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Archives for 07/27/2008 - 08/02/2008

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Attention Jonah and Jen

posted by on August 2 at 7:28 PM


This, and so many more, are at’s Star Wars Classic Art Photoshop contest.

(Via DarthMojo.)

Remember When Obama Bravely Took a Stand Against Hillary’s Gas Tax “Holiday”?

posted by on August 2 at 1:00 PM

Those were the days, huh?

Obama said Friday that he would be willing to compromise on his position against offshore oil drilling if it were part of a more overarching strategy to lower energy costs.

In other news, John McCain remains much suckier in every respect.

And, hey, I thought only the president got to do a weekly radio address? It seems kind of presumptuous of McCain, who hasn’t been elected president yet, to do be doing one. Uppity old cracker.

Which Fathers Know Best

posted by on August 2 at 12:24 PM

A new study finds that nonbiological fathers—those who opt in to raise children who are not their own offspring—make better parents. Furthermore, making it legal via marriage correlates with even better fathering. Only heterosexual couples were studied.

Today The Stranger Suggests

posted by on August 2 at 11:00 AM


Doug Dorst

Approximately one billion debut novels are published every year, but it’s rare to find a debut novel as assured as Doug Dorst’s Alive in Necropolis. There’s sex, violence, crime, oodles of head injuries, a half-assed practitioner of Zen, and a few supernatural happenings. Dorst is a young writer with a bright future ahead of him, making this a rare opportunity to catch a memorable writer early on the road to greatness. (Elliott Bay Book Company, 101 South Main St, 624-6600. 2 pm, free.)


It’s Even Worse Than We Thought

posted by on August 2 at 10:22 AM

If you thought Amy Chozick’s stupid article in the yesterday’s Wall Street Journal regarding Obama’s weight sort of read like a discarded McCain camp press release, that’s probably because it practically was one. From No More Mr. Nice Blog:

McCain campaign manager Rick Davis a couple of days ago:
“…Only celebrities like Barack Obama go to the gym three times a day, demand ‘MET-RX chocolate roasted-peanut protein bars and bottles of a hard-to-find organic brew — Black Forest Berry Honest Tea’ and worry about the price of arugula.”

Chozick today:

These days he stays away from junk food and instead snacks on MET-Rx chocolate roasted-peanut protein bars and drinks Black Forest Berry Honest Tea, a healthy organic brew.

But possibly even worse are the apparent efforts Chozick undertook in gathering her research for the piece. Chozick, who quotes “a Clinton supporter” from “a Yahoo politics message board” is actually quoting “onlinebeerbellygirl,” who was responding to a thread that Chozick herself posted in the first place.

Is Obama too skinny to be president? 15-Jul-08 06:04 pm Does anyone out there think Barack Obama is too thin to be president? Anyone having a hard time relating to him and his “no excess body fat”? Please let me know. Thanks! amychozick

Re: Is Obama too skinny to be president? 15-Jul-08 10:21 pm
Yes I think He is to skinny to be President.Hillary has a potbelly and chuckybutt I’d of Voted for Her.I won’t vote for any beanpole guy.

Re: Is Obama too skinny to be president? 16-Jul-08 09:12 am
Love your response and your username (onlinebeerbellygirl). Would you mind shooting me an email so I can ask you a few more quesitons? My email is Thanks so much!


Wow. I would have been embarrassed to use a quote like this—cooked up to fit my bias, made by someone who was probably trolling the Yahoo message boards—when I was a reporter for my high school newspaper. But from the Wall Street Journal? It’s inexcusable.

Via Sadly, No and No More Mr. Nice Blog

Reading Today

posted by on August 2 at 10:00 AM


One open mic and quite a few quality events going on for a Saturday.

First, at Elliott Bay Book Company, Doug Dorst reads from Alive in the Necropolis, which I wrote about in this week’s Constant Reader:

When people consume fictions, they experience an urge, so strong that it feels almost reptilian in origin, to categorize the story into a genre, even something as basic as drama. Doug Dorst’s debut novel, Alive in Necropolis, toys with this urge and manipulates the reader’s expectations to great effect.

There’ll be a Suggests box about it popping up here any minute now, too.

Also J.R. Stoddard reads at the Borders in Tacoma at noon. In a press release, Stoddard himself says that his books, Cougar Hunt, Cougar Canyon, and Cougar Camp, “are currently the only fiction books on the market that deal with the potential problems of cougar and human interaction.” I wonder if you could read the books to mean ‘older woman preying on younger men’ as well as ‘fearsome large cat.’

Also, at Seattle Mystery Bookshop at noon is David Waltner-Toews. He is “an epidemiologist who specializes in food and waterbourne diseases.” His mystery is titled Fear of Landing.

And at the Fantagraphics Store, Zak Sally, who is in the band Low, will be playing music and signing copies of the second issue of his new comic book, Sammy the Mouse. This could be fun, and it’s always nice to have a reason to head down to the Fantagraphics Store.

Full readings calendar, including the next week or so, here.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Wait—Obama “Injected Race” Into the Campaign…

posted by on August 1 at 6:23 PM

…by alluding to his race? Um, who was Obama playing that race card for? The blind?

This Weekend at the Movies

posted by on August 1 at 6:04 PM

Opening this week:

The dismal The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

Andrew Wright: “The only one who appears to be having any fun at all, really, remains Brendan Fraser, who struggles mightily to interject a few moments of jut-jawed humanity. His yeoman efforts aside, this is really a joyless, borderline culturally insulting [in the press notes, Cohen talks about his deep love and respect of Chinese history, an ardor which translates into pan flutes on the soundtrack and absolutely everyone knowing kung fu], terminally dopey cluster-eff that almost reaches Ed Woodian depths.”

The weirdly affecting Swing Vote. Me: “It’s impossible to resist such a massive onslaught of resources, music, and transparent narrative shortcuts meant to persuade you to exercise your right to vote. I won’t say it’s Capra-esque, but it’s awfully nice.”

At the Varsity for one week only, the lovely SIFF 08 alum Chris & Don, about the love of Christopher Isherwood’s life. Frizzelle: “Among this film’s many pleasures is all the home-video footage Isherwood and Don Bachardy took of each other during their relationship, which lasted 30 years—Isherwood standing by a pool in Los Angeles, Bachardy waving on a ship in New York’s harbor, both of them covered in birds in a European square.”

The glossy high-school doc American Teen, also a SIFF alum. Me again: “American Teen is slick and snappy, and it’s easy to get engrossed in the narrative. But it’s also just as easy to forget it ever happened. When updates on the teens’ lives rolled just before the closing credits, I found myself hoping something bizarre had happened to one of them, just to see the edifice buckle a bit. No such luck—they’re all doing precisely what you’d expect.”

The old folks’ love story Elsa & Fred. Megan Seling: “Elsa & Fred is simply a charming romantic comedy that proves you’re never too old to fall in love and dance in a fountain. The moral of the story is that even when one love ends, there’s always the possibility for another (even at the age of 82). But what I took away from the movie, more than everything else, is that old people can get away with anything!”


In Concessions this week, Lindy West writes about the short film event Rawstock, at ACT Theatre last Friday.

And hidden away in Limited Runs are the following reviews and listings: The Silence Before Bach (Brendan Kiley: “A paean to Bach by experimental Catalan filmmaker Pere Portabella, The Silence Before Bach alternates between overlong narrative vignettes and short, sweet surrealist flourishes”) and Orson Welles’s The Trial (me: “You must see this film, if only for the sight of the painter Tintorelli’s herd of girl groupies peering through the slats of his ramshackle apartment. In the book, they’re all hunchbacks, but here, being stalked by an able-bodied little girl is frightening enough”) at Northwest Film Forum, Kenny (me: “This mild-mannered mockumentary gets less interesting the longer it goes on about its protagonist’s moral superiority over the rest of humanity, but it stays fairly funny throughout”) at Grand Illusion, and A Man Named Pearl at SIFF Cinema. About the only place the supposedly decent Clive Barker horror movie Midnight Meat Train is opening tonight is Federal Way’s Starplex Cinemas.

This Week on Drugs

posted by on August 1 at 5:45 PM


UK Drug Commission Report: Drug enforcement is expensive, futile, and highly effective at making drug dealers rich.

Still Didn’t Slip Past: Customs agents stop steroid shipment labeled “Gay Lube.”

Are Energy Drinks Linked to Risk-Taking Behavior? Or are risk takers tempted to quaff energy drinks?

Turtle Power: Half-shell informant leads cops to pot garden.

Mighty Mouse: Work-out pill makes buff vermin.

Dogg Catcher: Cops find pot on the Snoop-mobile.

Just a Bill: Lefty Dems clamor to join pot-legalizing love fest.

Give them an “F”: Congress upholds aid eliminations for drug convicts, because murderers and rapists should better themselves, but not drug users.

Give them an “A”: California pisses on feds.

“The (federal) law does not compel the states to impose criminal penalties for marijuana possession,” said Justice Alex McDonald in the 3-0 ruling, which upheld a Superior Court judge’s decision….

State and local officers can’t arrest marijuana users for violating the federal law, he said, and applications for the medical marijuana cards contain a warning that they provide no shield against federal authorities.

Desperate Force: Drug Czar’s office hands out book titled “Marijuana: The Greatest Cause of Illegal Drug Abuse.” Which is another way of admitting that, despite all its work, pot remains outlandishly popular.

Driving Force: Police officer runs over and kills drug suspect.

Photo of the Week
: DEA agent wears Blackwater t-shirt to a bust.


The Gr8 Am. Txt Stry Contest

posted by on August 1 at 5:09 PM

Text-messaging meets literature (or a literature-like substance) meets a year’s supply of chocolate—this has Paul Constant written all over it.

Tap into your imagination, flex your literary muscle—and don’t forget to stretch your thumbs. Simply submit your Great American Story, txt-style. Create your masterpiece of 1500 words (one text message at a time) and incorporate ALL 11 NEWTREE chocolate names: PLEASURE, VIGOR, RENEW, REFRESH, FORGIVENESS, SEXY, BLUSH, TRANQUILITY, COCOON, REJOICE and CRAVE.

Forgiveness in a wrapper! The end is nigh.

Jean Enersen: The First Forty (Zillion) Years!

posted by on August 1 at 5:08 PM

Tonight, tonight, won’t be just any night! (Fuck, no!) For tonight KING or KOMO or whatever (I refuse to pay attention: one simply cannot trust any American broadcast news—BBC News now, BBC News FOREVER!) is celebrating the interminable career of Seattle’s favorite newscasting cornflake, the ultimate mistress of deft diction and light fingers (whatever the hell that means!), the indefatigable Jean Enersen! Forty years in broadcast news!


The show is on at 8:00 PM sharp, and it promises to tell you more than God ever intended anyone to know about Lady Enersen. Except this, this, this, this, this, and maybe even this, naturally. That shit’s totally up to me.

Oh, the terrible thrill!


So You’ll Remember Slog All Weekend Long

posted by on August 1 at 5:02 PM

What’s more disturbing: this video, which supposedly points out how clean a hotel chain rooms are…

…or the fact that, without a doubt, somebody out there can’t stop masturbating to these videos?

Also, the Extended Stay website has a series of commercials promoting various elements of their hotels—in-room kitchens, laundries, gyms, multiple locations—and their new mascot lady licks each feature in turn.

(Via AdFreak.)

This Week in Fast Food

posted by on August 1 at 4:40 PM

Barring legal battles, the L.A. fast food ban will soon be under way.

And also, apparently, thanks to a new calorie-counting law, New Yorkers are terrified to discover exactly how many calories are in their favorite chain restaurant foods.

At T.G.I. Friday’s, one of the few sit-down chain restaurants to have already added calorie counts to menus, a group of young women gasped as they studied the menu, barely able to find a meal under 1,000 calories, never mind an appetizer or dessert. Both Stephanie Fowler and Lindsay Green asked about the suddenly popular Classic Sirloin — at 290 calories, it was one of the lowest calorie items on the menu — but learned the restaurant ran out by the time the dinner rush started.

Of course, who eats at T.G.I. Friday’s in New York City, anyway?

(MSNBC link via Mightygodking.)

Overheard in the Office

posted by on August 1 at 4:30 PM

The sound of one of these with one bite out of it hitting the inside of the garbage can, as rejected by Dan Savage.


They are disturbingly puffy.

New Executive Director at ACT

posted by on August 1 at 4:11 PM

In the venerable tradition of releasing potentially controversial news on Friday afternoons—in the eternal hope that journalists will already be too drunk to report it—ACT Theatre has announced that its old managing director, Kevin Hughes, is stepping down after nine months.

Taking his place (with the title “executive director”): Carlo Scandiuzzi, an excellent choice.

Mr. Scandiuzzi—a bright, energetic Swiss-Italian who grew up in Geneva—has been deeply involved in Seattle’s arts scene since the early days at the Empty Space, when he was an actor. (His first production was The Return of Pinocchio, playing alongside ACT’s current artistic director, Kurt Beattie.)

He was a concert promoter in the 1970s (bringing Devo, Nina Hagen, Iggy Pop, The Ramones, John Cale, and other to town). In the 1980s, he collaborated with local performance artists like Jesse Bernstein.

Scandiuzzi went on to produce films, founded IndieFlix and become a philanthropist, throwing money at theater, dance, and the Central Library downtown, which named a room after him.

His recent masterstroke was starting ACT’s Central Heating Lab, profiled here:

People have been calling for the death of regional theater since it was born. The regionals are moribund for dozens of reasons: exhausted economies, overhead and union costs that keep tickets prices high, an old and dying subscriber base, their inability to adapt to a younger audience (viz., its preference for buying single tickets instead of subscriptions), and, of course, their failure to not bore the shit out of people.

But ACT, one of the feebler regionals (it nearly died of debt five years ago), is showing signs of renewed vigor with something called the Central Heating Lab, led by Carlo Scandiuzzi…

The Heating Lab promises something vital, something regional theaters have conspicuously lacked—a nimble, populist wing that can absorb the best local theater, dance, and literature, and put it onstage. Its genius has been to yank off the “events” blinders and start subtly programming a kind of counterseason for a whole other audience: the younger kind that likes to buy single tickets and doesn’t think Alan Ayckbourn comedies about middle-aged couples having affairs are all that funny.

Coming in the next few months under the Lab’s rubric: comedy by Black Daisy, Dart-Mondo, and Andy Haynes; music by “Awesome”; dance by Julie Tobiason (of Pacific Northwest Ballet); and The Adding Machine, the first production by New Century Theatre Company (the fledgling collective started by actor Paul Morgan Stetler, playwright Stephanie Timm, Stranger Genius Amy Thone, et al.).

When asked what the hell was wrong with the old managing director, ACT board president Brad Fowler was circumspect: “We were pleased with Kevin, he addressed the things we needed to focus on as we moved forward,” and so on.

Fowler parried for several minutes: “But why did he step down?”

“He thought he could serve better as a consultant.”

“So what was he doing that wasn’t so great?”

“We were pleased with his performance.”

A master of elision.

Anyway, congratulations Carlo. And congratulations ACT.

Metro’s Budget Crisis Worsens

posted by on August 1 at 3:51 PM

I’ve been too busy working on our upcoming endorsement issue to Slog much today, but I have to take a break from studying the scintillating races for state treasurer and secretary of state to take note of the latest news out of King County: Sales tax revenues, which help pay for Metro bus service, are falling tens of millions short of projections. The shortfall—an estimated $45 million this year and next—combined with a separate $22 million funding gap due to rising fuel costs, means the 25-cent fare increase the county council was set to approve on Monday won’t even come close to funding the shortfall. In lieu of raising fares now, the county council will spend a month coming up with a proposal to fill the gap between Metro revenues and costs. What does that mean to the average Metro rider? Higher fares, for sure—probably at least 50 cents higher, and potentially even more. The county is also considering deferring new capital investments—i.e., keeping old buses in service instead of replacing them—and, as a last resort, cutting service.

This problem isn’t going away. Even if sales tax revenues get back on track, fuel prices aren’t going down—certainly nowhere near the sub-$3 level the county assumed in its budget projections. And buses, unlike light rail, run on gas. (That includes Metro’s hybrid buses, which have proved much less efficient in practice—stopping and starting on Seattle’s crowded city streets—than in the county’s projections.) Buses also take more drivers to operate than fixed-rail systems—say, 20 drivers for 1,000 passengers, instead of one or two. It’s ironic, then, that at a time when Metro can’t keep the buses it has in operation (and can’t afford to buy any new ones) the solution King County Executive Ron Sims is proposing for our region’s transportation problems is… more buses. That’s not even short-sighted. It’s blind.

The Fed Abstracting Away Banking Pain

posted by on August 1 at 3:45 PM

Anthony asks if this:

is bad.

Anthony, it depends on how abstract you want to be.

When you save money at a bank, most of the money gets lent out to someone else. Look at your account balance. Shift the decimal place one to the left. That’s about as much of your money your bank actually keeps around.

The whole banking system relies upon the notion that:

1. These loan investments (made with your money) will eventually be repaid.
2. Huge numbers of people won’t ask for all their money back at once.

Let’s say 1 ends up being false—say because banks invested in a bunch of secured debt that ends up having no verifiable assets securing the debt. All of your money the bank lent out is gone. Poof.

You come by to cash a check. If we’re living in the the early 1920’s (or the early 2000’s) the following occurs:

You: I want my money.

Bank: One moment sir!

Bank turns from you and cries out.
Bank: Calling all suckers! Please place your money here!

Sucker: Here’s my money!

Bank takes the money and turns to you.

Bank: Here’s your money sir!

You: Thank you!

After the last sucker has been found and fleeced (1929 version):
You: I want my money.

Bank: One moment sir!

Bank turns from you and cries out.
Calling all suckers! Please place your money here!

No suckers arrive.

Bank turns to you.

Bank: Fuck you, your money is gone.

You: Fuck you! I’m ruined!

After the last sucker, 2008 version:
You: I want my money.

Bank: One moment sir!

Bank turns from you and cries out.
Calling all suckers! Please place your money here!

No suckers arrive.

Bank turns to the FDIC and asks for a loan. Receives such a loan.

Bank takes the money and turns to you.

Bank: Here’s your money sir!

You: Thank you!

Ready for the trippy part? The FDIC, ultimately, is secured by the full faith and credit of the Federal Government. In turn, the credit of the US Government is secured, well, by you and me. The taxpayers.

The incompetent, failing bank—that has both made huge numbers of bad loans and lost the confidence of new investors—can count on one last big sucker to pay us back. Us.

Heller could not write it better.

My primary bank account is at Washington Mutual. Like everyone else who has money saved at Washington Mutual, I should be concerned. I’m not. My account is FDIC insured. Even if the whole bank goes belly up, as IndyMac just did, up to $100,000 of my investment will be returned to me. Since I’m a Stranger writer / graduate student, I do not even vaguely approach the $100,000 limit. Even if WaMu sinks, I’ll float. Because, through the FDIC, I’ll pay myself back all the money WaMu lost me. With my money, that I pay in taxes.

Well, not exactly. For now, the FDIC is solvent and doesn’t need an infusion of cash from the Federal government. And, while investors are increasingly terrified about lending to banks like WaMu, they continue to buy up US government debt. In other words, the investors have decided most banks are too risky, forcing the banks to borrow from the FDIC instead. The FDIC in turn borrows from the federal government, that in turn borrows from the same frightened investors. Brain hurting again?

Welcome to the land of leaky abstractions.

Anthony, you’re a computer guy. I have the perfect metaphor for you.

TCP, the protocol underlying the majority of the web, absolutely guarantees that a given message will arrive, complete and in order. TCP does this by using IP. IP guarantees absolutely nothing. So TCP makes the promises and attempts to deliver them with IP. Most of the time, it works splendidly.

If someone trips and pulls the ethernet cable out of the wall, TCP will keep making promises that IP cannot deliver.

The banks tripped, and the global investors are pulling their plugs out. We’re promising to honor all debts, by taking the investors’ money to guarantee the investors’ money. It should turn out great, if we collectively believe it’ll turn out great.


Ride Civil

posted by on August 1 at 3:43 PM

Reacting to violence at Critical Mass rides in New York City and Seattle, Bike Hugger responds with this campaign


Says Bike Hugger

RideCivil™ is a Bike Hugger gift to the cycling community—our response to recent Critical Mass violence in Seattle, NYC, and elsewhere. You are free to remix, re-use, and share the RideCivil artwork as a flyer, shirt, jerseys, socks, thong bikini, tattoo, or whatever works. Please blog and link love it. We hope other cyclists RideCivil in their communities. Watch for a related website and ride plans to follow.

A Sad Day at Cafe Presse

posted by on August 1 at 3:39 PM

The sign on the door today at Cafe Presse:


Condolences to Thomas Miller’s friends and family and everyone at Presse.

(And to all those citizens disappointed they can’t go to Presse today: You’re right to be sad—Cafe Presse is wonderful. Go there twice tomorrow.)

“A nice verbal letter to a guy we really care for”

posted by on August 1 at 3:10 PM

George W. Bush, along with his dad and his brother Jeb, took a break from lunching at the Bush compound in Kennebunkport to surprise-call Rush Limbaugh’s show today and congratulate him for being on the air for 20 years.

THE PRESIDENT: Rush Limbaugh?

RUSH: Yes, sir, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: President George W. Bush calling to congratulate you on 20 years of important and excellent broadcasting.

All three Bushes congratulated Limbaugh in turn, but the dumbest Bush talked the longest.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I’m just calling along with President 41 and the former governor of Florida. We’re fixing to have lunch here, and I said, “Listen, we ought to call our pal and let him know that we care,” for you. So this is as much as anything, a nice verbal letter to a guy we really care for…I am great. We’re doing very good, thank you very much, sir. Concerned about our economy, obviously, but know we need to be drilling for some oil and gas in order to take the pressure off the gas prices — and I’m pleased with the progress in Iraq.

Isn’t that just so fucking sweet you could vomit?

Book Industry Wonk Alert

posted by on August 1 at 2:31 PM has just announced that, pending approval, they’re buying online used book retailer This is not great news. Abebooks was one of Amazon’s only competitors.

Both retailers sell used books in generally the same manner: used booksellers list their inventory on the online booksellers’ sites and customers go through Amazon and Abebooks to buy the books; the online retailers basically put up a tremendously popular interface and then deal as a middleman to get smaller used book retailers a worldwide customer base. I know some used booksellers who refuse to do business with Amazon, preferring to deal with Abebooks instead. And I know some booksellers who prefer Amazon because they disagree with Abebooks’ requirements for retailers. None of those booksellers will be happy with this.

UPDATE: This blog explains why this is troubling, and it also points out Alibris, which is another online bookseller that I forgot all about. Alibris has its own pluses and minuses for used booksellers, but it might have a very important minus now: they’re not Amazon.

Good Advice is Timeless

posted by on August 1 at 2:11 PM

Thank you, Mental Floss, whose 8 Forgotten Kids Shows Sure to Give You Nightmare can be found here.

An Infuriating Exchange With Another Reporter

posted by on August 1 at 2:10 PM

Last night, I received an email from another reporter in town who covered the Critical Mass mess, complaining about how I characterized their reporting in my story about the incident.

I generally keep email exchanges with other reporters off Slog, but this one is just so fucking fucked up, that I couldn’t just let it sit in my inbox.

Hey Jonah, I saw your piece on the big melee. You know, I don’t think my initial story portrayed the driver as a victim.

In fact, I took great care to not even use the word ‘victim’ in my article. The only time the word was used was when, in response to my interview with Tom Braun, I specifically asked Officer Mark Jamieson why the driver wasn’t being investigated.

His response was that as far as they were concerned, the driver was the victim.

I can’t speak for the other articles written on the subject. But I don’t think it was fair to characterize my story as being one that portrayed this clash as a one-sided affair, particularly since I took pains to avoid doing so. I know you don’t name me by name, but you did mention the XXXXX as being among those media outlets to give a one-sided account of the incident and I just don’t think that’s true.

That was it. See you around,



thanks for the email. However, I’m going to have to respectfully disagree that I mischaracterized your story. While you did indeed add an interview with Tom Braun in a later report, the [earlier] version … very much paints the driver as the victim.

In your second graph, you mention the motorist was assaulted by cyclists. It’s not until your 12th graph that you mention the fact that the driver struck several cyclists with his car. You also state that one of the cyclists punched the driver which, according to the driver, is inaccurate.

Much of your story’s focus seems to be on the damage done to the driver’s car, and repeatedly quotes Mark Jamieson who, when I spoke with him around the time your story was posted, had not read the police report but still seemed contemptuous of the cyclists and sure that they were solely at fault.

While you did eventually catch up on your reporting, the initial reports that came out of your paper—not to mention XXXXX, XXXXX, etc—completely failed to get the other side of the story. It wasn’t difficult to reach out to CM riders and get their version of events, so I’m not sure why that didn’t happen sooner.

Having said all of that, if you still feel like I was unfair, let me know.

Jonah Spangenthal-Lee

Oh, absolutely. I completely agree that those earlier versions were entirely one-sided. You’re also right it wasn’t hard to find riders. … I just didn’t have the time to devote to the story that I would have liked. I’m glad Tom Braun reached out. Thanks for your thoughtful reply. -XXXX

Wow. Just wow.

And You Thought Your Last Trip on Greyhound Was a Drag…

posted by on August 1 at 1:57 PM


Canadian police today identified the 40-year-old man who witnesses say stabbed and decapitated a fellow Greyhound bus passenger Wednesday night on a remote stretch of highway.
Reports from the scene of the ostensibly random attack describe Li as boarding the bus, which was en route to Winnipeg, without incident. After pulling out a hunting knife and stabbing McLean as many as 40 or 50 times, witnesses said, Li displayed the victim’s severed head to horrified passengers who had already fled the bus.

It’s the remote stretch of highway that elevates this story from the (sadly) forgettable violence of cities to something memorably grotesque and macabre.

The countryside is shocked by any violence. Cities are only shocked by gruesome violence.

But gruesome violence in the countryside? That’s the most shocking of all.

The rest of the story, with even more horrible eyewitness details, here.

The Return of the Return

posted by on August 1 at 1:30 PM

The box office for the second Hulk, $132,742,865, finally passed the box office for the first and better one, $132,177,234. How I hate Ed Norton.

This Is Your Brain on Hope

posted by on August 1 at 1:22 PM

What does this mean? Mocking anti-drug ads is now a viable presidential-campaign strategy. Via

Not that the anti-drug ads actually need mocking, when you’ve got originals like this gem:

This ad, of course, helps explain why we live in a nation of heroin-chic hipsters afraid to cook.

This Week In The Stranger

posted by on August 1 at 1:00 PM

(Personal note: One day I’m going to leave my apartment, look to the horizon at the east, and see the Sonics Deathwatch logo rising where the sun should be. It’s just something that I feel in my bones to be true.)

