Posts Tagged ‘Tacoma

Some Quiz Nights in Tacoma


Monday, August 22nd, 2011

Quiz night! Have other words inspired such confidence or fear in the hearts of men? Quiz night! Where people compete in the grueling, debilitating world of ideas and the alcohol flows and everyone pools their remaining nickels for a quarter-order of tater tots. Quiz night! The time where your friends prove to be the best friends in the whole world or losers.

Quiz nights at The Swiss (1904 Jefferson Ave, Tacoma 98402) are on Tuesdays beginning at 7:00 p.m. and ending at 9 p.m.  Entering, one feels the magic of a bar that has the space of a bar, restaurant, concert stage and pool hall. This is a place you can actually hang out.  The gin & tonics ($4.25 post-tax) are strong enough and the rotating beer selection compliments the flavor of salt; useful for the post-quiz-cry into your beer. Quizmaster Joe strikes up a friendly, affable atmosphere and walks the competitors through five rounds; general knowledge and the picture round being the bookends of the night. The other three rounds are variable, but there is a strong rotation of movies, cars, computers and terrible, horrible song lyrics. The prize is the pool of money created by the $2 entrance fee. The team maximum is 7 people. Bring as many as you can. Many teams enter, one team leaves…with the all of the money.

Quiz nights at Doyle’s Public House (208 St. Helens Ave, Tacoma 98402) begins at 8 p.m. and ends at 10 p.m on Wednesday nights. The bar is a large-one room with a concert stage which began to see use as I left. Some people really like Doyle’s. Some people don’t. There are two rounds, each beginning at the top of the hour. The gin & tonic ($5.00 post-tax) had the taste of lightly spiced water. Many people would consider this a good drink, alas, I ordered, “the welliest well G&T you can possibly well-up from the well.” Perhaps I am too picky to be comfortable in new places, but Quizmaster Russ is the warmest and friendly presence in a relatively warm and friendly place. The quiz itself was an interesting mix of logic puzzles, word puzzles, and current events in Republican gaffes. There was no cover charge. Later that night, I heard that reward was shots.

If the quiz night at The Swiss is rooted in the gnostic priesthood of Voltron and carburetors, and Doyle’s quiz night replicates the genteel atmosphere of 1700’s French cafes, the quiz night at the Office (813 Pacific Ave, Tacoma 98402) is the closest thing to a dystopic communistic treasure hunt I’ve ever seen. The quiz begins at roughly 7 p.m. and ends at about 9 p.m on Thursday evenings. The Office glows from laminated wood floors, basks in brick-hued walls and is primarily lit by television’s warm glowing warming glow. The place is loud and crowded and everyone seemed to have at least three empty glasses in front of them. My gin & tonic ($4.25 post-tax) took about 15 minutes to arrive. Quizmaster Chris struggled bravely against his mike and the non-quizzers. He lost (and while we’re here, shout-out to the guy who kept yelling, “NEEEERDS!” You captured the spirit of our internal debate about whether we should list characters only from a specific Star Trek series to anyone from the Star Trekverse), but every team walked away a winner. With a $2 cover charge, every round has a cash prize ($20-$40) and occasionally, swag. Every round (word scramble, star trek/star wars, Seahawks, word scramble) resulted in a tie and divided treasure between the teams. After the best people in the world and I came down with acute cases of deafness, blindness, sudden-empty-wallet syndrome, we left.

Have a quiz in the Seattle-Tacoma area you think I should go to? Contact me at with suggestions and details!

A letter to a UPS freshman


Friday, August 19th, 2011

My dearest M.,

You are off to college, soon to become a real adult. I am sad you are leaving your home of many years, to make the arduous trek across 21st street.

I hope you are not over burdened with the responsibilities and obligations that one must tend to as a college student: attending your weekly frat party, socializing with these strange “loggers”, purchasing unknown texts, and learning to navigate a foreign land referred to vaguely as “UPS.”

