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Archives for 08/24/2008 - 08/30/2008

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Re: Never Mind the Hurricane, the Suspension of Civil Liberties in St. Paul, and the Palin Employment Scandal—It’s the Grandson Being Passed off as a Son that Should Be Blowing Your Minds

posted by on August 30 at 10:05 PM

So. According to a salacious report on Kos, Palin’s daughter had a kid out of wedlock that Palin pretends is hers to hide the social-conservative stigma of having a kid out of wedlock.

The whole report—which reads like a cross between the censored parts of Brontë novel and The Brothers Karamazov—is here.

The heart breaks. The stomach aches. And if it’s true, I’m totally voting for Palin as the most goth-romantic-gutsy nutjob since Mary-Kay Letourneau (who has been the soul and flower of goth-romantic-gutsiness since the beginning of ever). If the story is true, Palin is a beautifully twisted hero, a liar with the courage of her convictions.

From the story:

Well, Sarah, I’m calling you a liar. And not even a good one. Trig Paxson Van Palin is not your son. He is your grandson. The sooner you come forward with this revelation to the public, the better.

Here’s Palin, allegedly seven months “pregnant”:


Here’s a family photo, around the same time. See if you can spot the pregnant one:


From the Kos story:

Bristol is pregnant in these pictures. She is not carrying belly fat, which grows outwardly wide, and does not become dome-shaped. That’s because fat is generally evenly distributed around the abdomen and a fetus is not.

By the way: this (allegedly) clandestine kid? It’s the one with Down syndrome.

Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way: The family of “A Sharp Nail” awaits its novelists.

And remember: a vote for Palin is a vote for change(lings).

Re: Re: The Lord Almighty: Still a Lousy Shot

posted by on August 30 at 8:45 PM

Looks like the Lord will likely requireth Bush (and possibly McCain) to be elsewhere during the Republican convention:

ST. PAUL—President Bush is unlikely to make it to the Republican National Convention and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) may deliver his acceptance speech by satellite because of the historically huge hurricane threatening New Orleans, top officials said.


Republican officials here are preparing for radical changes to the every element of the convention. If the storm is as bad as feared, they will dramatically alter the tone of the speeches, cut way back on the partisan red meat, eliminate the glitzy entertainment, and, if they legally can, use the gathering for a massive fund-raising drive that may even feature a passing of buckets on the convention floor to benefit the Red Cross, according to a top GOP source.

“We’ll have to acknowledge that Americans are hurting,” said this Republican.

Much can be changed or altogether dropped from the convention, but it emphatically must take place in some form because McCain needs to be nominated to be legally placed on the ballot in all 50 states. “There are no exceptions to that,” said the source.

PAX Day Two - Megathread

posted by on August 30 at 4:25 PM

4:00 p.m.: Turns out I was able to sneak into the “Democratizing Game Development” panel after all (see 3:40 p.m.). Good thing, too; the four developers on hand spoke to the adoring crowd of budding developers by talking as little about games as possible. This was most apparent when the panel had book recommendations for the crowd—very few about coding or gaming. The Origin of Brands, and other books about emotional design and creative inspirations, spoke to a greater purpose—and a willingness to make biz risks—that might help a little developer compete.

Beyond that, the panel spoke to the difficulties game makers face versus, say, screenwriters or YouTube amateurs. Individual authorship doesn’t work in the traditional game world, where people usually expect a full team of coders, artists, modelers, etc. But that may soon change. Microsoft’s XNA program lets solo artists make full, robust titles for PC and consoles. Flash gaming is a real business, attracting moms and casual gamers by the truckload. And as Best Buy and Gamestop are replaced by online game shops and Xbox Live, publishing and marketing budgets will stop walling new game makers in.

Of course, the guys didn’t have answers about rising above the noise and the fray of an ever-expanding Internet of content. Nobody really does. But seeking greater inspirations for a project can’t hurt.

3:40 p.m.: First PAX complaint: The official panels are held in eensy teensy rooms at an expo with thousands of attendants. Sad, really, because I’m missing the “Democratizing Game Development” panel, the one I wanted to see the most. I miscalculated and spent too long playing more of the PAX 10 games before reaching the panel. Weird, actually, that I spent too long playing independent games to go and talk about them with official panelists and interested citizens for an hour. Well, that’s PAX for ya.

I did attend a games journalism panel an hour ago or so, which, sadly, was overrun with concerns about 10-point scales for measuring games. Maybe the issue isn’t how the games are scored, but how the games are chosen? Shouldn’t games journalism move beyond the Maddens and Halos, the ones that don’t necessarily need the attention, and perhaps break ground with a few discoveries? Not much commentary on that, sadly.

11:00 a.m.: Okay, Slog gamers. You never shut up about Spore (the latest title from SimCity/Sims maven Will Wright), so I played half an hour of Spore. For you.

Here’s the sad thing—I’d signed up in advance to play the game through an invite from EA’s PR army. I assumed they’d set aside separate press kiosks. Turns out the demos were held on the showroom floor—that’s fine, I don’t need privacy or fancy treatment. BUT. As I approached, a developer kicked a teenager off a demo rig so I could play. Chances are, this kid was the ultimate PAX attendant—waiting in line for hours this morning, rushing into the exhibition hall at the 10 a.m. whistle blow, making a beeline for Spore. His dreamy, dreamy Spore.

Jesus. This broke my nerd heart.

[Long thread, so I’ll jump older posts through the day.]

Continue reading "PAX Day Two - Megathread" »

Scenes from a Nascent Convention

posted by on August 30 at 2:10 PM


Down at the Xcel Center, CNN has rented, renovated, and renamed an entire bar for its VIP headquarters:


And, on a giant digital billboard, Fox’s paean to Palin looms over press, workers, and other peons:



This is a maddening NYT story about a billboard controversy in St. Paul—portraits of Iraq veterans cancelled, at the last minute, for being “inappropriate”:

Ms. Opton’s photographs, part of a series called the Soldier Billboard Project, have been displayed on billboards in Syracuse, and one was on a billboard in Denver during the Democratic National Convention. But the company that owns the Minneapolis-St. Paul billboards, CBS Outdoor, part of the larger media conglomerate, canceled her contract last week, having decided that the pictures sent a confusing and inappropriate message.

If by “inappropriate” CBS means “affecting,” then yes—they’re inappropriate:


And you know what? They’re not even all that affecting. They’re mild. I thought McCain—and the Republican—were the tough guys and broads, made of sterner stuff.

Re: The Lord Almighty: Still a Lousy Shot

posted by on August 30 at 2:05 PM

Savage has quite thoroughly mocked and dispensed with the Christian-right notion that God is a vengeful hurricane hurler and earthquake instigator who targets sodomy-loving cities with natural disasters.

But this business about Hurricane Gustav strengthening into a Category 4 and heading toward the Louisiana coast exactly three years after Hurricane Katrina destroyed New Orleans—and exactly two days before Republicans are set to open their convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul—has me wondering.

Perhaps the Lord works in mysterious, bank-shot ways, and is really hurricane-launchingly upset with Republicans?

Gustav is supposed to bring tropical-storm-force winds to New Orleans by Monday, the day the convention opens, and will probably hit land on Tuesday, which could create a perfect storm of bad images for McCain: Republicans fat-catting around in Minneapolis-St. Paul, again ignoring New Orleans in a moment of need while their leaders, Bush and McCain, celebrate themselves.

I mean, remember this image from three years ago of Bush giving McCain a birthday cake on some tarmac in Arizona while New Orleans drowned?


Imagine the major political image of next week being Bush passing the torch to McCain inside a well-appointed convention hall packed with suits while New Orleans drowns again.

No surprise, then, that McCain is now talking about suspending or truncating the convention.

It wouldn’t be appropiate to have a festive occasion while a near tragedy or a terrible challenge is presented in the form of a natural disaster.

This time, anyway.

But one can look at this another way: Maybe God is a Republican after all.

Because this could very easily turn out to be a natural-disaster gift to McCain. I’m sure he’d love to have a good excuse to shorten the convention by, say, snipping out the opening address by Bush; canceling any appearance by Cheney; and telling any religious right speakers who want to cast America’s cities as punishment-deserving Sodom and Gomorrahs that, sorry, now is just not a good time for all that.

The History of Hee Haw

posted by on August 30 at 1:48 PM

I just can’t resist it. I’m that scorpion that told the frog it can only be a scorpion. Everything inside of me finds it hard not to automatically dislike/despise/sting country people. And Sarah Palin is pure country. Because of her current important/historical status, we are now forced to see on the great stage of our times the most mundane of American scenarios—country scenarios, one of the main of which is the scenario of the family feud:

Former Department of Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan on Friday said that since Gov. Sarah Palin took office, members of her administration and family pressured him to fire a Palmer Alaska State Trooper to whom her sister was involved in a bitter child custody battle.

Monegan said phone calls and questions from the Palin administration and the governor’s husband, Todd Palin, about trooper Mike Wooten started shortly after Monegan was hired and continued up to one or two months ago.

The governor herself also had a brief conversation with him about Wooten in February, Monegan said.

The new assertions from Monegan, who has been mostly silent on his abrupt firing July 11, conflict with what the Republican governor said earlier in the week. She said she never put pressure on the commissioner to fire her sister’s ex-husband and no one from her office had complained about Wooten. She has also said replacing Monegan with Kenai Police Chief Chuck Kopp had nothing to do with Wooten. She has offered little explanation for the dismissal.

What other country scenarios are going to appear on the present stage of world history?

The Numbers

posted by on August 30 at 12:50 PM

For one:

The just-concluded Democratic National Convention in Denver was the most-watched since at least 1960 and drew more viewers than the Summer Olympics, according to figures released by the Nielsen Co.

For two:

The 38.4 million individuals who watched Obama’s address on television represented a 57 percent increase over the 24.4 million who saw Democratic Senator John Kerry’s acceptance speech in Boston four years ago.

For three:

On average, the four-day Democratic convention drew 30.2 million viewers as Illinois Senator Barack Obama, 47, became the first black presidential nominee of a major political party. This year’s Olympic Games averaged 27.7 million.

A fact: Obama is bigger than the Olympics. Another fact: Obama is not bigger than M.A.S.H..

Obama’s acceptance speech before more than 75,000 people at Invesco Field Aug. 28 attracted viewers in 27.7 million households. The most-watched broadcast, the finale of the CBS television show “M.A.S.H.,” was seen in 50.2 million, Nielsen figures show.

VP Jesus Freak

posted by on August 30 at 12:10 PM

Sarah Palin supports the teaching of creationism in public schools.

Can we expect her father, a former elementary-school science teacher, to publicly ridicule her position? Sadly,

“I’d rather go moose hunting than be involved with politics,” [Chuck Heath] said.

Oh, and Palin thinks global warming is scary but unrelated to human activities:

What is your take on global warming and how is it affecting our country?

A changing environment will affect Alaska more than any other state, because of our location. I’m not one though who would attribute it to being man-made.

Via TPM.

For Annie

posted by on August 30 at 11:54 AM


So Krishna, as when he admonished Arjuna On the field of battle. Not fare well, But fare forward, [voyager].

Now that we have flying on the mind:

WASHINGTON (AP) - Two airliners were one minute from colliding when at least one of the planes turned away from the other over the Atlantic Ocean this week, federal authorities said Friday.

The National Transportation Safety Board said it was investigating an incident in which a Delta Air Lines flight and a Russian-registered passenger jet were heading toward each other Thursday north of Puerto Rico when cockpit alarms went off.

The NTSB said the pilot of the Russian plane - a Transaero Boeing 747 - descended 200 feet to 300 feet to avoid Delta Flight 485.

The planes were at the same altitude - 33,000 feet over open ocean - and were “60 seconds apart from occupying the same airspace,” said NTSB spokesman Peter Knudson.

