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Archives for 12/18/2005 - 12/24/2005

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Republican Insurrection Ch. 2

posted by on December 24 at 11:12 AM

Last week, I posted here that the Republican Party was in for some bloody intraparty fisticuffs.

I rest my case: Today, big deal business mag Barron’s calls for a “bill of impeachement” against Bush. The conservative magazine writes:

The members of the House Judiciary Committee who staged the impeachment of President Clinton ought to be as outraged at this situation. They ought to investigate it, consider it carefully and report either a bill that would change the wiretap laws to suit the president or a bill of impeachment. It is important to be clear that an impeachment case, if it comes to that, would not be about wiretapping, or about a possible Constitutional right not to be wiretapped. It would be about the power of Congress to set wiretapping rules by law, and it is about the obligation of the president to follow the rules in the Acts that he and his predecessors signed into law.

More? Well, it looks like Eli S. posted the whole righteous editorial just moments ago!

Barron’s Magazine Calls for Impeachment

posted by on December 24 at 11:10 AM

Via MyDD: The business magazine Barron’s, which is owned by the same company that owns The Wall Street Journal, has become the first mainstream media outlet (that I’m aware of) to call for the impeachment of Bush.

This is big. When this country’s, uh, barons, are calling for impeachment, Bush has lost not just the left, but the rational right as well.

“AS THE YEAR WAS DRAWING TO A CLOSE, we picked up our New York Times and learned that the Bush administration has been fighting terrorism by intercepting communications in America without warrants. It was worrisome on its face, but in justifying their actions, officials have made a bad situation much worse: Administration lawyers and the president himself have tortured the Constitution and extracted a suspension of the separation of powers

Certainly, there was an emergency need after the Sept. 11 attacks to sweep up as much information as possible about the chances of another terrorist attack. But a 72-hour emergency or a 15-day emergency doesn’t last four years …

Willful disregard of a law is potentially an impeachable offense. It is at least as impeachable as having a sexual escapade under the Oval Office desk and lying about it later. The members of the House Judiciary Committee who staged the impeachment of President Clinton ought to be as outraged at this situation. They ought to investigate it, consider it carefully and report either a bill that would change the wiretap laws to suit the president or a bill of impeachment.

It is important to be clear that an impeachment case, if it comes to that, would not be about wiretapping, or about a possible Constitutional right not to be wiretapped. It would be about the power of Congress to set wiretapping rules by law, and it is about the obligation of the president to follow the rules in the Acts that he and his predecessors signed into law…

Published reports quote sources saying that 14 members of Congress were notified of the wiretapping. If some had misgivings, apparently they were scared of being called names, as the president did last week when he said: “It was a shameful act for someone to disclose this very important program in a time of war. The fact that we’re discussing this program is helping the enemy.”

Wrong. If we don’t discuss the program and the lack of authority for it, we are meeting the enemy — in the mirror.

For Annie

posted by on December 24 at 9:33 AM

Torino Film Festival 3
Dave Kehr
(Film Critic for New York Times)

Robinson Devor’s excellent American indie “Police Beat” has just racked up two more prizes at the Torino Film Festival, winning the Special Jury Award and the Fipresci Award (from the international film critics association). How many more will it take for this superb little film to get an actual distributor? Answer — a lot. It’s structure is too sophisticated, it’s imagery too poetic, and it’s protagonist is an African immigrant (Pape Sidy Niang) whose job as a bicycle cop in Seattle brings him into contact with the American underbelly. In other words, there’s nothing for today’s incurious art house audience to identify with — unlike, say, a big warm blast of selfo-pity like like “Me and You and Everyone We Know.”

NYT: Bush’s Spying Operation Was Massive. So, Like, Where the Hell is bin Laden?

posted by on December 24 at 12:16 AM

Operation 4th Amendment just keeps getting creepier.

The NYT has the scoop.

They are now reporting that in addition to direct eavesdropping, the administration worked with major U.S. Telecom Companies to track Internet and telephone traffic data patterns. According to the NYT report, this type of data “pattern analysis” is supposed to require a warrant.

Yeah, yeah: The article definitely raises a new set of civil liberties questions, but what I want to know—given how far the Bushies have pushed the envelope—is this: Why haven’t they at least caught bin Laden yet? If you’re going to break the law this way, you better have something huge to show for it.

Again, with Bush’s knack for Orwellian monikers (The Clear Skies Initiative, No Child Left Behind, Operation Enduring Freedom), I really want to know what this spying program is called. One Slog reader suggested earlier: The “Listening to What the American People Have to Say” Initiative.

Friday, December 23, 2005

My Retaliation

posted by on December 23 at 4:59 PM

As Slog readers may have noticed, news editor Josh Feit has vowed to counter every image of sexy young men posted on Slog by Stranger editor Dan Savage by posting images of sexy young women.

From this point forward, whenever Josh posts an image of sexy young women to counter images of sexy young men posted by Savage, I will retaliate against both Feit and Savage by posting a photo of a dog in costume. Enjoy!


Hoot ‘n’ Holler at the Devil

posted by on December 23 at 4:55 PM

Hayseed Dixie think there’s not enough hillbilly in metal and not enough ass in bluegrass. So the Nashville, Tennessee band have engaged in musical miscegenation on A Hot Piece of Grass, their fourth album of shitkickin’, devil-horn-wavin’ action.

Continue reading "Hoot 'n' Holler at the Devil" »

Oh Dear: Heartbreaking I, Anonymous

posted by on December 23 at 4:52 PM

Just in time for Xmas, here’s a heartcrushing I, Anonymous.

Along with its heartcrushing properties, this I, Anon is packed with the sort of details that make clear that we could never make this shit up.

Not-So-Deep Throat

posted by on December 23 at 4:41 PM

Does she swallow? Boy, does she.

Dan, You were warned: Saudi Hottie

posted by on December 23 at 4:10 PM

Dan’s excuse was something about commenting on the effects of heroin. My excuse is that this is Osama bin Laden’s niece! I’d like to violate the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) with her.


Joining the Footlight Parade

posted by on December 23 at 3:49 PM

Cyndi Lauper will make her Broadway debut in The Threepenny Opera. She will play Jenny, the prostitute with the heart of gold. The play will open in April. Brecht and Weill are rolling in their graves. I’m gonna start saving for a plane ticket.

Just Add Heroin

posted by on December 23 at 3:48 PM

Brad Renfro, teen hearthrob.


Now take Brad Renfro and just add heroin and you get…


From today’s LA Times:

Undercover detectives posing as drug dealers launched the first phase of a new LAPD crackdown on skid row’s massive drug marketplace Thursday by arresting 14 buyers, including a Hollywood actor…. Among those held on suspicion of felony attempted possession was actor Brad Renfro, who has appeared in such films as “The Client,” “Apt Pupil” and “Ghost World.”

Heroin addict… it’s a look some guys can pull off, and some guys just can’t.

Re: Permanent Eschatological Panic

posted by on December 23 at 2:59 PM

Wow, the Discovery Institute must be slipping. They allowed David Klinghoffer, a journalist with a background in neither science nor theology to represent the their response to Judge Jones’s verdict in their own hometown? The neocon Klinghoffer, a former editor at the National Review, can hardly be said be to be the Discovery Institute’s ideal objective intellectual. (His next two books are to be called Broken Tablets: The War on the Ten Commandments and Why God is a Republican: An Honest Look at the Politics of the Bible, for gosh sakes.)

Beside the obvious PR problem, Klinghoffer’s editorial is riddled with bad reasoning.

First Klinghoffer observes that Jones wrote the following: “Repeatedly in this trial, [p]laintiffs’ scientific experts testified that the theory of evolution… in no way conflicts with, nor does it deny, the existence of a divine creator.” Then Klinghoffer makes the wild assertion that “As a matter of fact, Jones is wrong. Darwinism is indeed ‘antithetical to a belief in the existence of a supreme being and to religion in general.’ ” As a matter of fact—the recorded evidence on which Jones was legally bound to base his decision—the scientists for the plaintiffs did argue that the theory of evolution doesn’t conflict with a belief in God. Many if not most scientists hold this belief, even when they don’t themselves believe in a God who personally authored Scripture and who listens to your prayers. Hell, even Pope John Paul II thought the two didn’t conflict.

Klinghoffer goes on to cite four (4) examples of evolutionary scientists who don’t believe in God. How simply overwhelming. If you’re convinced by this idiotic, purely anecdotal argument, you have no grasp of logic whatsoever.

Then we have this zinger of a closing statement: “The idea that it is constitutional to expose young people to one such worldview, but not lawful to introduce them to another, is not really education. It is indoctrination.” Excuse me, Mr. Klinghoffer, THE IDEA THAT IT IS CONSTITUTIONAL is a legal opinion. It isn’t even claiming to be “education.” What an incredibly sloppy sentence. As we all know, sloppy sentences mean sloppy minds. Where was Klinghoffer “indoctrinated”? And who at the Seattle Times thought this was okay?

YTMND Is Beyond Me

posted by on December 23 at 2:48 PM

In trying to understand the You’re The Man Now Dog phenomenon (see also Wikipedia’s explanation—am I the only one who’s never seen these things before?), I came across the dumbest thing I’ve seen in weeks.

Fatwa of the Week

posted by on December 23 at 1:33 PM

According to the advice column over at, Allaah is A-okay with the latest trend among western women trying to emulate porno stars—or among their husbands, anyway, who want them to emulate porn stars.

Here’s what “Fatwa of the Week” has to say about a wife’s responsibility to shave her pubic hair. (A fatwa, by the way, is not an order to to kill, but rather the religious answer to a question.)

Fatwa No. : 9788
Fatwa Title : Ruling on shaving pubic hair
Fatwa Date : 20 Thoul Ki’dah 1426


I have heard different things about shaving one’s pubic hair. I have heard that it is optional and also heard that you have to. What is correct?


All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger, may Allaah exalt his mention as well as that of his family and all his companions.

It is confirmed that the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, said: “Five are among the Fitrah acts (i.e. natural disposition): Circumcision, shaving pubic hair, plucking out armpit hair, clipping one’s nails and trimming one’s moustache.” [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim] The pubic hair could be removed by many means, but the Arabic word that is used is Istihdaad, which is using the iron i.e. a blade or a similar tool. Imaam An-Nawawi, may Allaah have mercy on him, said: ‘It is better to shave the pubic hair.’ As regards whether it is an obligation or optional, the jurists, may Allaah have mercy on them, agreed that it is a recommended act for men and women, however, some jurists, may Allaah have mercy on them, are of the view that it is an obligation on the woman if her husband orders her to do so.
Imaam An-Nawawi, may Allaah have mercy on him, said: ‘It is agreed among the scholars, may Allaah have mercy on them, that shaving the pubic hair is a recommended act as well. As regards whether it is an obligation on the wife if her husband orders her to do so, there are two well-known opinions about this. The predominant one is that it is an obligation; this is in case it is not obscene to an extent to prevent the husband from enjoyment, as when it repels him from [full] enjoyment, it becomes absolutely an obligation on her to shave it.’
To conclude, shaving the pubic hair is a recommended act except for the wife if her husband orders her to do so, or she becomes obscene or spiteful to an extent that her husband is driven away from her, in which case it becomes an obligation on her to shave it.
For more details, please refer to Fataawa 8985 and 3867.
Allaah Knows best.

Happy War on Christmas.

Tiny Tastebuds Jump for Joy

posted by on December 23 at 1:21 PM

I am eating an amazing clay-pot-cooked, caramelized eggplant from Green Papaya on Pine Street. The fact that they only serve lunch on Fridays (and on the weekend), makes this moment sweeter.

Permanent Eschatological Panic

posted by on December 23 at 12:56 PM

This kind of nonsense (from the Seattle Times) makes my head explode. So natural selection is incompatible with an omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent God because 1. Richard Dawkins is a dick, 2. Darwin wanted to describe a system that didn’t lazily rely on a “well-I-don’t-know-what-happens-next-so-I-guess-it-has-something-to-do-with-God” clause, and 3. the Almighty is incapable of working His magic through an evolutionary mechanism?

I’m no theologian, but can’t God do, like, whatever God wants? Unless you’re arguing for the immutability of species (which nobody is, since that would mean that dog shows, along with dinosaur bones, are Satanic trickery), there’s no reason an omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent God can’t be as compatible with natural selection as He is with… I dunno, the physical laws that hold up the flying buttresses of His gothic cathedrals.