I would feel tremendous regret if I were to send you on your way without passing on some sort of affectionate, heavy handed advice, so please listen to my words with care:

The first humanoids you meet at college… well, they’re not real people. You will feel compelled to cling to them in excitement, and sadly, I must advise you follow your urge to befriend them (or be forever known as the anti-social creep), but understand that six months after you settle in they will disappear, and you will be happier for it.

Try many things! You will attend five extracurricular clubs in the first month, and meet many other humanoid creatures. This is a fine experience one must go through to build character. But then you will settle into some fine place like a library or a “SUB” and you will find eating french fries with friends to be the better course.

Your intelligence will serve you well, as will your aptitude for books. However, doing all the reading is not what it takes to succeed. You must speak! Be brave and audacious and dare to speak your mind! The professors at this “UPS” establishment are rumored to care much for this sort of nonsense, and so you must embrace the habit enthusiastically.

Be nice to the campus cat. It will bring you luck.

But most of all, keep in touch! I shall miss you terribly, and even though you will be off adventuring wonderful adventures, check in from time to time. I am eager to receive news of your upcoming excitements, accomplishments, struggles and surprises, and I wish you all the best for the coming years.

Affectionately yours,

The Melon Revamped: Ripe & Juicy in 2011


Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

After a year of inactivity, The Melon is back on track with fresh articles, fresh writers mixed with some of the originals.  Electric Elliot Trotter continues to be the force behind The Melon and Chris “The Wedge” Van Vechten has returned to write.  Both were the original founders of The Melon and genius behind what we have today.

Jen Drake, a contributing author brought on by Elliot and Chris (and who later married the stated Van Vechten), took a hiatus from The Melon to focus on her career and is now back in force  to be Editor-in-Chief and with her has come 25 (and growing) new writers, varying in interests, hobbies, location, and looks.

The Melon has been a voice for Tacoma and abroad in the past and will continue to be so in the future.

The Melon is a forum/community for individualized insights, discussion and enlightenment. Our goal is to empower, inform and inspire.

First planted in 2007 as a news and political talk radio show deemed The Melon on KUPS 90.1FM Tacoma, the seeds of melon have grown into an electro-rag of the same name. Since 2008, The Melon serves as the home of the Melonites who deliver daily news ripenings and various seedlings. For news, opinion, art, discussion and satire that’s good enough to eat, taste The Melon.

Our writers will share their insightful views, and we will continue to be ready, ripe, and juicy as ever.

End Education Without Representation


Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

Recently the Tacoma Urban League hosted an education forum which, from an objective perspective, was flawed for a number of reasons, not the least of which included the fact that the moderator had already publically endorsed one particular candidate on stage, who just so happened to be positioned in a seasaw rotation that always gave him the benefit of hearing what three other school board candidates had to say about a particular issue before delivering his own well-crafted answer. But such gimmicks are routine to modern political theatre and hardly worthy of the first Melon article to be published by this writer in more than a year.

No, what made this forum truly upsetting for me was the response to a question offered by a 17 year old member of the audience, asking if any of the candidates would support lowering the voting age to allow students to participate in school board elections. The audience immediately erupted into laughter. The moderator, upon regaining his composure and wiping away a tear, turned to the candidates on stage and with a smile on his face and voice in his throat that somehow simultaneously seemed amused and nervous, said “do any of you wanna answer that?” An awkward pause followed, the candidates looked at each other, and again, the audience broke out into uncontrolled hysterics.

I could not believe what I was watching. Here was a sincere and valid argument for political enfranchisement from a politically aware American citizen, asked at a candidate forum sponsored by the Urban League (a national civil rights organization) and all but a few people in the room seemed to believe that this question even deserved an answer. Not even incumbent school director Kim Golding offered her opinion on this subject, despite the fact that for the past 6 years she has sat next to a dozen student representatives on the school board; representatives who, despite their age, inexperience, and lack of a vote, are nonetheless often able to contribute to board meetings by providing insight and perspective to a board whose youngest director is more than twice their age.

