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Archives for 05/11/2008 - 05/17/2008

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Currently Hanging

posted by on May 17 at 4:46 PM

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Gregory Glynn’s Tended (two views) (2008); cedar, beeswax, painted steel; 44 inches by 9 inches

At Catherine Person Gallery. (Gallery web site here.)

Today The Stranger Suggests

posted by on May 17 at 11:00 AM

Film

‘Mister Lonely’ at Northwest Film Forum

Harmony Korine’s third feature film has a nun falling out of a plane, Werner Herzog playing a priest in a tropical country, a young man impersonating a Dangerous-era Michael Jackson on the streets of Paris, and a commune of celebrity impersonators who are trying to live as far away from reality as they can. The movie is great, and Samantha Morton (a Marilyn Monroe impersonator) delivers the most magical performance of her career. (Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave, 329-2629. 4:30, 7, and 9:15 pm. Through Thurs May 22.)

CHARLES MUDEDE

Reading Today

posted by on May 17 at 10:00 AM

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An open mic, a book about business for women, and a passel of other events going on today.

First of all, up at Third Place Books, Washington State Congressman Jay Inslee will be reading from Apollo’s Fire, his book about clean energy. A friend of mine was just in Inslee’s office and he brought me back a free, pocket-sized copy of The Constitution. He said there were just stacks of them sitting around the office. I’m ready for the battles with feverish Ron Paul supporters about what it all means, now. Thanks, Congressman Inslee!

John Straley, who is Alaska’s ‘writer laureate,’ which must be a pretty cool job, is signing copies of his new mystery, The Big Both Ways, at Seattle Mystery Bookshop.

At Elliott Bay Book Company, Philip Terman reads from his new poetry collection, Rabbis of the Air, a book which begins with a poem titled: “As My Daughter Climbs the Apple Tree, I Think of the Ancient Sephardic Poet Jehuda Halevi.” This should win some kind of award for the title alone.

And at the Rendezvous, Antioch University’s KNOCK magazine celebrates the release of their brand-new Gestation Issue. I have never read KNOCK, and so I have nothing to say on the matter. But Christopher Frizzelle did, a couple years ago:

As has been said in this space repeatedly in the last few weeks, there are no great literary journals in Seattle, but I am nothing if not an optimist, which is how I ended up at the Rendezvous’s JewelBox Theater on Sunday evening. I was invited to the reading of the new issue of KNOCK by KNOCK’s editor, Bryan Tomasovich, who began a long e-mail to me with, “Hey, this is about your recent articles about literary magazines in Seattle, and the reactions to [your articles], but I’m not writing to give you shit or any such.” Tomasovich gave me the details of the event (“Starts at 6:30 p.m. with a great, seven-piece jazz/funk band… Then we kick in with readings and performances from our local contributors…”) and wrote, “And I’d like to see you there ‘cause I’ve not met you, ‘cause you seemingly don’t even know about KNOCK (or you do and are discounting us), and ‘cause just maybe if you get to know what we’re up to, you might be able to help KNOCK grow into the kind of magazine you’re seeking, based on what I’m hearing in your articles.”

Don’t forget to check out the full readings calendar.

The Morning News

posted by on May 17 at 9:30 AM

posted by news intern Chris Kissel

New digs: Pentagon plans new prison in Afghanistan.

New rescue efforts: After flood threat, efforts resume in Beichuan, China.

Famine: Global food crisis hits Somalia.

Condemnation
: Entire world criticizes Burma for cyclone response.

Hike: Saudi Arabia increases oil production, Bush says it won’t fix energy problems.

Acid bath
: Chemist gets life in prison for stuffing husband into a vat of acid.

Oh, no: Ted Kennedy’s in the hospital.

Bad information: Public never notified of 50,000-gallon toxic waste spill in King County.

New contract: SPD officers are now the highest paid in the state.

Recommendation of the day: Go outside.


Friday, May 16, 2008

Two Horrible Things at Once

posted by on May 16 at 5:22 PM

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Last night, I settled in to watch Right At Your Door, a movie that I read a memorably positive review of about a year back. It’s set in Los Angeles, just after an unidentified group of terrorists set off a series of dirty bombs. When I was a kid, I was simultaneously repulsed by and attracted to nuclear holocaust-type books and movies, especially the ‘realistic’ kind, with nuclear winter and rotting body parts. Based on a couple of reviews, I was expecting that sort of thing.

What I got was a movie where the husband spends the first twenty minutes risking his life to find his wife in a L.A. consumed by fear and martial law. This is pretty much what I was hoping for. A cheap B-movie about survival in a disaster area. But then the man gives up on his search and, at the first urging of Homeland Security, duct-tapes himself inside his house. Then his wife comes home and he won’t let her in the house because she might be contaminated and then she’d contaminate him and so he’d die. So they spend most of the rest of the movie talking through duct-taped windows, while his wife slowly starts coughing more and more because the dirty bombs are some sort of biological weapon or something. There’s also a little boy named Timmy.

About half an hour in, I completely lost interest. My girlfriend, acknowledging that the movie was completely horrible, wanted to keep watching it. So I decided to read the new issue of Esquire.

I don’t usually read Esquire, but this issue of Esquire has a cover story on Barack Obama by Charles P. Pierce. I’ve become obsessed with reading glowing media portraits of Barack Obama. But I started reading this piece, titled The Cynic and Senator Obama, and it’s one of the worst pieces of magazine writing I’ve ever read. The writer refers to himself as “the cynic” all through the piece. The cynic experiences car trouble. The cynic is cynical because he’s never had someone to believe in before. Here are five sentences from near the beginning:

There is one point in the stump speech, however, that catches the cynic up short every time. It comes near to the end, when Obama talks about cynics. Obama says that cynics believe they are smarter than everyone else. The cynic thinks he’s wrong. The cynic doesn’t think he’s wiser or more clever or more politically attuned than anyone else.

It is unreadable. It’s barely skimmable. It’s atrocious.

So I turned by attention back to the atrocious movie. The man and wife are still talking through plastic. But then, near the end, because it’s time for the movie to end, there is a twist so bad, so completely unbelievable, that it would’ve been more emotionally honest if everyone in the movie just stopped, looked directly at the camera, and shouted “TWIST!” in unison. Plus, I think the whole goddamned movie ripped off this post-nuclear-apocalypse episode of The Twilight Zone that I saw in the late eighties. I looked at the movie. I blinked. I looked at the magazine. I blinked again. I was surrounded by awful, awful things.

I hope that your weekend is better than this, is all I’m saying. Hell, I hope my weekend is better than this.

This Week on Drugs

posted by on May 16 at 4:00 PM

Murdered Undercover: A 23-year-old civilian informant in Florida.

Governor Charlie Crist says he’s not ready to push for any changes in the way police use confidential informants, at least not yet. Today Crist responded to the case of Rachel Hoffman a police informant, 23, who was murdered after disappearing during an undercover drug operation in Tallahassee.

Hoffman was arrested for using and selling ecstasy and marijuana, and police recruited her to participate in a drug bust as a way to avoid prison time.

But the drug operation targeting two alleged drug dealers went awry and her body was found two days later.

More:

“All indications were she would be a very good choice as a confidential informant, she would follow directions and there would be no issues,” Tallahassee Police spokesman David McCranie said Monday.

But police say at the last minute, she changed the location of the meeting with the two men, Andrea J. Green and Deneilo Bradshaw, in a Tallahassee-area park to buy drugs and a gun from them as part of a sting.

The police officer handling the case pleaded with her to call off the meeting, McCranie said. “For whatever reason she did not call it off,” McCranie said. “And that ultimately led to her murder.”

Hoffman’s stepfather, Mike Weiss, told The Tampa Tribune Monday that police should stop falling back on what Hoffman did because she shouldn’t have been put in the position in the first place. “They took a 23-year-old relatively naive person and put her in a life-threatening situation,” Weiss told the newspaper.

High Opinion: Canadians want to legalize pot.

High Class: Educated stoners.

Long Time Coming: Seattle woman sentenced to 21 years for meth.

GDP of THC: Second place in B.C.

Denied: Inmate’s request for pot.

Decried: Ecuador opposes US military outpost.

Decide: Court overturns murder conviction of woman who used cocaine and miscarried.

Projected: Unprecedented new trend of marijuana in movies (forget about this, this, this, this, and this).

Last Days: Deadline for Ontario retailers to display cigarettes.

Last Toast: Robert Mondavi is dead.

Seattle Police Officers Approve City’s Contract Offer

posted by on May 16 at 3:24 PM

The Seattle Police Officers’ Guild has approved the city’s contract offer. According to the Guild, 90% of officers voted to approve the contract, which will increase officer pay by 25-36%, making Seattle Police the highest paid officers in the state.

Maybe They Should Ban BDSM in Canada

posted by on May 16 at 3:07 PM

Everything I said about that recent decision by a judge in Toronto that seemed to ban BDSM in Canada? (“People can’t invite violent sex acts, judge rules.”) I take it all back.

Canadian pierces lover’s heart in botched sex game

A Canadian man who asked his lover to carve a heart-shaped symbol on his chest during a rough sex game almost died when she accidentally pressed too hard and punctured his heart, a newspaper said on Thursday.

The Winnipeg Free Press said the 25-year-old woman had been sentenced to three years’ probation after she pleaded guilty to assaulting the man in February 2007.

The 24-year-old man was initially given little chance of survival but made a full recovery and is backing the woman. Both had been drinking heavily and engaging in rough sex when he asked the woman to carve the symbol, the paper said.

That’s it. No more rough sex for you, Canada.

Shenanigans in the 46th

posted by on May 16 at 2:26 PM

UPDATED to reflect new information and interviews.

Members of North Seattle’s 46th District went home after last night’s nominating convention thinking they had chosen a nominee for state legislature from their district. (Unlike the intransigent members of the 36th District, the 46th agreed to abide by a Democratic Party-sanctioned scheme to anoint a single “official” candidate in the wake of a court decision upholding Washington’s top-two primary.) That nominee, chosen by a group of 100-plus precinct committee officers in the district (who, thanks to an arcane system that allots votes based on total Democratic Party presence in each precinct, each got more than one vote), was longtime anti-Hanford activist Gerry Pollet.

That outcome, which had Pollet’s opponent, longtime Party activist Scott White, losing by a scant three points, would have been astonishing enough in itself. White, the former head of the 46th District, was widely favored to win the nomination. The endorsements listed on his web site include 76 PCOs from the district—an impressive showing among the rank-and-file party activists—as well as numerous elected officials, including most of the Seattle City Council.

Nonetheless, the final vote count showed Pollet ahead, with 329 (weighted) votes to White’s 326—prompting Pollet to declare victory in an e-mail to supporters this morning.

And that’s where things get interesting. Because at the same time as Pollet was declaring victory, so was White—asserting on his web site that although “the initial tally suggested that Scott’s opponent, Gerry Pollet, had won the nomination… after three re-counts it was confirmed that Scott had in fact won the official Democratic nomination of the 46th legislative district! More information to come as it becomes available. Congratulations Scott!”

Based on conversations with folks on both sides, it appears that, after the tallying committee made up of representatives from both camps went home, Dean Fournier, a White supporter, recounted the ballots on his own — in Pollet’s words, “suddenly found another ballot in the middle of the night”—and wrote an email to 46th District chair Javier Valdez telling him that White had won. In his email, Fournier wrote:

Javier, this is most embarrassing. Because the State Party has sometimes asked us to keep our ballots for examination if requested, I brought them home to await any later instructions. Having them, I wanted to tally the nbr of individual PCOs (unweighted) who’d voted for each; it was Scott 56 and Gerry 59, but that doesn’t and didn’t really matter. I also wanted, more importantly, to make sure that no 6’s had been counted as 9’s or vice versa; none had. But in the course of doing so, I had to sort the ballots by weighted nbr, and FOUND ONE EXTRA “8” ballot for Scott. That means that Scott got 334 to Gerry’s 329, so SCOTT really won. OUCH!!

Neither Valdez nor Fournier have returned calls for comment; consultant Christian Sinderman, who is supporting White, says his “understanding is that the individual who counted the ballots was selected as a neutral party and is known for his integrity. The fact that he found a similar result to the initial count is no surprise.”

There are a few problems with this regardless of whether Fournier’s count was correct, of course. One is that, assuming this account is correct, the official nominating process was over. As Pollet puts it, “You can’t just find a vote in the middle of the night at somebody’s house and say that counts.” Pollet says his campaign agreed not to count a ballot that was printed on the wrong color paper; if that ballot was counted, he says, he would still have more overall votes than White’s adjusted, higher total.

On the other hand, White says Fournier didn’t just “find” a ballot—he counted the ballots three times, and came up with the same total each time. “To suggest that one of the most respected and honest people in our district would [fabricate] ballots in his house is very disappointing and smacks of sore-loser sentiment on Gerry’s part,” White says. He blames the confusion, in part, on the fact that many ballots were not signed, something he protested at last night’s meeting—making it difficult, incidentally, to reconstruct exactly what happened in last night’s ballot tallies.

Where does this leave the 46th District? That’s anybody’s guess. Both White and Pollet continue to claim victory. (In an email this afternoon, 46th District chair Javier Valdez said no recount had taken place and that it “no decision has been made” on what steps the party would take moving forward. “All I can ask it that we be keep cool heads and be respectful while this needs to be sorted out,” Valdez wrote.) White wants a recount of all the ballots in Fournier’s possession. Pollet supporters, meanwhile, accuse White of being the real sore loser. Bob Ferguson—a King County Council member who ran against then-incumbent Cynthia Ferguson Carolyn Edmonds*, whom White supported while White was the county council’s chief of staff—says bluntly, “you’ve got to be gracious when you win and gracious when you lose, and right now, he’s lost.”

*White supported Sullivan when Ferguson ran against her in 2003, when White was chairman of the 46th District Dems. He went on to support Edmonds when Ferguson challenged her after the county council was redistricted and reduced to nine members in 2005.

Although, under the top-two system, both candidates will move forward as Democrats no matter what happens, having the official sanction of the party could be a big advantage. It’s unlikely that the district will formally endorse either candidate over the other (a separate and more inclusive process from the nominating convention), because any nomination requires a two-thirds vote from district membership, although a dual nomination seems like a distinct possibility.

Contacted after the vote, Pollet said he wasn’t surprised the vote was so close “We knew it would be extremely close despite the fact that Scott boasted that he had it all locked up and I would be dropping out of the race. If he had listened to the people who are elected committee officers, he wouldn’t have been boasting like that.” White denies that, adding: “I believe that it’s possible to get elected and to still take the high road and I think it is unfortunate that Gerry did not choose to do so.”

With the Democratic Party choosing congressional district delegates tomorrow, it’s unlikely that the 46th will make any decision on how to move forward before early next week.

SPD Still Pissed about Porn, Bar Says

posted by on May 16 at 2:18 PM

posted by news intern Chris Kissel

Last week, I wrote a short piece on SPD’s crackdown on porn at gay clubs on Capitol Hill.

It looks like SPD may be at it again, at least according to Seattle Eagle manager Keith Christiansen. Officers O’Neill and Gallagher came into the club on Friday, according to bar staff, and noticed a pornographic video the Eagle was running. Christiansen said the video falls within state liquor board guidelines. It’s “cut with bars,” he said, and contains no visible nudity.

When two men in the video started kissing, O’Neill “flipped out,” Christiansen said. O’Neill pulled bartender Scott Kirby outside the bar, asked for his I.D., and warned him about the “simulated sex acts” in the video. Kirby told O’Neill that the video met liquor board standards; O’Neill, according to Kirby, said, “I am the law,” and added that the incident would be in his report (SPD said they hadn’t heard anything about the incident and that no report was filed).

O’Neill returned Saturday and jumped behind the bar in order to speak with Kirby again. The exchange wasn’t threatening, Kirby said, but the disruption caused an exodus from the club. “Every time this happens,” said Christiansen, “50 people leave right off the bat.”

Christiansen says he plans to talk to a lawyer next week before he meets with SPD about his concerns.

Flickr Photo of the Day

posted by on May 16 at 2:11 PM

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by Joey Veltkamp

YouTube Killed the Literature Star

posted by on May 16 at 1:58 PM

Since every book has to have a trailer now, the paperback release of Head Case by Dennis Cass has a trailer about having a trailer. Beside the seizure-inducing edit job on this one, it’s pretty funny.

Mike Huckabee Was the Funny One, Right?

posted by on May 16 at 1:56 PM

Somebody pointing a gun at Barack Obama—hilarious!

During a speech before the National Rifle Association convention Friday afternoon in Louisville, Kentucky, former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee—who has endorsed presumptive GOP nominee John McCain—joked that an unexpected offstage noise was Democrat Barack Obama looking to avoid a gunman.

“That was Barack Obama, he just tripped off a chair, he’s getting ready to speak,” said the former Arkansas governor, to audience laughter. “Somebody aimed a gun at him and he dove for the floor.”

Pretty Ladies

posted by on May 16 at 1:50 PM

What is it about sunny weather that makes a girl want to put on her prettiest and go for a stroll?

Whatever it is, I love it.

Women of Seattle—You all look fucking gorgeous today, in all your different flavors. Keep it up.

Awesomeness Never Gets Old

posted by on May 16 at 1:32 PM

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Studs Terkel turned 96 today. If you’ve never read Terkel’s oral biographies, start with Working—it’s available at just about every used bookstore in the city, for super-cheap—and then read everything else. He’s among the last of a breed—I will always regret never being able to meet Mike Royko—of talented journalists who brought real heart to their work.

Plus, his name is Studs. And he’s 96. That alone is cause for celebration.

Wish Me Luck!

posted by on May 16 at 1:30 PM

I’m running to become a 7th Congressional District national delegate for Obama tomorrow. I’ve been working my butt off for SIFF for the last few week and haven’t had much of a chance to campaign, so I don’t rate my chances very highly.

But what chance I do have is largely due to you, Slog politics junkies, and I thank you. (Even you, Big Sven—I love wrasslin’ in the comments.) Has this primary been fun or what?

You Know What I Like About Obama?

The Feminist Case Against Hillary Clinton.

Wishin’… and Hopin’… and Behavioral Economics.

Why Erica is (Mostly) Wrong on Barack Obama.

OK, Now Hillary’s Pissing Me Off.

Good to Know.

Caucus Potus.

Caucus!.

… and, of course, The Stranger’s endorsement (which I cowrote with HRC fan Josh Feit) way back in January.

If I’m elected as a national delegate, I will, of course, be Slogging from the convention and probably writing a longer piece about my experience. You guys benefit, too—so beam me lucky thoughts!

“Eco”? Eh.

posted by on May 16 at 1:26 PM

I admit I was immediately skeptical when I read the headline, “Jobs, homes proposal for Snohomish County touted as eco-friendly,” in Wednesday’s Seattle Times. Would that be the same Snohomish County that was sanctioned by the governor for violating the state Growth Management Act? The same Snohomish County whose council opposed infill development, arguing that density did not belong in existing urban areas? The same Snohomish County where officials have not hesitated to fight for developers’ right to turn rural farmland into sprawling exurban developments? The same Snohomish County where even modest pushes toward a sensible growth strategy were met with cries of overregulation and excessive government intrusion on private property rights?

Yeah, that would be the one. So like I said, I was skeptical.

Here, as far as I can tell, is what’s “eco-friendly” about this exurban development, to be located on 600 acres in Cathcart, past Mill Creek near Highway 9:

• It’ll have a transit hub and a job center—the same type of job center that has failed spectacularly at containing sprawl and auto dependency at Snoqualmie Ridge.

• It will include four-story condo buildings, plus “green” businesses “such as hydroponic greenhouses and solar-energy production on land once slated for a county landfill.”

• And it will include 170 acres of open space, including some restored wetlands.

Here’s the problem, though. Unless all those new condo dwellers work where they live—unlikely, as the example provided by Snoqualmie Ridge has shown—they’ll all need to commute somewhere, and most of them will do so by car. Non-commute trips—which make up 75 percent of all car trips—will likely increase as well. (Sound Transit provides bus service in Snohomish County, but their tax base there is already stretched thin, making a major service expansion unlikely even if voters do back a Sound Transit expansion in 2008. And much of which could end up going toward a fund for future light rail, anyway.) Making a community “self-contained” (with jobs, retail, and housing in one places) rarely accomplishes much if that community’s also isolated from surrounding cities.

Meanwhile, the people who work in all that ground-level retail that’s being planned as part of this mixed-use development would most likely commute in from elsewhere. (I’m guessing workers at, say, Bed, Bath & Beyond can’t afford a brand-new condo in a highly publicized “eco-development.”) So while, you know, yay for a transit hub (after all, it’s easier to provide transit when you only have to stop at one central location), I’m skeptical that the improvements in transit are going to translate into less congestion on the roads and emissions in the air.

Finally, on the subject of wetlands: “Restoring” wetlands—AKA creating new wetlands to replace wetlands that have been destroyed—is not the same thing as preserving existing wetlands. Wetlands are complex ecosystems that are extremely difficult to establish and maintain; restoring wetlands is far inferior to simply preserving them in the first place. And, de Place notes, “[developers] preserve the wetlands on these sites because it’s illegal not to.” And “clustering a bunch of impervious surface [driveways, roads, and rooftops] around wetlands can pretty seriously degrade their quality.”

Paul Krugman touches briefly on the subject of exurban development today on his blog, noting that the suburbs were designed with the assumption that oil prices would stay low forever. Now that gas prices are high and climbing, exurban dwellers—people who live in places like eastern Snohomish County— with few or no alternatives to driving are the hardest hit.

Another Cartoon Controversy

posted by on May 16 at 1:05 PM

The land of pot, functional socialism, and cultural tolerance continues its immigration freakout. From the International Herald Tribune:

A Dutch political cartoonist was arrested this week on suspicion of insulting people because of their race or religion through his work, authorities said Friday.

The cartoonist, who works under the pseudonym Gregorius Nekschot, was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of violating hate speech laws and held overnight before being released, a spokeswoman for his publisher Uitgeverij Xtra said.

“He was arrested with a great show of force, by around 10 policemen,” the spokeswoman said.

Some NSFW examples of Nekschot’s cartoons: Mohammed getting a blowjob
from a child (with the caption, “an inconvenient truth”) and Mohammed fucking (an apparently consenting) Anne Frank.

And a SFW one:

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All of Europe is doing a lousy job of integrating its immigrants, but the Netherlands is doing an extra-lousy job, with a resurgence of neo-fascism on the right, attacks on free speech by the left, a culture-and-language test that may violate international law, etc.

Last month, author Ian Buruma (who wrote an excellent book a couple of years ago about immigrants, Pim Fortyn, and the murder of Theo van Gogh) gave a good interview to Der Spiegel about the Netherlands and its Muslims. He’s against the impulse to censor criticism of immigrants, but recognizes, as the Dutch right doesn’t, that

… you need to convince European Muslims that they have a stake in liberal democracy and that the freedoms that one tries to protect against radicalism are also theirs. If you start to tell these people the problem is not just violent ideology inside Islam but that the Muslim religion itself is the source of all evil, then you alienate the very people you need to have on your side.

Read the rest of it here.

Am I Being Sexist?

posted by on May 16 at 12:24 PM

Lots of teenagers spend entirely too much time in front of their computers gaping at Internet pornography. But how many of these online porn addicts are… girls? Abby’s got a letter today from a self-described online porn “addict” that hews a little too closely to scare stories about porn addiction to be believed. This “friendly, cheerful, religious and an honors student,” currently a virgin, started looking at porn on the Internet and now her grades suffering, she’s obsessed with sex, she’s lost all respect for men, and she’s very, very seriously contemplating the loss of her precious, precious virginity.

Abby, of course, recommends counseling.

The Oeil Is Really Tromped

posted by on May 16 at 12:17 PM

This show—er, two shows (in one)—sounds mind-blowing. If you are in New York right now and you don’t go to see this, I’ll never forgive you.

Here’s a link to images totally worth clicking—there are 24 of them (and check out that Picabia!).

Sylvia Wolf’s First Four Weeks

posted by on May 16 at 12:08 PM

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Sylvia Wolf has been director of the Henry Art Gallery for four weeks now, and already we have a few indications of what she’s made of.

First, Wolf’s exhibition of Robert Mapplethorpe’s Polaroids—documenting for the first time the young photographer’s first lens love—opened at the Whitney Museum of American Art May 3. This morning, Karen Rosenberg of the New York Times wrote about the show in the context both of Mapplethorpe and the endangered camera. “The beloved instant photograph could not have hoped for a better sendoff,” Rosenberg wrote. I need to get my hands on a copy of the book (cover above), which The Art Newspaper called “compact but surprisingly weighty.”

I met Wolf for the first time on Tuesday, and she struck me as lively and friendly, with a fierce edge. As both a longtime academic and a longtime museum person, she said she feels at home at the Henry, a museum embedded in a university. “It just feels right. I see people with pink hair in slippers holding a cup of coffee at 8 in the morning, and I think, ‘Yeah, this is good.’”

It will probably be some time before we see Wolf’s imprint out in the galleries (not as a curator—she’s said she doesn’t intend to curate—but as a new guiding force), but her first item of business is putting together a department of education and university relations for the museum. In the past, the Henry had an education curator but not a distinct department devoted to education.

During her interviews for the job, Wolf persuaded the UW administration to agree to split the cost of an annual resident for the museum—a scholar, artist, or curator who will bring fresh blood to the city every year. That will probably begin next spring, Wolf said Tuesday.

“The fact that the administration has actually put up some new money to support the Henry’s initiatives is huge,” she said. The fact that Wolf persuaded the administration is huge, too.

Lunchtime Quickie

posted by on May 16 at 12:01 PM

And now, a touching moment between father and a son…

Deliciousness of Spring

posted by on May 16 at 11:55 AM

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Asparagus! It is simply great. It’s so simply great that getting it at a restaurant is usually stupid—why would you when you can steam or grill it at home and enjoy the unadulterated deliciousness of spring? Last spring, the most-worth-it asparagus I found in a restaurant was (unsurprisingly) at Sitka & Spruce (grilled, topped with a sunny-side-up duck egg, with duck prosciutto and anchovy).

This spring, the winner is the salade aux asperges at Café Presse: asparagus served refreshingly chilled with a clingy, tart-ish goat cheese vinaigrette, sprinkled with pine nuts and little bits of scallion. (Also reportedly worth it: the new Pike Street Fish Fry’s deep-fried asparagus, an Eastern Washington classic.) The salade aux asperges is so good, it’s better than asparagus at home. This made me mad. I tried to recreate the dressing, with only so-so results.

I called Jim Drohman at Café Presse. He loves asparagus, too. It’s so delicious, he said, you just want to keep from doing something silly to it (so true). Then he told me what’s in the chevre vinaigrette: shallots, garlic, Dijon mustard, fresh thyme, lemon juice, lemon zest, rice vinegar, fresh chevre, honey, salt and pepper, and a mix of soy and olive oil (more soy than olive). The amounts are classified information. You blend all but the oil in a blender, then slowly add in the oil, emulsifying. Blanch the asparagus, then bathe it in ice water to stop the cooking and cool it down. Toast your pine nuts (Jim says always toast your nuts). Don’t forget the scallions.

Bicycle To Work Day: Sucks, Insulting

posted by on May 16 at 11:35 AM

Today is Starbucks Bike to Work Day:

Most cities in our region do not know how many cyclists use their roads because they do not count them. Cascade Bicycle Club wants to see official bicycle counts become commonplace around Puget Sound. But until then, the number we tally each year on Bike to Work Day has become the default indicator of our community’s growing size and strength….

Throughout Puget Sound, riders can stop by Commute Stations to pick up free schwag, snacks, city and county maps, bicycle commuting information and to have bikes checked for free by our fantastic bike shop station sponsors. This is your day to be counted and recognized by the city!

Wow, swag! Contribution to a meaningless statistic!

I commute every day, rain or shine year round, by bicycle. And I have news for you, I don’t recommend it for most. Why? The incredibly shitty traffic engineering informed by outright anti-bicycle, pro-car, policymaking by SDOT. Most bicycle commuter routes in the city are dangerous, far more dangerous than they need to be.

Waving free cups of coffee, inane contests and yet-to-be-implemented master plans in the faces of potential bicycle commuters is insulting. What are we, children? Until the city—SDOT and the police, in the very least—takes the safety of cyclists seriously, why should anyone even consider it? Keep your free coffee. At this point, I’d settle on the city paying for catastrophic health insurance for committed bicycle commuters—taking responsibility for the inevitable severe injuries that result from encouraging people to use actively hostile infrastructure to commute outside of a car.

So much of what frustrates both cyclists and drivers alike is not crappy cycling or driving—the majority in both groups are at least competent and sane—is the shitty traffic engineering. The horrible design of the city’s streets favors assholes and idiot drivers and cyclists alike.

Examples.

1. Whose bright idea was it to put big, red, flashing stop signs only for cyclists where the Burke meets Brooklyn Ave NE? Are the dim bulbs at SDOT aware that using a crosswalk where cars are not required to stop is more dangerous than jaywalking? Proven so, in Seattle, by researchers from UW. If the cars don’t have to stop, pedestrians (and, by extension cyclists) are nearly four fold more likely to be struck when using a crosswalk, as opposed to jaywalking. Why? Some drivers, spying a crosswalk without a stop sign for them, speed up to avoid having to wait.