The spokesman describing a midair collision as “[two planes] occupying the same airspace,” recalls the military satellite which, in 1992, registered the Los Angeles riots as a “heat anomaly.”

Preemptive Strikes in St. Paul

posted by on August 30 at 11:05 AM

Local police, sheriff’s, and fire departments have been conducting raids and surprise fire inspections on protest gathering places throughout St. Paul and Minneapolis today, including at least three private homes and this old theater at 627 Smith Avenue:


The busted buildings were to serve as meeting points, food distribution centers, internet sites, and bunkhouses for visiting protestors.

Branch, a visiting protestor from Portland, was at the building above when it was raided last night. “It was like a SWAT raid,” he said, “between 30 and 50 cops with guns drawn and pointed at people’s heads.”

The police, from the sheriff’s department, made everybody lie on the floor and read a broad search warrant. “They said they were looking for X-boxes, computers, paper materials, paint, banners, strips of fabric, I guess for molotov cocktails,” Branch said. “They took all our computers—maybe ten desktops and five or six laptops—for evidence.”

Everybody present—50 or 60 people, Branch estimates—was detained, photographed, and questioned before being released. The officers also “sealed” the old theater with eight screws:


An older woman, walking her dog, walked by while Branch was telling his story. “I’m so sorry my city is treating visitors this way,” she said. “The mayor lives in my neighborhood and I’m going to call him about this!

The raids are, among other things, stranding visiting protestors without lodgings. (If anybody in the Twin Cities areas wants to host a visitor or two, many of whom have brought tents and sleeping bags, call the “housing hotline”: 612-419-7809.)

At a food distribution center five blocks away from the theater, a few folks—an older Native American man, a young white guy with a handsome beard and pointy moustache, a nice older lady in a pink shirt with white hair, all of whom declined to be photographed—said they expected to be raided sometime today. The nice older lady shrugged: “Seems possible.”

While we were standing there, Noah Kunin—a local video blogger from The Uptake—got a call from his editor: The local IndyMedia offices had just been popped with a surprise fire inspection.

Today The Stranger Suggests

posted by on August 30 at 11:00 AM


Bon Iver, A.A. Bondy

Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon famously recorded his breakthrough For Emma, Forever Ago while holed up for four frosty months in an isolated cabin in rural Wisconsin. (Bon Iver is a bastardization of bon hiver, French for “good winter.”) It makes sense that this press-sheet backstory has become the album’s defining detail: Vernon’s spare arrangements of voice and acoustic guitar feel absolutely solitary; his voice, which wavers between soulful croon (with shades of TV on the Radio) and broken whisper, practically fogs up in your ears. A good winter, indeed. (Neumo’s, 925 E Pike St, 709-9467. 8 pm, $12, 21+.)

Somehow I Missed…

posted by on August 30 at 10:38 AM

…the high school Tony Awards.

Reading Today

posted by on August 30 at 10:00 AM


There are a bunch of readings today.

B.L. Morgan signs the mysteries Blood And Rain and Blood For The Masses at Borders Tacoma. The press release said he would be signing for 6 hours, from 12 to 6. HARD CORE! And Cricket McRae, whose first name is Cricket, will be signing her mystery, which is related to canning and preserving, at the Seattle Mystery Book Shop.

And at Bumbershoot, there are readings galore. The editor of the book Cringe, which is like the Salon of Shame but is based on a reading series in New York City, will be hosting a reading of awful teenage poetry. There is also something called CoochieMagik, which is exactly what it sounds like.

And there are tons of conflicts of interest there, too. David Schmader will be appearing with Kevin Sessums to talk about growing up gay in the south. New Stranger Genius Sherman Alexie will be hosting a big ol’ thing with Trisha Ready’s country band. In addition to country songs about books, Alexie will read and also Sean Nelson and Christopher Frizzelle and Ellen Forney will talk about…well, you’ll have to see it to believe it. At almost the exact same time, some douchebag with the obviously fake last name of “Constant” will be interviewing brilliant young novelists Jonathan Evison and Sarah Suh-lien Bynum.

Bumbershoot is here.

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

Palin in Comparison

posted by on August 30 at 8:49 AM

Karl Rove on picking a running mate:

“I think [Obama’s] going to make an intensely political choice, not a governing choice,” Rove said. “He’s going to view this through the prism of a candidate, not through the prism of president; that is to say, he’s going to pick somebody that he thinks will on the margin help him in a state like Indiana or Missouri or Virginia. He’s not going to be thinking big and broad about the responsibilities of president.” Rove singled out Virginia governor Tim Kaine, also a Face The Nation guest, as an example of such a pick.

“With all due respect again to Governor Kaine, he’s been a governor for three years, he’s been able but undistinguished,” Rove said. “I don’t think people could really name a big, important thing that he’s done. He was mayor of the 105th largest city in America.

I wonder if Rove still feels this way. Somehow, I think he probably has a different take on VP qualifications now. Let’s see…

[Palin’s] a populist, she’s an economic and a social conservative, she’s a reformer, she took on the incumbent governor of the state Frank Murkowski — Republican — beat him in the primary, won an upset in the general election. She’s a former mayor. She’s the mayor of, I think, the second largest city in Alaska before she ran for governor.

Actually, Karl, she was mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, population 8,000. At the time, not even one of the 10 biggest “cities” in Alaska.

via TPM, via Gruber, with an assist from Think Progress

(Sorry about the already-everywhere post title, had to use while it’s still a little bit funny—for another 2 minutes or so.)

Friday, August 29, 2008


posted by on August 29 at 10:28 PM


Who would’ve thought a one-off post about arts criticism would’ve kicked off such a shitstorm?

A sampling of the comments:

Brendan you are fucking dick: go die you talentless vulture of a journalist.
Thoughtful criticism is all very well, but personally I prefer praise.
Whether or not it’s hurtful, becoming morally pious about your work just because you put a lot of effort into it is still a counterproductive mindset. Effort is not a coupon for freedom from criticism.
kiley’s absolutely correct in everything he points out and he’s made it clear to me why i despise his brand of ‘criticism’ so..

But I would like to draw your attention to comment #73 on said post, a successful parody of this small joke—note to over-literal readers: a joke! not a real review!—in our Bumbershoot guide:


Click here to see the parody.

I salute you, Rudnik Nelson, wherever you are. Just one correction: We write on computers in Tim Keck’s basement “on beanbag chairs.” Most of our parents changed the locks on us long ago.

(p.s. It’s muggier than a newlywed’s bed in St. Paul this evening, and police have already arrested two protestors setting up an encampment in a city park. Sixty cops showed up, one of them a sniper type with an assault rifle. These people are not fucking around.

My host here—a friend of a friend who happens to be a National Guardsman studying to be a police officer—says his law-enforcement school will be shut down during the convention because they need every human they can find for security and riot alert. If any city is going to “recreate ‘68” this year—and really, why would you?—it’ll be this one.)

PAX Day One - Megathread

posted by on August 29 at 7:15 PM

7:00 p.m.: What’s a guy to do as keynote speaker at a gaming convention? Out himself, of course. Doesn’t seem like a big stretch for Ken Levine, the creative director of last year’s arty blockbuster Bioshock. Uh, he makes games. Epic games with long scripts about underwater empires and the crazed 1920s mobsters who love them. Geek? SHOCKER.

Sorry, my photos from the keynote were awful. To make up for it, here’s a short video:

But like Wil Wheaton’s call-to-geek-arms speech last year, Levine took today’s opportunity to recount his own reluctant descent into comics, D&D, and all matter of video games. It was a late ’70s story straight out of TV show Freaks & Geeks: “When my parents rolled for my character, they didn’t get any 18s,” he said, and the crowd roared for the D&D joke. The rest of his upbringing story was Spiderman, an Atari 2600 as a Channukah gift, salivating over comic book heroines, getting in a tizzy over Logan’s Run, and publicly hiding his nerdiness for fear of retribution. It took an accidental stumble into a D&D posse for the guy to finally accept his lot (“I was worried I’d walked into some Gygax-ian gingerbread house”).

It wasn’t as exhilirating and shameless a speech as Wheaton’s from last year, but it didn’t mince words, either: “What brings us together at PAX is, we’re a giant bunch of fucking nerds.” This, and his series of witty in-jokes, elicited roars from the crowd. It’s almost disconcerting the way the mass cheered and clapped—for a brief moment, it felt like they were a tiny pack of right-wing, gun-loving nuts trapped in San Francisco. But, to be fair, it wasn’t quite that extreme. And the opportunity to let your social guard down and applaud/grin along is too thick to pass up—so what if the PAX scene was a bit jubilant? Besides, Levine’s story of childhood ostracization was touching even outside the corridors of geekdom—anybody can identify with being on the outside to some extent.

Penny Arcade’s creators followed this keynote with their annual Q&A session. Funny, certainly, though this is where the crowd began to fragment. No biggie for creators Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik. Like they’ve said all along, this is a gaming expo, not a comic strip expo. The authors are happy merely being a conduit through which their brethren may gather.

And now, for the rest of the evening, I’m off to do just that. To sit down when I see an open chair at a fighting game booth. To make friends with DS-wielding Tetris addicts. To see if somebody will teach me what the heck is new in D&D 4th Edition. And, seriously, to make a friend or two. (I’m always on the lookout for a gaming posse.) Tomorrow is a busier “official” day; lots of panels with industry folks about the modern state of games development. I look forward to reporting the heck out of that. Until then, geeks ahoy.

2:55 p.m.: A few hours in, I can already proclaim the winner of the PAX 10 indie competition: The Maw. You run around like a 3D Mario game, but the only thing you can do is use an electric leash and lug around this stupidly goofy blob-thing (or the things that you want to feed it). The joy here is in the lively main character, pumped full of quirks and personality. The total product is charming, hilarious, and pleasing to figure out as a game. And only eight people made it. That’s, like, 1/50th of the people who made Halo 2.5 3. The Maw should see release on Xbox Live soon. I look forward to raving about it.

Not that the rest of the PAX 10 is a snore. Turns out the one-man team making Sushi Bar Samurai is a hometown native, and his title probably best embodies the spirit of this off-kilter competition. I love the concept—you are a sushi chef in the afterlife, and you assemble souls’ “final meals.” It’s the perfect kind of challenge for challenge-averse gamers; you can very simply arrange sushi rolls, or you can come up with recipe combos. It starts off ridiculously simple, but the presentation lulls you into enjoying the game’s virtual bonsai arrangements. Of raw fish.

Other PAX 10 dandies, my fest experience so far, and big names like Gears of War 2:

(Jump to read the entire rest of the day’s coverage.)

Continue reading "PAX Day One - Megathread" »

We’ve Been Served

posted by on August 29 at 6:03 PM

This just in from “a concerned fan of the Seattle art scene”:

To the Stranger, the biggest bullies in town,

Hello all you leaders of the hipster nation! How is it in the capitol of cool? It must get exhausting deciding how to insult things relentlessly.

I think you do a great job! However, as cultural attaches I believe you end up letting certain art forms fall by the way side. You and the rest of Seattle, is about to bully contemporary dance out of town.

As you know, Velocity dance center is losing it’s home in the Odd Fellows hall. Your recent comparison of the improv vs. the children in the fountain is exactly the type of mockery that does not help us, as a community feel welcome at what is advertised as Seattle’s biggest arts festival.

Other newspapers elsewhere, less concerned with being hip, write about dance describing the artist, their lives, hopes, visions, background (things you write about musicians). Instead you focus on witty digs (how children are less self involved/ cuter, or how it would be better to watch if you were drunk). How does this help the general pubic understand what we do? Your goal may not be to be an accurate resource but your approach is discouraging. When you write about hot poop/ hip bands you talk about what they drink, if they have a cute dog, random banter they carry on about. They are featured with high esteem, for having very little to say. The dance community is represented as naïve, self indulgent and foolish (which is accurate for some but there are many incredible artist in our community). I think you owe us!