I have often lectured and lambasted people and policies that conflict with my belief that students should not be prevented from reaching their natural stages of maturity and, ultimately, adulthood. While America’s aging adolescents cheer that “40 is the new 20” America’s teenagers and now “tweenagers” continue to long for the day when they can stop studying (and paying for the privilege) and start proving themselves as capable adults. But there is one truth I cannot ignore.

While 16-year-olds have historically served as soldiers, bore children, and worked full-time jobs, there is no precedent (that I’m aware of at least) for them participating as enfranchised members of any democracy (though a few, like King Tut & Louis XIV who were absolute monarchs before hitting puberty). But then again, women’s sufferage was also unprecedented in the annals of democracy, and now we live in an age of serious female contenders for the White House.

This past year, Washington’s courageous young State Senator, the Honorable Scott White, heroically responded to constituents who work, pay taxes, largely drive national trends and styles and – in a select few cases – found multibillion dollar internet startups, but are then laughed at when they ask for a say in the administration of their schools. Senate Bill 5621 would lower the voting age in school board races to 14 for students currently enrolled in their school district. The bill quickly died in committee last year, and probably will not pass next year because the budget crisis will likely eclipse all other concerns.

However, given the economic woes of our school district, and past failures to pass bonds and even a levy back in 2007, it would seem to me that enfranchising those who are supposed to most directly benefit from this tax revenue would be a no-brainer for our school board members.

As to concerns that high schoolers cannot make mature, rational decision in the voting booth (if, in fact, we still had voting booths in Washington) the results from Tuesday’s Primary should prove, yet again, that neither maturity nor rationality has ever been a prerequisite to eligibility. In one school board race, 12.74% of the electorate voted for Betsy Elgar, a candidate who identified her priorities in the voter guide as “Saving the US Military Bases in our US Territories and Foss High School.” In another race, 20.36% voted for Kim Washington, even after she tried to get her name pulled from the ballot and did nothing as a candidate beyond submitting a picture and brief statement for the voter guide. Her numbers were enough to put her in second place, ahead of the competent incumbent and active candidate: Kim Golding. The fact that she was the only Black female in the race may explain her numbers, or perhaps the voters were confused by two “Kim”s on the ballot.  However, the fact that Kim Washington’s numbers require explanation prove that her victory was not rational.

Speaking of Education… A Look into Andrew Milton


Monday, August 15th, 2011

Andrew Milton and his family

Andrew Milton and his family

When asked about who, amongst all fictional characters, Andrew Milton would want to be, he replied “the John Cusack character in Gross Point Blank… Martin Blank. (That’s bad though, he’s an assassin.)” Certainly his assassin traits were not the ones Milton wanted to emulate.   “[John Cusack] is a funny, calm, but rather independent actor who gets to be in charge on his own terms.”

These characteristics that Milton admires in Cusack are the ones he strives to bring out in himself. He doesn’t see himself as a politician (“I don’t like politics per se”), he is a person who is working to stand up for teachers.

With the last 41 years, one way or another, being involved in schools Milton has a “teacher’s sense.” Working right now as an 8th grade language arts teacher, he views part of the  bureaucracy of his school district as a challenge for teachers. In his blog “Speaking of education” you can read about his concerns with programs like the Common Core, and how he worries that good ideas can turn into regulations poorly imposed.

“There are lots of mandates that come down. I would say be careful on how much we mandate and how we implement mandates,  ’cause if you mandate four different areas… eventually the teachers are like ‘how do I deal with that?” When comparing this to the possibility of “being in charge on his own terms,” Milton sees the later as an opportunity for himself (and all teachers) to do their work, and implement the larger ideas, in a way that works best for them.

In additional to public school teaching, Milton currently works at Troy University on Joint Base Lewis McChord, and in the past he spent time as a visiting professor at the University of Puget Sound. I asked him about the switch from UPS to teaching junior high. It was in part because he was working at UPS as a guest professor, in part because he didn’t want to move for another job, and in part because he thought he might make more of an impact in public schools.