The proper design, if you valued the safety of pedestrians and cyclists at all, even when it comes at the expense of slightly inconveniencing drivers, is to make such crossing four way stops, forcing asshole cyclists and drivers alike to be sane. And then the four way stop must be enforced by the police.

For another example, see where the Burke crosses Pend Oreille Rd.

2. Why does the bicycle lane on the Northbound lanes of University bridge simply disappear as the off ramps for Campus Parkway and 40th St NE start, with no marking for drivers seeking to exit the bridge (often at 40-50mph) to yield to cyclists continuing straight? Every basic traffic engineering textbook demands such markings. Where are they? This isn’t some back route for cyclists.

Enough. I could literally go on all day with examples where the convenience, often very minor convenience, of drivers is prioritized over the safety of cyclists.

You want the city streets to be focused on the ease of drivers over all else? Fine. Just don’t blithely encourage people to use these same streets as cyclists. It’s irresponsible.

The Ghost of a Building

posted by on May 16 at 11:26 AM

I’m not a big fan of Steven Holl…
AmazingMuseumArchitectureKansasCity.jpg …but I’m enchanted by the image. The work, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art Henry Bloch Building, is in Kansas City.

“George Bush and John McCain Have a Lot to Answer For”

posted by on May 16 at 11:23 AM

Here’s the video of Obama swinging back today. (And wearing a flag pin!) Among other things, his speech seems intended as a stark contrast to the way in which John Kerry handled attacks on his fitness to be Commander in Chief:

Today The Stranger Suggests

posted by on May 16 at 11:00 AM

Jazz

Bobby Hutcherson Quartet at Jazz Alley

Bobby Hutcherson was born in 1941, made his debut on Blue Note as a bandleader in 1965, and is the second most famous vibraphonist in jazz history (Milt Jackson is in first place). Hutcherson has played with almost all of the great figures of his time—Jackie McLean, Herbie Hancock, and, of course, the genius above all geniuses, Eric Dolphy. Those who know Dolphy’s Out to Lunch know that Hutcherson is an American giant. (Jazz Alley, 2033 Sixth Ave, 441-9729. 7:30 and 9:30 pm, $27.50, all ages. Through Sun May 18.)

CHARLES MUDEDE

Here’s an Idea…

posted by on May 16 at 10:38 AM

…what do you say we invade Burma?

Positively Ridiculous

posted by on May 16 at 10:30 AM

Ah, Texas.

A homeless man who spit in the mouth and eye of a police officer and then taunted him, saying he was H.I.V. positive, was sentenced to 35 years in prison on Wednesday for harassing a public servant with a deadly weapon: his saliva.

Because of the deadly weapon finding, the man, Willie Campbell, 42, of Dallas, will not be eligible for parole until he has served half his sentence.

Does it matter that you can’t get HIV from saliva? Apparently not to juries in Texas.

World Leader Rejects Appeasement

posted by on May 16 at 10:13 AM

Unfortunately for George W. Bush, the appeasement-rejecting leader in this instance is the King of Saudi Arabia.

With the price of oil hitting record highs, President Bush used a private visit to King Abdullah’s ranch here Friday to make a second attempt to persuade the Saudi government to increase oil production and was rebuffed yet again….

When Mr. Bush was last here in January, a similar request caused him some embarrassment. The president asked the Saudi oil minister to increase production, and his request on that occasion was publicly turned down. He then took up the matter with the king, but the conversation did not get very far.

Hey, I Was on the Teevee

posted by on May 16 at 10:02 AM

I was on CNN last night, on Anderson Cooper’s show, discussing the Supreme Court of California’s gay marriage decision with Tony Perkins, head douchebag from the Family Research Council. Doing that kind of teevee is hard: you’re in a dark room, staring into a black camera lens, you’re not getting any visual cues from the person you’re being interviewed by, and you only have a brief moment to make your point before you’re interrupted by the host or the other talking/shouting head. So if you think I sucked—and it’s entirely possible that I did—blame the format not the faggot.

Anyway, there was one point I wanted to make and failed to during my segment: the normally right-about-everything Jeffrey Toobin was wrong about something.

Religious bigots in California have already gathered enough signatures to place an anti-gay marriage amendment to California’s state constitution before the voters this November. If the amendment passes, it would undo the California’s supreme courts marriage decision and, essentially, invalidate the legal marriages that thousands of same-sex couples in California will have entered into this summer and fall. Shortly before I came on, Jeffrey Toobin, CNN’s legal affairs analyst, predicted that voters would pass the amendment that—hadn’t voters, after all, approved gay marriage bans and anti-gay-marriage amendments in every state where they had been placed on the ballot?

Uh, no, voters have not.

In 2006 an anti-gay marriage amendment was rejected by voters in John McCain’s home state of Arizona. McCain, who opposes a federal anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment, endorsed Arizona’s state anti-gay amendment—you can see his sweaty, pink head at the end of this commercial.

The failure of the 2006 anti-gay marriage amendment in Arizona should give us hope. It failed in a conservative state in 2006, which was a very bad year for the GOP. California is a much more liberal state and 2008 is shaping up to be an even worse year for the GOP. If we can beat this thing anywhere, we can beat it in California.

Currently Hanging

posted by on May 16 at 10:00 AM

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Ron van der Ende’s 727, bas relief in wood, 122 by 55 by 6 inches

At OKOK. (Gallery web site here.)

Reading Tonight

posted by on May 16 at 10:00 AM

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Only one reading tonight, but it should be a good one. Rabih Alameddine is reading at Elliott Bay Book Company with The Hakawati, which is an epic novel set in the Middle East. It’s getting rave reviews from authors I adore, like Dorothy Allison and Jonathan Safran Foer. I have not read it yet; it’s 500 pages, and I’m still pushing my way through Heinlein.

And now, Chuck Palahniuk interviewing a transvestite pretending to be the porn-star main character of his upcoming novel, Snuff.

That’s all for today, but there’s always more in our readings calendar.

Anti-Recipe of the Day

posted by on May 16 at 9:54 AM

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(Credit)

French Laundry at Home, a hilarious (yes, hilarious) food blog you should check out—now!—if you haven’t already, on cooking tripe:

You know when you walk into a nursing home for the first time, and there’s a distinct, rather unpleasant smell? Or, when you drive past a sewage treatment plant or paper mill? Or the airplane bathroom on a Southwest Airlines flight? Or a hospital’s burn unit?

Those are all preferable smells compared to cooked tripe.

People, this smell was worse than morning breath and dirty hair after you’ve have the flu for three days and haven’t brushed your teeth or showered at all.

I strained the liquid into another saucepan, reduced it, added some cream, a little mustard, and some salt and pepper, as the book suggested. By this time, my corneas had evaporated from the stench and my eyebrows started to fall out.

This? Was disgusting. Absolutely, positively the worst thing I have ever eaten in my life.

I left my kitchen, cookbook in hand, and sat outside on the front porch to re-read the instructions to make sure I hadn’t missed a crucial step. I hadn’t. It was then that I saw the final sentence that wrapped up the instructions for the dish: “It’s terrific.”

It made me wonder how long it took Michael Ruhlman and Thomas Keller to come up with that sentence, because surely, it has to be some sort of inside joke or secret chef-to-chef code for a dish that is really awful but meant to be tried only in some sort of freakish dare. I imagine their exchange might have gone a little something like this:

Michael: So, we’ve described how to cook tripe, and we’ve included your story about the importance of cooking offal. Would you like to add something here at the end that describes what tripe tastes like?

Thomas: Yeah, sure. But in case someone, someday decides they want to cook every recipe in this book and maybe write about it, let’s not deter them in any way, so how about we say, “It’s absolutely fantastic!”

Michael: Thomas.

Thomas: Yes, Michael?

Michael: Fantastic. Really?

Thomas: Um, how about, “it doesn’t suck… oh no wait, IT DOES!”?

Michael: Or, “hope you’ve got your fumigator on speed dial”?

Thomas: Oh, I know! What if we say “it’s good” and you draw a picture of me doing air quotes around the word “good”?

Michael: *giggle*snort* Or, we could say it tastes like a word that rhymes with something else. Like “schmass”?

Thomas: Wait, wait, wait. I got it. Let’s say it tastes terrific. After all, Michael, you went to the CIA; you’ve been inducted into the Secret Chef Jargon That Pranks Home Cooks Club — you remember what “terrific” means, right?

Michael: Oh yes. Ha ha. But the regular reader won’t know that now will they? We are so smart. This will most certainly encourage a potential home cook perhaps from the Washington, DC region to try this dish in like, I dunno, ten years or so, because she thinks it will be really great.

Thomas: Well done, Ruhlman. Well done. Terrific it is.

Michael: MWWAAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!!

Thanks a lot, guys. Thanks a lot.

Obama Hits Back at Bush and McCain on “Appeasement”

posted by on May 16 at 9:51 AM

Responding the attacks of yesterday (which some were calling an attempted long-distance swift-boating by the president), Obama told a town hall meeting in South Dakota:

That’s exactly the kind of appalling attack that’s divided our country and that alienates us from the world, and that’s why we need change in Washington.

More, including charges that McCain is being a hypocrite on Hamas, here and here.

And here’s the tape of McCain calling for, uh… talks with Hamas:

Obama Basher Gets Clobbered…

posted by on May 16 at 9:47 AM

…on live TV during last night’s Hardball. As Huffington Post’s Jason Linkins eloquently explains, “host Chris Matthews took up President Bush’s pointed attack on the Democrats in the Knesset, asking if Bush was ‘out of line.’ Radio talk-show host Kevin James didn’t think so, saying-and I’m paraphrasing-‘RRRRAAAAAHHHH! OBAMA BLAAAAHHHH! HAMAS LOVES BARACK, YAAAAHHHH!’”

Then Chris Matthews proceeds to beat Kevin James like that pinata full of shit that he is. Enjoy.


On Racially Profiling the Invisible

posted by on May 16 at 8:47 AM

I got a postcard! My name was misspelled, but I’m cool with that.

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The text, in case you can’t read it:

1) The Seattle police mostly shmooze [sic] + rarely police—when you see a police car parked, there’ll be another one around the corner.

2) On Pine St across from Nordstrom’s, a Fed-Ex driver stopped to deliver a package + got a ticket. This never happens. The driver was Asian. You should check the ethnicity of ticketed drivers.

Could police really be racially profiling people for parking tickets? I must demur. After all, parking tickets are issued to unoccupied vehicles, thus preventing the ticketing officer from seeing the driver or identifying his or her race. Besides, if all the cops are congregating to schmooze, they probably wouldn’t be able to watch each driver, make a note of which cars were parked by Asian folks, and ticket their cars. But I do appreciate the note.

The Morning News

posted by on May 16 at 8:14 AM

Up to 80,000: Death toll from China earthquake keeps rising.

Collapsing: Support for Bush’s war in Iraq, as Congress refuses (for now) to throw another $163 billion at the effort.

Ain’t Summer Yet: Avalanche danger soars in Cascades.

Black Turnout: Could jeopardize long Republican dominance of the South.

Another “honor killing” in Iraq: “My daughter deserved to die for falling in love.”

Still Lying: Everything’s under control, says Burmese government, refusing aid.

Gettin’ Hitched: Ellen Degeneres to marry hottie g.f.

Annoying Framing of a Touching Story: Tutsi woman weaves “peace baskets” alongside Hutu woman whose husband slaughtered her entire family.

Recipe of the Day: Aromatic Braised Chicken with Fried Onions (recipe and photo via Gourmet)

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Continue reading "The Morning News" »


Thursday, May 15, 2008

I Fully Agree

posted by on May 15 at 10:48 PM

Slog tipper Matt Hickey writes:

Could you please remind the readers that just because it’s way nice this weekend that it’s still no excuse to wear fucking flip flops everywhere? I’d like one summer of not having to look at people’s ugly, ugly feet.

Thank you for the public service.

Matt

It’s like you’re reading my mind, Matt.

How the Mightiosiest Have Fallen

posted by on May 15 at 5:42 PM

The terribilosity of this cannot be expressed with the verbiography that I possess.

Bitching About People Not Using Metrics Doesn’t Make You Sound Smart

posted by on May 15 at 4:46 PM

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I know that as a scientist, I am expected to loathe all imperial measurements—inches, cups, quarts, gallons and Fahrenheit. Whining about the United States’ failure to embrace the metric system? Default behavior for dim bulbs seeking to seem sophisticated.

You know what? I don’t like metric measurements for many daily tasks. Why? Factors!

The metric system is based around base 10 numbers. Why? We have ten fingers, so our counting system is based around base 10. This makes jumping between large differences in magnitude—say between the size of my desk and the size of the State—relatively easy. But, ten is a terrible, ugly, number. With only two factors, two and five, it’s a bitch to subdivide measures.

Why couldn’t we have twelve fingers? Twelve is a beautiful number—breaking down into factors of two, three, four and six. Ahhh! Grab a ruler and try to measure a third of foot. Easy! Try to measure a third of a meter. A total pain in the ass! Nothing like an infinite repeat (33.3333333333333333333333333333333333… cm) to ruin a perfectly pleasant day.

Imperial measures for volume are even more pleasant, residing in the world of base 2. Thirty-two fluid ounces to a quart—factors of two, four, eight and sixteen. I’m practically drooling. Ever try to adjust a recipe using measuring cups in milliliters? Ack!

For the lab where I’m routinely bouncing between microliters, milliliters and plain old liters, metric measures are great. Nifty even. For daily activities like cooking? Not so much so.

(Tip of the hat to WiS.)

Updated!

If I could kill off two non-metric measures right now… hmmm.

So long Fahrenheit! What an inane way to measure temperature! We cannot even figure out how zero Fahrenheit was defined.

And goodbye to Letter, Legal and all the other hideous US paper sizes! Metric paper sizes are totally rad! The height-to-width ratio is 1: square root (2). So what? That means if you take two pieces of paper of the smaller size and put them next to one another? You get the next size up. Yay!

Obama on the California Marriage Ruling

posted by on May 15 at 4:42 PM

Via Ben Smith:

Barack Obama has always believed that same-sex couples should enjoy equal rights under the law, and he will continue to fight for civil unions as President. He respects the decision of the California Supreme Court, and continues to believe that states should make their own decisions when it comes to the issue of marriage.

Booth Babes and Dorks

posted by on May 15 at 3:36 PM

I wish I had much to say about Sony’s coming-someday MMO, The Agency, after attending their online division’s reveal party last night in Bellevue. That won’t happen. My e-mail invite said the game would be demoed, but the only thing that was shown was a months-old video clip of incomplete gameplay. When I asked someone where new game footage was, a woman in attendance stared me down like I’d asked her why the sky is blue. She exclaimed that the game was nowhere near ready to play, but, oh, hey, there’s some exclusive art over there, seen it yet?

And I wish the developers had much to say, but while replaying the months-old video, The Agency’s head designer kept pausing in his narration to say that he wasn’t allowed to reveal certain details yet. By “certain,” he meant “most.” Not sure if SOE thought their “open house” party would be reason enough to come out, complete with fancy catering, ice blocks shaped like guns, booze ahoy, and chicks in Tank Girl-styled outfits… you can guess where this is going:

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So, sure, I could rehash the game’s few deets-so-far. As in, this is an MMO that splits the difference between Goldeneye and World of Warcraft, and so far, it doesn’t appear to have a clear target audience or cohesive artistic core. But it’s hard to judge something that’s still quite unfinished. Nobody was saying how soon The Agency will come out, how it might change while still in development, or how the heck Sony will convince console gamers to cough up MMO-style fees, so last night, the only solid things in their corner were booth babes and dorks. Still, I’ll always hold out hope for a game with some Goldeneye flavor, so I’m looking forward to digging deeper into the PS3/PC game once the Bellevue studio gets an early version up and running.

By the way, same thing goes to any other local game devs: INVITE US TO SEE YOUR STUFF! Just as long as you promise I won’t have to endure turquoise cameltoe at your offices, anyway.

City Design Review Board Undermines Denny

posted by on May 15 at 3:01 PM

Once new construction occupies the hundreds of empty lots in South Lake Union and the Denny Triangle, Denny Way will essentially run through the middle of downtown. Cranes flanking the street, and design proposals filed with the city, show that Denny will be home to thousands of new residents and office workers. One of those proposed buildings, 1200 Stewart, being developed for Lexas Companies, will be a giant among them, standing 400 feet tall with twin towers on a block-long podium.

1200_stewart_towers_rendering.jpg

Thoryk Architecture

The big problem with block-long developments is their tendency to have massive unbroken faces with few or zero urban amenities, which turns off pedestrians. A lack of sidewalk activity makes for a dull and dangerous street. That’s why the downtown design guidelines’ number-one requirement for the streetscape is to “promote pedestrian interaction.” Another guideline, for public amenities, is to “design for personal safety & security.”

In practice, this means providing retail at the sidewalk. Shoppers and workers make the street lively and keep an eye out for public safety.

But the latest designs for 1200 Stewart provide no retail along Denny Way, and only a couple of small retail spaces off Denny. And the downtown design-review board approved the latest drawings on Tuesday for the next stage of review with no requirement to build any retail.

1200_stewart_floorplate.jpg

“Denny is not going to be coffee shops and newsstands,” said downtown design-review board member James Falconer. “You’re not going to saunter down Denny. You have to accept it for what it is.” (Whether the Department of Planning and Development has officially provided an exemption to the design guidelines for Denny is unclear; calls to DPD for comment haven’t been returned.)

Falconer excused the lack of retail on Denny, saying that there was no place to park cars. But with 800 (!!!) below-grade parking spots in the proposed development, his assertion seems ludicrous.

Malaika Lafferty, who has lived for 11 years in the Cascade neighborhood, which borders Denny at the site of 1200 Stewart, says, “I think honestly, if we’re talking about improving the density in our core, I don’t know how one can do that without providing amenities at street level. It’s about what the neighborhood needs, and we need retail down there.”

I know, I know—Denny is clogged with cars and isn’t a very hospitable place for pedestrians, so building for retail in its current state seems unrealistic. But here’s the thing: Traffic on Denny is fucked—and will only become more fucked—and most of the thousands of newcomers will have feet. So they’ll be walking up Denny to get to Capitol Hill, crossing Denny to go downtown, or walking down Denny to go shopping. It’s the only street that functionally connects South Lake Union to Belltown and Capitol Hill. It will be a pedestrian corridor regardless of what we build, so we should plan for pedestrians.

More after the jump.

Continue reading "City Design Review Board Undermines Denny" »

71st St Vs. Argentina: Graffiti Wars

posted by on May 15 at 2:56 PM

This is what passes for wall art just down my street:

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(“I just wanted the rush of putting something on this wall … Coincidentally, I didn’t get a rush - - - ain’t that a bitch”)

And this stop-motion video shows the wall art they get in Buenos Aires:

(Hat tip to Penny Arcade for the video link.)

Remember the Heartbreaking MySpace Suicide Hoax?

posted by on May 15 at 2:12 PM

The allegedly meddling mom has been indicted. Take it away, Associated Press:

A federal grand jury indicted a Missouri woman Thursday for her alleged role in perpetrating a hoax on the online social network MySpace against a 13-year-old neighbor who committed suicide.

Megan Meier, 13, hanged herself in her bedroom after being targeted in a MySpace hoax. Lori Drew of suburban St. Louis is said to have helped create a false-identity MySpace account to contact Megan Meier, who thought she was chatting with a 16-year-old boy named Josh Evans. Josh didn’t exist. Megan hanged herself at home in October 2006 after receiving cruel messages, including one stating the world would be better off without her.

Drew was charged with one count of conspiracy and three counts of accessing protected computers without authorization to get information used to inflict emotional distress on the girl. Drew has denied creating the account or sending messages to Megan.


Sign of the End Times?

posted by on May 15 at 1:57 PM

Clinton defends Obama and slams Bush’s attack, saying:

President Bush’s comparison of any Democrat to Nazi appeasers is both offensive and outrageous on the face of it, especially in light of his failures in foreign policy. This is the kind of statement that has no place in any presidential address and certainly to use an important moment like the 60th anniversary celebration of Israel to make a political point seems terribly misplaced. Unfortunately, this is what we’ve come to expect from President Bush.

In the Last 24 Hours on Line Out

posted by on May 15 at 1:43 PM

No clubs have taken any of our writers hostage lately, but here’s what has happened in the last day…

Groovy-Ass German Funk!: Compliments of Terry Miller.

Slats vs. the S.L.U.T.: Which would you rather ride? Ew, that sounds dirty.

Props to DJ Riz: For all his rare disco and funk cuts.

I’m a Video Star: I’m my head.

Tonight in Music: To the Waves, El Perro del Mar, Paul Baribeau, the Kills.

Eurovision: Don’t mention the wars!

The Soundtrack for a Movie That’s Never Been Made: Solaris.

Sound Check: Trent Moorman interviews the Lymbyc Systym’s Jared Bell.

For You Slackers: Neumo’s adds a second Posies performance to Friday’s show.

Today’s Music News: Brian Cook has a bi-polar relationship with today’s headlines.

Accidental Mash-Up: The new Mates of State record gets some unexpected Spanish vocals.

Sasha Frere-Jones Brags About Seeing Erykah Badu: And remembering Charles Mudede’s best opening sentence ever.

There’s more. There’s always more.

Hey look! A baby turtle!

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The VA Is Sick of Your Inconvenient Diseases

posted by on May 15 at 1:35 PM

Today, the Department of Defense announced a $2.3 million award to the University of Cincinnati to study brain trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder.

But, according to an email leaked to a citizens’ advocacy group, VA bosses are discouraging social workers and psychiatrists from diagnosing PTSD in veterans because it’s inconvenient:

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In the words of Melanie Sloan, the righteously outraged director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, “the VA is calling on its employees to deliberately misdiagnose returning veterans in an effort to cut costs.”

Which isn’t just outrageous—it’s outrageously dumb.

Ignoring PTSD now will only cost the VA, with interest, in the next few decades. As this WSJ story reports, PTSD is both underreported and lasting:

Many military personnel are reluctant to seek counseling for PTSD because they are afraid that seeking help would harm their careers. A recent survey by the American Psychiatric Association found that 75% of military personnel felt that asking for assistance would reduce their chances for promotion.

Undoubtedly, some people fake PTSD—but the incentives lean towards underreporting, not overreporting.

Military officers and psychologists fear that veterans of the two wars will suffer mental-health problems for decades to come, a largely hidden cost of the current conflicts.

There’s a financial cost to this, but more importantly there’ll be a cost in lives if we don’t get a handle on this problem now,” Sen. Christopher Bond (R., Mo.) said in a recent interview.

Money for research is good. Money for treatment is imperative.

These Are My People. My Nerdy, Nerdy People.

posted by on May 15 at 1:09 PM

For those of you who didn’t make it to the Emerald City Comic Con (ECCC) last weekend, I’ll fill you in: it was awesome.

This year, the ECCC moved into a new, gigantic space at the Washington State Convention Center to give us nerds more room to roam.

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I was only able to make it to the con on Sunday—no, I didn’t go in costume—but the place was still friggin’ packed. It also smelled a little stinky.

There were lines wrapping around the room for some of the big name comic writers and artists signing books and doing sketches, but nobody seemed to care about the “celebrity” guests, who practically had tumbleweeds blowing by their tables. Just what the hell is a Farscape, anyways?

All the booksellers were well stocked—a huge improvement over last year, where there were, like, three dudes selling comics—and willing to haggle, and I walked out with a full run of Sandman books. Big disappointment of the day: I couldn’t get one seller to drop his asking price for this beauty:

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According to the guy selling this monstrosity, it’s “totally worth $800 bucks” because it “doubles as a coffee table.”

For those of you that missed this year’s rad ECCC, Kelly O’s got your back. Ms. O shot a fantastic two-part video with local ruffian and comic fan Jeff Leonard, featuring the Suicide Girls (???) and a dude dressed as Space Ghost who bears an uncanny resemblance to Paul Constant. Hmm….

See you next year!

Lunchtime Quickie

posted by on May 15 at 12:59 PM

“Now that I am Governor, you must do what I say!”

RNC Attacks Obama for Defending Sick Folks

posted by on May 15 at 12:55 PM

The Obama interview in Willamette Week.

Would you stop the DEA’s raids on Oregon medical marijuana growers?

I would because I think our federal agents have better things to do, like catching criminals and preventing terrorism. The way I want to approach the issue of medical marijuana is to base it on science, and if there is sound science that supports the use of medical marijuana and if it is controlled and prescribed in a way that other medicine is prescribed, then it’s something that I think we should consider.

Seems an innocuous enough answer: He’ll stop the raids on sick people, but he won’t “support” medical marijuana until it goes through the same rigors as pharmaceuticals. (Not that there isn’t a ton of evidence already.) Of course, that’s a cop-out response because he’s not promising to stop prosecutions and the government usually won’t fund or allow “sound” research on the schedule-one drug. In the meantime, he says, we have higher priorities. Here’s the RNC’s retort…

Barack Obama’s pledge to stop Executive agencies from implementing laws passed by Congress raises serious doubts about his understanding of what the job of the President of the United States actually is. His refusal to enforce the law reveals that Barack Obama doesn’t have the experience necessary to do the job of President, or that he fundamentally lacks the judgment to carry out the most basic functions of the Executive Branch. What other laws would Barack Obama direct federal agents not to enforce?

Gee, RNC, it seems like Obama agrees with the current Republican administration: After 9/11, the federal government overhauled priorities for the FBI—federal agents—directing resources away from certain domestic crimes and toward terrorism.

But there’s no question that the GOP has pulled an about-face on terrorism before. The real question is this: Given the public support for medical pot in swing states, will McCain try to muzzle the RNC on the medical-marijuana issue before November?

Hm.

posted by on May 15 at 12:33 PM

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More “campaign ads candidates wish they could run” here.

Ed Murray’s Statement on California’s Gay Marriage Ruling

posted by on May 15 at 12:14 PM

“This is a historic day—the goal of marriage is now closer than ever for same-sex couples in California.

“Here in our own state, we remain hopeful that our efforts to build a way to marriage through domestic partnerships will continue to win the support of lawmakers and citizens…. I’m confident that we’ll have a similar historic day in Washington, and I believe that day will come soon.”

I love how upfront Murray is about his agenda for Washington state’s domestic partner legislation: he’s open about his intent to, chunk by chunk, secure for gay couples all the rights and responsibilities of marriage that the state has the power to bestow. Unfortunately the decision in California today and the passage of full civil unions in Oregon last year means that Washington state trails its West Coast neighbors where the rights of same-sex couples are concerned. Hopefully we can catch up to at least Oregon during the next legislative session.

The Reviews Will Only Be Half as Bad

posted by on May 15 at 12:00 PM

Critical Mass brings news that Publishers Weekly has cut the pay rate for their reviewers by exactly 50%. They sent out this e-mail:

Dear Reviewer,

We are under constraints to reduce our expenses and must reduce the fee we pay to reviewers. Any reviews assigned after June 15 will be billed at $25 per review. However, you will be credited as a contributor in issues where your reviews appear. Please know that we value the work you do for us. Your astute reading and writing are what make our magazine so valuable in the industry and we regret this necessary action. All of us here are also experiencing change but we expect that we will continue to be the gold standard in book reviewing.

This is depressing. A number of publications cut their books sections entirely in the last year or so. Now, even the publications devoted strictly to books are drastically cutting their finances. Granted, Publishers Weekly has never been a general-interest publication (it’s more of an industry rag) and their reviews have often been very, very bad. But this is a really troubling sign.

NARAL’s Endorsement Causes Shitstorm

posted by on May 15 at 12:00 PM

NARAL Pro-Choice America’s endorsement of Barack Obama yesterday has unleashed a massive shitstorm among other pro-choice groups and within the organization itself from folks who feel betrayed by the national group’s preemptive support of a candidate whose voting record on reproductive rights has been nearly identical to his Democratic opponent’s (the main substantive difference being that Clinton has been far more pro-active in sponsoring pro-choice legislation.)

Indeed, NARAL has consistently given both Clinton and Obama 100 percent ratings on issues relating to reproductive rights—prompting reproductive-rights advocates to wonder: Why divide the pro-choice and alienate Clinton supporters? Why not let the nomination process play out and, assuming Obama becomes the official nominee, endorse him then?

The alternative path certainly hasn’t won NARAL any fans.

Ellen Malcolm, of EMILY’s List, issued a statement calling it “tremendously disrespectful to Sen. Clinton — who held up the nomination of a FDA commissioner in order to force approval of Plan B and who spoke so eloquently during the Supreme Court nomination about the importance of protecting Roe vs. Wade — to not give her the courtesy to finish the final three weeks of the primary process. It certainly must be disconcerting for elected leaders who stand up for reproductive rights and expect the choice community will stand with them.”

