Game face

March 4, 2015

Issaquah is home to the ‘Supercharged Seahawks Fan’

A peaceful calm enveloped the Issaquah valley in the early morning hours of Jan. 18.

The streets were dead at 5 a.m. on a Sunday, and a heavy darkness overwhelmed a few powerless neighborhoods as the area emerged from yet another windstorm.

By Greg Farrar Michael Eng sizes up himself and his long hair in the mirror as he starts his transformation from Costco employee and dad to ‘Supercharged Seahawks Fan’ for the NFC Championship game at Century Link Field against the Green Bay Packers.

By Greg Farrar
Michael Eng sizes up himself and his long hair in the mirror as he starts his transformation from Costco employee and dad to ‘Supercharged Seahawks Fan’ for the NFC Championship game at Century Link Field against the Green Bay Packers.

At that hour, all that was left of the powerful gusts were darkened streetlights and a soft, but manageable wind.

Most Issaquah families were sleeping comfortably in their homes at 5 a.m., but not Michael and Lizz Eng.

Nope, the couple who calls Talus home was wide-awake, restless and ready. It was, after all, Seahawks game day, and in just seven hours, the duo would join the legion of Hawks fans gathered at the Church that is CenturyLink Field to witness one of the greatest comebacks in NFL history.

Go big or go home

The Eng family home is difficult to miss.

Not a holiday goes by when Michael doesn’t “go big or go home,” as he decorates his Talus abode. He goes all out with lavish adornments on Christmas, Halloween and during the Seahawks’ season, seemingly a holiday in its own right.

During January and early February, the house is all about the Hawks, embellished with large lighted displays of Michael’s own creation.

The Seahawks logo immediately greets visitors, hung just above the home’s entrance. A large 12th Man flag waves mildly in a brisk wind, while green and blue lights adorn the front yard.

The decorations are so bright, Eng family friends say you can see them all the way from the Issaquah Highlands. It stands out like a blue beacon amidst the shadowy, forested hill.

The Engs have a good relationship with their neighbors across the street, a good thing since the elaborate displays shower a wall of blue light into their home.

“All of the neighbors love it,” Michael said.

Let’s get crazy

The Engs’ decorations are truly extraordinary, but they aren’t the most impressive expression of the family’s true Seahawks fandom.

By Greg Farrar From the cases of hair care product Eng purchases, the squeeze tubes of styling gel and spiking glue needed for just one game are arrayed on the bathroom sink countertop.

By Greg Farrar
From the cases of hair care product Eng purchases, the squeeze tubes of styling gel and spiking glue needed for just one game are arrayed on the bathroom sink countertop.

That materializes every Seahawks Sunday during Michael’s pregame ritual.

It’s why, at 5 a.m. on Jan. 18, Michael was up, armed with a blow-dryer, a sink full of hair gel, cans of blue and white hair spray, face paint and his Richard Sherman jersey.

You see, before every Seahawks game, Michael transforms into something that not even he can describe.

Through a three-hour process, the longtime Seahawks season-ticket holder literally becomes a different person. The Costco employee goes from a fan with an unassuming ponytail to a face-painted fanatic with a 2-foot-tall blue spike atop his head, fashioned from his very own hair.

Michael’s game day uniform is much more than throwing on the jersey of his favorite player, it’s a look he has crafted and perfected through more than a decade of game attendance.

“It started as more of dare. My buddies said, ‘Let’s just get crazy this game,’” Michael said.

About 10 years ago, while strolling through the CenturyLink Field Event Center before a game, Michael decided to get his face “painted up” by a local vendor.

He has painted his face and constructed the hair spike himself ever since.

Crafting “the spike”

The transformation is by no means an easy process, but it’s now a necessary one, Michael explained.

By Greg Farrar Michael Eng stiffens his two-foot spike with a hair dryer before doing his College Navy, Action Green and Wolf Grey-colored face makeup and colored hair spraying to complete the transformation to Supercharged Seahawks Fan.

By Greg Farrar
Michael Eng stiffens his two-foot spike with a hair dryer before doing his College Navy, Action Green and Wolf Grey-colored face makeup and colored hair spraying to complete the transformation to Supercharged Seahawks Fan.

“I’ll get grief if I don’t paint up,” he joked.

He doesn’t usually have to start his routine at 5 a.m., but a rare noon Seahawks game has him awake and alert, ready to begin the transformation in his bathroom.

It all starts with a shower. Then, before he begins the arduous process of making his hair stand straight up in the air, Michael puts his Richard Sherman jersey on, because as he put it, “Once the spike goes up, it’s really hard to get anything around it.”

Fashioning “the spike,” as he calls it, is the most time-consuming step. He uses a mixture of gel and hair spray to repeatedly massage his hair upward.

“Some days it goes up really easily, some days it doesn’t,” he said while standing in front of the mirror, brushing out his long mane.