“Actually I found that it is in some ways much more appealing – you really are contributing – even if just a small bit – it is easier to tell you are contributing to someone. UPS graduates are effective students by and large and are going to go be assertive, even aggressive, out in the world and are going to be fine… Students who maybe aren’t as effective actually need better teachers.”

To describe Milton’s commitment to helping people, particularly children, I would like to point out something about our meeting. I had not met Andrew Milton before this interview, and I recognized him more by the almost-four-year old boy he had told me would be coming with him than by his picture in my voter’s pamphlet. He had brought his son, Peter, with him because he agreed to meet me on short notice.

There is something very obvious about Peter: he is black, Milton and his wife are not. I did not need to ask (and I did not ask) whether or not Peter was adopted, but it came up in passing that he was and that he is originally from Atlanta. I did not ask about why Andrew and his family chose to adopt another child (he has two teenage children), but as I talked with Andrew about his life and his desires, he explained his philosophy: he supports specific work getting done for people – the process of meeting people’s needs.

It was hard for Milton to name just one charity, when asked, that he would give money to. He supports Children’s International, orphanages, someone he knows doing work in Thailand. Milton has gone on mission trips and helps out his local community through his church. He is passionate about making sure every child has what they need, to the point where he welcomed another child into his family to give him love and support.

And so, after years of commitment towards providing for children, time analyzing challenges that face schools on his blog, the desire to stand up for teachers, and with a good sense of humor, Milton entered into the race for Tacoma School Board, position 3.

The fact is, not many people know what it’s like to run for office. Since filing, Milton has had the opportunity to learn what it means:

“You file for the office – to run for office – online. So I filled out the, you know, and there’s a submit button at the bottom. And I think I sat there for hours. I couldn’t click the submit button. So I finally clicked and I thought, ‘Where’s the back button!?’

“You’re out there trying to win approval from people. You spend your life raising up your children, raising up your students, saying ‘You shouldn’t … Don’t get thrown in with needing approval’ and here I am saying, won’t 51% of you approve me please?’ It’s stressful in that way.

“It’s been good exercise to face that not everyone’s going to vote for me, not everyone’s going to like me. It’s good exercise in facing that not everyone’s going to like you – and that’s okay.”

Milton handles the pressure by understanding his priorities. He explained how he went on a vacation for five days just three weeks before the primary. It was a family vacation they had planned since November, and while he now felt a lot of pressure to stay and campaign, he knew the race can’t be everything. “I only checked my e-mailed once while I was gone.”

Andrew Milton can work hard running for office, and he would like your vote, but that is not how he defines his life. Like John Cusack’s character Martin Blank, Milton wants to live his life on his own terms, and his terms have a lot more to them than being a politician. They are about spending time with his family and friends, and doing his best to sustain others’ needs.

10 fun facts about Andrew Milton:

  • At our meeting Andrew drank an iced mocha (Peter had kids hot cocoa with whip cream and sprinkles). Andrew doesn’t drink hot drinks! The last hot drink he had was in 1991 at a Yankee’s game.
  • He is right handed (Peter may be left handed).
  • His first job was delivering newspapers.
  • Football is his favorite sport.
  • Social studies was his favorite subject in school. Language arts is his favorite to teach (he likes poetry!).
  • He lives in the Westgate neighborhood.
  • He has a dog named Zach (called Zachy by Peter) who only has three legs. He has two cats, Lucy and Clark (Lucy is Peter’s favorite).
  • If he could be any fictional character, he would be the John Cusack character in Gross Point Blank.
  • The most exciting place he has ever been is New York City. The most unusual is Kazakhstan, where he went on a mission trip. He also went on a mission trip to Lithuania.
  • He supports many causes, but what is most important to people is “meeting people’s needs.”

  • Mayor Strickland State of the City Speech (Video)


    Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

    This past Monday January 31st, 2011, Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland delivered the first Tacoma State of the City speech since 1942 at the Tacoma – Pierce County Convention Center.