The National Women’s Political Caucus, meanwhile, issued a statement saying they were “disappointed” in the endorsement, adding, “We believe that this announcement at this time will divide the choice community at a time when we need to stand united.

And in swing states around the country, NARAL affiliates representing a quarter of NARAL’s state chapters have already condemned the endorsement, which NARAL made without consulting its affiliates.

In Oregon, statewide NARAL director Michele Stranger Hunter said her group was “proud to have two strongly pro-choice candidates running for President. And we look forward to supporting whoever the nominee will be and are committed to defeating Senator John McCain (R-AZ) in November.”

NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri went further, conducting robo-calls across the state to clarify that the Missouri branch of NARAL has endorsed neither Clinton nor Obama. “In our membership demographic, a lot of longtime women’s rights supporters are strong supporters of Hillary Clinton,” Missouri NARAL director Pamela Sumners told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “If we had been consulted, we would have said, ‘Let this play out. We have two strong pro-choice candidates” in Obama and Clinton.

In New York and Pennsylvania, the statewide NARAL groups issued nearly identical statements calling the decision—”made internally by NARAL Pro-Choice America, based in Washington D.C., and without the consultation of the NARAL state affiliates across the country,” as both statements put it— “premature.”

And here in Washington State, NARAL Pro-Choice Washington director Karen Cooper called the endorsement “an unconscionable slap in the face to Senator Hillary Clinton, adding, “Time and again, both Sens. Clinton and Obama have stood up for the right to privacy and the right to choose. American women would be well-served by either Clinton or Obama in the Oval Office.”

Endorsing Obama now is hardly a bold move by NARAL Pro-Choice America (unlike, say, endorsing Joe Lieberman), which has never had anything but kind words to say about both Democratic primary candidates. By endorsing now, NARAL could alienate a substantial portion of their membership—a risky move at a time when the distinction between Democrats and Republicans on reproductive rights couldn’t be more obvious.

Interesting Details on Gay Marriage Ruling from the LA Times

posted by on May 15 at 11:54 AM

Remember all the grief San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom got for issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples four years ago? Well

The long-awaited court opinion, written by Chief Justice Ronald M. George, stemmed from San Francisco’s highly publicized same-sex weddings, which in 2004 helped spur a conservative backlash in a presidential election year and a national dialogue over gay rights….

After a month of jubilant same-sex weddings here, the California Supreme Court intervened and ordered the city to stop issuing licenses to gay couples. The court later invalidated the documents and declined to address the constitutionality of a state ban on same-sex marriage until lower courts acted first.

And the court is conservative….

The California Supreme Court has six Republican appointees and one Democrat. Scholars have described the court under the leadership of chief justice George as cautious and moderately conservative.

A Drunk from the Now; A Blast from the Past!

posted by on May 15 at 11:46 AM

I vaguely remember mentioning something about a “Charlize Theron” person that is scheduled to be, as those of us “in the business” are fond of saying, “on the red carpet” at SIFF’s always uber-glam Opening Night (May 22nd! I’m already drunk!). And goodness knows that that’s just exciting as all hell. I also think I said something about Stuart Townsend’s abs, and about how he and/or they will be “red carpeting”, too. (OMG! Just LOOK at the boner that man gives me!) But what I don’t vaguely remember telling you, because I vaguely remember just finding out about it two fucking seconds ago myself, is that Michelle Rodriguez of, you know, “Lost” or whatever, will also be “on the red carpet” Opening Night. As it were. But of course, she’ll be ripped to the tits, and driving a car. Ba-dum-bum.

And now, this poor misguided letter:

Dear Adrian, I don’t live in Seattle anymore, but I read Celebrity I Saw U every week. I moved to Boston last year. But yesterday while I was working at the JFK Presidential Library, none other than Kate Hudson, Owen Wilson and Owen Wilson’s nose came strolling in! I was shocked. I sold them their admissions ticket, and they spent two hours in the museum. They didn’t say much because they were too busy being disgustingly cutesy with each other, concluding their tour with a lover’s game of tag in our pavilion. Gross! Who knew that suicide attempts actually do strengthen a relationship?

Anyway, I immediately thought of Celebrity I Saw U, since I love your column, and these are the only celebrities I’ve ever seen.

Love,
Aly

I am sure I speak for everyone when I say Thank you, Aly, for that remarkable glimpse into the secret and unnerving world of Hudson-Wilson love, for your weekly reading of Celebrity I Saw U, and for your creepy ability to read through time.

Every Child Deserves a Mother and a Father

posted by on May 15 at 11:31 AM

No, this isn’t another depressing “Every Child Deserves…” post. I try to limit those posts to no more than one a week, despite the numerous examples of spectacularly bad opposite-sex parenting that I run across, or alert readers bring to my attention, every damn week. I just wanted to make sure that readers who bitch endlessly about my “Every Child Deserves…” posts catch this quote at the bottom the CNN piece about the decision in California.

Groups saying they were promoting a pro-family agenda had vowed to fight a statewide law allowing same-sex marriage.

The government should promote and encourage strong families,” said Glen Lavy of the Alliance Defense Fund. “The voters realize that defining marriage as one man and one woman is important because the government should not, by design, deny a child both a mother and father.”

Gay families can’t be strong families—and our children don’t deserve the protections of marriage—because every child deserves a mother and a father.

Sigh.

Says Slog tipper Rebecca…

I really can’t bear to read the “Every Child Deserves…” items anymore but I think this shows why it’s good on you to keep running ‘em.

Minneapolis, Meet Nick Garrison

posted by on May 15 at 11:30 AM

Minneapolis loves, loves Nick Garrison and Suzy Hunt in the touring 5th Avenue production of Cabaret.

From the Daily Planet:

The true stars of this production, though, are supporting actors Suzy Hunt and Nick Garrison. Hunt plays Fraulein Schneider, Clifford and Sally’s landlady who shares a doomed romance with a Jewish fruit-shop owner. Hunt provides the emotional epicenter to what truly is a tragic story. Nick Garrison is enchanting as the over-the-top emcee who serves as the audience’s guide to the cabaret and beyond. Garrison opens the show’s second act by talking to audience members and reminding them this is live theater. At one point he noted to a colleague of mine that he could easily dive into her shirt—a moment that was fondly remembered for hours post-show.

Minneapolis is right—those two wiped everyone else off the stage and out of my memory. Especially Nick, with his nimble banter and clarion voice. He was, as Christopher Frizzelle said in his review, born to play the Emcee.

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Congratulations to Nick and Suzy.

“Is This Painting Racist?”

posted by on May 15 at 11:22 AM

This just in from Slog tipper Doug:

I’m cleaning out my closet this morning and came across this painting I made five years ago. It used to hang on a wall in my house until a friend of mine (a white male like myself) said, “Wow, that’s really racist.” Embarrassed, I took it down and stuck it in the back of a closet. But coming across it now, I’m still not sure: Is it really racist? I’m hoping the open-minded Slog community could help me out on this. Thanks.

Here are American Heritage Dictionary’s definitions of racism:

1. The belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others. 2. Discrimination or prejudice based on race.

And here is the painting. (Safe for work.)

(My two cents: No, the painting isn’t racist, though the exaggerated cartoon features give off a vaguely racist stink.)


Jay Gong

posted by on May 15 at 11:20 AM

Just look at this image:
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Jay-Z and Gong Li. Amazing. The woman who brought life to Chinese cinema in the arms of the man who brought death to hiphop.

Flickr Photo of the Day

posted by on May 15 at 11:17 AM

For Mindy…

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by JeanineAnderson

California Gay Marriage Ruling

posted by on May 15 at 11:09 AM

(Originally posted at 10:03 am.)

From the AP:

The California Supreme Court has overturned a ban on gay marriage, paving the way for California to become the second state where gay and lesbian residents can marry.

The San Francisco Chronicle says the courts ruling goes into effect in 30 days—and could be undone by voters in six months.

Gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry in California, the state Supreme Court said today in a historic ruling that could be repudiated by the voters in November.

In a 4-3 decision, the justices said the state’s ban on same-sex marriage violates the “fundamental constitutional right to form a family relationship.” The ruling is likely to flood county courthouses with applications from couples newly eligible to marry when the decision takes effect in 30 days.

And here’s California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-Hollywood) on the ruling:

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger released the following statement today regarding the state Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage:

“I respect the Court’s decision and as Governor, I will uphold its ruling. Also, as I have said in the past, I will not support an amendment to the constitution that would overturn this state Supreme Court ruling.”

The full text of the decision is here—ad it’s 172 pages long. I sent a note to a friend asking if it meant gay marriage is legal now, right away, or if the court ordered the legislature to act, etc. And he replied, “Still reading, poodle.” Me too. But here are some quick hits from the decision:

First, this will piss off the Hutchersons of the world: right out of the gate—in the first few pages—the CA supremes compare same-sex marriage to interracial marriage…

Although, as an historical matter, civil marriage and the rights associated with it traditionally have been afforded only to opposite-sex couples, this court’s landmark decision 60 years ago in Perez v. Sharp (1948) 32 Cal.2d 7114—which found that California’s statutory provisions prohibiting interracial marriages were inconsistent with the fundamental constitutional right to marry, notwithstanding the circumstance that statutory prohibitions on interracial marriage had existed since the founding of the state—makes clear that history alone is not invariably an appropriate guide for determining the meaning and scope of this fundamental constitutional guarantee. The decision in Perez, although rendered by a deeply divided court, is a judicial opinion whose legitimacy and constitutional soundness are by now universally recognized.

More…

….we conclude that, under this state’s Constitution, the constitutionally based right to marry properly must be understood to encompass the core set of basic substantive legal rights and attributes traditionally associated with marriage that are so integral to an individual’s liberty and personal autonomy that they may not be eliminated or abrogated by the Legislature or by the electorate through the statutory initiative process. These core substantive rights include, most fundamentally, the opportunity of an individual to establish—with the person with whom the individual has chosen to share his or her life—an officially recognized and protected family….

Furthermore, in contrast to earlier times, our state now recognizes that an individual’s capacity to establish a loving and long-term committed relationship with another person and responsibly to care for and raise children does not depend upon the individual’s sexual orientation, and, more generally, that an individual’s sexual orientation—like a person’s race or gender—does not constitute a legitimate basis upon which to deny or withhold legal rights….

Accordingly, in light of the conclusions we reach concerning the constitutional questions brought to us for resolution, we determine that the language of section 300 limiting the designation of marriage to a union “between a man and a woman” is unconstitutional and must be stricken from the statute, and that the remaining statutory language must be understood as making the designation of marriage available both to opposite-sex and same-sex couples….

I also love this, which comes near the end of the decision….

Extending access to the designation of marriage to same-sex couples will not deprive any opposite-sex couple or their children of any of the rights and benefits conferred by the marriage statutes, but simply will make the benefit of the marriage designation available to same-sex couples and their children. As Chief Judge Kaye of the New York Court of Appeals succinctly observed… “There are enough marriage licenses to go around for everyone.”

Further, permitting same-sex couples access to the designation of marriage will not alter the substantive nature of the legal institution of marriage; same-sex couples who choose to enter into the relationship with that designation will be subject to the same duties and obligations to each other, to their children, and to third parties that the law currently imposes upon opposite-sex couples who marry. Finally, affording same-sex couples the opportunity to obtain the designation of marriage will not impinge upon the religious freedom of any religious organization, official, or any other person; no religion will be required to change its religious policies or practices with regard to same-sex couples, and no religious officiant will be required to solemnize a marriage in contravention of his or her religious beliefs.

The court neglects to mention, however, the freedom of religious organizations and officiants that do with to solemnize same-sex marriages.

Jumping back a bit, the CA supremes dispense with the argument that domestic partnership or civil unions—marriage by some other name—is or should be good enough. If the state wants to deny the term marriage to gay couples, the court states, then the state has to deny it to all couples.

[The Attorney General] reasons that so long as the state affords a couple all of the constitutionally protected substantive incidents of marriage, the state does not violate the couple’s constitutional right to marry simply by assigning their official relationship a name other than marriage….

We need not decide in this case whether the name “marriage” is invariably a core element of the state constitutional right to marry so that the state would violate a couple’s constitutional right even if—perhaps in order to emphasize and clarify that this civil institution is distinct from the religious institution of
marriage—the state were to assign a name other than marriage as the official
designation of the formal family relationship for all couples. Under the current statutes, the state has not revised the name of the official family relationship for all couples, but rather has drawn a distinction between the name for the official family relationship of opposite-sex couples (marriage) and that for same-sex couples (domestic partnership).

One of the core elements of the right to establish an officially recognized family that is embodied in the California constitutional right to marry is a couple’s right to have their family relationship accorded dignity and respect equal to that accorded other officially recognized families, and assigning a different designation for the family relationship of same-sex couples while reserving the historic designation of “marriage” exclusively for opposite-sex couples poses at least a serious risk of denying the family relationship of same-sex couples such equal dignity and respect.

Says Andrew Sullivan:

[The] court just ruled for it—sixty years after California’s court was the first to strike down miscegenation bans. The most populous state now joins much of the rest of the Western world in bringing gay couples into the civic and human family as equals. More soon on the decision itself. One key fact: the ruling takes effect in 30 days—which means thousands of couples will be able to marry long before any initiative attempts to reverse it. So the initiative question becomes: do you want to divorce thousands of already-married couples? Or do you want to keep things as they now are? That’s a big advantage for the pro-equality forces.

Twentieth in a Series of Two Billion

posted by on May 15 at 10:49 AM

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io9 has a good post up called “7 Reasons Why Sci-fi Book Series Outstay Their Welcomes.” It pretty well explains exactly why I’ll put a book down the minute that I see that it’s the first book in a series.

Also, in the comments, someone misspells “sequels” as “squeals.” This is unintentionally brilliant. I think “squeal” should be instantaneously adopted worldwide as the new word for “sequel.” Maybe the thought of piggish yowling would somehow save the world from the pain and heartbreak of another Spider-Man 3.

If I May Intrude…

posted by on May 15 at 10:43 AM

… on Dan’s analysis of the CA marriage decision, it strikes me that the Court’s decision to go with strict scrutiny is the most important and courageous element of the opinion. If you recall, the Washington State Supreme Court went with so-called “rational basis” review, which basically permits the court to assume and applaud any irrational justification whatsoever on the part of the legislature that enacted the offending legislation (DOMA, in that case).

Furthermore, the circumstance that the current California statutes assign a different name for the official family relationship of same-sex couples as contrasted with the name for the official family relationship of opposite-sex couples raises constitutional concerns not only under the state constitutional right to marry, but also under the state constitutional equal protection clause. In analyzing the validity of this differential treatment under the latter clause, we first must determine which standard of review should be applied to the statutory classification here at issue. Although in most instances the deferential “rational basis” standard of review is applicable in determining whether different treatment accorded by a statutory provision violates the state equal protection clause, a more exacting and rigorous standard of review — “strict scrutiny” — is applied when the distinction drawn by a statute rests upon a so-called “suspect classification” or impinges upon a fundamental right. As we shall explain, although we do not agree with the claim advanced by the parties challenging the validity of the current statutory scheme that the applicable statutes properly should be viewed as an instance of discrimination on the basis of the suspect characteristic of sex or gender and should be subjected to strict scrutiny on that ground, we conclude that strict scrutiny nonetheless is applicable here because (1) the statutes in question properly must be understood as classifying or discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation, a characteristic that we conclude represents — like gender, race, and religion —a constitutionally suspect basis upon which to impose differential treatment, and (2) the differential treatment at issue impinges upon a same-sex couple’s fundamental interest in having their family relationship accorded the same respect and dignity enjoyed by an opposite-sex couple.

Under the strict scrutiny standard, unlike the rational basis standard, in order to demonstrate the constitutional validity of a challenged statutory classification the state must establish (1) that the state interest intended to be served by the differential treatment not only is a constitutionally legitimate interest, but is a compelling state interest, and (2) that the differential treatment not only is reasonably related to but is necessary to serve that compelling state interest. Applying this standard to the statutory classification here at issue, we conclude that the purpose underlying differential treatment of opposite-sex and same-sex couples embodied in California’s current marriage statutes — the interest in retaining the traditional and well-established definition of marriage — cannot properly be viewed as a compelling state interest for purposes of the equal protection clause, or as necessary to serve such an interest.

I’m not a lawyer, but I do know this: Getting “suspect class” designation is paramount. Armed with the strict scrutiny that the “suspect class” designation triggers, the court can be much more skeptical about the motives of the legislature.

“Does the President Have no Shame?”

posted by on May 15 at 10:24 AM

Jewish Congressman Rahm Emanuel responding to President Bush, who stood before the Israeli parliament today and said, in a comment that was widely interpreted as a swipe at Barack Obama:

Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: “Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided.” We have an obligation to call this what it is — the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.

Obama as Nazi appeaser? The Obama campaign’s response:

George Bush knows that I have never supported engagement with terrorists, and the president’s extraordinary politicization of foreign policy and the politics of fear do nothing to secure the American people or our stalwart ally Israel.

Also: Sen. Joe Biden calls bullshit, literally.

And McCain agrees. With Bush.

Public-Grooming Postcard from Barcelona

posted by on May 15 at 10:23 AM

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This just in from international Hot Tipper Brent:

It’s been a while since I checked in with the War on Public Grooming, but thought I’d relate an incident that occurred the other day, marring an otherwise perfect afternoon on a Barcelona beach. I trudged out onto a nice spot of sand on a Maresme beach (a little north of Barcelona proper and thus more insulated against the usual flotsam and jetsam) for a brief break from a bike ride and took a seat roughly 30 yards away from two guys well into their afternoon sun. About five minutes into a nice nap I awoke to what sounded like an electric razor, and sure enough, when I sat up and looked over, I saw that the two guys were heavy into their leg-hair maintenance. One was working on his thighs with a Remington of sorts while the other was grooming sans power with your standard Mach-something. I stared and stared and stared some more, the trauma seeping out in sighs and asides. When the men looked over, I shook my head and let my arched eyebrows stand-in for a poorly-formed Spanish admonition.

Because No One Demanded It…

posted by on May 15 at 10:19 AM

…somebody went ahead and parodied all of those Belltown crackhead videos.

There’s maybe twelve seconds of funny in this three minute video, so don’t feel like you need to watch the whole thing.

Reading Tonight

posted by on May 15 at 10:12 AM

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No less than eleven book-related activities tonight, including an open mic, a group reading, a book about a midlife crisis, a fishing book, and a mystery/thriller about cracking some sort of code.

David Rothenberg is at the University Book Store with Thousand Mile Song: Whale Music in a Sea of Sound. The press materials for this book insist that we love whales for their songs. I don’t think that this is true, exactly. I thought we loved whales because they are big, gentle creatures. Their songs sound kind of like a cow stuck in a barbed-wire fence. Of course, without whale songs, we wouldn’t have the greatest Star Trek movie of all time, so there’s that.

Up at Third Place Books, Jim Sheeler reads from Final Salute, which is his account of being the man who the military pays to tell soldiers’ families that their sons and daughters are dead. It probably won’t be a laugh riot, but it should be a thoughtful and interesting reading.

At Town Hall, George Johnson, who writes about this thing called “science” for a paper called The New York Times, reads from his book The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments. I really wanted to cover this book, but the publisher never sent us a copy. Bummer. Also at Town Hall, Susan Halpern reads from her book, Can’t Remember What I Forgot: The Good News from the Frontlines of Memory Research. Expect lots of jokes in the audience about forgetting what they’re there for.

At the Hugo House, Jessy Randall reads from A Day in Boyland, which is a book of poetry. Unfortunately, now Mr. Poe is going to have to find a new title for his memoir.

And at Elliott Bay Book Company, Will Durst, who is not Fred Durst, reads from The All-American Sport of Bipartisan Bashing: Confessions of a Raging Moderate. Press materials compare Durst to Hunter S. Thompson and Charles Osgood. I say, “Barf.”

To see what else is going on, don’t forget to consult the full readings calendar.

Currently Hanging

posted by on May 15 at 10:00 AM

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Maki Tamura’s Peekaboo (2008), watercolor on paper, 17 by 17 inches

At James Harris Gallery. (Gallery web site here.)

McDermott Endorses Obama

posted by on May 15 at 9:58 AM

The last undeclared superdelegate in our Congressional delegation makes his preference known:

I am proud to endorse Barack Obama today, because I believe he will bring us together to achieve the kind of change we need in this country moving forward.

As Democrats, we are fortunate to have two very talented public servants running to be the nominee of our party, and I have great respect for Senator Clinton. But I believe now is the time to unite behind Barack Obama so we can be in the strongest place possible to win in November.

Barack Obama has chosen to spend his career speaking out for those who need a voice and reaching across the aisle to bring change that matters in the lives of working families. I am confident that as president, Barack Obama will end the war in Iraq and bring our sons and daughters home, he will make universal health care a reality and he will restore our moral standing in the world.

Barack Obama won the race in my home state by an overwhelming margin and I am thankful that so many new voters have become engaged because of the kind of campaign he has run, and I am happy to support him today.

Dumpy Gay Bars

posted by on May 15 at 9:42 AM

We should have that gay marriage decision from the Supreme Court of California in about 15 minutes. In the meantime, the Weekly Volcano, the South Sound’s alt, takes a long, hard look at the South Sound’s gay bars, shrugs its shoulders, and asks, “Why don’t [our] gay bars shine?” From the WV:

What could a person assume about the South Sound’s gay community when walking into Tacoma’s Club Silverstone or Jakes on 4th in Olympia for the first time? Despite the fact that most of South Puget Sound’s gay bars appear to be thriving, the conditions of some of them still validate negative stereotypes about the South Sound. Granted, the expectation that all gay bars must rest on top of the design food chain is itself a stereotype, the distinction between being hole-in-the wall-sheik vs. a Third World booze and pull-tab dispensary deserves scrutiny….

Some also argue that gays are more likely to tolerate lower standards because it goes along with the internalized negative image of gay life. Therefore, conditions are substandard because gays don’t consider themselves worthy of anything better, and may even avoid places that imply a healthier self-esteem.

The writer, Brad Hoover, imagines that us homos up here in King County—urban elitists in our swank gay bars, apple martinis in our soft hands, Ginch Gonch undies in our tight trousers—are looking down our noses at the South Sound’s skanky gay bars with their “incoherent aesthetic[s],” dark interiors, and beaten up furniture. In actual fact, of course, gay urban elitists in Seattle are still in mourning over the passing of Pony, a pitch-perfect homage to the kind of dark, dank, squalid gays bars that Hoover points to as harmful to gay men’s self-esteem.

Here is the Church, Here is the Steeple, Put it on a Flat-Bed Truck and Run Over the People

posted by on May 15 at 9:34 AM

You only need to watch the first 50 seconds or so—preferably stoned. Via Sullivan.

Damn.

posted by on May 15 at 9:11 AM

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I’m absolutely addicted the chocolate croissants at Cafe Presse. They’re awesome. Presse’s pastry chef has achieved the perfect chocolate-to-pastry ratio, roughly two parts chocolate to four parts pastry, so you get some delicious dark, runny chocolate and crisp, flaky pastry in every bite. Must… not… order… another… one…

In/Visible Is Up: The Artist Running the Artist-Run Zine

posted by on May 15 at 9:10 AM

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Matthew Offenbacher’s The Freak in a State of Total Tokenism (2007), oil on canvas, 49 by 29 inches

Matthew Offenbacher is the painter behind La Especial Norte, the latest in a spotty but notable historical lineage of artist-run zines in Seattle. (Anyone remember Redheaded Stepchild?) He talks about how this one came about, and what he wants to do with it. And, tangentially, why his newest paintings are of his cat.

The podcast is here.

The Morning News

posted by on May 15 at 9:05 AM

Way to Build a Bridge: Obama calls reporter “Sweetie.”

Foie Freed: Chicago overturns ban on foie gras.

Deadly: Suicide bomber kills 22 west of Baghdad.

Worse and Worse: Burma deaths could top 127,000.

Protected: Polar bears listed under Endangered Species Act.

Swarming: Ants invade Houston area, shorting electronics and messing up computers.

Soaring: Food prices rise even as inflation starts to ease.

Can You Blame Them?: High food prices prompt new wave of anti-US sentiment in Fallujah.

Nothing’s Shocking: Some US detainees may have been sedated with dangerous drugs during detention.

God and Country: Obama seeks to woo white, working-class voters.

Payback: Curious George publisher threatens lawsuit over racist T-shirt.

Recipe of the Day: Alton Brown’s Fajitas (recipe and photo via Serious Eats)

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Continue reading "The Morning News" »

Fingers, No. Elbows, Yes.

posted by on May 15 at 8:59 AM

When our elected officials contemplate the introduction of a tax on plastic shopping bags—wasteful, polluting, and, has already been proven elsewhere, unnecessary plastic shopping bags that we can easily live without—that’s unacceptable finger wagging. But when the Seattle Times spills barrels of ink about our need to protect Puget Sound from polluters and bulk-head builders and calls on our elected officials to take action, that’s just a sober-minded and responsible effort to “elbow [our] elected officials and bureaucrats” into taking action.

See how that works?

Dept. of Manic Weather

posted by on May 15 at 8:51 AM

Remember less than a month ago when it snowed? In mid-spring? Well, it’s still mid-spring and here’s the current forecast for tomorrow.

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Not that you can put much stock in weather forecasts. Whenever the weatherologists (TM) predict snow, I get excited and buy ingredients for soup, but it usually ends up balmy. So this prediction of record-breaking heat… who knows, maybe it will snow. You should still plan on going to the beach.

Here It Goes Again

posted by on May 15 at 8:38 AM

The Taliban bans TV in a province near Kabul.


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Headline of the Day (Tomorrow)

posted by on May 14 at 9:31 PM

Agitated? Irritable? Hostile? Aggressive? Impulsive? Restless?

House Republicans may be heading off a cliff in November, but give them credit for perseverance. Even after the new slogan they floated — “The Change You Deserve” — was discovered to be trademarked ad copy for the antidepressant drug Effexor, GOP leaders decided to go with the rollout anyway.

Barack Obama Is White

posted by on May 14 at 8:02 PM

Good point.

Getting ready for work this morning I channel surfed between CNN, Headline News, MSNBC, and FNC, and I heard no fewer than six talking heads refer to Obama as “African American” AKA black, and potentially “the first African American” president…

By completely ignoring the fact that Obama is half white, when discussing voters’ feelings about his ethnicity, the media is perpetrating a fraud on the news consumer and buying into to the racial hype… He is half of both. So if my better-paid peers insist on continuing to refer to him as the black candidate, instead of a biracial candidate—on those occasions when his appearance is relevant to the conversation—then I am going to have to start referring to him as the white candidate.

(H/t.)

Platypus Genome!

posted by on May 14 at 5:51 PM

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(Salim Virji)

Who doesn’t love the platypus? This is a creature bizarre enough to make marsupials feel better about themselves. The platypus, lactates (mammal!) and lays eggs (reptile!), grows fur (mammal!) and venom (reptile!).

This might be the single most interesting creature, from an evolutionary point of view, on the planet. About 315 million years ago, Amniotes—a primitive vertebrate with four legs, pretty much resembling a blurry picture of every animal that comes to mind—split into two groups. The Sauropsids eventually became all reptile-like creatures, including Dinosaurs, snakes, lizards and birds. The Synapsids became, well, us and all other mammals. Almost 170 million years ago, the Platypus split off from the rest of the Synapsids and hung out on a little evolutionary twig of its very own.

This is all a bit like reading the Silmarillion or Numbers, so I’m moving on to the big, exciting, point for evolutionary biologists. 170 million years ago, we and the Platypus shared a common ancestor. If you want to reconstruct how we evolutionarily came to have external testicles, nipples, separate opening for pee and poop—all things we have but the Platypus doesn’t—we could compare how a Platypus is put together, its genome, to our own. Our common ancestor probably lacked all these things. Likewise, the Platypus has been busy since departing our common ancestor, figuring out how do things we can’t—like make poison or see the world using only electricity. How’d that happen?

Well, we now have a draft of the Platypus genome. This’ll be fun.

Right off, the male Platypus has five X and five Y chromosomes. Huh? By comparison, every other male mammal has one X and one Y. One of the more pleasant observations is how similar we are to them. Over 80% of the genes in the Platypus strongly resemble those in humans or mice.

The remaining fifth is where all the fun actions occurs! Like what? The genes for chemical receptors, that make the nose work, are totally different. Genes for making eggs? Different from just about anything. The eggs are tiny and the baby Platypus hatches much earlier than is typical in egg-laying creatures. The baby then licks milk off the belly of the mother—remember, no nipples! If you wanted a snapshot of the evolution of mammals, that don’t lay eggs and nurse their young, this is pretty much it.

Ok, enough of my wonderment. Read the paper, if you can! If you can’t, bitch to your representative about the publication of publicly funded research in private, subscription only journals.

Re: Welfare: OK If You’re Christian!

posted by on May 14 at 5:27 PM

Have Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar—the fundamentalist Christian couple content to have just as many children as God sees fit to grant them (and, as Erica points out, saps see fit to subsidize)—seen this?

