Illustrating hunger — Local children’s book brings light to national problem

January 6, 2015

If you tell your best friend you’ll keep something secret, when is it OK to break the promise?

Photos by Greg Farrar Lois Brandt is teaching children about hunger with her book ‘Maddi’s Fridge.’ The book, published in September, is a big hit with fourth-graders.

By Greg Farrar
Lois Brandt is teaching children about hunger with her book ‘Maddi’s Fridge.’ The book, published in September, is a big hit with fourth-graders.

Sofia struggles with the promise and the knowledge that her best friend, Maddi, doesn’t get enough to eat.

Lois Brandt, of Issaquah, wrote a book, “Maddi’s Fridge,” that poses that dilemma.

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Off The Press — Enjoy being scared? Check out these films

October 21, 2014

Horror movies aren’t really my area of expertise. I prefer watching classic sports movies, like “Field of Dreams,” “Bull Durham” or “Rudy,” or spending years waiting for book-based fantasy adventures like “Lord of the Rings” and “Harry Potter” to wrap up.

Neil Pierson

Neil Pierson

However, I’m more than willing to get into the spirit of the season when it comes to Halloween. There’s a certain sense of exhilaration that comes from viewing hordes of zombies, chainsaw-wielding psychopaths, and enough blood and gore to make your average emergency-room physician nauseous.

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Raise your wands for a Harry Potter night

April 2, 2013

Issaquah’s Youth Advisory Board wants to whisk all of the young muggles in town out to Hogwarts.

On April 19 at the community center, the youth-led city board will host children grades two through five for a Harry Potter-themed night of enchantment, allowing them to imagine a life in the school for wizardry. There will be games and activities from 6-8 p.m. in the spirit of the young detective wizards and their harrowing adventures to save the world from You Know Who.

Registration will cost 15 knuts, er, dollars per child. Learn more by calling 837-3300 and sign up at



The Hot List

October 23, 2012

Jacob Brunette
Issaquah High School


Movie: “Looper”

In this sci-fi tale directed by Rian Johnson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, a hitman who kills targets sent back in time by future criminal syndicates, is tasked with hunting down his future self (played by Bruce Willis), who has time-traveled into the past in order to stop a criminal mastermind from coming to power. Despite strong performances from the entire cast, as well as a number of great action scenes, “Looper” fails to realize its full potential. While early on it makes great use of its interesting premise, the movie finishes with a fairly cliché ending that fails to capitalize on its earlier promise.


Music: Grizzly Bear, “Shields”

In its latest album, Grizzly Bear, folk-rockers from Boston, descend from the ethereal nature of their previous album in favor of a more down-to-earth sound. However, they still manage to evoke some kind of otherworldly presence, with scratchy guitars and quiet drums mingling with Grizzly Bear’s trademark vocal harmonies. The result is a record of strange genius, and one of the best albums of the year.

‘The Casual Vacancy’

Book: “The Casual Vacancy,” J.K. Rowling

In her first effort after finishing the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling transitions from writing about a magical version of England, filled with wondrous creatures and people, to writing about the real version of England, filled with ordinary people and their daily struggles. The story is set in a relatively normal English town, left in shock after a member of the town council unexpectedly dies. While lacking the magic of the Harry Potter series, “The Casual Vacancy” still manages to be an interesting and worthwhile read, but is unlikely to reach the same level of popularity as its predecessor.

The Hot List

May 22, 2012

Album: Best Coast, ‘The Only Place’

By Veronica Austin Liberty High School

California-based Best Coast released its new album, “The Only Place,” just in time for summer. The band’s 1960s-esque brand of surf pop is the perfect soundtrack to any summer activity. Catchiest tracks include the title track (and single) “The Only Place” as well as the near-ballad “Do You Love Me Like You Used To.”

DVD: ‘The Woman in Black’    

Daniel Radcliffe’s first film since the end of the wildly successful “Harry Potter” movie franchise, “The Woman in Black,” is a wonderfully creepy thriller that will (cliché as it may be) keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. Radcliffe plays a young lawyer who ventures to a small village, and finds himself wrapped up entirely in the mystery of the Woman in Black, of whom the village remains in constant fear. The film piles on the suspense, and is a must-see for anyone who likes a good scare.

Movie: ‘Dark Shadows’

Master of gothic moviemaking Tim Burton has yet again teamed up with Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, this time to make “Dark Shadows,” a movie about a 200-year-old vampire, Barnabas Collins (played by Depp), based on the 1960’s horror soap opera of the same name. “Dark Shadows” looks to have all the trademarks of the trio’s previous collaborations, and will undoubtedly be entertaining.

Hollywood debut awaits local author

August 2, 2011

Storyteller Sarah Gerdes is force behind upcoming films

By Greg Farrar Lucas Foster, Hollywood producer (left), and Sarah Gerdes, local author, discuss their collaboration as they prepare to transform her books into films.

Sarah Gerdes, author and mother to Conor, Porsche and Mercedes, balances motherhood and Hollywood.

The longtime local author is nearing a milestone in a lifelong effort to tell stories to the masses: films based on the books she spent years to create.