Brand-New Stranger Genius Sherman Alexie Shares 61 Things He Learned During the Sonics Trial
“23. “Motherfucker” is, of course, the purest distillation of mama insults. Since single mothers are sadly common and sweetly revered in black culture, mama jokes are ironically hilarious. However, I’ve always wondered why the term “fatherfucker” is so rarely used as an insult. I think it’s far more original, powerful, and disturbing than “motherfucker.” I assume that “motherfucker” is an insult borne of misogyny, so wouldn’t “fatherfucker” be a more egalitarian, homoerotic, and therefore more disturbing obscenity? Wouldn’t we all be challenging the patriarchy if we adopted its use?”

Jonah Spangenthal-Lee, Erica C. Barnett, Jonathan Golob, and A. Birch Steen on the Critical Mass Whumpin’
[From Jonah’s Critical Mess:] “Tom Braun, a 35-year-old insurance attorney who was injured in the clash, says he had nothing to do with the attack on the driver. Still, he ended up in the hospital with bruises and possible internal injuries: Doctors found blood in his urine. The next morning, Braun checked for news on the clash. He wasn’t pleased with what he found.”

Some Jackass On the Pleasures of Attending Readings Wherein the Author (In This Case, Ethan Canin) is Drinking a Large, Very Alcoholic Pink Beverage
“When asked a question, Canin would ramble pleasurably for 10 minutes before moving on, sometimes never actually answering the original question, although no one minded. Canin is a graduate of Harvard Medical School who decided to become a novelist after reading Saul Bellow. He talked at length about his career as a doctor, mentioning, for example, that “the only time I ever got sued” was a result of attempting to treat a gunshot victim, adding cryptically that ‘finding an entry wound is much harder than finding the exit wound.’”

Jeff Kirby Talks to Mike Kinsella of Owen About Being Kind of a Fuckup
“Every other day I wake up and think, “Ugh, I should really get some sort of job,” but then an hour and a half later I’m playing video games saying, ‘God, I am so glad I don’t have a job.’”

Charles Mudede on the Death of Buildings
“We all know the end of, say, Northgate Mall is not going to be pretty. It has in it no proper way to die. It wants to look perpetually new, so if it is not destroyed, it is destined to leave a horrifying corpse. But Kundig’s Delta Shelter, a cabin in Eastern Washington, has an infusion of time in the core of its being. It is very much alive, but it does not conceal its fate, its future, its rust, its temporality.”

Bethany Jean Clement Thinks About Boom Noodle“Boom Noodle would make an excellent cafeteria for an upscale space station. Lightbulbs hang in marshaled rows, not too glaring, like just-pretty-good ideas; diners sit at long tables in curved, ergonomic Eames-alike chairs. The supersleek aesthetic, while nothing new, is nicely accented with green walls and panels of wood—a reminder of the existence, somewhere distant, of trees.”

Also discussed: John McCain as Mr. Magoo, Margarita Prentice suggests that her constituents are poor, Erica C. Barnett on why the city doesn’t classify car violence as assault, bitchery over kitschery in Georgetown, a King Cobra employee on cleaning up Sugar’s violent mess, liking a band despite their promotional videos, whether there’s a worse word for penis than “penis”, and more.

Also, He Called You Fat

posted by on August 1 at 12:45 PM

Via the Wall Street Journal:

Speaking to donors at a San Diego fund-raiser last month, Barack Obama reassured the crowd that he wouldn’t give in to Republican tactics to throw his candidacy off track.

“Listen, I’m skinny but I’m tough,” Sen. Obama said.

But in a nation in which 66% of the voting-age population is overweight and 32% is obese, could Sen. Obama’s skinniness be a liability? Despite his visits to waffle houses, ice-cream parlors and greasy-spoon diners around the country, his slim physique just might have some Americans wondering whether he is truly like them.

Also, He’s a False Messiah

posted by on August 1 at 12:31 PM

The latest web ad from the McCain camp:

Cop Makes Case to Kill Anyone Who Owns a Dog

posted by on August 1 at 12:31 PM

The raid that kicked off the Winning the War on Drugs series has gone to trial.

A white police officer told jurors Thursday he thought his life was in danger when he shot at an unarmed black woman during a drug raid, killing her and injuring the 1-year-old boy she held in her arms….

“There was absolutely, positively no doubt in my mind right then and there that whoever this was is shooting at me. They’re trying to kill me,” Chavalia said.

Chavalia told jurors that he now knows the gunfire he heard was coming from downstairs, where other officers shot two charging pit bulls.

In other words, it was fine to shoot this woman and her baby because police were engaged in business as usual. Officers will typically kill any dogs encountered in drug raids—charging pit bulls or complacent Labradors. And when that happens. Blam! (The mother holding the baby, by the way, she was on her knees and apparently complying with police orders when she was killed.)

Of course, when a resident pull a gun on intruders in the middle of the night, they also do it because they fear for their life. However, that’s yet another reason for cops to kill them. So no matter who fears for their life—cop or resident, guilty or not, especially when there’s a dog at the house—that’s a reason to shoot and kill the resident. Your tax dollars at work.

Race and the Race

posted by on August 1 at 12:20 PM

Maybe it’s because it’s a sunny Friday, but I’m having a hard time staying interested in all the finger-pointing over who injected race into the Obama-McCain contest first, what it all means, and what Paris and Britney have to do with any of this.

I’m sure my lack of interest also stems from feeling like I’ve seen this episode before. The McCain camp is very clearly trying to ignite (without being too overt about it) the same kind of white backlash against Obama that Hillary and Bill Clinton, circa March through May 2008, were trying to ignite.

Here’s how it goes: Inject race into the campaign. Then, when everyone starts to wring their hands about it, claim that it was actually Obama who injected race into the campaign first. (This is not very hard to do since Obama’s presence ipso facto injects race into the campaign.) Then, take it a step further: Claim that Obama is “playing the race card,” position yourself as the victim of reverse racism and white-guilt-tripping, and then wait for the disgruntled white masses to say: “Yeah, me too! I hate it when that happens!”

If it’s not obvious to you that this is the game that McCain is playing right now, watch this clip:

It didn’t work very well for Hillary Clinton to morph from the tough Commander in Chief who was Ready on Day One into the symbol of all working class whites everywhere who feel they are victims of reverse racism. I’m not sure it will work for McCain, either.

But he does have one thing going for him that Hillary Clinton didn’t have going for her: There are far more people in the general election pool of voters (as opposed to the Democratic primary pool of voters) who might be receptive to a white candidate pretending to be the victim of reverse racism and/or race-card-playing.

This Doesn’t Fit into Our Calendar Anywhere…

posted by on August 1 at 12:16 PM

… but I feel like everyone should know about it.

Via the Northwest Film Forum mail list:

We are pleased to announce that the 6th annual Cephalopod Appreciation Society meeting will be held on the afternoon of Sunday, August 10th at our favorite location—the Northwest Film Forum (1515 12th Ave - off Pine St. on Capitol Hill - Seattle, WA).

We’ll kick everything off at 12:30 pm with some cephalopod-inspired music, art, poetry, impassioned speeches & Other, and end with a cephalopod film (TBA).

The Specifics:
Sunday, Aug. 10th
12:30 - 2:30 pm
@ Northwest Film Forum
1515 12th Ave / Seattle, WA
All ages!
$5 suggested donation
Free stickers!
More info:

Here’s what you can do:
* First - save the date & come celebrate!

* Second - spread the word to your friends and favorite cephalopods. (Reminder: Cephalopods include the octopus, squid, chambered nautilus, and cuttlefish. All molluscs are welcome, but we’ll only be celebrating cephalopods on this day.)

* Last but not least — if you have (or will have) a CEPHALOPOD-INSPIRED SOMETHING to present or perform at the meeting, please let me know so I can schedule you in! We’re open to all media (music, dance, lecture, fashion, multi-media, art, poetry, puppets, interactive, super-8, slide-show, Other), and although it’s a fairly lo-fi affair we’ll do our best to accommodate your technological needs.

And if you know of someone who might be interested, please pass this on.

Hope to see you there!

This seems like the right time to mention that if plain old Moleskine notebooks have become too dull for you, you can purchase all kinds of etched modifications from Modofly. Those by Dan Hillier tend to involve human-cephalopod hybrids:


(Thanks, Caroline.)

About Those “Car-Free Sundays”

posted by on August 1 at 12:15 PM

This past Wednesday, Mayor Greg Nickels announced a series of “car-free Sundays” to take place in August/early September along certain stretches of certain Seattle streets.

As the Seattle Times reports:

To get people out of their cars and onto their feet, Seattle will close down major thoroughfares on Capitol Hill, in Rainier Valley and Alki for several weekend hours this summer….The streets will be closed to cars, motorcycles and scooters but open to pedestrians, bicycles, skateboarders and Segways.

Today the plan was attacked by right-wing blow-up doll Michelle Malkin:

Welcome to Seattle’s enviro-nitwit checklist: Bullying residents into buying Gorebulbs and terrorizing pants off children as part of the mayor’s green brainwashing? Check. Anti-plastic bag policing and tax hikes? Check. And now…closing off streets to cars and pushing residents to jump rope and draw chalk art? Check. Yep, who needs drilling? Seattleites will just jump up and down on the streets until they find new energy sources—or draw them with chalk and imagine they’re real!

In other stupid news I’ll report anyway, one stretch of road that will be closed on the Car-Free Sunday scheduled for August 24 is “the western loop of Volunteer Park,” aka Boner Row, where unhappily married men from Kent sit in their Civics and rub their crotches while making horny-sad puppy-dog eyes at the non-closeted queers strolling/rollerblading/cruising by. It’ll be nice to see these guys out and about.

How Much is That Binge-Drinking-Game in the Window?

posted by on August 1 at 12:09 PM

Shot-glass checkers:


Half the shot glasses are round, half are square, and the set comes with a checker board. According to the rules on the back of the box, you’re supposed to fill the shot glasses with booze and when one of your glasses gets jumped, you have to do the shot. One game should put you under the table. Two should send you to the emergency room.

The round and square glasses would seem to obviate the need for booze of two different colors—but, hey, if you like shots of Blue Curacao, go for it.

All yours for $14.99 at Value Village on 11th.

Lunchtime Quickie

posted by on August 1 at 12:01 PM

Pretend you give a sh*t!

Lunch Date: American Pests

posted by on August 1 at 12:00 PM


(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? American Pests: The Losing War on Insects from Colonial Times to DDT, by James E. McWilliams.

Where’d you go? Look, okay? I was the new Southcenter Mall for a story and I wanted lunch. It’s really hard trying to find anything at the Southcenter Mall to eat that’s not an Ivar’s or some weird chicken place. I even walked down “Lupine Way,” which is a collection of standalone restaurants just outside the mall, places like Racha Noodles and Duke’s Chowder House and something called “B.J.’s,” which I think was a bar and grill. (Public service announcement: Don’t ever eat anywhere called B.J.’s, kids.) I wound up eating at a Zoopa, which is an all-you-can-eat salad bar thingie. Don’t judge me.

What’d you eat? A big-ass salad. I also tried a piece of pizza. (Everything is always $7.99 for lunch.)

How was the food? It was a salad bar at the Southcenter Mall. It was fine. The pizza was inedible and the vegetables weren’t spectacular, but, you know, if I worked at Southcenter, I’d probably eat at Zoopa a lot, just because it resembles real food much more than any of the other options (for one, sad moment, I considered eating at a Pizza Hut in a Target.) It was pretty depressing, though: everyone was really old and sitting alone, staring out the windows at all the concrete.

What does your date say about itself? James H. Jones, Alumni Distinguished Professor Emeritus of the University of Arkansas says it’s “the best in-depth study of the poorly conceived, terribly managed, and utterly futile war on insect pests in the United States.”

Is there a representative quote? Try the first sentence in the introduction (which is titled “The Dunghill of Men’s Passions: The Insect Paradox.”) “The professional fight against insects in the United States began with a man who refused to ignore his passion.”

Will you two end up in bed together? Yes. Not only is it a well-written history about both American culture and entomology, it’s funny, too. Supposedly, it ends with a few dramatic and bold ideas for revisions to our current policies regarding insect-human relations. I can’t wait.

Ever Wonder What It’s Like to Be a News Intern?

posted by on August 1 at 11:55 AM

Do you enjoy trolling through mind-numbing court filings? Do you like taking long walks down to city hall to pick up always-exciting legislative action agendas? Do you wish you spent more time interviewing crazy people about everything from the fascinating world of mass transit to gay robot conspiracies?

Then have we got a job for you!

The Stranger’s news department is looking for a few good interns.

If you have any aspirations to be a journalist, can string together a sentence, and don’t mind acting as a drug mule every once in awhile, then send a resume and clips (if you have them) to

Stranger internships: You can’t say you hate it if you haven’t tried it.

Green Porno

posted by on August 1 at 11:36 AM


This was brought up briefly a few months ago, but I wanted to give it more attention. Isabella Rossellini’s insect-copulation short films are fascinating! She dresses up as different bugs and creatures (bee, spider, praying mantis, dragonfly, and more) and gives a first-person account of the habits, abilities, and mating rituals (If I were a snail…). The costumes are terrific and she really gives it her all: prancing around in bug outfits, humping, regurgitating, being eaten.

Go here to watch the videos.

Headline of the Day

posted by on August 1 at 11:21 AM


Oral arguments set in Sen. Craig sex-sting appeal

It’s rude to talk with you mouth full, Senator.

Via Fleshbot.

More Violence at 14th and Aloha

posted by on August 1 at 11:06 AM

Seattle Police have swarmed 14th and Aloha after another fight broke out on the cursed block just moments ago.

Last Friday, police were called to deal with a clash between cyclists and a motorist. This time, the scrap appears to be between two Sound Mental Health patients in a dispute over money.

The fight, described by SPD Spokeswoman Renee Witt as “fairly violent,” appears to be over, but it can only be a matter of time until something else goes terribly wrong on 14th and Aloha.

Today The Stranger Suggests

posted by on August 1 at 11:00 AM


Film School

California’s Film School play gorgeous and dreamy shoegaze songs that are so perfectly dynamic and cinematic, all you have to do is close your eyes and let your mind take you anywhere you want to go. The music will carry you, weightless through the atmosphere, past the moon and planets. It’ll float you down the river, gently, while you drift beneath the stars. Film School tap into the desires of the subconscious as well as any drug, without the dangerous side effects. (Sunset Tavern, 5433 Ballard Ave, 784-4880. 10 pm, $10, 21+.)




The Features from the Black Lagoon series—which brings hilarious B movies to an inflatable screen in Cal Anderson Park—continues with an old-fashioned crappy horror flick. The 1972 film Frogs features a dysfunctional family on an ill-fated camping trip, extended stretches of menacing ribbits, and a young Sam Elliott in the tightest jeans ever worn by man. Added bonus: The culminating plague of murderous amphibians is campy enough for queers and goofy enough to not freak out the kids. (Cal Anderson Park, 1635 11th Ave. Screening starts at dusk—9 pm or so, free.)

  • More Stranger Suggests for this week »
  • The Internet Predicts Your Gender

    posted by on August 1 at 11:00 AM

    This website can allegedly predict whether you are a man or a woman based on your browsing history. Of course, these sorts of things can often be covers for horrendous computer-buggery, so I bravely volunteered my browsing history to see if something awful would happen. Nothing did, and the website seems on the up and up. I’m also pleased with my results—I came up 98% man, 2% woman, which is maybe the most masculine assessment that’s ever been made of me.

    Maverick Moment of the Day

    posted by on August 1 at 10:45 AM today offers a number of moments:

    Obama Veep Pick Revealed in Web Address?

    posted by on August 1 at 10:42 AM

    ABC News on the curious fact that typing into your web browser takes you to the Democratic National Committee’s official website.

    ABC tries a number of other potential Obama/VP combinations—,,—and comes up with nothing.

    Coincidence? Red-herring hacking? Who knows?

    In the meantime, meet Indiana Senator Evan Bayh.

    UPDATE: As a number of commenters have confirmed, it’s just some garden-variety cybersquatting. Carry on.

    Make Sure the Next Woman You Meet Who’s Thinking About Voting for McCain…

    posted by on August 1 at 10:40 AM

    …reads this.

    The Bush administration has ignited a furor with a proposed definition of pregnancy that has the effect of classifying some of the most widely used methods of contraception as abortion.

    A draft regulation, still being revised and debated, treats most birth-control pills and intrauterine devices as abortion because they can work by preventing fertilized eggs from implanting in the uterus. The regulation considers that destroying “the life of a human being.”

    Many medical groups disagree. They hold that pregnancy isn’t established until several days after conception, when the fertilized egg has grown to a cluster of several dozen cells and burrowed into the uterine wall. Anything that disrupts that process, in their view, is contraception…. Dozens of Congressional Democrats—including presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama—have signed letters of protest blistering the proposal. His Republican rival, Sen. John McCain, declined to comment.

    The goal of this proposed regulation? To make it harder for women to come by contraceptives. If standard methods of contraception are reclassified as abortion then laws crafted to allow pharmacists and other medical personal to “opt out” of providing treatments that violate their religious beliefs—morning-after pills, abortion referrals—would suddenly cover the pill and IUDs.

    Helloooooo? Straight people? The GOP and the religious right don’t just hate the gays and gay freedom to host gay brunches, enter into gay marriages, and do gay adoptions. They hate your freedoms, too.

    Reading Tonight

    posted by on August 1 at 10:06 AM


    There’s a whole bunch of events going on tonight, but only one reading.

    At the Seattle Mystery Bookshop at noon, Ron Lovell reads from Yaquina White. It’s a thriller about a man who has just returned from the Arctic Circle. Apparently, he’ll have to confront his demons at a lighthouse, which is a pretty classic place at which to confront one’s demons.

    And then, tonight, tons of bookstores are hosting midnight parties to celebrate the release of Breaking Dawn, the fourth and final book in Mormon author Stephanie Meyer’s Vegan Vampire Twilight series. This is the first big midnight-release YA book since Harry Potter, for what it’s worth.

    A brief and incomplete rundown of events:

    At the University Book Store’s stores, from 10 pm to midnight, you can “undergo Vampirization;” argue over whether vampire Edward or werewolf Jacob is a better match for Bella, the protagonist; make bookmarks and friendship bracelets; and play in trivia contests.

    Up at Third Place Books, at 11 pm, they’re having a Breaking Dawn prom party, and suggest that you come dressed for prom. There will be music and a contest to choose an Edward look-a-like, which is interesting because, apparently, Edward is repeatedly described as the most beautiful human being on the face of the Earth. Those of you in the market for a beauty contest between teenage boys would probably do well to get up to Lake Forest Park tonight.

    At Secret Garden Books, they’re selling the books at 12:01 am and you can enter into a raffle to win “two highly sought-after prizes of Meyer-phernalia.”

    And pretty much every Borders and Barnes and Noble in the area will be open tonight, with Barnes and Nobles starting their festivities at 10 and Borders kicking off at 9:30. Both will feature Edward Vs. Jacob debates, costume contests, and trivia.

    The full readings calendar, including the next week or so, is here.

    For Fuck’s Sake

    posted by on August 1 at 9:40 AM

    Seattle Times:

    The state Department of Transportation has said for months it wants to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct, not repair it.

    Yet it has just agreed to spend $17,000 to study fixing the aging structure—even though it has no intention of doing that. In all, the state has spent $1.2 million in 12 separate studies on a retrofit of the viaduct since the 2001 Nisqually earthquake.

    The state will hire California structural engineer Kit Miyamoto, the same engineer who reviewed a plan by Port Townsend engineer Victor Gray, who for years has been urging the state to repair, rather than replace, the viaduct…. Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond said the state agreed to hire Miyamoto as a concession to Gray and others who want to retrofit the viaduct.

    The governor yesterday, responding to a question from a Slog reader, assured us that “nobody is going to jail” when the Viaduct falls down. But maybe she’ll make an exception for Hammond and Gray.

    This Seems Bad

    posted by on August 1 at 9:15 AM

    Now, I’m no economawhatsit (not going to put my lot in with ‘em, either), but this graph seems troubling.


    I trust that some commenters here can explain just how bad this is (or not). Where’s Golob? He likes graphs.

    Somebody call Al Gore, we’re going to need a bigger scissor-lift.

    Source: Economic Research Division, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

    The Morning News

    posted by on August 1 at 7:48 AM

    Never Mind: Obama isn’t considering former Bush ag secretary Ann Veneman for VP after all.

    Oh, Please: McCain accuses Obama of playing the “race card.”

    Uh, Keep Focused on That: Conservative Christian group prays for rain on day of Democratic Convention.

    Fighting Back: Predatory lenders boost spending in the South, where states have been cracking down on the industry.

    Eliminated: 22,000 state jobs in California, in the midst of budgetary crisis.

    Also in California: Judge rules cell-phone early-termination fees illegal.

    Big Spenders: School workers’ union to drop thousands to ditch current schools superintendent.

    Upheld: Airplane cell-phone ban.

    Reduced: Iraq tours of duty, from 15 months to 12.

    Possible: Rove contempt-of-court citation, according to Pelosi.

    So Much for that “Stimulus”: GDP grew just 1.9 percent between April and June.

    For All He’s Worth: Tom Cruise named in anti-Scientology suit.

    Recipe of the Day: Poulet Nicoise (recipe and photo via Well Fed)

    Continue reading "The Morning News" »

    Thursday, July 31, 2008

    Required Viewing

    posted by on July 31 at 7:21 PM

    Ladies and gentleman, the Athens Boys Choir…

    Thanks to Slog tipper Jacqui.

    PDX Knows How to Sell Movie Tickets

    posted by on July 31 at 4:57 PM

    A few weeks ago, Portland’s Cinemagic movie theater was showing Hancock. Then, they switched to The Dark Knight. But in between?


    Via Hollywood Elsewhere.


    posted by on July 31 at 4:55 PM

    The New York Times Magazine has a long story about trolls. After a cursory history of trolling, there’s a long interview with Jason Fortuny, who did the “Craigslist Experiment,” publishing photos that people sent to his phony ad a few years back.

    A flat-screen HDTV dominated Fortuny’s living room, across from a futon prepped with neatly folded blankets. This was where I would sleep for the next few nights. As Fortuny picked up his cat and settled into an Eames-style chair, I asked whether trolling hurt people. “I’m not going to sit here and say, ‘Oh, God, please forgive me!’ so someone can feel better,” Fortuny said, his calm voice momentarily rising. The cat lay purring in his lap. “Am I the bad guy? Am I the big horrible person who shattered someone’s life with some information? No! This is life. Welcome to life. Everyone goes through it. I’ve been through horrible stuff, too.”

    “Like what?” I asked. Sexual abuse, Fortuny said. When Jason was 5, he said, he was molested by his grandfather and three other relatives. Jason’s mother later told me, too, that he was molested by his grandfather. The last she heard from Jason was a letter telling her to kill herself. “Jason is a young man in a great deal of emotional pain,” she said, crying as she spoke. “Don’t be too harsh. He’s still my son.”

    It’s a pretty interesting article. The writer will probably never be able to send an e-mail without swimming through a deluge of shit ever again.

    Rachel Maddow Rocks My World

    posted by on July 31 at 4:11 PM

    MSNBC doesn’t want you to see this video—because Rachel Maddow slaps Pat Buchanan upside his jowly head:

    God bless Rachel Maddow—and give that woman a show already, MSNBC.

    Jon Breaks Free from Garfield Tyranny, Gets Book Deal

    posted by on July 31 at 3:49 PM

    The frequently hilarious Garfield Minus Garfield blog, which reveals the pathetic life of Jon Arbuckle:


    Is being turned into an official, licensed book from Garfield’s publisher, Ballantine. This is weird, because it means that Jim Davis might have a real sense of humor—either that, or he smelled money. There’s just one problem, from the press release on Garfield Minus Garfield’s website:

    The full-color book format will give readers the experience of having both the original and doctored Garfield strips together on the same page for comparison. Dublin, Ireland-based Garfield Minus Garfield creator Dan Walsh will provide the foreword to the book.

    Goddamnit. The whole point of Garfield Minus Garfield is that there’s no Garfield, because Garfield is unfunny. Why do they have to run the originals (on the same page, no less)? I was really looking forward to this book for a second there.


    posted by on July 31 at 3:40 PM

    I have shared with you before that I am a member of the International Bulb Society, the group that is endowed with the unfortunate acronym IBS and that provides me with up to 30 emails every day. These emails usually involve heated debates (that I could not possibly enter, for my relationship with bulbs remains at the acquaintance level) about subjects such as which sort of hippieastrum is the best. Sitting on the sidelines of these conversations is a happy part of my daily life.

    Today, I received an email with the title “LUBBER GRASSHOPPER CONTROLL ???????????????” and it immediately brought equanimity to my weather-troubled soul.

    I am not pleased about our current weather in Seattle. Seattle often does not receive memos about which month we are actually in, rather creating days according to unknowable, clearly non-calendrical whims.

    However, this is nothing compared to the problem of the lubber, and other types of, grasshopper, about which several IBS members are currently worked up.

    Have you ever lived through a grasshopper infestation? Are you living through one now?


    It means that when you walk, anywhere, you crunch.

    This photograph is not in any way overstating the situation. In fact, I’m surprised the storefront in the background isn’t covered.

    Seattle, I love your chilly, gray, bugless July. I’m sorry I complained.


    Hotel Deathwatch

    posted by on July 31 at 3:28 PM

    It’s a bad time to build hotels, according to a story in today’s NYT. High gas prices, more expensive airfares, fewer flights, and the advent of the staycation are keeping down occupancy rates. But the cranes are still going up.

    The industry now has about 6,000 new hotels, with nearly 800,000 rooms, under development, a 27 percent increase from last year, according to Lodging Econometrics, a consulting firm in Portsmouth, N.H. About 2,000 of those hotels are already under construction, and construction is scheduled to begin on many more in the next year….

    But perhaps more telling is the number of projects called off in the last three months — 327 — after investment banks like Lehman Brothers, UBS and Merrill Lynch began to reduce financing for new construction, according to Lodging Econometrics. It was the highest number of cancellations since immediately after Sept. 11.

    Construction will certainly halt in some of the most obvious tourist destinations—such as Vegas, Hawaii, and beach towns—but what’s going to happen in Seattle?

    Prospective demand for more hotel rooms has driven many developers to propose hotel-condo hybrid towers—for example, the Candela Hotel and Residences, the AVA tower, the ID Building, the tower on 2nd and Virginia, and the Heron & Pagoda Towers. Those projects haven’t broken ground, but 1 Hotel & Residences, which broke ground and stalled, leaving a hole on 2nd Avenue, is overhauling its luxury hotel concept.

    Meanwhile, local realtors, developers, and economists foresee that demand for condos here will resume in a few years, just as the supply from buildings currently under construction runs dry. So I’m guessing we’ll see a pre-building conversion wave—in which hotel plans will be scrapped and replaced by condos.