Brock University psychologist Anthony Bogaert first reported in 1996 the startling finding that a boy’s probability of growing up gay increases by about one-third with each older brother in his family. It’s a subtle phenomenon—nearly all boys even in large families still grow up straight—but subsequent research has affirmed that the “fraternal birth order effect” is real….

Bogaert also examined families in which biologically related brothers were raised separately by families after divorce. No matter where the boys were raised—in small or large families—the only factor that showed the elevated chance of growing up gay was having older biological brothers.

By ruling out child-raising factors and ruling in biological factors, Bogaert concluded that the results “support a prenatal origin to sexual orientation development in men.”

I have two older brothers. My boyfriend has one.

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The youngest Duggar boy—that would be little Jackson—has nine older brothers. Nine! Michelle Duggar’s vagina is less clown car at this stage and more gay bar.

Here. Let’s End Our Workday in the Best Way Possible.

posted by on May 14 at 4:50 PM

As my boyfriend says, “Anteaters are the new lolcats, but they don’t need any captions.”

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So many more photos that make me squeal with delight are found in this blog of “weird and wonderful things.”

(Photo credit: TamanduaGirl)

Re: Fear the Reefer

posted by on May 14 at 4:48 PM

Hey, kids! It’s time for some pothead math!

If you were to smoke 50 joints a day, each roughly 3/4s of a gram, you’d be smoking well over an ounce of weed every day.

And that’s just fucking crazy.

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Welfare: OK If You’re Christian!

posted by on May 14 at 4:41 PM

Just in time to exploit that all-important Mother’s Day angle, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar—the publicity-seeking right-wing Arkansas Christian couple whose giant family inspired the “Vagina: It’s Not a Clown Car” poster—have announced they’re having their 18th kid. If the Duggars were black, of course—or immigrants, or Muslims, or lesbians—such profligate breeding would be roundly condemned as lousy family planning, a strain on society, and a bad, neglectful home environment for the kids. But because they’re good, all-American evangelical nut jobs, the national press treats every new baby Michelle squeezes out as a God-sanctioned miracle worthy of lavish, slobbering praise. The Discovery Channel has even given them their own TV show and web site (on its “Discovery Health” page, ironically), currently headlined “The Duggars’ Big Announcement: Baby #18!”

Check out this fawning piece from the Today Show (which also reported—uncritically—the Duggars’ unfounded theory that the eeevil birth control pill caused Michelle’s first miscarriage):

Michelle and Jim Bob decided to pray for as many children as God would give them. Within a year, Michelle was pregnant with the first of their two sets of twins.

Their large number of offspring has meant other large numbers for the Duggars. Michelle has been pregnant for 135 months of her life, with an average of 18 months between births. The family estimates it has used 90,000 diapers and launders 200 loads of clothes each month in a row of industrial-size washers and dryers.

Most importantly, there is a unique dedication to serve the greater good of the home and family.
An older child will take on the responsibility of a younger sibling throughout the day. The children help prepare meals and keep to a steady home-schooling schedule. Group studies include materials from Advanced Training Institute International, a Bible-based education program for families.

To celebrate the latest addition to the Duggar clan, the TODAY Show planned their own surprise for Michelle by sending her children out to either shop or make new gifts for their busy mother.

The main gifts, picked by all the kids, included a ring Michelle saw and liked in a used jewelry store two weeks ago, as well as a pearl necklace and matching earrings. The older girls, Jana, Jill, Jessa and Jinger, picked out an outfit for their mom designed for “in-between” stages of pregnancy.[…]

“They thought they’d give their a mom surprise,” Jim Bob said. “But she gave them a surprise.”

Memo to the Today Show’s producers: Somehow I doubt that kids savvy enough to buy their mom a dress for the next time she’s in those pesky in between stages” of pregnancy—hell, kids savvy enough to look around and count—are too fucking surprised that the human incubator they call Mom is knocked up again.

Many of the stories on the Duggars have focused on their supposed frugality, noting admiringly that they live “debt free.” From an old CBS News story on Michelle Duggar, titled “What a Mother!: A Young Mom With 14 Kids Knows the Meaning of Family”:

Duggar is like any mom — multiplied several times over.

Michelle Duggar, 37, and her husband, former state Rep. Jim Bob Duggar, have 14 kids. All of their names start with the letter “J,” and number 15 is due this month.

“I’m either expecting or nursing,” Michelle Duggar says with a laugh. “We actually didn’t set out to have a large number of children. I don’t think that was our intention when we were first married. But I think we realized children are a gift.”

The Duggars are a very religious, Southern Baptist family.

[…] Michelle Duggar homeschools all 14 children. Sometimes, they study as a group or on their own. They use workbooks, computers and each other to study.

[…]That may be hard to do in the modest house of only 2,400 square feet.

Dad and the two oldest boys are building a 7,000-square-foot house. The Duggar dream house will have bathrooms galore, a commercial kitchen and one heck of a laundry room.

“We’ll have four washers and eight dryers,” says Jim Bob Duggar. “Yes, a laundromat.”

How do they afford it? Jim Bob Duggar made some smart investments, and they’re pretty frugal. The Duggars shop in bulk, basketfuls at a time.

“We spend about $1,500 a month on food,” say Jim Bob.

When they do splurge, they go in style — the family bus. But the bus has a couple of extra seats.

“I would like more,” says Michelle Duggar.

Jim Bob Duggar says he has something very special planned for Mother’s Day. Michelle says if that means he’s cooking, she’ll have quite a mess to clean up when he’s done.

Another example from the Dallas Morning News, printed shortly after Baby No. 16:

Inquiring minds want to know: How do they make it work? The answer: It’s all about faith, finances and family. It’s a system developed over their two decades together, and still evolving today.

The Houston Chronicle, which stuck the story about the Duggars’ 18th lil’ miracle in its “Bizarre News” section , does note that the Duggar patriarch “has not been specific when asked how he supports such a big family” but adds that Jim Bob’s mysterious accounting system “blends finance and religion.”

And, they fail to mention, donations. No family of 20 could get by on a single income—something any reporter who’s ever collected a paycheck ought to be able to surmise. In truth, the Duggars subsist on food donations from Sysco; supplement their bank accounts with contributions from other evangelical Christians and their church; and built their 7,000-square-foot “dream house” with donated supplies and decked it out with appliances donated by the Discovery Channel. Once it was built, the Discovery Channel sent the whole family on a trip to Disneyland. They also reportedly pay the Duggars for their participation. That’s not frugality—it’s welfare. The more babies Michelle Duggar has, the more free stuff she and her family get. The Republicans had a name for that… if only I could remember what it was.

The really sick thing about the Duggars’ whole setup is that they actually believe that God wants women to be pregnant all the time (to the extent that Michelle reportedly stops breast feeding as soon as possible after each birth, the better to ensure a quick pregnancy)—an unnatural setup that renders Michelle Duggar routinely incapacitated, makes her permanently dependent on her husband (would you hire a non-college-educated housewife who hasn’t worked since she got married at 17?), and puts her at serious risk of early death and other health problems later in life. But Michelle, of course, doesn’t matter. Her job is to keep pumping out the precious little babies—to keep the family’s quiver full. Her value is functional, not intrinsic.

The Edwards Endorsement

posted by on May 14 at 4:30 PM

Just watched a livestream of John Edwards endorsing Barack Obama.

First thoughts: Edwards could have talked about himself a little less and the crowd in Michigan could have booed Clinton a lot less.

Also, I don’t know that I saw a natural pairing when these two were on the stage together. It didn’t look as if Edwards was really enjoying sharing the stage, for one thing, and more importantly hearing them both speak one after another reminded me how similar their core messages are—both talk about uniting America, getting beyond old divisions, changing the way politics is played in Washington, etc.

In terms of a potential VP, it’s of course not bad to have someone who sounds a lot like you. But Obama could really benefit from someone who supplements his message and fills in some of his perceived voids. A gritty realist with military experience might be a nice compliment to the beloved messenger of hope, for example.

Here’s the sound-bite:

In Answer To Your Question, Matt

posted by on May 14 at 4:15 PM

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No. That’s not the ticket. This is.

Poland Is Watching You While You Sleep and Recording Your Dreamz

posted by on May 14 at 4:00 PM

So, the annual Pierogi Festival was this past Saturday, May 10, at the Polish Home on Capitol Hill. At the Pierogi Festival, I ate 14 pierogies (kraut & mushroom #1!), overheard an awkward conversation regarding traditional hats and “the Old Country,” and was stamped on my right wrist with a blob of hot pink ink that read “YUM YUM!”

It is now Wednesday, May 14.
Here is a picture of my right wrist:


DO YOU SEE THE PINK SPOT? IT IS EVEN BRIGHTER IN PERSON.

I have scrubbed the pink ink every day.* I have tried various soaps and abrasive Korean cloths and loofahs. The pink ink will not fade. My friends who were with me at the Pierogi Festival have reported the same stubborn YUM YUM spot**. Anyone else? WTF, Poland?

This leads me to three possible conclusions:

1. Using next-generation tiny ink molecule transmitter technology, the Poles got all up in my blood and are tracking my movements for their own sinister ends.

2. Using next-generation tiny ink molecule transmitter technology, the Poles got all up in my blood and are recording data on my likes and dislikes*** so they can get me a suuuuuper awesome Christmas present this year!!! OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

3. It’s just permanent ink. It takes a while to wash off. Calm the fuck down.

Anyone? Thoughts? Anyone?


*NOT A EUPHEMISM FOR MASTURBATION!
**MOST DEFINITELY A EUPHEMISM FOR MASTURBATION.
***TURN-ONS: PIEROGIES. TURN-OFFS: FRUITLESS SCRUBBING, SCRUBBING, ALWAYS SCRUBBING.

Can I Haz Trivia?

posted by on May 14 at 3:35 PM

Which bars around town have good trivia nights? And by good, I mean easy. And by easy I mean the questions are exclusively about comic books, Star Wars and zombie movies.

Also, which Capitol Hill bars do trivia?

Thanks

Mississsippi’s 1rst Congressional District

posted by on May 14 at 3:14 PM

Yay First Congressional District of Mississippi. That’s up north, around Tupelo.
You guys rock. Yay Travis Childers.
You guys are great Democrats.
Welcome to the party.
Yay.

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Back on March 11, when 1st District counties like Itiwamba went 80 percent Clinton, you guys were ill-informed racist hicks, but hey, all is forgotten. Yay for voting for Childers and his “Mississippi Democrat” strategy.

God, Democrats are such hypocrites.

Re: The Engineer of Human Souls

posted by on May 14 at 3:11 PM

Err, the engineer of certain human souls…

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Steve Saroff.

Nate Lippens’s Author Archive

posted by on May 14 at 3:05 PM

We recently discovered that an art review by Nate Lippens published in The Stranger in August 2004 bears striking similarities to an art review by John Miller published in ArtForum in the summer of 2002. Both pieces were about the artist Trisha Donnelly, and certain passages of Miller’s review appeared almost verbatim in Lippens’s review. For example, Miller wrote:

Word had it that the artist, dressed as a Napoleonic courier, rode into the gallery on a white horse, read a message of surrender, turned around and rode out. You had to be there. The rest of the show made no mention of it and the artist never photographs her performances.

Lippens wrote:

At her 2002 opening reception at Casey Kaplan in New York, word has it that the artist, dressed as a Napoleonic courier, rode into the gallery on a white horse, read a message of surrender, turned around, and rode out. The rest of the show made no mention of it and the artist never photographs her performances, or, as she prefers to call them, demonstrations.

That was not the extent of the similarities. Miller wrote: “Donnelly belongs to a generation of West Coast artists taken with Bas Jan Ader’s paragon of incommunicability, self-mythification, and antidocumentation.” Lippens wrote: “Trisha Donnelly, a San Francisco-based artist, creates work that revolves around belief systems, self-mythification, and antidocumentation.” Miller wrote: “Seeing is not necessarily believing.” Lippens wrote: “Seeing is not believing; believing is something else entirely.” Miller wrote: “Although Trisha Donnelly’s solo debut, at Casey Kaplan in New York, was all about belief structures, the work itself is full of baffles and feints.” Lippens wrote: “Her art is full of feints and fable.” Miller wrote: “Instead of asking viewers to suspend disbelief, she prods their credulity, pitting humdrum artifice against deadpan preposterousness.” Lippens wrote: “It’s not about the viewer merely suspending disbelief (we have movies and reality TV for that); credulity is pushed at every turn.”

Reached for comment by e-mail, Lippens wrote, “I’m, of course, deeply embarrassed by this. I feel terrible.”

On advice from the Poynter Institute (a journalism think tank), we are rereading everything Lippens has written for The Stranger. (He began freelancing for The Stranger in 2000 and was on staff from 2004 to 2005; his work has also been published locally in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Seattle Metropolitan, and Seattle Weekly.) Until we finish reviewing his pieces, his author archive will be unavailable on The Stranger’s website. We will restore individual pieces as quickly as we can.

Edwards to Endorse Obama Today

posted by on May 14 at 2:15 PM

Via HuffingtonPost:

The Obama campaign has announced a “major national endorsement” for a rally tonight at 7pm in Michigan, and the rumor mill is swirling that it is none other than Sen. John Edwards.

That’s 4 p.m. Pacific time. Check back in to see what happens, but this would indeed be a good day for Obama, facing continuing questions about his ability to attract working class whites, to get the backing of a good ol’ boy like Edwards.

UPDATE: The New York Times confirms: Edwards will endorse Obama.

ALSO: NARAL Pro-Choice America endorsed Obama earlier today.

These People Are Also in It to Win It

posted by on May 14 at 2:14 PM

The piece opens auspiciously with the line:

LUIS SALGADO will forever see Hillary Clinton on his thigh.

This raises all kinds of hope for where this story may go next, but then it just turns out that some guy in Philadelphia is giving out free tattoos of Hillary Clinton.

Salgado, 28, owner of the Ill Skillz (4948 N. 5th) tattoo parlor just got a portrait of Clinton inked on his leg at a tattoo convention in Baltimore.

Artist Buffalo Bill, of Sunbury, offered a free Hillary tattoo to any takers because his daughter Sarah Taby is a big Clinton supporter and thought the tattoo would give Clinton good exposure…

“Hell, yeah,” Salgado says, when we asked if he voted for Clinton recently.

As for the tattoo itself?

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That’s pretty cool, but it’s nothing compared to the full portrait of Dennis Kucinich, riding a winged horse and battling a dragon, that I’m considering having done on my back.

Seattle U Professor Arrested on Sexual Assault Charges

posted by on May 14 at 2:08 PM

Stranger news intern Chris Kissel—continuing the proud tradition of news interns breaking news about child prostitution—scoops the dailies in Seattle University’s newspaper today, The Spectator, reporting that an SU military science professor, Andrew Franz, has been arrested in Colorado on charges of criminal solicitation, enticement of a child, sexual assault on a child, trafficking in children, soliciting for child prostitution, pandering of a child and inducement of child prostitution, as well as a misdemeanor charge for unlawful sexual contact. According to Chris’s story, Franz was on contract from the army to teach at SU, and had just gotten married.

Read the whole story here.

SeaSk8’s Gettin’ Closer

posted by on May 14 at 2:00 PM

At last week’s Seattle Center skatepark design meeting, designer VDZ showed off three possible designs for the long-delayed SeatSk8 replacement skatepark.

The designs still don’t include a bowl—a point of contention for some local skaters—but it looks like VDZ is doing what they can to make use of a less than optimal space.


Click for a larger image.

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If you haven’t made it to any of the design meetings, you can still give feedback on VDZ’s forum.

The final skatepark design will be revealed at the next Seask8 meeting on June 5th, starting at 6:30 in the Shaw Room.

Gold Bond Aims for the Nuts

posted by on May 14 at 1:57 PM

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It’s an open secret: a quick dusting of Gold Bond Medicated Powder can keep a fellow’s junk feeling fresh as a tingly daisy.

Now, Gold Bond ad execs are explicitly targeting the man’s-junk market, via the sassy, double entendre-laden website/ad campaign PowderMyEquipment.com.

(Thanks for the heads-up, Gawker.)

Shame on Us

posted by on May 14 at 1:50 PM

First there was this story in the NYT this morning…

He was a carefree Italian with a recent law degree from a Roman university. She was “a totally Virginia girl,” as she puts it, raised across the road from George Washington’s home. Their romance, sparked by a 2006 meeting in a supermarket in Rome, soon brought the Italian, Domenico Salerno, on frequent visits to Alexandria, Va., where he was welcomed like a favorite son by the parents and neighbors of his girlfriend, Caitlin Cooper.

But on April 29, when Mr. Salerno, 35, presented his passport at Washington Dulles International Airport, a Customs and Border Protection agent refused to let him into the United States. And after hours of questioning, agents would not let him travel back to Rome, either; over his protests in fractured English, he said, they insisted that he had expressed a fear of returning to Italy and had asked for asylum.

Ms. Cooper, 23, who had promised to show her boyfriend another side of her country on this visit—meaning Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon—eventually learned that he had been sent in shackles to a rural Virginia jail. And there he remained for more than 10 days, locked up without charges or legal recourse while Ms. Cooper, her parents and their well-connected neighbors tried everything to get him out.

And now there’s this in the Washington Post…

Some Detainees Are Drugged For Deportation

The U.S. government has injected hundreds of foreigners it has deported with dangerous psychotropic drugs against their will to keep them sedated during the trip back to their home country, according to medical records, internal documents and interviews with people who have been drugged….

Such episodes are among more than 250 cases The Washington Post has identified in which the government has, without medical reason, given drugs meant to treat serious psychiatric disorders to people it has shipped out of the United States since 2003—the year the Bush administration handed the job of deportation to the Department of Homeland Security’s new Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, known as ICE.

Involuntary chemical restraint of detainees, unless there is a medical justification, is a violation of some international human rights codes. The practice is banned by several countries where, confidential documents make clear, U.S. escorts have been unable to inject deportees with extra doses of drugs during layovers en route to faraway places.

Mr. Cooper’s girlfriend—who is now living in Rome—was quoted by the NYT as saying, “Who on earth would ever seek asylum from Italy?” Dunno. But if a Democrat doesn’t get elected president in the fall, and if that Democrat doesn’t start undoing the damage done to this country by the GOP, I’m going to go somewhere and claim asylum from the US.

Re: When Does It End?

posted by on May 14 at 1:24 PM

As Dan notes below, the Seattle Times’ Bruce Ramsey took the bold step today of coming out against the proposed 20-cent tax on disposable grocery bags… joining fellow faux populists Ron Judd, Knute Berger, Joni Balter , and the entire Seattle Times editorial board in protesting this grave violation of their human right to be given plastic bags free of charge and dispose of them however they wish. His column is a rehash of hoary old Seattle cliches—“social engineering” makes an appearance, as does the familiar shibboleth of—the injustice!—forced recycling. (A ghostly Nanny State™ also appears on the sidelines, in the form of the “city-wagging-its-finger-at-me” tax.)

Anyway, I won’t add to what Dan so adroitly said below (and what I’ve said over and over and over again), except this: I sincerely hope that when Mayor Nickels decides to propose a tax on bottled water, “populists” like Ramsay, Balter, and Berger will wholeheartedly support it—since, presumably, all those poor, downtrodden low-income Seattleites who can’t afford so much as a 73-cent reusable bag are already drinking tap water anyway.

The Engineer of Human Souls

posted by on May 14 at 1:23 PM

Motherland-Kiev.jpg “Les nuages … les merveilleux nuages.”

In the Last 24 Hours on Line Out

posted by on May 14 at 1:16 PM

Now Only One Day of the Year Has to Suffer: Ozzfest ditches tour plans, becomes one-day festival.

Smith’s Jukebox Hates Bikini Kill: Eric Grandy picked the four songs he wanted to hear most, put a buck in the jukebox, and got nothing in return.

Rare KISS Performance!: Usually I wouldn’t care about KISS, but this is awesome.

I’d Have Given it Three Stars: Jeff Kirby’s 3.5 star review of the new Death Cab album.

And It’s Still Not Here…: Trent Moorman’s wai-ting for the suuu-uuuu-uuun.

Sexy Disco… Is There Any Other Kind: TJ Gorton on Supervixens.

It’s Better Than 25, I Guess: Rapper Remy Ma gets eight years for shooting a woman.

Rrrraar!: Hear the new Truckasauras. (I have no idea what “Rrrrar!” has to do with anything except that band name always make me want to growl like a dinosaur.)

Brand New Videos for Your Enjoyment: Pelican, Flight of the Conchords, and Man Man.

Don’t Forget Tax-Evading Criminal: One more reason to hate Everclear—the band’s playing Guantanamo Bay?

Today’s Music News: Jay-Z responds to Noel Gallagher’s asinine comments, Sigur Ros hates on Seattle, the RIAA reveal how they catch a music thief, and more of today’s headlines.

Tonight in Music: The Posies celebrate 20 years and Tapes ‘n Tapes play the Showbox.

Poll!: Is there a place for hate in music? And which emotions make for the best music?

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Found in the Stranger’s Flickr Pool, taken by dan10things.

Same-Sex Marriage—Remember Same-Sex Marriage?

posted by on May 14 at 1:07 PM

The Supreme Court of California announced today that it will hand down its ruling on same-sex marriage at 10 AM tomorrow. Observers are cautiously optimistic—or pessimistic, depending on their POV—about tomorrow’s ruling. All signs supposedly point to a pro-marriage-equality ruling in California.

And here’s the big ol’ but: Anti-gay activists in California have already gathered enough signatures to place an anti-same-sex-marriage amendment on the ballot in that state this November. The passages of anti-same-sex-marriage amendment to California’s state constitution would, of course, undo any legal same-sex marriages solemnized in California if the state supreme court legalizes same-sex marriage—but only if the amendment passes, which supporters of same-sex marriage, naturally, will work like hell to prevent. But it’s going to be a fight—a big one.

Says Don at Citizen Crain:

So get ready for World War-like battle for gay rights that we have no choice but to fight as if our lives depended on it. Certainly our future does. It will involve the LGBT community throughout the nation. We can argue about whether marriage was the right issue at the right time. But we’re here now, and we have no choice but to fight as hard as we can. This isn’t just about marriage—it’s about ending legal discrimination against gay people on any issue you can think of.

This fight would go down during a national election, one that is energizing liberals and progressives all over the country. California is a blue state, firmly in the Democratic column, and the state’s exception-to-the-hue GOP governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, has already come out against amending the state’s constitution to ban same-sex marriage. Polls show Californians to be evenly divided on the issue—which isn’t good enough, since a significant chunk of voters don’t want to cop to their bigotry and so tell pollsters they’re for same-sex marriage when they actually intend to vote against it. But an effective campaign, coupled with Democratic GOTV efforts for Obama, could do the trick.

If the supremes in California declare the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, approved by voters in 2000, to be unconstitutional, it’s going to be the first shot in one short, noisy war. The stakes will be high and the battle will be epic—because if the courts and the voters sign off on same-sex marriage, opponents and haters in California won’t have a leg to stand on.

Robert Rauschenberg Can Only Be Associated with What’s Living

posted by on May 14 at 1:04 PM

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Monogram, 1955-59

In the story of art history, Robert Rauschenberg is, among other things, the man who killed Willem de Kooning. In 1953, the young upstart Rauschenberg took a drawing by the elder de Kooning, erased it, and put the blank page on display inside a golden frame for all the world to see. Abstract expressionism was dead and had been swept offstage, and the audience was primed and ready for a new generation—the generation of Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol: Pop. Erased de Kooning Drawing is a breath between movements, a final metaphorical slaying of a tottering old man, and in this version, Rauschenberg is the enthusiastic, revolutionary killer.

But a closer look at the classic story, as told in the great 2004 biography of de Kooning by Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan, reveals a truer Rauschenberg, one driven, ironically, as much by love of the older artist’s work as by the ambition to supplant him. De Kooning was about 50 years old and Rauschenberg less than 30 on the day in 1953 when Rauschenberg came knocking. “I was hoping to God that he wouldn’t be home,” Rauschenberg told the biographers, adding that he’d brought a bottle of liquor along for strength. De Kooning welcomed his killer “affectionately” and they talked warmly until Rauschenberg screwed up the strength to ask for the drawing—and to explain what he wanted it for. “I know what you’re doing,” was de Kooning’s response.

“He really made me suffer,” Rauschenberg recalled. De Kooning took out an entire portfolio of drawings and leafed through them. “I want to give you one that I’ll miss,” he told Rauschenberg, adding, “I want it to be very hard to erase.” The one he chose was a “dense mixed-media image that contained, Rauschenberg said, ‘charcoal, lead, everything. It took me two months and even then it wasn’t completely erased. I wore out a lot of erasers.’”

Rauschenberg died Monday at age 82 of heart failure, and looking back on his career, these moments 55 years ago seem particularly telling. After Erased de Kooning Drawing, Rauschenberg would never again put something so neat and tidy out into the world—and the physical process of the erasure was far from simple. (This was no fugitive pencil drawing.) Rauschenberg’s lifetime of messy sculpture-paintings (he called them “combines”), layered screenprints, and transfer drawings were more full of the sweeping, emotive strokes of de Kooning’s terrifically troubling women than the cool, collected attitudes of Lichtenstein or, say, James Rosenquist or Tom Wesselmann or even Rauschenberg’s one-time love, Jasper Johns. Rauschenberg erased de Kooning only to bring him back in ghost form, never adhering entirely either to de Kooning’s old-fashioned painterly romance or to Warhol’s newfangled machine love. On that fateful day at de Kooning’s studio in 1953, Rauschenberg told the biographers, “I was completely prepared to share (my liquor) with him.” Both men were legendarily hard drinkers.

Rauschenberg’s death feels like it hits harder than the death of any artist in recent memory, which sounds strange (quantifying deaths is a bad business) and makes very little sense. After all, the man was 82.

“I wasn’t surprised when I heard,” said new Henry Art Gallery director Sylvia Wolf, a new transplant from New York, Rauschenberg’s town. “But I was shocked.”

Rauschenberg feels as influential—as alive—now as he did when he joined the canon fully 30 years ago. Many critics saw his 2006 Combines exhibition, organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, as unprecedented high water mark in his career. Although the works were made decades before, never before had so many of the combines—including the famous Monogram, a goat with a rubber tire around his middle—been shown together before, and as a group they knocked out pretty much every critic that came their way, and offered new insight into Rauschenberg. (I did not see the show, to my serious sorrow.)
In 2007, his creative fingerprints were all over the grand reopening of the New Museum. Its big group exhibition Unmonumental was full of assemblages by far younger artists whose work is unthinkable without Rauschenberg—who took many of his own cues from earlier trash-cobbling artists like Kurt Schwitters.

Rauschenberg famously said that he intended to operate in the gap between art and life; he also is known to have felt sorry for people surrounded by regular mass-produced objects for which they had no love. He did love them, and he used them in everything, eventually turning them against the commercializing aspects of their own reproducibility (Warhol, equally deliciously, turned them toward those aspects). In Rauschenberg, parts from a factory-made chair are as special as handmade brushstrokes because reproduction is as interesting as originality, and both, he seems to say, are deeply misunderstood ideas. In 1957, he made two nearly identical collages called Factum I and II, using not only machine-reproduced elements such as newspaper clippings but also dramatic brushstrokes. Lichtenstein deconstructed the brushstroke in his work, too, implying: one little repetition and the myth of modern painting falls to the ground. Isn’t that a little too fragile?

According to Michael Kimmelman writing in the New York Times, Rauschenberg’s mother made his shirts from scraps of fabric, but when he graduated from high school he wanted a “readymade” shirt. That mid-century economy of means paired with the genuine embrace of the average as an originating spirit accounts for the easygoing, particularly American attitude of his works. His most recognizable self-portrait is Bed (1955), which is just that, his lived-in single bed painted and hung on a wall, a twist on the abstract expressionist mode of large paintings representing the struggles of the soul. Rauschenberg’s large painted surface depicted instead the visceral struggle of a body in bed (which broadens considerably when you recall that it was 1955, and Rauschenberg was gay, like many Pop artists, in contrast to the strenuously straight generation of painters who went before them). Rauschenberg may have mocked the high and cerebral seriousness of painters like Barnett Newman—whose vertical “zip” lines Rauschenberg parodied by using car tires to make lines—but he didn’t crush it; he transformed it into something physical, more real, more everyday. In questioning the myths of art, he didn’t unseat art’s ability to rise to mythic importance. He left behind all these seemingly living bodies. It’s hard to think of his as gone.

Re: Mississippi Democrats are Awesome, but W. Virginia’s are Racist.

posted by on May 14 at 12:40 PM

Wait a minute, Josh.

As Charles has pointed out, the difference between the outcome in West Virginia last night and the outcome in Mississippi last night may have far less to do with white voters than with black voters—meaning, the relative presence or absence of black voters in a given state.

In West Virginia, the number of black voters was so negligible that the exit polls didn’t even have a big enough sample of black voters to allow for a projection of which way blacks had voted. In Mississippi, black turnout was high and black voters seem to have helped the Democratic congressional challenger win his surprising victory.