So either I call you out, for a Stranger vs. Dancers: Modern Dance off (the terms and conditions of which have yet to be thought through). Or you do a feature on the kick ass members of our community: Amy Oneil, Wade Madsen, Left Field Revival, Zoe Schofield, Ricki Mason, Maki Mori… just to name a few. These are intelligent, multi-tasking, fascinating artist you could write small features about.

As our community heads towards an uncertain future of displacement it would be awesome if you Hipster Dictators of Cool could, for once, be on our side and wake Seattle up to it’s contemporary dance scene.

She (how do I know it’s a she? I just do) makes some good points, and I’d love to see profiles (mini or not) about all those name-checked dancers. But the prospect of a modern dance-off is too enticing. Please continue thinking through the details.

Star Gazing

posted by on August 29 at 5:55 PM

Photo by Eli Sanders

Also on the flight back from Denver, the three of us tallied up the celebrities we and our friends saw at the Democratic National Convention.

There were the political and/or media celebrities—people like Al Sharpton, who probably qualifies as both and is pictured above walking away from the convention hall on Wednesday as everyone else was filing in to watch the roll call vote and the Bill Clinton speech.

This sort of recognizable politico/media face was a dime a dozen in Denver: Anderson Cooper chatting on the CNN Grill patio; George Stephanopoulos riding the down escalator in the convention hall, reaching across to touch the arm of Washington Senator Patty Murray, who was riding up; Wolf Blitzer dancing at Mile High with Donna Brazile; Gavin Newsom holding court in a Pepsi Center hallway with a beautiful woman on his arm; John Aravosis of Americablog having afternoon cocktails at the Media Matters party; Walter Mondale pulling up on a busy downtown street, opening the door to his SUV, not noticing a pile of police-horse-shit right beneath him, getting warned by some passers by, and moving on; Markos Moulitsas of DailyKos holding a press conference outside the bloggers’ Big Tent; Harold Ford at a shmancy party at the Denver Art Museum, accompanied by a hot white woman of exactly the type he got attacked for associating with in that famous commercial; Charles Schumer, in awful boat shoes and bad khakis, doing a rendition of “Lipstick on My Collar” for a group of attractive women at the same party; Nebraska Senate candidate and New Yorker Talk of the Town hottie Scott Kleeb, smoking outside the Rolling Stone party and complaining about how The New Yorker drew him with his jeans tucked into his boots, which is not how he wears them; and on, and on.

It was somewhat interesting to see these sorts of semi-celebs outside of the electric boxes they usually inhabit. But far more interesting—because less numerous, more eclectic, and less intimately connected to the subject at hand—was the collection of actual celebrities who popped up here and there in Denver, going about their conventioneering business.

Our list, compiled from sightings with our very own eyes or those of our Denver friends:

Charles Barkley on the Pepsi Center floor watching preparations for the Hillary Clinton speech; Spike Lee strolling through downtown; Susan Sarandon being introduced to RZA outside a performance by Bill Maher; two actors from Mad Men who, having just finished up shooting their last show of the season, and having then immediately jumped on a jet to get to Obama’s speech, were rushing into Mile High Stadium; Wendell Pierce from The Wire headed toward a security checkpoint; Joe Pantoliano of The Sopranos at the above-mentioned museum party; and a bunch of others whose activities couldn’t be remembered at the moment: Steven Spielberg, Ken Burns, Matthew Modine, Cornel West, and, finally, Annette Bening.

Not a bad for four days at a political function.

Hillary Clinton on Sarah Palin

posted by on August 29 at 5:34 PM

On the plane back from Denver I was imagining, with Charles and Annie, what Obama’s ideal “Statement from Hillary Clinton on Sarah Palin” would be. It went something like this:

We need more women in high offices in this country, and I congratulate Sen. McCain on trying to make history by picking Gov. Sarah Palin as his vice presidential nominee. But the struggle for gender equality is not just about equal opportunity. It’s about equal expectations.

The American people have a right to expect a President and Vice President who are ready on day one, and unfortunately Gov. Palin, a half-term governor from Alaska, possesses a political resume far too thin for someone a heartbeat away from the presidency.

Someday we will break the glass ceiling that has kept women out of the most powerful offices in the White House, but when we do it should be with a qualified woman who defends women’s rights and has the experience to lead our nation. Unfortunately, Gov. Palin is not that woman.

When I arrived home just now, I received in my in-box the actual, official “STATEMENT FROM SEN. HILLARY CLINTON ON SEN. MCCAIN’S VP SELECTION.”

It is this:

We should all be proud of Governor Sarah Palin’s historic nomination, and I congratulate her and Senator McCain. While their policies would take America in the wrong direction, Governor Palin will add an important new voice to the debate.

Slog Commenter Book Report 2: Comte Does The Gypsy Morph

posted by on August 29 at 5:28 PM

We’ve started to run commenter book reports on Slog. At Slog Happy, willing commenters grab advance reader copies that I provide and then write book reports. Now, it’s Comte’s turn. Any errors should be assumed to be the editor’s fault. I am the editor. Take it away, Comte, and thanks:


The Gypsy Morph by Terry Brooks

First off: I’m not a fan of sword & sorcery/fantasy novels. I’ve read
exactly one of Anne McCaffrey’s Pern novels, none of the Harry
Potters, and perhaps one Tolkien, many many years ago, and that’s it.
So, I don’t have any intimate knowledge of Terry Brooks’ Shannara
series (or what I assume are other co-existing fantasy worlds in his
oeuvre), and really only picked this particular book up off
the pile out of mild curiosity more than anything else.

From what I gather, Brooks has created several alternate-reality
scenarios over the course of his career, most of which, as best I can
tell, seem to fall into a pretty standard “magic and mythical
creatures” paradigm. His latest work, The Gypsy Morph is,
apparently, an attempt to blend several of his worlds together, while
simultaneously acting as something of a prequel to them; a tall order
to be sure.

For his fans, The Gypsy Morph may be a satisfying merging of these
stories, answering questions of origin, filling in narrative
gaps, bringing the various series full-circle, and what-not. But, for
a first-time reader, a book like this must either stand on its own, or
at the very least compel one to delve further into the worlds he’s
created. In this case, while the novel is a quick and relatively
painless read despite the noticeable lack of back story, it’s also not
one that makes me want to pick up any of the other related works to
learn more about the characters or their journey.

The plot is pretty standard fare: in a post-apocalyptic world,
rag-tag bands of humans, genetically mutated former humans, and
mythological beings, roam across the devastated countryside in search
of a safe haven, while being inexorably pursued by armies of sadistic,
magic-wielding demons bent on exterminating the last remnants of
civilization. The cast of characters includes a particularly
precocious tribe of moppets known as the “Ghosts”, who have taken on
the identities of animals (“Hawk”, “Panther”, “Cat”, et al) and who
display the obvious personality stereotypes associated with their
chosen names. In addition, there are two sibling elves tasked with
protecting their entire race from a demonic onslaught
, and a couple of
modern-day knights errant charged with joining these
scattered groups together, and eventually marching them all safely to
an unknown destination where they will all ride out the coming End Of The World.

After the prerequisite series of plodding treks, not-so-surprising
captures, hair-breadth escapes, and ponderous confrontations (when
will the bad guys ever learn that, when you finally have your enemy at
your mercy, engaging them in long arguments over competing
philosophical viewpoints is going to end badly
?) these disparate bands
eventually team up, and through the nascent skills of a human born of
“wild magic” (the eponymous Gypsy Morph of the title), overcome the
various-and-sundry obstacles thrown in their path (Marauding militias!
Shape-shifting child-eaters! Dust storms! Oh my!) and wend their way
across the Eastern Washington (!) wilderness, where they engage in a
final battle-royal against the forces of darkness, before arriving at
their promised safe-hold high in the Montana Rockies just before the
inevitable prophesized Armageddon takes place; and all this while
predictably managing to lose only a mere handful of secondary
characters along the way.

It’s all very Tolkienesque both in tone and structure; Lord of The
Rings set in the future
instead of the distant past, but otherwise
pretty familiar stuff.

Where Brooks shows some initiative, however, and what makes The Gypsy
stand out somewhat from the norm is his ability to juggle
several parallel and overlapping story-lines, gradually merging them
into a single, tight, albeit predictable narrative. The story of Hawk
and the Ghosts’ exodus takes up most of the novel, but an almost equal
portion is given over a parallel plot concerning the plight of the
elves, and their savior, Errisen, who must somehow overcome a demonic
siege of their one-and-only city, magically transport it into the
relative safety of something called the “loden”, then carry this
burden out of Hidden-Elfland to join up with the humans. In addition,
both plots are paralleled themselves by the stories of the two
“Knights of the Word”, who have been given responsibility for ensuring
the success of both missions. It seems pretty clear that these tales
weren’t originally intended for a mash-up
, but Brooks nevertheless
manages to merge them together with sufficient plausibility to prevent
the reader’s eyes from rolling into the back of their head in utter

Which for a fantasy novel, is as much as one can expect, I suppose.

Another God

posted by on August 29 at 5:22 PM


New Orleans residents observed the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s devastation on Friday with solemn ceremonies and community events. And then they went to board up their homes and businesses and possibly prepare to evacuate as they await the onslaught of Hurricane Gustav.

Tropical Storm Gustav officially became a hurricane again Friday as it set its sights on the Cayman Islands. Oil traders eyed the storm’s projected path toward the Gulf of Mexico. Residents all along the Gulf Coast, from Pensacola, Fla. to Brownsville, Texas, are watching the skies, the surf and the oncoming storm. Hurricane Gustav’s current path is aimed almost directly at Louisiana. Forecasters anticipate the storm could make landfall sometime late Monday or early Tuesday.

And when is the RNC? September 1-4, 2008. And who recently was praying to God for a storm that would ruin the DNC’s closing event? And what happened? Nothing. Sunshine all over Denver. And relative peace over the rest of America. If there is a God, we now know who He wants to sit next Him on the mighty throne of world power.

Low Tech Text Message

posted by on August 29 at 5:04 PM


PAX In Photos

posted by on August 29 at 4:41 PM

Who says PAX isn’t about politics?


I didn’t have time to confirm whether Obama can use “race cards” like throwing stars or not. Will check on that one later.

Photos of proud gamers and costumed fools after the jump:

Continue reading "PAX In Photos" »

Pass It On

posted by on August 29 at 4:21 PM

I know many people think it’s inappropriate to mention that John McCain is very old, although I do think the fact that he picked a young, vibrant running mate is a concession to his age being a very important issue, indeed. Those who are offended (which seems to be people who have parents who are still vibrant at 72, which begs the question “Would you want your parents to have the most demanding job in the world at 72?” But I digress), you should not click the link on this post.

But for those who agree that age is an issue, Wonkette just put up a brilliant bit of internet juxtaposition that should be forwarded far and wide. Pass it on.

Youth Pastor Watch

posted by on August 29 at 3:43 PM

YPW tipper Jennifer sent this picture in…


“I thought you might appreciate this,” Jennifer wrote in the attached note. “I was driving today and saw this sign at a local church: ‘SERMON: IF I HAD CHRIST’S HANDS WHAT WOULD I TOUCH?’ Of course I immediately thought of “Youth Pastor Watch” and answered, “Uh, children, apparently!”

Moving on…


Former Walworth County youth pastor denies sexual abuse charges

A Lake Geneva teen attended youth group in the 1970s to learn about God and Christianity, but she claims a counselor had sex with her after playing a “trust” game.

The woman, now 49, for the first time Wednesday confronted the man accused of assaulting her, pointing toward him in Walworth County Court, saying he had sex with her 34 years ago when she was 15 and 16…. Russell J. Lesser, 63, Bryson City, N.C., is accused of having sex with the woman 40 to 60 times, including one time at his house on the girl’s prom night, according to the criminal complaint.