    Find out more at the TNT. Video below:

    Interview with Exquisite Disarray Winner Jeremy Halinen


    Friday, November 12th, 2010

    Tacoma’s Exquisite Disarray Publishing recently announced the winner of their First Book Poetry Contest – a competition in which poets were asked to send in their poetry manuscripts. What Other Choice is the title of, winner, Jeremy Halinen’s poetry book to be released at an event this Monday November 15th at 7pm in the Tacoma Public Library.

    The Melon’s Electric Elliot had the opportunity to site down with Jeremy and learn more about what makes such strong poetry.  Jeremy’s poems are considered to be very controversial by some. They have a willingness to brush up against graphic sexuality and experimentation with LSD without hesitation. Check out a poem by Jeremy below along with his two-part interview.

    Part One:

    Part Two:


    We used to drop acid
    and sit on the overpass
    to watch the dragon faces
    the cars would make at us
    as they raced
    beneath our dangling legs.
    Cars like it when you’re high enough
    above them to notice
    more than their surfaces.
    It’s the story of their exhaust
    they want you to care about,
    not their paint jobs
    or the treads
    on their tires. They want you to lean down
    and touch them.
    I know what you’re thinking.
    It’s dangerous,
    what we used to do. But
    the cars told us they’d catch us if we fell.
    You say, So what if they did?
    And you’re right.
    There’s always a catch.

    - from What Other Choice
    copyright © 2010 Jeremy Halinen

    The Call For Public Access Television in Tacoma


    Monday, October 18th, 2010

    Some times the best ideas come from the most unlikely of places. A month or so ago, I received an email from Tacoma’s most infamous City Council meeting personality, Robert “The Traveller” Hill. Emails from Robert are not new to anyone whose address he’s managed to get a hold of. Nor are phone calls with story ideas.  Needless to say, I usually glance through his emails, but don’t often find anything worth reporting on The Melon. The email in question was much the same as the others.

    “[Sep.21] current stautus on PUBLIC-ACCESS TELEVISION in Pierce county or Tacoma

    –The subject of Robert’s latest email. Robert’s email, which had a long list of media and city council recipients, recalled a conversation he had with City Council Member David Boe about how Boe had expressed interest in Public Access Television and further that:

    “[A]n active, citizen-led organization *has* to be in existence to administer to the station & studio.”

    Robert "The Traveller" Hill

    I knew Robert had been fighting for Public-Access Television in Tacoma for a long time. I remember long calls about its importance and about getting on board to help bring it to the public attention.

    “Email over some information and I’ll put something together,” I would say.

    “Okay, I will,” Robert would reply.

    But the information never came, and I never reported. This latest email was archived. Then, almost 10 days later, something miraculous happened. “RE: [Sep.21] current stautus on PUBLIC-ACCESS TELEVISION in Pierce county or Tacoma” read the subject. Someone from Robert’s long list of recipients had replied to his email, and what’s more, it wasn’t an “unsubscribe” demand. The email was from Robert Kam, Public Access Manager at TCTV – Thurston Community Television. Addressed to Councilmember Boe, Kam’s email reads as follows:

    “Dear Councilmember Boe,

    If you are on the fence about whether or not to start working toward a public access center in Tacoma just take a look at Olympia’s public access network.  Your humble neighbor to the south is producing live karaoke and dance programs, faith programs, social justice programs, candidate forums, parade coverage, beauty contests, mental health programs, etc. etc.  The list goes on and on.  Your city could benefit from such a rich local television diet.

    If you are wondering if the demand is there consider as soon as we opened our membership to people outside of Thurston county we had a flood of Pierce county residents going through our training program. I encourage you to speak in favor of a public access channel the next time the cable franchise is being negotiated.  I also encourage you to talk with click about the possibility of them providing one.

    To learn more about TCTV in Olympia go to our website,

    Robert Kam
    Public Access Manager
    TCTV – Thurston Community Television

    City Council Member David Boe

    Robert Hill had support. Real support from a proven system. Maybe it was the surprise of such a legitimate response to Robert’s call to action that sparked a realization in me, or maybe it was an abundance of warm feelings from eating too much dark chocolate, but I had realized something. Robert Hill was right.