Others have said it better and smarter, but it can’t be said often enough—the intelligent design debate (along with abortion, the war on Christmas, school prayer, and the rest of the maddening extra-Biblical nonsense) is really about ”fundamentalist” Christianity’s persecution complex and permanent eschatological panic.

The arrogance of these bastards is staggering. They not only bully mere mortals, they put their omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent God in a little box and tell Him what He can and can’t do. That’s stone-cold bullshit that should enrage true believers.

2005: The Year of the Gravely Injured Boy Scout

posted by on December 23 at 12:56 PM

After the morbidly celebrated Scoutocaust of the summer, the year rings out with another gravely injured Boy Scout.

Today’s unlucky scout was merely minding his own business—raking leaves in preparation for a Utah Scout event—when his Scoutmaster leapt to the rescue of a fellow Scout who had tripped, sending the knife the Scoutmaster held flying through the air to lodge in the leaf-raking Scout’s brain.

Full story here. (And in case you’re wondering, joining the Boy Scouts is now the primary cause of death for American boys aged 8 to 14.)

Merry Fucking Christmas

posted by on December 23 at 12:51 PM

George W. Bush got into some trouble with his “base” earlier this month when he neglected the “reason for the season.” From the Washington Post:

…as in every December since he took office, President Bush sent out cards with a generic end-of-the-year message, wishing 1.4 million of his close friends and supporters a happy “holiday season.”

Many people are thrilled to get a White House Christmas card, no matter what the greeting inside. But some conservative Christians are reacting as if Bush stuck coal in their stockings.

“This clearly demonstrates that the Bush administration has suffered a loss of will and that they have capitulated to the worst elements in our culture,” said William A. Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. Bush “claims to be a born-again, evangelical Christian. But he sure doesn’t act like one,” said Joseph Farah, editor of the conservative Web site “I threw out my White House card as soon as I got it.”

Well, it looks like George is trying his damndest to make amends. Check out this over-the-top, Jesus-Mary-and-Joseph, can-I-get-an-Amen mass email Bush sent out today:

Christmas 2005: A Message From The President

‘Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel’ which means, God with us.  - Matthew 1:23

More than 2,000 years ago, a virgin gave birth to a Son, and the God of heaven came to Earth.  Mankind had received its Savior, and to those who had dwelled in darkness, the light of hope had come.  Each Christmas, we celebrate that first coming anew, and we rejoice in the knowledge that the God who came to Earth that night in Bethlehem is with us still and will remain with us forever.

Christmas is a season of hope and joy, a time to give thanks for the blessing of Christ’s birth and for the blessings that surround us every day of the year. We have much to be thankful for in this country, and we have a responsibility to help those in need. Jesus calls us to help others, and acts of kindness toward the less fortunate fulfill the spirit of the Christmas season…

Laura and I send our best wishes for a blessed and merry Christmas. 


That ought to keep the Christers quiet until Monday.


posted by on December 23 at 12:43 PM

Do you think I can get gender-reassignment surgery AND get my “apple bottom” in shape in time?


We are currently seeking stunningly beautiful & gorgeous, very curvy and thick (“serious” big apple bottom bubble butt is a BIG plus!!), extremely sexy female models for the 2006 Grammy Awards after party at a luxurious LA mansion hosted by G.O.O.D. Music, Kanye West’s record label. This will be the party of the year so we are actively seeking 8 incredibly beautiful & stunningly gorgeous, very curvy, thick big apple bottom butt and extremely sexy promotional female models (urban) and upscale go-go dancers to be involved the ultra V.I.P. room at this event. Many high powered record executives and influential men will be present so we urge you to represent!!

Please email your stats and pictures ASAP. We will be making all decisions early January and models chosen will know by the 2nd week in January. We will provide travel and accommodations for 8 of you ladies from New York, if you are chosen, to fly out to California. You will be paid cash at the end of the night. Please submit at least 3 sexy eye popping recent photos, measurements, your line of work, phone numbers and a brief statement of why should we choose you within the text portion or your responses. Please be prepared to send hardcopy submissions by snail mail, if requested. DO NOT SUBMIT LINKS TO YOUR WEBSITES OR OTHER WEBSITES REPRESENTING YOU AS A MODEL!! We do not have the luxury of time to view other sites. Only those who comply with what we are looking for will be given serious consideration. Thank you.

Here Too, Bushies?

posted by on December 23 at 12:29 PM

US News & World report breaks news of another secret government spying program. This one, the magazine says, involves government officials going onto the property of Muslim Americans—without warrants—and checking for traces of nuclear radiation.

The program has also operated in at least five other cities when threat levels there have risen: Chicago, Detroit, Las Vegas, New York, and Seattle.

She’s Gonna Blow!

posted by on December 23 at 12:27 PM

It looks like a volcano in Alaska may erupt—a big one, near Alaska’s most populated region.

…scientist and officials warned on Thursday of the risk of clouds of ash and a tsunami from a possible eruption…. If Augustine does erupt, that could result in grounded flights, school closures and even evacuations, officials said. It is also possible that there will be a landslide from the volcano into the waters of Cook Inlet, causing a tsunami, they said.

Such an event occurred in 1883, when a wave believed to be 20 feet high hit the Native Alutiiq village of Nanwalek, 50 miles east of Augustine.

The Gods are angry. I’m afraid there’s only one thing we can do to appease them. We gotta toss this guy into the volcano:


The Perfect Gift

posted by on December 23 at 12:18 PM

According to honky lore, the “perfect gift” is something the recipient would love to possess but would never buy for him- or herself.

Yesterday I received a perfect example of a perfect gift from my common-law mother-in-law Judy, a super sweet and interesting lady who sent me something for Christmas that I’ve long wanted but never would’ve bought myself: A 72-Hour Survival Kit.

Included in the waterproof kit: An Emergency/Survival Bag (a metallic silver poncho that reflects 80 percent of radiated body heat); a five-pound space bag of vanilla pudding; a five-pound space bag of hot cocoa mix; some Kleenex; some Wet Ones; a toothbrush; a flashlight; several small packs of raisins, Fruit Bites, and brownies; and the piece de resistance, Veggie Burger MREs.

That Judy cares enough to make sure I survive is touching enough, but to have her make sure I survive in the vegetarian manner to which I am accustomed makes me feel something close “the Christmas spirit.”

I also love pudding.

None Dare Call It…

posted by on December 23 at 12:06 PM

Wasn’t this high treason when Rep. Murtha suggested a few weeks ago?

Just days after Iraq’s elections, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Friday announced the first of what is likely to be a series of U.S. combat troop drawdowns in Iraq in 2006.

I guess we can go ahead and start drawing down our troop levels now, since the recent election in Iraq was a big success and peace is breaking out all over—but wait, this just in:

Large demonstrations broke out across [Iraq] Friday to denounce parliamentary elections that protesters say were rigged in favor of the main religious Shiite coalition…. Several hundred thousand people demonstrated after noon prayers in southern Baghdad Friday, many carrying banners decrying last week’s elections. Many Iraqis outside the religious Shiite coalition allege that the elections were unfair to smaller Sunni Arab and secular Shiite groups.

“We refuse the cheating and forgery in the elections,” one banner read.

Excuse me, but if cheating and forgery good enough for Florida and Ohio, then they’re good enough for Iraq too.

Crybabies on Queen Anne

posted by on December 23 at 11:46 AM

The Seattle Times ran an article yesterday about the grocery-store fight on the top of Queen Anne Hill. Apparently the neighborhood is up in arms about a new QFC development replacing their beloved Metropolitan Market.

What a bunch of whiny babies. My neighborhood, the north end of the Central District, would be thrilled to have a fabulous new QFC. In fact, they closed the only grocery store by my house and replaced with a stupid Grocery Outlet. It sells discontinued food in dented cans, off-brand cup o’ noodle, and never-heard-of-it-brand cereal.

The poor Queen Anne residents will only have QFC, Safeway, Trader Joe’s, and Ken’s Market to chose from. I can really feel for them, poor guys. Oh, is my sarcasm showing?

Sims Swings at Sotelo

posted by on December 23 at 11:40 AM

In case you missed his Op-Ed yesterday in The Seattle Times, King County Executive Ron Sims has assembled a list of fishy Republican vote-challenging efforts from other states, and linked them to the mass voter challenges issued here in Washington last month by Republican official Lori Sotelo.

Pointing to the similar voter challenge incidents in Ohio and Florida, Sims asks:

Sound familiar? It should, because Republicans have now imported these reprehensible and disruptive mass-challenge tactics into Washington state. Our local Katherine Harris, a previously obscure Republican Party apparatchik named Lori Sotelo, challenged the registrations of nearly 2,000 King County voters on the eve of the 2005 election.

State Republicans have suggested that Sotelo’s challenges were just a test-run for an even more massive voter challenge effort in 2006, and with this in mind, Sims is calling on the state legislature to change the law so that it clearly prohibits these last-minute mass challenges.

What we need is strong, loophole-free legislation in Olympia that will bar, once and for all, the sort of mass-challenge abuses we just experienced here in King County.

State Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D-Seattle) has said she will introduce legislation this session to do just that. It will be interesting to see how far she gets. Goes After Reichert

posted by on December 23 at 11:09 AM

Having decided that Republican Congressman Dave Reichert is vulnerable in 2006, will be airing this ad in Reichert’s eastside district this week, reminding the freshman Representative’s constituents that Reichert is against a U.S. exit from Iraq.

It’s an ad that’s likely to resonate in Reichert’s district, where voters went for John Kerry and Patty Murray in 2004.

In Case You Missed It

posted by on December 23 at 10:54 AM

Salon had a wonderful piece by Christopher Hitchens this week on the War on Christmas. He’s for it. I particularly loved this graph, a take-down of Joe Scarborough, MSNBC’s resident loudmouth. (I’ve been on his show a couple of times, and I always feel like I need to take a shower immediately after.) From Salon:

…I was invited onto Scarborough Country on MSNBC to debate the proposition that reindeer were an ancient symbol of Christianity and thus deserving of First Amendment protection, if not indeed of mandatory display at every mall in the land. I am told that nobody watches that show anymore—certainly I heard from almost nobody who had seen it—so I must tell you that the view taken by the host was that coniferous trees were also a symbol of Christianity, and that the Founding Fathers had endorsed this proposition. From his cue cards, he even quoted a few vaguely deistic sentences from Benjamin Franklin and George Washington, neither of them remotely Christian in tone. When I pointed out the latter, and added that Christmas trees, yule logs, and all the rest were symbols of the winter solstice “holidays” before any birth had been registered in the greater Bethlehem area, I was greeted by a storm of abuse, as if I had broken into the studio instead of having been entreated to come by Scarborough’s increasingly desperate staff. And when I added that it wasn’t very Tiny Tim-like to invite a seasonal guest and then tell him to shut up, I was told that I was henceforth stricken from the Scarborough Rolodex. The ultimate threat: no room at the Bigmouth Inn.

Daschle on Domestic Spying

posted by on December 23 at 10:25 AM

Bush and Cheney have been arguing that the president’s authority to order warrantless wiretaps of American citizens comes not just from the Constitution, but also from legislation passed by Congress just after Sept. 11, 2001. That legislation authorized “all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations or persons [the president] determines planned, authorized, committed or aided” in the Sept. 11 attacks—but the administration now reads the legislation as authorizing domestic spying, too.

Tom Daschle, who was Senate majority leader when the law in question was passed, says definitively today in a Washington Post Op-Ed that legalizing warrantless wiretapping inside the U.S. was not an intent of the of the law. (Duh.)

As Senate majority leader at the time, I helped negotiate that law with the White House counsel’s office over two harried days. I can state categorically that the subject of warrantless wiretaps of American citizens never came up. I did not and never would have supported giving authority to the president for such wiretaps. I am also confident that the 98 senators who voted in favor of authorization of force against al Qaeda did not believe that they were also voting for warrantless domestic surveillance.

A Sucker Born Every Minute

posted by on December 23 at 10:04 AM

The Seattle P-I reports that with the merger of Loews and AMC, downtown’s Meridian 16 Cinemas are going to be sold.

The question is: Who will want to buy what is quite possibly the worst place to see a movie in America?