The former Youth for Christ Campus Life minister is charged with two felony counts of sexual intercourse with a child and felony indecent behavior with a child.

And the youth pastors that aren’t raping kids on their prom nights are contributing to the childhood-obesity epidemic. Florida:

Kicking off the new school year, the Marco Presbyterian Youth Group started the afternoon meeting with a Bible lesson by Jonathan Loero, youth pastor….

The first meeting culminated with the group, spoons in hand, racing out to the church patio area to dig into a 25-foot ice cream sundae with all the trimmings.

Come Back to the QFC, Milky Tuna, Milky Tuna

posted by on August 29 at 2:56 PM

This just in from the FDA:

Quality Food Centers (QFC) said today it is recalling five deli tuna salad items sold at some QFC stores in Washington and Oregon. Salad dressing used to make these items may contain milk not listed on the label. Customers should return the product to stores for a refund or replacement.

The following deli-prepared items are included in the QFC recall:
Tuna Pecan Salad Sell by: Aug. 29-30
Tuna Salad-Stuffed Tomat Sell by: Aug. 29-30
Gourmet Tuna Wrap Sell by: Aug. 27-28
Custom-Prepared Whole Sandwich with Tuna Salt Prepared: Aug. 25-26
Custom-Prepared Half Sandwich with Tuna Salad Prepared: Aug. 25-26

People who are allergic to milk run the risk of a serious or life-threatening reaction if they consume this product. No illnesses have been reported. For most consumers, there is no safety issue with the product. The recall includes 74 QFC stores. QFC has already contacted all customers known to have purchased these items by telephone.

GOP Family Values

posted by on August 29 at 2:55 PM

Cindy McCain’s half-sister—one of Cindy’s two half-siblings—was a little surprised when Cindy described herself as “an only child.” Maybe that’s why she’s voting for Obama?

Portalski, 65, and the potential first lady, 54, have the same father: Jim Hensley, the founder of the beer distributor Hensley and Co. that Cindy McCain now chairs.

In an interview with NPR News’ All Things Considered last week, Portalski said she felt “like a non-person” after Cindy McCain described herself as an “only child.”

Portalski’s mother is Hensley’s first wife; Cindy McCain’s mother, Marguerite Hensley, also had another daughter from her first marriage…. Portalski’s son Nathan, a 45-year-old aerospace machinist, is also backing Obama.

Via Queerty.

Savage Love Letter of the Day

posted by on August 29 at 2:09 PM

You’ve helped before, so I’m putting before you the doozy of a problem that’s cropped up recently in my love life—in my life in general, actually:

I’m a middle-aged guy, and my boyfriend has just left his teens. We originally got to know each other because I like to tie up muscular young guys and he’s a muscular young guy who likes getting tied up. But he’s a smart, funny, original kid, and after a few months, we started actually LIKING each other. Not to get all mushy on you, but at some point that like turned to love. We still get off like crazy on the bondage and the sex, but my point is, there’s a lot more going on than just that these days.

Here’s the problem: His narrow-minded, homophobic parents (who are a little younger than I am), were snooping around in his room and found video clips on his computer that pretty clearly illustrate his interests. He still lives with his parents who were, before this, entirely ignorant of their son’s sexual orientation or activities with me. They’re now threatening all the things asshole/bully parents usually threaten: to kick him out, to stop paying for his school, and to disown him.

Continue reading "Savage Love Letter of the Day" »

“When Olympic Endorsements Go Bad”

posted by on August 29 at 2:00 PM

Defamer unearths a disturbing old gem.

“It makes my taco pop.”

Beat that, bro.

Also, in answer to the ad-opening query, “What do champion gymnasts Paul Hamm, Morgan Hamm, and Shawn Johnson have in common?”: the exact same voice.

In Praise of Pixifoods

posted by on August 29 at 1:41 PM


As blogger/neologist Joe Posnanski puts it:

Pixifood (PIKZ-ee-food), noun: Any food substance that is highly pleasant to the taste as a child and tastes shockingly unpleasant once you become an adult.

Among Posnanski’s key pixifoods:

Tang As a child it tastes like: Fruity drink goodness. As an adult it tastes like: Laundry detergent
Pop Tarts As a child tastes like: Flavor-filled pastry with delightful crunchy coating. As an adult tastes like: Manila folders injected with jelly.
Dinty Moore Beef Stew As a child it tastes like: The absolute best camping food available. As an adult it tastes like: Dog Food

My personal pixi-faves: frozen fish sticks, Salisbury steak TV dinners, and the entire culinary ouvre of Chef Boyardee.

Read Posnanski’s full pixifood manifesto here.

My Fellow Americans…

posted by on August 29 at 1:33 PM

…it’s my honor to link to VPILF.


This Week on Drugs

posted by on August 29 at 1:25 PM

Mass Money: Soros behind a measure to decriminalize pot this November; a poll finds voters favor the initiative by 72 percent.

Arkansas: Town submitting petition signatures to make pot lowest enforcement priority.

Bolivia: Takes US anti-drug money while declaring, “Long live coca, death to the yanquis!”

Bacteria: Killed by pot.

Suit: Doctor sues after undercover agents pose as patients trying to get marijuana authorization.

Brute: Twelve headless corpses found in Mexico.

Mute: A new treatment for autism.

Tool: Martin Sheen, a former alcoholic, campaigns against drug rehab.

Kool: Man faces charges for 400,000 contraband cigarettes.

Mule: Man ingests 91 heroin pellets, faces 25 years in prison.

Burners: Washington pot patients want more pot.

Juicers: Three minor league pitchers suspended for using performance-enhancing drugs.

Coffee Makers: Recalled for risk of turning into flaming plastic blobs.

The Internet is a Race…

posted by on August 29 at 1:13 PM

…and surely someone has beaten me to this. But I’ve been locked in a sound- and web-proof room all morning. Doesn’t the current governor of Alaska and potential future VP look a hell of a lot like SNL alum Tina Fey?


Hopefully this means that Fey will be guest-starring on SNL through November.

Obama from the Floor

posted by on August 29 at 11:42 AM

While Eli was ensconced in his swank Mile High press box…


… I spent the whole evening on the floor with the Washington delegation.

Once it cooled down a little bit—and people had time to recover from hour-long waits in the sweltering sun to get in to the stadium—Washington delegates broke out into near-continuous dance party in the space behind the stage-right cameras. Seattle Obama delegate Chris Porter was a prime instigator.



The dance party was getting some funny looks from the Texas delegation directly to the front. They were a bit more buttoned-up.


“In case you’re wondering,” said superdelegate Eileen Macoll (who, though she was a Clinton supporter, ultimately switched her vote to Obama), “We’re Washington State.” “I was going to say,” replied a Texan.

At points, Rep. Jay Inslee and Gov. Chris Gregoire joined in (the latter prompting chants of “Go Gregoire, go Gregoire”).



7th Congressional District Rep. Jim McDermott steered clear.


The energy on the floor was unfocused compared to previous evenings at the convention hall. There was too much to look at and talk about. But people started to quiet down for Martin Luther King III.


Bill Richardson was an excellent speaker too—more effective with the enormous crowd than I would’ve expected from his sometimes tired-seeming primary speeches. And people absolutely adored Al Gore, especially the shoutout to young people who’ve gotten involved in the political process for the first time. He talked about global warming with more intensity than any other speaker. There was even a hint of terror in his warnings. Interesting contrast with Obama, whose “our planet is in peril” line is starting to sound overly rehearsed.


After Al Gore concluded, the Washington delegation struck up a “Yes We Can” chant, but switched to “Fired up / Ready to go!” when that caught on among the community credential crowd up in the risers.

It’s insane how many people were in that stadium. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a venue that big, and that crowded. By 6:30 pm, the fire department had shut down the floor: Nobody could come in, and that meant nobody was willing to leave.

After the hushed quiet, and the fireflies circling overhead, and the weeping… Obama’s bread-and-butter, rhetorically restrained speech left the delegates plenty of room to breathe. No one fainted, and no one looked likely to faint. But people were into it, hissing at mentions of McCain, yelling “Yes! Yes!” in response to his strong words on the long-term uselessness of offshore drilling, screaming approval at shoutouts to gays and veterans. But it’s interesting—I think the vets line got so much love because it was a reference to the soaring language of Obama’s 2004 address to the convention. The delegates weren’t so much cheering for the vets as for the beautiful words that first brought Obama to their attention:

The times are too serious, the stakes are too high for this same partisan playbook. So let us agree that patriotism has no party. I love this country, and so do you, and so does John McCain. The men and women who serve in our battlefields may be Democrats and Republicans and Independents, but they have fought together and bled together and some died together under the same proud flag. They have not served a Red America or a Blue America—they have served the United States of America.

So I’ve got news for you, John McCain. We all put our country first.

And, of course, they were cheering for the direct hit on John McCain’s lame sloganeering.

After the speech, a few of the red, white, and blue crepe streamers got caught on the wires for the overhead camera. The fireworks, the music, the image on the big screen of Sasha and Malia Obama playing with one of Biden’s grandkids—these things were exhilarating, but for me, the jellyfish streamers against a smoke-filled sky captured the mood better than anything else. It’s eerie, this opportunity to participate in a landmark moment in United States history. It doesn’t deflate the excitement, but it makes your excitement more hushed, and more sublime.


After the speech, I asked for Mayor Nickels’s opinion. I’ve never seen him so animated: “I thought it was a remarkable speech. You know, this is my first convention. I didn’t want to go to a convention until I was passionate about a candidate.” Specifically, Nickels liked the direct, unflinching challenge to McCain: “He drew a line in the sand and said—I will debate this. That is so different from what we’ve been used to. I am really proud.”

Governor Gregoire was equally impressed: “I thought it was absolutely fabulous. He showed us the heart and soul inside of Barack Obama. He showed he can be tough; he showed he’s a visionary.”

I got some very interesting responses from Clinton and Obama delegates too, but they’re going to have to wait. I have a plane to catch.

Denver has been absolutely exhausting—logistically, this convention has been one shitty thing after another—but I am so glad I came.

Today The Stranger Suggests

posted by on August 29 at 11:00 AM

Boozy B-Boys

Rords of the Froor VI

Drinking plus dancing equals Rords of the Froor, Seattle’s infamous and heee-larious drunken breakdancing competition. Sixteen amateurs and 16 pros battle for the grand prize of $1,500, the dubious title of “World (Drunk) Breakdance Champion,” one big-ass trophy, AND, if they choose, the option to puke on my shoes for a Drunk of the Week column. Whoop! (The War Room, 722 E Pike St, 328-7666. 6 pm registration and rooftop barbecue/9 pm battle, $10 before 10 pm/$15 after, 21+. Costumes required for battlers.)


The Ladies Man

posted by on August 29 at 10:59 AM

(photoshopping by Kelly O)

The Tokin’ Token

posted by on August 29 at 10:39 AM

Palin admitted to smoking pot—on more than one occasion, even though she says she didn’t care for it—back when she was running for governor way, way back in 2006:

Palin doesn’t support legalizing marijuana, worrying about the message it would send to her four kids. But when it comes to cracking down on drugs, she says methamphetamines are the greater threat and should have a higher priority.

Palin said she has smoked marijuana—remember, it was legal under state law, she said, even if illegal under U.S. law—but says she didn’t like it and doesn’t smoke it now.

“I can’t claim a Bill Clinton and say that I never inhaled.”

Yes, yes: we wouldn’t want to send kids the message that pot is some sort of harmless drug that you can use and still somehow go on to become the governor of a state, a vice-presidential nominee, and, if you get elected and your elderly running mate’s heart gives out, perhaps even president of the United States. Yeah, that would be the wrong message.

