Friday, September 7, 2012

The Finer Things

Instead of talking about how to win stuff, let's talk about the stuff itself.  I spent the Labor Day weekend enjoying prizes, rather than trying to earn more, so let's take a moment to bask in the glory of winning and what it affords the winner.

Ready Player One wrap up

Last week, Ernie Cline wrapped up his Ready Player One contest by giving away a DeLorean to Craig Queen on a webcast (see above).  Countering my fears, Craig was a legitimate Ready Player One fan who managed to break a video game record with little previous experience (although he did it on the Atari 2600 version; I still maintain breaking a record on an arcade console probably just wasn't going to happen).  But since this blog is about enjoying the finer things, take a look at Ernie's blog post with Craig enjoying his DeLorean in his home in Kentucky.  Clearly, Craig was never going to buy a DeLorean himself (nor, for that matter, would any rational person on a budget).  And he'll probably end up selling it eventually. But for a time, Craig gets to act out the role of 1980's 1%'er (hopefully minus the cocaine).  I love that.

The DNA is out of control

Theater for Life wrap up

Similarly, Seattle Rep gave away a lifetime pass to its plays to a random participant in its scavenger hunt a couple of weekends ago.  The winner, Joe Perez, probably would not be buying season tickets to the Rep for the next umpteen years, but now gets to hob nob with the theater subscribers from now until (one presumes) most of the rest of the 21st century.  Personally, this was one of the best, most fun events I've done this year, even though we didn't win a damn thing (unless you count a few soup mugs and some paper airplanes with Boeing Boeing printed on the sides).  The Seattle Center is a great location for a scavenger hunt:  big enough that it takes time to run around, and small enough that anyone can do it (plus you don't have to worry about crazed contestants jumping out into traffic).  If the Rep doesn't put on another one of these events, I hope one or some of the other Center residents does.  Imagine a hunt put on by Rat City Rollergirls + The Pacific Northwest Ballet.

[And I know I said I wasn't going to talk about how to win stuff, but here's one tip anyway:  the real deal at the Theater for Life Scavenger Hunt (as with many similar events) are the raffle prizes.  And the sooner you get there, the more chances your little tickets have to win prizes.  So show up early and stick around.  Most of the people who were there early seemed to win something; the Rep wisely had a food truck, free drinks, and activities (worth more raffle tickets) to keep people around, but even if they didn't, just bring a book.  I'm pretty sure those horseback riding lessons were worth an hour of waiting around.]

In the days before $55 tickets (also:  dig the banana seat!)

The Platinum Pass Experience

Courtesy of our Emerald City Search win, I had a pair of Bumbershoot Platinum Passes this year, as well as free parking (the prize pick of my wise wife).  I go to Bumbershoot every day of every year without fail, so I was going to attend anyway, but it was interesting to see what a Platinum Pass got you.  First of all, you get treated really well with the pass, particularly in the Gold/Platinum lounge (in the lobby of the Leo K theater in the Bagley Wright theater building).  The lounge has free food and snacks, air conditioning and good bathrooms, along with volunteers to explain everything to you.  And as I learned later in the festival, the snacks function as basically all the food you need.  On Sunday morning, my son and I had a whole brunch spread.  Later I enjoyed a Pig Iron barbecue meal, and a Vietnamese food buffet.  At other times you could get handmade ice cream or Trophy Cupcakes.  I spent a lot less on food at this Bumbershoot than before.

The other main thing the Platinum Pass gets you is freedom from (most) lines.  You can waltz into the mainstage at Key Arena, the Exhibition Hall, SIFF Cinema and all comedy shows (to be safe, you should show up 15 minutes in advance for all these except Key Arena, but most of the time it isn't a problem even if you're just a few minutes before the start of the show).  Because you get into the comedy shows, you don't have to stand in line for comedy passes (the line was particularly terrible this year).  On Sunday, I handed a Pass to my 12-year old son and he just went from comedy show to comedy show all day (Free-Range parenting at its best) and had a great time.

Other perks include a free poster, $25 of merchandise, and 2 drink tickets per day.  The drink tickets were the biggest disappointment, as they had to be used at the Bumbershoot beer gardens, which feature the worst liquor choices known to man (Bud, Bud Light, Barefoot Wines, Stoli...).  The only good beverage I had at a beer garden was the local tonic water I had in a vodka and tonic; I only found this tonic water at one of the gardens.  The beer gardens can have long lines, which your Platinum Pass will not help you bypass.  You can bypass the lines by going to the 'exclusive' club in Key Arena, but you can't use your drink tickets there, and the beverage choices are the same execrable choices at the Bumbershoot beer gardens.