A bust in the holiday suck!

posted by on December 23 at 10:01 AM

You want to know where to be tonight, right? How does an orphan start their holiday weekend? The answer is Liz’s Imaginary Birthday and Orphan Christmas Party!! Ghost Stories, The Elephants, and Blue Checkered Record Player will all do a set, and then I’ll be spinning indie-pop, hardcore, and holiday hits in the back bar from 12 to 2 am. To top it all off, John Roderick from The Long Winters will be dressed as Santa, lending an ear to all your holiday wishes. It’s not peace on earth, but it’s better than a bust in the suck!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Re: Prisoner’s dilemma

posted by on December 22 at 5:11 PM

Mr. Rogers simply took environmentalism to its logical conclusion: Suicide is the most effective way to minimize your ecological impact.

Nothing Says ‘Merry Christmas’ Like a Box of Poo

posted by on December 22 at 5:04 PM

Get your special-delivery Fecalgrams here!

Prisoner’s dilemma

posted by on December 22 at 4:00 PM

William C. Rodgers, one of six people charged with committing arson in the name of the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), was found dead in his jail cell today. Rodgers and his cohorts are alleged to have started the fire that destroyed the University of Washington Center for Urban Horticulture in May 2001.

This news comes at the same time as state investigators announced that one of those charged had agreed to testify. Another defendant, Chelsea Gerlach, has been placed in suicide watch. Staff and Wire Reports FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - An Arizona man charged in the 1998 eco-terror attack on the National Wildlife Research Facility in Olympia has committed suicide in an Arizona jail. William C. Rodgers, 40, of Prescott, Ariz., committed suicide, according to the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office. The county medical examiner determined that Rodgers suffocated after placing a plastic bag over his head while he was being held in a one-person cell.

Rodgers was one of six people arrested this month in connection with eco-terrorist attacks in Oregon and Washington in recent years. He was charged in the firebombing of a government wildlife lab outside Olympia, Wash.

In an affidavit filed in federal court last week, an FBI agent said Rodgers attended a meeting of Earth Liberation Front members in western Colorado where the arson of a Vail, Colo., ski resort was planned.

A federal magistrate in Flagstaff declined to release Rodgers from custody pending proceedings that will continue in western Washington.

Rodgers is charged with arson in connection with a 1998 blaze at the National Wildlife Research Facility in Olympia.

Rodgers was supposed to be transported shortly to Seattle to face the charges, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kirk Engdall said during a court hearing Thursday in Eugene, Ore., for another suspect, Chelsea Gerlach.

Engdall said Gerlach was placed on suicide watch as a result of Rodgers’ death because of her close relationship with Rodgers.

Gerlach’s attorney, public defender Craig Weinerman, denied the close relationship.

Rodgers’ death occurred on the same day the Associated Press reported that one of the six people arrested this month on the eco-terror charges has agreed to testify against others charged in the case.

Hindsight’s always 20/20, but shouldn’t every defendant be put on suicide watch after he’s told that his friend has turned on him? Just a thought.

Blethen’s Curse, Explained

posted by on December 22 at 2:14 PM

That strange Christmas postcard that Schmader posted below is not quite as random as it seems.

It’s a reference to the 2000 newspaper strike by employees for The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer—which happened right around Christmas. As former Seattle Times reporter Ross Anderson chronicled in this diary of the strike, Times publisher Frank Blethen uttered his famous (in some circles) curse on the fourth day of the strike, Nov. 24, 2000.

It came about because of a “strike paper” called The Union Record, which striking employees were publishing with printing help from a Seattle Times rival, the Eastside Journal:


The first hard copy of the Union Record hits the streets. The product is a clean, readable rendition of what has been appearing on the Web site. Frank Blethen is not impressed. When he learns the paper has been printed at the rival Eastside Journal in Bellevue, he fires off an e-mail to the publisher: “Fuck you to death. Your ex-friend Frank.” Copies of the e-mail promptly circulate around the building and, inevitably, across the picket lines. Inside, the overworked editors find it amusing. Strikers do not.

The Eastside Journal declines to keep printing the paper, forcing the Guild to move further out of town—to a non-union shop.

And the rest is bizarre Christmas postcard history…

Stop the presses

posted by on December 22 at 2:08 PM

The most important headline of the day just arrived in my inbox.


Now we know who to blame.

Hydrant Update 2

posted by on December 22 at 1:50 PM

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer notices the golden hydrants in today’s edition, and adds these fun facts:

Seattle Fire Marshall John Nelsen said people feel a need to dress up fire hydrants from time to time. They’ve been painted with polka dots or dressed up to look like nutcrackers.

He wasn’t sure how much of a problem the [gold] paint job would cause. The caps on hydrants are painted different colors based on how much water pressure they provide. Firefighters usually run the water from the hydrant through the pumper trucks anyway, and the operator adjusts the pressure before sending the water through hoses. Still, it’s a hassle firefighters at a fire don’t need, he said, noting that the gold paint can cause problems if it covers hydrants that had been painted white because they’re out of order.

As far as the question of art vs. vandalism, “I guess it depends on the eye of the beholder,” Nelsen said.

Reichert’s ANWR Vote

posted by on December 22 at 1:25 PM

On Monday, U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert voted for drilling in ANWR. But he was one of about 25 House Rs who helped kill ANWR drilling in the House Budget Bill just last month. Paper trails like this oughta haunt Reichert now.

To quote Goldy over at HorsesAss, what’s Reichert going to tell his constituents: “I voted against drilling in ANWR before I voted for it.” ?


posted by on December 22 at 12:58 PM

Nothing underscores the holiday message of peace on earth and goodwill towards everyone like stealing 400 pounds of high-powered plastic explosives.

Thieves used torches to slice through the steel walls of a bunker in New Mexico Sunday night, according to authorities.

ABC News reports:

The missing 400 pounds of explosives includes 150 pounds of what is known as C-4 plastic, or “sheet explosive,” which can be shaped and molded and is often used by terrorists and military operatives.

Sheet explosives can also be hidden in books and letters, but not as easily in televisions or Big Macs, so America is Safe.

Holiday Spirit

posted by on December 22 at 12:49 PM

Yesterday brought this impressive holiday postcard addressed to “Editors, The Stranger.”

Here’s the front: santa.jpg

And here’s the back: santa_back.jpg

“Fuck you to death?”
That’s certainly lacking in merriment.
Still, if you gotta go, I imagine getting fucked to death is as good a way as any.
Thanks, Frank!

“Just gimmie a scene where the music is free.”

posted by on December 22 at 12:12 PM

Against Me! has gone major.

The Florida punk band confirmed rumors that they’ve signed to Sire Records, a subsidiary of the Warner Music Group (which is also home to labels including Reprise, Rhino, Elektra, and Warner Bros.).

A new record will be released in 2007.

I’m not sure what to say about that, other than maybe quote the band themselves…

“We want a band that plays loud and hard every night / That doesn’t care how many people are counted at the door / That would travel one million miles / and ask for nothing more than a plate of food and a place to rest.”

I guess a big-money major label contract would feel pretty good too, eh? Then again, that song (“Reinventing Axl Rose”) was written in the band’s early days. And they never said they wouldn’t sign to a major if the right opportunity came their way… still, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Thanks, Santa!

posted by on December 22 at 11:28 AM

Just in time for the holidays, this week brought the gift of more horrible allegations against Michael Jackson, this time involving animals and his own children.

And while I always appreciate a fresh batch of Jacko dirt, I must admit I feel awful for those animals and those kids.

Pipe Down

posted by on December 22 at 11:23 AM

In this week’s Letters, reader Chris Shirley bemoans that the passage of I-901 will put Diwan Hookah Lounge out of business. What he fails to mention is that Diwan owner Ahmed Bartokaly started operating his establishment October 1. One has to wonder why a merchant would open shop with an imminent vote for an initiative that could threaten its existence.

How Gay Is This?

posted by on December 22 at 10:33 AM

Why, it’s the gayest thing you’ve ever seen.

(Via Gawker.)

L.A. Times Busts Bush

posted by on December 22 at 10:30 AM

President Bush has repeatedly defended his domestic spying program by citing pre-9/11 failures. “We didn’t know they were here until it was too late. The authorization I gave the NSA after September 11 helped address that problem,” Bush said last Saturday after the spying story broke.


The L.A. times reports that the specific case Bush referenced in his address—that of the 2 hijackers who crashed the jet into the Pentagon—could have been thwarted using traditional FISA regulations.

Hydrant Update

posted by on December 22 at 8:09 AM

Tips and comments are pouring in concerning the mystery of Seattle’s golden fire hydrants. Mostly, people want to praise the beauty of these spiffed up public safety devices or add to the list of locations where a glistening hydrant has been noticed: In front of Cinerama, in the University District, on Queen Anne Hill. As for their provenance, “Someone” posted this:

I saw two girls jump out of their car while I was walking home after a round of drinking at some off-Broadway bars, and spray-paint the one on 15th and Thomas. I asked them why, and they said it was just for fun. It definitely put a smile on my face.

Keep the tips and sightings coming.


Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Year in Reality TV

posted by on December 21 at 7:01 PM

Sorry the audio is so low, maybe I’ll try to fix it later, but probably not. Crank it.

Click image for video.

Last-Minute Gifts for Your Loved-Ones

posted by on December 21 at 5:47 PM

I finished my x-mas shopping last week, but I have sympathy for those of you who are only just starting. Below are some easy people pleasers—post more ideas if you’ve got ‘em.

Nancy Pearl’s Book Lust.
Wine, crackers, and a nice big hunk of cheese.
Movie theater gift certificates.
A nonstick crepe pan and a book of crepe recipes (City Kitchens, 1527 Fourth Ave).
Van Gogh Dutch Cocoa Vodka.
William Sonoma’s French lavender or Kaffir lime dish soap and a really nice dish towel (Pacific Place).
Giant, plush microbes or Uglydolls (available at OKOK on Broadway).

In a pinch, you can one-stop shop for everybody at the fabulous Magic Mouse Toys (and books and games) at 603 First Ave in Pioneer Square or at the Pacific Science Center’s gift shop.
Good luck.

Operation 4th Amendment

posted by on December 21 at 5:37 PM

Does anyone know if Bush’s spying program has a name?

His administration is so good at Orwellian names: The Clear Skies Initiative, No Child Left Behind, Operation Enduring Freedom.

I want the NYT to release the name. It must be priceless.

Jim Compton Replacement: Update

posted by on December 21 at 5:35 PM

Candidates who are seriously considering applying to fill the seat Jim Compton is vacating on the City Council, as of this afternoon, include:

Mayoral staffer Tim Durkan (who confirmed he’s thinking about it outside City Hall this morning)
2003 and 2005 council candidate Angel Bolanos (who finished fourth against Jan Drago)
Former Greater Seattle Business Association president Michael Ford (who considered running against Nick Licata in 2005 but backed down)
Executive search firm partner Norman Sigler
Office of Police Accountability Review Board chair Peter Holmes (who’s clashed with City Attorney Tom Carr over whether the city should indemnify OPARB members from officer lawsuits)
Activist Juan Jose Bocanegra
Former city employee and Hispanic Chamber of Commerce board member Javier Valdez (who’s already received endorsements from Seattle state Sens. Ken Jacobsen and Margarita Prentice and state auditor Brian Sonntag).
Greenwood Community Council president and Sierra Club activist Mike McGinn (who had former council member Heidi Wills calling council offices on his behalf this week.)

Those who definitely aren’t running, in addition to 2005 council candidate Dwight Pelz, include Wills, environmental activist Charlie Cunniff, and council central staff director Saroja Reddy, who just announced she is resigning her position after 12 years on central staff to take a job researching early childhood learning for the Gates Foundation. (More about Saroja in a separate post.)

Our Standards are Slipping

posted by on December 21 at 4:48 PM

The scary thing is this: Typically, the debate about FISA has been if FISA itself (with its top secret court for issuing surveillance warrants) is even constitutional.

However, Bush’s apparent abuse of power has gone so far, that now liberals have been forced to hold FISA as the progressive standard.