Via Sullivan.

Happy 72nd Birthday, John McCain!

posted by on August 29 at 10:28 AM


Photo from the always-jaw dropping Cake Wrecks.

A lot has been said already of McCain’s weaselly attempts to steal the limelight and bounce from Obama by choosing his VP today. I think Palin will ultimately be proven to be a weak choice—think Quayle and Kemp and other VPs chosen to make a dried-up old husk look alive again—but I think the placement of this choice is meant to obscure another truth of the day.

Today is John McCain’s birthday. He turns 72 today.

Wow, John McCain. Wow. 72! Most people in my family who are 72 spend three or four hours a day worrying if their bowels will decide to function on that particular day. Seventy-two years old! Think of it! Even though you occasionally twirl your mom around on the campaign trail to not-so-subtly suggest that you would live through two terms of a presidency, the fact is that your body—which, we are all reminded frequently, was tortured for five and a half years by [insert racist term for Vietnamese people here] homosexuals—has already been ravaged by cancer. If you had your way and you won the presidency, do you really believe you’d remain a capable and cogent human being until you turned 80? Really?

Anyway, this is not the time nor the place to be wondering whether you are losing your mind to senility and an increasingly scary temper in your old age. You’re 72 today! John McCain is 72 fucking years old! Everybody should think of you, and your 72-year journey, from the aforementioned five and a half years of crippling torture to the Keating Five scandals of the late eighties, on this auspicious day.

Sarah Palin Is an Anagram for “A Sharp Nail”

posted by on August 29 at 10:12 AM


A sharp nail straight into my heart. She’s killing my longstanding fantasy—that McCain would rediscover his maverick backbone and use this campaign to hurl evangelicals off the Republican train and put out the call to Goldwater conservatives to take back their hijacked party.

But this Palin is a “conservative Christian,” fiercely pro-life, and pundits on the Christian Broadcasting Network are wetting their tight little khakis over her selection. From Dr. Land, at the Southern Baptist Convention:

Governor Palin is a vice-presidential selection which shows that John McCain at the age of 72 today is still able to think outside the box. Governor Palin will delight the Republican base. She is pro-life. She is an avid hunter and member of The National Rifle Association and is both a conservationist and someone who avidly believes in exploiting our fossil fuel resources as well as developing other forms of energy. A mother of five and a background as a television commentator makes her appear to be a very solid candidate for appealing to a lot of women who feel that Senator Clinton was treated disrespectfully by the Obama camp.

Great. Just great. Nothing would’ve been better for the party than to ditch its social-conservative/fiscally-spendy/Rapture-Ready wing and embrace its better, more Goldwater half. (Plus, McCain, as a former POW, could’ve killed the sharpest criticism of Goldwater—that he was dumb about Vietnam—by saying he understands all too well the cost of that war, blah blah blah.)

But this Palin chick is suffocating the dream. And sucking all the dramatic tension out of the Convention, which I’d hoped would be a Night of Long Knives, in which McCain and his band of secret agnostic assassins slit the throats of jerkbags who look like this:


I blame Obama and the wedgies he shoved into the evangelical base.

Now, by picking Palin, McCain’s put himself in bed with people who write crap like this (from an evangelical blog):

I have been amazed at the number of younger evangelicals (early career and college) that are flocking to Obama. He has the mark of cain and is proud of it, yet that seems not to matter to them.

(Mark of Cain? Real classy, Christian guy. American Evangelicals: Marrying Idiocy and Bigotry Since the Flood™.)

McCain could’ve done the right thing—lost the election while getting rid of the most pernicious force in American politics since racism. But he had to go and pick Palin for vice president.

But she’ll always be McCain’s vice to me.

You’ve Gone Too Far, Hershey’s (Or, Why the Fuck Do They Keep Ruining Good Candy?)

posted by on August 29 at 10:00 AM


For the most part, I’ve felt okay about all the new versions of Hershey Kisses that have bombarded the market the past few years. Plain ol’ (cheap) milk chocolate wasn’t enough for the world, consumers wanted variety. So Hershey’s (as you no doubt noticed) started introducing new flavors of Kisses… dark chocolate, mint, cherry, motherfucking NEW YORK CHEESECAKE.

Some were flops (raspberry and strawberry), some are now a permanent part of the Hershey Kisses family (peanut butter and caramel).

But this season, they’ve gone too far; this season, they’ve introduced Candy Corn Kisses.

They look like candy corn—layers of white, orange, and yellow white chocolate—and they smell like the artificial vanilla lip gloss I wore in sixth grade. They taste like store-bought Betty Crocker frosting, but instead of being creamy, sugary, and delicious (and on top of a cake) it’s in solid, striped form. That’s what makes it wrong. It’s like eating a big chunk of sweetened chemicals. While I was able to stomach one (for the sake of science) co-worker Anthony Hecht spit it out immediately after it touched his tastebuds.

It’s not like this is filling a big hole in the market, either. Candy corn already exists as its own kind of candy. Was it really necessary to make it into a Hershey Kiss? If I wanted to eat candy corn, I’d eat some motherfucking candy corn. This brings nothing new to the table.

They’re available at QFC, should you want to try it. You sick bastard, you.

(While we’re on the subject of candy, did you know they have Pomegranate flavored Tootsie Pops? The pomegranate trend is officially absurd.)

Imperial Spider

posted by on August 29 at 9:59 AM

art.spider.jpg And what is this all about?

The family of a British soldier serving in Afghanistan has been forced from their home after a poisonous spider hitched a ride back with him and apparently killed their pet dog.

The camel spider’s bite is not deadly to humans but can kill small animals.

Lorraine Griffiths and her three children, aged 18, 16, and 4, moved out of their house in Colchester, southeast England, and are refusing to return until the spider is apprehended, the UK Press Association reported.

Griffiths told the East Anglian Daily Times that the spider appeared after her husband, Rodney, returned from a four-month tour of duty in Helmand province, the arid southern Afghan frontline in the fight against Taliban extremists.

“My son Ricky was in my bedroom looking for his underwear, and he went into the drawer under my bed, and something crawled across his hand,” she told the paper.

She said their pet dog Cassie confronted the creature, which they identified on the Internet as a camel spider, but ran out whimpering when it hissed at her.

Ring a bell? A 19th century bell? The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins? The Sign of the Four by Arthur Conan Doyle? Yes, you can see now that this story about the British soldier, the return, and the evil spider that is brought back to the home land is a classic example of colonial anxiety. The imperial adventures always have this worry, this fear, this sickening sense of exposure. The spider is nothing other than a sign of British guilt.

Reading Tonight

posted by on August 29 at 9:50 AM

In the run-up to Bumbershoot, there’s only one reading going on tonight, but it’s a doozy: Dan Clowes will be at the Fantagraphics Store in Georgetown. While Ghost World (movie trailer above) is a pretty amazing thing, I’m especially fond of Ice Haven, a book that Clowes put out maybe three or four years ago. It’s the story of a kidnapping in a small town, told in all kinds of different cartooning styles. And The Death Ray, which I believe was the last issue of Eightball published to date, is pretty great too. You should go.

(Sigh.) Whatever happened to Thora Birch?

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

Germans Are Were Scary

posted by on August 29 at 9:46 AM

Nazi television from the 1930s, compiled by Spiegel TV. (Thanks for the heads up, MetaFilter.)

Obama’s Speech at Moe Bar, the Twilight

posted by on August 29 at 9:12 AM

Outside of Capitol Hill’s liberal/hipster/(insert pejorative here) bubble, there are sports bars and suburbs and racists and rednecks, but last night at Moe Bar, practically the nucleus of the bubble, there were only enthusiastic young people and professionals (I can tell I’m getting old becaue I’m shocked at how young some legal drinkers look), neighborhood workers grabbing a drink, and excited politicos with buttons and stickers and mailing lists. The place was already almost standing room only at 5:30. Spare chairs quickly became a precious commodity, as well as a conversation starter—at the table next to me a Washington Bus volunteer shared a seat and reacquainted with a Microsoft employee she’d met at some previous rally.

The volume is too low to hear clearly for Stevie Wonder. A woman at a nearby table says that she read on Slog that Moe Bar would have ample sound running through their PA system tonight. Steven Severin, no doubt still touchy about noise complaints from the neighbors, wondered how high to crank the sound. As Gore appeared, the same woman shouted, “Turn it up.” They turned it up, people hushed, and Gore killed it.

Gore’s recycling joke got some hearty laughs. I was especially please that in his litany of alternative fuels he didn’t mention “clean coal,” which sounds like a huge fucking Kentucky hoax to me (later, there was a clean coal advertisement, and Obama made his usual shout out to the dubious substance). But after the first major thrust of his energy-minded speech, the chatter in the bar rose a bit. A regular grabs a seat at the table next to me, asking his friend, “What the fuck is this?” “Democratic National Convention,” his friend replies.

In what kind of an unjust world does Michael McDonald headline over Stevie Wonder? Possibly in the kind of world where Obama still has to play down the whole race thing. And McDonald is about as white as it gets, from that voice straight up to his blinding white hair. There is no love (ie, volume) in Moe Bar for this performance. Dick Durbin says we’re going to hear from “A teacher, a firefighter, etc,” to which I crack to my new buddy at the next table, “and a priest, and a rabbi…” There are dutiful and heartfelt boos for Rossi, that weaselly fucker, whose ad seems to be attempting to coattail on Obama.

Moe is way crowded, and I’ve heard rumors of an Obama themed drinking game (words suggested for taking shots: hope, change, america; word not suggested: god) down at the Twilight, so I catch a ride there, only to find Matt Hickey and no drinking game. Still, it’s a hell of a speech, and the Twilight is mostly empty and relaxed. The TV is clearly audible, but so too is the intermittently dinging cook’s bell and the Tetris machine’s vaguely Russian 8-bit demo music. Everybody laughs when the camera cuts to Biden and he does that stupid “shooter” point—total “cool” dad move; Hickey: “I love this guy!” Someone I assume is a regular walks in, wearing a straw hat, ambles towards the TV, raises a black power fist, and proclaims, OBAMA!” before heading to the bar for the rest of the speech. I really hope this guy (not the one in the straw hat, the one on TV) is our next president.

Family Values

posted by on August 29 at 8:29 AM


So now we’ve learned that Sarah Palin is McCain’s choice for nominee. I have to say. It’s a daring pick but I think a very weak pick. I’m perfectly happy with it. Palin is in the midst of a reasonably serious scandal in her home state. Her brother-in-law is a state trooper who is in the midst of an ugly custody battle with her sister. And she’s accused of getting the state police to fire him. Recently she was forced to admit that one of her aides had done this, though she insists she didn’t know.

McCain’s VP

posted by on August 29 at 8:08 AM

Is a lady, Hillary supporters—a lady.

McCain’s pick will, without a doubt, appeal to many of those “Democrats” we’ve heard so much from this week—on cable networks, on NPR, in the papers. These bitter & silly Clinton supporters who insist that sexism derailed the Clinton campaign and not, you know, the Clinton campaign’s incompetence. So upset are these deluded Hillary dead-enders—and not all Clinton supporters are deluded dead-enders, only this vocal and pandered-to subset—that they’re prepared to vote for John McCain, the Republican candidate whose positions on health care, choice, equal-pay-for-equal-work, etc., are the exact opposite of Democrat Hillary Clinton’s positions.

McCain Chooses Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as VP

posted by on August 29 at 8:05 AM

The only non-corrupt Republican left up there? McCain better hope so.

I know very little about Gov. Palin and I’m on the run in Denver this morning, packing up and dashing to the airport, so I won’t have time to read up on her. But the most obvious point is that she’s a woman and she’s young (a few years younger than Obama, and more than 20 years younger than McCain).