    City Reaffirms Condo Rental Ruling

    posted by on July 31 at 3:26 PM

    The Department of Planning and Development (DPD) has reaffirmed an earlier ruling (PDF link) barring condo owners from renting out their units as hotel rooms.

    The decision comes after a heated battle between condo owners at the Elektra condominium building, who filed a complaint tenants with DPD about short-term tenants last year.

    Some owners at the Elektra had been renting their units for three or four days at a time, which drew complaints from neighbors who were worried about security and noise in the building.

    Following DPD’s ruling, owners at the Elektra will only allowed to rent their units to tenants for a minimum of 30 days.

    I’ve got a call in to DPD to see if Elektra owners will face any fines for previous short-term rental violations.

    She Don’t Need No Stinkin’ ID

    posted by on July 31 at 3:20 PM

    The governor sits down for her Stranger Election Control Board interview…


    Think that’s cool? Dino Rossi did some blow with us when he came in for his interview.

    Notes On Some Images: For Amy Kate Horn

    posted by on July 31 at 2:53 PM

    Let’s begin with this image:

    We see two things. One: its continuity with this image, from the middle of Blade Runner.
    unicorn-toy-1.jpg Walle-E the robot (his place, his look, his habits) is related to J. F. Sebastian, a genetic designer for Tyrell Corporation. Both are lonely, and both have a weakness for beautiful women. So, there is a connection, but not a continuity, between Pris (a sexy replicant) and EVE (a superior robot).

    The second thing we see in the initial image is EVE’s continuity. Unlike Wall-E, but like the iRobot, her continuity is located outside (and not inside) of cinema. She is a part of the ipodization of commodities.

    The cultural area of ipodization has recently expanded to the automobile industry.
    toyota_iq_sq2.jpg This is Toyota’s iQ. Like the iPod, and EVE, the notion expressed by this design is “clean technology”—micro and yet powerful, this is the aesthetic that replaces the vulgar age of the SUV. The will of this aesthetic, like the will of any potent concept, is total realization. If ipodization reaches its final moment, the world will look like this:

    But this image brings us back to robots, back to Wall-E.

    To open his book on the psychological effects of colonialism, Black Skin, White Masks, Fanon asks: What does a black man want? If one were to write a book about the psychology of thinking machines, the first question they should ask is: What does a robot want? For the black man, his want is still a mystery to all and himself; as for the robot, there’s no mystery, no ambiguity: it wants to be like humans. Because they have this impossible desire, they suffer from an absurd (or perverted) mode of nostalgia. Wall-E watches an old musical religiously; the robot in Moby’s song “Whisper in the Wind” is filled with memories of a happy and healthy world; replicants in Blade Runner cling onto fake memories; and the robot in this advertisement:

    The sorrows of a robot.

    I Know That It’s Gauche to Do This…

    posted by on July 31 at 2:41 PM


    …but I have to link to this Onion piece because I think it’s the funniest thing I’ve read on The Onion in a really long time:

    EARTH—Former vice president Al Gore—who for the past three decades has unsuccessfully attempted to warn humanity of the coming destruction of our planet, only to be mocked and derided by the very people he has tried to save—launched his infant son into space Monday in the faint hope that his only child would reach the safety of another world.

    It goes on from there, and the quote about how he’s known as Gore-Al in his home language is a little nerdgasm in itself.

    Dept. of Headlines

    posted by on July 31 at 2:12 PM

    It’s the venom that makes homemade jelly taste so good.

    The Very, Very Best (It’s Hard to Decide!) of Erica C. Barnett

    posted by on July 31 at 1:51 PM

    Four score and seven years ago, Erica C. Barnett became the news editor of The Stranger. (It happened in April.) Someone (ahem) was on vacation the week it happened and completely forgot to give the news the treatment that other similar promotions get these days. Barnett, as you undoubtedly know, is one of The Stranger’s sharpest political thinkers and writers. But she’s written on subjects outside of politics, too—like books and movies and veggie BLTS. Here, belatedly, are five of her most memorable essays.

    “Hell for the Holidays: A Red State Refugee Heads Back to Texas for Thanksgiving”
    “Among people I know with red-state relatives, one spent the holiday with friends in Oregon; one left the country entirely; and another headed, girlfriend in tow, to the bluest place she could find: New York City. Me? I decided to confront my fears head-on. I traveled straight to the heart of red America—to hell for the holidays—on the condition that my family agree to avoid the only topic that was on my mind.”

    Viaduct I: “Nothing Goes Here”
    “As the state transportation department was releasing its initial look at the impacts of replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct, a new group was rolling out a farsighted—and potentially contentious—viaduct proposal of its own. Instead of replacing the viaduct, the new plan proposes tearing it down and replacing it with… absolutely nothing.”

    Viaduct II: “No and Hell No”
    “Seattle voters are being asked to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on two new freeways on the city’s waterfront—a larger elevated viaduct (the option preferred by Governor Christine Gregoire, key members of the state legislature, and the Seattle public, if opinion polls can be believed) and a scaled-down, four-lane, cut-and-cover tunnel (the option that’s still preferred by Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, despite being declared dead by the governor earlier this month). A third option, tearing down the Alaskan Way Viaduct and investing in transit and improvements to surface streets instead of a new waterfront freeway, isn’t on the ballot despite being (a) cheaper, (b) less disruptive, and (c) the most environmentally responsible option.”

    “Frito Pie 101: From the Land of Dubya, the Food of Kings”
    “The first Frito pie, according to legend, was assembled in Dallas, Texas, by one Daisy Dean Doolin, the mother of Fritos inventor C. E. Doolin. Asked to come up with recipes requiring her son’s corn-chip snack, the story goes, Daisy Dean got the idea of pouring a ladleful of Texas red (a fiery chili made without tomatoes or beans) into a bag of Fritos. And from these humble ingredients, Frito pie was born. Traditionally, Frito pie was consumed straight out of the bag; however, as the bags got thinner, this preparation became too hot to handle, and today most Frito pie is served school-cafeteria style, in a cardboard nacho boat. As a native Texan, I grew up eating buckets of the stuff. It’s standard fare in school lunchrooms, at Friday-night high-school football games, and in Junior League cookbooks across the Lone Star State.”

    “On the Rocks: Richard McIver’s Arrest for Domestic Violence Highlights a Taboo Issue—His Drinking”
    “The Four Seas, McIver’s favorite watering hole, is a dingy, black-painted cavern of a bar in the back of a massive Chinese restaurant. Men sit alone drinking shots and manhattans under a soundtrack of R&B and soul; a sign on the wall reads, ‘Herradura Blast Off! 20 Dollars.’ A young waitress named Rachel (who politely declined to comment for this story) flirts good-naturedly with the mostly middle-aged, exclusively male, clientele; a plate of chicken, cooked to a rubbery texture, is hard to distinguish in the gloom.”

    This doesn’t even include her staggering Slog output or her widely read city hall column—still excellent after all these years. Many more of her pieces—461 since 2003—can be found here.

    Lunch Date: Infected

    posted by on July 31 at 1:36 PM


    (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 Infected, by Scott Sigler.

    Where’d you go? The Great Northwest Soup Company, a new lunch counter in South Lake Union that a local recommended to me.

    What’d you eat? Mushroom and crab soup with a half tomato, basil, and mozzarella panini sandwich ($8.)

    How was the food? The panini was under-panini’d, which was unfortunate, but the soup was great. I’d never thought to combine a mushroom soup with crab, but it was a great substitute for a chowder; seafood and fresh mushrooms go well together. After I ordered, I noticed that they had a non-panini homemade chicken curry sandwich ($3 for a half sandwich), and that’s what I would’ve gone with if I had it all to do over again.

    What does your date say about itself? It’s a thriller about a virus that makes people go crazy. Jonathan Maberry, whoever he is, calls Sigler the “Richard Matheson of the twenty-first century,” which is appealing—I really enjoy Matheson’s pulpy fiction. Scott Sigler is “the world’s most successful podcasting author…(h)is books have held the number one audiobook position on all the podcast aggregators, including iTunes”.

    Is there a representative quote? Jesus, where to start? “With his towel he wiped steam from the mirror. A shadow of bristly red beard covered his face. Bright red beard and straight blond hair…” and “Music drifted over from Bill’s cube. Ancient Sonny & Cher ditty, to which Bill cleverly sang “I got scabies, babe” instead of the original lyrics.”

    Will you two end up in bed together? Jesus Christ, no. Those quotes were just samples, but there’s at least one cliche per page right now, and I’m only on page 42. This is a horrible book. Any novel that features a main character looking into a mirror so that he can be described is written by an author who clearly deserves to never write again. You know how sometimes you can tell how intelligent an author is just by reading their writing? I’m going to go out of my way to never meet Scott Sigler, because I’m afraid that my I.Q. would drop just from shaking his hand. This is the worst book I’ve started in a really long time, and I’m in the middle of reading some pretty goddamned bad books.

    Questions for the Governor?

    posted by on July 31 at 1:31 PM

    The Stranger Election Control Board (SECB) is meeting with Gov. Christine Gregoire in a few minutes. Any suggestions about what we should ask her? Leave ‘em in the comments.

    The 2008 Genius Awards: The Cake Episode

    posted by on July 31 at 1:26 PM

    Every fall since 2003, The Stranger has given a check for $5,000 and an obscene amount of attention to a filmmaker, a writer, a visual artist, a theater artist, and an arts organization making startling, original work. There is no application process. A panel of Stranger editors and critics descends into a cave and conducts their deliberations by candlelight.

    Winners are notified via cake.

    Yesterday, the winners were notified. Caroline Dodge, Regina Hackett of the P-I, and I drove around town, delivering white QFC cakes with red icing that read “You Are a Genius.” (Regina wrote about yesterday’s cake deliveries here.)

    The winners are:

    THEATER. Paul Mullin, playwright.


    Mullin works at Amgen, which is several high-security buildings and lawns north of the city, with a nice view of Puget Sound. We told security that we wanted to see Mullin. Security called Mullin and told us to put our camera away. Mullin walked through the door into the lobby and looked at the cake quietly and blinked. “Wow,” he said softly. “Five thousand dollars? Wow.” He said his young sons would love the cake—and that his wife would help him decide how to spend the money. Maybe, he said, they’d take a trip to Italy.

    ORGANIZATION. Implied Violence, theater collective.


    Ryan and Mandie, the two people at the core of Implied Violence, were at their warehouse space in South Lake Union. Mandie was hand-washing fake blood from their most recent show (BarleyGirl) out of their costumes and—she admitted later—arguing with Ryan about whether or not they could afford to rent a piano for their next show (Eat Fight Fuck). When they saw the cake, they did a little dance, hugged each other, hugged me, and shouted “we can have a piano!”

    VISUAL ART. Wynne Greenwood, video artist, musician, thinker.


    Wynne teaches art to kids (who’ve been convicted of crimes) at Southeast Youth and Family Services in Columbia City. Jen Graves texted her, she came outside, saw the cake, turned away, then turned back with tears in her eyes and hugged Jen. “You have no idea what this means,” she said. “Now I can make art again.”

    LITERATURE. Sherman Alexie, novelist, poet, essayist.


    Christopher Frizzelle and Alexie were sitting in a playground in the Central District, finishing up some Ezell’s chicken. When Alexie saw the cake, he laughed—not a surprised/nervous chuckle, but a celebratory laugh, a laugh so big and loud and warm it felt like you could crawl inside it. Frizzelle said we gave him the award despite ourselves—we didn’t want it to be a conflict of interest since he, you know, writes for us and all. “Oh, don’t worry about that,” Alexie said. “I do it contemptuously.” Then he laughed again.

    FILM. Lynn Shelton, director, writer, editor.


    Shelton and Annie Wagner sat in Uptown Espresso in Belltown. Lynn saw the cake, squealed, and waved her arms around at shoulder height like a very excited child. “I never thought I’d win this,” she said. “I’m so—” Whatever it was, she was too it to finish her sentence. When we left Uptown, she was smiling and smiling.

    You can come and meet all the geniuses on Saturday, September 13, at the Moore Theater: that big, beautiful monument to antique opulence.

    Dyme Def will play, as will Daedelus and Spokane hip-hop/funk wunderkind James Pants.

    There will be food. There will be drink. (There might even be a basketball hoop.)

    You are invited.

    To Everyone Who Keeps Emailing Me

    posted by on July 31 at 1:00 PM

    This is not an acceptable substitute for Scrabulous. People play Scrabulous because they like Scrabble and want to be able to play it online with the same rules with their same friends over an indefinite period of time. People like to brag about scores that correspond to scores people understand from Scrabble. People like to brag about their bingos, just like those which one might achieve in a game of Scrabble. Yes, I realize this is clear copyright infringement, but I honestly don’t understand why Hasbro would care. Playing Scrabble online, whether a company-approved version or no, will make people more likely to buy official dictionaries, study official word lists, purchase game sets, join Scrabble clubs, etc. It would have—and I’m sure already has—made Hasbro money. Driving them to this imitation game will do nothing of the kind.

    In any case, though, people do not want to play some lame imitation word game with completely different strategic implications and an overabundance of bonus squares.

    People want Scrabble. No frills, no animation, no unfamiliar colors. Just Scrabble.

    A Good Point

    posted by on July 31 at 12:31 PM


    …brought up in the comments to this post, by the enticingly named crk on bellevue ave:

    Until Pike Place Market is open until at least 8pm, it is nothing more then a quaint tourist trap. I love the produce vendors there… but 6pm? Too early for me.

    Currently Hanging

    posted by on July 31 at 12:15 PM

    Martin Klimas’s Untitled, C-print, 59 by 79 inches

    At Howard House. (Gallery site here.)

    I would like to dedicate this installment of Currently Hanging to Amy Kate Horn, whose last day at the paper is today.

    My bike was stolen earlier this week (yes, it was locked). That really, really sucked. But Amy Kate’s departure is worse. Amy Kate’s departure makes me feel like doing what the above image depicts.

    When Amy Kate announced she was leaving a while back, I said, “I hate it.” I’m wearing black today.

    I probably don’t have to tell you, Slog, but Amy Kate is an emotional center for this paper. (And, as you might not know, for me.) She’s calm, reasonable, and organized. When something goes wrong, she fixes it. She actually fixes it! I don’t know if you’ve met her, but there is something deeply reassuring about this woman.

    I will truly, madly, deeply miss her.

    Lunchtime Quickie

    posted by on July 31 at 12:01 PM

    Introducing Dimitri. Strange… I wonder why she didn’t call him back?

    More Death in the Mud

    posted by on July 31 at 11:59 AM

    This just in from Culinary Communion’s Gabriel Claycamp, organizer/meter-out-of-death of the winter 2008 Port Orchard communal pig kill:

    It is official, we/I are sponsoring another “Hector” slaughter on September 7th (Sunday). It will start at 9AM (actual slaughter will be at 10:30). Please email for more details: Cost is $50, includes lunch, music, a full breakdown lesson, and a charcuterie lesson. We will make all sorts of cured meats, both fresh and dry aged that will only be available to participants. Hell of a lot of fun and very important to the overall physic health of the people (i.e., getting comfortable with real food again). Hope you can make it.

    Hector the First
    Photo by Reena Kawal

    Taking the Obama-as-Britney Meme a Bit Far

    posted by on July 31 at 11:45 AM

    Slog tipper Keith sends this screen-grab from Yahoo news:


    And in slightly more more serious news, here is a top McCain aide trying to explain his side in the Britney drama to MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell:

    Re: The Annual Blue Angels Gripefest

    posted by on July 31 at 11:14 AM

    Spotted some kids on Capitol Hill marching around holding a sign on a long pole this morning on my way to work. I stopped and took a picture and the kids’ parent came running out their house to ask me—pretty please—not to post her kids’ faces “to any darn blogs,” lest they wind up on FOX News. But here’s the sign her daughters made…


    I asked mom, who appeared to be a Capitol Hill liberal, if she helped her kids with their sign. Nope, she said, she didn’t even know what they were up to until they marched out of their house with it.

    Ah, the children. Teach them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the beauty that they hold inside, etc.

    The Annual Blue Angels Gripefest

    posted by on July 31 at 11:03 AM


    …now in attractive poll form.

    What’s the most offensive component of the Blue Angels’ annual sky-rape?

    Same As It Ever Was

    posted by on July 31 at 11:01 AM

    Craft vendors in Pike Place Market, 1975


    Madison Park beach, 1930


    More more more at the hours-devouring Seattle Municipal Archives photostream of Flickr.

    Today The Stranger Suggests

    posted by on July 31 at 11:00 AM



    The queen of Seattle’s soul, Choklate, cannot exit this year without giving the people what they need: something new. Her self-titled CD—a local hiphop/R&B masterpiece—was released way back in ‘06, and ‘09 is just around the corner. We’re waiting; we’re waiting. If you can’t take the waiting, if the pressure is too much, then go to her show, hear her sing, hear her band, and hear the sound that is this city’s rhythm and blues. (City Hall Plaza, 600 Fourth Ave, 684-7171. Noon, free, all ages.)


    The Chia Shoe

    posted by on July 31 at 11:00 AM

    For some reason, Krispy Kreme branches in London are selling flip-flops with real grass growing on the soles. The grass lives for four months or so, if cared for properly.


    Supposedly, it’s a way to feel less stressed-out in an urban environment, but I’m still not sure why Krispy Kreme ka—ahem—cares whether people are stressed-out or not. Don’t agitated people eat more glazed doughnuts?

    A Philosophy of Obama

    posted by on July 31 at 10:29 AM

    Philosophy has had an encounter with Sarkozy (Alain Badiou’s new book What Do We Mean When We Say ‘Sarkozy’?). Now it is time for philosophy to have an encounter with Obama.
    zizek2.jpg At the end of this program, Democracy Now, Slavoj Žižek initiates Obama’s encounter with a form of thought that has as its substance 2000 years of development.

    City Neighborhood Council Tells Feuding Groups to Kiss, Make Up

    posted by on July 31 at 10:28 AM

    Just days after the Mount Baker Community Club (MBCC) split from the Southeast District Council (SEDC), the a city neighborhood coalition has asked the two Southeast Seattle groups to work out their problems.

    The MBCC has been seeking a seat on the City Neighborhood Council (CNC)—a city-wide neighborhood policy advisory board, of which SEDC is a member—because of a longstanding feud over the direction of the SEDC.

    The CNC is made up of 13 district councils across the city. Giving MBCC a spot at the table would require the city to add another neighborhood district, something it appears the CNC isn’t all that keen on doing.

    While SEDC President Boyd Pickerell says he’s ready to sit down and hash things out with the MBCC, but MBCC’s Pat Murakami appears poised to push the issue.

    Murakami says if the CNC won’t give MBCC what it wants, she’s ready to take the issue “up the chain of state agencies” to the state auditor or attorney general.The Southeast District Council as it exists right now, is in violation of its own bylaws, and they don’t care,” she says. “We need a true voice of community”

    No deadline has been set for the MBCC and SEDC to hug it out.

    Go Greyhound and Leave the Driving to Us!

    posted by on July 31 at 10:24 AM

    And leave the, um, decapitating to the lunatic sitting next to you.

    Greyhound is reviewing security on its buses after a young man travelling to Winnipeg late Wednesday was stabbed to death and then decapitated in what appears to be a random act of violence.

    Witnesses said the victim, described as between the ages of 18 to 20, was sleeping with his head against the window when the attack occurred.

    “He was listening to music when suddenly the person next to him began to stab him in the neck with… a large butcher knife,” CTV’s Murray Oliver reported Thursday after speaking to witnesses…. The bus driver pulled over on a section of the east-bound Trans-Canada Highway — about 15 kilometres west of Portage la Prairie, Man — and many of the 37 passengers began to flee the bus.

    Canton gathered a small group of people to go back and help the victim, said Oliver.

    “They returned to the back of the bus to find that the person who was stabbing the person in the neck had now sawed off the head of (the victim).”

    Thanks… or, um, not, to Slog tipper David.

    Leave Barack Alone!

    posted by on July 31 at 10:02 AM

    Chris Crocker rushes to Barack Obama’s defense over the new McCain commercial that’s comparing Obama to Britney:

    Here We Go Again?

    posted by on July 31 at 10:00 AM

    Barack Obama’s crossover appeal cannot be denied.

    But having netted 70,000 fewer votes than John Kerry in liberal King County in her 133-vote squeaker over Republican Dino Rossi in 2004, this cannot be a good sign for Gov. Chris Gregoire.

    Spotted just off liberal Eastlake:

    Reading Tonight

    posted by on July 31 at 10:00 AM


    We have an open mic and three readings tonight.

    Up at Third Place Books, Carol Cassella reads from Oxygen. Oxygen is, according to Lalita Tademy, who wrote the Oprah-approved Cane River, about “an assured anesthesiologist at the top of her game,” who “is forced to face the personal and professional fallout of an operating room disaster.”

    Moving right along, at the University Book Store, David J. Williams reads from his sci-fi novel, The Mirrored Heavens, which is about two counterintelligence agents trying to discover who destroyed “the 22nd century’s grandest, global achievement,” which is apparently a big elevator.

    And at Elliott Bay Book Company, Jess Winfield reads from My Name is Will , which is a whimsical novel about Shakespeare that doesn’t look good at all.

    If I had to pick one, I’d go with the space elevator book, although there’s a case to be made for the anesthesiologist book if you’re into ER.

    The full readings calendar, including the next week or so, is here.

    HA’s Declaration of WAR

    posted by on July 31 at 9:48 AM


    Ladenburg vs. McKenna

    posted by on July 31 at 9:40 AM

    I’m listening to Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg on KUOW right now.

    Ladenburg is running for Washington state Attorney General, challenging Republican incumbent Rob McKenna. A caller asked about gay marriage and Ladenburg said that he supports civil unions, not marriage equality, but added that the state should treat everyone equally and perhaps it was a mistake for the state to get into the marriage business at all, since marriage is a religious institution wocka wocka wocka. Ladenburg wants to swing both ways on marriage equality: He’s against marriage rights for same-sex couples, he’s for civil unions, but he believes the state should treat everyone equally. But wouldn’t equal treatment require the state to allow same-sex couples to marry or to get out of the marriage business entirely and make only civil unions available to all couples, gay and straight?

    Steve Scher, perhaps not wanting to put the Democrat on the spot, neglected to ask this obvious follow up.

    I’ll probably vote for Ladenburg in the fall—his position on marriage equality is indistinguishable from this guy’s position—but I’ll do it with some reservations. Rob McKenna is a GOP hack and all, but he is the only female-to-male transsexual that has ever won a state-wide race in Washington state. I want to be a good Democrat, but I also want to support FTM visibility and McKenna helps break down stereotypes about transsexuals.

    Man, this is a tough one.

    Re: Twilight of the Good Times

    posted by on July 31 at 9:28 AM

    If you live in Seattle, it might be time to ask for a cost of living increase. The city has the highest inflation rate in the country.

    Twilight of the Good Times

    posted by on July 31 at 8:47 AM

    Exxon Mobil, the world’s largest publicly traded oil company, reported on Thursday that second-quarter income rose 14 percent, to $11.68 billion, the highest-ever for an American company.

    The Morning News

    posted by on July 31 at 7:27 AM

    Um, So Now He’s a Girl? Or a Baby? Or Something?: Obama’s being “hysterical” and “fussy,” according to McCain camp.

    Stepping Down: Scandal-plagued Israeli Prime Minister Olmert.

    Surging: Oil prices increase to nearly $127 a barrel.

    Relief: Bush signs housing-assistance bill.

    Finally: House gives FDA power to regulate tobacco.

    Classy: Republican Rep. Pete Sessions defends his Vegas strip-club fundraiser.

    Censored: Olympic committee will allow Internet censorship during the Summer Games.

    Of Course He Does: Bush threatens to veto pay equity act.

    Recipe of the Day: Seaweed Salad with Watermelon Radishes and Garlic Scapes, Grilled Mackerel (recipe and photo via Wrightfood)


    Continue reading "The Morning News" »


    posted by on July 31 at 6:00 AM


    In this week’s Stranger, the media’s love affair with Barack gets explicit.

    Episode 1: Chicago at Night

    The sleek black limo picked me up at the corner of Randolph and Halsted. I climbed inside to find my sleek black man lying there wearing nothing but a grin and a copy of the Sun Times. “This is on the D.L., right?” said Barry in his velvet baritone, a wry smile on his face. He knows my answer before I say it: Yes. Yes to anything, just take me….

    “I’m going to teach you about the audacity of grope,” Barry chortled as tossed his unfiltered Pall Mall to the limousine floor and lunged at me, his hungry hands snapping like crab’s claws, grabbing me in a way that I knew would leave bruises. He turned me over, popping the buttons off my shirt. “Say it!” he bellowed, snapping the band on my underwear. “You know you want to.”

    “Y-yes,” I moaned. “Yes…we…can…” as he sank deep into me…

    Got your own dose of Obamarotica? Send 200-word submissions to The best entries will be published in The Stranger’s glamorous print edition. The worst entries will be published right here on Slog.

    Wednesday, July 30, 2008


    posted by on July 30 at 11:53 PM


    (AP Photo/The Daily Reporter, Rob Morgan.)

    CANEY, Kan. - A dog at a southeast Kansas zoo has adopted three tiger cubs abandoned by their mother. Safari Zoological Park owner Tom Harvey said the tiger cubs were born Sunday, but the mother had problems with them. A day later, the mother stopped caring for them. Harvey said the cubs were wandering around, trying to find their birth mother, who wouldn’t pay attention to them. That’s when the cubs were put in the care of a golden retriever, Harvey said. Harvey said it’s unusual for dogs to care for tiger cubs, but it does happen.

    Nike Hates the Future

    posted by on July 30 at 5:52 PM

    After I wrote this post on the hoverboards from Back to the Future II, I received an e-mail from Mickey, who is apparently behind a website intended to make Nike to produce the sneakers depicted in Back to the Future II

    …by 2015. Nike has responded with a limited-edition version of the shoes:


    But they don’t tie themselves, which is kind of the whole point. Full story here.

    SPD Hands Over Seized Medical Pot to Feds

    posted by on July 30 at 5:50 PM

    Last Friday, the Seattle Police Department delivered 12 ounces of medical marijuana to federal agents, according to an email sent by SPD attorney Leo Poort. Police had seized the pot on July 15 from Martin Martinez, a patient authorized to use marijuana for medical purposes in Washington, along with his computer and medical files. Officers returned the medical records and computer a couple days later—after the prosecutor’s office declined to press charges—but the department refused to return the marijuana.

    In the email, Poort wrote that SPD “transferred” the pot to the Drug Enforcement Administration “[a]t the request or demand of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.”

    “I believed the Seattle Police Department was on the verge of returning it,” says attorney Douglas Hiatt, who is representing Martinez. However, he isn’t necessarily convinced feds demanded the marijuana. “It could have been someone at SPD referring it,” he says, noting that the DEA or the US Attorney’s Office could also have made the request. In the past, he says, “The US Attorney’s Office has left medical-marijuana patients alone.”