Magazine Cover of the Year

posted by on December 21 at 4:06 PM

Xmas comes early…


Secular Seattle?

posted by on December 21 at 3:11 PM

So how’s the War on Christmas going in Godless, liberal Seattle? Not so good, judging by the huge, honkin’ Christmas tree in the lobby of Seattle’s City Hall…

Kwan City Hall.jpg

But Christmas didn’t have the lobby all to itself. I saw this skinny lil’ Menorah when I turned around…

City Hall 2.jpg

And there was also this much nicer nod to Kwanzaa…

City Hall 3.jpg


posted by on December 21 at 2:47 PM

This letter to the editor, which we didn’t have space for in the paper this week, eloquently summarizes why I love Christmas in its current incarnation (Praise be to presents and wicked temptations!):

Christmas is about Satan - an achronym [sic] for Santa.
Satan worshippers value gluttony, greed, excess and consumerism. This is what Christmas has been all about for all of the past 28 years I’ve been alive, and I’m sure a lot further back than that.
The “liberals” who are forcing us to call Christmas: “Holiday”, are actually saving Christmas by decoupling the Christian values (goodwill, charity, humility, and simple living) from this time of year.
“Holidays” will no longer be associated with these Christian values and thus Christmas will be saved from Satan and his wicked temptations. But as long as Christmas is about presents, we as a society worship the values of Satan.
Ben Johnson

Smoke-free Nightlife, Cali-style

posted by on December 21 at 2:45 PM

In an attempt to ascertain what may be on Seattle’s nightlife horizon and to follow up on this piece, I’ve asked some people in California and New York about their clubbing experiences and observations in their respective cities re: the indoor-smoking bans. For example, what are people’s attitudes about it? Is the law flouted much? Do they know any smokers who quit as a result? Do they notice a decline or increase in attendance at shows/parties? Two people have responded so far. Their responses are below. More to come later, I hope.

Continue reading "Smoke-free Nightlife, Cali-style" »

Re: The Justin Berry Story: Webcam Porn

posted by on December 21 at 2:43 PM

I had a long email exchange with a friend about the Justin Berry piece in the New York Times on Monday. Like Josh, we were uncomfortable about the story told in the piece and some aspects of the piece itself. Here’s our chat…

I am sitting here reading the NYTimes article on the kid who ran a porn-cam biz from home starting when he was 13. He made tons of money, and did it on his own. Why am I not understanding why this is anyone’s fault but his own? Or maybe half his fault? It is creepy, but he could have turned off his computer at any time. Help me on this. V.
the problem here is the long-distance grooming behavior that lead this kid to engage in this behavior. adults plying him with praise and gifts, in hopes of gradually seducing him - granted, at a distance - into performing for them sexually. he wasn’t old enough or mature enough to consent to be a porn star. he was bribed, really, into performing sexually for strangers.

and eventually it lead to real-time, real-life abuse. that’s where the grooming lead - and he was abused, it seems, not just by strangers, but by his own father.

it’s sad, and he’s party responsible. but he was 13 when it started, and therefore not capable of making decisions like, “Do I want to be a porn star when I grow up?” the operative words being “when i grow up.” he was a child. through the Internet, men entered his bedroom and talked him into making porn. that’s illegal - communicating with a minor for immoral purposes, etc. i wouldn’t want guys talking to DJ about sex, or asking him to remove his shirt or boxers, in front of a webcam at age 13.

adults exploited him. that’s the issue. yes, he exploited himself too. but they were adults and he was a child.

and he’s going to be fucked up for the rest of his life, sexually at least, because of this “business” of his. he is, in a sense, ruined. he could have grown up to be a well-adjusted porn actor, if that’s what he wanted to do, or someone’s very nice-looking boyfriend.but now he’s going to be a mess.

Continue reading "Re: The Justin Berry Story: Webcam Porn" »

Keeping It Real

posted by on December 21 at 2:36 PM

Starts with a shove and ends with a shovel.

The Captain never fades

posted by on December 21 at 2:26 PM

Guided by Voices fans weren’t holding their breaths to see how long front man Robert Pollard would take to get back to making music after breaking up his “band.” Now GBV heads will be rewarded with both a new Pollard album (due in Jan) and a live show in February (the 28th) at the Crocodile.

Have You Seen This Hydrant?

posted by on December 21 at 2:07 PM

At 15th and John…


Or this one, at Broadway and Mercer?


Golden fire hydrants are popping up all over Capitol Hill, it seems. Anyone know why? Do they gush gold coins when one opens their valves?


posted by on December 21 at 1:49 PM

to On the Boards for snagging a $500,000 grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. Two hundred and forty mid-sized organizations applied for only seventeen award slots.

Now maybe the Boardies can build Fort Fun, that laser tag labyrinth they keep whining about whenever they get drunk.

Original drummer for !!! killed

posted by on December 21 at 1:47 PM

This came from my Sacramento source:

SACRAMENTO COUNTY - A 36-year-old Orangevale man was killed late Saturday
when his bicycle was hit by a car in Fair Oaks, coroner’s officials said. Mikel Gius died after his bicycle was struck at about 10:05 p.m. on westbound Madison Avenue, just east of Dewey Drive.

The Justin Berry Story: Webcam Porn

posted by on December 21 at 1:45 PM

With all the news about Bush and illegal spying, this front-and-center Pulitzer bid by the NYT, published on Monday, has gotten lost in the mix.

Basically, the reporter stumbles upon a repentant longtime teen webcam porn star and turns him into a de facto undercover super sting operative. It’s an amazing turn of events. Thanks to the intrepid NYT, the feds now have a series of sex predators in their snares, including the boy’s father. It’s a righteous and riveting story….but….

There’s something weird about the story. I can’t quite put my finger on it.

First from a reporting standpoint. There are a couple of oddities: The story never fully explains how the financial mechanics of the boy’s business worked. That is, how he actually managed all the money. (For example, how was he avoiding paying taxes on such a lucrative business?). Also, his mom’s absenteeism is curious. The kid purchases loads of tech equipment and rents an apartment near his house, and the mom is oblivious.

Intellectually, the story also raises more questions than it answers.
For a great deal of the time, the teen didn’t have a pimp type adult forcing him into this life. So, it’s not exactly clear to me what the grave issue is. Yes, it’s legally child pornography (so, that’s obviously a problem), but it raises a thorny issue around moral judgment: Who’s the victim? Adults shouldn’t be paying a 17-year-old to jerk off on-line, but, again, it was his own business, and he was quite savvy and proactive about luring people onto him. (He even uses cutthroat tactics to put a competitor out of business.)

Eventually, his estranged father enters the picture and starts procuring prostitutes for him, so he can have on-line sex, and yes, at that point in the story, there’s definitely some fucked up, illegal shit going on. The teen also has adult fans who fly him out for trips to Vegas and abuse him…and that’s fucked up child abuse.

But the on-line stuff is still a bit gray to me. I know that adults have money and power to lure the kid, and the article addresses that, but it also raises some (unintentional, I believe) questions about civil liberties on-line.

Did anyone read this story?

The Spirit of Christmas

posted by on December 21 at 1:41 PM

John Michael Snyder, public affairs director of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCFTRTKABA, presumably) sent this Christmas card to his friends, including President Bush.


(Via Oliver Willis.)

Canada: Looking Better All the Time

posted by on December 21 at 1:11 PM

Group sex is now legal in Canada.

Group sex among consenting adults is neither prostitution nor a threat to society, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled on Wednesday as it lifted a ban on so-called ”swingers” clubs.

Paul Theroux is Almost Right

posted by on December 21 at 1:04 PM

As Theroux points out in this article, Africa suffers from a very bad case of brain drain. Case in point: I, an English lecturer, work here at this American paper; my sister, a lawyer, works over my head; my father, an economist, now lives down the road from this office; my aunt, an accountant, lives in Greenwood; my cousin, an electrical engineer, works downtown; my other cousin, a corporate accountant, works in Bellevue, and so on and so forth. The article’s main wrong is the comparison that’s made between Bono and a famous character in Dicken’s Bleak House, mad Mrs Jellyby. That is nothing but a cheap (literary) shot.

Seattle’s Smaller Weekly Watch

posted by on December 21 at 12:59 PM

For the week of December 22-28, 2005:

Seattle Weekly: 108
The Stranger: 108

It’s a tie—sort of. It’s a regular issue for The Stranger and a special issue for the Weekly. Their fourth or fifth or forty-third gift guide should, by all rights, be larger than our regular issue, but it is not. So while we’ve tied this week, it still feels like a victory.

John Longenbaugh Sighting of the Day

posted by on December 21 at 12:41 PM

Standing on the corner of Broadway and John. Under the Rite Aid marquee. Maybe waiting for a bus. At 9:31 AM this morning. Spotted me across the street, where I was waiting for the light to change. Looked stricken. Suddenly thought of a reason to rush into Rite Aid.

Consensual Ejaculation

posted by on December 21 at 12:30 PM

Yes, yes, speculation about impeachable crimes committed by despised elected officials is very exciting.

But let’s not forget speculation about lesser crimes, such as the alleged assault-by-ejaculation reported by Court TV.

Details: A female receptionist in Houston is suing her former boss for assault and battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress after he allegedly launched his pudding onto her. As the civil suit states, “Plaintiff was sitting at her desk doing the work she was given earlier that day when Mr. Garcia came up behind her. He asked the plaintiff to turn around, and when she did, defendant proceeded to ejaculate onto her and her clothing. Mr. Garcia apologized and stated that he did not mean to do that.”

Regarding his alleged exposed penis and vandalism ejaculation, Mr. Garcia contends that every last spurt was consensual, and plans to plead not guilty to the misdemeanor indecent exposure charge that’s been filed against him.

As for the unlucky receptionist: Her attorney tells Court TV that she’s been in therapy since allegedly being ejaculated upon. Full story here.

Former Clinton Official Says Bush Isn’t Breaking Law

posted by on December 21 at 12:15 PM

John Schmidt, associate attorney general under President Clinton from 1994 to 1997, filed this pro-spying editorial in today’s Chicago Tribune.

Charles Mudede asks

posted by on December 21 at 11:40 AM

Where has all the laughter gone when it comes to hiphop?

Osama & George

posted by on December 21 at 11:22 AM

Who knew that George W. Bush and Osama bin Laden had so much in common?

Bin Laden may be unable to command, Rumsfeld says

Maria Cantwell: Linked to Al Qaeda

posted by on December 21 at 11:17 AM

Quick, someone wiretap this woman too.

Cantwell just led a successful filibuster threat on this vote, stalling a Republican attempt to open ANWR for drilling.

Sullivan & Frizzelle

posted by on December 21 at 11:12 AM

Andrew Sullivan agrees with Christopher Frizzelle about Brokeback Mountainhe liked the short story better.

BROKEBACK: I saw it last night. Maybe my hopes were too high, but the movie didn’t quite sustain itself for the time it took, I felt. The short story accomplished it all with more concision and thereby with more punch. But the movie, as you’d expect with Ang Lee, had enormous integrity. Heath Ledger was magnificent in his indirection - this was a rare movie in which the anguish of the outwardly conforming, “straight-acting” gay man was exposed in all its raw pain….

The Flyers vs. the Old Farts

posted by on December 21 at 11:12 AM

Seattle isn’t the only city that’s had to deal with officials who make it their duty to criminalize posting flyers for shows. San Francisco is dealing with the issue in a serious way (scroll down past the Cat Power paragraph to get the story).

Nancy Pelosi: Linked to Al Qaeda

posted by on December 21 at 11:00 AM

Quick, someone wiretap this woman.

A Gloomy ‘06?

posted by on December 21 at 10:43 AM

Over at Instapundit there’s talk of the ‘06 elections being like the ‘02 elections, when the Republicans reinforced their stranglehold in Washington. As one reader emails:

If you’d asked me (and you didn’t) three months ago, I would have said ‘06 is looking like ‘94. But it is indeed heading towards the ‘02 paradigm now instead. The “domestic spying” issue reinforces this. I expect CNN, CBS, etc, will be too frightened to actually commission a poll on the NSA wiretap issue. They know what they’ll find - a solid majority of Americans is going to have no problem with what the Administration has done here. In fact, they probably already assumed it was doing exactly this sort of thing.

But for some people, it’s always 1972 - you know, back when George McGovern won in a landslide because Americans were anti-Vietnam war.

I’m inclined to think they’re wrong, but then I thought for sure Kerry would win in ‘04. Is the country not at all freaked out about Bush’s spying?

Meanwhile in the Civilized World…

posted by on December 21 at 10:43 AM

Her Majesty’s queer subjects—gay and lesbian citizens of the United Kingdom—began getting married-in-all-but-name this week. The Civil Partnership Act went into effect a couple of days ago, prompting Elton John married his long-time partner yesterday, and George Michael is planning to marry his long-time partner soon. Michael adds that they’re not going to be monogamous, because that’s just daft. (Hat tip: Rex Wockner.)