So the lesson here is not to be found in comparing the white demographics of West Virginia with the white demographics of Mississippi, finding that they’re similar, and then trying to call liberals out on some sort of hypocrisy for liking the result in Mississippi and not liking the result in West Virginia.

The lesson is to be found in comparing the black demographics of each state. Blacks make up about 40 percent of the population in Mississippi. They make up just over 3 percent of the population in West Virginia. It’s a telling difference.

It suggests that a major difference between the working-class white Democrats in West Virginia and the working-class white Democrats in Mississippi is that one group has had far more day-to-day interaction with non-whites and is therefore much less apt to be scared by campaign messages playing to fears of an “other” and casting Obama as out of step with American values (as happened in both the Mississippi contest, in which Republicans tried unsuccessfully to sink the Democrat by tying him to Obama, and the West Virginia contest, in which many white voters had clearly been reached by messages telling them Obama was a Muslim, unpatriotic, etc).

Fear the Reefer

posted by on May 14 at 12:40 PM

The federal government wants you to know that smoking pot is linked to health problems.

Heavy marijuana use can boost blood levels of a particular protein, perhaps raising a person’s risk of a heart attack or stroke, U.S. government researchers said on Tuesday.

[Dr. Jean Lud Cadet of the National Institute on Drug Abuse] said a lot of previous research has focused on the effects of marijuana on the brain. His team looked elsewhere in the body, measuring blood protein levels in 18 long-term, heavy marijuana users and 24 other people who did not use the drug.

Levels of a protein called apolipoprotein C-III were found to be 30 percent higher in the marijuana users compared to the others. This protein is involved in the body’s metabolism of triglycerides — a type of fat found in the blood — and higher levels cause increased levels of triglycerides, Cadet added. High levels of triglycerides can contribute to hardening of the arteries or thickening of the artery walls, raising the risk of stroke, heart attack and heart disease.

Be still my heart. How much pot constitutes heavy marijuana use? How much is too much?

The marijuana users in the study averaged smoking 78 to 350 marijuana cigarettes per week, based on self-reported drug history, the researchers said.

So if you’re smoking 350 joints a week—that’s 50 joints a day—you’ve really got to cut down. You should really cut down even if you’re only smoking a measly 11 joints a day. Please make a note of it.

Via the NORML Blog.

Flickr Photo of the Day

posted by on May 14 at 12:31 PM

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by sea kay

What’s the Matter with Appalachia?

posted by on May 14 at 12:31 PM

As Josh noted earlier today, something very odd happened: While Obama suffered an absolutely brutal loss in West Virginia last night, the Democrats went on to win a congressional seat in rural Mississippi that has been in Republican hands since 1994—and more specifically, a seat where the Republicans used the specter of Obama and his mad, America-hating pastor to try to drag down the Democratic candidate.

When combined with Obama’s win in Nebraska last night (a contest that’s a mirror image of Washington’s system, wherein the caucus is king and the primary is a beauty contest), it kind of raises a question:

What’s so different between rural, white America in West Virginia and the same rural white voters in Nebraska and Mississippi?

Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo attempts to explain the historical context of Appalachian politics, and why the first black president will probably never be a popular concept there. I’m only able to post a portion of it (and it’s a pretty long piece), but here’s the crux:

These regions were settled disproportionately by Scots-Irish immigrants who pushed into the hill country to the west in part because that’s where the affordable land was but also because they wanted to get away from the more stratified and inegalitarian society of the east which was built by English settlers and their African slaves. Crucially, slavery never really took root in these areas. And this is why during the Civil War, Unionism (as in support for the federal union and opposition to the treason of secession) ran strong through the Appalachian upcountry, even into Deep South states like Alabama and Mississippi.

As I alluded to earlier, this was the origin of West Virginia, which was originally the westernmost part of Virginia. The anti-slavery, anti-slaveholding upcountry seceded from Virginia to remain in the Union after Virginia seceded from the Union. Each of these regions was fiercely anti-Slavery. And most ended up raising regiments that fought in the Union Army. But they were as anti-slave as they were anti-slavery, both of which they viewed as the linchpins of the aristocratic and inegalitarian society they loathed. It was a society that was both more violent and more self-reliant.

This is history. But it shapes the region. It’s overwhelmingly white, economically underdeveloped (another legacy of the pre-civil war pattern) and arguably because of that underdevelopment has very low education rates and disproportionately old populations.

This map has been floating around the lefty-end of the blog world, giving a pre-West Virginia breakdown of counties where Hillary has beaten Obama by over 65% of the vote. Other than her strongholds in Hispanic-dominated areas and her well known popularity in upstate New York, the map almost geographically matches the spine of the Appalachian mountains:

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That’s probably as good a guess as any for whats going on, or at the very least a step up from the hallowed argument: ‘They’re Slackjawed Klansmen vs. Obama Doesn’t Understand The Tender Sensibilities of Jug Band Aficionados.’

Lunchtime Quickie

posted by on May 14 at 12:30 PM

From Buenos Aires, where I dare say, graffiti is art…

Thanks hot tipper Gurldoggie. More from the artist here.

Confidential to the Pagliacci Employee I Met Last Night Who Said He’s Not Allowed to Read Slog at Work

posted by on May 14 at 12:05 PM

I just got off the phone with your boss (and Pagliacci co-owner) Matt Galvin. He said he didn’t know that the new internet filter banned The Stranger.

“The filter is being modified all the time,” he said. “And we didn’t want to have to have one anyway, but a few people were downloading stuff and creating problems and ruining it for everybody.”

He promised to lift the ban on The Stranger, but wouldn’t make any promises about YouTube.

Sorry—did what I could.

Lunch Date: The Explainers

posted by on May 14 at 12:00 PM

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(A few times a week, I take a new book with me to lunch and give it a half an hour or so to grab my attention. Lunch Date is my judgment on that speed-dating experience.)

Who’s your date today? The Explainers, by Jules Feiffer.

Where’d you go? Phuket, on lower Queen Anne.


What’d you eat?
I had the lunch combo $8.99, which is rice, salad, and any two Thai food combos. I went with the green curry and the Phad Kee Mao

How was the food? It was pretty damn good. The wide rice noodles were cooked just right, the vegetables were fresh, and I really liked being able to order two types of Thai food at once. It’s the kind of option that you usually only get at bad Chinese places, but everything at Phuket was made to order. The sauces were a tad too sweet, but on the whole it’s a good Thai lunch counter. I ordered medium and there was virtually no spice; heat-seekers might want to aim high.


What does your date say about itself?
This is volume one of Fantagraphics’ new chronological collection of Feiffer’s complete Village Voice strips. This volume collects 1956 through 1966.



Is there a representative quote?

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Will you two end up in bed together? I’m marrying the fucker. I’ve always said that Feiffer’s cartoons are like Schulz’s Peanuts all grown up, and this collection is going to wind up on the same shelf that I reserve for Fantagraphics’ gorgeous Complete Peanuts collections. The surprising part is that most of these cartoons have aged incredibly well—though Feiffer worked on a tiny deadline for most of his early career, these strips still seem fresh and neurotic and crazy as ever. If I were to have one complaint—and I always have at least one complaint—it’s that I don’t like the neon orange on the cover. But this book is just about as perfect a collection of comics as you’ll ever find.

A Teaching Moment

posted by on May 14 at 11:51 AM

School administrators are investigating an art teacher at Armijo High School who allegedly flashed a pornographic picture on the screen during class Monday.

The incident happened during a project in a computer graphic arts class Monday morning, according to several students. The impression was the image was accidentally projected during a lesson on how to use Adobe Photoshop. As the image remained on the screen four to five seconds, several students say it sent the teacher scrambling to quickly take it off the screen.

“He was just clicking on random files, all of a sudden this big image of literally gay porn shows up,” said freshman Chris Matthews. “And he’s going crazy, looking. Just that by that reaction that shows that he didn’t expect it.”

Today The Stranger Suggests

posted by on May 14 at 11:00 AM

Boobs for Charity

‘Showgirls’ at Triple Door

Tonight’s performance of David Schmader’s critically acclaimed live commentary on the critically slammed Showgirls is brought to you by local do-gooders Noise for the Needy, a nonprofit that raises money for a new charity each year. Tonight’s proceeds go to Urban Rest Stop, which provides free, clean, and safe washing-up facilities for homeless folks. So any bad karma you accrue tonight while ridiculing Elizabeth Berkley’s horrific attempts at acting will be canceled out, since the cost of admission goes to a good cause. (Triple Door, 216 Union St, 838-4333. 7:30 pm, $12, all ages.)

MEGAN SELING

Book Club of the Damned: I Will Fear No Evil, Part 1

posted by on May 14 at 11:00 AM

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As I said last Friday, Brad bet me fifty bucks I couldn’t read I Will Fear No Evil, by Robert A. Heinlein. Brad and two of his former roommates couldn’t get their way through the book, and he called it unreadable.

Most of the dozens of commenters on Friday’s post say that Evil is a horrible, horrible book, but they claim that it is at least readable. A couple of readers even suggested that the book was their gateway to Samuel R. Delaney’s brilliant sci-fi novel Dhalgren.

I am now 122 pages into Evil, which was published in 1970. It has not been difficult, but it is very poorly written. I’ve read Stranger in a Strange Land and Starship Troopers, so Heinlein’s not a new experience for me, but this reads like atrophied Heinlein, as though he’s trying to write like a young man and failing miserably. This almost works with the ideas that the novel is trying to encompass, but I have a feeling it’s not going to seem appropriate for that much longer.

The story thus far: sometime after the turn of the twenty-first century, bajillionaire Johann Sebastian Bach Smith is getting very, very old. Because he fears death and he’s inordinately wealthy, he’s going to have surgery to implant his brain in a much younger body.

The catch—and of course there’s a catch—is that Smith has a super-rare blood type, AB Negative. Only one in a million people have this blood type, but one of these people, it turns out, is Eunice, Smith’s gorgeous secretary. Eunice, in the fashion of the early twenty-first century, eschews clothing for the most part, instead choosing to wear body paint and maybe a g-string and/or a pair of ruffly panties. Her husband, a painter, takes great pleasure in painting her body for work—and they both seem to creepily enjoy the pleasure that creepy old Smith gets in looking at Eunice’s body. Smith puts out a call to bring any young, AB-negative corpses that are freshly deceased to him.

More, including study questions, after the jump.

Continue reading "Book Club of the Damned: I Will Fear No Evil, Part 1" »

Mississippi Democrats Are Awesome, but W. Virginia’s Are Racist

posted by on May 14 at 10:55 AM

Rightly so, Democrats are thrilled about their victory in rural, northern Mississippi this morning, where Democrat Travis Childers won a special election to fill a vacant U.S. House seat—a seat held by the GOP for 14 years.

Mississippi—where a lowly 17% of voters have a bachelors degree and the median household income ($34,000) is $10,000 below the national median—is the exact kind of turf Howard Dean was talking about in late 2003 when he famously urged Democrats to broaden their appeal to guys in “their pickup trucks” or else “We can’t beat George Bush.” (Bush got 64% of the vote in the district in 2004)

So, three cheers to the Democrats for making important inroads.

Ahem: West Virginia’s demographics—only 15% of voters have a bachelors degree, the median household income is $34,000—are pretty similar to Mississippi’s.

Certainly, Obama’s putting together an impressive coalition—independents, dramatic increase in young voters, plus the liberal base—that can make up the difference and carry him in November.

But it’s funny to read breathless accounts about Mississippi’s “Conservative Democrat” strategy this morning on the D blogs—or “Mississippi Democrat” as Childers called himself on the trail—side-by-side (that’s you DailyKos) with dismissals of W. Va voters as a racist dunderheads.

When Does It End?

posted by on May 14 at 10:15 AM

Bruce Ramsey pitches a fit in today’s Seattle Times about, yes, his inalienable right to plastic shopping bags.

I don’t want to use a cloth bag. I don’t want to carry the bag to the store, and I don’t want to limit my shopping to the capacity of my bag.

What if I want to buy more? I can pay the 20 cents, but it is a punishment tax, a city-wagging-its-finger-at-me tax: bad, bad, bad.

I don’t want the disapproval and I don’t want the people in Shoreline, Edmonds, Redmond, Kirkland, Bellevue, Renton, Kent and Burien laughing at me for being a sap for the greener-than-thou progressives in Seattle. And I don’t want the people who did this to have my 20 cents.

Jesus Fucking Christ, when does the whining end? So the extremely well-compensated Bruce Ramsey doesn’t want to pay $.20 for a plastic bag. Boo fucking hoo. And Bruce doesn’t want people in Seattle’s suburbs—cities that are likely to follow Seattle’s lead, if the city has the courage to buck the almighty Seattle Times on this issue, and ban wasteful, polluting plastic bags in the very near future—snickering at him. It might shrink his dick.

The Seattle Times’ faux-populism on this issue is as revolting as it is hypocritical.

Right now the Seattle Times is running a front-page series on protecting Puget Sound. The series is so very high-minded, so very liberal, so very—what’s the phrase again? Ah yes: it’s so very greener-than-thou. Well, guess what, Bruce? Reducing or eliminating the number of plastic bags we use will not only keep them out of our waste stream, but it will keep them out of Puget Sound. Here’s a little factoid from a wire service story that ran in the PI some time ago:

One of the most dramatic impacts is on marine life. About 100,000 whales, seals, turtles and other marine animals are killed by plastic bags each year worldwide, according to Planet Ark, an international environmental group.

Last September, more than 354,000 bags—most of them plastic—were collected during an international cleanup of costal areas in the United States and 100 other countries, according to the Ocean Conservancy.

The bags were the fifth most common item of debris found on beaches.

Plastic bags are wasteful, stupid, and do real harm to our beloved Puget Sound and our local marine life—just like bulkheads, the destruction of wetlands, and industrial and residential runoff.

The issues being raised by the Seattle Times in its “Failing the Sound” series are tough ones, hard to solve, hard to reach consensus about. And, man, is the Seattle Times ever wagging its fat fingers! At rich people building bulkheads on Bainbridge Island, at developers, at local politicians. But Bruce Ramsey bravely draws the line at inconveniencing himself. So what if the damage done to our environment by plastic bags is, as Ireland has demonstrated, an exceedingly easy problem to solve—and one most easily solved with, yes, a tax. From the New York Times:

In 2002, Ireland passed a tax on plastic bags; customers who want them must now pay 33 cents per bag at the register. There was an advertising awareness campaign. And then something happened that was bigger than the sum of these parts.

Within weeks, plastic bag use dropped 94 percent. Within a year, nearly everyone had bought reusable cloth bags, keeping them in offices and in the backs of cars… “I used to get half a dozen with every shop. Now I’d never ever buy one,” said Cathal McKeown, 40, a civil servant carrying two large black cloth bags bearing the bright green Superquinn motto. “If I forgot these, I’d just take the cart of groceries and put them loose in the boot of the car, rather than buy a bag.”

Gerry McCartney, 50, a data processor, has also switched to cloth. “The tax is not so much, but it completely changed a very bad habit,” he said. “Now you never see plastic.”

Reading Tonight

posted by on May 14 at 10:14 AM

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Whereas yesterday was totally packed with thrilling readings choices, tonight has a couple of reading choices that are not so hot, with a couple gems. And a poetry slam.

Jane Porter is at the University Book Store with Mrs. Perfect. Which is a novel about a woman who “gets jealous when her arch rival is named Head Room Mom” at her daughter’s school. I will speak of this book no more.

Fly-fishing’s foremost scribe” is at Third Place Books. That’s enough of that one, too, unless you’re into fly-fishing, in which case: get to it.

At the Seattle Public Library, Alexandra Fuller, author of Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight, which is a memoir of growing up in Africa, reads from The Legend of Colton H. Bryant, which is a novel about a young man in Wyoming. Fuller’s first book was very popular with the book club crowd. Myself and other booksellers ascribed its success to the fact that it was about Africa, (exotic) but it was written by a white woman (familiar). I’ve always wanted Charles to review it.

At Third Place Books Ravenna, we have the author of Closing the Food Gap: Resetting the Table in the Land of Plenty. I told you this was the week of tons of books about food. This one is less about the actual food and more about its fair redistribution.

Simon Winchester, who wrote The Professor and the Madman, is at Kane Hall on the UW campus, reading from his new book The Man Who Loved China, which is about a man who helped open modern China to the west. I wasn’t crazy (har-har) about The Professor and the Madman, but Winchester is an author who is at least very talented in picking very interesting subjects for his books, which might be half the authorial battle right there.

And at Town Hall, Leonard Mlodinow reads from The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives. I haven’t read it yet, but it looks like a very Freakonomics-y type book. But this reading should be recommended if just for the author’s resume: he was “co-author with Stephen Hawking of A Briefer History of Time” and he wrote for Star Trek: The Next Generation and MacGyver. This is, needless to say, awesome.

Don’t forget to consult the full readings calendar for more information.

Bizarre Remake of the Day

posted by on May 14 at 10:09 AM

I don’t quite know what to make of this:

Nicolas Cage will star in an updated version of 1992’s “Bad Lieutenant” with Werner Herzog directing, Edward R. Pressman producing and Avi Lerner’s Nu Image/Millennium Films financing.

Project, also called “Bad Lieutenant,” is due to be announced at Cannes. Production will start in late summer.

Werner Herzog? Really?

Currently Hanging

posted by on May 14 at 10:00 AM

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Pat De Caro’s Untitled (2008), ink on paper, 12 by 9 inches

At Francine Seders Gallery. (Gallery web site here.)

The Collectors of the Moment Have Spoken

posted by on May 14 at 9:59 AM

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Lucien Freud’s Benefits Supervisor Sleeping (1995) has sold for $33.6 million at Christie’s in New York, beating the record for the price of a work of art by a living artist sold at auction. (Hear all those qualifiers? Hell, the whole thing is a qualifier. Don’t shoot the messenger. Is this thing worth $33.6 million? How on earth would I know what the value of $33.6 million is? I have $22 in my wallet in ones, and it’s a good day.)

Bush-Bashing for Fun and Profit

posted by on May 14 at 9:53 AM

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Intelligent Americans aren’t the only ones who consider George W. Bush a colossal waste of sperm and egg. Creativebits rounds up advertisements from around the world that try dissing Dubya to sell product. Some are pretty, some are cute, and they’re all here.

(Thanks for the heads-up, MetaFilter.)

Fallen Idol

posted by on May 14 at 9:36 AM

Hm. Maybe there’s something to this role model crap after all. The kid came down for breakfast, saw the headlines on this morning’s PI about the Seahawk Lofa Tatupu’s DUI arrest yesterday, went back up to his bedroom, and took down a poster of Tatupu that he’d hung over his bed.

The Obama Effect

posted by on May 14 at 9:24 AM

There is good news for white Democratic candidates. Blacks are not only voting for Obama but also runners who are associated with his party and moment in history.

The closely watched Mississippi congressional race that resulted in a terrible upset for the GOP—a Democratic candidate, Childers, took a safe Republican seat from a Republican—had this as one of its important factors:

In the end, tying the white Democrat to the black presidential candidate may have helped Mr. Childers more than it hurt him, as campaign aides reported heavy black turnout, heavier than in a vote three weeks ago when he came within 400 votes of winning.

“I like what Childers was saying: he was more truthful and down to earth,” said Mary Shelton, an African-American who had just voted for him at the Yalobusha County courthouse here.

And Mr. Childers’s association with the party that might nominate Mr. Obama didn’t hurt either. “We need a change, we really do,” Ms. Shelton said.

Obama has activated the black vote in a way that might help white candidates in tough races.

Youth Pastor Watch

posted by on May 14 at 9:15 AM

Louisiana:

The Louisiana School for the Deaf has hired a consultant following a number of incidents involving current and former staff. Most recently, 31-year-old Joey Thomas, a youth minister at the school, was arrested in April for having an inappropriate relationship with a 14-year-old girl.

Thomas is the fifth person affiliated with the school arrested in so many months.

Texas:

Austin Police revealed Tuesday that 32-year-old Shane Flournoy, who is accused of paying a Texas School for the Deaf student to expose himself, had inappropriate sexual contact with at least five boys in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. Police say the boys were between the ages of 13 and 16-years-old…. Flournoy moved to Austin in May of 2007 and was hired at the Texas School for the Deaf as a dorm worker. He was also a youth minister at the Solid Rock Baptist Church…

Austin Police also revealed that Flournoy had been a youth pastor helping the deaf community when he was living in Houston. They say he groomed teenagers and their parents by taking them on field trips and buying them gifts.

The Day After

posted by on May 14 at 9:10 AM

In case you missed all the fuss last night, here’s the video of Hillary Clinton’s victory speech after her blowout win in West Virginia (note the guy waving a bowling pin in the background).

Turning from working-class white voters to young voters, here are the leaders of the College Democrats (who together count as one superdelegate) endorsing Obama this morning.

He’s a U.S. Senate Candidate and a Bottle Opener

posted by on May 14 at 9:01 AM

A Show Without Matthew Barney

posted by on May 14 at 9:00 AM

These are the artists Greg Kucera Gallery lists as not part of the Video Kitchen show that opens tomorrow at the space: Matthew Barney, Isaac Julien, Pipilotti Rist, Bill Viola, Gary Hill, Shirin Neshat, Rodney Graham, Doug Aitken, and Marina Abramovic.

In other words, the making of Video Kitchen: Homemade Moving Imagesthe first show entirely devoted to video in the history of the gallery—involved no horde of post-productioneers, no lighting designers and crews. There may even be no (imagine!) credits. It’s just the artist, more or less 1960s-Nauman-like, with a camera.

“I’ve been seeing a lot of overblown cinematic videos lately,” Kucera said. “But I remember seeing video art in the early days, seeing it at the And/Or Gallery when I was a teenager. The form has changed so much. I’m more interested in the artist’s hand, in a much more pared-down quality. These are humble sorts of videos.”

The lineup ranges from familiar artists (Tim Roda, Reuben Lorch-Miller, Mark Newport) to artists new to the gallery (Jhordan Dahl, Daniela Libertad).

Here’s a still from Portlander Dahl’s Dreamgirls, a video in which the artist impersonates the heroines of movies from Chinatown to Belle du Jour in a tribute to her mother.

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Potty Training

posted by on May 14 at 8:55 AM

A popular restaurant has agreed to pay $35,000 to settle a lawsuit with a lesbian who said a bouncer chased her out of the women’s bathroom and forced her to leave because she looked masculine….

The Caliente Cab Company, while denying the allegations, also agreed to add gender identity to its nondiscrimination policy, amend its employee handbook with a section on customer restroom use.

The Claliente Cab Company is in NYC’s Greenwich Village, which has been welcoming masculine women for, oh, more than a century now. Greenwich Village ain’t what it used to be, but still: if boyish/mannish dykes can’t use the toilets in freakin’ Greenwich Village without being harassed and discriminated against, what hope is there for boyish/mannish dykes in other, less enlightened parts of the country?

The Morning News

posted by on May 14 at 8:11 AM

Slowing: Washington State economy, if recent job losses are any indication.

Unity: Both Democratic Presidential candidates return to Congress to vote for stopping deliveries to the strategic oil reserve.

Not enough: Clinton’s 2-1 margin of victory in West Virginia.

In China: Death toll tops 12,000, with 18,000 believed buried in one city alone.

Maybe Now It’ll Be Taken Seriously: HPV puts men at risk of certain oral cancers.

Supporting the Troops: President Bush gives up golf in solidarity with soldiers in Iraq.

Recipe of the Day: Butter-Braised Asparagus and Oyster Mushrooms with Peas and Tarragon (recipe and photo via the New York Times)

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Continue reading "The Morning News" »

To Jonah and Paul:

posted by on May 14 at 12:31 AM

When you were at the Emerald City Comicon this weekend, did you happen to witness this incredible exchange between father and son?


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Unsafe Seats

posted by on May 13 at 8:05 PM

Meanwhile in Mississippi: A Democrat—a conservative Democrat, but still—won what had been considered a “safe” U.S. House seat for the GOP tonight. And he won it by eight freaking points. Sucks to be them. More here.

Clinton Wins West Virginia

posted by on May 13 at 6:30 PM

So sayeth the exit polls. She plans to deliver a victory speech around 5:30 PST; Obama will not be speaking at all tonight.

The race factor? Here’s what ABC says:

Racially motivated voting appeared to be running higher than usual: Two in 10 whites said the race of the candidate was a factor in their vote, second only to Mississippi. And only a third of those voters said they’d support Obama as the nominee against Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., fewer than in other primaries where the question has been asked.

And here’s the clickable exit poll for your perusing.

Notable: 70 percent of voters had no college education; 70 percent of voters want the nomination fight to continue; 50 percent of voters said Obama shares the views of Rev. Wright; 95 percent of the voters were white; 21 percent said the race of the candidate was important; and of those white voters who said the race of the candidate was important, 84 percent voted for Clinton.

UPDATE: Moments after the polls close, a Clinton fund raising email:

After tonight’s tremendous victory here in West Virginia, it’s clear that the pundits declaring this race over have it all wrong. The voters in West Virginia spoke loud and clear — they want this contest to go on.

I’m listening to the voters — and to you.

With your help, I’m going to carry the energy of tonight’s victory into the next contests in Kentucky and Oregon. And just as always, I’ll be depending on you to share every step of this journey with me. You have worked your heart out, put yourself on the line for what you believe in, and given generously. And I’m not about to turn my back on you.

We’ve proved conventional wisdom wrong time and again in this race. We did it again tonight in West Virginia. Let’s keep going.

Also via Ben Smith: Is Hillary Clinton becoming the Al Sharpton of white people? Chris Matthews thinks so.

5: 50 p.m. Terry McCauliffe says this is going to be one of the best Clinton speeches ever.

6:15 p.m. I’m listening to Clinton’s speech on NPR this time. It begins:

My friends, the faith of The Mountain State has moved me. I am more determined than ever to carry on this campaign until everyone has had a chance to make their voices heard.

She contends that the race “isn’t over yet” and, telethon-style, solicits donations and plugs her campaign web site. And then she makes a direct appeal to the superdelegates:

I want to send a message to everyone still making up their minds. I am in this race because I believe I am the strongest candidate. The strongest candidate to lead our party in November of 2008, and the strongest president to lead our nation starting January of 2009. I can win this nomination…

I deeply admire senator Obama. But I believe our case—a case West Virginia has helped us make—our case is stronger.

She reminded that no Democrat has won the White House since 1916 without winning West Virginia and told people not to listen to the pundits who say the race is over.

The question is, Why do so many people keep voting? … In the face of the pundits and the naysayers, they know what is at stake.

I’m asking that people think hard about where we are in this election, about how we will win in November, because this is not an abstract exercise, this is for a solemn, crucial purpose.

It has been a long campaign, but it is just an instant in time compared with the lasting consequences of the choice we will make in November.

And:

The bottom line is this. The White House is won in the swing states and I am winning the swing states.

Returns currently have her beating Obama 2-1 in West Virginia.

6:30 p.m. I have to run, but the comment thread is yours. Will the superdelegates listen to her plea? What should Obama say tomorrow? What justification does Clinton have for claiming that she “can win this nomination”? What really is her endgame here?

Gay Zombies Were Here Before You, Bruce La Bruce

posted by on May 13 at 6:27 PM

From a miffed Chris Diani, director of the locally produced Creatures from the Pink Lagoon:

Hello Stranger,

Did you catch the description of Bruce LaBruce’s new movie, Otto; or, Up with Dead People in the SIFF guide published in the Seattle Times? They’re calling it “the world’s first gay zombie movie.” I find this particularly interesting, considering my own gay zombie movie, Creatures from the Pink Lagoon, was released two full years before Otto and has screened in Seattle five separate times in the past two years. What’s more, Creatures from the Pink Lagoon was submitted to SIFF in 2006 (they rejected it) and the Seattle Times has written about Creatures on three separate occasions. I’m tempted to chalk it up to the whole “SIFF ignores local filmmakers” meme, but couldn’t someone have done a simple Google search before going to print?

Incidentally, my gay zombie movie wasn’t the world’s first; I believe that honor goes to Alex Dove, whose 2003 film Zombies is about - you guessed it: gay zombies. And in 2007, a short film by Michael Simon titled Gay Zombie made the film festival rounds, playing in the Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival, among others.

And while I’ve got your attention, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for the starred review you gave Creatures from the Pink Lagoon back in 2006. We’ve been using Andrew Wright’s quote “near-galactic levels of both enthusiasm and snark” in all our press materials ever since.

Best regards,
Chris

Noted. It should also be said that the Seattle Times doesn’t know a thing about the movies in the guide; most if not all of the copy is provided by SIFF. And assuming the print guide did contain this outrageous claim—I left mine at home today—it appears that they’ve fixed it for the web. Now it says only: “Gay zombie movie!” Indeed.

OK, now that we have cleared up the question of which zombies came first, how about this: Which movie’s zombies are gayer? Creatures

Creatures from the Pink Lagoon

or Otto…?

Otto; or, Up with Dead People

I don’t know. The Creatures have a balletic reach, but check out that bunny rabbit…

Shorter Crosscut

posted by on May 13 at 6:06 PM

Rail was invented a long time ago, therefore rail is dumb.

