Weird Washington

Of the many things you can say about the great State of Washington, one of the best is the fact that it is downright weird.  While some may think being called weird is a put down, something to be avoided or hidden away, it is really a great compliment.  The opposite of weird, boring old normal, is the last thing a state wants to be.  The normal states are the ones you drive through on your way to something interesting.

So what is weird about Washington?  After reading either Weird Washington by Jeff Davis or Weird & Wacky Washington Places by Bree Coven Brown you will be asking yourself, “What isn’t?”.  Both books try to categorize the unknown and give plenty of detail on such local oddities as the Fremont Troll, the mysterious disappearance of D.B. Cooper, and of course Sasquatch.

If you have trouble suspending your disbelief and want to treat your inner skeptic, check out Annals of Gullibility. Stephen Greenspan provides a rational and scientific explanation of why we are drawn to the unexplained. You could even find out who wore the ape-like costume in the infamous film, made in Washington of course, that made the legend of Bigfoot so popular by reading The Making of Bigfoot by Greg Long.   

While I usually side with the rational, I can’t help but find the occasional oddity that I would like to be true. Such is the case when it comes to the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus detailed in Weird Washington.  Sure you won’t find an entry for the creature in the many books we have on marine life in the Pacific Northwest, but it is strangely comforting to think it could be out there somewhere…


Meet Brad at the Evergreen Branch

The Evergreen Branch recently welcomed a new manager, Brad Allen. Brad comes to us from Kansas, where he worked at the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library. We’re happy to introduce him to you here. Be sure to say hello next time you’re at the Evergreen Branch.

Brad Allen
Welcome to Everett! You drove here from Topeka. That’s a long drive. Did you listen to any cool music or audiobooks?
book coverWarren ZevonIt is a long drive indeed, but I’m a fan of road trips. I listened to two great audiobooks: I am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to Be Your Class President by Josh Lieb and T.C. Boyle’s The Tortilla Curtain. I also listened to some of my favorite music including Pavement, Wilco, Radiohead, R.E.M., Neil Young, Warren Zevon, and The xx.

Kansas makes me think of The Wizard of Oz. Can you recommend any favorite Kansas authors or books or movies about Kansas?
Wizard of OzWildwood BoysI’ve yet to travel from Kansas and not heard, “You’re not in Kansas anymore.” It’s an irresistible response to learning someone is from Kansas. Two great authors more or less from Kansas are Gordon Parks and Langston Hughes. A great book is James Carlos Blake’s Wildwood Boys, a historical novel about the pre-Civil War Kansas-Missouri Border Wars told from the perspective of Bloody Bill Anderson. I love John Williams’ Butcher’s Crossing, set in both Kansas and Colorado. John Williams’ wonderful book Stoner is one of my absolute favorites, but it’s set in Missouri.

Do you have any favorite books or shows with a Washington setting or author?
Financial Lives of the PoetsTwo of my favorite television shows are closely associated with Washington: Twin Peaks and Northern Exposure. As for books, I’ve recently become a fan of Spokane author Jess Walter and Olympia author Jim Lynch. The Financial Lives of the Poets and Border Songs are two of the best books I’ve read in the past year.

What’s your favorite book?
StonerRevolutionary RoadMy all time favorite is Richard Yates’ Revolutionary Road. Yates is an incredibly underrated writer. My previous favorite book was David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. The aforementioned Stoner is a recent favorite.

What was your favorite book growing up?
Hitchhiker's Guide to the GalaxyTo Kill a MockingbirdThe book that blew my mind as a youngster was Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Its meditation on the great expanses of time and the universe changed the way I thought about the world. The other seminal book of my childhood was To Kill a Mockingbird. I read it the summer after sixth grade and it hooked me on a life of reading.

What’s your favorite movie?
Nurse BettyThe Big LebowskiThe Coen Brothers’ The Big Lebowski is the greatest movie of the last 25 years. Other favorites are Mulholland Drive, Nurse Betty, Ghostbusters, and No Country For Old Men.

Infinite JestIf you were stranded on Jetty Island and could only take three books, what would you take?
Infinite JestI’ve been meaning to reread it and it’s really long. Charles Willeford’s Sideswipe. And Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow — it might be quiet enough to actually concentrate to read it.