But the UK’s Civil Partenerships aren’t just for famous pop stars of a certain age. The first to wed—partnerize, whatever—under the CPA was a lesbian couple in Belfast, Shannon Sickles and Grainne Close.

As they left City Hall, Ms Sickles said she was “delighted”…

“For us, this is about making a choice to have our civil rights acknowledged, and respected and protected as any human being,” Ms Close said. “We could not be here without the hard work of many queer activists and individuals from the queer community and we feel very privileged and blessed to be here doing this.”

“This is for all the people who went before us and this is for [our] protection,” her partner Ms Sickles added.

If the UK’s Civil Partnership Act weren’t a big enough example of just how out-of-step the United States is with much of the rest of the world—gays and lesbians can get married in freakin’ South Africa—check out Tony Blair’s op-ed in today’s edition of The Independent, a UK daily. The full text of Blair’s op-ed is after the jump, but here’s a sample:

This landmark measure ends the situation where same-sex relationships were invisible in the eyes of the law, denied any recognition of their commitment. It gives gay and lesbian couples who register their relationship the same safeguards over inheritance, insurance and employment and pension benefits as married couples. No longer will same sex couples who have decided to share their lives fear they will be denied a say over the partner’s medical treatment or find themselves denied a home if their partner dies…

Such a wide-ranging reform was long overdue. By 1997, society’s attitudes to lesbian, gay and bisexual people had changed dramatically. There is, as we have seen already this week, still some opposition to these measures. But I don’t believe these views reflect the opinions of the overwhelming majority of people in our country.

Past hostility and suspicions have been replaced with tolerance and understanding.

Oh, and you have to love the headline too:

Why we should all share in these celebrations Much of the opposition to equal rights for gays was downright spiteful

Christ. I hope I live long enough to read an op-ed like that by a sitting U.S. president.

Continue reading "Meanwhile in the Civilized World..." »

Did Clinton Do It?

posted by on December 21 at 10:40 AM

Right-wing bloggers are insisting that Clinton did it to—ordered the feds to spy on American citizens—so what’s the big deal about Bush spying on American citizens?

One problem, though: Clinton didn’t do it.

Weird Devo News

posted by on December 21 at 10:33 AM

But then again, what other kind of Devo news is there?

Devo changed the way people thought of music in the 1980s. Now, with Devo 2.0, the band will change the face of kids’ music—and introduce the concept of “de-evolution” to a new generation. The original band has re-recorded its iconic hits and asked five talented kids to sing them on CD. An accompanying DVD offers surreal animated music videos directed by  Gerry Casale. Both feature the first new Devo tracks in twenty years: “Cyclops” and “The Winner.” The self-titled album and dvd will be released on March 17th on Disney Sound.


posted by on December 21 at 10:19 AM


What child wouldn’t want to sit on his lap?

If you have a minute this morning…

posted by on December 21 at 9:22 AM

Turn your radio to 90.3 FM to hear one of Seattle’s best new singer/songwriters, Sera Cahoone. She’s performing live on KEXP, which means it should be archived if you miss it (she’s on right now). Cahoone has a truly gorgeous voice, a dusty country style delivery, and a bit of that cosmic country sound that Cat Power slings from time to time (minus CP’s constant crazy storms). Cahoone’s music gives me the chills…slow, warm, simply beautiful. She plays live quite often in this town (she’s playing a free show tonight at Neumo’s Bad Juju bar), and is working on a full length due for release in 2006.

The Shit Just Keeps Hitting the Fan

posted by on December 21 at 7:31 AM

Bush didn’t seek warrants because he wanted to avoid the burdensome paperwork.

Bush says illegal domestic spying was “very concentrated, a very limited program,” that was used just 18,000 times.

Bush wasn’t just spying on people making international calls (which Bush believes would be okay): “A surveillance program approved by President Bush to conduct eavesdropping without warrants has captured what are purely domestic communications in some cases, despite a requirement by the White House that one end of the intercepted conversations take place on foreign soil, officials say.”

Op-ed in hyper-conservative Washington Times shreds Bush: “President Bush presents a clear and present danger to the rule of law.”

Ethical federal judge James Robertson quits FISA court over Bush’s illegal spying: “Two associates familiar with his decision said yesterday that Robertson privately expressed deep concern that the warrantless surveillance program authorized by the president in 2001 was legally questionable and may have tainted the FISA court’s work.”

Smarty-pants federal judge Richard Posner defends Bush in Washington Post op-ed. “Most other nations, such as Britain, Canada, France, Germany and Israel, many with longer histories of fighting terrorism than the United States, have a domestic intelligence agency… We do not. We also have no official with sole and comprehensive responsibility for domestic intelligence. It is no surprise that gaps in domestic intelligence are being filled by ad hoc initiatives.”

Smarty-pants blogger Marty Lederman points out Posner’s unstated premise: Bush did indeed break the law: “Here’s the most chilling line in Posner’s column, taking euphemism to a new level: ‘It is no surprise that gaps in domestic intelligence are being filled by ad hoc initiatives.’ That’s Posner’s kinder, gentler way of saying ‘It is no surprise that current federal laws, which unwisely criminalize this conduct, are being circumvented by the President’s authorization to commit felonies.’”

Andrea Mitchell is an idiot.

Mad? Want hearings? Wanna see the bastard impeached? Then help the Dems take back the House or Senate.

A Reader Asks…

posted by on December 21 at 7:26 AM

T.J. wants to know if this dress is a little too hot for the holidays…


Living in America

posted by on December 21 at 4:00 AM

Fucking pure American pulp.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Jann Wenner: The New Trump?

posted by on December 20 at 5:35 PM

Another insufferable, rich white guy gets his own reality TV show. I know—I’m just jealous.

It looks like Jann Wenner will get his shot at reality TV stardom. According to two Wenner Media sources, the Rolling Stone founder has signed a deal with MTV to star in an “Apprentice”-type reality show about aspiring music journalists.

Check it Out

posted by on December 20 at 5:08 PM

The trailer for Cthulhu, a locally produced horror movie, is up on their website. It looks fucking amazing.

Sad Endings

posted by on December 20 at 4:47 PM

Yesterday afternoon, 2045 Seattle founder Christian Gloddy stopped by the Stranger to drop off a sad memento of the failed monorail effort: Nine panels that once hung in the basement of the Seattle Monorail Project office, forming the shape of a monorail. The panels, which are surprisingly heavy, had “windows” that allowed people attending public meetings to look into monorail staff offices. Gloddy was dropping by the SMP’s offices to pick up some monorail notepads (the SMP, which is now down to four staffers, is moving into a smaller space for a few months before it shuts down completely). As he was leaving, he noticed the monorail panels lying in the SMP’s office, headed for the trash. Here’s one:


Still More Conservatives Freaked Out by Bush’s Spying Program

posted by on December 20 at 3:42 PM

Impeachable Offense.

By Any Means Necessary

posted by on December 20 at 3:38 PM

In a double reverse back-flip take on the Plame case, Bush intends to go after the leak on his domestic spying program. The NYT writes:

Mr. Bush strongly hinted that the government was beginning a leak investigation into how the existence of the program was disclosed. It was first revealed in an article published on The New York Times Web site on Thursday night, though some information that administration officials argued could be useful to terrorists had been omitted. “We’re at war, and we must protect America’s secrets,” Mr. Bush said. “And so the Justice Department, I presume, will proceed forward with a full investigation.”

God, I hope so. First the Bushies break the law, then they go after the people who turned them in. That’ll be attractive.

Indeed, I love how adamantly unrepentant the Bush administration is about the spying scandal.

Here, for example, is Gonzales in : today’s NYT

In the first of a series of appearances Monday to defend the intelligence operations, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales told reporters that “this electronic surveillance is within the law, has been authorized” by Congress. “That is our position,” he added…Mr. Gonzales said the administration believed that Congress gave the president clear and broad authorization to attack Al Qaeda in a resolution passed on Sept. 14, 2001, that set the stage for the invasion of Afghanistan. That resolution authorized the president “to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.”

What the Bush administration doesn’t understand is this: Even if they argue until they’re blue in the face that eavesdropping without a warrant is legal (and even if they’re right…which I can’t imagine they are… 4th Amendment?), nobody, especially not their hard right base, is down with this sort of spying. Let them keep saying they had a legal right to do it. It just makes them look bad.

When Bush loyalists like Sen. Rick Santorum comes out and says the President can do “watever is necessary” (as he told the Philly Inquirer today), it’s gonna start to scare the shit out of people. As John Aravosis puts it: “Really Rick? So that would include taking people’s guns away, having background checks at gun shows, keeping permanent federal records on gunowners, repealing the 2nd Amendment? You said “whatever is necessary”

In addition to the conservatives that Daily Kos cites, there are still others coming out against this. Sen. Arlen Specter is keeping up a steady drum beat about investigating and here’s one of Santorum’s Republican colleagues from PA. Rep. Curt Weldon (R., Pa.):

“It certainly wasn’t my intent to give the administration the right to tap the phone conversations of Americans” when he voted for the post-Sept. 11 resolution. “I don’t believe they have the right to spy on American citizens - that doesn’t mean I don’t support the war on terror.”

Oh yeah. I bet you’re linked to al Qaeda, though.

My Favorite Bush Quote of the Day

posted by on December 20 at 3:35 PM

“We’re at war, and we must protect America’s secrets.”

This was Bush threatening to go after whoever/whomever leaked the domestic spying program.

That’s rich. Bush is lecturing about protecting America’s secrets while he’s illegally spying on American citizens.

Liberal Media

posted by on December 20 at 3:21 PM

During what I could stomach watching of yesterday’s Bush press conference, this question from a reporter seemed a tad partisan for me:

You said last night that there were only two options in Iraq — withdraw or victory. And you asked Americans, especially opponents of the war, to reject partisan politics. Do you really expect congressional Democrats to end their partisan warfare and embrace your war strategy? And what can you do about that to make that happen?

As it turns out, my Spidey Sense wasn’t wrong. The reporter who lobbed this question Bush’s way, as Daily Dissent points out, was one Joseph Curl, White House correspondent for the batshitcrazy conservative Washington Times and Fox News talking head.

Good thing mainstream journalism isn’t bleeding credibility or anything.

Top Ten People w/ “Links” to Al Qaeda

posted by on December 20 at 3:10 PM

I’ll start the list with ACLU executive director Anthony D. Romero. The evidence is in today’s NYT:

Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, questioned whether the administration was criticizing the warrant system because cases in which the National Security Agency focused on Americans would not have met the standard of proof for intelligence warrants, which requires that the surveillance target be linked to a foreign terrorist group.

“It’s insufficient to simply take at face value the president’s claim that these people under surveillance by the N.S.A. had known links to terrorism,” Mr. Romero said in an interview. “This entire program makes a mockery of our system of checks and balances.”

Please add names.

Re: Brokeback Mountain versus “Brokeback Mountain”

posted by on December 20 at 1:55 PM

I agree with Christopher that the short story is far more affecting than the movie. The movie did make me cry, and I think it’s a great achievement. But the short story made me hurt. And in its timing (1997), evocativeness, and honesty it’s clearly the greater achievement.

I think one reason for the story’s greater evocative power is its intense sense of smell. It’s not fair to criticize a movie for a lack of smell, I know. Smell is a sensory arena where cinema simply cannot compete with literature. But if one reads the story in the afternoon, and then sees the movie in the evening, as I did, the absence of smell during the movie is striking, almost disorienting.

In the story, the pup tent that Jack and Ennis trade off sleeping in, so that one of them can always be close to the sheep at night, “smells like cat piss and worse.” The smell is important: Being among the sheep, those symbols of conformity, smells like the worst part of cats, those symbols of femininity. In short order, Jack and Ennis give up trading nights in the pup tent and begin sleeping with each other in a larger, shared tent far away from the flock.

Then economic reality—the sheep provide the only jobs these poor ranch hands have, after all—pulls the lovers back into the world they are escaping. There is bad weather coming, and it is their job to rescue the sheep, to bring them down off the mountain to safety and civilization. As they descend, there is “the smell of coming snow pressing them on.” Nature, cruelly, both unites and divides them. At the bottom of the mountain they part ways, their jobs over, their minds unable to imagine their love existing at lower altitudes.