    Hiatt says he plans to work with the ACLU, which won a federal case last summer to secure medical-marijuana patients’ medical records, to negotiate with the US attorney’s office. “We may go to federal court and file a return of property motion,” he says.

    “For the same reasons we were interested when the marijuana was first [seized], the ACLU is interest in making sure Washington’s medical-marijuana law is protected,” says Alison Holcomb, director of the ACLU of Washington’s Marijuana Education Project.

    “To deny a dying person the only medicinal relief available is barbaric,” says Martinez, who suffers from intractable pain caused by cranial nerve damage in a motorcycle accident.

    Because marijuana is legal for medical purposes at the state level, but illegal at the federal level, there is no legal obligation for the federal government to return the marijuana. Neither the SPD nor the DEA have returned requests for comment.

    UPDATE: The DEA has released this statement:

    On July 25, 2008, the Seattle Police Department turned over approximately three (3) pounds of suspected marijuana that had been seized the previous week and which field-tested presumptive positive for marijuana to representatives of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Seattle Field Division.

    Pursuant to the appropriate provisions of the Controlled Substances Act, and more specifically Title 21 of the United States Code, Section 881(a), (f) and (g), marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance which is subject to seizure, summary forfeiture and destruction and is designated as contraband. Accordingly, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has seized and processed the marijuana for destruction; that concludes this matter.

    UPDATE 2: Emily Langlie, spokeswoman for US attorney’s office, says that US Attorney Jeff Sullivan asked the DEA to seize the marijuana and destroy it. “We’re not pursuing criminal charges,” she says.

    This seems extremely unusual, given that the federal court usually doesn’t concern itself with marijuana possession cases. When asked if it’s common for the feds to seize and destroy pot, Langlie told me, “The disposal of drugs is a fairly routine activity in the state and federal system.” She added, “The DEA has done a number of cases related to marijuana grows and large scale marijuana operations.” Her office responded because the King County prosecutor’s office “would not pursue the case,” she says.

    But it appears the feds got involved because this became such a high-profile issue. By Langlie’s own description, the DEA handles large grow operations, so marijuana possession isn’t usually their concern. Possession cases are handled almost exclusively at the state level, where Martinez’s pot is legal. Martinez wouldn’t be tried in federal court anyway. So they the did what they could: Seize the pot and destroy it.

    The unanswered question is what role SPD had in handing over the pot to the DEA. No spokesperson has called back, so it’s unclear if the SPD intentionally refused to return the marijuana—again legal for them under state law—while waiting for the feds to come destroy it.

    UPDATE 3: Hiatt says the discrepancy in pot weighed by the DEA—three pounds compared to the 12 ounces Martinez said he had—is because the 12 ounces was the actual smokeable bud. The remaining weight, he says, was leaves and stems.

    The Big Question

    posted by on July 30 at 5:35 PM


    In Other Gay Reality Show Contestant Gossip

    posted by on July 30 at 4:19 PM

    I missed this story while I was away on vacation…


    A contestant on HGTV’s Design Star—Michael Verdugo—was outed by Gay Porn Blog for his “nasty porn past.” That judgement seems a little harsh, considering the stuff that Gay Porn Blog regularly smiles on. And all Verdugo is alleged to be “guilty” of is appearing in a little gay bondage porn back in the mid-1990s. And, come on, who wasn’t making gay bondage porn in the mid-90s?

    It’s unlikely that Verdugo’s past would’ve gotten him booted from Design Star—a porn scandal is always good news for reality show producers—but it did get him in trouble with his current employer: the police department in Hollywood, Florida. Verdugo’s been on the force in Hollywood for 10 years, and by all accounts he’s a good cop. But shortly after Gay Porn Blog made the connection between Rope Ritual’s “Jeremy Wess” and Design Star’s Michael Verdugo, the Hollywood PD placed Verdugo on administrative leave “pending the outcome of an investigation.”

    And if the investigation finds that Verdugo and Wess are the same person? It seems incredible—and unfair, and crazy, and nuts—that this guy could lose his job over this. He did nothing wrong, he broke no laws, he didn’t hurt anybody.

    Oh, and nice tits, huh?

    UPDATE: You can order a copy of Rope Rituals here.

    Winning the War on Drugs

    posted by on July 30 at 3:59 PM

    In Maryland.

    The Mayor of Berwyn Heights, Md. was the target of a drug raid Wednesday after a package containing several pounds of marijuana was shipped to his home, according to police.

    Berwyn Heights Mayor Cheye Calvo is still reeling after a team of heavily armed sheriff deputies burst into his home Wednesday. “It was an explosion followed immediately by gunfire,” said Calvo.

    The deputies bound the mayor and fired shots, killing the Calvo’s two black Labradors. Calvo tearfully expressed his love for his “good dogs” while showing ABC 7 reporter Brad Bell, exactly where they were shot by a Prince George’s county sheriff.

    After the Calvo’s brought, unknowingly they claim, the package into their home Tuesday evening, the waiting officers moved in. The Calvo’s said the box wasn’t even opened when the officers stormed into their residence.

    In Michigan.

    A Cass County man apparently shot himself as police came to his door during a drug investigation Monday, authorities said.

    Nels Wilson, 51, was found dead inside his mobile home at 25560 Jefferson Court Road after Michigan State Police approached his home to question him about marijuana plants found growing outside, according to a news release.

    Police had flown over Wilson’s property as part of Operation Hemp, a joint venture of the Southwest Enforcement Team and State Police, and spotted more than 130 marijuana plants.

    In Ohio.

    A woman shot and killed by a police officer during a drug raid was likely on her knees and complying with a SWAT team’s orders to get down when she was hit in the neck and chest, two experts testified Wednesday at the officer’s trial.

    A forensic pathologist and firearms expert each said that bullet wounds indicate that Tarika Wilson, 26, wasn’t standing.

    Sgt. Joseph Chavalia has pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor counts of negligent homicide and negligent assault. He faces up to eight months in jail if convicted of both counts.

    I Laughed, I Cried, I Winced in Horror

    posted by on July 30 at 3:48 PM

    Athlists shows us 20 ways to die trying to dunk a basketball.

    Here’s #6—the goofiest entry, but I wanted to ease you into things.

    See all 20 near-death hoop experiences here. (And thanks for the heads up, MetaFilter.)

    Notorious BIG

    posted by on July 30 at 2:32 PM

    This is Mountain Dwellings, a Copenhagen project by Danish architects Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG).
    What makes BIG’s apartment buildings so original? Their form of socialism is not practical but sexy. If socialism had always been this sexy, this sensuous, it would have triumphed over the other forms of state organization.


    posted by on July 30 at 2:20 PM

    John McCain spent the last week rockin’ some $520 Salvatore Ferragamos, according to HuffPo:


    Check the photographic evidence (Ferragamos in the applesauce aisle! Ferragamos in front of an oil pump! Ferragamos with the Dalai Lama!), and then check out this very good point from The Nation’s Christopher Hayes:

    If I were a right-wing blogger, and I found out that Barack Obama was wearing Ferragamo loafers that cost $520, I would spend about 50% of my waking hours making sure everyone knew this. I would mock him for being an out-of-touch elitist and make jokes like, “If you think that’s a lot, you should see how much his purse costs ” I would send the link to Drudge and wait for Instapundit to pick it up, and then watch gleefully as Fox News ran segments about how Barack Obama’s $500 loafers vitiate his entire economic platform.

    Today in Grilled Cheese

    posted by on July 30 at 1:40 PM

    From the weekly email update of McLeod Residence comes this bold assertion:

    American cheese is the best for grilled cheese sandwiches and even if you are a food snob you cannot deny this.


    (Of parenthetical note: Wikipedia says a grilled cheese is also sometimes called a toasted cheese, which is familiar [and maybe a West coast thing?], or a “cheese toastie,” which is sheer madness.)

    American Nails

    posted by on July 30 at 12:56 PM

    The new natural:

    Re: Reading Tonight

    posted by on July 30 at 12:42 PM


    (Paul, I’ll assume you were referring to me, not Annie.)

    Probably wouldn’t be so illuminating to attend tonight’s reading of Video Games & Your Kids. Let’s take a look at the book’s description on an anonymous Internet retailer’s site:

    Other [gamers] have grown so dependent on these games that they are abandoning their lives to pursue this activity, which they seem to prefer above all others. Video Games & Your Kids: How Parents Stay in Control is for parents who are worried that their children may be spending too much time playing video games.

    When we get past the cloud of parents throwing their arms up and crying their eyes out—the thick cloud that apparently necessitates hundreds of pages in this book—there’s an easy question that follows. How are kids and teens getting their hands on video games? Up until roughly the age of 14, the answer is almost universally that they’re purchased by parents and family members—or enabled by rich parents who give ridiculous allowances. And by 15, when a kid can get his/her own job and start racking up enough to buy hundreds of dollars of games systems, parents still have a responsibility in teaching their kids to spend/save/invest wisely. I’ll agree with these authors that gaming impacts kids in ways different than a lot of other habits, but that doesn’t change the issue of a swingin’ gate at the homestead. Parents “stay in control” by—whoa now—asserting control in the first place.

    Really, the stupidity of this kind of cash-in book is most apparent when you tweak the title; try “Music & Your Kids” or “Movies & Your Kids.” Those would be boring books, and for good fucking reason. But let’s say the wheels have rolled off and your kid’s a total 1337 asshole. Solution? Euthanasia Shut off your home Internet service. Online gaming can be so unbelievably bad for a growing kid—and don’t let him/her BS you into thinking they’re building teamwork skills while growing a WoW guild or leading a Capture the Flag team in Call of Duty 4. They’re just learning creative ways to combine the words nigger, fag, and Jew.

    Gaming has its ups and downs for kids—creative, exploratory games like Zelda that encourage map-making, puzzle-solving, and general whimsy; and adult/immature fare that encourages killing dudes in a straight line. Either way, a kid with their head screwed-on straight can usually cipher out fantasy from reality and come out as unscathed as, say, watching violence on TV. But invite that kid to persistent online games, and you’ve combined the visceral glee of a game with the hyperized social atmosphere of an anonymous Internet. I’m not entirely against kids socializing with strangers online—though that’s hairy territory already—but insecure teens aren’t doing themselves favors when their social development is hampered by hours and hours and hours with a headset and a trigger finger. Maybe they’re trading slurs with the country’s next generation of Neo-Nazis, or maybe they’re being sucked into the mob mentality of hours-long raids in 3D dungeons every night. Sorry to sound like an old man, but the 12-16 year-old mind just isn’t as good at ciphering out the crap in those socially loaded scenarios.

    When you unplug the Internet, you keep the fun, simple nature of games in check—let parenting and reasonable guidance take over from that point. And really, what’s the worst that’ll happen? Your kid might sneak over to a friend’s house to play online. At least he/she will now have to play that game with other friends face-to-face, where they can’t get away with slagging each other without someone getting punched in the shoulder. It’s not ideal, but if your kid’s so far gone that he/she has to sneak out the window for a Counter Strike fix, your dumb parenting ass should take what it can get.

    Oh, I just noticed this bit in the book description:

    The authors give gaming advice on each stage of life; birth-2 years, ages 2-6, elementary school years, adolescence, and adult children still living at home.

    Adults who still with their parents? It happens. But if you’re a concerned parent by that stage, maybe you should look into a different kind of book.

    In Advance of Tonight’s Project Runway

    posted by on July 30 at 12:30 PM


    ….here’s some deep thinking about “girlicious” and a study of the Blayne/Christian Siriano divide.

    Also, here’s ABC News on the dangers of “tanorexia,” and West Seattle Blog on Blayne’s triumphant return behind the counter at West Seattle’s Hotwire Coffee. (Stop by, say hi, and leave a big tip! He may be a subpar neologist, but his riff on the Leather Queen of Queens was inspired.)

    Lunchtime Quickie

    posted by on July 30 at 12:30 PM

    A desperate McCain might be using images of Britney and Paris, but listen to the bitchin’ MySpace metal band Ralph Nader is using in the video he just loaded on YouTube. Duuude.

    10 Zeros

    posted by on July 30 at 12:16 PM

    Nothing can save this country. Nothing. The whole of it is dead.

    HARARE, Zimbabwe —
    Zimbabwe will drop 10 zeros from its hyper-inflated currency - turning 10 billion dollars into one - the country’s reserve bank said Wednesday. President Robert Mugabe threatened a state of emergency if businesses profiteer from the country’s economic and political unraveling.

    Shop shelves are empty and there are chronic shortages of everything including medication, food, fuel, power and water. Eighty percent of the work force is unemployed and many who do have jobs don’t earn enough to pay for bus fare.

    One third of Zimbabweans have become economic and political refugees. Another third is dependent on foreign food aid. But Mugabe barred non-governmental organizations from handing out food last month, claiming they were supporting the opposition.

    Queen Victoria’s Secret

    posted by on July 30 at 12:13 PM

    Her underwear? Expensive and crotchless.

    A pair of Queen Victoria’s bloomers, with a 50-inch waist, were snapped up for $9,000 by a Canadian buyer at a central England auction Wednesday. Auctioneer Charles Hanson said Queen Victoria’s underpants belonged to “a very big lady of quite small stature with a very wide girth.” She was said to be 5 feet tall.

    The handmade knickers—which date back to the 1890s—bear the monogram “VR” for Victoria Regina. They are open-crotch style, with separate legs joined by a drawstring at the waist….

    Five feet tall with a A 50-inch waist? That’s spherical, right? Reading on…

    [Victoria’s] reign is noted for both imperial expansion and the decreasing political power of the monarch.

    You don’t say.

    You Can’t Crush the American Entrepreneurial Spirit

    posted by on July 30 at 12:02 PM

    This just in from Slog tipper/budding entrepreneur Honest Genius:

    I want the thank the Mayor and city council of Seattle for opening up a huge money making opportunity for me! Starting in January, 2009, I plan to be standing outside your nearest grocery store selling bags, just off their property, next to a Democrats political sign and a homeless person, for only 10 cents each! For starters, I have purchased 50,000 of these at a cost less than one cent per bag. And I will be shopping just outside the city limits and will never shop in town again! And if you want to tax me for making a profit, and using public or private land to do it on, you will also have to remove the political signs for being placed on that property illegally and tax the homeless for making money also! So thanks again!

    Today in the Olympics

    posted by on July 30 at 12:02 PM

    The women’s breaststroke.

    Organizers of the Beijing Olympics have set up a sex-determination laboratory to evaluate “suspect” female athletes, the official Chinese news agency Xinhua reported Sunday. The lab is similar to ones set up at previous Olympics in Sydney and Athens, and will draw on the resources of the Peking Union Medical College Hospital to evaluate an athlete’s external appearance, hormones and genes. …

    Despite decades of rigorous testing of women athletes, only one known case of gender cheating exists in the history of the modern Olympics — and it was not uncovered by a sex-determination test.

    Internet high dive.

    Since the Olympic Village press center opened on Friday, reporters have been unable to access scores of Web pages — among them those that discuss Tibetan succession, Taiwanese independence, the violent crackdown of the protests in Tiananmen Square and the sites of Amnesty International, Radio Free Asia and several Hong Kong newspapers known for their freewheeling political discourse.

    A government spokesman initially suggested the problems originated with the site hosts, but on Wednesday, he acknowledged that journalists would not have unfettered Internet use during the Games, which begin Aug. 8….

    As recently as two weeks ago, Jacques Rogge, the International Olympic committee president, proclaimed to Agence France-Presse: “For the first time, foreign media will be able to report freely and publish their work freely in China. There will be no censorship on the Internet.”

    In older news, Tug of War used to be an Olympic sport.

    Obama’s Ludacris Critique: “He Should Be Ashamed of These Lyrics”

    posted by on July 30 at 11:55 AM

    The new Ludacris track draws fire from the Obama campaign:

    “As Barack Obama has said many, many times in the past, rap lyrics today too often perpetuate misogyny, materialism, and degrading images that he doesn’t want his daughters or any children exposed to,” said spokesman Bill Burton. “This song is not only outrageously offensive to Senator Clinton, Reverend Jackson, Senator McCain, and President Bush, it is offensive to all of us who are trying to raise our children with the values we hold dear. While Ludacris is a talented individual he should be ashamed of these lyrics.”

    Britney = Obama = Paris

    posted by on July 30 at 11:18 AM

    The latest from the desperate McCain camp…

    Holy Shit

    posted by on July 30 at 11:16 AM

    I’ve got to start watching Weeds.

    Find more videos like this on dreamcapsTV

    Via OMGBlog.

    More Whining from the Seattle Times

    posted by on July 30 at 11:05 AM

    You lost, it’s over, shut the fuck up.

    Also, in a week filled with Critical Mass puns, the worst yet.

    UPDATE: Hmm. A close personal friend down at the Seattle Times—my old college roommate in fact—points out that, while I was on vacation, the ed board at the Seattle Times came out in favor of the bag tax. Sorry I missed that, kids. Still it’s revealing that the Seattle Times would run a weird, cranky op-ed after the bag fee passed. What? No three-day-old NYT columns lying around? Still, while today’s plastic-bag-tax whining isn’t exactly from the Seattle Times, although it did come to us courtesy of the Seattle Times.

    Today The Stranger Suggests

    posted by on July 30 at 11:00 AM


    ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’

    Some dis Blanche, some dis Stanley, and everyone agrees that the sound design is a hate crime. Despite all its flaws, Intiman’s Streetcar is the rare revival worth getting yourself to the theater for. Tennessee Williams’s poetic potboiler is brought to gripping new life by an inventive cast (best in show: Chelsey Rives, whose Stella is a revelation) but the true star, as always, is Tennessee Williams. (Intiman Theater, 201 Mercer Street, 269-1900. 7:30 pm, $42–$47. Through Aug 2.)


    Do You Like Reading Bad Sci-Fi?

    posted by on July 30 at 11:00 AM

    Do you read a lot? Do you read sci-fi indiscriminately, but do you still maintain some sense of critical awareness about whether something is good or bad?

    Apex Book Company is looking for people to read their sci-fi short story submissions:

    Submissions editors must commit to reading and responding to at least 20 short stories per week (max. length 7500 words, average is 3-5k) and offering commentary on stories selected by other editors. Payment is in gratitude, free books, and the power of wielding the rejection letter. Applicants with marketing experience will be treated to the finest flattery in the land and moved to the top of the queue.

    Location doesn’t matter; all submissions are electronic, and Apex currently has editors in the U.S., U.K., and Canada.

    I’m just posting this because if my job didn’t already require me to read “a metric shit-ton of books a month” (that’s literally what it says in my job description), I’d be so all over that job.


    HIV News

    posted by on July 30 at 10:34 AM

    The HIV vaccine is a total bust… but researchers in Houston claim to have found the Achilles’ heel, a part of the fast-mutating virus that doesn’t mutate. Blast away at that, and you can “disable” the virus in infected persons.

    The weak spot is hidden in the HIV envelope protein gp120. This protein is essential for HIV attachment to host cells, which initiate infection and eventually lead to Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome or AIDS. Normally the body’s immune defenses can ward off viruses by making proteins called antibodies that bind the virus. However, HIV is a constantly changing and mutating virus, and the antibodies produced after infection do not control disease progression to AIDS. For the same reason, no HIV preventative vaccine that stimulates production of protective antibodies is available.

    We’ve been down this road before—Achilles’ heels located, targeted, hopes raised, and then… back to the ol’ drawing boards. These researchers say they’re at least five years away from any treatment for people with HIV, so let’s not go out and stick our asses in the air just yet, boys, okay? And remember: Even if we do one day have a vaccine or an effective treatment for HIV, recreating the gay communal-sewer sex culture of the ’70s is a Very Bad Idea. One important lesson—one of the top lessons—of the AIDS epidemic is this: Given the right conditions, new sexually transmitted infections can emerge and kill you and all your friends.

    Remember: Straight people should have more sex (and more sex partners) than they do; gay people should have less sex (and fewer sex partners) than we can. Balance, balance, balance—oh, and anal sex is not a first-date activity; use condoms for anal sex with casual partners to protect yourself from HIV and other STIs, known and unknown; and lower your inhibitions the old-fashioned way—therapy and beer—and stay the fuck away from meth and meth users.

    Plastic Bag Ban Got You Down? Furoshiki!

    posted by on July 30 at 10:32 AM

    Once again, the Japanese have solved our problems many years before we knew we had them. (See also: t-shirt folding)

    Furoshiki is the Japanese art of creating various totes out of a square of silk or nylon cloth. It even works for bowling balls! Obsoive:

    So if you don’t want to shell out for some canvas bags, just grab the scarf off the nearest babushka and go to town. See? It’s not so bad.


    posted by on July 30 at 10:29 AM

    Mayor Greg Nickels just announced three streets that will be opened to pedestrians and cyclists (and closed to cars) three Sundays in August and September. They are:

    •14th Avenue East from Volunteer Park to East Republican Street, from noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday, August 24.

    Rainier Avenue South from South Orcas to South Alaska Street, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, August 31.

    • Alki Avenue from California Way Southwest around Alki Beach to the south end of 63rd at Beach Drive from noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday, September 7.

    Additionally, the city is expanding its “Car-Free Sundays” program—currently in effect on Lake Washington Blvd. from Mount Baker to Seward Park—to include the upper loop of Seward Park and the western loop of Volunteer Park on Sundays throughout August. Restrictions on cars will also go into effect some weekdays—Mondays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. for Volunteer Park, Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. for Seward Park, and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for Lake Washington Blvd.

    Closing Rainier, even for three hours, is bold. Most days, the road functions more like a highway than like the 30 mph, four-lane arterial it is, as commuters from Renton and points south use it as an alternative to I-5. Nickels says the closures announced today are a precursor to more car-free days in 2009. My suggestion? Do something that will really make the point that streets are for everybody, not just cars. Close Rainier from 10 to 6 on a Monday.

    God Bless Barney Frank

    posted by on July 30 at 10:19 AM


    The U.S. should stop arresting responsible marijuana users, Rep. Barney Frank said Wednesday, announcing a proposal to end federal penalties for Americans carrying fewer than 100 grams, almost a quarter-pound, of the substance.

    Rep. Barney Frank’s bill would radically curb federal penalties for personal marijuana use.

    Current laws targeting marijuana users place undue burdens on law enforcement resources, punish ill Americans whose doctors have prescribed the substance and unfairly affect African-Americans, Frank said, flanked by legislators and representatives from advocacy groups.

    “The vast amount of human activity ought to be none of the government’s business,” Frank said during a Capitol Hill news conference. “I don’t think it is the government’s business to tell you how to spend your leisure time.”

    Reading Tonight

    posted by on July 30 at 10:18 AM


    Two readings tonight.

    In Mukilteo, at the Mukilteo Booksellers bookstore, David Ash reads from his series of Haiku for Life® books. They are collections of haiku for you to use in your life. There are titles like Haiku for Catholics, Haiku for Office Workers, Haiku for Chocolate Lovers, Haiku for Dog Lovers, and Haiku for Poker Lovers. I met David Ash once, and he’s a very nice, very good-natured man. This is all I’m going to say about Haiku for Life® books, David Ash, or Mukilteo.

    And at Third Place Books, Hilarie Cash and Kim McDaniel read from Video Games & Your Kids. While I’m sure that this won’t be all “OMG YOUR KIDS ARE BEING CORRUPTED BY VIDEO GAMES,” I’m sure that there will be a little bit of “OMG YOUR KIDS ARE BEING CORRUPTED BY VIDEO GAMES!” Maybe certain people who blog about video games for The Stranger should go to this and challenge Hilarie Cash and Kim McDaniel to an arm-wrestling match.

    The full readings calendar, including the next week or so, is here.

    Maverick Moment of the Day

    posted by on July 30 at 10:10 AM

    John McCain has been bashing Barack Obama for not visiting wounded U.S. troops in Germany after Obama found out he couldn’t bring cameras with him. One problem. That’s demonstrably false:

    For four days, Sen. John McCain and his allies have accused Sen. Barack Obama of snubbing wounded soldiers by canceling a visit to a military hospital because he could not take reporters with him, despite no evidence that the charge is true.

    The attacks are part of a newly aggressive McCain operation whose aim is to portray the Democratic presidential candidate as a craven politician more interested in his image than in ailing soldiers, a senior McCain adviser said. They come despite repeated pledges by the Republican that he will never question his rival’s patriotism.

    The essence of McCain’s allegation is that Obama planned to take a media entourage, including television cameras, to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany during his week-long foreign trip, and that he canceled the visit when he learned he could not do so. “I know that, according to reports, that he wanted to bring media people and cameras and his campaign staffers,” McCain said Monday night on CNN’s “Larry King Live.”

    The Obama campaign has denied that was the reason he called off the visit. In fact, there is no evidence that he planned to take anyone to the American hospital other than a military adviser, whose status as a campaign staff member sparked last-minute concern among Pentagon officials that the visit would be an improper political event.

    “Absolutely, unequivocally wrong,” Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor said in an e-mail after McCain’s comments to Larry King.

    Despite serious and repeated queries about the charge over several days, McCain and his allies continued yesterday to question Obama’s patriotism by focusing attention on the canceled hospital visit…

    McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds said again yesterday that the Republican’s version of events is correct, and that Obama canceled the visit because he was not allowed to take reporters and cameras into the hospital.

    “It is safe to say that, according to press reports, Barack Obama avoided, skipped, canceled the visit because of those reasons,” he said. “We’re not making a leap here.”

    Asked repeatedly for the “reports,” Bounds provided three examples, none of which alleged that Obama had wanted to take members of the media to the hospital.

    Youth Pastor Watch

    posted by on July 30 at 10:03 AM


    hollandMcdowellYPW.jpgA former Camarillo youth minister, Markus “Mark” Holland McDowell, will be sentenced on Oct. 14 after he pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of molesting a minor victim and two counts of digital penetration, said prosecutor Gilbert Romero….

    According to the Sheriff’s Department, McDowell met the girls through a youth ministry program at Camarillo Church of Christ, where he had served as a youth minister…. McDowell also taught religion courses at Westmont College and Pepperdine University, according to officials at the two institutions.

    McDowell was a full-time lecturer and adjunct religious professor at Pepperdine University from 1996 to 2005, a spokeswoman for the university said after his arrest.


    A 36-year-old Alorton resident who has ties to a youth ministry with a church in O’Fallon was charged July 23 with predatory criminal sexual assault.

    Terrance Jenkins is being held in the St. Clair County Jail in lieu of $250,000. The offense Jenkins is charged with is a class X felony…. The offense Jenkins is charged with occurred in December 2007 in East St. Louis. The victim was 8 years old at the time, Johnson said.

    Johnson said that as a youth minister Jenkins probably came in contact with other young people. If there are more victims, families are urged to call the East St. Louis Police Department.


    bairdYPWjpg.jpg A former Pittsburgh-area youth minister has been sentenced to 25 to 50 years in prison for molesting three boys over several years. Forty-six-year-old David Baird, of West Deer, was convicted in May of raping two boys and assaulting a third by an Allegheny County jury.