That probably keeps the gender and age issues squarely on the table, but doesn’t it take the experience debate off the table? A 44-year-old governor no one’s heard of doesn’t exactly scream, “Ready on day one.” (Or, more to the point, “Ready if McCain drops dead.”)

The pick does suggest, however, that Republicans may be more worried about carrying Alaska this year than they’ve let on.

On the Radio

posted by on August 29 at 8:04 AM

I’ll be on KUOW’s Weekday this morning, talking about the news of the week—or, really, the only news of the week that I’ve been following, which is the Democratic National Convention madness here in Denver.

94.9 FM if you want to listen.

The Morning News

posted by on August 29 at 8:02 AM

A New Hope: Obama accepts nomination, America swoons.

Place Your Bets: McCain to announce VP pick.

Battle in Bangkok:
Thai police clash with protesters pushing for change in government.

If At First You Don’t Succeed As Gustav heads towards Gulf Coast, New Orleans readies evacuation plan.

Bomb the Sububs:
California legislature works to reduce driving, sprawl.

Don’t Be Late For Class:
North Texas teachers allowed to carry concealed guns.

Head Case: Mexican police find 11 headless corpses.

Cutting Corners: Canadian airline removes life vests from planes to lighten load.

One more Saturday morning classic:

If You Ever Want to Smell Like Tim McGraw

posted by on August 29 at 7:33 AM

Now you can. Available at the fragrance counter at Walgreen’s.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Master of Illusions

posted by on August 28 at 9:00 PM


The descriptions of the transformation of Denver’s Invesco Field peppered the Republican blogosphere hours before Barack Obama was set to address a dancing, jubilant crowd of more than 70,000 supporters on the Democratic National Convention’s final night.

Designed by Emmy Award-winning entertainment behemoths, the set has spectacular columns, concert lighting, JumboTrons and rising royal blue circular stairs — an arena where warm-up acts such and Sheryl Crow looked right at home. Stevie Wonder led the crowd in a sing-a-long, “Bah-hah-rack-O-bama!”

The conservative online magazine The American Thinker remarked that the stage made use of the “basic stagecraft of visual illusion.”

And Mission Accomplished? And Karl Rove? And the RNC’s 2004 convention? The right just doesn’t like it at all when they’re hit hard by something they believe they have down to a science. Yes, it was a spectacle, and you have to match it or step back and shut up.

The right has become a bunch of whiners.

Obama Kids

posted by on August 28 at 8:41 PM

obamarap.jpg On the streets of downtown Denver, a very smart and good rap group called Cool Kids is killing it. As if in honor of the new racial era in America, the black rappers are doing a tribute to the Beastie Boys.

Hiphop and Obama? What’s been interesting is too see these tough-looking black youth wearing baggy Obama T-shirts. The fact that they have Obama on them, and not Tupac or some admired underworld figure, softens their appearance to the point of being nonthreatening. I want to give this Obama effect a little more thought in the future.

Obama’s Speech at the FOX Sports Grill

posted by on August 28 at 8:38 PM

I couldn’t believe it when I called this morning. A manager at the FOX Sports Grill said that they would be showing Obama’s speech “on the big screen with the sound on.” Really? I’ve got to see how this crowd reacts.

Paneled with hardwood and flat-screen televisions, the FOX News Sports Bar is a dugout man club. At the bar were 15 guys but only seven necks. Trying to emulate the build of their on-screen icons, the fans replaced the bulk they lacked in muscle with sliders and lager. There were 19 televisions.

At 6:45 p.m., the bartender told a cute, dark-haired guy to my left that after a football game finished playing on NBC, the big screen would stay tuned in for Obama’s speech. “You’d think that the loyalty would be to FOX,” said the guy drinking Miller Lite. “I came here so I don’t have to watch that shit.” A guy on my right ordered a “Tiger Woods.”

Less than a minute into the pre-speech video, anti-Obama murmurs rose from the crowd—the other 18 screens still showing football and baseball would not be enough! “If you’re going to show the convention, I’m out,” said the lager quaffer. “I got to get out of here—I can’t handle this.”

And then, just as Obama stepped out and everyone at Inveso Field screamed, the screen flicked away from a performance that would direct the future of the United States, and switched to an ESPN football game that would have no ramifications. The crowd shattered into applause.

I approached a hostess, who said there was a screen on Obama in a back room. “It’s going to be a little secluded over here,” she said. Indeed. I had my own private viewing theater.

“I want to apologize,” said the manager on duty, Chad Depuy. “I had everyone yelling at me… I had to.” I don’t blame the guy. I was surprised he even tried.

Barack Obama

posted by on August 28 at 7:05 PM

He’s about to speak, after an introductory video. I’ll update this post as often as possible with my thoughts, but comment away. This will become the Obama speech thread.

8:05 Mountain Time: This biographical video is slow-paced, calming after all the pump-you-up music, full of pictures of Obama through the years, and all about Durbin’s message that “after this long campaign, so many of us know this man.” Or, if you don’t, you will now. The point: That Obama should come out of this convention no longer an unknown quantity to anyone who cares to pay attention.

8:10 Obama enters, dark suit and red tie, U2’s “City of Blinding Lights” playing. This has been his campaign theme song for a long time—it’s taking me back to Iowa.

8:14 The crowd won’t be quited. The thunderous foot-stamping is back.

8:16 The usual nod to Hillary and Bill Clinton—but no foot-stamping thunder from the crowd for those two.

8:18 Keeping it subdued and grounded in economic concerns. But he’s just getting going.

8:20 “Enough!” The Democratic message this year boiled down to one word.

8:23 The stadium is almost completely full. I can’t give you any more pictures like the ones below, because it’s too dark, but I see only a smattering of empty seats and those are mainly the ones with no clear sight-line to the podium.

8:25 The paean to McCain’s military service out of the way, Obama is really taking him down—in a calm, smooth, but very tough way. “Now, I don’t believe that Senator McCain doesn’t care what’s going on in the lives of Americans. I just think he doesn’t know. Why else would he define middle class as someone making under five-million dollars a year?”

8:28 A recapitulation of the “Enough!” theme. Obama now says of the Republicans, “It’s time for them to own their own failure.”

8:30 Obama, by filling a huge stadium, set himself up for more “celebrity” attacks. He just put up a shield, wrapping the story of struggling Americans into his own story, talking about being raised by a single mother, and then saying: “I don’t know what kind of lives John McCain thinks that celebrities lead, but this has been mine. These are my heroes. Theirs are the stories that shaped me. And it is on their behalf that I intend to win this election and keep our promise alive as President of the United States.” Take that, Paris and Britney.

8:35 This is a wonderfully-constructed speech. Watch how finely it is woven, paced, built to deliver all the necessary bits in fine rhythm. We are now in a State-of-the-Union-style section of promises about what Obama will do as president. He is doing here what Bill Clinton often did so well: Making the sell, pulling out the contract and going over the points like a traveling salesman, letting the audience see how great things will be if… only…

8:37 In some ways I wish I hadn’t been following this campaign for so long, because then I would know how most of the people tuning in are processing this speech. Stories like the one, just now, of his mother having to haggle with insurance companies while she was dying of cancer—I’ve had that one fed to me so often over the last year that it now tastes like nothing. Or like old cardboard. But I am not the intended audience.

8:41 And now, with his family and background introduced, and his promises laid out, we are into foreign policy. “If John McCain wants to have a debate about who has the temperament, and judgment, to serve as the next Commander in Chief, that’s a debate I’m ready to have.” What we are seeing here is Obama kicking McCain’s national security cred out from under him by calling him old, confused, hot-headed, dishonest, and just plain wrong—all in much subtler language of course.

8:45 “John McCain likes to say that he’ll follow bin Laden to the Gates of Hell—but he won’t even follow him to the cave where he lives.”

8:47 This is a tremendously strong promise of redemption to Democrats. He is promising to cast off the sense the Democrats can’t own national security and patriotism. “We are the party of Roosevelt. We are the party of Kennedy. So don’t tell me that Democrats won’t defend this country. Don’t tell me that Democrats won’t keep us safe.”

8:50 Throwing the lack-of-patriotism charge right back in McCain’s face. “I love this country, and so do you, John McCain. The men and women who serve in our battlefields may be Democrats and Republicans and Independents, but they have fought together and bled together and some died together under the same proud flag. They have not served a red America or a blue America—they have served the United States of America. So I’ve got news for you, John McCain: We all put our country first.”

That is a very hard slam against McCain’s “Country First” slogan, a jingoistic rallying cry that may be somewhat effective, and that the Obama campaign hasn’t taken on directly until now.

8:54 We are moving toward the close. His political case made (even mentioning the gays by their gay name!), Obama will now make his emotional case. “All across America something is stirring…”

8:56 Get your hankies, people. Here’s the reference to King: “‘We cannot walk alone,’ the preacher cried. ‘And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.’”

8:58 And it ends, and the crowd explodes, and the fireworks and confetti shoot off, and now we see the genius of the backdrop. It is for this shot at the end, when the potential new first family, a first family like America has never seen before, hugs, kisses, and walks arm-in-arm toward us on our screens from something that looks very much like the White House. If it can be imagined, maybe it can be made real.

9:02 And again, as with Wednesday night at the Pepsi Center, the entire, huge Biden family, in all its whiteness, comes out and warmly envelops the Obama family, absorbs the four black figures into a mass of welcoming white figures. Again: If it can be imagined, maybe it can be made real.

9:05 They all walk together into the White House—I mean, the backdrop.

9:07 The closing prayer. I’ve sat through a lot of these opening and closing prayers this week. I’ve been blessed by Jews and Muslims and Native Americans and Latinos and African American baptists. But now, with the whole country watching, I am, naturally, being blessed by the whitest of Jesus-thanking pastors.

9:10 Pelosi comes out to close the convention. I have to say I really like this idea of Robert’s Rules roving around a city. She asks for a motion to adjourn. She gets it, along with an asked-for promise that the audience will work for victory. And then she closes the convention with a rather wilting, thrice-repeated “Yes we can.”

9:13 Here’s what I think: I think Obama was, as usual, near flawless in his delivery. I think the whole staging and pacing of it was a tremendous bit of political theater. I think that he avoided all the right things: soaring too high; overtly suggesting a comparison between himself to MLK on this anniversary of the “Dream” speech; coming off as too light-weight or without a taste for blood. I think the idea of opening the convention, by way of inviting the public to a giant stadium on the last night, was very smart, especially in a swing state such as this one. And I think Obama has set himself up very well for the next big moment: the debates. He’ll be respectful of McCain’s service and accomplishments, but he won’t shrink from pointing out McCain’s failures and the feebleness of McCain’s ideas.

Perhaps—or, quite probably—Obama could have delivered a more soaring, more intricate, more detailed speech. But he didn’t need to. He needed to prove he could speak to, and relate to, the average American. And he did.

Dumb Docs

posted by on August 28 at 7:04 PM

I really hate these docs. Even this one on Obama. The worst? The one Steven Spielberg made for Iraq War soldiers. Pure cheese.

Sen. Richard Durbin

posted by on August 28 at 7:00 PM

The choice of Durbin, of Illinois, as the man to introduce Obama is clearly intended as a bookend to the journey that began at the 2004 Democratic National Convention.

Four years ago in Boston, I introduced a friend—an Illinois state senator most people had never heard of—with a name most people couldn’t pronounce. Thirty minutes later, Barack Obama’s keynote address had changed politics in America—touching the hearts and inspiring the dreams of a nation.

Nice bookend. But, it’s also a reminder that the bar is very, very high for Obama’s acceptance speech tonight—and mostly, he has to top himself.

Text Message From Seattle

posted by on August 28 at 6:56 PM

A friend writes:

I don’t know how the Greek columns look in person, but on TV they remind you of the Lincoln Memorial.

I can’t tell if that’s great, or way too morbid.