When Ennis and Jack are reuinted years later, they hug, and Proulx writes that Ennis “could smell Jack—the intensely familiar odor of cigarettes, musky sweat, and a faint sweetness like grass, and with it the rushing cold of the mountain.”

And then there is this:

In December Ennis married Alma Beers and had her pregnant by mid-January. He picked up a few short-lived ranch jobs, then settled in as a wrangler on the old Elwood Hi-Top place, north of Lost Cabin, in Washakie County. He was still working there in September when Alma, Jr., as he called his daughter, was born and their bedroom was full of the smell of old blood and milk and baby shit, and the sounds were of squalling and sucking and Alma’s sleepy groans, all reassuring of fecundity and life’s continuance to one who worked with livestock.

In Proulx’s story, everything smells: heterosexual procreation, homosexual coupling on a mountain, the weather, the tent. All of it. Equally. It smells, as she writes, like life’s continuance.

The movie, on the other hand, smells like an Oscar.

Rocky is Spin’s “Band of the Day”

posted by on December 20 at 1:34 PM

Seattle’s very own Rocky Votolato is Spin magazine’s Band of the Day today. Check out the write-up here. And I wrote up his show at the Vera Project a few weeks back, which you can read here.

How’s She Doing?

posted by on December 20 at 1:33 PM

Not so good. Washington’s governor Christine Gregoire ranks 39th in an approval ratings for all 50 U.S. governors.

Conservatives not Royalists

posted by on December 20 at 12:40 PM

Some conservatives have a problem with George W. Bush illegally spying on U.S. citizens. Daily Kos has gathered up some useful quotes and links.

Re: Brokeback Mountain versus “Brokeback Mountain”

posted by on December 20 at 12:35 PM

No, the correct answer is: “Brokeback Mountain: The Video Game.” Coming soon to an XXXBox near you.

Re: Brokeback Mountain versus “Brokeback Mountain”

posted by on December 20 at 12:30 PM

No, the correct answer is “This is an absurd question.”

re: Brokeback Mountain versus “Brokeback Mountain”

posted by on December 20 at 12:23 PM

The essence of this debate (which I’ve had the pleasure of overhearing off and on all morning) is the question, “Which medium has more merit, film or literature? Moving pictures or the written word?”

The correct answer, obviously, is literature.

Dream Date

posted by on December 20 at 12:21 PM

Via Drudge:

Stalin Ordered the Creation of Half-Man, Half-Ape Super Warriors

In other words, Stalin sought to create a race of dream dates for our art director, Corianton Hale.

And now the disturbing details…

Moscow archives show that in the mid-1920s Russia’s top animal breeding scientist, Ilya Ivanov, was ordered to turn his skills from horse and animal work to the quest for a super-warrior… in 1926 he was dispatched to West Africa with $200,000 to conduct his first experiment in impregnating chimpanzees.

Meanwhile, a centre for the experiments was set up in Georgia - Stalin’s birthplace - for the apes to be raised.

Mr Ivanov’s experiments, unsurprisingly from what we now know, were a total failure. He returned to the Soviet Union, only to see experiments in Georgia to use monkey sperm in human volunteers similarly fail.

No doubt the monkey sperm was fresh and obtained from happy-go-lucky chimps who were only too delighted to part with it. But I kind of doubt the humans Ivanov attempted to impregnate with it—female humans, I presume—were “volunteers.” In Stalin’s USSR, people “volunteered” to go before firing squads and “volunteered” to execute their own parents for crimes against the state. I supsect the women involved in these experiments “volunteered” under duress too.

All-Mail Voting for King County?

posted by on December 20 at 12:16 PM

King County Executive Ron Sims has proposed an all-mail voting system for the county. He argues that it will streamline the election process, allow the staff to focus on a single system, and increase voter turnout.

I am all for that. However, I am someone that enjoys voting in person. I go up to the elementary school by my house, where I see my neighbors and get to gawk at all the cute kids. You vote in the library with the positive-message posters and tiny chairs. Best of all, if you go before school starts they have little “hosts” outside wearing darling sashes that will guide you to the polling area. So cute!

Brokeback Mountain versus “Brokeback Mountain”

posted by on December 20 at 12:15 PM

Last night I went to Harvard Exit for the 7:30 Brokeback Mountain, got turned away, walked to the Egyptian and bought tickets for the 9:50, went somewhere and read for a while, showed up to the movie early, watched the theater fill up, saw the movie, didn’t cry, went home. This will come as a shock to no one, but I didn’t really like it. Whereas the short story it’s based on ruined me. The short story is so much better. Bear with me.

First, the two actors wear too much make-up. In order to believe what the story requires you to believe (that in spite of their undeniable pull toward one another they are, Ennis in particular, too stoic and rough-spoken and beholden to the world’s idea of men to allow themselves to create what could be a life together) you have to believe they are roughened men, and gobs of foundation and blush do not a rough man make. A technical point, but highly distracting. Second, the movie (even though it’s so damn long) leaves some things that were in the story out, things I’d argue make the whole thing stronger, like Ennis’s fevered, cartoonish, lurid-colored dreams about Jack at the end. Third, in the movie, Jack is jonesing for a fuck from the get-go, posing against his truck, checking out Ennis in a mirror, whereas in the story their attraction is weirder, harder to explain, they discover they’re into men through each other, and the sex is as unexpected and exhilerating to each of them as it is to the reader. In the movie, again, there is preening, and even a shot, before they ever touch, of Ennis sticking his ass up into the air as he’s crawling around drunk that made the audience laugh and laugh. There are lots of these kinds of laughs in the movie. The story has none of this baiting or campiness. Fourth, in the movie you just don’t get the interior state (obviously, it’s a movie), but these men’s interior lives are precisely what’s at stake. The scene in the movie that corresponds to this moment in the story (the men have parted after their first summer together, and as they do so Enis realizes the agony that will accompany not seeing Jack anymore) just doesn’t do justice to the following, in the story’s low-register tone:

“Well, see you around, I guess.” The wind tumbled an empty feed bag down the street until it fetched up under the truck. “Right,” said Jack, and they shook hands, hit each other on the shoulder; then there was forty feet of distance between them and nothing to do but drive away in opposite directions. Within a mile Ennis felt like someone was pulling his guts out hand over hand a yard at a time. He stopped at the side of the road and, in the whirling new snow, tried to puke but nothing came up. He felt about as bad as he ever had and it took a long time for the feeling to wear off.

In the movie, Heather Leger tries to throw up, punches a wall, and then yells at someone for looking at him. Fifth, the cinematography — isn’t it wonderful? isn’t it amazing? Uh, I guess — is it hard to be amazing when you’re taking shots of clouds and mountains? Is it as hard as writing sentences like: “Dawn came glassy-orange, stained from below by a gelatinous band of pale green.” Or: “The sooty bulk of the mountain paled slowly until it was the same color as the smoke from Ennis’s breakfast fire.” Sixth, the dialogue is so much better when Jake Gyllenhaal isn’t delivering it. Seventh…. ah hell, I’ll let you get back to your day. This is what I’m trying to say: for it’s economy and mystery and surprise and lasting sadness, the short story is a greater artistic achievement than the movie. It just is. I had a fight about this earlier today with Annie Wagner (who loved the movie, which is great, there’s a lot to like, although it’s just not done as well as the story is). She will now undoubedtly weigh in with something that sounds smart on technical terms but lacks something. (Feeling?) This is because she read the story after she saw the movie.

Did I Say That?

posted by on December 20 at 11:47 AM

An Atrios reader unearthed a little statement from Bush that might be coming back to haunt him right about now. From April 20, 2004:

Secondly, there are such things as roving wiretaps. Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires — a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we’re talking about chasing down terrorists, we’re talking about getting a court order before we do so. It’s important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution.

If You’re Only Going to Read One Piece…

posted by on December 20 at 11:33 AM

…about the domestic spying scandal, all the best bloggers agree that you should read this piece by Newsweek’s Jonothan Alter.

The Christmas Sweater

posted by on December 20 at 10:59 AM

At a dinner party the other night, my midwest friends were discussing how the Christmas Sweater has really found a niche in that region of the country. They said that the Christmas season offers a dazzling display of sweaters bedazzled with Santas, reindeer, snowmen, slowflakes, trees, sleds, and anything else that can be knitted, bejeweled, and stuck on a big hunk of wool. The War Room offers one of the final Christmas parties of the season tomorrow (Dec. 21) with a Christmas sweater theme. Wear one of these babies and get 2 free drink tickets…the night also promises various DJs and drink specials. And entry is free.

Suffer the Children?

posted by on December 20 at 10:59 AM

Maybe so. The BBC reports that smoking bans may be harmful to children…

Smoking bans in public places lead to children being exposed to higher levels of tobacco smoke at home, a study by University College London shows. Experts found that smokers were more likely to light up at home if prevented from doing so in cafes and bars.

The researchers favoured designated smoking areas over an outright ban, which they claim displaces the problem.

Opponents of the smoking ban in Seattle sent me the link to the story. My response? Well, it’s odd. I don’t want to see kids suffer, but I don’t think it’s fair for smokers to say, “Hey, let me smoke in bars and clubs or I’m going to go home and do harm to my own children.” I would hope that even smokers, struggling with their addictions, would be able to view their own children as something more than hostages. But, alas, that may not be the case.

That’s not an argument for doing away with the smoking ban, though. It is an argument for sterilizing smokers.

Use Your Own Sword

posted by on December 20 at 10:54 AM

The holidays are a stressful time, what with all the holiday parties and shit to set on fire and people to shoot in the face. Lest we forget the humorous madness of this great nation, I humbly present a few choice excerpts from teaching materials for federally funded high-school abstinence programs (you can read more here):

At one time the definition of an adult was someone who had left childhood behind and taken on the responsibilities of life. In contrast, today “adult” means being able to view and participate in any and all types of perverse activities that depraved minds can imagine. We actively seek to eliminate terrorism from our land; please help us actively seek to eliminate this corruptive terrorism that is stealing our children’s future.

A confusing sexual fable:

Imagine a knight traveling through the countryside. He hears a princess in distress and rushes gallantly to slay the dragon. The princess calls out, “I think this noose will work better!” and throws him a rope. As she tells him how to use the noose, the knight obliges her and kills the dragon. Everyone is happy, except the knight, who doesn’t feel like a hero. He is depressed and feels unsure of himself. He would have preferred to use his own sword.

And my favorite:

While a man needs little or no preparation for sex, a woman often needs hours of emotional and mental preparation.

You’re welcome.

Judge Jones Was Listening

posted by on December 20 at 8:51 AM

The Associated Press reports that the verdict in the intelligent design case in Dover is as follows: Shut up, you wily creationists. Judge Jones wrote in his decision that “the secular purposes claimed by the Board amount to a pretext for the Board’s real purpose, which was to promote religion in the public school classroom.”

While this sounds great, I’m waiting for further analysis to decide whether to throw a party or merely applaud. The decision seems to be a narrow ruling that rests on the fact that the school board members were obvious religious nutjobs. Particularly revealing quotes from school board members that were entered as evidence: “Two thousand years ago, someone died on a cross. Can’t someone take a stand for Him?,” and “This country wasn’t founded on Muslim beliefs or evolution. This country was founded on Christianity, and our students should be taught as such.”

So I’m not sure whether the question as to whether wilier creationists like the ones at Seattle’s own Discovery Institute—the type who can mask their religious motivations—can still weasel their way into classrooms has been answered. But Judge Jones certainly had room to do so: His opinion is 139 pages long.


Update: The New York Times has its own story up now, and the decision is indeed wonderfully broad: ” ‘The evidence at trial demonstrates that intelligent design is nothing less than the progeny of creationism,’ Judge Jones wrote. ‘We conclude that the religious nature of intelligent design would be readily apparent to an objective observer, adult or child,’ he said. ‘The writings of leading ID proponents reveal that the designer postulated by their argument is the God of Christianity.’ ” Looks like we can party.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Dive, dive, dive with me

posted by on December 19 at 10:13 PM

It’s generally impossible to post anything smoking-ban related on the forums (or this slog, for that matter) without inspiring fruitless, antagonistic barbs from someone on either side of the argument. Let’s stop that, shall we?

Yes, it’s too early to measure the positive or negative financial impact of the ban on bar sales and employee tips. Yes, some bars seem to be thriving and will continue to do so. Yes, any dip in sales may be mercifully brief. However, this is a terrible time of year to get hit with a loss of income in the bar business. Any service industry worker will tell you that the extra income accumulated in December cushions the predictable blow when business slows in January.