    One 14-year-old boy says Baird raped him. Another boy says Baird did the same to him over an eight-year period beginning when the boy was 10 years old.

    Baird had been a youth minister at Covenant Church of Pittsburgh from January 1994 to August 2004


    A signed statement tonight says that sex abuse allegations against a Bullitt county youth pastor were all made up.

    The mother of the accuser signed that statement today, clearing the name of Pastor Clayton Pruett…. In the statement it says Debra Johnson’s complaints to police about Pruett abusing her daughter were false….

    Over the weekend the board members at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church unanimously voted to give Pruett his duties back as youth pastor.

    This is Pruett’s third appearance in YPW. We brought you news of his arrest in December of 2007; updated you when charges against Pruett were dismissed in February of 2008 when a detective failed to appear at a hearing (but the sheriff’s office vowed to continue its investigation; and today when Pruett was cleared. Let it never be said that Youth Pastor Watch isn’t fair and balanced.

    Currently Hanging

    posted by on July 30 at 10:00 AM

    Michael Bray’s Untitled (2008), aluminum, wood, spraypaint, 3 1/2 by 4 feet

    At Crawl Space. (Gallery site here.)

    At Crawl Space on Capitol Hill, this sculpture actually stands upright, with the axes headed into the wall—the way they should be. They’re a tribute to Jack Nicholson’s attack on the bathroom door in “The Shining.” At first, I wasn’t terribly taken with them, but the longer I looked at them, the more they turned into a sort of time machine. The sizes of the axes are in proportion to the velocity they might have in a given position. So if you can imagine this with our upside-down handicap (sorry, I couldn’t find any right-side-up images), you can see that the super-long ax (second from right above) inhabits the spot right before the ax would strike a surface—in the spot where it would have the most (frightening) speed and power. The elongation feels very much like the elongated moment of tension just before something terrible happens in a movie like “The Shining.” This is Bray’s talent: making horror physical, making it non-psychological, giving it a kind of evacuated body that is missing a self.

    I suppose that doesn’t sound like fun, but it is. I completely recommend Bray’s installation, which is all based on “The Shining.” There’s a video piece you really have to see, inspired by the scene in which the wife drags Nicholson’s character while he’s unconscious into the meat freezer—and check out the “monitors” the videos are showing on. The art is only up through this Sunday, August 3, so get over there.

    UPDATE (full circle): Because Michael Bray is on top of things, he put a link to an image of the right-side-up version in the comments, and here it is, big and beautiful:


    Today in Political Art

    posted by on July 30 at 9:59 AM

    First, Slog tipper Brian directed me to one of the (homemade?) videos circulating with the new Obama-praising/Hillary-McCain-Jesse Jackson-dissing track by Ludacris.

    Then Slog Tipper Gary directed me to the professionally made, Karl Rove-bashing video from comic Harry Shearer.

    Shearer is a Simpsons and Spinal Tap MVP, Ludacris is a rapper who co-starred in the deeply unfunny Crash. Nevertheless, on the evidence presented here, Ludacris (who’s represented only through his lyrics) is 10,000 times funnier than Harry Shearer.

    The Morning News

    posted by on July 30 at 8:05 AM

    Indicted: Alaska Senator “Uncle Ted” Stevens, for falsifying disclosure forms to conceal gifts from oil-field engineering firm. Stevens has stepped down from several of his leadership positions.

    Robbing Peter to Pay for Highways: US Transportation Department proposes raiding mass transit fund for roads as gas-tax revenue falls.

    “Extraordinary Disregard for the Law”: Senate Democrats call for resignation of EPA administrator Stephen Johnson.

    Sorry: House of Representatives apologizes for slavery, Jim Crow

    Oil Prices: Down slightly as demand drops.

    Afghanistan: Nearly twice as deadly in the past month as Iraq.

    So There: John McCain “understands the importance of the blogs,” reads emails his staff shows him “as the news breaks during the day.”

    They’re Voters Too: More homeless people expected to vote this fall.

    Arctic Ice Shelf: Loses a huge chunk, another indication of climate change.

    Recipe of the Day: Tagine-Style Moroccan Lamb with Grilled Apricots and Olive (recipe and photo via We Are Never Full)


    Continue reading "The Morning News" »

    Tuesday, July 29, 2008

    “Text is likely to be stupid.”

    posted by on July 29 at 5:00 PM

    Stupidfilter is a website that supposedly determines whether text is stupid or not.

    I went to one of the dumbest places on the internet, a site called Boycott McDonald’s that’s boycotting McDonald’s for “promoting the homosexual agenda, including homosexual marriage.” It was featured on Wonkette last week. I pulled one comment:

    “shame on you, do you not realize this was a family restaurent—-NOT ANYMORE!!!!!!!!”

    And plugged it into Stupidfilter and got this response:


    But then I plugged this comment:

    “It was bad enough having to keep my Spanish to English dictionary handy every time I pulled up to your drive-thru window (to the tune of about $1,000 per year). But this is the final straw (and I guess the final Big Mac) for me. Your blatant disregard for the strongly held moral values most Americans hold dear has cost you my business. Yes, Wendy’s, I will have a Frosty with that.”

    In to Stupidfilter and got this response:


    Which is clearly wrong. There’s so much that’s stupid about that quote—the blind hatred of immigrants, the eating one thousand dollars a year worth of McDonald’s drive-thru food, the “moral values most Americans hold dear,” the belief that getting a milkshake dairy dessert eaten with a spoon at Wendy’s is a moral imperative—that it’s clearly a stupid quote. So, really, all that Stupidfilter does is spot things like ALL CAPS and extra exclamation points and misspellings. But those things, those ALL CAPS and extra exclamation points and misspellings, are nature’s way of marking the stupid people for us already. Needing a website to identify that kind of stupidity is, well, stupid.

    David Brin and “The Uplift War” Instead of “Ender’s Game”

    posted by on July 29 at 4:30 PM

    Coming from someone who would curl up and read Ender’s Game over and over again in middle school, Paul is right. Stop reading Orson Scott Card, the hateful homophobe.

    Read David Brin instead.

    Brin’s Uplift Universe is among the best of science fiction, with one of the richest premises.

    In the Uplift universe an intergalactic civilization called the Five Galaxies, comprising a multitude of sentient races, has existed for billions of years. This civilization is perpetuated by the act of Uplift, in which a “patron” species genetically modifies a non-sapient “client” species until it is sapient. The client species is typically indentured to its patron species for 100,000 years. A patron species gains considerable status, and patrons and clients often unite into powerful clans. Patron status can be lost due to extermination, or gross crimes against the galactic civilization.

    In the culture of the books evolution is assumed to exist, just not the evolution of sapient intelligence.

    Humanity, having evolved sapience in a quiet backwater, is a freakish anomaly in the scheme. Without a patron, humanity’s very existence threatens the structure of the civilization. Therefore, humans do not have an easy go.

    This is quality science fiction—less focused on technobabble and more on cultural interactions. The Uplift War is the finest in the series, and deserving of your attention.

    As a bonus, David Brin is the closest I know to a Liberal Libertarian, with a blog filled with delightful missives like this:

    — Another tedious reminder… I have long said don’t forget local races. Booting the paleocons out of a dozen statehouses will do as much for America as anything else could. Indeed, nothing else could more devastatingly show the GOP that they must re-invent themselves from the ground up. Find the nearest state assembly or senate or congressional race that is “competitive.” That is where a little volunteer time could make the biggest leverage-effect… and where you’ll have more personal fun… than just helping the national campaign. If there are no such local races, or you live in California or New York, where it doesn’t matter, then look farther afield. If just five Texas Assembly seats change hands, this year, that state will experience an earthquake-level flip, reversing the horrible deLay Gerrymandering. This will not only doubly punish the cheaters, but (I predict) cause the GOP to “discover virtue” and suddenly become the party that opposes gerrymandering! (If so… 2010, some of us may even start listening to conservatives again! But they’ll have a ways to go, to re-earn any trust.)

    Let’s Call a Jackass a Jackass

    posted by on July 29 at 4:02 PM

    I’ve known for a long time now that Orson Scott Card is a homophobe. It’s why I haven’t read Ender’s Game, despite the recommendation of literally dozens of readers whose opinions I respect.

    But this story informs me that things have escalated a bit on the Orson Scott Card front:

    According to science fiction author Orson Scott Card…recent court decisions in Massachusetts and California recognizing same-sex marriage mean “the end of democracy in America.” As such, he advocates taking down our government “by whatever means is made possible or necessary.”

    The article links to a hate-filled essay by Card in the Mormon Times. Here is his explanation why gay marriage is an abomination:

    There is no natural method by which two males or two females can create offspring in which both partners contribute genetically. This is not subject to legislation, let alone fashionable opinion.

    Human beings are part of a long mammalian tradition of heterosexuality. No parthenogenic test tube procedure can alter what we, by nature, are. No surgery, no hormone injections, can change X to Y or make the distinction nonexistent.

    That a few individuals suffer from tragic genetic mixups does not affect the differences between genetically distinct males and females.

    All of which means that Orson Scott Card can go fuck himself, of course, but people need to know about Card’s essay. I appreciate that some people say that it doesn’t matter what an author thinks if the books are worth reading. I tend to agree—a lot of authors are insufferable assholes—but Card is getting more attention than ever, and people need to know about his views. From the After Elton article:

    …Card is definitely a major figure in the science fiction community, a three-time winner of both the Hugo and Nebula Awards, and a winner of both the World Fantasy and Locus Awards. His novel, Ender’s Game, is considered a classic, one of the best-selling science fiction novels of all time. A major movie version is in the works with a screenplay written by Card himself. Wolfgang Petersen and Warner Brothers had both been involved, though it’s unclear if either still are.

    Additionally, at this month’s Comic Con in San Diego, Marvel Comics announced that this October they are publishing a six issue miniseries based on Ender’s Game.

    I’m never in favor of banning books, of course, but I do think that more people need to understand that Orson Scott Card is a hateful homophobe. It needs to become common knowledge that Orson Scott Card is a hateful homophobe. If Marvel Comics and Warner Brothers knew that more people know that Orson Scott Card is a hateful homophobe, they might be less likely to give Orson Scott Card (who is a hateful homophobe) a shitload of money.

    In conclusion, Orson Scott Card is a hateful homophobe. Please make a note of it, and tell your friends that Orson Scott Card is a hateful homophobe.

    When Pitbulls Attack: Seattle Edition

    posted by on July 29 at 3:46 PM

    An off-duty police officer was hit by a car at about 2pm this afternoon, and the accident may have been caused by a pitbull.

    A woman in the vehicle that struck the officer apparently told the Seattle PI that her pitbull puppy “grabbed the steering wheel with its teeth and caused the car to go out of control.”

    Earlier this morning, Seattle Police also shot and killed a pitbull in the Northgate area after the little beast attacked another dog.

    For more on horrible pitbull attacks, go here.

    What’s the antonym of “unison”?

    posted by on July 29 at 3:43 PM

    Annie Wagner and Brendan Kiley—editing a piece together—are looking for one word that means the opposite of “unison.”


    More on ‘Uncle Ted’s Unexcellent Adventure’

    posted by on July 29 at 3:40 PM

    Senator Ted Stevens—he of the Incredible Hulk tie!—has been indicted on seven counts relating to a recent corruption probe into his ties to Alaskan oil services company VECO. Details are still coming, but the early word from CBS News was as follows:

    A federal grand jury in Washington has handed up the indictment against Stevens — which the Justice Department is set to announce very shortly.

    Stevens faces seven counts of false statements involving VECO, the oil services company in Alaska, and the renovations done on his home.

    Stevens has been the subject of a wide-ranging investigation — and with this announcement — Stevens becomes the highest level politician charged in the department’s crackdown on alleged corruption, CBS News reports.

    If the name Ted Stevens sounds familiar to you, it should: While a long-time Alaska senator, he achieved his most visible media moment when explaining that the internet was a ‘series of tubes!!!!’, a concept which Senator Stevens so eloquently explains in the enclosed YouTube clip below.

    The remix of which is really pretty neat:

    Rumors have been swirling for almost a year that Stevens was trading government funding for VECO in exchange for the company making additions to his palatial Alaskan estate. The FBI raided his home last year searching for information on the deal, and the question of charges being filed has been less a question of ‘if’ rather than ‘when’ ever since.

    The whole ugly story has been covered under the watchful and all-seeing eye of TPMuckraker since the beginning, the archives of which can be read here.

    Things Younger Than John McCain

    posted by on July 29 at 3:30 PM

    His campaign brings up another one. NASA, it turns out, is younger than John McCain:


    For Immediate Release

    Tuesday, July 29, 2008

    ARLINGTON, VA — U.S. Senator John McCain issued the following statement on the 50th anniversary of NASA:

    “Fifty years ago today, President Eisenhower signed the bill that launched the United States on the magnificent journey to space discovery and exploration…”

    Good News/Bad News

    posted by on July 29 at 3:06 PM

    The good news is that you can now buy a hoverboard for $30,000.

    The bad news is that it’s just the hoverboard from Back to the Future II, and it doesn’t work.


    For a second there, during an inattentive scan of a blog post, I completely spazzed out, thinking that hover technology has finally arrived. Now that I know it’s a movie prop, I am morose. Thanks a lot, SF Signal.

    Is It a Weirdly Great Summer for Movies or What?

    posted by on July 29 at 2:52 PM

    Just a reminder—Hal Ashby’s Shampoo is at Northwest Film Forum tonight and tomorrow. (Sean Nelson wrote a great piece for us about Hal Ashby’s oeuvre a few weeks back.)


    But check out the competition! I still want to see Water Lilies at the Varsity, The Last Mistress at the Metro, The Omega Man at Grand Illusion, and Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired at SIFF Cinema—all of which end this Thursday. And that’s leaving out all the smart, supremely enjoyable wide releases that are out right now, including WALL•E (so amazing, people!), The Dark Knight (tickets are finally freeing up in IMAX), Encounters at the End of the World (which started as a Varsity calendar release and has been playing for weeks—good job, Herzog fans), and—I still can’t quite believe this is any good, but Lindy West swears—Mamma Mia!.

    I went to the movies twice this weekend and twice there were long lines and audible excitement. I am feeling oddly optimistic about the future of cinema right now, in blissful defiance of all the news and portents.

    Ride Your Bike to Work…

    posted by on July 29 at 2:48 PM

    Get shot in the face. From the Columbus Dispatch, July 16:

    TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — Toledo police say a man was shot and killed while bicycling to work for the first time to save on gas.

    Police Capt. Ray Carroll says 46-year-old David Babcock was seen on a street having a heated argument with another man before he was shot around 5:30 Tuesday morning. He was pronounced dead at a hospital.

    The coroner says Babcock took a bullet to the face that caused massive bleeding and hampered his breathing.

    No arrests have been made. Authorities don’t know the motive for the shooting.

    Babcock survived surgery to remove a brain tumor 13 years ago. His fiance, Rene Long, says Babcock had put lights on his bike and wore a reflective vest so he would be safe on his inaugural, 8-mile ride to his job at Fresh Products Inc., a maker of air fresheners.

    (With apologies for raining on Christopher’s parade).

    Today in Futuristic Vehicles

    posted by on July 29 at 2:45 PM

    A New York Times reporter gets a test-ride in what will likely be the first commercially available “jet pack.” The quotes are because it’s not a jet, and it’s only a pack in the way that strapping a small motorcycle to your back would also be considered a pack.


    So far it’s flown to a maximum altitude of six feet, but the developer promises to personally take it up to 500 feet before he starts selling them for $100,000 next year. He’s also reported to be trying to come to terms with the fact that, “at some point, somebody is going to have a very bad experience.”

    Watch the video. You can see where he gets a little too close to a tree and the branches get sucked into the rotors.

    I imagine that, like the Segway, these will be initially used by law enforcement, which will be awesome, right?

    In other futuristic transportation news, the owner of the #6 Tesla Roadster crashed his $109,000 car shortly after taking delivery of the much anticipated all-carbon electric speedster. No one was injured.


    A Bike Store Survey

    posted by on July 29 at 2:13 PM


    Photo by cloverity in the flickr pool.

    You don’t need the New York Times—or any of a hundred small-town newspapers that have run likewise stories—to tell you that cars are out/bikes are in. Not if you work above a bike shop. There is seemingly a new bike in the window at Velo, the bike shop below The Stranger’s offices, every day. The other day there was nothing in the window—and they weren’t just faking people out. “We’re selling 13 or 15 bikes a day on weekends,” says Velo sales associate Annie Gillberg. “Our mechanics are having trouble keeping the shelves stocked.” (There’s currently a 6 to 9 day wait for tune-ups at Velo, even though they have several mechanics and a tune-up is a one-hour job.) Ben Atkinson, a mechanic at 2020 Cycle, says the shop has been “absolutely insane”—not so much with new purchases as with repairs on bikes that people haven’t used in years and just hauled out of the basement. Wayne Fujiki at Gregg’s Cycle says “racks are flying out the door”—lots of new customers retrofitting old bikes, “putting racks on them to carry stuff to work.” He repeats, “Rack and panniers have been going crazy.” Erica at Recycled Cycles says, “It’s really busy in here. A lot of people who come in say they want to start commuting,” and are buying bikes to ride to work.

    Just felt like scaring up some good news, bike-wise, to counterbalance all the acrimony over the Critical Mass mess.

    (With reporting by Julia Mullen Gordon.)

    Some Blogs Are More Equal Than Others

    posted by on July 29 at 2:00 PM


    Maud brings news that Orwell’s diaries are going to be reproduced, in chronological order, on a blog starting on August 9th.

    The Orwell Prize is delighted to announce that, to mark the 70th anniversary of the diaries, each diary entry will be published on this blog exactly seventy years after it was written, allowing you to follow Orwell’s recuperation in Morocco, his return to the UK, and his opinions on the descent of Europe into war in real time. The diaries end in 1942, three years into the conflict.

    This is a great way to use a blog, I think. I’m pretty excited about it.

    Tweaking the Design

    posted by on July 29 at 1:51 PM

    Giving the Ford Probe a run for its money as the worst-named anything ever, some folks are promoting the the worst-named event in Seattle: Methfest. Because nothing sounds more appealing than a bunch of greasy hipsters on meth. Here’s their poster:


    Methfest’s poster is a riff on an old Hempfest poster—a poster I made in 2000 (the original was better, if I do say) that’s been butchered to promote, not legalizing pot, but smoking meth! At the bottom, it says, “Pissing off hippies since 2005.” Um, nice try, Methfest, but I’m not a hippie. And to show I’m not upset, here’s your poster!

    You Are Not Alone

    posted by on July 29 at 1:40 PM

    From Lee Pyne-Mercier:

    Dear Charles,
    I’m not sure if I’m the only person who noticed this non-sensical headline from Friday’s Tacoma News Tribune. But I just can’t fathom how this came out of a newsroom and made it to the front page…

    Lee, you are one among the many who are amazed by the very idea (the notion) of delicious diversity.

    Maybe It’s Not an Either/Or Question?

    posted by on July 29 at 1:38 PM


    Let Me Be Your Fantasy (Commissioner)

    posted by on July 29 at 1:36 PM


    How many of you would be interested in participating in an all-Slogger fantasy football league?


    UPDATE: It appears that at least six people on Slog like football. If you’re one of them, email me and I’ll get back to you about some sort of plan.

    Games Catchup

    posted by on July 29 at 1:35 PM

    As expected, the summer has slowed to a near-crawl for games. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to go outdoors bullshit the games fans at Slog with hyped-up previews of games coming this fall, not even with Golob’s nerd fatwa up in the air. Well… except for this crazy-looking demo video of Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, I guess:

    There’s no telling whether this game will play as well as it looks. Mortal Kombat, for years, has been the sloppy, fun-to-watch stepchild of Japanese fighting games—amusing and bloody, but awkward and tiring after roughly 14 minutes. (Gaming’s Jerry Springer.) But you can’t say enough about the way Superman beats that dude down—the looks and sounds of it sure are satisfying. Jonah and I will run this game into the ground come November.

    Speaking of redundant fighting games, Soul Calibur 4 launches this week for PS3 and Xbox 360. Attempts to flag down a review copy haven’t gone well, but I’m not too sad about that. This series was already perfect on the Dreamcast in 1999; the original still looks and plays smoothly, and it was the first big fighting game to make the whole attack/reversal shtick really accessible. But sequels never added to the formula, simply throwing more stupid characters into the Tekken-with-swords mix (and the new one makes a big deal about featuring Darth Vader on one console, Yoda on the other, so methinks Namco is sticking to the trend).

    Not sure why the fighting genre is so scared to try anything new. Strangely, Ultimate Fighting Championship had the right idea back in 2000, marrying the then-nascent hetero love-fest with the feeling of a true fight—awkward, careful, and hinging almost entirely on breaks in momentum. Much like a bar fight, that game was all clumsy grappling, duos tangled up for seconds at a time to push, pummel, and find a rare break in defense. And that was before game controllers generally employed two thumbsticks. When’s a game going to use the dual-stick setup as a pair of fists (or legs) and make a game that feels as realistic as it looks? It’s 2008; if I can’t have my hover-skateboard, at least give me my bizarrely authentic bar-fighting sim, complete with broken bottle clip-on for my Wii remote. (Full disclosure: the first UFC video game since the ‘00 version will be out this Christmas season, but sadly, it appears to have eschewed the chess-like give-and-take of its original version; dumbed down for the league’s rising TV audiences.)

    Better “coming soon” news—the Xbox Live Arcade is going bonkers for the next 30 days, unleashing cheap delights like Geometry Wars R.E. 2, Bionic Commando Rearmed, and Castle Crashers every Wednesday until the end of August. Roughly $10 a pop, though not all game prices have been announced yet. No lifechangers in this batch of games—they’re shameless throwbacks to ’80s arcade classics—but these three are easily the most action-packed multiplayer onslaughts of Live’s Arcade catalog in recent memory. In particular, the four-player Castle Crashers (from the dudes who made Alien Hominid years ago) will repaint your fondest Golden Axe memories in bloody technicolor. I’ll probably hop on tomorrow to gush about Geometry Wars 2.

    If I can be pulled away from my DS, anyway. Good stuff on the portable system this week… in Japan. Now there’s a KORG-licensed synthesizer program (see above), which not only saves up to six compositions but allows multiple DSes to link up and perform together in sync. The results range from impressive to… Jesus, already? The sound of this thing is a bit too compressed for my tastes, but it sure beats DJ’ing with an iPod.

    Since I’m clueless about KORG synths, I’ve spent more time with Rhythm Tengoku Gold this week. I’ve previously written about Rhythm Tengoku, Nintendo’s marriage of Wario Ware and Parappa the Rapper, and its DS sequel adds touch control to the series’ cheeky J-pop mini-games. This recent demo clip shows the basics—either flick or press/release on the screen to match the percussion of a particular challenge. Fortunately, Nintendo is bringing this one stateside, supposedly by the end of 2008, though the Japanese version isn’t hard to figure out if you’re as impatient as me. (The Korg DS-10 is also set for American release, though its Japanese version is already completely in English.)

    Obligatory Penny Arcade news update: the Penny Arcade Expo’s pre-registration discount period ends Thursday. If you have any interest in attending the Expo this August 29-31, buy a ticket now and save five bucks. How else are you and I going to play Calling All Cars in a Washington State Convention Center meeting room?

    And in Wii news… nothing. If you were dumb enough to pay higher than retail cost for a Wii, don’t be dumb enough to look at the system’s Christmas release schedule. The “innovative” system’s catalog looks like a 3rd grader’s Scholastic book sales pamphlet—all cheap cash-ins and sequels to Carnival Games. The future of gaming is throwing more tennis balls at towers of milk bottles? Holy moly. I’d rather go outdoors.

    Slow (and Sexy) News Day

    posted by on July 29 at 1:21 PM

    The Associated Press reports on the porn found in the men’s room of an Oregon library:

    Police in Tualatin say a piece of pornography was found in a men’s bathroom at the city’s new library.

    The police are also looking into a hole that had been drilled between two stalls in the bathroom.

    Officials say there are no suspects yet.

    Full story (which is exactly one sentence longer than the above excerpt) here.

    Olympics Not Magically Fixing All of China’s Problems

    posted by on July 29 at 1:05 PM

    Remember when people said it was a good idea to have the Olympics in China—despite its lousy environmental and human-rights record—because the eyes of the world would be on Beijing and they’d clean up their act and clean up their air and blah blah blah?

    It hasn’t worked out that way. According to Amnesty International, human-rights violations are getting worse:

    The human rights situation in China has deteriorated in the run-up to its hosting of the Olympic Games this year, Amnesty International says. It documents the use of “re-education through labour”, the suppression of rights activists and journalists, and the use of arbitrary imprisonment.

    And, according to the BBC, the air is still bad:


    (Notice that Beijing isn’t just failing to meet the WHO’s ideal target, it’s not even meeting WHO’s adjusted-for-longstanding-filthiness target.)

    These photos come from my friend Erika, an anthropologist who lives in Beijing. She writes:

    Here are comparison shots of the view from my bedroom window. The first is after a rain (very, very rare here)…


    …the second is an average day — that isn’t clouds you see, just soot.


    One day in December the air pollution index reached 500, the maximum measurable level (at numbers above 300, it is recommended that you avoid spending time outside).

    The runners had better pray for rain.

    This Bride Do You Take?

    posted by on July 29 at 1:04 PM

    Slog tipper Cristin writes, in an e-mail headlined “No one should love Admiral Ackbar this much”:

    Hi Paul,

    I thought of your column in the Queer Issue when I saw these wedding photos. Nothing says eternal love like dressing up as two minor characters from Return of the Jedi (I’m assuming the bride is supposed to be Mon Mothma).


    More photos, including Yoda officiating the ceremony, an AT-AT Walker wedding cake, and a kid with a bunch of makeup on his face here, and even more photos of the entire, crazy wedding (including the Slave Leia bridesmaid dresses) are on Flickr.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, Cristin, and may the Force be with us all.

    The Death of a Daughter

    posted by on July 29 at 12:59 PM

    In response to a request made by a commenter on this post: the reported incident is clearly an accident.

    Milwaukie mother’s moving car accidentally kills daughter
    Posted by Rick Bella, The Oregonian July 29, 2008 10:51AM
    Categories: Clackamas County, Top Stories

    MILWAUKIE — A 9-year-old Milwaukie girl died late Monday night after being hit by a car in what authorities are calling a tragic accident.

    Ariana Miles was taken to OHSU Hospital, where she died of injuries suffered when she was struck by a fast-swinging door on her mother’s car.

    Detective Jeffrey Green, Clackamas County sheriff’s spokesman, said Monica Weatherby planned to move her car from a spot near her home on Southeast Courtney Avenue, near Lee Street, about 10 p.m. Meanwhile, Ariana and her 7-year-old sister, Alahna Miles, came out of the house and opened the passenger door to talk. Weatherby then told her daughters to close the door and move away.