(Next week on Crosscut: Walking—SO Precambrian!)

Tonight’s Design Meetings

posted by on May 13 at 5:23 PM

Oh, dear Slog. I’ve been derelict in my duties to post about three design-review meetings tonight. My shitty excuse? Apparently there’s a print edition of this paper, so I’ve been tapping away at my keyboard writing words for those paper pages. Hardly any time left now, so here, in truncated and abridged form, are summaries of tonight’s meetings.

6th and Lenora Apartments

These twin 24-story towers of—as the name suggests—apartments by developer the Pine Street Group would rise from the former site of the UA 150 theater. Ah, memories. This project is among several twin towers slated to be built downtown over the next few years. I write about them here.

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The question for tonight’s meeting: How will GGLO Architecture design the block-long podium (the six stories that fill out the block’s footprint) so that it looks like something pedestrians will want to stroll past and draw people inside? The meeting begins, like now. The info is here.


1200 Stewart

The developer hasn’t provided renderings for this second early-design-guidance meeting. For more info about the project, check out my post about it over here.

The question for tonight’s meeting, which begins at 7:00 p.m., is: Will this thing really going to get built? Considering it’s still in the early-design-guidance stage in the middle of a building slump, completing a twin 400-foot tower project before 2011 seems unlikely. But it would be groovy if Lexas Companies pulls it off, so my fingers are crossed. No renderings yet; I hope to snap some photos at the meeting tonight.


MLK, Jr Way South and South Snoqualmie

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This might look like a great design, but—as if time weren’t short enough—I don’t know what it looks like because the .pdf design proposal has crashed my computer three times. So the question to ask at tonight’s meeting: What’s wrong with the design file?

The proposal is for a four-story building containing 83 residential units of affordable hosuing, 8,000 square feet of retail space at the ground level, and parking for 24 vehicles. Info about the meeting, which begins at 6:30 p.m., is right here.

Maybe This Will Finally Put an End to All That Bring Barry Bonds to the Mariners Talk

posted by on May 13 at 5:19 PM

14 counts of perjury, one count of obstruction.

Words of Wisdom

posted by on May 13 at 4:37 PM

…from Slog commenter Gurldoggie:

This one relatively innocuous posting has sparked displays of rage at local businesses, national chains, meat eaters, vegetarians, religious believers and poor spellers. What is up with you people? Fried chicken doesn’t get your blood pressure up half as fast as an average Slog post. You people have got to get another hobby—this one is killing you!

The free-ranging fight about everything forever continues…

“Fill the fun bar all the way to the top”

posted by on May 13 at 4:32 PM

McSweeney’s has a list of “Good Advice From a Grand Theft Auto Dating FAQ.” Many of these quotes apply to real life:

If you raise your relationship level with a girl to 100% you’ll be given a special outfit.

and

If you let her shoot you until you die, your relationship with her will go up by 10%.

and

[I]f you kill a girl through abuse, she will no longer be your girlfriend.

One Day Into Wii Fit

posted by on May 13 at 4:10 PM

Hours after Wii Fit arrived at my house, I was ready to rechristen the device it comes with. “The Wii Balance Board?!” I yelled at a bar while drinking with friends last night. “More like the Wii Breakup Device.”

Hopes were high for Wii Fit when I got it yesterday, and my first session with this gaming/workout fusion was positive. The Wii Balance Board is Nintendo’s second-ever family fitness device, the first being the Power Pad in the ’80s. Similar ideas for both—stand on it and move to control a game. But while the Power Pad was only used to play awful “running” games, the Wii Board measures input with four weight sensors, one in each corner; an on-screen dot shows how centered your weight is. Wii Fit, then, is a balance-obsessed grab-bag of workouts (yoga, lunges, leg lifts) and games (skiing, walking a tightrope, guiding an intertube).

When my girlfriend got home later, I asked that she try it, since much of the game is based on sharing it with friends and family. You can view each other’s workout progress over the ongoing weeks for motivation. But here’s the thing—every praise-filled write-up I’ve seen so far about Wii Fit has been done by lonely losers. When you bring something like Wii Fit to your partner’s living room, it doesn’t matter if it’s a dolled-up video game or a set of dumbbells with a “Happy Valentine’s Day” tag attached. You’re walking into the fiery, brown eye of Satan’s asshole. She was already tired from a long day of standing for hours at work, and she was immediately turned off by having to stand on the board for long periods, having too low a ceiling in our house for a few of the yoga moves, and slipping when trying the step-exercises mode. She quickly threw up the white flag and sat down. Then I was dumb enough to say that I was disappointed that she gave up after only a few minutes. Yes, I’m holding my hand in the air. My foul.

I’ve seen this in other relationships as well—not so much issues with body and appearance but pressure. The couple I drank with last night agreed. She wants to be totally alone when working out with a DVD instructor. He doesn’t like lifting weights when people can see that he’s not lifting much. Not sure if it’s a Western thing, but I guess couples assume they’re supposed to shut up and stay in their corners when it comes to working out or getting fit, so I have to wonder—is Wii Fit right for the demographic that Nintendo pimps in its promo shots?

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There is no way this couple didn’t get into a fight about Wii Fit at some point. I refuse to believe their smiles.

But after having it out with the GF last night, and owning up to the fact that I didn’t have a right to be “disappointed” at all, I woke up to her doing a full, 40-minute Wii Fit workout. Might’ve been because I’d asked for her to chip in for my games review; might’ve been her own urge to give the thing one more shot. Either way, her opinion had brightened. Fun, easy-to-use, could see herself sticking to it for the next few weeks. Importantly for her, the workout was low-impact enough for her issues with an aching heel.

My vote’s up in the air. In some ways, it’s a glorified workout DVD, as most of the game’s workouts require nothing more than a step board (if even that). If you’re motivated enough and looking for a solid, private, living room workout, you can probably spend $90 in better ways, especially since some of the in-game workout tips are bare-bones compared to workout DVDs. But motivation is the key here. The game automatically tracks your progress. It sets time-lapsed weight-loss goals. For many of the modes, particularly yoga, the balance board offers feedback (staying centered, putting enough weight down) that you’d otherwise blow cash on a trainer for. The balance games supplant the overall workout without feeling like work. The on-screen trainer isn’t perfect, but he/she gives decent, real-time advice (along with plenty of non-condescending encouragement). And Wii Fit rewards your effort by unlocking more modes and games as you go along (measured in minutes, nice touch).

But so far, I’m into it, I’m sore, and I’m paying attention to balance and posture for pretty much the first time in my life. This morning, the GF even hung out when she was done and gave tips about yoga when I screwed that part up. Afterward, I could talk to her about Wii Fit without flinching. Maybe this Breakup Device is broken.

HarperCollins Decides to Put ‘Em All in One Place

posted by on May 13 at 4:08 PM

It looks like HarperCollins is the first major publisher to get in on this whole Web 2.0 business that all the kids are talking about. Authonomy—not my name, so don’t give me shit for it—is currently in beta testing. Apparently, it’s a way for would-be authors to post their work and have other authors rate it thumbs up or thumbs down. The publisher intends to publish the best in normal, boring old-fashioned book form.

From their blog:

…amidst the flurry of proposals that fill the daily mail bag (proposals that vary quite wildly in quality) the chance of the right book landing on the right desk - and at the right time - has long been creeping perilously close to zero. But if we could start again; use the internet to flush out the brightest, the freshest new literature from the widest pool of talent possible – what might emerge?

(W)e’ll be asking writers to upload as much of their manuscript as they choose to an online platform for visitors to read, review, and talk about. And we’ll be using the public’s recommendations to search out the cream of the crop – and showcasing those titles to the book world at large.

It’ll be a transparent system, and most importantly it puts readers back in the spotlight; recognising that it’s the very people that search out, digest, and spread the word about the best new books that have always kept publishing alive.

And while we’ll be keeping a close eye on what emerges, it really isn’t just about getting signed: authonomy is a community - not a writing competition - and like the best communities we hope it will be a bundle of ideas, opinions and voices; swinging, we would hope, from the deadly serious to the downright quirky.

The biggest pitfall for their little online wonderland: many would-be authors that I’ve met are unnaturally obsessed with having their manuscript stolen. They think that book-stealing ninjas are everywhere, ready to abscond with their precious life’s work and then publish it under their own names. But a mass-market social network of authors-to-be could be a big damn deal. At the very worst, it’ll keep them off Facebook.

Another Gay Community Group Implodes

posted by on May 13 at 3:56 PM

Or is likely to implode, I should say, in light of this news:

The head of a Seattle non-profit devoted to helping women has been accused of helping herself with the group’s donated money. Verbena Health filed a report of embezzlement with Seattle Police claiming its executive director “has been misusing company accounts.”

Among the alleged misdeeds, two members on the non-profit’s board showed police bank printouts that detail purchases from Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

According to the police report, board members say they had just learned of the alleged embezzlement over the weekend. They told police they were planning on firing the executive director and going to her West Seattle home to take back her work laptop.

Verbena is located on Pike St., and it shares offices and, naturally, a coffee shop with Gay City.

UPDATE: Verbena has imploded—for the time being, at least. Verbena’s board of directors just sent out a press release. Here’s the relevant bit:

It is with great sadness that the Board of Directors of Verbena Health, a health care service provider for lesbian, bisexual and transgender women, is announcing that it is immediately halting all services. This action is being taken to safeguard the integrity and future of the health care programs offered by Verbena until a thorough investigation of the allegations of financial mismanagement is completed.

Full text of the press release after the jump.

Continue reading "Another Gay Community Group Implodes" »

Having A Rough Day?

posted by on May 13 at 3:45 PM

Maybe a dog raising six kittens and six puppies at the same time will help.

Off to a Blazing Start

posted by on May 13 at 3:41 PM

Republicans, facing a pretty bleak November, are about to launch their new razzle-dazzle slogan for the 2008 election:

In a memo to be sent to Republican members today, the leadership hints at a new slogan building on the change message that has already been shown to have political resonance with a public unhappy with the nation’s direction.

It looks like Republicans will counter the Democratic push for change from the years of the Bush administration with their own pledge to deliver, drum roll please, “the change you deserve.” The first element of the party agenda developed over the past few months by the leadership and select party members will focus on family issues.

“The change you deserve.” Well done boys…except, well, there’s this, which was pointed out by Jason Linkins of the Huffington Post:

What the GOP doesn’t seem to realize, because they are idiots, is that “the change you deserve” is the registered advertising slogan of Effexor XR.

Effexor XR is an anti-depressant. Genius!

The Seattle Seahawks Are The New Cincinnati Bengals

posted by on May 13 at 3:15 PM

First Rocky Bernard gets arrested for domestic violence, and now there’s this:

Seahawks linebacker Lofa Tatupu was arrested Saturday for investigation of driving while intoxicated.

Tatupu was arrested in Kirkland at about 2:30 Saturday morning after an officer observed his car driving at what the officer estimated was in excess of 50 mph in a 35-mph zone.

Tatupu submitted to field-sobriety tests, but declined to take a portable Breathalyzer. He was arrested, handcuffed without incident and taken to the police station. His blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) was measured at 0.155 and 0.158 when it was measured after 4, nearly double the legal limit of 0.08.

Maybe we don’t need Chris Henry after all.

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The War Comes Home

posted by on May 13 at 3:15 PM

The headline is bad enough:

Bush warns of Iraq disaster

But then there’s this:

For the first time, Bush revealed a personal way in which he has tried to acknowledge the sacrifice of soldiers and their families: He has given up golf.

“I don’t want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the commander in chief playing golf,” he said. “I feel I owe it to the families to be in solidarity as best as I can with them. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal.”

“It’s just my man flesh, Jesus.”

posted by on May 13 at 3:04 PM

You might think that, what with the tornadoes and cyclones and earthquakes and elections and all, that even Christians would conclude that Jesus has His hands full at the moment. But the Lord can always has time for a Christian with a porn problem, according to Godtube…

The actor playing Jesus looks a little old for the part, I have to say. And is it just me or are Christian Mac users not nearly as a cute as secular Mac users? Still, I’m thinking Brendan might be right: the regional theater tony went to the wrong company.

Seattle Opera’s I puritani and a Letter of the (Other) Day

posted by on May 13 at 2:42 PM

eglisepuritani.jpg
Photo by Rozarii Lynch


Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday are your last chances to see Seattle Opera’s new I Puritani (my review and my farewell to Seattle). I can’t tell you which cast to see. Do you want to see the one with all the stunning male singers and one v.v. shitty female lead? or the one with the absolutely splendid female lead and v.v. good male cast? Just kidding, go see the second one, on Friday.

I had a dream last night where I was at this soirée for rich, white opera donors (what a riot those people are), and Seattle Opera General Manager Speight Jenkins spotted me from across the room and dashed over to say, “I need you to come with me; we need to talk, mister.” And I totally gave him the Talk to the Hand gesture, a Puerto Rican hip swivel, and a forceful “Absolutely not.”

I got this juicy email a few days ago from someone working on the production:

Hi! I just read your review of I Puritani. I can’t give you my name since I am working in this opera, but I have to tell you that you are right on, as most of the cast and crew would agree with you. Of course, Larry [Brownlee] is going to be (when he reaches the full maturity of his singing voice, around 45 or 50) a true great, investing the time he does rehearsing as well as simply working on his art.

How many times have we already wondered “why isn’t Eglise in the gold cast”? I stand in the wings, working every night, and she simply brings me to tears. If she wasn’t already happily married I would court her like the demented fan I am. Moving to New York may get you a better regular run of singers, but DAMN I am glad you saw her perform this piece!

-Secret Opera Worker

With this Riccardo, Mariusz Kwiecien’s voice has become strangely coarse since his Giovanni here last season. Someone in the press room—don’t remember who—said that Kwiecien had mentioned modeling himself after mid-century baritone Ettore Bastianini. Follia! Bastianini may have been an exciting singer, but he was not a refined one, and his voice was a size bigger than Kwiecien’s.

Sidenotes: Is my vision going bad, or was that Mariusz sitting next to Speight Jenkins at the matinee? With all those promotional personal introductions going on around them, can we expect a pet baritone in Seattle’s future? And shit, while we’re moving new singers into heavier rep innappropriate for their voices, let’s go ahead and sign him up for Wotan now. Also who was that other fellow who seemed to be following Kwiecien around? I’m can’t say it wasn’t his boyfriend, but there’s a lot of stuff I probably can’t say. Szszszsz!

Lawrence Brownlee takes the insane high F in “Credeasi misera.” It’s not beautiful, but it’s there and it’s real. Curious as to what it sounds like?

Even better, here’s a splice of nine audio recordings (live, mostly) of other tenors going for that F.

And for those audience members who, like me, are in love with Eglise Gutierrez, good news: She’s coming back for Traviata and Lucia. Of course also on the roster for Lucia is Patrizia Ciofi, who’s not horrible. It’ll be interesting to see who gets favored for the main (and broadcast) cast, but I’m pretty sure I know the answer. In any case, I hope Gutierrez decides to slim down in the middle. Oh, come on—I’m talking about the middle of her voice, but I guess nowadays, the other couldn’t hurt.

Ezell’s Under Attack

posted by on May 13 at 2:21 PM

After two and a half relatively crime-free decades, Ezell’s Famous Chicken—the Central District mainstay and Official Feeder of Oprah(TM)—has been experiencing a rash of robberies.

As KIRO reports:

“Within the last four months, we have been broken into more times than the entire time we have been at the corner here (at 23rd Avenue East and East Jefferson Street),” said President Lewis Rudd. Surveillance video showed a man breaking a side window early Saturday morning after the restaurant closed, looking for cash inside the business and then fleeing when an alarm sounded.

They said they were surprised by the burglary because Ezell’s has a reputation for giving former criminals a second chance and a job—something they said they are willing to do with this burglar. “It’s disheartening, (a) sad situation. I would ask the guy come in. I will give you a job. It will be better for you in the long run. I know he must be down on his luck,” Rudd said.

Dear robbers: Leave Ezell’s alone. If you must rob someplace, rob Chili’s.

Headline of the Day

posted by on May 13 at 2:07 PM

From the AP:

Vatican: It’s OK to believe in aliens

But what we really need to know, of course, is what the Vatican usually concerns itself with: Is it okay to sleep with aliens?

Ooh, Sexism AND Racism

posted by on May 13 at 1:45 PM

This campaign is really Southern-fried bringing out the best America has to offer..

Marietta tavern owner Mike Norman says the T-shirts he’s peddling, featuring cartoon chimp Curious George peeling a banana, with “Obama in ‘08” scrolled underneath, are “cute.” But to a coalition of critics, the shirts are an insulting exploitation of racial stereotypes from generations past.

Paging the “objective media”: Does it really take a “coalition of critics” to say that this T-shirt is racist? Or can we, just maybe, agree that portraying African Americans as monkeys is racist and (Or are they actually granting legitimacy to the “opposing view”—that, whoops, Obama really just looks like Curious George?)

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More in the market for sexism with a side of xenophobia? Mulligan’s has got you covered:

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Because jokes about murdering Hillary—as established, well, just this morning—are totally hilarious!

The Tony Awards 2008, or Enough with the Goddamned Shakespeare Already

posted by on May 13 at 1:32 PM

The list of nominees for the eight-inch, silver-plated statue is here.

Notable:

Bart Sher has been nominated for Best Director of a Musical for South Pacific. (Which we expected because everybody—perhaps literally everybody—loved it. See excerpts from drooling critics, even the hard cases at WSJ, the NYT, and the New Yorker here.)

Young Frankenstein got three nominations (actor, actress, scenic design), which is three too many. brooks_mel_newsweek071102_th01mel_v.jpg (You could only argue that Andrea Martin deserves the actress award if you’re grading on a curve. Yes, she was the best thing about the show—but being prettier than a dung heap isn’t an achievement.)

All the best actor nominees are British, except for Laurence Fishburne (for Thurgood).

Nominees for best play/playwright: August: Osage County (Tracy Letts), Rock ‘n’ Roll (Tom Stoppard), The Seafarer (Conor McPherson), The 39 Steps (Patrick Barlow).

Lifetime achievement: Stephen Sondheim.

And award for regional theater: Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

Really? A regional Shakespeare theater? How very, very lame.

Shakespeare gets enough attention and reward in America, what with the NEA shoving piles of its theater money to Shakespeare-in-the-heartland projects because they’re too afraid of Congress to fund much else—like, say, even American classics like Tennessee fucking Williams.

Which is bogus.

It’s not like the NEA has to stuff cash directly into Karen Finley’s crotch to earn its name as America’s arts foundation, but can it dial the time machine forward at least 400 years, to maybe the early 20th century?

I’m glad Chicago has a strong showing this year, with Steppenwolf’s August winning the Pulitzer and now, almost certainly, the Tony. And Barbara Gaines, artistic director of Chicago Shakespeare Theater, sounds like a champ. (See the profile of her here.)

But giving a Tony to a regional Shakespeare house, especially now, seems like a capitulation to pernicious forces.

(But thank god for small favors—congratulations to Bart, raspberries to Mel.)

An UPDATE/REFUTATION, just emailed from a Chicago resident:

Chicago Shakespeare began doing Henry V on the roof of a tavern on Lincoln Avenue (a classic beginning for a Chicago storefront theatre). They’re now filthy rich, thanks to the fundraising prowess of Gaines and Co. What I think distinguishes them from “regional Shakespeare” is the way they push their audience (and I’m a subscriber). Since they’ve moved to Navy Pier (the equivalent, in some ways, of having a theatre at Pike Market in terms of tourist trade) they almost always bring in some famed European or British outfit to put on an innovative (or crazy) version of something well-known.

Their Rose Rage, an adaptation of the Henry IV plays, set in a butcher’s shop, using real meat for props, was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen in any theatre. When the murder of characters is represented by actual meat being cleaved, real blood all over the stage, it almost made me go vegetarian.

Long story short: they don’t just put on a Tragedy, a Comedy and a History/Problem Play each year for the blue-hairs. They are much much better than that.

Notes From the Prayer Warrior

posted by on May 13 at 1:17 PM

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Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Thank you so much for praying for last Sunday’s services! It was a great day—mothers were honored and God used Romans 1 to explain the only two choices we have which are to glorify God or to not glorify God. Not glorifying God leads to destruction and glorifying God leads to victory!

Please continue to pray for next Sunday as we finish up the verses and learn how to eliminate destruction in our lives and why it is important to stay away from the homosexual lifestyle.

Pastor Hutch

In the Last 24 Hours (or more) on Line Out

posted by on May 13 at 1:16 PM

Kidnapped!: King Cobra’s owners pull Trent Moorman in the back alley and torture him… with breakfast cereal.

New Cure Song: The first of many to come in their new “song a month” series.

Bam! Dawn! Triumph! Cymbals!: Taste Sibelius’ black punch in Finlandia.

Funky, Latin Disco: TJ Gorton on Sérgio Mendes and the New Brasil

Christsakes: Christian Today writes shitty music reviews, but wonderful Jesus reviews.

Eurovision: Griet Verlinde gets excited, you get excited too.

Today’s Music News: The Faint announce new record and new label, Metallica posts in-studio footage, and EMI lays off a bunch of people, further supporting the argument that the music industry is dying.

Tonight in Music: Atmosphere, Foscil, Collie Buddz, the Dirtbombs.

Top Five American Hiphop Producers: Charles Mudede puts RZA at number one.

New Weezer: Now with less wait!

That’s Still About a B- Average: UK’s Get Out Clause get an A+ from David Schmader. But not for their music.

Every Band Has One: “I’m sick of our guitar player’s girlfriend. She ruins our shows with her stupid dancing. It’s embarrassing watching her hop around like a wounded chicken.”

Death Cab for Cutie: And all their songs about meaningless sex.

KingCobraAlley2.JPG No Trent Moormans were harmed in the making of this photo; Photo by Matt Harvey.

“Extra Special: Aged 12 Years”

posted by on May 13 at 1:03 PM

The blacker the labial the sweeter the juice?

Johnnie Worker Black Labial courtesy of China. Photo courtesy of “Yotam from Israel.”

“They Do Not Achieve the Good Movement”

posted by on May 13 at 12:37 PM

I’ve transcribed this video below for your pleasure, which will only increase when you hear the staccato voice over, but “srsly though,” says my friend Patrick, “it’s all about the moment he puts his fingers in the big V. ~wiggle.”

The birth simulator is composed of two parts—a mechanical part and a virtual part. The birth simulator has four components—a pelvic model, a head linked to a pneumatic actuator, and a forceps. The last mechanical part of the birth simulator are Simpson forceps with two spatial location centers. The head is equipped with a third miniaturized sensor.

My team has designed a new procedure to teach forceps blade placement. Often junior doctors can place the first blade but have a lot difficulties to place the second blade. They do not achieve the good movement. The teaching procedure that was designed by my team allows to train junior doctor to forceps blade placement.

We use—here you can see—spheres that are represented on the screen, and the junior doctor has to go through the spheres in order to place the forceps. This allows to train for a complex movement. You can see here we go through the first sphere, second sphere, third sphere, fourth, and fifth sphere. And we do the complex procedure.

The birth simulator also allows the precise analysis of forceps blade trajectories. The screen display expert trajectories, and you can see a high level of repeatability. On the other hand, this screen displays junior doctor’s trajectories, and you can see low level of repeatability. Our goal is to increase the quality of teaching of obstetricians in order to decrease the morbidity—maternal morbidity as well as neo-natal morbidity.

Lunchtime Quickie

posted by on May 13 at 12:30 PM

Oh, how Bill O’Reilly wishes this clip didn’t exist. Let the games begin and/or remix number one!

From YouTube OllieZiggy

Obama and Coal

posted by on May 13 at 12:14 PM

Part Two:

Randy Henry, a thick-accented coal miner from Kentucky: “Barack originates from Chicago, but he came to southern Illinois and seen (sic) the devastation and the loss of jobs in this coal industry. Washington, D.C. is not listening to us. Barack understands this.”

Narrator: In Illinois and in the US Senate, Barack Obama helped lead the fight for clean coal. To save our environment, and protect good-paying American jobs.

Coal miner: “He’s figured it out. It takes trust in each other to get the job done.”

(Via).

The only problem: Even if you assume that Obama is referring to coal gasification—rather than coal-to-liquid technology, which is even dirtier than burning plain old gasoline—Kentucky does not have a single facility producing gasified “clean coal.” Moreover, the sequestration technology that would make Kentucky’s nonexistent gasified coal “clean” does not exist—and won’t, experts predict, for at least another decade. So while those Kentucky coal jobs may be both “good paying” and “American,” they’re anything but clean. As the presumptive Democratic nominee, Obama should distinguish himself from McCain on environmental issues now, instead of pandering to red states that aren’t likely to support him in the general election anyway.

SLOG As A Public Service

posted by on May 13 at 11:44 AM

From my inbox this morning:

Jonathan,

My name is xxx, and I’m a Program Manager here at the Macintosh Business Unit at Microsoft. I work on Excel.

I’m a regular reader of Slog, and saw your post back in February about the lack of custom error bars in Excel 2008.

I just wanted to reach out and let you know that our first Service Pack for Office 2008 became available as of this morning, and custom error bars are now back in the product (along with a host of other fixes and improvements). You can get SP1 from our downloads page.


Thanks very much for your business, and the feedback.
Have a great day!

I started dancing at lab upon hearing this. Custom! Error! Bars!

Did you see The Daily Show last night?

posted by on May 13 at 11:30 AM

It continues to amaze that substantive interviews with former members of the Bush Administration about the war in Iraq aren’t found on CNN (too busy with Clinton vs. Obama, or else the news that Barbara Walters apparently at some point in time slept with someone) or MSNBC (same) or Fox News (same), but on that fake news show. You already know this. But it’s amazing, right?

Last night, a focused, substantive, unyielding interview with Doug Feith, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy from 2001 until 2005.

Barely Alive with Pleasure

posted by on May 13 at 11:07 AM

The menthol debate.

Some public health experts are questioning why menthol, the most widely used cigarette flavoring and the most popular cigarette choice of African-American smokers, is receiving special protection as Congress tries to regulate tobacco for the first time.

The legislation, which would give the Food and Drug Administration the power to oversee tobacco products, would try to reduce smoking’s allure to young people by banning most flavored cigarettes, including clove and cinnamon.

Menthol is particularly controversial because public health authorities have worried about its health effects on African-Americans. Nearly 75 percent of black smokers use menthol brands, compared with only about one in four white smokers.

While Philip Morris and other tobacco companies acknowledge the health hazards of smoking, they contend that menthol does nothing to worsen those risks. One of the government’s current top public health scientists on tobacco, however, says there are few definitive answers about the health impact of menthol cigarettes. Still, he points to several studies that suggest menthol smokers may be exposed to higher levels of dangerous compounds than nonmenthol smokers.

Banning any flavor of cigarette, even if it’s more dangerous, is as dumb an idea as trying to prohibit booze or pot. Really, it’s the same dumb idea.

Here’s what we should do: Don’t penalize the flavored smokes popular with women or African Americans. Tax cigarettes more. All cigarettes. But how much? Some folks would say slap a $20 charge on each pack. That won’t work; there’s a threshold point where a high cost creates a less-expensive black market. In Canada and the UK, where smokes can sell for more than $10 a pack, the black market makes up about 25-30 percent of the market, and news stories emerge every week about some bust of contraband cigarette traffickers. As much as I don’t want cigarette smokers to die horrible painful deaths (or to pay for their health care), I really don’t want to get caught in the crossfire of cigarette enforcement. The moment someone’s shot over a truck full of Kools, we’ve gone too far.

Today The Stranger Suggests

posted by on May 13 at 11:00 AM

Film

‘Son of Rambow’

During an unspecified summer in the early 1980s, two pale British boys with marginally fucked-up home lives set out to make a sequel to Rambo: First Blood. Lee, the director, is a lonely hellion who conscripts Will—a dreamy, shy kid whose family religion prohibits pretty much everything—to be his lackey and stuntman. Together, they are the most resourceful, reckless, and fraught film duo since Werner Herzog and Klaus Kinski. Everything about Son of Rambow, including its misspelled title, is an exercise in adorable. (See movie times for details.)

BRENDAN KILEY

On The Head Scarf

posted by on May 13 at 10:59 AM

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What is it we see when a Westerner wears a head scarf? A fashion critic at The Calgary Herald offers this answer:

It evokes the fashions of the faraway cultures we see on the nightly news: the brilliantly coloured sarongs worn by graceful African women; the head scarves Muslim women drape over their hair for modesty’s sake; the shawls female foreign correspondents wrap themselves in to respect their conservative subjects. It is exotic, easy, adventurous and casual, perfect with jeans or techno-chic layers.
The head scarf is at once modern and traditional; motherly and sexy; modest and adventurous. If this is the case, we must next explain why is it the case? Why does a scarf on the head of a Westerner evoke conflicting or opposing codes?