Unless you frequent blue collar watering holes or dive cocktail lounges outside of Capitol Hill or Belltown, you can’t possibly understand how this is impacting some of this city’s historical bars during the holiday season. My most beloved cocktail haunts are in Ballard and other northern Seattle neighborhoods. I’m seeing first hand what’s happening at places like the Moon Temple, the Fremont Dock and the Tin Hat (all of which have been in business for more than 20 years, some as many as 50). Unsurprisingly, Ballard’s Smoke Shop is suffering from a particularly alarming drop in business. In effort to counteract this depressing trend, myself and my fellow dive bar devotees in BYSUK have designated the Smoke Shop as our Thursday night meeting spot for the next several weeks. When we were there last week, there were only 3 other customers bellied up to the bar. We’re a fiesty, thirsty bunch, but even our livers and wallets have their limits.

It doesn’t matter if you voted for or against the ban. If you harbor any affection for Seattle’s few remaining dive bars, please make an effort to patronize your favorite one as much as possible—especially over the next few weeks. Industry veterans like Darlene Kaiser are counting on it.


posted by on December 19 at 4:17 PM

It’s a theocracy!

Early voting results announced by Iraqi electoral officials today indicated that religious groups, particularly the main Shiite coalition, had taken a commanding lead, with nearly two-thirds of the ballots having been counted. The secular coalition led by Ayad Allawi, the former prime minister, had won only meager support in crucial provinces where it had expected to do well, including Baghdad.

The front-runner in Sunni Arab regions was a religious coalition whose leaders have advocated resistance to both the American military and the Shiite-led government and has insisted that President Bush set a timetable for withdrawal.

Pick your battles

posted by on December 19 at 4:07 PM

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the man who in previous weeks has publicly referred to the Holocaust as a “myth,” and called for Israel to be wiped off the map, has now banned Western music from Iran.
Is President Ahmadinejad threatened by The Hip Hop, or The Rap? Is he afraid of bootylicious singers like Beyonce bouncing their way into the hearts of deviant teens and ruining his designs for an ultra-conservative Iran?

Songs by artists such as Eric Clapton and George Michael will be affected… Clapton’s Rush, Michael’s Careless Whisper and The Eagles’ Hotel California are often used as background music on Iranian TV programmes. Songs by American easy-listening artist Kenny G are also often featured.

Relax said the nightman
We are programed to recieve
You can check out any time you like
But you can never leave

President Envy

posted by on December 19 at 3:50 PM

Why does Bolivia get to have this guy as president while we’re stuck with George W. Bush?

Evo Morales, who won Bolivia’s presidential election on vows to end a U.S. campaign against coca growing, stepped up his criticism of American anti-drug policies on Monday, accusing Washington of using drug fighting efforts to militarize the region. In his first news conference since claiming victory on Sunday Morales — who took a surprisingly strong majority and will be Bolivia’s first Indian leader — insisted he was opposed to drugs but disputed Washington’s methods….

“We support an effective fight against drugs. Neither cocaine or drug trafficking are part of the Bolivian culture,” he said in his stronghold of Cochabamba as the first official results from Sunday’s vote trickled in… The U.S. government insists much of Bolivia’s coca is processed into cocaine, but farmers say they grow the plant for traditional medicinal uses, herbal teas and religious ceremonies.

Re: W Stands for Whitewash

posted by on December 19 at 3:50 PM

“This program has targeted those with known links to Al Qaeda.” —President Bush, today, defending his decision to authorize eavesdropping without getting proper warrants. (Can anyone say 4th amendment?)

“Links to Al Qeda” ??? That’s exactly what Bush said about Iraq.

No wonder Bush didn’t go to a judge for a warrant. He would’ve had to provide evidence. And I imagine duping a judge is harder than duping the Congress or the public.

W. Stands for Whitewash

posted by on December 19 at 3:35 PM

Bush is frantically selling… but is anyone buying his bullshit anymore?

Safeco Gives McGavick an Extra $14.3 Million

posted by on December 19 at 3:35 PM

According to documents filed with the SEC, Safeco is tweaking its rules to funnel outgoing CEO Mike McGavick millions of dollars and stock options that he wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.

You have to wonder if Safeco and McGavick worked out the changes—like changing the vesting date for an extra $4.5 million in stock options —so that McGavick will have extra reserves to take on Sen. Maria Cantwell.

It’s certainly a clever way for Safeco to contribute to McGavick’s upcoming Senate campaign without having to report contributions to the FEC.

Here’s the Dems fact sheet on it:

Continue reading "Safeco Gives McGavick an Extra $14.3 Million" »

My Phone, Violated

posted by on December 19 at 3:08 PM

I guess I should be more careful where I leave the snazzy new camera/phone my boyfriend got me for my birthday. I left it sitting on the table at Bill’s Off Broadway a couple of weeks ago and was shocked—shocked!—to discover this incriminating photograph in my phone’s memory today.


Man, I hope they didn’t serve that cucumber to anyone.

One Effed-Up I, Anonymous

posted by on December 19 at 2:05 PM

So if you can’t tell, one of my favorite parts of my job is monitoring the submissions to the I, Anonymous Forum.

Today brings a new submission blasting a man for wearing a hideously inappropriate slogan on a T-shirt. More importantly, this hideously offensive slogan wasn’t even funny. Read “Fuck You And The Shirt You Rode In On” here.

Speaking of Contempt…

posted by on December 19 at 1:47 PM

Democrats seem to be finding their voice on the domestic spying issue, accusing Bush of contempt for the rule of law:

In a news conference to respond to Bush’s statements, three Senate Democrats challenged the legal justification for the domestic spying program…

Where does he find in the Constitution the authority to tap the wires and the phones of American citizens without any court oversight?” demanded Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. He also disputed Bush’s statement in the news conference that checks on his executive power — such as his authority to order the secret surveillance — came from his oath of office and congressional oversight.

“That’s not a check on the executive branch, notifying some members of Congress — if he did — that he’s taken the law into his own hands,” Levin said. “That is not a check on the executive branch, nor is the fact that he gets opinions from six lawyers in the executive branch, all under his control, that he can do this.

Levin noted that [current wiretap law] allows for retroactively seeking the court’s permission for wiretaps in the event of an emergency. “And so he can’t just simply use the necessity to move quickly as an excuse to bypass the law,” he said.

“The president does not have a leg to stand on legally with regard to this program,” said Sen. Russell D. Feingold (D-Wis.)…

If Bush feels the [wiretap] law needs to be changed, “he should come to us and we should debate it,” Feingold said. Meanwhile, Bush should respect the [federal court system] and “cease doing anything else he might be doing for which there is not legal authority that we don’t know about,” he said. “He is the president, not a king.”

Top Ten Words

posted by on December 19 at 1:27 PM

If 2005’s most popular Yahoo searches depressed the hell out of you, you can at least take comfort in the fact that people who look things up in the dictionary are clearly reading the papers and following current events—if not quite understanding what’s going on.

The highly revealing list of the most popular words on Merriam-Webster Online for 2005:

1) integrity

2) refugee

3) contempt

4) filibuster

5) insipid

6) tsunami

7) pandemic

8) conclave

9) levee

10) inept

R.I.P. Waxwing.

posted by on December 19 at 12:39 PM

This past weekend the vastly underrated local rock band, Waxwing, played two last shows before officially breaking up. I attended Friday night’s show at Vera. Prior to this weekend the band hadn’t played in about three years and they were going off only a few days of practice, so they weren’t as tight as they were in their prime, but they still played really well and littered the set with favorites from all three of their albums. I was sorta sorry that they didn’t play their U2 cover, though. The vibe in the room was really great too. Lots of people were dancing and singing along. And band members teased singer Rocky Votolato for being out of breath (his solo project doesn’t require nearly as much energy, and he thrashed all over the stage just like the old days…). Waxwing appeared to be having just as much fun as the crowd because during song breakdowns, they’s often exchange smiles while rocking out.

If anyone went to Saturday’s show at the Old Fire House in Redmond, I’d love to hear how it went.

And I just want to give props to opening band Slender Means. I had seen ‘em before, but on Friday I was reminded just how great that band is. Singer Josh Dawson has the dreamiest voice in Seattle, and during the set I kept being reminded of Wilco and Ted Leo. Take a minute to check ‘em out here.

Hertzberg on the War on Christmas (AKA, the W. on C.)

posted by on December 19 at 12:32 PM

From the comment in the new New Yorker:

The War on Christmas is a little like Santa Claus, in that it (a) comes to us from the sky, beamed down by the satellites of cable news, and (b) does not, in the boringly empirical sense, exist.

Screw Barbie

posted by on December 19 at 12:28 PM

What child wouldn’t want stem cells for Christmas?

What I Learned at Nick Licata’s Wedding

posted by on December 19 at 11:53 AM

1) Dave Meinert will not be appointed to fill the current council vacancy.
2) 43rd Democratic District Chair Dick Kelley is not running for State Party Chair.
3) Frank Chopp shaved his mustache.
4) Larry Gossett still exists.
5) Nick’s base doesn’t dance very well.
6) And Nick Licata is still the coolest city council member: He got married (this past Saturday night) in the movie theater at the Grand Illusion w/ a Buster Keaton silent movie running on screen; he and his beautiful bride, Andrea Okomski, were serenaded by their favorite song, The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven” before tying the knot, and Nick knows how to dance.

The American Taliban: Good for the Jews?

posted by on December 19 at 11:01 AM

Just because the fundies think that Christ is coming back to boil your Jewish blood, does that mean you can’t be best buddies? Maybe not. Reuter’s reports that some American Jews and Jewish groups are reconsidering their chummy relations with American Taliban.

“Every room (from bedroom to classroom) in the American mansion is under assault to impose either de facto or de jure a Christian theocracy — I call them Christocrats,” said Rabbi James Rudin, former head of interreligious activities for the American Jewish Committee…. Rudin said he has met pastors “who say that Jesus Christ is the ultimate leader of America and that God’s law trumps the Constitution … I’m very concerned.”

Welcome to the concerned club, Rabbi. But what the hell took you so long?

The End of Marechera/The Arrival of Hove

posted by on December 19 at 10:50 AM

Charles Dumbuzdo Marechera is considered to be the most important Zimbabwean writer of the 20th century. He published one great work, House of Hunger, and an impressive mess, Black Sunlight, and a simple mess, Black Insider. He died in 1987 at the age of 36, apparently of AIDS. He was a genius, familiar with every book and movement of literary importance, homeless for most of his life, a drunk, and an impossible romantic. He was my hero until yesterday, my last full day as a Zimbabwean—in a couple of hours I will become an American citizen. My new hero in Zimbabwean literature is Chenjerai Hove, who is not as lettered as Marechera and (for lack of a better way of putting it) is more African—in the way Fela Kuti conformed English to Nigerian syntax, Hove conforms English to Shona syntax. Hove’s writing is fecund, broad, and muscular. Best of all, his novels have a sense of national (revolutionary) consciousness, or what the Hungarian Marxist Georg Lukács called class consciousness, that ultimately liberates the reading experience from the dreadful limits of the individual artist (his/her psychological hurt, family drama, and all that other sensitive/softie nonsense which fills the pages of so many bad books and the two good books Marechera’s short life completed). Hove’s nationalized and de-romanticized imagination rises up to the sky like the owl of minerva or the angel of history and soars over the piling wreckage of human events. Hove is now in my head and will remain there until the end of all time.

Constitutional Dictatorship, Part 2

posted by on December 19 at 10:28 AM

At his news conference this morning, president Bush explained what happened after he suggested the government start spying on American citizens:

Now, having suggested this idea, I then, obviously, went to the question, is it legal to do so?

Uh, no, Mr. President.

I am — I swore to uphold the laws. Do I have the legal authority to do this? And the answer is, absolutely. As I mentioned in my remarks, the legal authority is derived from the Constitution, as well as the authorization of force by the United States Congress.

There’s already been some blogosphere explanation of how Bush finds authority to break U.S. law in the Constitution, but I assume the mainstream media will take today’s press conference as an invitation to explore this question further over the next few days. One reporter this morning headed in this direction, asking whether there is any limit at all to the powers Bush believes he has:

Q Thank you, Mr. President. I wonder if you can tell us today, sir, what, if any, limits you believe there are or should be on the powers of a President during a war, at wartime? And if the global war on terror is going to last for decades, as has been forecast, does that mean that we’re going to see, therefore, a more or less permanent expansion of the unchecked power of the executive in American society?

