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 18


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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

Holiday Songs: Celebrate the holidays with songs performed by the Kendall Elementary School Student Choir at a free concert at 12:30pm in Maple Falls at the North Fork Library, 7506 Kendall Rd. more »

Holiday Jazz with Scot Raney: Pianist and composer Scot Raney explores popular holiday and Christmas music in a variety of styles at a Brown Ban "Holiday Jazz Concert" at 12:30pm at Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall, 121 Prospect St. Suggested donation is $3. more »

Hershey Book Signing: Bellingham-based author Sheryl Hershey will present and the first her series of children's books, Lila and the Dandelion, at a book signing from 4-6:30pm at Barkley Village's Dorothy Haggen Building, the Dorothy Haggen building in Barkley Village, 2211 Rimland Dr. Local artist Michael Marshall—who illustrated the book—will also be on hand to sign copies. more »

The Lights of Christmas: View festive holiday displays both outdoors and indoors at the annual "The Lights of Christmas" event from 5-10pm Thursday through Tuesday in Stanwood at the 15-acre Warm Beach Camp, 20800 Marine Dr. In addition to the more than one million lights that will be lit up, there will be activities for kids, live entertainment, music, dinner theater, holiday shopping and more. Tickets are $10-$15. The fun continues Dec. 26-30. (Dec. 29-30 are pay-what-you-can nights.) more »

Poetry Writing Group: Meet other writers who can help you get organized, give feedback and help you with your writing goals at a Poetry Writing Group meeting from 5:30-7pm at Village Books, 1200 11th St more »

Dinner Theater: It's A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play can be seen at dinner theater performances at 6pm Thursday through Saturday at the annual "Lights of Christmas" event at Stanwood's Warm Beach Camp, 20800 Marine Dr. Tickets are $39-$48 and include a five-course meal. A dessert theater matinee takes place at 4pm Sunday. Tickets are $24 (includes admission to the light displays). more »

Cantabile of Skagit Valley: Sacred and secular works can be heard when the 20 vocalists of Cantabile of Skagit Valley present a free Christmas concert at 6pm at the Mount Vernon City Library, 315 Snoqualmie St. more »

All That Holiday Jazz: The Jazz Project’s Bellingham Youth Jazz Band presents "All That Holiday Jazz!" at 7pm at the Firehouse Performing Arts Center, 1314 Harris Ave. Suggested donation at the door is $5-$10; proceeds will go to preserving the Firehouse PAC as a community performing arts center. more »

Winter Concert: Celestial Voices (ladies) and Bellingham Boys’ Choir present their Winter Concert at 7pm at Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship, 1207 Ellsworth St. Enjoy works by John Rutter, Randall Thompson, and local composer and arranger Scott Henderson. David Post directs. Admission is $5 at the door. more »

Pie School: Author and baker Kate Lebo returns to Bellingham to share recipes from her new book Pie School: Lessons in Fruit, Flour, and Butter at 7pm at the Book Fare Cafe at Village Books, 1200 11th St. Lebo will discuss her techniques for creating delicious fruit-based pies, while also demonstrating how to make a pie at the café. A hot beverage will be served with a delicious pie sample. Tickets are $5. more »

Folk Dance Party: Learn Balkan, Israeli, Romani and Greek dancing with the Fourth Corner Folk Dancers from 7-10pm every Thursday at the Fairhaven Library, 1117 12th St. Suggested donation is $5 (first-time visitors and students are free). more »

Sweaters and Beer: Wear your most horrific Christmas sweater and sample Menace Brewing's newest beer—the Ugly Sweater Winter Ale—at an "Ugly Sweater Winter Beer Release Party" from 7-11pm at the Local, 1427 Railroad Ave. more »

Fourth Corner Folk Dancers: Learn Balkan folk dances with the Fourth Corner Folk Dancers from 7:15-10:15pm every Thursday at the Fairhaven Library, 1117 12th St. All ages are welcome, and no partner is necessary. Suggested donation is $5; first-time visitors and students are free. more »

GOOD, BAD, UGLY: Watch “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” at 8pm every Thursday at the Upfront Theatre, 1208 Bay St. At 10pm, stick around for “The Project.” Entry is $7 for the early show, $4 for the late one. more »

Coldsmoke Winter Film Tour: Watch an action-paced evening of short-form winter culture films as part of the Coldsmoke Winter Film Tour starting at 9pm at the Pickford Film Center, 1318 Bay St. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door. Each attendee will receive a two-for-one lift ticket to Montana's Big Sky Resort. more »

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