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Seattle Explored

A new comic novel pokes fun at Seattle and its residents. We’ll settle in on Seattle.

The top of the Space Needle sports a new coat of orange, called "galaxy gold" when it first appeared 50 years ago atop the structure, as part of the landmark's 50th anniversary celebration Monday, April 23, 2012, in Seattle. The Space Needle, 605 feet tall, officially opened on the first day of the World's Fair April 21, 1962. (AP)

The top of the Space Needle sports a new coat of orange, called “galaxy gold” when it first appeared 50 years ago atop the structure, as part of the landmark’s 50th anniversary celebration Monday, April 23, 2012, in Seattle. The Space Needle, 605 feet tall, officially opened on the first day of the World’s Fair April 21, 1962. (AP)

Maria Semple is a very funny lady.  She wrote for Arrested Development, for Mad About You, for Saturday Night Live, for Ellen.  Now she’s writing about Seattle.  She’s got a big comic novel out with all kinds of family craziness.  But the setting is deep Seattle.  The Emerald City, locals call it.  Oz.

We think of Seattle as the heart of coolness.  Cool, coffee, grunge, mountains.  She’s got a tougher take.  Stinging.  Wickedly funny.  A send-up.

This hour, On Point:  we’ve got Maria Semple and a great crew out of the Emerald City to settle in, with affection and a cocked eye, on Seattle.

-Tom Ashbrook


Maria Semple, author of the new book Where’d You Go, Bernadette.

Dan Savage, writes the Savage Love sex advice column. He’s the editorial director of Seattle’s alternative weekly, “The Stranger”

Knute Berger, editor at large and columnist for Seattle Magazine.

Jon Stone, executive director of Seattle’s annual Bumbershoot music and arts festival.

From Tom’s Reading List

The Stranger “And boy does Fox hate it here in the “dreary upper-left corner.” She hates that her husband loves it so much, has become a “bike-riding, Subaru-driving, Keen-wearing alter ego” of his old self. She seethes over the five-way intersections and bucolic drivers, and the simple fact that she lives in a state that borders Idaho. She rages against the homeless people with a snotty, entitled air of wealth (“Why does every beggar have a pit bull?”). ”

New York Times “Maria Semple made an instant, jarring discovery when she moved with her boyfriend and daughter from Los Angeles to Seattle, a city whose Patagonia-clad inhabitants like to talk about bicycling, the environment and the eternally dull question (in her opinion) of whether it might rain.”

Seattle Times “If you’re one of a long line of people waiting for your library copy of Maria Semple’s hilarious new novel “Where’d You Go, Bernadette,” which sends up Seattle’s new rich like nothing else, console yourself while you wait by viewing this “book trailer” (for the uninitiated, a “book trailer,” like a movie trailer, is a short advertisement for an upcoming book).”

Excerpt: Where’d You Go, Bernadette


North by Northwest – Blue Scholars

Black Hole Sun – Soundgarden

Seattle – Perry Como

Video: Maria Semple

Check out this video with Tom Skerritt, Jeopardy champs and author Garth Stein.

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Mar 5, 2015
A car passes a memorial for Michael Brown, who was shot and killed by Ferguson, Mo., Police Officer Darren Wilson last summer, Tuesday, March 3, 2015, in Ferguson. A Justice Department investigation found sweeping patterns of racial bias within the Ferguson police department, with officers routinely discriminating against blacks by using excessive force, issuing petty citations and making baseless traffic stops, according to law enforcement officials familiar with the report.  (AP)

The big Justice Department report finds a pattern of racial bias in the Ferguson Police Department. Now what? We’re back in Ferguson – and beyond — for answers.

Mar 5, 2015
One in four women use psychiatric medication. The reasons for the medication aren't always so clear. (Flickr)

Are American women being prescribed psychiatric drugs – anti-depressants, anti-psychotics — for normal emotions? We’ll hear out one psychiatrist’s bold claim.

Mar 4, 2015
This photo taken July 31, 2012 shows a "tiny" house April Anson built in Portland, Ore. For the past couple of months, 33-year-old Anson and her friends have been planning, measuring, sawing and hammering their way toward completion of what might look like a child’s playhouse. (AP)

Tiny houses, micro-apartments. They’re hot. Americans are downsizing.

Mar 4, 2015
Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks during a keynote address at the Watermark Silicon Valley Conference for Women, Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015, in Santa Clara, Calif.  (AP)

Hillary Clinton’s week of bad headlines: about her emails and foreign money going to the Clinton Foundation. We’ll dig in.

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