pm at Boundary Bay Brewery, 1107 Railroad Ave. The all-ages event is free. more »

Lighted Boat Parade: Bundle up and head outside along the Guemes Channel to get a better view of the beauty at a Lighted Boat Parade starting at 4:30pm in Anacortes at Cap Sante Boat Haven, 1019 Q Ave. If inclement weather cancels the parade, an alternate course might happen inside Cap Sante Marina. more »

Line Dancing Classes: Western Line Dancing classes are offered at 6pm (beginners) and 7pm (intermediates) every Friday night at Lynden’s Ten Mile Grange, 6958 Hannegan Rd. No experience or partner is needed. Cost is $5 per class. more »

Drag Show Auditions: All identities and skill levels can audition for Western Washington University Queer Resource Center's annual Drag Show from 6-8pm at Viking Union 462. Performances may include dancing, lip-syncing, and more. more »

Radio Christmas: The Midnight Mystery Players bring two holiday radio shows to the public at a 7pm performance at the Encore Room at the Mount Baker Theatre, 104 N. Commercial St. Audiences will be treated to live recordings (with sound effects) of Charles' Dickens' A Christmas Carol and a preview of Dancing Dan's Christmas. Admission is $5. more »

Winter Wonderland: Day to Day Dance presents a "Winter Wonderland" performance at 7pm at the Blaine Performing Arts Center, 975 H St. The "journey" will focus on the Snow Queen Allegra as they encounter many joyful winter adventures. Tickets to the all-ages show are $3 for kids and $8 for adults. more »

Christmas Concert: Performers from the Lynden Music Festival will sing a variety of holiday songs at a Christmas Concert from 7-9pm at Bethel Christian Reformed Church, 1105 Liberty St. Entry is free and open to all. more »

Not So Silent Night Caroling: The Good Time Girls will team up with iDiOM Theater for the fourth annual "Not So Silent Night" caroling pub crawl starting at 7pm at four locales in downtown Bellingham—Redlight, Casa Que Pasa, the Star Club, and the Real McCoy. Carolers—as many as 100—will split up into teams and compete to raise money for Lydia Place. Tickets to the 21-and-over event are $35 and include drinks and a caroling booklet. Event participants will get to choose their team and starting location on a more »

The Nutcracker: Northwest Ballet Theatre concludes its run of performances of the seasonal holiday ballet The Nutcracker at 7:30pm Saturday and 2pm Sunday at Mount Vernon's McIntyre Hall, 2501 E. College Way. Northwest Ballet Theater has performed the production since 1999. This year, with growing community support, the company has been able to create an even more elaborate production than ever before. Tickets are $24-$35. more »

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