Stalling for Prime Time?

posted by on August 28 at 6:55 PM

Spotlights spinning across the crowd, “Ain’t No Stoppin Us Now” playing, but no one on stage. My guess: They’re ahead of schedule—an usual occurrence for a rally like this—and figure they’ll just let the people dance a while.

Sent from Annie

posted by on August 28 at 6:52 PM

Obama what?
-10.jpg The man with his arms crossed, Marvin, a Washington del, wanted Hillary to be on that flashly/faux Roman stage.

Where Do They Find These People?

posted by on August 28 at 6:48 PM

The parade of “American Voices” that just came across the stage was pretty hilarious. This is standard fare, but Pamela Cash-Roper, the “unemployed nurse and lifelong Republican from North Carolina,” was a huge ham who started off with something like, “You won’t believe my story!”

Which is the subtle message of every common-person talk like this, so to have her state it so baldly brought laughs in the press box.

And then Barney Smith, “Indiana plant worker—lost job of 30 yrs when plant moved to China,” with his plaid shirt and plaintive look, delivered a great line about wanting a government that will “take care of Barney Smith, not Smith Barney.”

There were actual cheers in the press box for that one. A great, over-the-top version of a campaign rally cliche. Loves it.

Now playing: “Born in the USA.”

My Life

posted by on August 28 at 6:39 PM

The story of my life. In Zimbabwe, a country that’s 99 percent black, I attended a private school that was 90 percent white. Tonight, just moments from the moment America sees with its millions of eyes the first black American to run for the highest office in the country, I’m the only black person in a bar just north of 16th and Market in Denver. The story of my life.

Biden, Durbin, and then Obama

posted by on August 28 at 6:29 PM

Joe Biden just got a huge, flag-waving welcome from the crowd. He’s either giving his own (unscheduled) speech or introducing Sen. Richard Durbin, who will introduce Obama.

The stadium is mostly full now, flashes popping all around the bowl, mini-American-flags in every third hand, dusk settling over Denver, and protective snipers standing atop the Inveso Field sign, dark little figures silhouetted beneath a giant white bucking bronco.

From Annie

posted by on August 28 at 6:28 PM

Guess who is watching Biden?
-9.jpg Yes, yes, yes.

Where Are You Watching From?

posted by on August 28 at 6:22 PM

You saw where I’m watching from. Annie is down on the floor. Charles is at the gavel-to-gavel-covering basement cabaret from the other night. Where are you?

A Salute from the Generals

posted by on August 28 at 6:16 PM

A retired Air Force General, flanked by what looks like two dozen other generals, is now speaking. Message: Military types support Obama too.

And I am not kidding here (although maybe I misheard), but I could swear one of these guys was introduced as General Fig Newton.


posted by on August 28 at 6:14 PM

Susan Eisenhower? I wish she had been my professor in college.

Again Getting Obama’s Back on “Experience”

posted by on August 28 at 6:10 PM

On Wednesday, at the Pepsi Center, Bill Clinton invoked the attacks on his supposed lack of experience in 1992 as a way of defending Obama against the current charges that he isn’t experienced enough to be commander in chief.

And just now, Al Gore offered another strong defense against the inexperience charge:

A century and a half ago, when America faced our greatest trial, the end of one era gave way to the birth of another. The candidate who emerged victorious in that election is now regarded by most historians as our greatest president. Before he entered the White House, Abraham Lincoln’s experience in elected office consisted of eight years in his state legislature in Springfield, Illinois, and one term in Congress—during which he showed the courage and wisdom to oppose the invasion of another country that was popular when it started but later condemned by history.

Sounds familiar? Gore, to strong applause from a crowd that at this moment is doing the wave and preparing to listen to singer Michael McDonald (whoever he is), made sure everyone made the connection.

Text From Annie

posted by on August 28 at 6:07 PM

Jay Inslee is quite the dancer. But Jim McDermott does not like Steve Wonder! He preferred to talk to a veteran’s group during Wonder’s performance.

Filling Up

posted by on August 28 at 6:00 PM

The view from my window:




Text Messages From the Floor

posted by on August 28 at 5:58 PM

From a friend:

Wolf Blitzer was just dancing with Donna Brazille

From Annie Wagner:

Texas is right in front of WA, and with the exception of an Indian guy in a cowboy hat they are STODGY

Al Gore

posted by on August 28 at 5:51 PM

Gore is speaking. The environment, the environment, the environment. My theory? Green will be to Obama’s promising presidency what the information highway was to Clinton’s. This is one of the big reasons why I believe Obama is going to win the election. Expect in the next decade a serious green bubble.

Obama Excerpts

posted by on August 28 at 5:30 PM

While they’re setting up the stage for Stevie Wonder I’ll give you guys some Obama speech excerpts they passed us a short time ago:

We meet at one of those defining moments—a moment when our nation is at war, our economy is in turmoil, and the American promise has been threatened once more.

Tonight, more Americans are out of work and more are working harder for less. More of you have lost your homes and more are watching your home values plummet. More of you have cars you can’t afford to drive, credit card bills you can’t afford to pay, and tuition that is beyond your reach.

These challenges are not all of government’s making. But the failure to respond is a direct result of a broken politics in Washington and the failed presidency of George W. Bush.

America, we are better than these last eight years. We are a better country than this.

Scanning the rest of the excerpts, the speech seems very nuts-and-bolts, and very tough. People have been saying Obama needs to soar a little closer to the ground tonight. I think, based on these excerpts, that he’s going to do it.

No time to re-type more of the speech for you, but there are additional excerpts here.

The Enemy

posted by on August 28 at 5:28 PM

IMG_0829.JPG Another amazing pleasure to be drawn from this race is watching Republicans like Ralph Reed having to deal with a black presidential opponent. They really hate it. How wonderful it is to watch them squirm and stutter.

As for Steven Wonder, who is performing some sorry song at this moment, why is the old man’s face lacking wrinkles?

Bill Richardson, Thunderous

posted by on August 28 at 5:25 PM

When Bill Richardson was introduced a few moments ago the crowd, bigger and bigger every moment, began stamping it’s feet in unison. It sounded like thunder at first, and I looked up from my computer and saw a clear sky and then looked down at the stage and understood.

Richardson is giving a great, red-meat speech with a bunch of memorable lines that the still-stamping crowd loves. One of them:

John McCain may be able to buy $500 shoes, but we’ll all be paying for his flip-flops.

He is way off his prepared remarks as far as I can tell. But he’s riffing, and the crowd is screaming, and now the stadium is shaking again…

Text Message From the Floor

posted by on August 28 at 5:13 PM

Annie is down on the floor of Mile High with the Washington delegation. She texts:

Washington has a rockin permanent dance circle, thanks in large part to a black gay Seattle alternate named Chris.

The Build Up

posted by on August 28 at 5:00 PM

We in the press box at Mile High were handed the official schedule not long ago. Barack Obama will speak at 8 p.m. Mountain Time (7 p.m. Pacific), and in the meantime a series of speakers and musicians are going to parade across the stage, tugging at our heart strings, upping the emotional intensity, and promoting Obama’s talking points.

Right now Sheryl Crow is singing. She was preceded by, doing the song from his famous web video with the help of a giant back-up choir. Before that came Rep. John Lewis, two children of Dr. Martin Luther King, and a video about King’s legacy that played on the jumbotron. In addition, Howard Dean and Obama campaign big-wig David Plouffe talked up Obama’s chances and tore into McCain. Jennifer Hudson sang the national anthem. Shawn Johnson did the pledge. And every major politician in Colorado, it seems, came to the stage and said this state—a key swing state, which is why the convention was held here—will be going for Obama this Novemeber.

Coming up: Stevie Wonder, Al Gore, Bill Richardson, Susan Eisenhower (granddaughter of Dwight D.), various and sundry others too numerous to mention, and then the man himself.

Re: Why is Everyone in Denver Crying All the Time?

posted by on August 28 at 4:45 PM

No sooner had I written this post than Annie Wagner and I found ourselves eating barbecue on Denver’s 16th Street Mall next to Cheryl Adams, a Hillary Clinton delegate from Cashmere, Washington.




She was still very raw about the experience of having to decide whether to stick with Clinton or not, but remains “very proud” about being one of the 25 or so Washington delegates who were ready to cast their vote for Clinton, no matter what, in the roll call vote.

The meeting Clinton held with all of her delegates on Wednesday was the toughest, Adams told us:

Talk about emotional. Oh my gosh. That’s when it got really hard. Because she was actually saying, ‘I want you to support him.’ But then she did specifically say, you know, ‘You can vote for me. I’m not telling you who to vote for.’ She kept saying that. She said, ‘But, we have to support him.’ So then you walk out and you’re like, ‘Oh my God it came right out of her mouth, it wasn’t just passed through her whip and through all those people down to us.’ And it was very hard.

Would she have listened if Clinton told her directly to vote for Obama? Doesn’t sound like it.

It just took me a second to remember why I came, and who sent me… I was like, I’m representing all those people who wanted to keep it going.

But, Adams added a few moments later, breaking into tears as she described the difficulty of coming to her decision after the meeting with Clinton:

This is the most intense thing I’ve ever been involved in… I’ve been crying for like three days… So I feel very emphatic, I feel very happy about my decision. And, you know, it’s Obama from here on out.

But, oh my gosh, this has just been—I need a vacation when I get home… You sleep four hours a night, you don’t eat all day, and don’t drink any water. I think I peed twice all day yesterday. This is insane!

Tonight’s Speechifying

posted by on August 28 at 4:33 PM

Attention, Slog:

Does anyone know of a restaurant/bar in the city of Bellevue that will be showing the DNC action tonight? A spot where I will feel hilariously out of place? Somewhere with alcohol?


City Council Members Push to Close Ethics Fine Loophole

posted by on August 28 at 4:30 PM

Earlier this week, City Council Member Richard McIver tried to use taxpayer money to pay two $500 ethics violation fines, using a city policy loophole which indemnifies council members against any financial penalties incurred in the course of their work on the council.

In response, Council Members Sally Clark, Tim Burgess, Tom Rasmussen, Jean Godden and Richard Conlin distributed a letter earlier this afternoon, promising to close the loophole some time in September.

Moments ago, McIver sent out his own letter:

Today I delivered a personal check for $1,000 to the Seattle Ethics & Elections Commission in payment for the fine assessed by that body. While my earlier action to have the City’s Judgment Claims Fund pay this fine is legally defensible, it is clear that it is not politically acceptable and creates the appearance that I somehow feel that the City’s ethics sanctions do not apply to me. That is not the case and not the impression that I want to give to the citizens of Seattle.

Good. Glad that’s settled.

Dear Comcast, Fuck You

posted by on August 28 at 4:30 PM

Comcast—which provides service to 14 million customers, including me—has just announced that beginning October 1st, they will cap customers’ data usage at 250 gigabytes a month. Users that go over could be fined or booted altogether.

Comcast says sending 20,000 high-resolution photos or 40 million emails, Downloading 50,000 songs or watching 8,000 movie trailers would put you over the limit. However, there’s already a heated debate raging on tech site message boards like Ars Technica, where one poster notes that:

250GB does sound like a lot, but by my calcs, this would limit me to roughly 30 hours of (perfectly legal!) Instant Netflix viewing on my Roku box, which streams at around 2Mbps. Please someone correct me if my math is wrong on this.

250GB = 250,000Mb -> 250,000Mbp/(2Mb/s) = 125,000 sec = 34.7 hours!

Then of course you’ve got to account for online video gaming, email, browsing and porn hunting in that 250gb of data. As Dominic Holden put it: “What is that, like, an hour on Xtube?”

It’s unclear whether this will account for both uploaded and downloaded data. DSL Reports, citing an anonymous source, says no, but it doesn’t look like there’s any official line yet.