    I make this judgment against the fact that, statistically, a child’s killer/murderer is more likely to be its mother than a stranger, or a pederast, or an uncle, and so on. In the real world, it’s safer for a child to ignore the odd men in the parks but to always keep an eye on the mother tucking them into bed.

    The death in the news report does not fit into this sad statistic/reality. It’s simply a terrible accident.

    Re: Tried to Play Scrabulous Today?

    posted by on July 29 at 12:40 PM

    Annie asks: “Why did I join Facebook again?”

    Why, to play with the RNC’s new BarackBook app, of course. It features Obama friends (Rezko, etc.), a status update (“Barack is hoping to settle on an Iraq policy before November”), and favorite Obama videos (RNC attack ads, natch). Sample comment on the Facebook side of things:

    This app makes me want to throw up my soul.

    Tried to Play Scrabulous Today?

    posted by on July 29 at 12:15 PM


    MSNBC has the pitiful story. You can still play Scrabulous for the time being at the Scrabulous site, apparently. But all my hard-earned statistics are no more. Why did I join Facebook again? Sure wasn’t cause I wanted to receive pictures of eggs that would eventually turn into pictures of animals that don’t grow in eggs.

    And don’t even bother with the official Scrabble app on Facebook. You could pack up a board and a dictionary and head to a friend’s house in the time it takes to load that stupid thing.

    Did You Stiff This Man Out of a Tip?

    posted by on July 29 at 12:00 PM


    The New York Post has unmasked “The Waiter,” the anonymous blogger behind Waiter Rant, wherein he wrote about waiting tables at a fancy restaurant. His book, also called Waiter Rant, is out today, and he’s guest-blogging over at Powell’s.

    His name is Steve Dublanica, and he looks about what you’d figure, although I was half-expecting a tall, thin man with a ponytail and goatee. Dublanica thinks that he’s going to work as a professional writer from now on. I sincerely wish him luck, although I tend to think that he might be doomed. Publishing usually only wants one-trick ponies, and his metaphorical pony was his hilarious blog. Now the jig is up, and I bet publishers will only want two books from him from now on: nonfiction books about the service side of the food industry or novels about hilarious, catty waiters.

    (Thanks to Slog tipper and superstar intern Tori Centanni.)

    Lunchtime Quickie

    posted by on July 29 at 12:00 PM

    “It could happen tomorrow, or not for a thousand years…”


    That Earthquake in LA…

    posted by on July 29 at 11:49 AM

    …was big enough to shut down the LA Times’ website, at least.


    We will, of course, soon be told that this earthquake was God’s way of expressing his displeasure with the California for legalizing gay marriage. Those biblical floods and homicidal tornados in Iowa, however, were just a spot of bad weather.

    Just Now

    posted by on July 29 at 11:47 AM

    An earthquake has just hit Los Angeles. Its strength is rumored to be 5.8.

    Strong quake shakes Southern California
    10 minutes ago
    LOS ANGELES (AP) — A strong earthquake has shaken Southern California.
    The late Tuesday morning jolt was felt from Los Angeles to San Diego, and slightly in Las Vegas.

    Reaming Romney

    posted by on July 29 at 11:29 AM

    Like I said late last month, McCain can’t pick Romney as his running mate because it would piss off intolerant fundamentalist Christians McCain needs to win the election. Well, now those intolerant fundamentalist Christians are letting McCain know that he’d better not pick Romney. So Alan Keyes it is!

    Dear Science Issues Fatwa, Claims Dominance over Nerd Category

    posted by on July 29 at 11:28 AM

    Dear Science Issues Fatwa, Claims Dominance over Nerd Category by Frank Hardy SEATTLE (AP) - Dear Science, otherwise known as Jonathan Golob, issued a Fatwa today, claiming divine providence over the “Nerd” category of SLOG. “For far too long, lesser clods have claimed rights to the divine and most holy Nerd category, polluting our hallowed space with all manner of tripe,” declared Science in an address to adoring crowds. “Our holy battle begins now! Let my rivals attempt to out-nerd me.”

    So begins my opening salvo:

    All metric paper sizes have a width to length ratio of 1 to √2.

    Why is this nifty? Well, lets start cutting the paper in half, always along the long side.


    If we start with a sheet that is √2 on the long size and 1 on the short, each half will be 1 by √2/2.

    Hmmm. Algebra time!

    1 : √2/2.

    If we multiply both sides of the ratio by √2.

    1 * √2 : √2/2*√2

    We get the ratio √2 : 1 again!

    With metric paper, the ratio of length to width stays the same every time you cut the paper in half! So, each size up is just the combination of the two sizes below.

    Way nicer than Letter and Legal. If you cut a sheet of letter paper (ratio of 1:1.3) in half, each half will be 1 : 1.5. Total suck!

    Adhere to ISO 216 or perish.

    Jonah, Sam and Paul, the Fatwa has been issued. Algebra, metrics, ISO standards and paper—beat this, and you’ll probably capture the glorious title of nerdiest slogger.

    Currently Hanging

    posted by on July 29 at 11:15 AM

    Isaac Layman’s Asleep 4.5 Minutes (2008), photograph, 40 by 53 1/2 inches

    At Lawrimore Project. (Gallery site here.)

    All of the “action” in this photograph—a regular old single photograph (not a digital montage) taken with a special camera over a time lapse of 4 and a half minutes—happens on the scalloped edges of the pockets. See them? It’s not a fashion thing. In real life, those edges are straight, not scalloped. They only look like this because of the breathing of the artist, Isaac Layman (another rocking Seattle photographer), during the long exposure time. The regular, rhythmic up and down movement of his torso left its mark on the shape of the pockets. What’s strange is how clear they appear to be, how unblurry and static. At the same time, they bring to mind cartoon movement, like the way characters’ lips undulate when they burp on The Simpsons. I can’t get these shapely little nonexistent things out of my mind.

    Maverick Moment of the Day

    posted by on July 29 at 11:05 AM

    McCain, in tech-friendly San Francisco yesterday, gave an interview in which he tried to explain his relationship to computers, text messaging, BlackBerries, and more. Some excerpts from the write-up:

    GOP presidential candidate John McCain, fundraising in the San Francisco Bay Area, one of the nation’s technology capitals, acknowledged Monday that he isn’t a “tech freak” or entirely comfortable with the Internet, BlackBerrys or e-mail. But he strongly disputed criticism that he is “out of the loop” as unfair.

    And another thing:

    “I don’t like to text message because I’d rather call somebody on the telephone.”


    “I do understand the importance of the computer. I understand the importance of the blogs,” he said.

    McCain said he is well aware that technology “does drive the news. It is changing the shape of the news. … It’s changing the information age, and I’ve got to stay up with it.”

    He added, “But I am forcing myself … let me put it this way, I am using the computer more and more every day.”

    And in closing:

    “It doesn’t mean that I have to e-mail people,” he said. “Now, I read e-mails,” he added, saying his staff is “constantly showing them to me as the news breaks during the day.”

    Whither Slog Happy?

    posted by on July 29 at 11:04 AM

    Dear Slog,

    Since Amy Kate is leaving the paper for the fancy, high-stakes world of cattle auctioneering, this means that Megan Seling and I are splitting the duties of overseeing Slog Happy. However, Megan Seling doesn’t drink and I can drink nail polish remover on a street corner and be perfectly happy, so we’d like your opinions in the comments about where the next Slog Happy should be held.

    Also, I’d be interested to hear from anyone who hasn’t attended Slog Happy about what it would take for them to actually attend Slog Happy. And if you have attended Slog Happy, what would you like more of? Food? Trivia? A mud-wrestling match between a Critical Mass bike rider and a 20-cent plastic bag?

    I appreciate your comments in advance.

    Paul Bobby

    Hitler Sings “The Jeffersons” Theme

    posted by on July 29 at 11:02 AM

    This was already posted to Slog…

    …but I posted it on a Sunday it deserves a wider weekday audience. Man, Hitler has those black girl moves down, huh? Via VJ Tom Yaz, who does an awesome musical theater night at the Crown and Anchor in Provincetown.

    Today The Stranger Suggests

    posted by on July 29 at 11:00 AM



    Two dogs, lovingly drawn by Michael Waugh, rest in the grass. But their lines are not lines; they’re words written in cursive, taken from inauguration speeches, commission reports, and speeches to Congress. One dog is quietly missing a paw. Things are not right with the world of these speeches. Also in the group show: a big, bright word (“HALFULL”) by Kay Rosen; Annie Bradley’s audio-video animation Sodding G. Monoliths, inspired by spammer names; and a giant wall drawing by Ewoud van Rijn’s that gives reality a talking-to. (OKOK Gallery, 5107 Ballard Ave NW, 789-6242. Noon–6 pm, free.)


    I’m Green (and Not in the Good Way)

    posted by on July 29 at 10:44 AM

    All of you probably remember (and are still trying to forget?) my limitless love for light-and-space artist Robert Irwin, which earlier this year led to a seemingly limitless number of Slog posts. (Here, here, here, here, here, here.)

    Today, Modern Art Notes has promised three (count ‘em!) posts about Irwin, and the first two are up already. One details Irwin’s plans for an installation at the Donald Judd compound in Marfa, Texas, including a simple, beautiful pencil sketch of the way blinds will hold out/let in light. The other is a description of a commission Irwin is working on for the entrance of the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

    In about five ways, I’m jealous of the IMA. It’s got Max Anderson as director. (My May podcast with him here.) Its sculpture park will truly be an experimental zone, where the emphasis is on temporary exhibitions based on the place itself (not on Dennis Oppenheim’s fading reputation). It has the best web site in the business.

    And now IMA is getting a great big Irwin. Sigh. Imagine if SAM had commissioned Irwin for its entry space, rather than buying up the shallow, easy Cai Guo-Qiang that looks so compromised in that broken-up space. Ugh.

    My first Irwin love: an installation of windows (openings) cut out of windows at the Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla

    You Gonna Eat That?

    posted by on July 29 at 10:42 AM


    Humanity is reduced—inflated?—to a bunch of sedentary, passive, tubs-o-lard by the year 2700 or so in Pixar’s Wall•E. It looks like we may not have to wait that long to realize our full-figured potential.

    Most adults in the U.S. will be overweight or obese by 2030, with related health care spending projected to be as much as $956.9 billion, according to researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Their results are published in the July 2008 online issue of Obesity.

    Winning the War on Drugs

    posted by on July 29 at 10:33 AM

    Before dawn.

    A man was shot and killed by police this morning in a Kensington-Eggert neighborhood home as hundreds of law enforcement officers fanned throughout Buffalo to round up members of a violent drug gang.

    The shooting occurred inside a bedroom at 202 Kay St., police said.

    “During entry, a firearm was pointed at the entering officer and the officer [fired],” said Buffalo Police Commissioner H. McCarthy Gipson. The suspect was hit but didn’t return fire, the commissioner added.

    The man, whose name and condition weren’t immediately available, was taken to Erie County Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

    It’s always the same story at first: The suspect allegedly had a gun but didn’t shoot, the officers fired, and the sap ends up wounded or dead. But after the smoke clears, we often learn that no drugs were found, the person didn’t have a gun, or the person shot wasn’t even the suspect. I know that these guys in the drug gangs aren’t saints, but, after reading these reports week in and week out, it’s completely vexing why we keep going after them this way. Just today, there’s this story about how a cop in Lima had fatally shot a woman in response to gunfire from another officer. Considering the track record for pre-dawn drug raids, and considering 400 officers were willy nilly storming people’s bedrooms with guns drawn, and considering these suspects are supposedly armed and dangerous, it’s a miracle only one person was killed this morning.

    The Flower of American Manhood

    posted by on July 29 at 10:21 AM


    To find out what these boys have been up to, click on the photo.

    Reading Tonight

    posted by on July 29 at 10:20 AM


    We have two events going on tonight, and you’d be hard-pressed to find more diametrically-opposed events.

    First, up at Kane Hall, we have Chuck Palahniuk reading from his newest book. I wrote about that book in a Constant Reader when Palahniuk read here a couple months back. Here’s a sentence:

    To write a Palahniuk novel, one just needs a taboo subject, a cast of five main characters who are secretly tied to one another far beyond the reach of reasonable coincidence, and then a string of trivia about an obscure topic like how to clean bodily fluids off of household items.

    And also, here’s an interview I did with the nice folks at Class Act about Palahniuk.

    And then, at the Ballard Public Library, which has developed a very nice reading series, Matthew Porter reads from Monkey World: An A to Z of Occupations. His cartoon monkey, up there on the left, is very cute, but it is no match for the cutest children’s book monkey ever, even including Curious George. Check this motherfucker out:


    The full readings calendar, including the next week or so, is here.

    I Like To Think These Make Boys’ Hands Bounce Right Off

    posted by on July 29 at 10:05 AM

    Apropos of Dave’s post, I give you…

    Abstinence thongs!


    In case you can’t read the text on the crotch, it says: “Earn your right to wear white. Abstain.”

    Here’s the text from the designer: “Panty-minimalists love our casual thong that covers sweet spots without covering your assets; putting an end to panty-lines. This under-goodie is “outta sight” in low-rise pants. Toss these message panties onstage at your favorite rock star or share a surprise message with someone special … later.”

    The best part: It also doubles as a hymen!

    Uncle Ted Indicted

    posted by on July 29 at 10:05 AM

    Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, known affectionately as “Uncle Ted” for his habit of keeping the people of Alaska flush with pork-barrel gifts, will be facing seven criminal counts stemming from a federal corruption investigation.

    (Cue triumphant cheer from Maria Cantwell?)

    Burner’s Money Getting National Notice

    posted by on July 29 at 9:40 AM

    CQ (not to be confused with GQ) looks at Congressional races in which the opposite-party challenger has more cash on hand than the incumbent, and finds that eastside Democrat Darcy Burner is high on that list:

    3. Darcy Burner, Democrat, Washington’s 8th ($1.2 million). Burner, who was formerly employed by Microsoft, is taking on two-term Rep. Reichert ($916,000) in a suburban Seattle district in which she came within three percentage points of unseating the congressman in 2006. Burner’s challenge is one reason why Reichert is among the most vulnerable Republican incumbents; so too is the likelihood that his district will back Barack Obama over John McCain for president. CQ Politics Race Rating: No Clear Favorite.

    Bun in the Oven, Money on the Dresser

    posted by on July 29 at 9:02 AM


    FOX News reports on the alleged ring of pregnant prostitutes busted in Camden County, MO:

    Four women are under arrest for prostitution in Camden County. Three of the women were pregnant. One of the women arrested was eight months pregnant, another six months pregnant, and another was three months pregnant. They ranged in age from 18 to 22 years old. The undercover bust went down at a Lake Ozark area hotel after the sheriff’s department received several reports that pregnant women were advertising prostitution on an internet advertising site.

    Among many other awful things, this story brings new meaning to the phrase “My water broke on the john.”

    Full story here.

    I Like to Think These Make Attempts at Sexual Abuse Bounce Right Off

    posted by on July 29 at 9:00 AM


    Ladies and gentlemen, Armor of God PJs.

    Thank you, Slog tipper Jonathan.

    The Morning News

    posted by on July 29 at 8:07 AM

    We Can Change: High gas prices spur US citizens to drive less.

    Banned: Certain toxins in children’s products.

    “Serious”: VP talks between Obama and anti-gay, anti-choice Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine.

    Dozens Dead: In Baghdad and Kirkuk bomb attacks.

    Threatened: 2,000 homes near Yosemite.

    Passed Over: Justice Department job candidates who failed to pass conservative political litmus test, according to inspector general’s report.

    Approved: Execution of Army private for 20-year-old rape and murder; meanwhile, the Army continues to ignore the 2005 rape and murder of Army PFC Lavena Johnson.

    Traffic-Circle Murder: Suspect Brown pleads “not guilty.”

    Crumbling: One of every four US bridges needs major repairs or upgrades.

    Under Wraps
    : EPA orders pollution inspectors not to talk to congressional investigators.

    Really?!: Seattle ranks No. 18 on list of top tourist cities in the US.

    Recipe of the Day: Chilled Lettuce-Buttermilk Soup (Recipe and photo via Hobby Farms)


    Continue reading "The Morning News" »

    Monday, July 28, 2008

    Goodbye, Sunset Bowl. Hello, Giant Letter “G”

    posted by on July 28 at 5:38 PM

    Seattle’s nostalgic bowling-and-corn-dog emporium is gone, and not even bowling fan Jim Bristow could save it. For this, we are sad. But AvalonBay Communities is designing a wailing wall. If you cock your head, you’ll notice it’s a big “G.”


    This is the preferred shape presented by Ankrom Moisan Architects, and it’s fine enough. If approved, it will contain 230 apartments in six stories. Parking for 280 cars will supposedly be located underground. Because the designs for the exterior are so general, there isn’t much to love or hate. But I’ll tell you what there is to hate: The parking inside.



    Some of the parking is underground, but a lot of the parking is on the first floor, squeezing the storefronts into shallow, dinky and useless spaces. There’s hardly room to throw a pizza.

    City rules for the Sunset site require that any non-residential uses at street level be at least 30 feet deep from the sidewalk (.pdf). This design looks like it squeezes in at exactly 30 feet from Ballard’s busiest arterial, NW Market Street. That’s bullshit. If we’re going to lose a popular civic icon, developers should make an effort to replace it with a building that, at the very least, makes the neighborhood more walkable. That means more retail, smaller businesses, and no parking at ground level. If the developer wants parking, they should put it underground.

    The first public meeting is tonight is at 8 p.m. in the library of Ballard High School, 1418 NW 65th Street. “G” is for “go.”

    “Infernal Sunshine!” Says the Spotless Man

    posted by on July 28 at 4:30 PM

    John McCain, who this morning had a spot on his face biopsied as a precautionary measure, just gave a press conference at an oil pump that quickly turned into a PSA about the importance of sunscreen:

    Job Opening: Critiquing Seattle’s Most Irresponsible Talkers

    posted by on July 28 at 4:25 PM

    Remember these batshitcrazy sermons?

    I was reminded of these batshit preachers and their batshit sermons—and the trouble they caused John McCain and Barack Obama—when I re-read an essay by George Eliot excerpted in The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever, an anthology edited by Christopher Hitchens. How on earth did Hagee and Parsley and Wright get away with saying such batshit stuff for so long? Eliot, writing in 1855, has the answer…

    The preacher… has an immense advantage over all other public speakers. The platform orator is subject to the criticisms of hisses and groans. Counsel for the plaintiff expects the retort of counsel for the defendant. The honorable gentleman on one side of the House is liable to have his facts and figures shown up by honorable friend on the opposite side. Even the scientific or literary lecturer, if he is dull or incompetent, may see the best part of his audience slip quietly out one by one.

    But the preacher is completely master of the situation: no one may hiss, no one may depart. Like the writer of imaginary conversations, he may put what imbecilities he pleases into the mouths of his antagonists, and swell with triumph when he has refuted them. He may riot in gratuitous assertions, confident that no man will contradict him; he may exercise perfect free-will in logic, and invent illustrative experience; he may give an evangelical edition of history with the inconvenient facts omitted—all this he may do with impunity, certain that those of his hearers who are not sympathizing are not listening. For the Press has no band of critics that go the round of the churches and chapels, and are on the watch for a slip or a defect in the preacher, to make a “feature” in their article: the clergy [therefore] are practically the most irresponsible of all talkers.

    Think of the trouble Barack Obama and John McCain might have been spared if the Press actually sent critics round to churches and chapels, temples and mosques, and regularly published reviews of the sermons? Obama might have left Wright’s church years before he decided to run for president; John McCain might never have sought Hagee’s endorsement, or Parsley’s counsel.

    And for all we know all kinds of batshit pours forth from our pulpits every Sunday. With local religion “coverage” limited to limp homilies in the Seattle Times penned by area preachers, our clergy could be saying things every bit as shocking as Hagee or Wright and we’ll never find out about it—well, not until one of their congregants decides to run for president.

    To rectify the situation Slog seeks an informed, passionate critic excited about making the rounds of Seattle’s churches and chapels, someone qualified to critique slips and defects, praise better efforts, and help make more responsible talkers out of our local clergy. If you feel you’re the right person for this important freelance work, email me.

    UPDATE: People of faith, agnostics, and atheists are all welcome to apply.

    Does This Look Infected, Internet?

    posted by on July 28 at 4:00 PM answers all those questions that you’re allegedly afraid to ask your doctor. And, according to them, “Unlike most healthcare web sites, offers in-depth information and graphic photographs that will give you a better understanding of highly personal health issues.”

    Have you ever have a burning desire (haw haw!) to re-watch those horrible STD slide shows that they show kids in high school? is your one-stop shop for photos of penises rotting from untreated cases of gonorrhea. I saw that the website had a store and I was momentarily interested in what would be for sale: photos of vaginal warts on a coffee cup? Would there be inspirational posters that read “hang in there?” Sadly, no. They just sell condoms and crotch-based pharmaceuticals. I can’t tell if I’m glad that this website exists for people who are afraid to ask their doctor a question, or if I’m terrified that this many people are afraid to buy condoms in public.

    Re: There’s Something Wrong with the X-Files Movie

    posted by on July 28 at 3:45 PM

    I just saw The X-Files: I Want to Believe again last night, because I felt guilty for seeing The Dark Knight earlier in the day (about which more below) and thereby contributing to The X-Files’s thumping at the box office. And I have to say, the worst thing about the movie is not the gay-married villains or the fact that David Duchovny is not aging particularly well. It’s the scene where Father Joe miraculously intuits that the house across the way is not the crime scene. Um, duh, the car drove by the real crime scene (clearly marked with yellow police tape) on the way to the fake crime scene. Ugh. The show was rarely that sloppy. (Of course, Chris Carter wrote very few of the best episodes.) I’m probably still seeing it one more time anyway, because I really, really want Fox to make another movie.

    OK, but anyway, this post is supposed to be about Christopher spilling my secrets. Yes, I’m going to the University of Chicago Law School in September, but I’m staying long enough to help Slog the Democratic National Convention at the end of August. My decision had little to do with The Stranger, which I love, and a lot to do with the frightening decline of print film criticism, which I had hoped to do for the rest of my career. Also, something to do with Andersen v. King County, which, as you may recall, got me irrationally excited about rational basis tests and other things only lawyers should care about.

    And about The Dark Knight: The reason you should see it in IMAX is not for the extra detail in the action scenes, but because the IMAX aspect ratio (close to the boxy old Academy ratio of 1:37) is way better than widescreen for displaying the glory of Chicago/Gotham’s skyscrapers. I’ve rarely seen a film that seemed so vertical, so urban, so exciting. It almost convinced me I really do want to move to Chicago, despite the ridiculous cold.



    posted by on July 28 at 3:25 PM


    Surfwise, a documentary by the director who made Hype!, didn’t get much play in Seattle—just a week in the theaters, nobody went nuts for it—but it comes out on DVD this week and you should watch it, preferably after you’ve been swimming. It’s all about a man, his brood, surfing, patriarchal tyranny, health nuttiness, and so on:

    Sometime in the mid-1950s, Dorian Paskowitz, MD, had a revelation. He was at the peak of his career (Stanford graduate, president of the American Medical Association in Hawaii, asked to run for governor) but felt horrible about himself and his life. He just wanted to go surfing.

    So he quit the rich life, took a pilgrimage to Israel, had sex with women all over the world (he believed sexual inadequacy was central to his misery), married a California girl, sired eight sons and one daughter, and hauled them all over the world in a 24-foot trailer. They surfed every day, didn’t go to school, and occasionally almost died: Moses, son number five, nearly perished from a torn colon when a surfboard fin jammed itself up his ass off a remote beach in Mexico, several hours from the nearest hospital.

    Did the Paskowitz children grow up emancipated or abused? It’s hard to say and Surfwise, by documentary filmmaker Doug Pray (Scratch, Hype!), toys with the question. Doc Paskowitz was clearly an eccentric and a tyrant. He was strict with his kids’ diet and exercise, pitted them against each other, and had noisy sex in the trailer each night while the children shoved their fingers in their ears and tried to think about other things.


    But, as adults, the Paskowitz children aren’t much different than their peers. One is a suburban mom. One is a graphic designer. One wants to be in the movie business. One is a cook. One runs a surf camp. One likes to paddle into the ocean, drop a hook, and let sharks and other gigantic fish pull him around. (Let’s take that as evidence of emancipation.) A few have been in shitty metal bands. (Let’s take that as evidence of abuse.) Some were estranged but, with the help of the filmmakers, have been reunited. You know, typical family stuff.

    Surfwise doesn’t require that you care about surfing. Pray’s documentary—cobbled together from interviews, old TV footage, and home movies—is a case study of an eccentric American adventurer who treated recreation as necessity and the beach as his frontier.


    The trailer:

    Speaking of Plastic Bags…

    posted by on July 28 at 3:19 PM

    The full city council just passed the ban on Styrofoam food containers and the 20-cent fee on disposable paper and plastic grocery bags. Only one council member, Jan Drago, voted against the fee, after attempting—along with council member Bruce Harrell, who argued that “leadership [is] the boldness to go slow”—to delay the vote. Drago said the council would be “better off offering incentives than disincentives,” adding that taxpayers had too many burdens already. “When is enough enough?” Drago said. “I think it’s time to give taxpayers a break and not add another fee.” Seattle residents will be voting on a $17.8 million expansion of Sound Transit, a $73 million Pike Place Market levy, and a $173 million parks levy renewal in November.

    Council member Bruce Harrell seemed sympathetic to Drago’s point of view, although he ended up voting for the fee. “I wanted to fully explore aggressive recycling, and I’m not sure we did that,” Harrell said.

    Council president Richard Conlin, the primary sponsor of the new law, said, “Imagine a day in which no garbage is thrown away in the city of Seattle. … Passing these two pieces of legislation gives us that day every six months. … It is a small step, but it is one small step that could make a huge difference.” Conlin noted that the council had amended the legislation to provide free reusable bags to low-income people and food banks, and added, “No one has to pay this fee. No one.” Council member Tim Burgess added: “We’re using market forces in the best possible way to change the behavior of citizens. I think we’ll look back in a couple of months and wonder what the fuss was all about.”

    The new rules will go into effect on January 1, 2009.

    Re: Violence During Critical Mass in NYC

    posted by on July 28 at 3:09 PM

    Critical Mass riders in Seattle also had an ugly encounter with some King County detectives in 2006:

    County law enforcement cracked some heads this past weekend—or at least a bike helmet. King County detectives took two bruised Seattle bicycle riders into custody Friday, June 30, after a confusing tussle between Critical Mass bicyclists who blocked a Belltown intersection and two undercover King County cops who were startled when one of the bikers ran a red light and commanded them to stop their car.

    Full story here.

    Free, Dumb Comics

    posted by on July 28 at 3:00 PM

    (Not to be confused with Freedom Comics.)