On a drizzly, moist day like today, the spike isn’t as cooperative as he would like, but Michael endured through the process.

The spike is currently the tallest it’s ever been. Michael hasn’t cut his hair for about three years now.

“It’s just a part of what he does,” Michael’s wife Lizz said while preparing for the game herself, before adding, “but the hair does get a little crazy sometimes.”

Once the spike is up, Michael uses a blow dryer to stiffen and strengthen it. Today, it’s a bit wobbly.

“We’re not out of the woods yet,” he said as he examined his work in his bathroom mirror.

Once it’s up, he begins applying the blue, green and silver face paint. This part is a breeze compared to building the spike.

Michael paints a silver stripe down the center of his face. He fills in one side with green and the other with blue. His eyes pop out, though, as he surrounds them in black, going for a Joker-like look.

“Black eyes add a little craziness,” he joked.

After the face paint is done, the finish line is in sight. All that remains is adding some color to the spike, which he does with the help of his daughters Remy, 9, and Alexis, 5.

The two have the important job of shaking out the paint canisters before Dad sprays the spike blue. With the early start, though, today it’s just Remy lending a hand, while a sleepy Alexis stays in bed.

Michael does the transformation himself, though wife Lizz, who by contrast sports only a jersey and temporary Seahawks tattoos for the game, serves as “quality control” checking to make sure everything looks the way it should.

With the tall spike, getting to the game takes a bit of care. Sometimes, he lies down in the car with the passenger seat fully extended; other times, he takes the bus, where the roof isn’t an issue.

‘Supercharged Seahawks Fan’

For all the work he puts into it, the spike only usually lasts into the third quarter of the game before gravity eventually takes over.

By Greg Farrar Lizz, Alexis, Remy and Michael Eng, all Seattle Seahawks fans to varying degrees, pose on the porch of their Talus home after dad’s alter ego is ready for the game.

By Greg Farrar
Lizz, Alexis, Remy and Michael Eng, all Seattle Seahawks fans to varying degrees, pose on the porch of their Talus home after dad’s alter ego is ready for the game.

Michael doesn’t mind, though, it’s all part of the process.

“If it gets messed up, that’s just part of the game. I don’t care,” he said. “It’s fun to get messy once in a while.”

The spike has earned him quite a bit of notoriety. With front row seats on the 10-yard line, he’s hard to miss, and media cameras often capture him in the stands.

He also won a PEMCO Insurance contest in which the company sought the region’s most “Supercharged Seahawks Fan” to feature as one of its Northwest Profiles.

It resulted in an ad campaign that prominently features Michael’s painted face on buses and the insurance company’s social media channels.

“The Metro buses actually pass Issaquah Valley Elementary when my daughter’s outside playing,” Lizz said. “Her friends always point it out now and say, ‘Remy, there’s your dad.’”

He gets recognized before games, too, and the stares of awe follow him throughout the season.

“I don’t mind that he does this for game day, but I wouldn’t let him walk around like that,” Lizz joked.

On that misty Sunday, the spike didn’t have much of a chance to endure through the Seahawks inexplicable overtime win against the Green Bay Packers.

Of course, it didn’t matter, not when there was a second-straight Seahawks Super Bowl appearance to celebrate — even if the team failed to bring home the ultimate prize this time.

“It’s fun,” Michael said of his Hawks fandom. “Everyone in the stadium has the same boisterous mentality. It’s why we’re the 12th Man.”

All aboard

March 4, 2015

Barber Maurice Singer is living his dream of giving haircuts inside the Cut Loose Caboose

Barber Maurice Singer knows Issaquah is a crowded market for stylists. From behind his chair, he can see from each window in his shop a new salon that has popped up over the years, each with at least four operators.

However, Singer also knows his one-man operation has something the others don’t — a caboose.

By Greg Farrar The big red Cut Loose Caboose Barber Shop stands at 240 N.W. Gilman Blvd., on a remaining short piece of track that was part of the old rail bed running next to the Gilman Station clock tower.

By Greg Farrar
The big red Cut Loose Caboose Barber Shop stands at 240 N.W. Gilman Blvd., on a remaining short piece of track that was part of the old rail bed running next to the Gilman Station clock tower.

Built in September 1941, the Cut Loose Caboose actually ran the rails for the Great Northern Railroad, until the bright red rail car was retired in February 1965. It has had many tenants over the years as a repurposed office in the corner lot at 240 N.W. Gilman Blvd., most recently a vitamin supplement shop. Read more

Mission accomplished

March 4, 2015

Seattle museums highlight innovative contributions from Issaquah councilman

Issaquah City Councilman Tola Marts stands side by side with some of the greatest innovators of his generation.

Not literally. The councilman is not posed shoulder-to-shoulder with Microsoft founder Bill Gates or with Joe Sutter, the chief engineer of the Boeing 747. But examples of his engineering prowess are currently on display at the Museum of History and Industry and the Museum of Flight in Seattle.