THE PRESIDENT: First of all, I disagree with your assertion of “unchecked power.”

Q Well —

THE PRESIDENT: Hold on a second, please. There is the check of people being sworn to uphold the law, for starters. There is oversight. We’re talking to Congress all the time, and on this program, to suggest there’s unchecked power is not listening to what I’m telling you. I’m telling you, we have briefed the United States Congress on this program a dozen times.

This is an awesome responsibility to make decisions on behalf of the American people, and I understand that, Peter. And we’ll continue to work with the Congress, as well as people within our own administration, to constantly monitor programs such as the one I described to you, to make sure that we’re protecting the civil liberties of the United States. To say “unchecked power” basically is ascribing some kind of dictatorial position to the President, which I strongly reject.

Q What limits do you —

THE PRESIDENT: I just described limits on this particular program, Peter. And that’s what’s important for the American people to understand. I am doing what you expect me to do, and at the same time, safeguarding the civil liberties of the country.

Translation: Bush doesn’t want to be called a dictator, but he doesn’t want to have to follow the law, either. Got it? And he doesn’t want to have to follow the law, even when the law already allows him to do the very thing that he claims he needs to break the law in order to do: start wiretaps quickly.

Which obviously makes no sense. Unless, as some bloggers are beginning to suggest, something else is going on.

Three Street Scenes

posted by on December 19 at 10:19 AM

One: I flogged my date like a team of Huskies to get to the Moore by 7 pm so we’d be on time to see Kiki and Herb. (They were very good, very funny, but they didn’t set me on fire. The rest of the crowd, however, was spastic with delight.) Turns out the show didn’t start until 8 pm. My date stormed off in a huff and I ran into these young gentlemen from Bainbridge Island sliding noisily through the street:



They call `em urban skis—shoes nailed to skateboards nailed to lengths of PVC—and invented them for some school project. I asked if they would be willing to build and sell more. They gave me a don’t-be-a-douche-bag look and said: “… you could just make some.” TouchĂ©.

Two: For reasons known only to God, I woke up at four this morning and couldn’t get back to sleep. I took a long walk through the sleepy residential neighborhoods of Capitol Hill and Queen Anne, fantasizing about the heroics I would perform were I to encounter a burglar or an arsonist. In the midst of my delusions of law-enforcement grandeur, I crossed an empty street against the light and got a fucking jaywalking ticket.

Three: I ended my sojourn by walking to work in the rain. I saw a soggy pillow by the side of the road, then a soggy woman in the middle of the road. She pointed at me, then pointed at the pillow and said something like: “That used to be in our apartment. It got stripped. Dr. Doctor doctored your doctor’s doctor. You know that funny doctor? That’s funny because doctor doctor doctor doctor. My stomach got stripped. I need a robot.”

The Immortal Kiki & Herb

posted by on December 19 at 10:12 AM

For anyone who missed Kiki & Herb on Saturday night at the Moore, here’s the latest: they are immortal. Kiki broke the news early on in the first act that a certain cow of theirs (on tour with them now) was in the manger and ate the after-birth of Jesus, and then they, two peasant locals, drank the cow’s milk, and, well, they’ve been living ever since. In one new addition to her life story, Kiki talked about getting cancer in the 80s and forcing herself to sweat it out with an electric blanket and a bottle of vodka — she had to get rid of it because, as she put it, “Ladies and gentlemen, imagine living forever with a terminal disease.” Brilliant.

This development also makes their cover of the Mountain Goats’s “No Children” all the funnier (Herb: “I hope you die”; Kiki: “I hope we both die”). Also in the current Resurrection tour they do a lot from their hard-to-find Christmas album Do You Hear What We Hear?, a couple highlights from their Carnegie Hall concert (which you can get here), a new Peaches cover, and lots of new ranting, including monologues about Hurricane Katrina, the tsunami, the war on Christmas, suicide bombers, and the President. It’s illegal to say you’re going to kill him, Kiki points out in a quiet moment, but it’s not illegal to wish he would kill himself.

Kiki and Herb were supposed to play Portland tonight, but at the last minute they jaunted off to England to play at an Elton John party. So now, according to their website, they’ll be in Portland December 29.

A Stranger/901 Incident

posted by on December 19 at 10:11 AM

Chop Suey’s back lounge, Saturday night. I’m chatting with a club employee. We smell cigarette smoke and scan the room for the source of the olfactory insult. We eventually catch a guy sneaking tokes and hiding the cigarette beneath the table where he’s sitting. Chop Suey employee politely asks him to extinguish his smoke. The culprit laughs, complies, and sheepishly says he was reading this article.

The Bore on Christmas

posted by on December 19 at 9:44 AM

I was just in Spokane, Washington, the city where my boyfriend grew up. It’s a nice place to be from—far, far from.

Spokane is an overwhelmingly white, overwhelmingly Christian town. There are churches on every corner—there are also restaurants on every corner. Spokane has more restaurants per-capita than any city in American, the locals proudly tell you. The neglect to mention that the restaurants they’re talking about are all McDonalds, Arbys, Applebees, Dominoes, Subways, etc. The impact of all this fast food is apparent everywhere. Come the Rapture God is going to break a serious sweat helping the saved in Spokane ascend into heaven.

Being as Spokane is very, very Christian, there’s no debate there over whether you wish people a “Happy Holidays” or a “Merry Christmas.” It’s Merry Christmas all the way—which is fine with me. Or used to be. I celebrate Christmas, in my culturally Catholic way. Put a tree up, take my kid to see Santa, hang stockings, bake cookies—basically it’s my childhood Christmas minus Midnight Mass. But I noticed something new when I was in Spokane this weekend: I couldn’t wish people who had wished me a “Merry Christmas” a “Merry Christmas” in return. Wishing people a “Merry Christmas,” even when I was certain they were Christian, made me feel complicit in this War on Christmas bullshit. I would be sending a signaling that I was one of the troops, just another one of Bill O’Reilly and American Family Association’s Christian warriors.

And then it hit me: Just as the right-wing succeeded long ago in making it impossible for liberals and progressives to enjoy the July 4th, now they’re taking Christmas away too. Patriotism is their property—if you’re not a my-country-right-or-wrong, country-music-listening redneck, you’re made to feel like a hypocrite for celebrating the July 4th holiday. So most of us opt out, ignoring July 4th. We’ve ceded patriotism to the right. And now, thanks to the War on Christmas, those of us who aren’t fundies are going to feel awkward about celebrating Christmas.

So they’re taking Christmas away too—but, hell, not just Christmas. They’re taking holidays, period. From Thanksgiving through the New Year, it all belongs to them. Jesus is the “reason for the season,” all of it, every twinkling light, every scrap of tinsel. Doesn’t matter if you’re Jewish or secular or just happy about the arrival of a new year because it brings us closer to the date when George W. Bush is out of office. If you’re down with the holidays, you’re down with Christianity.

So there I was in Spokane, being wished Merry Christmas every time I turned around. And what did I say in return? Respond in kind? Wish ‘em “Happy Holidays” and risk being accused of attacking their faith? Neither. I said, “Yeah, thanks.” It was the only thing I could say without feeling like a liar or co-conspirator.

Speaking of Tearjerking

posted by on December 19 at 12:06 AM

Umm, I just went to see It’s a Wonderful Life at the Grand Illusion, as I do every year, and I cried several times, as I do every year.

Now, that’s what I call a gay cowboy movie.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

You’re Either With Us or You’re Against Us, Mr. President

posted by on December 18 at 8:30 PM

It looks to me like you’re against us.

Just as the idea that “it was necessary to destroy the village in order to save it” became the derisive (and accurate) analysis of America’s illogical strategy during the Vietnam War, Bush’s idea that it’s necessary to defile the Constitution in order to protect our Constitutional freedoms is now the bottom line on his War on Terror.

President Bush said it himself in his speech on Saturday when he defended authorizing electronic eavesdropping without first obtaining the required warrants: “This authorization is a vital tool in our war against the terrorists. It is critical to saving American lives…to protect them and their civil liberties. And that is exactly what I will continue to do so long as I’m the president of the United States.”

Brokeback Chattering

posted by on December 18 at 3:24 PM

I saw Brokeback Mountain in a packed screening at the Harvard Exit last night, and I will say something Sean Nelson will likely mock me for forever: If you don’t cry at this movie, you don’t have a heart. Tears welled at the heart-stopping shots of clouds (okay, I’m a dork) at the beginning and pretty much didn’t let up.

Meanwhile, the “gay cowboy” repudiations and anxious universalizing that I weighed in on in this issue of the Stranger continue unabated:

Here’s Roger Ebert:

“Brokeback Mountain” has been described as “a gay cowboy movie,” which is a cruel simplification. It is the story of a time and place where two men are forced to deny the only great passion either one will ever feel. Their tragedy is universal.

More affectionate than cruel, but of course it’s a simplification. What two-word summary of a movie isn’t?

A critic for the Willamette Week in Portland:

[C]alling Brokeback Mountain a gay western is misleading and wrong. In the most traditional definitions, this is neither a western nor a gay film. And if people can see past the hyperbole and whatever controversy may surround it, they will see Brokeback Mountain for what it is: a brilliant love story that promises to be among the most revolutionary films in years.

Blah, blah. What is the “traditional definition” of a gay film, anyway? And what’s this obsession with traditional definitions? Do I smell “defense of marriage/Christmas/insert besieged institution and/or film genre here”?

Frank Rich in the New York Times (can’t link because of the subscriber wall):

Though “Brokeback Mountain” is not a western, it’s been directed by Ang Lee with the austerity and languorous gait of a John Ford epic.

Err, okay.

And Dave Kehr, the New York Times DVD critic (and my new nemesis, it appears), on his blog:

Drawn out and relentlessly mournful, Ang Lee’s “gay western,” which opens this Friday full of Oscar hopes, is not particularly gay nor really a western — at least, not in the sense that it engages the deep structure of America’s most self-reflective genre.

Well, maybe not my nemesis. At least Kehr spared a clause to back up his claim. Now, what is that “deep structure” exactly? As far as I’m concerned, a movie that freshly interprets the tired Western theme of man struggling against society and engages the iconography of the Old West fits those requirements fine.

However, one such “gay cowboy” repudiation wasn’t knee-jerk or particularly anxious. In today’s New York Times, Manohla Dargis has an extended take on masculinity in Brokeback Mountain, and it’s one of the best analysis pieces she’s done to date. Dargis does make the following claim, which I might be expected to deplore: “That ‘Brokeback Mountain’ quickly and jokingly became known as ‘the gay cowboy movie’ speaks to the unease surrounding the film’s subject, but it also reflects an unfamiliarity with both the West and the western.” But unlike the above reviewers, she gets around to exploring her definitions, and it’s a great read. From her discussion, it seems that she technically would prefer the movie to be called the “gay post-Western about wannabe cowboys.” Which is cool with me.

Here are the very last two things I have to say on the subject: Hollywood hasn’t been making Westerns for several decades; any new attempt at the genre is obviously going to be fundamentally different. As for the cowboys not being cowboys: Okay, Ennis is a ranch hand and Jack is a would-be rodeo cowboy. But please, they’re not shepherds! That was a summer gig.

A la Valerie Plame

posted by on December 18 at 2:30 PM

Yesterday, defending his authorization of domestic eavesdropping without first getting the required warrants, President Bush lectured:

The existence of this secret program was revealed in media reports after being improperly provided to news organizations. As a result, our enemies have learned information they should not have.

And the unauthorized disclosure of this effort damages our national security and puts our citizens at risk. Revealing classified information is illegal, alerts our enemies and endangers our country.

If Bush is so upset that someone “improperly provided” the story to news organizations, maybe he should put Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald on it and get yet another member of his administration indicted.

And just a little point of order on the merits of disclosing secrets to the press: It’s illegal for the government to eavesdrop without first getting a warrant. It’s not illegal— a la Valerie Plame—to be a CIA agent.

Strangercrombie Blowout in Pictures

posted by on December 18 at 10:53 AM

Cruise over to the Stranger homepage to see photos from Friday’s Holiday Blowout. Look for my favorite, Korny the Extra-Amazing Kwanzaa Korn, among the drunken revelers.