    Marvel Comics is doing an online motion comic of a Stephen King short story called “N.” They’ll be releasing one a day here. It’s dumb the way that much of Stephen King’s post-accident writing is dumb, and the exposition is totally unoriginal and uninteresting. But I really like Alex Maleev’s art.

    Really. If you’re going to animate something, fucking animate it.

    And then, there’s a motion-comic version of Watchmen available for free at iTunes. This one is even dumber than the above comic. Dave Gibbons’ artwork doesn’t lend itself well to motion, and the fact that all the characters are read by one man is really problematic. I know that a lot of audio book readers read the dialogue for both genders, but with the (horrible, stolid) animation here showing us that it’s supposed to be read by a woman, the whole thing comes off like a bad crossdressing joke. It’s really, really painful.

    But, hey, you know, it’s free!

    Violence During Critical Mass in NYC

    posted by on July 28 at 2:53 PM

    New York’s finest…

    More at Gawker. Thanks to Slog tipper Adam.

    A Victory for Jewish Guilt

    posted by on July 28 at 2:30 PM

    Remember that Yeshiva student who stole Barack Obama’s prayer out of the Western Wall in Jerusalem? Well, he is trying to make amends:

    Identified only by the first initial of his name, Aleph, and with his face obscured, the student went on Channel 2 television Sunday to confess that he took the presidential contender’s note last week and passed it to the press.

    The resulting coverage of Obama’s private, handwritten musings on hope and sin added to the mystique of his campaign visit to Israel but drew international criticism, including from leading rabbis who said Jewish morality had been compromised by the publication.

    Obama, the presumptive Democratic candidate to face off against Republican John McCain in the race to succeed President Bush in November, has not commented on the episode.

    I’m sorry. It was a kind of prank,” Aleph said, his hands shaking as he fingered the tightly wadded-up sheet of King David Hotel letterhead. “I hope he wasn’t hurt. We all believe he will take the presidency.”

    Channel 2’s religious affairs correspondent said she had passed the note from the yeshiva student to the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, which reinserted it - deeply - between the ancient slabs of stone.

    Via Ben Smith.

    Cycling Infrastructure

    posted by on July 28 at 2:18 PM

    As I read the entries on Slog about the recent Critical Mass debacle, the thing that most struck me, besides the Rashomon aspect of the multiple versions of the story, was the blinding insight that Critical Mass doesn’t accomplish much in terms of concrete improvements in cycling infrastructure. All Critical Mass really does, in my experience, is piss people off. Pissed off people tend not to support the political causes of the people who piss them off, so I’ve never signed on with CM’s agenda.

    What does get things done? Corrupt politicians.

    So, the only solution to Seattle’s endless Process regarding a cycling map (whoo-hoo! Cartography, however inaccurate, will serve!), inadequate bike lanes on appropriate streets and bike routes and so forth: trade Nickels for Daley.

    Richard M. Daley, Chicago’s Mayor-for-Life-or-Until-Indicted, is a recreational cyclist. And he is an absolute dictator who pretty much gets what he wants (he has appointed or directly got elected the majority of the City Council’s Aldermen, either to replace Aldermen who died or were indicted). So Chicago has a comprehensive bicycle plan that actually, you know, gets done. You want bike racks outside your business or local El station? Contact the city and they’ll install ‘em. Roads appropriate for bike traffic get sharrows and those which are perfect get bike lanes. A new park is built downtown, put in a bike center, with lockers and showers for bike commuters. Keep expanding the lakefront path. Drivers endanger cyclists? Increase the fines and have cops out writing tickets for drivers who door cyclists or cut them off.

    All of this has happened because Daley wanted it to happen and then made it happen, not because a bunch of gear-heads block traffic one Friday rush hour a month. No single businessman can call up the city and whine and get a street taken off the plan for bike lanes. No community meetings, no endless planning, just corruption (Daley’s supporters make money on all the road work, for instance) and a bike-able city.

    And you Critical Massers who are about to go to comments and tell me to go fuck myself, thanks in advance for your sentiments. You want to change people’s minds about cycling in the city? Organize a ride which starts in twenty remote locations, and consists of several dozen cyclists from each location riding downtown, single file to allow cars to proceed, while obeying all traffic laws. This will demonstrate to drivers that cyclists and drivers can co-exist peacefully, instead of the unmitigated asshattery of taking over the whole street. Yeah, you can do it, but all you do is piss people off.

    Bagging on Whole Foods

    posted by on July 28 at 2:12 PM

    Spotted this in a comments thread

    Off topic but on Whole Foods what pissed me off about them is they will only allow the reusable bags THAT YOU GET FROM THEM in their stores. You cann’t use the reusalbe bags from PCC, or QFC for your groceries. There is a sign on both entrances to the Whole Foods on 65th and Roosevelt. So much for “being green.”

    So I called Whole Foods at 65th and Roosevelt.

    “That’s not true,” said Mario, the store’s manager. “We allow any reusable bags. The signs say, due to security reasons, we ask that you don’t shop into your reusable bags. We had people using them to shop… and some people were filling reusable bags up and walking out the door, without paying. So we had high shoplifting and theft in the store due to people shopping into reusable bags.”

    If store employees spot someone using bags to gather their groceries, they ask the customer to please use a cart or a basket.

    “But not at any time have we told any customer that they can’t use bags from other stores,” says Mario.

    The signs outside the store, for the record, reads…

    Dear Whole Goods Customers: Due to security reasons we require that you please shop with our green baskets or shopping carts instead of your reusable shopping bags. Thank you for shopping with us and your understanding in this matter.

    Re: Here Comes the Bounce?

    posted by on July 28 at 2:06 PM

    That Gallup daily tracking poll that I posted earlier today definitely shows an Obama bounce, but a separate Gallup poll, conducted with USA Today and released this afternoon, shows something highly unusual:

    The Friday-Sunday poll, mostly conducted as Obama was returning from his much-publicized overseas trip and released just this hour, shows McCain now ahead 49%-45% among voters that Gallup believes are most likely to go to the polls in November. In late June, he was behind among likely voters, 50%-44%.

    Could be a result of all the criticism Obama received for not visiting troops in Germany. Or it could just be “statistical noise.”

    I’m Seriously Considering Doing This

    posted by on July 28 at 2:00 PM

    I’ve already done National Novel Writing Month four times already, and now I’m seriously considering doing the 3-day Novel Contest over Labor Day Weekend. Hell, if you can write a novel in 30 days, how much of a jump, really, is it to 3 days? Those other 27 days were totally a cushion for my laziness, anyway.

    Murder, He Wrote

    posted by on July 28 at 1:47 PM

    Or implied, I suppose. Joel Connelly has issues with I-1000—which would legalize “physician-assisted suicide” in Washington state—and writes in today’s Seattle P-I

    Should Washington be a launching pad for a movement that seeks to transform a crime into a “medical treatment?”

    I hate to play the I-just-watched-my-mother-die card, but, um, I just watched my mother die.

    My mother had pulmonary fibrosis, a degenerative lung condition, and her death came after a long, miserable week in the hospital. (It also came just eight weeks after her doctors had given her two to five years to live.) She knew that pulmonary fibrosis would eventually end her life, and she’d done some research into just what sort of an end she could expect. It wasn’t going to be pretty. She would, when her time came, slowly and painfully suffocate to death.

    Her time came sooner than we expected. She was on vacation in Arizona, visiting her sisters, when her lungs took a dramatic turn for the worse. After eliminating all other possibilities—a virus, pneumonia, some rare desert fungus—the doctors pulled my step-father and me out of my mother’s room. Nothing more could be done, he said. Her lungs were failing; one had a widening hole in it. When my step-father stepped out for a moment—to make a call, I think—the doctors suddenly needed a medical directive. Immediately. So it fell to me to walk into my mother’s room, tell her she was going to die, and lay out her limited options. She could be put on machines and live for a day or two or three in a coma—long enough for her other two children to get down to Tucson and say their goodbyes, which she wouldn’t be able to hear or respond to. Or she could last six hours or more by continuing to wear a brutal oxygen mask on that forced air into her lungs with so much force it made her whole body convulse. Or she could take the mask off and… suffocate to death. Slowly, painfully, over a couple of hours.

    Her choice.

    “No pain,” she said, “no pain.” Nurses promised to give her enough morphine to deaden any pain she might feel. So… after saying our goodbyes (which sounds dignified but those goodbyes included watching my affable step-father reduced to sobs, a mountain of snotty tissues, and my sister and I falling to the floor beside our mother’s deathbed in tears), they pumped my mother full of morphine. Was she in pain? We don’t know. She couldn’t talk to us now, or focus on us, but she was awake, with her eyes open. She gasped for breath, again and again, for two excruciating hours.

    They gave her some more morphine—not enough to kill her, only enough to stave off the pain while her lungs finished her off. But was she in pain? I don’t know. I’m haunted by the thought that she could have been in pain—pain we promised to spare her—and that she had no way to tell us.

    I don’t know what my mother would have done if she had had the choice to take a few pills and skip the last two senseless, zonked-out, undignified hours of her life. If she could’ve committed suicide, by her own hand, with a doctor “assisting” only by providing her with drugs and allowing her to administer them to herself, after saying her goodbyes, I suspect she would have done so, so great was her fear of dying in pain.

    I do know, however, that she should have been allowed to make that choice for herself. It’s not a choice that Joel Connelly—or the Catholic Church—had a right to make for her.

    I also know that, if my mother needed my help, I would’ve held a glass of water to her lips, so that she could swallow the pills that would’ve spared her those two hours of agony.

    And that shouldn’t be a crime.

    Underworld Tacoma

    posted by on July 28 at 1:46 PM

    Tacoma has no Chinatown. Why?

    [In 2000,] the Tacoma News Tribune published an article titled “Tacoma faces up to its darkest hour,” which stated that Tacoma might have turned out differently had it not booted out its Chinese population. “First, it is the only [city on the West Coast] that doesn’t have a large Chinese American population, [and the last] census figures suggest there are fewer people of Chinese descent in the city now than there were in 1885.”

    Tacoma, however, does have “mysterious Chinese tunnels”:


    72 years ago, a man named William Zimmerman sat down to tell a story about “mysterious Chinese tunnels” to the U.S. government. That interview was conducted as part of the Federal Writers’ Project, and it can be read online in a series of typewritten documents hosted by the Library of Congress.
    Zimmerman claims that “mysterious” tunnels honeycombed the ground beneath the city of Tacoma, Washington. These would soon become known as “Shanghai tunnels,” because city dwellers were allegedly kidnapped via these underground routes – which always led west to the docks – only to be shipped off to Shanghai, an impossibly other world across the ocean. There, they’d be sold into slavery.

    The whole mysterious business reminds me of a passage from a letter Goethe wrote to Lavater:

    Like a big city, our moral and political world is undermined with subterranean roads, cellars, and sewers, about whose connection and dwelling conditions nobody seems to reflect or think; but those who know something of this will find it much more understandable if here or there, now or then, the earth crumbles away, smoke rises out of a crack, and strange voices are heard.

    Critical Mess

    posted by on July 28 at 1:38 PM

    Reading comments about the Critical Mass ride is like watching piranhas fight in a meat grinder. Everyone is predator and prey: The driver, who allegedly plowed through cyclists; the riders, who allegedly beat an unarmed driver after he got out of the car; the police, who portrayed the driver as an innocent victim; and the mainstream media, which regurgitated one-sided swill. But what does it mean for the future of Critical Mass? What’s it mean for un-permitted protests?

    The problem is Friday’s fracas should have never happened. And by that, I mean, Critical Mass should have never let it happen.

    Civil disobedience (i.e., breaking the law to piss people off and make a point) has a rich history in democracies: The Boston Tea Party, civil rights protests, the pot-smoking events in Seattle. Cycling through red lights isn’t about human rights, of course, but it’s essentially the same form of political advocacy. Even the crazy Christians with their batshitcrazy signs will trespass, and they will let people get in their face, and scream and threaten them—but neither the insaner-than-though Christians nor the successful movements that used civil disobedience in the past let the temptation drive them to violence.

    Breaking traffic rules—corking, running lights, blocking cars—could be a virtuous act. It could draw attention to the fact that cars often hit riders because drivers are oblivious to cyclists, cars are atmosphere hogs, and we should rely on them less and ride bicycles more. Taking over the streets once a month demands attention and hamstrings the almighty gas-guzzler. The idea is a good one. However, it comes with great responsibility.

    Since Critical Mass’s method—jamming traffic on Friday rush hour—is clearly aimed at getting attention by pissing people off, and since they do this every month, and since it’s quite predictable that drivers are going to flip out from time to time, the onus is on Critical Mass to be prepared with some leadership and widely understood procedures when they actually succeed at the goal: pissing someone off.

    But at that critical moment, Critical Mass made its critical error.

    What if the story was about Critical Mass riders showing restraint? A driver gets irate at calm protesters, backs over two bikes, and hurts a rider. It would have underscored the need to raise awareness about urban cyclists. The riders still could have kept the guy accountable after he got out of his car (taking down his name and license-plate number).

    But the posse of riders, rather than demonstrating self-governance, showed a total lack of preparedness. That’s a violation of the trust we give them to ride through the city streets breaking the law. Drivers, pedestrians and ordinary cyclists will be wary of Critical Mass from now on. Sure, maybe the ordeal escalated due to just a few hot-headed riders, maybe they were caught up initially (that’s no excuse for attacking the guy, who allegedly started the entire thing, after he got out of his car), but they need to demonstrate a preferable alternative. They failed. Seattle is right to be critical of the Critical Mass rides from now on. I just hope that they haven’t screwed it up for the good riders, the good message that was marred by poor planning, the good protesters, and Seattle’s heritage of civil disobedience for social change.

    Praying Away the Pain

    posted by on July 28 at 1:29 PM


    And not just any pain, my favorite of them all: pain at the pump!

    From the Associated Press:

    Two prayer services will be held at St. Louis gas stations to thank God for lower fuel prices and to ask that they continue to drop. Darrell Alexander, Midwest co-chair of the Pray at the Pump movement, says prayer gatherings will be held Monday afternoon and evening at a Mobil station west of downtown St. Louis. Participants say they plan to buy gas, pray and then sing “We Shall Overcome” with a new verse, “We’ll have lower gas prices.” An activist from the Washington D.C. area, Rocky Twyman, started the effort, saying if politicians couldn’t lower gas prices, it was time to ask God to intervene. The group thinks the prayer is helping, saying prices are starting to fall below $4 a gallon.

    Thank God someone’s doing something.

    Legislative Race Updates

    posted by on July 28 at 1:14 PM

    Democrats Gerry Pollet and Scott White, two candidates for state House from North Seattle’s 46th legislative district, have received a dual endorsement from Seattle City Council Member Nick Licata and former council member Peter Steinbrueck, the Politicker is reporting. Both Licata and Steinbrueck endorsed White before Pollet got into the race.

    And tomorrow night, the Seattle Municipal League is hosting a forum with the three candidates—Democrats Reuven Carlyle and John Burbank and Republican Leslie Bloss—who are seeking the state House seat in the 36th District. The forum is at 7 pm
    at the Nordic Heritage Museum auditorium, 3014 NW 67th Street.

    I Believe the Children Are Our…Um…Yeah…

    posted by on July 28 at 1:11 PM

    You might not know it. Oh, no. You might not even believe it. But do you know what I am? Among oh-so many other delightful things? Do you? Well. I’m the fucking champion of America’s children. That’s what I am.

    Believe it.

    Case in point: I was lingering somewhere asinine–a small town far, far away–and I was browsing the trinkets and trash of said small town’s wee little thrift shop. Every small town has one–or should. I was picking my way through the usual dusty carnage of stained furniture and chipped nicknacks (most from the early Dead Grandmother Period) when I stumbled upon a horror to rival all horrors: an abomination so hair-raising, so completely nauseating, it could only be rivaled by something like Hitler Youth, The Musical!, or…well, let’s be frank. It is a horror that cannot be rivaled. By anything. And it was this…


    No, your eyes do not deceive you. Bill O’Reilly. The O’Reilly Factor. For, um, Kids. KIDS! As in CHILDREN! Holy Jesus!

    I know. Somebody please hold my hair back. Thinking about it still makes me puke.

    But never you fear! The moment I laid eyes on this vile and wretched propaganda (from the vilest and wretchedest propagandizer that ever prapagandized) I knew precisely what I had to do. My mission was clear. Obvious. So I purchased the damn soul-twisting poison ($1.99 for an eight cassette set!!!), brought it home, and smashed every tape to unidentifiable bits with a great big hammer and a heart full of savage joy.

    World’s children, you’re safe. And you’re fucking welcome.

    Them Feet

    posted by on July 28 at 1:06 PM

    Stupid feet:

    Happy feet:

    Sorry feet:

    Somewhere (not here) feet:

    Come on feet:

    More Macaroni, Please

    posted by on July 28 at 12:59 PM


    Mr. Constant, here’s another recipe for you to try in your quest for the perfect macaroni and cheese. This is one I’ve always meant to make, from a cookbook I’ve always meant to acquire (such a lovely cover, were one to judge that way, and from a Manhattan brasserie of fine repute); it is roux-based and it also contains bacon.

    Macaroni Gratin
    by Keith McNally, Riad Nasr, Lee Hanson
    from The Balthazar Cookbook
    (Clarkson Potter, 2003)
    Serves 6 to 8

    This delicious gratin is flavored with sharp Gruyère and smoky lardons. It’s served at the restaurant in individual casseroles, but it looks best at home in a great big dish. This makes generous portions or highly prized leftovers. Be sure not to overbake the gratin or it will “break,” meaning that the butterfat in the cheese will separate from the milk solids, resulting in the dreaded greasy gratin.

    Continue reading "More Macaroni, Please" »

    Who Will Kill This Electric Car?

    posted by on July 28 at 12:57 PM


    Andrew Farah, who worked on the GM EV1 electric car—which GM mysteriously smashed to smithereens, inspiring this conspiracy-theorizing documentary—is now chief engineer for the Chevrolet Volt.

    There’s a good, long article about him and the project over on the Atlantic Monthly:

    Farah had been fiercely committed to the EV1, and he was not about to relive the disappointment.

    “Hell, no,” he said. “I’ve been on programs like this before. They’re not real.”

    “No,” came the reply. “This one is real.” Farah asked to talk to other senior executives, and they concurred. So, in the spring of last year, he took one of the hardest jobs at GM, and became the Volt’s chief engineer.

    And how, I ask over coffee early one February morning in Detroit, is it going? It is 6 a.m., and Farah, who is 47 and has angular features and prominent black glasses, is rushing to make a 7 a.m. meeting. The car, he says, is 10 weeks behind the original schedule. Any more slippage, and the 2010 deadline will be history. Even if no more time is lost, he will have only eight weeks to test the underbody, the car’s structural base.

    Is that enough time? He answers indirectly. In some cars, he says, testing the underbody can take a year.

    GM, he tells me, is taking an industrial organization designed to grind out incremental improvements and repurposing it for a technological leap. “I spend 20 percent of my time being a psychologist and counselor,” he says. “I tell people, ‘Yes, there’s a lot of risk. And, yes, that’s OK.’

    “It’s not a program for the faint of heart.”

    Is That Fact or Fiction? Art or Not?

    posted by on July 28 at 12:38 PM

    Those are the central questions of the artists who call themselves PDL.

    I’m remiss with this post, and I apologize. I meant to give you the report from the latest by the “This Is Not A Swingset” people when I got it two weeks ago. (I know! Sorry!) I couldn’t attend, but here’s the artists’ postscript from what happened the morning of July 12 at Kerry Park, along with an image of the installation, titled SQUATwhich will be followed up with another installation in the same series this Sunday, August 3, at the Olympic Sculpture Park.

    At Kerry Park, the premise was to install a piece of sculpture that looked like the announcement of a public transit station that would carry people by tram from the top of Queen Anne to EMP. Signs would say that the City of Seattle, with sponsorship from Vulcan, was breaking ground on the station in August; nothing of the kind is happening. The purpose was to start conversation about territorialism in public spaces. “We felt like, it’s that everyone wants public transportation, but they don’t want it in their backyard, and everyone wants access to downtown, but they don’t want downtown to have access to them,” artist Greg Lundgren (the “L” of PDL) said in a phone conversation today. Some people enjoyed the play on misinformation (Iraq war, anyone?), other people took it so seriously that they contacted government officials to stop the (fictional) construction. The artists set up a fictional hotline; it received 20 furious voicemails.

    Our installation was cut back an hour in a small effort to alleviate some political pressure from the Seattle Parks Department. Apparently there were more than a few people who took this at face value and well, phoned their way to the top of the political ladder. Those Queen Anne residents that were not signing a petition to halt the pending construction of SQUAT, truly enjoyed the installation. PDL considers the project a great success and sincerely hopes that any misunderstandings transformed into a greater understanding of contemporary sculpture. SQUAT is now dismantled and defunct.


    Further defense of this sculpture may prove necessary, but for now, we’ll leave it with a fine quote from Marshall Berman:

    “To be modern is to find oneself in an environment that promises us adventure, power, joy, growth, transformation of ourselves and the world—and at the same time that threatens to destroy everything we have, everything we know and everything we are.”

    PDL would like to thank the Seattle Parks Department for understanding this, and allowing challenging work to exist in the public domain. SQUAT is part of an ongoing exploration of site-specific installation work, encouraging people to talk and discuss the foundations of sculpture and its role in contemporary culture. … We do encourage you to visit it the early hours of an installation, as PDL cannot guarantee the intended duration of a project.

    PDL (at the moment Pihl/Dunkerley/Lundgren)

    “I’m pretty sure that people aren’t going to look at a construction site on Queen Anne the same way for a while,” Lundgren said.

    As for the event this coming Sunday, Lundgren said he believes the artists will be in Olympic Sculpture Park all day, and that they won’t be kicked out—Seattle Art Museum has approved their plan. “I’m really surprised they approved it, because they’re going to get a lot of heat for it,” he said.

    He didn’t want to describe it; he wanted to save the surprise for Sunday. This will be the second of four planned public installations in the series. I have mixed feelings about telling you that it will be there, since the whole purpose of these installations is to stumble across them—so if you do go, don’t tell whoever you’re with. Let them have their innocence, because their innocence is PDL’s true medium.

    Charles Mudede on Charles Atlas

    posted by on July 28 at 12:34 PM


    Over at The Guardian, Adam Thirlwell wonders whether novelists hate their readers.

    Only a very few readers, thought Stendhal, and probably only in the distance of about 150 years, would find pleasure in his art.

    “Allow me one obscenity,” he once wrote: “I don’t want to jerk off the reader’s soul.”

    Coincidentally, Charles Mudede writes about Adam Thirlwell’s newest book, The Delighted States, in the books section this week. The Delighted States is one of those high-concept books that you really want to like. On one side, it’s a collection of thoughts, trivia, and quotes about authors, written in a kind of narrative style, and on the other side, it’s a new translation of “Mademoiselle O,” which is a short story by Nabokov that was later integrated into Speak, Memory.

    Mudede writes:

    Kingsley Amis once compared Vladimir Nabokov’s writing style to a useless muscleman, the sort who likes to flex for girls and kick sand into the faces of thin men. Thirlwell is the sort of writer who gets sand kicked in his face. He has no literary or theoretical muscles, and the critics of his book have been hard on him for lacking any real strength.

    It’s my favorite image in the whole paper this week.


    Your New Favorite Theater Blog

    posted by on July 28 at 12:08 PM

    Is here.

    Lunchtime Quickie

    posted by on July 28 at 12:01 PM

    An 11-year old boy bites a pit bull. That’s right. And he loses a tooth doing it…

    Insert Terrible Pun Here, Please

    posted by on July 28 at 11:56 AM

    And now for an artist who recreates famous historical beheadings using mantises.


    This, of course, is Judith and Holofernes.

    More from The Rogue Entomologist can be found here.

    Seattle’s own rogue entomologist, artist Jim Rittimann, is here and here.

    Currently Hanging

    posted by on July 28 at 11:41 AM

    Mark Soo’s That’s That’s Alright Alright Mama Mama (2008); two C-prints, 3D glasses, angled wall; each print 71 by 93 inches

    At Western Bridge. (Gallery site here.)

    There are so many doubles going on here that I hardly know where to begin. But I’ll start with the double that’s affecting you right now, but is not really a part of the original work—the fact that you’re looking at a JPEG copy of the original installation. The original installation is meant to be looked at with 3D glasses. If you have a pair handy, try them on these JPEGs, but I don’t think it will work, and I’m assuming that most of you don’t have 3D glasses at the ready. The reason I say this is not “really” part of the original work is that it sort of is: you can get a similar effect if you simply walk into the room where these are installed (in Western Bridge, by themselves in the cozy upstairs gallery) and don’t put on the 3D glasses that Western Bridge provides. It gives you a headache after a bit.

    What you’re looking at are two stereographic photographs, meaning that each photograph is taken from two slightly different positions, mimicking the separation of the human eyes before the brain resolves a view into a three-dimensional whole. So each image is a double. In addition, as you can see here, the two large photographs are mounted on the two halves of a slightly convex wall. The two shots that go into each image are taken from a short distance apart; the two resulting final images are taken from positions about nine feet apart. That’s the technical breakdown of what you’re seeing.

    I barely understood any of that when I was first standing in front of these. What I saw was an empty recording studio clearly taken out of time—that old technology!—and rendered as though it were right there, in the room with me. I kept trying to find ways to peer past the booth and into the soundproof chamber, to look “through” the framed glass pictured inside the framed glass that contains the photographs themselves (both sets of frames are white and look similar, in another doubling). Who was the musician? What was the sound like? It felt like if I could just lean the right way, I’d get a glimpse at what was “back” there.

    The title is a clue, although I wouldn’t have gotten it. That’s That’s Alright Alright Mama Mama is clearly a reference to all the doubling, but split down into “That’s Alright Mama,” it’s the name of Elvis Presley’s first single. That puts me in mind of another, classic, double: Warhol’s Double Elvis, surely known to the Vancouver artist who made this piece, Mark Soo.

    The “original” in this case doesn’t exist. There are no photographs of Sun Studios in Memphis during that time in 1954 when Elvis Presley made his appearance there. Nobody thought to shoot what they didn’t know would become history, but later, people remembered it in writing. Soo used those written accounts to recreate the studio, actually building it himself, and then taking the photographs of it. It’s an interpretation of an interpretation, forever removed from its source, and yet its three-dimensionality aches toward realness just as the image makes you ache toward seeing and experiencing what’s behind that window. The ache is what I like.

    The Final Countdown

    posted by on July 28 at 11:40 AM

    Only 100 days left in the presidential race!