Assignment No. 1

posted by on May 13 at 10:45 AM

Assignment #1

When Doug Jeck got his tenure at the University of Washington a friend of his jokingly gave him the book Modeling for Amateurs. In it was the question “Don’t you wish you could just start over again and again?” The starting point for Jeck is a house, tree, yard, and sun—a simple scene that is, for most of us, the first art assignment we received in school. For the current show at CoCA in Ballard, called house, tree, yard, sun, etc., Jeck curated a select group of friends, colleagues, students, and former students, giving them the “most fundamental and thus most difficult assignment ever,” he said, depicting in any medium a house, tree, yard, and sun on standard 8 ½-by-11-inch paper.

Each piece, pinned to the wall, is hung as though it is part of an elementary school’s open house. There is no real hierarchy among the pieces and you almost take on the role of an unbiased teacher, admiring each one for its unique approach to the assignment. But there are some worth mentioning.

Elizabeth Copland made a stunning three-dimensional cityscape out of masking tape, Jamie Walker took a direct approach but showered his house with a green only-in-Seattle rain. Sean Howe photographed his elementary school art students holding their rendition of the assignment. Adrian Van Dooren repeatedly wrote the words “house, tree, sun, yard” on lined paper (as if he had to rewrite them as penance for a spelling mistake), until they formed the shape of a house, tree, etc.

Then there is Claire Cowie’s watercolor on paper. Cowie’s piece makes you forget the assignment and abandon the hunting game for each of the required elements. It gets an A+ because it reminds me of a turning point in art school when the student realizes that an assignment is meant as a guiding tool, not a restriction, and that the successful completion of an assignment is creating a piece that can stand on its own out of the context of the classroom.

At the end of the hallway there are three group murals by students in pre-school, high school, and Jeck’s UW graduate program. As with some group projects the murals do not do justice to the strengths of the individuals involved, but there is something intriguing that happens between the three pieces. All were made with white fingerpaint on black paper and the uniformity of the medium renders them all very similar—it is not instantly apparent which age group created which mural. The similarities are based in the nature of fingerpainting; it’s not that the pre-schooler’s chiaroscuro fooled me into thinking they were MFA candidates. But the fact that they are so similar suggests that our childhood creativity isn’t as far away as we make it out to be.

—Lauren Klenow


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Claire Cowie


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Elizabeth Copland


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Mural

Take Her Home, Country Roads, To the Place, She Belongs…

posted by on May 13 at 10:35 AM

Yes, I blatantly stole that from Mark Halperin. But that’s what he gets for getting that John Denver song stuck in my head all morning.

Almost heaven, West Virginia.

Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River.

Life is old there, older than the trees,

younger than the mountains, growin’ like a breeze…

Please. Make. It. Stop.

But never mind my internal monologue. How will Hillary “Mountain Mama” Clinton do tonight in the West Virginia primary? Probably pretty well. The question is how well, and how Obama will portray his loss. Polls close at 4:30 PST and I predict the state will be called for Clinton by 4:31 p.m. PST.

But I’ll be here to parse the results with you, so check back then. Meanwhile, for a sense of why a place like West Virginia is such favorable ground for Clinton, start here.

I hear her voice, in the mornin’ hours she calls me,

the radio reminds me of my home far away.

And drivin’ down the road, I get a feelin’ that I should have been home yesterday.

Yesterday…

Lightsaber Wars

posted by on May 13 at 10:23 AM

Let us return then, you and I…
coe.jpg
…to that far, far away galaxy:

A booze-fuelled Briton pretending to be Star Wars villain Darth Vader was punished Tuesday for a bizarre surprise attack on two Jedi fanatics.

Arwel Wynne Hughes, 27 — who has a chronic alcohol problem — donned a black bin bag for a cape and used a metal crutch for a lightsabre when he impersonated the Dark Lord of the Sith on March 25.

He then lept over the wall of a “Jedi Church” where Barney Jones and his cousin Michael were duelling with lightsabres while filming a documentary.

The fans of the Star Wars films established the “church” last year in Holyhead, northwest Wales.

Hughes hollered “Darth Vader” as he swung his crutch about, whacking Barney Jones over the head with it and punching Michael Jones in the thigh.

The Jedi are guardians of peace and justice, and the force was with them at Holyhead Magistrates’ Court as district judge Andrew Shaw punished “Darth Vader” with a two-month suspended jail sentence and a 100-pound (195-dollar, 126-euro) fine.

The guardians of peace and justice? It has just occurred to me that Jedi Knights are drawn directly from Plato’s Republic. They are the communistic guardians—men and women who are trained to protect and increase the good in society.

Reading Tonight

posted by on May 13 at 10:12 AM

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There is so much good stuff going on tonight that one almost wishes that there was an iron-fisted ruler of book readings who could make bookstores apportion out their good author events evenly.

Firstly, Matthew Sharpe is reading at the University Book Store. His book, Jamestown, just came out in paperback. It’s a weird, beautifully written dystopian sci-fi novel. It’s one of those dense books that incorporates a made-up language and takes weeks to read successfully, but it’s totally worth it.

At the Seattle Public Library, Tan Twan Eng reads from his book The Gift of Rain. I wrote a Lunch Date about it, and I have to admit that I haven’t finished reading it, although I liked what I read a lot. I also lamented not being able to find a representative quote for the book, and commenter Janet Brown said that this isn’t a sign of badness:

You’re right—I love this book and have read it twice, but can’t pull an individual “representative quote” that gives a sound bite for this book. The observations and descriptions stop me in my reading tracks with the world and the thoughts that they evoke, but they are part of a fictional fabric, tightly woven to form a cohesive picture. Pulling them apart does the novel no service.

So there you go. I happen to know Janet—she’s one of the three people I’ve met who reads more than me—and I trust her implicitly.

John Olson, who is a Stranger Genius, reads at Open Books tonight. Christopher Frizzelle wrote a lovely profile about Olson here. Here’s part of what he had to say:

Olson is a poet of excess and expansion. His best poems are rich, sturdy, absurd, startling, tightly strung, and scattershot. The second poem in 1996’s Swarm of Edges begins: “It sounds funny but an orange/is not a television//so much as the imagination/of a limb.”

And at Town Hall, Augusten Burroughs is reading from his new book, A Wolf at the Table. Former Stranger Public Intern Steven Blum wrote a review of Burroughs’ new book for us, but it had to be cut from last week’s paper for space considerations. it will run in this week’s paper, but I’m also including the whole review after the jump as an early treat for Slog readers. Here’s a taste:

Augusten’s father can’t stand his gay son. His mother tries to protect him from dad, but she also suffers from the unfortunate Burroughs family compulsion to record every depressing moment of her life on a typewriter in her room. Without a mom or dad to talk to about being a baby ‘mo, Burroughs fantasizes about killing his dad fifty gazillion times, but never does. Because every single character in the book is depressed, and repressing every single emotion, nothing is ever really said and little actually happens.

I second young Steven’s opinion: I like a lot of Burroughs’ earlier stuff, particularly Dry, but this book is a total bust. I look forward to Burroughs’ next book, which I believe will be a novel.

And then there’s also a grammar book, a sports book, a book about a man who kayaked from Idaho to the Pacific, and the eighth book in a series of southern mysteries starring vampires and other monsters, all of which you can find out more about in our full readings calendar.

Continue reading "Reading Tonight" »

Currently Hanging

posted by on May 13 at 10:00 AM

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Dan Webb’s Squeeze, carved wood

At Kirkland Arts Center. (Gallery web site here.)

Every Child Deserves a Mother and a Father

posted by on May 13 at 9:47 AM

Federal prosecutors unsealed an indictment Monday accusing a man and woman of training the woman’s child to be a dominatrix, selling her sexual services and photographing some of the acts….

Todd B. Barkau, 35, of New York state, and the 44-year-old mother were charged in the seven-count indictment. They once lived together in Blue Springs, Mo., where the sex business was allegedly run…. The indictment says Barkau began training the girl in 2000 when she was 12, and forced her to engage in sex acts with him and with other men. According to the indictment, he also had the girl watch pornography on the Internet as a teaching tool.

Barkau is accused of creating a business out of the couple’s Missouri home when the girl was 14 and marketing her as a 19-to-20-year-old dominatrix on the Internet for about two years.

The mother is charged with encouraging and participating in the venture, the indictment says.

That experience had to traumatizing for this child—now a 20 year-old woman—but just imagine how much more traumatizing it would have been if the child hadn’t have had a male and a female role model in the home.

Thanks to Slog tipper Corinne.

UPDATE:

Oh, kids. I get sent so many links to stories like this one, and I post so very, very few of them. They really have to rise to the level of blah blah blah. And the anti-gay ranters that insist that every child deserves a mother and a father aren’t just arguing for kids to remain with their biological parents. They argue that, in those tragic instances when a kid child can’t be raised by one or both of his or her biological parents, that child absolutely, positively, GOD ALMIGHTY, just hasta be placed in a household with one male and one female role model. If that doesn’t happen—if a child is placed with, say, a pair of fit, sane, screened, home-studied, and qualified same-sex parents—why, that’s as good as child abuse.

I’m sorry that these posts annoy some readers. You are free to play spot the header and scroll on by. But the debate over same-sex parents rages just below, it seems, whatever pitch or tone is required for many straight people to hear it. “Yeah, yeah—we get it, Dan! Enough already!” Yeah, yeah—I get it, it’s annoying. It’s supposed to be. And these posts will cease when the smearing of same-sex parents ceases or is met with howls of outrage from all quarters.

Old School

posted by on May 13 at 9:30 AM

The principal at Ponce de Leon High School in Florida threatened to suspend students that wore t-shirts with pro-gay-rights slogans to school. But he allowed students to wear t-shirts with Confederate flags on ‘em to the all-white school—because, you see, Confederate flag t-shirts don’t provoke “mental images of gays having sex.” Just mental images of slavery, secession, lynching, Jim Crow…

Maybe the gay kids at Ponce de Leon could get away with wearing t-shirts with something like this on on ‘em?

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Robert Rauschenberg is Dead

posted by on May 13 at 9:20 AM

This one I really feel. (I’m working on writing an appreciation.)

Here’s the New York Times obituary. If you want to pay a visit today to Rauschenberg’s work locally, there’s a combine painting (one mixed with sculpture) called Octave up on the third floor of the Seattle Art Museum, next to a great work incorporating a thermometer by Rauschenberg’s longtime friend and one-time love, Jasper Johns.

Here’s Rauschenberg’s famous 1955 work, Bed.

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This is the last Rauschenberg show I wish I’d seen.

And if you’re flying through SeaTac Airport today, visit Rauschenberg’s serigraph on mirror-coated Plexiglas, Star Quarters. It’s on Concourse C.

Good Morning!

posted by on May 13 at 9:01 AM

Local New York City news anchor blows her stack O’Reilly-style:

Sue from News 4 Cursing

Unanswered questions: Who was “you,” and just what was “you” doing?

Via Towleroad.

White Americans

posted by on May 13 at 8:58 AM

Being from Chicago, having witnessed the Harold Washington campaign as a young adult—white people where I worked at the time wore buttons that read, “I Was White Before I Was a Democrat,” in front of their black coworkers—I can’t say I’m that surprised by this story in today’s Washington Post:

For all the hope and excitement Obama’s candidacy is generating, some of his field workers, phone-bank volunteers and campaign surrogates are encountering a raw racism and hostility that have gone largely unnoticed — and unreported — this election season. Doors have been slammed in their faces. They’ve been called racially derogatory names (including the white volunteers). And they’ve endured malicious rants and ugly stereotyping from people who can’t fathom that the senator from Illinois could become the first African American president.

The contrast between the large, adoring crowds Obama draws at public events and the gritty street-level work to win votes is stark. The candidate is largely insulated from the mean-spiritedness that some of his foot soldiers deal with away from the media spotlight.

Victoria Switzer, a retired social studies teacher, was on phone-bank duty one night during the Pennsylvania primary campaign. One night was all she could take: “It wasn’t pretty.” She made 60 calls to prospective voters in Susquehanna County, her home county, which is 98 percent white. The responses were dispiriting. One caller, Switzer remembers, said he couldn’t possibly vote for Obama and concluded: “Hang that darky from a tree!”

So are there more agists than racists in America? Survey says yes.

39% of Americans said they’d be uncomfortable with president who enters office at age 72, as McCain would, whereas only 16% think same about a female president and only 12% say so about a black president.

But since folks are way more likely to admit to ageism than they are to racism, we… uh… should be in for an interesting election, huh?

Know Thy Enemy

posted by on May 13 at 8:58 AM

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Spotted as a banner ad on an unfortunately convenient conservative blog that shall remain nameless (it rhymes with Bludge Support).

For extra kicks, check out the first installment of the animated series The Oval Office:

The Oval Office Series gives America the opportunity to see what they have to look forward to if Barack Obama is elected President. Go ahead laugh hysterically as Obama deals with vital policy issues with his chief Cabinet Members! We hope this scary peek into an unfortunate possibility keeps you coming back for more!

Here’s episode one.
Oh, my sides.

The Morning News

posted by on May 13 at 8:13 AM

McCain Climate Policy: “Conservatives like John McCain… are the main reason McCain has to go to a Danish wind turbine manufacturer to give a climate speech.”

The Good News: Thanks to gas prices, driving is down, transit ridership is up—even in L.A.

Feel Safer Yet?: Wiretapping has increased while prosecutions for terrorism have declined.

Meanwhile, in Burma: Still refusing US aid after cyclone kills 100,000.

And in China: Earthquake toll continues to grow.

Right On: Advocates work for laws guaranteeing more restroom stalls for women.

Speaking of Restrooms: Idaho state House candidates wants separate bathrooms for the straights and the gays.

Ball and Chain: Bush drags down McCain’s chances.

Jokes About Murdering Hillary: Apparently, still hilarious!

Quitter: Obama ends his war on patriotism, wears flag pin to WV rally.

OJ Confessed?: So says a new tell-all book.

Recipe(s) of the Day: Chile Con Queso (with real cheese!) and Bloody Mary Salsa (Recipes via Homesick Texan and Not Eating Out in New York, respectively; photo via Homesick Texan.)

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Continue reading "The Morning News" »

“Fuck It! We’ll do it live!”

posted by on May 13 at 6:42 AM

Bill O’Reilly’s vintage fit has been remixed for your dancing pleasure. It’s brilliant—and so is Barbra’s STFU.

Via Americablog.


Monday, May 12, 2008

Update: Ohhh, It Was Just a Metaphor

posted by on May 12 at 9:00 PM

From Slog tipper Morgan, here’s The Man squishing our hamburger rebellion:

Also, a funny point from my friend Tom: “What kind of bold claim is it that you actually make a beef food out of beef?”

A Young Bill O’Reilly Flipping Out

posted by on May 12 at 6:21 PM

(H/t: Matt Hickey.)

Good night, everyone!

Council Passes Foreclosure Prevention Bill

posted by on May 12 at 6:17 PM

The city council unanimously passed a bill this afternoon intended to help homeowners avoid foreclosure on their house, townhouse, or condo. Under the Office of Housing Foreclosure Prevention Program, qualified borrowers—making 80 percent or less of the average area income—can receive a one-time, interest-free loan of up to $5000 toward past-due mortgage payments.

But in the face of a national lending crisis sullying the national economy, the council’s measure seems mostly a gesture. The city’s total allocation for the program is only $210,000 (including $10,000 for administration costs), thus it could only prevent—or just delay—foreclosure of about 40 to 50 homes.

“The reality is, compared to the cost of home, a maximum loan of $5000 is very modest,” said Councilmember Tom Rasmussen before the council voted. “How can this amount help them out?”

Richard McIver, the bill’s sponsor, acknowledged that it wouldn’t “handle all the ills of the housing world today.” But he also said the bill was geared toward people only slightly behind on payments and assessed as being capable of repaying the loans.

“This helps provide two to three months of mortgage payments to bring [homeowners] current,” McIver told the council. The goal, he said, is for borrowers to get caught up so they could refinance their mortgage to manageable monthly payments, or sell the property.

“There are a lot of people out there who are one illness away from being foreclosed upon,” said Councilmember Bruce Harrell, who sits on the council’s Housing and Economic Development Committee.

Nonprofits Solid Ground and the Urban League will administer the loans. Calls to the organizations to find out who will qualify and how homeowners can apply haven’t been returned (the Urban League’s foreclosure hotline is (800) 368-1455). Also, calls to the Mayor’s office to determine whether Nickels could freeze the funds—as he recently did to a fund to assist renters displaced by condo conversions—haven’t yet been returned.

In cases where the loan application is approved, the city would send money directly to the lending bank, and the borrowers would repay the city—but that could take decades. If recipients fail to maintain their mortgage payments again and the bank ultimately seizes the home, the city likely wouldn’t be repaid.

Hillary’s Sabotaged Campaign Ad

posted by on May 12 at 5:20 PM

Ru-roh. Someone doesn’t think much of Hillary Clinton’s gas-tax holiday—someone that works on or for the Clinton campaign. There’s a new ad up at HillaryClinton.com. You might want to watch it now before the campaign yanks it down. The ad attacks Barack Obama for not supporting Hillary’s gas-tax holiday, a bit of cheap economic populism that isn’t playing well with voters. Here’s the ad:

Now check out this screen grab…

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The text of the mocked-up newspaper story under the headline “Obama attacks Clinton’s Gas Tax Plan” is drawn from this story about Troopergate—not Bill Clinton’s troopergate, but Eliot Spitzer’s. Still, “troopergate” is not a word that slips into a Clinton campaign by accident.

And here’s yet more proof that someone punked the Clinton campaign with this ad: check out the text in the upper left-hand corner, right under an image of Clinton herself. It’s hard to read so here it is…

Clinton aides admit it won’t do much for you but would help her politically.

Thanks to Slog tipper Scott.

UPDATE: I am dumb—or I don’t watch enough television to follow campaign commercial tropes. Probably dumb, though, definitely dumb. BCnOR in the comments thread says…

That screen grab came from part of the commercial explaining that all Obama can do is attack Hillary on the gas tax issues because he doesn’t have a plan of his own…..it’s pretty clear. Put the Cool-Aid down and pay attention.

D’oh!

Good Night, Sweet Prince

posted by on May 12 at 3:53 PM

The Robbins half of Baskin-Robbins departed this mortal coil one week ago today. That’s him on the right:

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Ol’ Irv Robbins grew up in Tacoma. He and Burt Baskin were brothers-in-law. He ate three or four scoops a day. His favorite: Jamoca almond fudge.

Selections from Baskin-Robbins’ Fun Facts:

-Famous former Baskin-Robbins scoopers include presidential candidate and Illinois Senator Barack Obama.
-Howard Hughes once became quite fond of Baskin-Robbins Banana Nut ice cream, so his aides tried to purchase a bulk shipment for him. Sadly, they discovered the flavor had been discontinued. They put in a request for the smallest amount the company could provide for a special order, 350 gallons (1,300 Liters). It was shipped from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, where Hughes lived at the time on the top floor of the Desert Inn. That’s the hotel he bought after they tried to evict him. A few days after the order arrived, Hughes announced he was tired of Banana Nut and only wanted French Vanilla ice cream. The Desert Inn ended up distributing free Banana Nut ice cream to casino customers for a full year until the 350 gallons were gone.
-Sean “Diddy” Combs got his first break by starring in a Baskin-Robbins commercial at the age of two.
-Throughout the years, we’ve honored important American events and cultural trends by introducing premium ice cream flavors, such as Lunar Cheesecake, Sesame Sweet, Beatle Nut and Green Monster Mint. [Who—or WHERE—is this Green Monster???]

Photo of the Day

posted by on May 12 at 3:48 PM

Via Orcinus comes this pic from the Houston Chronicle.

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Not Down With O.E.D.

posted by on May 12 at 3:00 PM

Via Maud, we have a New York Times report that there are no plans to print a new edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. The dictionary will only exist online from here on out. I still have my giant one-volume, tiny print edition, which I barely use, but I still find this really sad news.

Tell Us How You Really Feel, Vegetarians!

posted by on May 12 at 2:30 PM

Ha ha. Have you guys seen this billboard at the north end of the University Bridge? Ha ha ha.

Sorry that picture is so terrible. I took it with my cell phone through the window while driving. In case you can’t tell, someone (Spiderman?) climbed up on that McDonalds billboard with a can of spray paint, crossed out “beef,” and wrote “shit.”

I have a few thoughts on this billboard situation:

1. Ha ha ha!

2. Hey McDonalds people - did it occur to you that a picture of a hamburger is not, in fact, a numerical digit? So really your ad could be more accurately interpreted as “1% beef”? (Kudos, Andrew.)

3. Anyway, those hamburgers are clearly not 100% beef. Quite a large percentage of them is made of bun, and ketchup, and pickle, and American cheese, and wilty lettuce, and onions. Think about it, McDonalds. Think for two seconds.

4. As for YOU, climbing graffiti person, there’s also NO WAY those hamburgers are 100% shit. First of all, if a Big Mac was just two literal shit patties on a bun, McDonalds would no longer be a popular hamburger restaurant. And like I said, on that billboard there is an obvious preponderance of bun (and cheese and pickle, etc), which is visibly not molded out of the feces of any animal. And even if there IS some feces in the McDonalds beef patties, there’s no way they make it to even 1% feces. That would be SO MUCH FECES! I think “100% shittywould be closer to your intended meaning. Because seriously. Eew. I don’t want to eat that shit either.

5. Ha ha! It says “shit” really big! Where the babies can see!

My New Favorite Fad Blog

posted by on May 12 at 2:00 PM

Stuff White People Like is so far beyond played out, it may have a revival soon. But THINGS YOUNGER THAN REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (OH, AND DID I FORGET TO MENTION “WAR HERO”?) JOHN MCCAIN is still on the way up.

Some things younger than John McCain: the polio vaccine, Alaska and Hawaii, the Hindenburg disaster, and Mount Rushmore.

That’s My Hometown

posted by on May 12 at 1:53 PM

Sugar Land, Texas, making me proud:

Skimpy prom dress lands teen in cuffs

HOUSTON—Marche Taylor’s prom night experience wasn’t what you would call “the norm.”

That’s because instead of a night of dancing and hanging out with friends, the Madison High School senior ended up in a confrontation with school officials and escorted out in handcuffs. Officials said her dress was inappropriate for the prom.

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If things in Sugar Land are anything like they were in my day, school officials ought to be spending more time, oh, worrying about drunk driving, heavy drug use, and the suicide rate than checking prom dresses to make sure they don’t reveal TEH BOOBIES.

And seriously, these days? What prom dress ISN’T revealing these days? (And how many of those skimpy dresses were allowed inside the Marriott before Taylor was hauled off to jail?) Check a few of these dresses out">out if you don’t believe that times have changed.

Worth noting: The high school Taylor goes to is 58 percent black; Sugar Land, in contrast, has a black population of just five percent.

Way To Not Look Like Crazy Cult Members, Guys

posted by on May 12 at 1:08 PM

Actual illustration accompanying Willamette Week’s endorsement (via) of Barack Obama (which includes references to both “dare we say it?—hope” and “yes, we’ll say it—change”):

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(And yes, I know… they’re trying to be ironic, or whatever. Good luck making that case when McCain’s smearing Obama fans as mindless cultists following their Savior.)

He Spelled ‘Revolution’ Right This Time

posted by on May 12 at 12:54 PM

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Vanity Fair reports that The Revolution, Ron Paul’s manifesto, which I reviewed here, will be number one on the New York Times bestseller list next week. Don’t worry, though; this isn’t a sign of overwhelming unilateral support for Ron Paul. It’s more a sign that book sales are really suffering. I also suspect that a bunch of 9/11 Truthers organized a big old nation-wide book-buy-fest.

(Above illustration from this website, under the headline A Holiday Gift: Ron Paul Beyond Words.)

Lunchtime Quickie

posted by on May 12 at 12:01 PM

Hockey is the BEST sport in the world. Let’s discuss…

From the World Championship, 2008 Russia Vs. Sweden

Youth Pastor Watch

posted by on May 12 at 11:46 AM

Pennsylvania:

Ex-youth pastor pleads guilty in sexual assault of teen boy

A 40-year-old former youth minister plead guilty yesterday to charges of deviate sexual intercourse and corrupting the morals of a 15-year-old boy. James Wilkerson, who also uses the name James Haynes, was then sentenced as a result of a negotiated plea to a mandatory minimum of five to 10 years in state prison, followed by three years of probation.

Wilkerson was a youth minister at the Summerfield-Siloam United Methodist Church in Kensington when he improperly touched the boy from November 2006 to May 2007…. The teen knew Wilkerson from attending his prayer services and karate classes at the church.

James Wilkerson made his first appearance in Youth Pastor Watch back in October of 2007. A story then included this quote from Wilkerson’s victim:

“He told me that now I was a part of his family and that now all of his secrets would become mine,” the teen testified. “He told me that in order to become a great martial artist, I would have to do things that normal people wouldn’t necessarily do. He said I had to become a bisexual.”

Goodbye CHAC. Hello Velocity?

posted by on May 12 at 11:40 AM

Looks like the great experiment in for-profit theater might be moving—perhaps against its will.

People have been trading all kinds of rumors about Capitol Hill Arts Center: that they’re moving (or being kicked) out, that they’re trying to buy their lovely brick building on 12th, that building owner Elizabeth Linke (who also owns the building that houses Northwest Film Forum) has been dissatisfied with CHAC’s slow slide from arts center to nightclub, etc.

Matthew Kwatinetz, CHAC’s founder and executive director, wrote in an email last Thursday: “The lease options are ours (meaning that the owner can’t decide not to renew our lease, that is our option, not hers), and yes we are definitely trying to purchase the building, as we have been for several years. Much of this buzz could be from all the advocacy work that I have been doing in the last several months trying to get the ‘crisis’ in real estate out there.”

But I just got off the phone with Elizabeth Linke (a politic and articulate lady from Ireland, now living in Ballard): “Matthew did not exercise his option to renew in January—as far as I know, he’ll be moving out June 30.” As for selling the building to Kwatinetz, “he proposed buying it, but that’s not up for discussion—I’m not interested in selling, period.”

So: CHAC is out, according to the building owner, but not CHAC itself. (It’ll be interesting to see how that plays out…)

Crave will stay and, according to owner and chef Robin Leventhal, maybe even expand.

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Linke prefers to rent to arts organizations—she’s been “very satisfied” with the Film Forum as a tenant, but tactfully declined to comment on her satisfaction level with CHAC. “I have no axe to grind with Matthew,” she said. “He’ll be gone soon, to go do whatever it is he wants to do.”

Linke is having early-stage discussions with Velocity Dance Center about the possibility of renting to them. Velocity has to move out of its home in the Oddfellows Hall, whose new owner Ted Schroth has tripled their rent.

Velocity (which won the first Stranger Genius Award for organization five years ago) would be a perfect fit for the Building Formerly Known As CHAC.

Its main room is a brick cavern, not unlike Velocity’s current home, with high ceilings and wood floors—but, sadly, no friezes of yawning lions on the walls.

You can’t have everything.

(Unless, of course, somebody at Velocity wants to “accidentally” leave the doors open and some extraction tools lying around sometime… )

Note on Freeway Park

posted by on May 12 at 11:38 AM

It is not without reason that the squirrels in Freeway Park are so strange and bold.
6075590.jpg That reason is found in the high number of squirrel mystics who visit the park. These types have something in them that is greatly satisfied by physical contact with the little creatures. These types stand or sit still and wait for the squirrels to overcome their natural fear of humans. The satisfaction of contact has its source in this overcoming. The squirrel mystic feels he/she is clearly a good person because he/she has won the trust of a creature that lives much of its life in panic. Pigeons have no sense of this fear or panic. They are happy to walk with humans on the sidewalk. From the pigeon we do not get a species of mysticism but of homeless altruism. Because their relationship with humans is all about pity—pity from those who are recipients of urban pity—pigeons do not suffer from confusion. This is not so with squirrels. They are often confused because the humans who want contact with them are after something else, something not of this world, something that is cosmic. The goodness of the squirrel mystic connects with an energy of goodness that travels across the vast and empty spaces of the universe. It is a goodness that can turn ice into a star.

The Unbearable Hotness of Ricci

posted by on May 12 at 11:34 AM

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Defamer has an excellent postmortem of Speed Racer’s atrocious opening weekend (it may actually have come in third at the box office, after What Happens in Vegas, which all but guarantees a sequel for the Kutcher/Diaz romantic comedy, probably called What Happens in Des Moines?). Even international moviegoers, who inexplicably fund a lot of bad Hollywood dumb-assitude, stayed away in droves.

I saw the movie, at a Saturday 10 am showing, and I have to say: it just kind of happened to me. It wasn’t horrible—granted, it was way too long, and we didn’t need a semi-complex discussion of economics in the middle of a car-go-vroom movie—but there was no part that was great. The visuals often descended into quickly moving panes of color against a speed-line background. I don’t think getting stoned and going to see it is a very good idea, if just because of the aforementioned lecture on economics and the length of the goddamned thing (two and a half hours? Really?).