The lineup includes “The Kim Sisters” — a musical about a trio transplanted from Korea and hurtling to success in the United States — and adventures based on “Chambers” — a series about time-traveling teenagers. The initial e-book in the “Chambers” series came out in May.

“I am truly excited to see it come to film — and it’s not because of any financial gain, although that would be nice, not to be a starving author forever,” Gerdes said late last month. “It’s because I can’t wait to see it through somebody else’s eyes. I’ve written this work that has all of these characters. I have a theme and I know where it’s going.”

Lucas Foster — the producer behind “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” and other action-packed films — refers to Gerdes as “the Terminator” for the perseverance and passion she delivers on each project. Foster’s Warp Entertainment is producing “The Kim Sisters” and “Chambers” films.

“The amount of money we spend to make a movie, and then market and distribute a movie, is colossal. So, we have to do some thinking about who our audience is very early on and who we’re trying to reach,” he said. “Are we capable of reaching them with whatever it is we’re building? I think Sarah — she doesn’t have to think that way — but I think she’s inclined to think that way as well.”

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‘Deathly Hallows’ casts a spell over local Harry Potter fans

July 19, 2011

“It’s the end of our childhood,” said Rebecca Solem, 18, one of about 50 or so Harry Potter fans lined up outside the Regal Issaquah 9 Theatre on July 14.

Jamie Loudon (left) and Lauren Loudon dressed in 'Harry Potter' garb to await the opening of the final film in the series at midnight July 14 at the Issaquah 9 Theater. By Tom Corrigan

With a fancy hat and a shawl, Solem was one of many who showed up in costume for the occasion, the release of the last film of the “Harry Potter” movie franchise.

Solem’s spot on the sidewalk outside the movie house also was occupied by several other characters from the books and films, most notably Albus Dumbledore complete with wizard robes and long, flowing beard.

At least a few of the costumed crowd had arrived as early as 9 that morning to be among the first to see “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2.”

The movie started playing at 12:01 a.m. July 15.

“We all grew up on ‘Harry Potter,’” Solem continued, by way of explaining her initial comment, with which her six or seven cohorts agreed.

Solem noted the first “Potter” book was the first book she read on her own. Megan Winter, 18, said her father used to read her the first few books. Several others in the crowd quickly shook their heads in agreement, saying one parent or the other had initially hooked them on the tales of the young wizard.

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Off the Press

July 19, 2011

One good mania deserves another

After a decade of sweeping readers and moviegoers off their feet with a school named Hogwarts, games of Quiddich and battles of good against evil, the final wave of Pottermania is now sweeping over Issaquah, the nation and the world, with the last of the epic movies having blasted through every worldwide box office record last weekend.

Greg Farrar Press photographer

Ticket sales of $475 million in three days is not too shabby!

Over the years, we’ve covered lines of fans at the local movie theater, costume parties for the latest book release at local shops, and huge shipments of Harry Potter books making their way from King County Library System headquarters on Newport Way to all of the branches in the system.

The question is, now what? Every generation has its “mania.” We’ve had the Jazz Age, Golden Age of Hollywood, Beatlemania, discomania and now the end of Pottermania. What should we proclaim in Issaquah to be the next all-consuming mania?

For the socially conscious, my personal preference would be to promote “Littermania,” getting us all to join in to pick up every scrap of paper, every beverage bottle and every plastic wrapper. Ever hear of the 1950’s fad of college students cramming into a phone booth? There’s at least one phone booth still in town, across the street from The Press building. Let’s have a contest of bagging up litter around town and seeing how many bags it takes to fill the phone booth!

Or, how about “musicmania?” There are a lot of scheduled music events this summer in town. For instance, during the next ArtWalk on Aug. 5, we could all bring that musical instrument in the back of the closet that we used to play — kazoo, violin, bongo drums, tambourine — and make ourselves a gleeful racket on Front Street and at Gilman Village.

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‘Deathly Hallows’ casts a spell over Issaquah’s Harry Potter fans

July 14, 2011

Jamie (left) and Lauren Loudon dressed in 'Harry Potter' garb to await the opening of the final film in the series at midnight Friday. By Tom Corrigan

NEW — 7 p.m. July 14, 2011

“It’s the end of our childhood,” said Rebecca Solem, 18, one of about 50 or so Harry Potter fans lined up outside the Regal Issaquah Nine Theatre on Thursday.

With a fancy hat and a shawl, Solem was one of many who showed up in costume for the occasion, the release of the last film of the “Harry Potter” movie franchise.

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Farm invites Harry Potter fans to free party

July 12, 2011

Fox Hollow Family Farm invites Harry Potter fans to celebrate the release of the final Harry Potter film during a costume party filled with games and treats.

Guests are encouraged to dress as their favorite Harry Potter character at the free party from 5-8 p.m. July 15 at the farm, 12031 Issaquah-Hobart Road S.E.

Muggles, witches and wizards can play a variety of games, including broomstick racing, Mrs. Weasley’s cakewalk and a horcrux hunt.

Though not required, party organizers ask guests to RSVP by emailing The party is first come, first serve.

Though the party is celebrating the release of the movie, the movie will not be shown at the farm.

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