By Greg Farrar Tola Marts stands in his flight jacket beside the unmanned Charon low-altitude test vehicle, which he helped complete the design for, on display in the Charles Simonyi Space Gallery at the Museum of Flight in Seattle.

By Greg Farrar
Tola Marts stands in his flight jacket beside the unmanned Charon low-altitude test vehicle, which he helped complete the design for, on display in the Charles Simonyi Space Gallery at the Museum of Flight in Seattle.

The Passive Vaccine Storage Device that Marts helped develop that delivers life-saving serums to battle diseases in Africa will be on display until September as part of the “What’s Next in Global Health” exhibit at the Bezos Center for Innovation at MOHAI, while his Charon low orbital test vehicle is part of the permanent exhibit at the flight museum near Boeing Field. Read more

Breeding a better bull

March 4, 2015

Raising Black Angus south of Issaquah is a one-man show for Charlie Stewart

Travel just a few miles and a few minutes by car from downtown Issaquah and you quickly can find yourself in the middle of hilly, very quiet and very green open spaces. There is, in fact, little around to remind you that a modern urban city is only a short distance away.

And while rural uses might be slowly disappearing, there are still spots such as Charlie Stewart’s Blue Drifter Ranch, where Black Angus cattle still roam across 26 Issaquah acres tucked near the base of Squak Mountain.

By Greg Farrar Charlie Stewart walks around the fence in May Valley at his Blue Drifter Ranch beside one of his favorite Black Angus cows, Little Orphan Annie, as she gets a drink from her watering trough. He bottle fed her from the moment she was a newborn.

By Greg Farrar
Charlie Stewart walks around the fence in May Valley at his Blue Drifter Ranch beside one of his favorite Black Angus cows, Little Orphan Annie, as she gets a drink from her watering trough. He bottle fed her from the moment she was a newborn.

In the early 1970s, when Stewart purchased those 26 acres, he never intended to end up with one of the city’s last cattle ranches. Read more

Dream house lives on

March 4, 2015

Debra Smith was dreaming of a house in a good school district, a house she and her family could call home.

Smith and her husband Rick had sold their home in Lake Tapps and were camped in a Bellevue apartment with their high school-aged daughter and son.

Timing was critical. It was summer and school would begin in a few weeks.

“When I walked in the house, I knew this was the one,” Smith said. “This one was unique. It had color and texture.”

Adding to the appeal, the house would be available after Aug. 17.

By Greg Farrar Rick and Debra Smith and Madrona, their Golden Retriever, go for a walk this month at their home south of Issaquah, whose white birch trees have grown considerably since it was one of five homes featured on the Seattle Street of Dreams in 2003.

By Greg Farrar
Rick and Debra Smith and Madrona, their Golden Retriever, go for a walk this month at their home south of Issaquah, whose white birch trees have grown considerably since it was one of five homes featured on the Seattle Street of Dreams in 2003.

That’s when the 2003 Street of Dreams closed. Read more

Chad Magendanz — a politician with a full plate

March 4, 2015

Chad Magendanz doesn’t have time to eat. The second-term Republican state representative from Issaquah is scurrying around his office like a whirling dervish, having just finished a short video shoot for his 5th District constituents, and he only has a few minutes before the House education committee meets.

So Magendanz, 47, grabs an energy bar from his private stash in the bottom of a file cabinet, eats quickly and starts whirling again. It’s only the 16th day of the 120-day legislative session, but the calendar is deceiving. Magendanz is the primary sponsor of 10 proposed House bills, and is a secondary sponsor on about 100 more. Time is not his friend as he attempts to get things done.

Contributed State Rep. Chad Magendanz (middle) provides feedback during a public meeting of the state House of Representatives’ education committee.

Contributed
State Rep. Chad Magendanz (middle) provides feedback during a public meeting of the state House of Representatives’ education committee.

Read more

Local vintners want you to stop and smell the rosé

March 4, 2015

By Greg Farrar Rod and Dona Ahrens, Issaquah residents and owners of Twin Cedars Winery, stand with cases of wines at the tasting room next to the home on their Tiger Mountain property.

By Greg Farrar
Rod and Dona Ahrens, Issaquah residents and owners of Twin Cedars Winery, stand with cases of wines at the tasting room next to the home on their Tiger Mountain property.

Of two well-known local wineries, one slowly is making its way out of business, while another continues to grow, only recently adding a wine club and still offering a successful tasting room.

But even if the Tiger Mountain and Twin Cedars wineries are headed in two directions, they started out in similar ways.

“I’d always liked wine,” said John Girt, of Tiger Mountain Winery. “But I never had really thought about making it.” Read more

Health Guide 2014

November 13, 2014

Fall Home Guide 2014

October 23, 2014

2014 Salmon Days

October 1, 2014

Next Page »