I do have to say, though, that, for the first (and probably last) time in my life, I found myself wildly attracted to Christina Ricci. I’m not sure what was going on. Maybe I just clung to her face as a giant, moon-shaped island of sanity in the midst of all the blinding flashes of color and deafening bursts of noise, but: (to paraphrase one of the most preeminent poets to ever call Seattle home) I got sprung. After leaving the movie, I wrote in a text message to a no-doubt horrified coworker that I was confused by my longing for Ricci. I believe the exact quote was “It would be like fucking a human cereal box.” As though that could somehow be a good thing. And that’s the only magic that Speed Racer has: It somehow made me temporarily sexually attracted to a human being who, in the movie, is little more than a shiny advertisement for nothing.

Shit’s in the PI

posted by on May 12 at 11:28 AM

This was originally posted on Saturday. I’m moving it up for readers who may have missed it because, unlike me, they actually have better things to do on the weekends than lurk on Slog.

This morning’s Seattle Post-Intelligencer features one of its biannual uplifting stories about someone overcoming drug addiction. Just in time for Mother’s Day PI reporter John Iwasaki introduces us to a woman fighting to regain custody of her daughter:

This mom’s keeping her head above water

Standing on her mother’s shoulders in the shallow end of the pool Thursday evening, the 5-year-old girl in a purple Speedo suit squealed every time she jumped into the water.

“Let’s do it again, Mommy!” she said after one leap sent waves splashing over Pauline Walker’s head.

On Mother’s Day nearly a year ago, Walker’s face was wet for another reason. Incarcerated for doing drugs and separated from her daughter, the holiday left her ashamed and weeping.

“I spent the whole day in bed,” she said.

Pauline Walker is clean now and I sincerely hope for Walker’s sake, and her daughter’s sake, that she stays clean and doesn’t wind up in another relationship with a violent asshole, stealing to support her habit, and dealing drugs on the side. That would suck for her and her daughter. And here’s hoping that Walker, when she gets out of the halfway house she’s living in now, finds employment and regains custody of her daughter.

Walker hopes to become a drug-abuse counselor—don’t they all?—and that may be for the best. Because, as the PI made clear in November of 2006, people with a history of drug abuse aren’t allowed to hold certain jobs. Like operating heavy machinery—you know, like cranes. Remember Warren Taylor Yeakey? Here’s a Slog post I wrote in November of 2006 after a crane collapsed in Bellevue:

Every six months or so one of Seattle’s daily papers runs a story about some drug addict who, through drug treatment, managed to turn his or her life around. The stories are usually self-consciously gritty and predictably uplifting. “See?” they say. “Drug treatment really works! With a little help anyone can get his life back on track!”

Meet Warren Taylor Yeakey. Until Thursday night, Yeakey was a perfect candidate for one of those gritty turned-his-life-around profiles in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Until six years ago, Yeakey was in almost constant trouble with the law. He had a history of drug abuse, and busts for meth possession in 1994 and 2000. He served four months in prison after his 2000 arrest. He then completed a drug rehab program, got his GED, and got married. He also managed to get a good-paying job in construction.

Another drug-rehab success story, right? Yeah—until the crane Yeakey was operating collapsed in Bellevue on Thursday night, killing one man and causing millions of dollars worth of damage to three buildings. Yeakey was in the control booth at the top of the crane at the time of the collapse. It’s a miracle he survived the fall.

When the PI learned the Yeakey—like Waker and all the other recovering addicts that the paper had exploited/heaped praise on in nearly identical stories to the one in this morning’s paper—had a history of drug abuse, it splashed this hysterical, prejudicial headline across the top of paper:

Operator in crane wreck has history of drug abuse

And here’s the first two paragraphs of the PI’s front-page crucifixion of Warren Taylor Yeakey:

The man who was operating the massive tower construction crane at the time of its deadly collapse in downtown Bellevue Thursday night has a long criminal record, including at least six drug convictions.

Crane operator Warren Taylor Yeakey, 34, of Tacoma, who survived the fall with minor injuries, went into a drug treatment program in 2000 after an arrest for methamphetamine possession in Pierce County, records show.

A former drug user like Yeakey—who almost died himself in the accident—was guilty until proven innocent. The man had abused drugs—unlike, you know, all the writers and editors at the PI, none of whom has ever so much as touched an illegal substance—so the paper convicted him with a headline and a lead. (The crane was ultimately determined to have collapsed due to a faulty design.) So much for the PI’s bleeding-heart empathy for former drug addicts who’ve managed to turn their lives around, huh?

And you’ll never guess who wrote that story about Warren Taylor Yeakey: PI reporters Andrea James and John Iwasaki.

So, Pauline Walker, it’s just as well that your career aspirations don’t involve construction, factory work, driving a truck, bus, or cab, or any other gig that involves operating heavy machinery and carries with it some small risk of being involved in a fatal accident some day. Because the story John Iwasaki would write about you if were involved in an accident wouldn’t nearly so supportive as the one he wrote for today’s paper. Because, as we’ve seen, the PI’s bleeding heart scabs over damn quick when a recovered drug addict is involved in an accident.

Letter of the Day

posted by on May 12 at 11:04 AM

We get letters…

if you had any balls you would print this but they prob got sucked dry years ago. i love the way you guys replace racism and sexism with a new form of oppression against straight people esp anyone with faith. All you need to do to prove my point is replace the words white man, Christian and straight with Gay in your paper. You seem to believe the cure for racism and sexism is to remove yourselves from the status as victims and use the very same hate against those different than yourselves…..you guys rely on ppl being too caught up with life to deal with exposing yr BS & bias but if you really think yr foolin a majority of us….just shows how brain dead and dull you are…..FUCK THE STRANGER.

B. Parker

PS As individuals im sure yr all just average ppl but u represent something very creepy…psuedo progressives that rely on fluff and personal extremism re private lifestyle issues to make yr case. The Stranger has absolutely zilch to do with healing or correcting the injustices in this country. So that is why I say FUCK THE STRANGER!

For the record: We do not capitalize the word “gay” in the pages of the Stranger. And while our collective balls are occasionally sucked dry, they quickly re-hydrate—the best evidence, we feel, of intelligent design.

Today The Stranger Suggests

posted by on May 12 at 11:00 AM

Chow

Lunchbox Laboratory at Lunchbox Laboratory

I’ve been longing to visit Ballard’s “new experiment in premium hamburgers” since Bethany Jean Clement sang its praises in these pages two weeks ago (and I’m a vegetarian). “These are exceptionally good burgers… It’s your choice of eight or so different kinds of organic, ground-on-site meat; 15 different cheeses; 15 different house-made sauces; and a half-dozen more toppers (maple bacon, caramelized onions). Milkshakes, no-lumps-style, are apportioned in 400mL lab glassware. Then there are fries, twisty fries, sweet-potato fries, tater tots….” (Lunchbox Laboratory, 7302 15th Ave NW, 706-3092. 11 am–8 pm.)

DAVID SCHMADER

Opening Pandora’s Stash Box

posted by on May 12 at 10:59 AM

I haven’t posted much on Slog about drug policy in the 2008 election—because it hasn’t mattered yet. Early in the donkey race, Obama and Clinton bickered via their spokespeople about the crack-cocaine sentencing reforms, they took wimpy positions opposing medical-marijuana raids, and presses slipped pages about Obama’s support for marijuana decriminalization (he later recanted). But both Democratic candidates fell short of any bold position to strong-arm the DEA or legalize pot—or directly debate the issue—lest they give the GOP ammunition in the general election. I mean, imagine the GOP attack ads: “Barack Obama said we need to decriminalize marijuana, but do you want more drug addicts in the hallways of our schools?” But now the Democratic primary is essentially over. And drug-law reform is an issue in presidential politics—starting today.

An article in this morning’s San Francisco Chronicle prods the candidates on medical marijuana, the one drug policy reform that holds wide support across the electorate.

In response to recent questions from The Chronicle about medical marijuana, Obama’s campaign - the only one of the three contenders to reply - endorsed a hands-off federal policy. “Voters and legislators in the states - from California to Nevada to Maine - have decided to provide their residents suffering from chronic diseases and serious illnesses like AIDS and cancer with medical marijuana to relieve their pain and suffering,” said campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt.

Obama supports the rights of states and local governments to make this choice - though he believes medical marijuana should be subject to (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) regulation like other drugs,” LaBolt said. He said the FDA should consider how marijuana is regulated under federal law, while leaving states free to chart their own course.

McCain will eventually be forced to answer the same sorts of questions. In Michigan, which the GOP is now eying as a swing state, a medical marijuana initiative is on the fall ballot. Polls in Michigan last month show 67 percent support, and national polls over the last 15 years show 75 percent support.

In years past, candidates could skirt the issue by saying they opposed raids on sick folks but conceding that federal law trumped the state law so it was a moot point. But last month the federal pre-emption argument took a potentially fatal blow when Congressman John Conyers, chair of the Judiciary Committee, fired a shot across the DEA’s bow. His five-point letter (.pdf) asks the DEA to justify raids on dispensaries in California, where medical marijuana is legal, and Conyers writes, “before I consider holding hearings, I want to give you the opportunity to respond to these complaints.”

This sets up a federal struggle over medical marijuana for the next six months, and groups backed by the Marijuana Policy Project, using tactics like these, won’t let the issue disappear on the campaign trail. If McCain refuses to take a stand to protect sick and dying folks in states with medical pot laws, it could swing states like Michigan against him. And if McCain does come out for the wheelchair weed, in a year the GOP is trying to wear a face of solidarity, it could make drug-policy reform—for the first time—a bipartisan national issue in a presidential election.

An Email from Burma

posted by on May 12 at 10:40 AM

A friend forwarded me an email he received from his parents. “As you know,” writes this local actor, “my parents work at an international school in Myanmar, and they are staying there despite the devastation of the cyclone to help rebuild their school.” My friend asked me to post part of his mother’s email to Slog, a story that illustrates how badly used the the Burmese people are by their rulers. He also asked that I not share his mother’s name or any identifying information out of fear of retaliation.

[A co-worker] decided to go check on the family of a close family friend in one of the villages seriously hit by the cyclone. His own supplies were limited, but he wanted to take things to share with the victims of the storm. He gathered together some bottled water, a bag of rice and an old quilt that his family was no longer using.

When he reached his destination he started looking for his friend. He came upon an old woman shivering. He reached the quilt and offered it to her. She shook her head and said, “No, thank you.”

Quite perplexed the man pushed the quilt toward her and said, “Auntie (a local term of endearment), you are shivering. You need this blanket more than I do, please take it.” Again, the old woman shook her head refusing his offer.

Totally confused the man asked her why. She said, “Two days after the storm the men in uniforms came to our village with blankets, food and water. We accepted their gifts and posed for their cameras. When they were done taking pictures they took back the food, the water, and the blankets and drove away. I do not think that I can face such disappointment again.”

LaBeouf…He’s What’s Fer Dinner, Gurl!

posted by on May 12 at 10:36 AM

Good morning.

This is really dirty. Shia LaBeouf’s anus is discussed. Mullets are involved. It’s a total waste of time. Also, there is a curse on it. Don’t watch it unless you want your pants to explode.

Yes, this. Honestly. Please don’t do it. Don’t. Don’t. Don’t.

Thank you.

Separate Bathrooms and Showers for Gay Students

posted by on May 12 at 10:24 AM

Is Idaho’s Walt Bayes just another Republican homophobe running for office? Or is this candidate a highly-placed operative of the international homosexual conspiracy?

Homosexual and heterosexual students should have separate bathrooms and showers in Idaho schools, a Wilder Republican running for the Idaho House said Friday.

Walt Bayes, who gained notoriety two years ago by going on an anti-abortion hunger strike that lasted 59 days, said he wasn’t sure how the issue could be handled other than providing different facilities for gay and straight students in schools.

The topic came up after Bayes mentioned it in his campaign literature, where he wrote, “It is absolutely wrong to force any student to share the same bathrooms and showers with homosexual teachers or students.” … Bayes said that when he was 18 it would have been “an absolute catastrophe” for him to have showered with girls.

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Reading Tonight

posted by on May 12 at 10:12 AM

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One open mic and two readings tonight: perhaps everyone is hung over from Emerald City Comicon?

At Elliott Bay Book Company tonight, we have Taras Grescoe reading from Bottomfeeder, which is about the aquaculture industry and exactly where our seafood comes from. This month seems to be food-book month, and I know that food industry books can be hard to read at times (and you have to give me credit for not saying “hard to swallow,” and then take that credit away because I inserted it in parentheses), but these books—like Fast Food Nation and Omnivore’s Dilemma—are important. Think of it as the book equivalent of eating your spinach; you’ll thank me in the long run.

And at Town Hall, Rick Perlstein reads from Nixonland, which is about the lasting impact of Nixon on America, including the presidency of George W. Bush. It looks good and interesting and, in my opinion, you can never have too many books about Richard Nixon. I know that I am in the minority here.

If Nixon and seafood aren’t your things, you should consult the full readings calendar, which includes the next week or so.

The Morning News

posted by on May 12 at 10:08 AM

$20 Million: Clinton campaign in serious debt.

Nanny State?: City tries to help taxpayers “go green.”

Legal: Out-of-state same-sex marriages in New York.

“Dykes, Whores, or Bitches”: One in three military women experiences sexual abuse.

Sprawl: The real threat to Puget Sound.

Leading: Clinton, in Kentucky and West Virginia.

In China: Thousands dead in major earthquake.

In Burma: Death toll from cyclone raised to nearly 32,000.

Grim: Hundreds evacuated as fires plague Florida.

Grimmer: Fire experts predict a bad year for blazes.

Pandering: McCain to present climate proposal
in Portland.

$3.80: The average price of gas in Washington State, according to AAA.

Eek: Renault plans to market world’s cheapest car—in India.

Eek, Part II: Car sales in China up nearly 18 percent.

Excessively confused: Drivers confounded by HOT lanes on 167.

Recipe of the Day: Italian-Style Pork Shoulder with Salsa Verde (Recipe and photo via We Are Never Full)

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Continue reading "The Morning News" »

Maxine at Mother’s Day Brunch

posted by on May 12 at 10:00 AM

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In honor of Mother’s Day and the fact that my grandmother is the most awesome person I know, I decided to slow down on the free booze at brunch and ask my grandmother some questions.

There’s my grandson! We never see you; why can’t you come around once in a while? You can at least call. You have a phone, right?

I just saw you last week! How old are you now, Grandma?

Seventy-Eight dear. Oh my, what a horrible question to ask. Get out of here.

Come on, that’s not that old.

You know I was at church and Father was asking about you?

Come on, “Father” doesn’t even know who I am. I went to church with you when I was 13. There is no way he remembers me!

He Does! He asks about you, and some girl there asks about you, too.

No way.

You got a girlfriend yet? When you getting married? Are you making good money?

No. Never. No.

My friend’s grandpa turned 100 today and threw a baseball at the Mariners game!

Does he play for them? Is he married?

No he doesn’t play for them, but he is 100 years old—he got to throw the first pitch because he was turning 100. I have no idea if he is married, but he is a little old for you, don’t you think?

Here, take five bucks. You know I always save five bucks for you. Take a nice girl out sometime. What about her? That girl right there.

That’s the neighbor, and she’s, like, 14. Come on, what’s wrong with you? Stop pointing!

Girls look so much older these days. Maybe she has a sister?

So what number Mother’s Day is this for you now?

Well let’s see, I was born in 1930 and had Johnny when I was 18. So 1948 was the first… I believe this is my 60th Mother’s Day.

Wow that’s a shitload of Mother’s Days! Excuse me… sorry!

Brayden! I should wash your mouth out with soap. You used to be so cute! What happened?

Sorry! So, who do you want to win the election?

Oh dear, I don’t really care. Just get that damn Bush out! He is messing up the whole stinking world. We need women in charge—they are smarter and it is about time. You got a girlfriend yet? When you getting married? You need to meet a nice girl. Here, take five bucks!

Okay, no! I will be right back. I’m going to get a drink.

Look Who’s NSFW Now

posted by on May 12 at 9:34 AM

Check it out…

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You have to click through to the full story from the front page of the PI’s website—where the image is discreetly cropped—to get to this ass shot. But those cheeks are spread clear across the top of the PI’s local section.

It’s not the word “fuck” in a headline above the fold (my completely and totally serious and only prescription for saving daily newspapers), but ass on the cover of the local section is a start. The PI will doubtless lose a few subscribers over this—outraged parents will be calling to say that they have children, blah blah blah, and that they thought the PI was a “family newspaper,” blah blah blah—but those are the kind of subscribers dailies should be anxious to rid themselves of. Newspapers are for adults, not families.

Let This Be A Lesson to Us All

posted by on May 12 at 9:34 AM

This weekend I received the following Last Days Hot Tip, announced with the subject line Hot Tip! (booger eater):

On Saturday, May 10, at around 1 pm, my girlfriend and I were on the 358 Metro from Greenwood to downtown. When we got to around 60th and Aurora, a young man (early to mid 20’s) got onto the bus and sat on the bench across the aisle from me. He proceeded to vigorously pick his nose, inspect his findings, then eat his boogers. This went on steadily for 10 solid minutes, after which his pace simmered to a pick-and-eat every couple of minutes. Attached is photographic evidence of this man’s booger-eating. Also, he was wearing a magic mushroom t-shirt.

The emailed tip did indeed feature photographs of the man in action, and if the subject of Hot Tipper Wellington’s Portrait of a Booger-Eater had been Ken Hutcherson or Tim Eyman or John Curley, I would have posted it with glee. But the subject is just some dude caught doing something hideous in public. If you’re a man who rides the bus, digs for gold, and enjoys the booty (ugh ugh UGH!), it could be you. Let this be a lesson to us all.

Hard Times

posted by on May 12 at 9:30 AM

Playboy Magazine, according to this morning’s NYT, isn’t raking in the dough like it used to.

Last week, Playboy Enterprises reported that it had lost money in the first quarter of 2008, making it another casualty of the economic downturn and the squeeze between old media and new media. The company had a profit in the corresponding period last year.

Playboy said its weak spot was the domestic media division, which publishes the company’s flagship magazine. The division got a scissors kick from the difficult advertising climate and from the easy availability of bare flesh on the Internet.

Even if the Internet didn’t exist—even if extremely hot people all over the world weren’t volunteering to show all on sites like Xtube—Playboy would be in trouble. I mean, is there a straight guy out there that can look at a Playboy and get an erection after seeing a single episode of The Girls Next Door? But not to worry, says Playboy to its shareholders, the company has plans to diversify its products:

Playboy, she said, has deals to open casinos and introduce a men’s perfume, as well as plans to upgrade its online operation and improve its content.

A men’s cologne from Playboy—for all those straight guys out there who’ve outgrown Axe Body Spray.

Did It Work?

posted by on May 12 at 9:16 AM

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Maybe someone out there thought to ask the President or First Lady this question. Maybe a brave member of the White House press corps broached the subject at that press conference where the first lady took questions about the tragedy in Burma and her daughter’s upcoming wedding, and there’s a transcript out there somewhere and I can’t find it. But if there is, if someone did ask this question, I can’t find the story. So I’ll ask here:

Was Jenna Bush a virgin on her wedding night?

Was the mucous membrane that partially covered Jenna Bush’s external vaginal opening intact on Saturday night? Was her daddy seen nailing a bloody sheet to a fence post at the entrance to his ranch in Crawford, Texas, on Sunday morning? Anybody? A Google search of “Jenna Bush” and “virgin” turns up just 10 articles, most dating from before her wedding, and none are about this Bush twin’s virginity. (One is about Bob Schieffer giving a speech in Texas—WTF?)

Now whether a penis had ever, prior to Saturday night, been introduced into Jenna Bush’s vaginal canal, rending her maidenhead and ending her virginity, may sound like a private matter—something that’s between Jenna Bush and her new husband and her daddy’s laundress—but so might your daughter’s virginity. Or your son’s. But the federal government, under the leadership of Jenna Bush’s father, has made it quite clear that the virginity of young Americans isn’t a private matter. The federal government, under the leadership of Jenna’s daddy, has pumped more than a billion dollars worth of public’s money into abstinence education programs. And when he was governor of Texas Bush invested the hard-earned money of that state’s taxpayers in abstinence education programs. For more than a decade now teenagers and young adults—including, presumably/particularly, the Bush twins—have been instructed to abstain from sexual activity until marriage.

So this is a reasonable question, a prudent one, a fair one, one that the GAO might want to look into: Was Jenna Bush a virgin on her wedding night?

And if she wasn’t, here’s the obvious followup: Why wasn’t she? If Jenna Bush wasn’t a virgin on her wedding night—Jenna Bush, the daughter of George W. Bush, who sat down to dinner every night with the world’s biggest backer of abstinence education programs, silver ring things, father-daughter purity balls, hymens-bursting-on-wedding-nights, etc.—hasn’t abstinence education been a huge waste of public money?


Sunday, May 11, 2008

The SNL Hillary Massacre

posted by on May 11 at 5:11 PM

I was at home, nerd-style, last night and could not believe my eyes and ears when Saturday Night Live started with this segment… ZING!

Okay…What?

posted by on May 11 at 1:55 PM

There’s a good front-page article in today’s NYT that sketches out both Obama and McCain’s coming campaign strategies (McCain is a continuation of the Bush era, Obama is out of touch with middle America); how both candidates are going to focus on Independent and Hispanic voters (Oh my god, O, pick Richardson!); and gives a run down of the states that are in play:

Both sides say the states clearly in play now include Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

Republicans said they hoped to put New Jersey and possibly California into play; Democrats said African-Americans could make Mr. Obama competitive in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Mr. Obama’s advisers said they had a strong chance of taking Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio and Virginia away from the Republican column.

Re: Hispanic voters. Obama needs to highlight these two 2007 votes where McCain played to the GOP anti-immigrant craze by voting against chain migration and green card reforms that would have expanded citizenship opportunities. The legislation failed. (Obama voted yea on both measures—one, a Clinton amendment.)

Okay, but here’s the reason I’m posting. A minor paragraph that pops up late in the story goes like this:

The Republican National Committee, which is permitted to spend money on Mr. McCain’s behalf, has raised $31 million, compared with just $6 million by the Democratic National Committee.

WHAT??

On top of all the GOP sex scandals, haven’t the brilliant Democrats seen any of thisany of it??

Currently, 69 percent of Americans disapprove of the way President Bush is doing his job. That is the highest disapproval rating since Gallup began polling 70 years ago — higher than Lyndon Johnson during the Vietnam War, Richard Nixon during Watergate, or Jimmy Carter during the Iran hostage crisis.

Today, notes polling expert Karlyn Bowman of the American Enterprise Institute, more Americans think the country is on the wrong track than at any time since the late 1970s — which set the stage for the Republican resurgence of 1980, led by Ronald Reagan. The sentiment is even more negative now than it was in 1992, when the GOP lost the White House. Some 63 percent see the Iraq war as a mistake.

Bush’s troubles have sent voters fleeing from his party. In 2004, 47 percent of Americans leaned toward the Democratic Party, with 44 percent leaning Republican — a 3-point difference. Today, it’s 51 to 38 in favor of the Democrats — a gap of 13 percentage points.

My God. What is the DNC doing?

Let the Schedule Plotting Begin

posted by on May 11 at 12:00 PM

SIFF tickets are on sale today to the general public—the web site’s a little pokey today, but if you have patience, you can buy ‘em online here. Other outlets are at Pacific Place (second floor kiosk), SIFF Cinema, and SIFF HQ (400 Ninth Ave N in South Lake Union).

Our full guide doesn’t come out for another week and a half, but I’ll do some advance tips on the Slog every so often.

Fond of UK gangsters? You are so in luck. In addition to a screening of Sexy Beast (here’s a vintage Stranger review) introduced by Sir Ben Kingsley himself, there’s an archival screening of the 1947 Robert Hamer film It Always Rains on Sunday and a brand-new documentary about East End toughs called The End.

Still Life


Fascinated by China’s Three Gorges Dam project? The festival has both a narrative feature and a doc about by the social upheaval caused by its construction: Jia Zhang-ke’s much-admired Still Life and the new Canadian-made doc Up the Yangtze.

Did you attend Translations: Seattle’s Transgender Film Festival this weekend and still haven’t had enough? One of the best docs in SIFF this year is Be Like Others, a look at the differential treatment of transsexuals and gays by the Islamic Republic of Iran. Though it doesn’t push any one conclusion, it does bring up the frightening possibility that garden-variety gay teens are getting their dicks chopped off because clerics and doctors tell their parents that the Qu’ran is totally OK with sex change operations, but that homosexuality is punishable by death. There’s also an intriguing narrative film from Argentina called XXY about a pubescent hermophrodite being pressured to choose a sex.

Without Honor

posted by on May 11 at 11:25 AM

These would be the same Iraqi police that we’ve spent hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars training, right?

For Abdel-Qader Ali there is only one regret: that he did not kill his daughter at birth. ‘If I had realised then what she would become, I would have killed her the instant her mother delivered her,’ he said with no trace of remorse.

Two weeks after The Observer revealed the shocking story of Rand Abdel-Qader, 17, murdered because of her infatuation with a British solider in Basra, southern Iraq, her father is defiant. Sitting in the front garden of his well-kept home in the city’s Al-Fursi district, he remains a free man, despite having stamped on, suffocated and then stabbed his student daughter to death.

Abdel-Qader, 46, a government employee, was initially arrested but released after two hours. Astonishingly, he said, police congratulated him on what he had done. ‘They are men and know what honour is,’ he said.

Today The Stranger Suggests

posted by on May 11 at 11:00 AM

Film

‘The Apartment’ at SIFF Cinema at McCaw Hall

Presumably to cleanse the palate before a raft of films from around the world arrives, SIFF Cinema is spending the week screening old greats—including, tonight, The Apartment, Billy Wilder’s 1960 masterpiece about an insurance company employee constantly having to vacate his New York City apartment so high-class executives can use it to carry on affairs with misty-eyed beauties. It’s in black and white and the textures are gorgeous—everything (even Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine) looks to be made of marzipan, pewter, light boxes, and chalk. (SIFF Cinema, 321 Mercer St, 633-7151. 7:30 pm, $10.)

CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE

Mother’s Day

posted by on May 11 at 10:48 AM

I got a lot of nice emails, cards, and letters after my mother died on March 31. But this one, which arrived in the office on Friday, is perhaps my favorite.

momsdayletter1.jpg

Thank you, A Once In A While Reader. That was very thoughtful.

And is the New York TImes trying to kill me? It’s my first motherless Mother’s Day and both columns in today’s opinion section about moms are about losing your mother. NYT columnist Thomas Friedman writes of his mother’s death; and Caitlin Flanagan writes about losing her mother. This chunk of Friedman’s column ruined my morning/mourning:

Whenever I’ve had the honor of giving a college graduation speech, I always try to end it with this story about the legendary University of Alabama football coach, Bear Bryant. Late in his career, after his mother had died, South Central Bell Telephone Company asked Bear Bryant to do a TV commercial. As best I can piece together, the commercial was supposed to be very simple—just a little music and Coach Bryant saying in his tough voice: “Have you called your mama today?”

On the day of the filming, though, he decided to ad-lib something. He reportedly looked into the camera and said: “Have you called your mama today? I sure wish I could call mine.” That was how the commercial ran, and it got a huge response from audiences.

So on this Mother’s Day, if you take one thing away from this column, take this: Call your mother.

I sure wish I could call mine.

Reading Today

posted by on May 11 at 10:00 AM

eccc-madman.jpg

There’s a lot going on for a Sunday, and I’ve got some Mother’s Day love in my heart.

Emerald City Comicon is today at the Convention Center. Today’s convention should be much slower than yesterday’s, so it’s probably a better day to actually, you know, shop for comic books. Despite the fact that they have Suicide Girls in attendance, I would like to say that it’s good that we have the locally owned Emerald City Comicon, because it’s not owned by Wizard Entertainment, which is basically the Maxim of the comic book world. Wizard owns conventions around the country, but not here. So ECC: way to keep it local—good on you. Just leave the internet porn at home next year, please.

Kerry Reichs, whose mother is Kathy Reichs, who writes the books that are a basis for the Fox TV show Bones, will be reading at Elliott Bay Book Company from her debut novel, The Best Day of Someone Else’s Life. She deserves credit for not writing a mystery series like her mom for an easy paycheck.

And at Town Hall, it’s time for Short Stories Live, which is a reading of three short stories by authors like Eudora Welty and Deborah Eisenberg. Since I’m giving out compliments today, I think that it’s nice that they’re providing a literary option for Mother’s Day. Spread the mother love!

Full readings calendar, including the next week or so, here.

The Morning News

posted by on May 11 at 9:00 AM

posted by news intern Chris Kissel

Fresh start: Obama and McCain prepare for the general election.

Bad weather: Tornadoes leave 22 dead in Oklahoma, Missouri and Georgia.

Weekend demonstrations: 560 Tibetan women arrested in Nepal.

Aftermath: Bodies pile up in Burma. Boat bringing Red Cross aid sinks.

Wedding: Jenna Bush gets married in Crawford.

Divorce: Sudan cuts ties with Chad on suspicion that it helped Darfur rebels.

Puget unsound: Economic growth causes environmental nightmare in the region.

Choosing sides: Evangelicals voice support for Democrats.

Relatedly: Seattle’s young white evangelicals also might be making the switch.