    Public Access Television is a massive community builder, a wonderful creative outlet and an excellent opportunity to hone production skills. Like the abundance of local blogs promoting events, discussing news and sharing art, information and knowledge, TPA (Tacoma Public Access) could do the same while reaching new audiences and providing “live space” for person to person collaboration. Think of how many students could benefit from the video training opportunities (note: I do not personally find the linked video tasteful). TPA could be huge, especially for a city with some much local pride.

    As Robert Kam from TCTV in Olympia noted, not only does a public access system work, it is hugely popular among citizens. Up north in Seattle, SCANTV provides the same opportunities for students, community and creatives alike, boasting upwards of 150 active producers, three public-use editing stations,  equipment rentals, and an abundance of workshop opportunities. Until recently, all has been well at SCANTV, but 2011 budget announcements have placed SCAN in jeopardy.

    Enthused by Robert Kam’s response and a realization that “The Traveller” had perhaps been right all along, I sent a follow up email to Councilmember David Boe.  Here’s what I wrote (yes, I talk about The Melon a lot):

    “Councilmember Boe,

    I would like to help push the power of public access media. The gift you would help to provide to the people of Tacoma by offering an outlet for creativity, communication and information would be massive. What better way to celebrate the city of Tacoma than to celebrate the unique voices of its people?

    My community focused online magazine, The Melon (, produces a plethora of valuable content that has the potential to reach out to so many eyes who are unaware of some of the great events and people in our city. With public television, our service can bring information to tons of new eyes. Some examples:

    Imagine a channel that had the true beat of the Tacoma art scene, or provided a local politics discussion or a CLAW-centric cartooning show. All of these things are possible.

    With our vast experience and know-how, The Melon would be pleased in aid you and Tacoma in creating public access television for its citizens. Please help us to start the discussion. There’s so much creativity and interest blossoming in Tacoma, let’s give that community a new and important outlet to thrive.


    Elliot Trotter
    Creative Manager, The Melon

    How do we make Public Access Television a Reality in Tacoma?

    It’s pretty clear to me, (and in discussions) local filmmakers and educators that Tacoma could greatly benefit from Public Access Television. In fact, it’s essentially the law to have one, says a 1972 Supreme Court ruling which requires all cable systems to provide, at the request of the municipality, an access-channels for public use. Further, the rule was amended in 1976 to require those cable systems provide access to public use studios and equipment at the request of the municipality. [Source: Museum of Broadcast Communications]

    Yes, funding is an issue. Tacoma, like many cities in America, is fighting to weather an economic tornado, as the many empty storefronts downtown reflect. Perhaps some outside organization of angel investors, or a series of grants will aid in giving birth to TPA, but first it must be made clear that this is something we, the people of Tacoma, want.

    Petition for Public Access Television in Tacoma

    In order to show the Tacoma City Council that the citizens of Tacoma want Public Access Television to be on the agenda, we need to organize.  There’s already a facebook group with a small amount of support, but it’s important to communicate in ways that are more easily digestible. That is why we put together a petition. Our goal is to have 10,000 citizens sign our petition by February 11th (the birthday of great thinker and inventor Thomas Edison). We want 10,000 members of our community who agree that there’s value to a Public Access Station in Tacoma to help show the City Council that we want this to happen. This is Step 1. First we ignite the discussion. Then we pave the way.

    I ask that you please share this petition link. Share it with you friends and family. Share it with your fellow Tacomans. Let’s centralize this call.

    Petition Link:

    Starting the Discussion

    How do you think TPA would benefit Tacoma? How would you use it? Where can we find funding? Please help us seek these answers in the comments section below.

    Pecha Kucha 7 (Tacoma) – Stephanie Stebich


    Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

    Stephanie Stebich is Director of the Tacoma Art Museum and a downtown Tacoma resident.

    Pecha Kucha 7 (Tacoma) – Gretchen Bailey


    Tuesday, October 5th, 2010