If you want to drink at Bumbershoot, you should get beer or wine at the Armory (the new/old name for the Center House), which has a spruced up food court with choices like Skillet Counter, MOD pizza, and Eltana bagels.  If you go to Quincy's, you can take your beer out on the porch and listen if not exactly see the band at the Fisher Green stage.  Bonus:  the Armory food is a bit overpriced normally, but at Bumbershoot it is a veritable bargain (especially MOD pizza), a fact that most people figured out by Monday, which caused the food court to be mobbed at dinner time.

Still, the real solution here is for Bumbershoot to step up its beer garden game, just like the (former) Center House has done.  Get rid of the Orange Julius (Bud) and bring in the Skillet Counter (insert your favorite local microbrewery), at least for a couple of the beer gardens.

Hmmm.  I seem to have gone off on a tangent.  Back to the theme:  A Bumbershoot Platinum Pass makes you feel like a member of the 1%, particularly in the lounge.  If you spend most of your time at comedy, mainstage, or film shows, it may be worth it.  But if you spend most of your time watching outdoor shows, it probably isn't.

Also, looking at what a Gold Pass gets you, it seems if you're willing to buy one of these, you might as well buy a Platinum Pass.  Unless you're really into the mainstage shows, I suppose.


(italics = new since last time)
  • Rebel Without a Cog/Vagina Monocogs - September 7-8.  Alleycat + Time Trial + Lap race for single speed bikes only.  Unicycles count.  I totally want to see a unicyclist win this thing.
  • Orienteering Course Design Class - September 8, Lynndale Park.  Here's a class on designing orienteering courses, put on by Cascade Orienteering Club.  If you end up designing a course, you will definitely get a free entry or two (or three).  So have at it, cheapskate orienteering fanatics.  The fact that it's being held at a park makes it likely there will be some hands-on work assigned.
  • Eastside Photo Scavenger Hunt - September 9, Bellevue.  In a photo scavenger hunt, you take pictures of the items instead of hauling them around (which would be problematic if you had to get that statue of Kemper Freeman).
  • Hood Hunt Phinney Ridge - September 12.  The Hood Hunt is turning two!  But it is not terrible!  Like a Street Scramble, but absolutely free.  Print out your own map (that's one way they keep it free).
  • Choose Your Own Adventure #4 - September 15, Woodland Park.  It's National Orienteering Day, so get out there.  If you've never orienteered before, this is the event for you.  It's Woodland Park, so there are woods (duh), but you can't really get lost in them (just follow the traffic noise to Aurora or the sporty yelling to the ballfields).  Also, off-leash dogs, lawn bowling, and maybe a few bunnies.  Mass start at 11:15am.
  • Oyster Urban Adventure Race - September 15.  They also put on an outdoor adventure race in Bend, Oregon.
  • Redonkulous Scavenger Hunt - September 15, Seattle Center.  Sounds like an honest-to-goodness scavenger hunt.  First prize is a longboard (that's a type of skateboard, grandpa), but you don't actually have to know how to skateboard to compete.
  • Keen Urban Playground Scavenger Hunt - September 15, Olympia.  This, on the other hand, sounds like one of those Amazing Race kind of things, rather than a scavenger hunt.  Papa needs a new pair of sandals!
  • Urban Goose Chase - September 15.  Apparently September 15 is national scavenger hunt/urban adventure race day and nobody told me.
  • San Juan Island Quest - September 22.  12 or 24 hour adventure race.  Mountain biking, foot and (quelle surprise!) kayaking will be involved.
  • Choose Your Own Adventure Alleycat - September 22.  Bike racing as a fundraiser for more bike racing!  I can get behind that.
  • Fremont Oktoberfest Street Scramble - September 23.  Course design by yours truly.  I'm halfway done, and it's already awesome.
  • Three15er Rogaine - September 29-30, Naches. 4 hours, 9 hours, or 24 hours in the forests of the Cascades.  Note that the 24-hour race is the actual, honest to goodness North American Rogaining Championships.  Probably won't show up on Wide World of Sports, though.
  • First Thursday Adventure Run - October 4, Green Lake.  Last time, I actually won something!  But the $1 beers would probably keep me coming anyway.

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