Before we could get to Seattle, though, terrorism struck. Well, sort of. This was the day that the UPS exploding toner cartridge plot was blown wide open, and we watched it all unfold on CNN while we flew from San Fran (on Virgin America, who not only has seatback TVs with live feeds but also inflight wifi and a power outlet at every seat. Nice. I’m flying back to LA on Virgin America as I type this. Will this get me free flights? Stay tuned!). It turns out that the bombs were made by the same guy who featured heavily in some of Chris’ Q&A anecdotes; Ibrahim Hassan Tali’ al-Asiri had turned his own brother into a bomb in an attempt to kill a Saudi prince. The bomb was a suppository device, shoved up the bomber’s ass; everything would have worked if the bomber had exploded in a hard room, whose walls would have bounced the energy of the explosion about, creating carnage. Instead he blew up inside a tent, which dispersed the energy and led to the top half of the bomber zooming upwards like a bottle rocket.
Cabbing in from the airport we were taken with just how high up the highways seem to be. The road floats far above the city and the water, taking you directly over a big old valley. We finally made it to the Hotel Deca, which was right across the street from the Neptune Theater, which had this amazing marquee:
But that wasn’t our theater. We were at the Varsity, around the corner. There was no time to explore, though - Chris was due to speak to the local press. I did publicist duty, waiting in the lobby to meet with arriving journos, which was weird for me since I’m usually the arriving journo. But it was great to get a different point of view on the whole process. Chris continued being tireless, baffling me as I barely kept awake enough to write a little.
The screening was at midnight, so we had some time to kill. Tim had been doing lots of research on places to eat in each of the towns we visited, and our destination was super-hip How To Cook A Wolf, an Ethan Stowell restaurant named after the MFK Fischer book. We had heard there could be wait times of an up to an hour, and the hostess took Tim’s cell phone number saying she would call us when the table was ready. In the meantime she directed us to another establishment down the road to have a drink. It was a restaurant as well.
“You’re sending us to another restaurant?” Chris said. “Bold.”
That hour long wait was mythological, though. No sooner had we each ordered a pint at the restaurant’s bar than Tim’s phone rang. “That’s what always happens,” the bartender told us.
After finishing the beers we headed back to How To Cook A Wolf where I had one of the best meals of my life. We ordered a number of entrees to share, ranging from seared tuna to one long octopus tentacle. My life was changed by the gnocchi, though, and there was a chocolate chip dessert that just sent me through the roof. Of course all the wine didn’t hurt. We stayed there for a couple of hours, getting slightly torqued and goofing around. I wonder how the table next to us took our discussion of the existential nature of memory-erasing date rape drugs?
[caption id=“attachment_2213” align=“aligncenter” width=“568” caption=“Tim League and Chris Morris enjoy their meal at How To Cook A Wolf”]
When dinner was finished (much to our waiter’s relief, for some reason), we met up with Kayvan at a bar not far from the theater. It was the Friday before Halloween and everyone was done up in their costumes; Seattle was cold but that didn’t keep the girls from wearing next to nothing. Kayvan was bushed after a long day of work, and he actually fell asleep at the table as Tim, Chris and I all discussed the Harry Potter books (did you ever suspect that Chris Morris would be a Potter fan? He dropped all sorts of Potter references throughout the tour). At one point Kayvan grabbed my phone and took a picture of his ‘confused face’ (a joke from the film) and made that my wallpaper. It’s still there.
Finally the time had come to hit the theater. I won’t lie - it was a small turnout. A midnight screening on the Friday before Halloween is a tough one to fill, but the crowd was incredibly enthusiastic. There were a number of people who follow me at the screening, and it was nice to put some faces and handshakes to names (and message board handles).
[caption id=“attachment_2214” align=“aligncenter” width=“568” caption=“Kayvan Novak's confused face (and now my iPhone wallpaper).”]
The next day was a later start, but that didn’t mean we did much sight seeing. Instead we ended up at the coffee place across the street, Trabant Coffee & Chai, where a really long and great conversation about religion went down. The topics ranged from Islam to the idea of a guerilla warrior Christ, with plenty of stops at Mormonism and gnosticism along the way. Sitting down to talk with Chris Morris can be intimidating but the reality is that he doesn’t wield his intelligence like a weapon.
Chris also has a natural journalist quality to him; he asks lots of questions, and not because he’s trying to trip you up. He’ll ask about you, your beliefs, where you read something that you’re talking about, what it means to you, and on and on. Chris is a voracious reader, and he always seems interested in a new book recommendation. And then of course he’s hilarious, so there’s that side of it; a good, smart conversation about the history of religion is only made better when it’s also laugh out loud funny.
And so we took our leave of Seattle. The most touristy thing I had done was look out my hotel room window at the Space Needle; on the way to the airport Chris ended up in a long dialog with our cab driver, who was a Palestinian. He loved the TV show Friends and lived alone in what, to me, sounded like a really dreary existence. It was kind of fascinating listening to this guy explaining things to Chris about the Middle East that the director already knew very well, but Chris always allowed the cabbie to tell his story. I think that there was something about listening to how other people explained things he knew that interested Chris - it can be just as telling hearing someone say something familiar as something new.
[caption id=“attachment_2215” align=“aligncenter” width=“568” caption=“Trabant Coffee & Chai served us in these Halloween-themed mugs.”]
Next up: Washington DC, Halloween dinner with an ex-CIA agent, the Exorcist steps, tourist junk and two more screenings