    There’s Something Wrong with the X-Files Movie

    posted by on July 28 at 11:35 AM


    And it isn’t Mulder’s beard or the bad dialogue or the getting-it-on. It’s just the wrong time for an X-Files movie. Annie Wagner, who can fit more ideas into a movie review than anyone, hits on the problem exactly:

    The X-Files was, after all, unusually grounded in the psychological climate of its time. It’s fascinating to go back through the seasons now, in the wake of 9/11 and especially Hurricane Katrina, to see how the series—which went on the air in 1993, near the beginning of the Clinton administration—envisioned an American government so monolithic, so complacent in its power that one had to suspect things were more complicated than they seemed. In the 1990s, we were sufficiently bored with prosperity and globalization… that it was entertaining to imagine that an international cabal might be pulling the strings behind the scenes. The chasm between that way of thinking and the current political atmosphere became obvious to me only after I rewatched the last movie. Released in 1998, it went so far as to suggest that FEMA was a second shadow government, just waiting to take the reins after alien colonization. Thanks to Mike (“heckuva job”) Brown and the Bush administration, FEMA is an embarrassment now, not a fearsome symbol of government’s reach into the most obscure corners of our lives.

    It’s easy to believe that post-9/11 patriotism killed The X-Files, that people couldn’t find pleasure in imagining a malevolent U.S. government when we’d been so rudely reintroduced to foreign malice. But I think it goes farther than that. Conservative governments love to hate themselves; so when the show’s suspicion that the federal government had too much power was co-opted by the Bush administration (albeit hypocritically), conspiracy theories lost some purchase. Then the bungled occupation of Iraq and the pathetic response to Hurricane Katrina made it clear that an effective federal government that isn’t afraid to exert soft power might not be such a bad thing after all. We might have to wait until a second Obama administration for people to ascribe such nefarious over-competence to government again.

    (Why do you have to go off to law school, Annie? Can’t you just stay?)

    X-Files movie times are here.

    Youth Pastor Watch

    posted by on July 28 at 11:30 AM


    byarsypw.jpgAfter spending the two weeks of a two-year sentence in the Knox County Jail for rape, former Dyersburg High School volunteer track coach Timothy Byars appeared in a courtroom here on Friday and entered a guilty plea for attempted sexual battery. The plea marks the end of a 20-month case, in which the former Spring Hill Baptist Church music and youth minister was accused of raping a 14-year-old girl before a Knoxville track meet in November 2006.


    A former youth pastor accused of embezzling more than $68,000 from a McSherrystown church plans to take her case to trial. Katrina Wischmann, 40…. allegedly embezzled more than $68,000 from St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, 414 Main St., while working as a youth pastor there for four years.


    joshuarosaypw.jpgA jury convicted former youth minister Joshua Rosa of first-degree murder Monday in the strangulation of his 13-year-old neighbor. Within minutes, a judge sentenced the 22-year-old to life in prison.

    Ron Tomlinson, the father of victim Stephen Tomlinson, shook and cried when the verdict was read. “I’m so glad this is over,” he said. “I can move on now.”


    herschallsanderyw.jpg Former St. Helena High School coach Herschel Sandler was sentenced to nine months in the Napa County jail and five years probation Tuesday for two counts of oral copulation with two girls younger than 18 years of age 10 years ago….

    Sandler coached the girls’ varsity volleyball team at the high school and the boys’ wrestling team at the high school and middle school between March 1995 and October 2007 when he resigned. He also was a youth pastor at St. Helena Catholic Church.

    You Can’t Do That on Fernsehen

    posted by on July 28 at 11:07 AM

    Please enjoy this three-minute IKEA commercial, made in Germany in 2006, that mocks the Christ out of the Swedes and their midsummer parties as brutish, drunk, and dumb.

    Looks like fun to me—pretty much what went down at Smoke Farm a few weekends ago:

    The Kamprad family, which controls IKEA, axed the commercial.

    Two footnotes—one etymological, one social—below the jump.

    Continue reading "You Can't Do That on Fernsehen" »

    Paul Hamm Is Out

    posted by on July 28 at 11:02 AM

    Paul Hamm is off the US Gymnastics team, thanks to the bum hand. Sad.

    His replacement is going to be one of the alternates—Alexander Artemev, Raj Bhavsar or David Durante. Slog votes Raj, right?


    Today The Stranger Suggests

    posted by on July 28 at 11:00 AM


    ‘The Dark Knight’

    The Dark Knight is not “the best movie ever,” as many internet nerds have proclaimed. Nor is it even the best movie of the year. But it is a truly great movie, packed with excellent performances (Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart) and thrilling, non-CGI special effects. Plus, Batman! And 30 minutes of the thing were filmed with an IMAX-exclusive camera, which means that if you watch it on an IMAX screen (highly recommended) you’re in for some vertiginous eyegasms. (Pacific Science Center, 200 Second Ave N, 443-2001. 7 pm, $10.75.)


    Here Comes the Bounce?

    posted by on July 28 at 10:45 AM

    One of the big political questions last week was why Barack Obama wasn’t seeing any bounce in the polls from his well-covered (and well-received) world tour. My feeling at the time was that people were being impatient. The impact of something like the Obama trip, which voters can only really evaluate once it’s over, probably takes a few days to show up in tracking polls. And behold


    Oliver Stone’s W Trailer

    posted by on July 28 at 10:42 AM

    I’m actually pretty excited about this. But then, Nixon is one of my favorite movies.

    Via HuffPo, and everywhere else.

    UPDATE! Apparently, there’s already some sort of scandal. Via Hollywood Elsewhere:

    This newly re-posted W. trailer is very slightly different than the one that was taken down last night. Yesterday’s version had a stern admonishment spoken by James Cromwell’s George Bush, Sr., to Josh Brolin’s Dubya: “What are you cut out for? Fighting, chasing tail, driving drunk? What do you think you are? A Kennedy? You’re a Bush. Act like one.” In today’s version the words “what are you cut out for? Fighting, chasing tail, driving drunk?” have been cut.

    I was not prepared for a fighting-chasing-tail-driving-drunk-gate to happen so early in the process.

    Reading Tonight

    posted by on July 28 at 10:17 AM

    We have an open mic and two readings tonight.

    At Elliott Bay Book Company, Rick Bass reads from Why I Came West, which is a memoir. In addition to writing fiction, Rick Bass is a very popular nature writer. I’m always amused that his last name is Bass for just that reason. Also, his name reminds me of Kilgore Trout. Which makes me happy.

    And at the University Book Store at 7 pm, Naomi Novik reads from Victory of Eagles, which is a book that wonders what wars would be like if dragons were real. Possibly more exciting than Ms. Novik’s reading itself is that the University Book Store is scheduled to be attacked by zombies tonight at 7:18 pm. But, according to the University Book Store’s own blog, they’re prepared for the zombie assault.


    Clearly, that will have to be the reading of the night.

    Upcoming, and hopefully zombie-free, readings are in the readings calendar.

    He Must Have Provoked That Dog Somehow

    posted by on July 28 at 10:13 AM

    Authorities in Van Buren County said a pit bull severely mauled a 10-year-old on Saturday, forcing doctors to amputate the boy’s right arm above the elbow….

    Walker said the boy’s parents traveled to Indiana and left the boy in the care of his 23-year-old brother. Walker said the brother went to the bank, leaving the boy alone with the 2-year-old male pit bull terrier.

    Critical Mass Roundup

    posted by on July 28 at 10:12 AM

    According to the King County Prosecutor’s Office, the two cyclists who arrested for their participation in this weekend’s Critical Mass melee are out on $1,000 bail. So far, no charges have been filed; their next court appearance is scheduled for July 30.

    In case you weren’t chained to your computer this weekend, here’s a roundup of our Slog news and analysis from Friday’s Critical Mass melee.

    Sunday, July 27

    I posted a list of contact information for local media covering the incident—including the Seattle Times, whose news contact information page went to a broken link.


    Jonah Spangenthal-Lee got an exclusive first interview with the driver of the car:

    While some cyclists I’ve spoken with have written Mark off as another indignant road-hog, Mark says he actually used to be a bike commuter when he lived in Seattle a few years ago. “I sympathize with [cyclists’] cause. I ride bikes too. I’m a liberal hippie Democrat,” he says, adding “I’m gay, the person with me was a lesbian and we were attacked by eco-terrorists. It’s the most Seattle thing that could have happened.

    While Mark still believes this incident was sparked by hostility from cyclists, he does seem genuinely remorseful about what happened and is disappointed that cyclists are being charged for the incident. “What I did was probably a mistake,” he says. “I want to apologize to [the cyclists]. I didn’t mean for it to happen. It was terrifying for me. I was pissed off, I overreacted, I didn’t pay attention to what I was doing and I’m sorry for it.”

    Saturday, July 26

    Jonah interviewed one of the cyclists injured by the driver Friday night, who told a very different story.

    [Cyclist Tom] Braun—a 35-year-old attorney who says prior to last night, he hadn’t been on a Critical Mass ride in years—says he was moving with a crowd of cyclists on 15th and Aloha when he says he heard the driver of a white Subaru yelling at his fellow riders. “I didn’t see anyone “surrounding” the guy’s car,” Braun says.”I saw some cyclists nicely asking the guy to wait.” Then, Braun says, the driver “just floored it” into a crowd of cyclists.

    As the driver pulled away, Braun—who was not part of the group talking to the driver—was caught under the vehicle, and the car rolled over his leg. “I literally got run over,” Braun says. “I was hanging on the front of [the] car. I’m glad he made a left and tried to take off down the road. If he’d turned right, I would have been crushed.”

    David Schmader posted an eyewitness account by one of the cyclists, whose bike was damaged beyond repair.


    I arrived near the end of a Critical Mass cycling ride at the crest of the Aloha St. hill heading east to find the driver of a car with a passenger irately screaming at cyclists to get out of the way.

    As cyclists were explaining to him that everyone was nearly past him, he proceeded to yell about being late for a reservation. He was parked on the grass and sidewalk, crookedly perpendicular to Aloha.

    Suddenly, he sped into Aloha, directly into the crowd of cyclists.

    The front right side of the car struck me and dragged along with my bike as I hung onto the front of the car. Subsequently, he ran over my right leg and bike as he sped down Aloha to the East, in what appeared to me to be an attempt to flee the scene. My bicycle has been damaged beyond repair (see attached pictures).

    I waxed indignant about the way the media and police routinely ignore cyclists’ side of these stories, taking police and drivers at their word?

    Why, if the driver assaulted several cyclists with his car, is he being treated as the victim?

    Why is hitting cyclists with intent to harm them—or “nudging” them, or throwing things at them, or forcing them off the road—not considered assault with a deadly weapon?

    Why does SPD and the media consider harm to property—the Subaru, whose tires were slashed and whose windows were broken—a far worse crime than running over and potentially killing a defenseless person with a 2,000-pound machine?

    Why, when cyclists pay for local roads just like drivers do, do some drivers assume they have more right to the road than cyclists do—indeed, that cyclists have no right to the road at all?

    Jonathan Golob reflected on the pathetic state of Seattle’s biking infrastructure (and the city’s utter contempt for cyclists.)

    East Aloha street is totally insane as a bicycle route. It’s narrow, barely wide enough for two cars let alone cars and cyclists. Cars are idiodically street parked along the length—half on the grass, half on the street. (The self-centered jackasses who park their cars on Aloha deserve to have their cars sideswiped more often.) The road twists and turns, ramps up and down, with terrible sight lines. Cars, particularly those seeking a rapid zip across the hill, naturally gravitate to this street compared to those North and South of it. Nobody should use it as a bicycle route. East Mercer street, East Republican street or East Harrison street are all better choices, despite being broken up and littered with shitty drivers driving way too fast for narrow residential streets.

    The City tells you, as a potential cyclist, to use East Aloha street as your route of choice—via the Seattle Bicycling Guide Map, a delightful service of the Seattle Department of Transportation. The document pretty much epitomizes the city’s contempt for cyclists—on the part of the police, the drivers, the transportation department and the government. East Aloha street is designated the same as 12th Ave East, an excellent cyclist route.

    Jonah got the first media interview with one of the Critical Mass cyclists, a 25-year-old car owner who was riding with her husband, her mother, and her stepfather.

    From her position about 50 yards away, Wharton says she saw about four or five cyclists around a white Subaru that was being driven by a white, well-dressed man in his mid- to late-20s. She heard him yell at the cyclists, “Get the fuck out of my way! We’ve got reservations!” When the cyclists continued to block his car, “he just got really irrational,” driving his car into the crowd, knocking over two cyclists and backing his car over several bikes left in the road as cyclists jumped out of his way. Wharton says the driver then pulled forward again, forcing one cyclist onto his windshield (and possibly breaking the cyclist’s ankle).

    Wharton says the initial report from King 5 news, which characterized the cyclists as aggressors and the driver as an innocent victim, was “totally inaccurate. They painted it as this mob of angry cyclists attacking the car,” which couldn’t be further from the truth, Wharton says. She describes public reaction to news reports as “they got what was coming to them.”

    Dave recounted three early eyewitness accounts of the incident, sent by email.

    The driver sped down Aloha with a mess of bicycles and cyclists in his wake, a cyclist on his roof, and everyone, including his pregnant passenger, yelling for him to “Just stop!” At the bottom of the hill, the driver stopped at a stop sign and the cyclists swarmed the car, slashing his tires and breaking the windows in order to make sure that he did not continue operating his vehicle through the city like a madman. His door was opened, the driver got out of the car in tears and walked, unmolested back up to where the cyclists were splayed out in the street apologizing to everyone. His passenger was relatively calm, also walked up the street unmolested, and explained that her friend had made a mistake and that she had been yelling for him to calm down and stop the car. While there was a little hysterical yelling by the frightened bicyclists, there was absolutely no physical confrontation.

    Robert Novak

    posted by on July 28 at 10:03 AM

    Crazed hit-and-run driver admitted to hospital for treatment of a brain tumor.

    Part of the Problem

    posted by on July 28 at 9:50 AM

    Harry Petersen lives in Bellevue and doesn’t think we should expand our light rail system because Harry’s a clueless, selfish, short-sighted, myopic piece of—well, here’s Harry in the letters section of yesterday’s Seattle Times:

    Sound Transit proposes nothing that will directly benefit me or my family: The light-rail system doesn’t go to or from anywhere we ever go.

    There’s no direct benefit for Harry! No trains will go from Harry’s front door to his place of employment and back! And what of Harry’s family? Has sound Transit proposed a dedicated transit line that will whisk Harry’s children from their bedroom doors to their schools to their soccer practices and back home again! NO! So what earthly good is Sound Transit?!?

    Because, you see, Harry’s children have no plans to grow up. (Their father didn’t, so why should they?) They have no plans to move out of Harry’s house—ever. In ten or fifteen years Harry’s children will not be looking for their first apartments, or thinking about going to college, and Harry’s children will not benefit—directly or otherwise—from an expanded light rail system that would allow them to choose to live someplace where they don’t need a car, or don’t need to use a car every day.

    Because, you see, light rail lines may attract new development, and they may foster the creation of dense, walkable urban centers (the kind of places that are holding their property values as gas prices rise), but they will never attract Harry or his children or his children’s children.

    Because, you see, these light rail lines don’t go anywhere Harry or his children ever go now, Harry can confidently predict his children and his grandchildren won’t decide—ten years from now, twenty years from now—to move closer to where light rail has gone then. Unlike adults today in New York City or Chicago or Washington D.C. or Portland, Oregon, or London or Paris or San Francisco, Harry’s children and grandchildren will never decide to buy a house or an apartment along a rail line, and so they will never, ever directly benefit from an expanded light rail system. So why build it?

    Never Mind the Critical Mass Melee…

    posted by on July 28 at 9:48 AM

    …here’s the dart pigeon.

    From Hot Tipper Scott:


    Hello Last Days,

    Not sure how many dart-pigeon sightings you have received in the past few months, but I was working downtown yesterday and spotted this pigeon at the corner of 3rd and Union with two darts in him—one completely through his head and the other lodged in his wing. Looks like the same pigeon that was featured earlier—amazing that it is still alive.

    I managed to take about 100 photos while attracting the curiosity of passers-by, who seemed to be having almost too much fun: ‘That is fucked up!” (yes) and ‘Did you do that to him?!’ (no) and ‘Take my picture with it! (huh).

    I hate pigeons as much as the next guy, but this is wrong and effed up. I called Seattle animal control in case they were interested in obtaining the bird and hopefully catching those responsible for this. My call was met with indifference, though I suppose I can understand. I hung around for about an hour, but they never showed up.

    “If there had been any kind of panic around the main stage, a lot of kids would have died.”

    posted by on July 28 at 9:32 AM

    That’s from a letter to the editor that just came in about the Block Party. The whole thing’s on Line Out.


    (The guy has a point. Much more Block Party coverage here.)

    Maverick Moment of the Day

    posted by on July 28 at 9:32 AM

    McCain is now in favor of a ballot measure to ban affirmative action in his home state of Arizona, after having been against a similar measure ten years ago:

    “I support it,” McCain said when asked by George Stephanopoulos whether he was in favor of a possible ballot measure in Arizona that would end affirmative action there based on race and gender.

    The problem: 10 years ago, McCain spoke out against a similar move by the Arizona legislature to put a referendum on the ballot ending such preferences. He called it “divisive.”

    American Confusion

    posted by on July 28 at 9:30 AM

    A man accused of shooting dead two people in a Tennessee church was motivated by hatred of liberals and anger at being jobless, US police say.

    Knoxville Police Chief Sterling Owen said they had found a letter in Jim Adkisson’s car in which he described his feelings.

    There were about 200 people in the church, which is known for its liberal stance, at the time of Sunday’s attack. Mr Adkisson, 58, has been charged with first-degree murder.

    Children were putting on a play at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church when a gunman entered with a 12-gauge shotgun and opened fire on the congregation.

    People dived for cover under pews but several adults were hit, two of them fatally, before a group managed to overpower Mr Adkisson.

    Police Chief Owen said Mr Adkisson had brought the gun into the church in a guitar case.

    …The Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church describes itself on its website as working for social change since the 1950s, including desegregation, racial harmony, fair wages, women’s rights and gay rights.


    posted by on July 28 at 9:16 AM

    The endlessness of Bush.
    fistbumpax-large.jpg Is he teaching or enforcing the fist bump?

    Hate Hurts

    posted by on July 28 at 8:57 AM

    Another result of the Bush decade:

    More Americans now say that the United States is less respected in the world than it has been in the past, and a growing proportion views this as a major problem for the country. More than seven-in-ten Americans (71%) say that the United States is less respected by other countries these days, up from 65% in August 2006.
    What’s significant is not that Americans are aware of the sharp drop in international respect but that they think it’s a problem.

    Greed Is Not Good

    posted by on July 28 at 8:37 AM

    Something that came out of McCain’s mouth that’s not total rubbish:

    McCAIN CALLS WALL STREET ‘THE VILLAIN’ IN SUBPRIME CRISIS Senator McCain put the blame on Wall Street for the home mortgage credit crisis that has roiled financial markets around the world. “Wall Street is the villain in the things that happened in the subprime lending crisis and other areas where investigations and possible prosecution is going on,” Mr. McCain said during a taped appearance on ABC’s “This Week” program. The Arizona Republican, who has wrapped up his party’s presidential nomination, said he supports the housing bill passed by Congress on Saturday to stem foreclosures and aid Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the largest American mortgage-finance companies, even though it may cost taxpayers as much as $25 billion. Mr. McCain, 71, said the risk of the mortgage companies’ failure is outweighed by the potential cost.

    The Morning News

    posted by on July 28 at 8:13 AM

    Lies: McCain’s dishonest new election ad.

    Flip-Flopper: McCain switches positions on affirmative action.

    Blame China: Growing Chinese demand for fuel spurs higher gas prices worldwide.

    Sixteen Dead: In worst Turkish attack in five years.

    Suicide Hotline: Gets 22,000 calls from veterans in its first year.

    Zero Bids: For Seattle’s automatic toilets, on eBay for $89,000.

    The Ladies: So cute when they try to blog!

    The End Is Nigh: Banks begin refusing loans even to healthy small businesses.

    $2 Million?: Spitzer prostitute weighs reality-TV deal.

    Recipe of the Day: Palak Paneer (palak paneer recipe via Boston Globe; paneer recipe via FX Cuisine; photo via Chotda under Creative Commons license)

    Continue reading "The Morning News" »

    Michael Savage Dares His Advertisers to Continue Supporting Him

    posted by on July 28 at 8:00 AM


    It takes a big man to call bullshit on autism:

    “I’ll tell you what autism is,” [conservative shock jock] Michael Savage told his audience on July 16. “In 99 percent of the cases, it’s a brat who hasn’t been told to cut the act out. That’s what autism is…..Stop acting like a putz. Straighten up. Act like a man. Don’t sit there crying and screaming, idiot.”

    If it’s any consolation, Savage’s advertisers are rightfully repulsed and actively distancing themselves from him. Still, it would be wonderful if Michael Savage got some awful, quick-acting cancer.

    Life Imitates Absolutely Fabulous

    posted by on July 28 at 7:06 AM


    From the Associated Press

    Two drunken British women went on a rampage on a charter plane, hitting one flight attendant with a bottle of vodka and trying to open a cabin door as the aircraft was cruising over Austria at 10,000 meters (32,800 feet).

    Full story here.

    Sunday, July 27, 2008

    Media Contacts

    posted by on July 27 at 12:03 PM

    If you’re pissed about the way the local media have been covering Friday’s Critical Mass altercation (i.e., as an attack on an innocent driver by a mob of bloodthirsty cyclists), let them know. Here’s the contact information for the local media folks who’ve been covering the Critical Mass story:

    King 5 News Feedback (Attn: News Director) (Story)

    Hector Castro, Seattle P-I reporter

    Angelo Bruscas, Seattle P-I breaking news editor

    AP Seattle: 206-682-1812 (Story)

    All Headline News Media Corporation
    (Story, which refers to the woman riding with the gay 23-year-old driver as “his girlfriend” and says no cyclists were injured)

    As for the Seattle Times, here’s what you get when you click on “contact newsroom”:


    [UPDATE: The newsroom link is still broken; however, a producer for the Times’ web page sent me a link to their general contact form.

    Both yesterday’s and today’s stories, meanwhile, were written by anonymous “Seattle Times staff” with assistance from Times reporter Carol Ostrom.

    The Times’ local news editor Jim Simon can be reached here; executive news editor Leon Espinoza can be reached here.

    The Driver Speaks

    posted by on July 27 at 11:21 AM

    This morning, I spoke with the driver involved in Friday night’s Critical Mass brawl, to get his side of the story. Obviously, it’s very different from what Critical Mass riders have said up to this point

    Mark—who asked us not to print his last name—a 23-year-old travel agent, says he was heading to the University District to pick someone up for a birthday party.

    While driving through Capitol Hill, Mark says he saw a herd of Critical Mass riders and pulled over on a parking strip on Aloha to wait for them to pass. After waiting for five minutes, Mark says he tried to turn his car around to get out of the way and get off of the street. That’s when about a dozen cyclists surrounded his car, he says.

    “As soon as I tried to turn around, they completely corralled me in and were shouting things,” Mark says. Although he says cyclists were initially “playfully taunting” him, Mark says the longer he waited, the more aggressive they got. “They wouldn’t let me move even after the rest of the bikes went by, he says, adding that he started to panic when cyclists began tugging on his side mirrors and he heard someone say “let’s tip the car.”

    Mark says he felt intimidated and was concerned for his safety, so he began to rev his engine. “[I] was going to…try to be macho and scare some people,” he says. “I didn’t realize my car was in first [gear].”

    Mark says he rolled over two bicycles when his car lurched forward, before a crowd of cyclists swarmed him. One rider tried to punch him through his open car window, but missed, and others were clinging to his car as he sped off.

    Although a number of reports have indicated that riders slashed the car’s tires, forcing it to stop, Mark says he heard a rider shout “someone’s really hurt” and slammed on his brakes. “I thought I just knocked 2 bikes over,” Mark says. “I wanted to get away from the situation but if I’d hurt someone, I didn’t want to flee.”

    Mark says he got out of his car and was immediately struck in the back of a head by a cyclist wielding a U-lock. Mark then told the angry crowd he was “sorry” and “didn’t know anyone was hurt,” before walking up to where the injured cyclists were. This, Mark says, is when cyclists “completely destroyed [his] car,” breaking his windows and slashing his tires.

    Although Mark still believes cyclists instigated the confrontation, he doesn’t believe anyone should be facing charges for the incident. “I hit two of their friends and they tore apart my car,” he says. “I’d rather not have anyone…be charged from any of this.”

    While a some cyclists I’ve spoken with have written Mark off as another indignant road-hog, Mark says he actually used to be a bike commuter when he lived in Seattle a few years ago. “I sympathize with [cyclists’] cause. I ride bikes too. I’m a liberal hippie democrat,” he says, adding “I’m gay, the person with me was a lesbian and we were a attacked by eco-terrorists. It’s the most Seattle thing that could have happened.

    While Mark still believes this incident was sparked by hostility from cyclists, he does seem genuinely remorseful about what happened and is disappointed that cyclists are being charged for the incident. “What I did was probably a mistake,” he says. “I want to apologize to [the cyclists]. I didn’t mean for it to happen. It was terrifying for me. I was pissed off, I overreacted, I didn’t pay attention to what I was doing and I’m sorry for it.”

    Today The Stranger Suggests

    posted by on July 27 at 11:00 AM


    Dyme Def

    At the betting table, in the game of who will be the biggest hiphop crew to come out of Seattle in this decade (which has only 17 months left), all of my chips are still on Dyme Def. The local group produces a hiphop sound that’s ambitious and manages to be commercial without losing an ounce of art or innovation. In 2009, the crew will only get bigger and deffer. Dyme Def will perform at Nectar’s Midsummer Backyard Barbecue Jam, with Pink Skull, South Rakkas Crew, and Mad Rad. (Nectar, 412 N 36th St, 632-2020. 2–10 pm, $5, 21+.)


    Reading Today

    posted by on July 27 at 10:00 AM

    There are no readings today, save for a couple open mics. I will leave you with a reminder to treat books with respect:

    The readings calendar is up for you to look at , too.

    The Morning News

    posted by on July 27 at 9:05 AM

    Fading power: Mahdi Army slowly losing influence over Iraqi Shiites.

    Rising panic: India cracks down on security in Ahmedabad after explosion kills forty-five.

    Welcome to the Jungle: Raid on Iowa meatpacking plant exposes inhumane working practices for undocumented workers.

    Ferry verdict: Acquittal of owners of doomed ferry sparks outrage in Egypt.

    Air supply: Qantas inspects oxygen tanks on damaged 747 that was forced to land in Manila Friday.

    Slick operator: Contributions from oil industry spiked after John McCain voiced opposition to offshore drilling ban.

    Sick, sad world: Teens charged in death, accused of yelling racist epithets as they fatally beat Mexican immigrant.

    What really happened?: Police investigate cyclists’ alleged beating of driver during Critical Mass ride.

    Slow justice: Fort Lawton veterans wrongly accused of violence exonerated after 64 years.

    Off season: What Dino Rossi’s been up to the last four years.