Why is this so fucked? Well, obviously if you’re a heavy data user—or have several in your household—you’re gonna take it on the chin at some point. It’s also unbelievable that Comcast’s—rather than upgrading their infrastructure, like so many other countries have done—is just cutting users off at the knees. With the huge growth in online video distribution—like the Netflix Roku box, or upcoming video streaming on Xbox Live—this just blows my mind. The internet is not a finite resource and it doesn’t have to be this way.

I’m going to start looking around tonight to find out if Verizon or Qwest have rolled out any of their fancy high speed lines in my area.

End rant.

America the Beautiful

posted by on August 28 at 4:24 PM


At Mile High

posted by on August 28 at 3:55 PM

Annie Wagner and I have made it out to Mile High, where we have very spotty internet access—so if we go dark check back later for our take on the stadium extravaganza.

I’m up in a press sky box, watching the seats slowly fill up.


Annie is down on the floor, which is essentially the convention hall floor arrangement transported to the stadium. The big difference, though, is that the delegate floor seats are surrounded by tens of thousands more seats for the public.

Obama will speak in front of a backdrop of Greek columns and American flags, which from above seems a little much. But when I see it straight on through the TV monitors it’s not quite as bad. It’s meant, I guess, to evoke the powerful corridors of D.C.

Subliminal visual message: Look how good this guy looks in front of a set that looks kinda like the front of the White House.

But on the way in there was no mistaking that this is a stadium. People were scalping and begging for tickets, offering parking at outrageous rates ($50 in some cases), and, in the case of the Daily Show Crew, holding a tailgate party. I think that’s Samantha Bee in some sort of animal suit:


Terrible News About Slats’ Hat

posted by on August 28 at 3:12 PM


Concerned parties should proceed directly to Line Out.

Denver Done

posted by on August 28 at 2:57 PM

Obama? In the way Bill Clinton effectively shutdown the welfare system, he has effectively shutdown the radical left. The march by the Iraq War veterans ended peacefully (members of Obama’s team came out of the Pepsi Center and registered the vet’s petition—end the war now, benefits for all war vets, pay the Iraq people for the damage done to their country). Not one of the other protests ended as not a complete flop. Recreate 68 was a total joke—none of the leftist organizations cared for it and its name—“Who wants to recreate 68? That makes no sense; we live in today,” said a local leader of Greenpeace. (Even Chuck D, the father of radical rap, wanted nothing to do with this Recreate 68 business.)

The small and large events for the DNC were always crowded and joyful. Their party is united by the black face on the cover of Time Magazine. The new reality for all on the left: If your agenda can’t find away into the party’s logic, you are not only outside of the political system, you just don’t exist. No one knows this (no one bothered to report it), but last night Ralph Nader had a “Super Rally” at the University of Denver. I, like everyone else in this town, missed it and the opportunity of seeing Sean Penn and Val Kilmer. If the first Iraq War was supposed to cure America of the Vietnam Syndrome, Obama has certainly cured the Democrats of the Nader Syndrome.

What’s left? Joining the party, supporting the new man, and hoping for the best.

Denver Notes:
As for RZA, it was wonderful staring at you the other night. As for Susan Sarandon, sorry about my shoulder bumping into yours the other night. As for Paul Miller, sorry I missed your book signing at Tattered Cover Book Store (I wanted to thank you for always letting me crash at your frequently empty Tribeca pad). As for Boots Riley of the Coup, let’s meet again and have a real conversation.

Pedestrian Insurgence

posted by on August 28 at 2:33 PM


The city released an audit a couple weeks ago that calls for improving pedestrian mobility around construction sites. While the city figures out how to do that, Dan Bertolet of Hugeasscity has a post on the stroller revolt around the Four Seasons hotel construction site. What happens when pedestrians are faced with a “sidewalk closed” sign on First Avenue during rush hour? Mothers carry babies, fathers push strollers, and scofflaws tote bouquets into the path of oncoming traffic.

“There are places around city where a sidewalk has to be closed due to safety considerations,” says Rick Sheridan, spokesman for the Seattle Department of Transportation, when I called him today. Gee, it looks more dangerous to have it closed. Shutting down a sidewalk, he says, “is allowed by Seattle Department of Transportation, but we always make sure that one side is open to pedestrians and cyclists.”


Several other major cities require developers to provide covered sidewalks for pedestrians. But not here in Seattle. “Hills make it impossible” for staging construction equipment on certain side streets, says Sheridan, requiring developers to use the sidewalk for equipment. In those cases, other cities require barricaded walkways on the street. But here in Seattle, this is what we do to pedestrians in the street. Sheridan says, “To close a lane [on First Avenue] would create a lot of complications just for traffic.”

To remedy the problem, Sheridan says, “We are going to Washington, D.C. to see how they accommodate that traffic and see if there are techniques we can adopt in Seattle.”

More pictures at Hugeasscity.

Goats Eat Grass!

posted by on August 28 at 2:30 PM

It has come to my attention that a herd of goats is munching grass on a hillside overlooking I-5 on Pine.

Here is a picture:


Here is a recipe:


- 1 1/2 lb of goat (best when market fresh)
- 2 large onions
- 2 carrots
- 1 clove of garlic
- 3 tbs of butter
- 1/2 bay leaf
- 1/8 tsp of cloves
- 1/8 of ginger
- 1 dash of cayenne
- salt and white pepper
- 1 tb freshly squeezed lemon juice (may use vinegar as substitute)
- 2 cups of beef stock
- 1 tb of peanut butter
- 2 tbs of flour

Thanks to Marvelous Matt Hickey for the pic

Primp & Pimp

posted by on August 28 at 2:16 PM

Primp the hair, pimp the right-wing talking points—it’s why FOX News’ host Megyn Kelly gets the big bucks.

Video Game Nerd Powers Activate!

posted by on August 28 at 2:08 PM

My nerd brethren, while we didn’t write anything about the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) in this week’s paper, that doesn’t mean we completely forgot about it.

Now in its fifth year, PAX—which was spawned by a videogame blog and webcomic—has grown into the biggest goddamn video game convention on the planet, and tons of gaming companies will be at the show with shiny new toys for you to play with.Rumor has it Gears of War 2 will be playable at PAX!

There’ll be plenty of games to play, but there are also a number of seminars and workshops like:

So, You Want to Pitch A Game

Writing For Video Games


Losing Your Virginity: A How-to For Beginners

Slog gaming wunderkind Sam Machkovech will be in attendance, posting updates whenever he can tear his sweaty palms away from Barbie’s Horse Adventure 2 or whatever.

You can also check out Sam’s interview with Penny Arcade’s creators here.

Hey Mooch, Wanna Win VIP Tickets to our Genius Awards Party (or any upcoming Stranger party, for that matter)?

posted by on August 28 at 1:02 PM

Head over to Line Out to find out how. All you need is a camera, a computer, and some imagination.

The Sun Sets Upon the Summer of Arcade

posted by on August 28 at 12:56 PM

For the past five weeks, Xbox Live’s download service has pumped out a gem of a cheap video game every Wednesday, assumedly to make up for yet another half-baked retail summer. As expected, this season has seen a dump of games deemed too meager to compete during Christmas. Perfect time, then, to hip the kids to some brilliant $10 and $15 games that are fun, quick to learn, and easy to put down in case gamers actually go outside this summer.

I already reviewed the first two from this Summer of Arcade series, Geometry Wars 2 and Braid. Now that the series is complete, it’s time to catch up with the rest.


Bionic Commando: Rearmed
(Xbox Live, also available on PS3/PSN and PC)

1987’s Bionic Commando never quite took off in the Mario era—probably cuz the game’s hero couldn’t jump. (Back then, kids, virtual jumping was a technological achievement.) Instead, the guy had a grab-arm which let him swing over obstacles and chasms. Cyborg Tarzan with a bazooka… it made sense in the year of Robocop.

The unique twist of robo-swinging made the game a cult classic, which is probably why BC is being revisited as a big-budget, 3D adventure later this year. To promote that release, Capcom has given the original 2D game the spit-shine treatment. Holy crap, is it nice.

Pace yourselves; it’s not an epic reimagining of the core game. Still the same series of side-scrolling levels. Still no jump button. Still a few aggravating, scream-worthy swing puzzles (devs, why not edit these so that when you fail ‘em over and over, there’s less time to get back into the damn game?).

But the liberties taken in this remake should shame anybody who’s made a lazy, retro cash-in. Boss battles have been reimagined from the ground up, full of hulking robots that are satisfying to take down. The massive series of challenge rooms, reminiscent of Metal Gear Solid’s wireframe “training” levels, are alone worth the $10 tag. Multiplayer feels like an afterthought, but allowing up to four people to robo-arm together is better than nothing. And the presentation is stunning, from the remixed ’80s soundtrack and the freshly redrawn baddies to the ridiculous coat of high-def paint.

Nitpicks: no level editor? Why not let people whip up their own Bionic Commando worlds and trade them online? Also, the grab-arm controls are awkward for 2008. Capcom should’ve mapped the all-direction aim to the Xbox’s second analog stick.

Otherwise, it’s a lot of retro for $10. Assumedly, the low price is because this game is itself kind of an ad for the “new” Bionic Commando coming in October. Otherwise, there’s no reason for Capcom to price so much game for so little cash.

Jump with me for takes on Galaga Legions and Castle Crashers, along with some Penny Arcade Expo banter.

Continue reading "The Sun Sets Upon the Summer of Arcade" »

You Know…

posted by on August 28 at 12:55 PM

…if this is how our summer is going to end—leaves are falling off trees outside my office window—then it had better be snowing in the goddamn mountains by Monday.

Last Night’s Project Runway: Now Discussed Behind a Jump!

posted by on August 28 at 12:08 PM

I hope you’re happy, whiners.

Continue reading "Last Night's Project Runway: Now Discussed Behind a Jump!" »

Lunchtime Quickie

posted by on August 28 at 12:00 PM

Hey Lindy! Have some ice cream!

Smelled in the Office

posted by on August 28 at 11:59 AM

This thing:


Dear god! It smells like Schmader’s been smoking sherm up in here. Why, unless you have to write “Spring Break! (boobies/penis)” on something that doesn’t belong to you, why would you use anything but these:


Letter of the Day

posted by on August 28 at 11:56 AM


I have lived in Seattle off and on for about 8 years now. And have read The Stranger constantly throughout this time. I am a professional modern dancer here in town (yeah, I know, what’s that?). Time and again I have read hurtful, insulting write-ups of the many performances that people have worked their asses off to produce.

I know that The Stranger’s voice is a ha-ha-isn’t-it-so-funny-the-way-we-tore-that-person/act/film(but rarely, if ever, musical act)-to-shreds…

I love to read clever writing. I love cutting humor that plays with what we are and are not supposed to say. However, I have repeatedly felt actually hurt by what I have read in your paper. Honestly, I am close to tears after reading yet another disrespectful, humiliating passage in this week’s paper.

So here’s my question:
Why do you print such hurtful stuff?

If anyone has an actual response I truly would love to hear it. If people do not realize the impact of their “witticisms,” please pass my opinion along.

Thank you

Great questions, Monica.

And I wish Slog were a TV show, so I could invite you for a friendly fireside chat—imagine us in gigantic old chairs by a glowing hearth, with a couple glasses of brandy and some pipes and a loyal hound curled up at our feet.

Real Masterpiece Theater shit.



There are several reasons we don’t pull punches in our arts criticism. And we talk about those reasons with embarrassing frequency, because your complaint—that we’re gratuitously cruel jerks—is not, shall we say, hen’s teeth.

A few of those reasons:

1. We take our jobs seriously. Our first duty is to you, our readers—we’re your advocates, and we slog through a lot of crap on your behalf. As critics, we are occupationally obliged to call out nonsense when we see it. And, sometimes, aggressively bad nonsense demands aggressive criticism.

2. As critics, we don’t have the luxury of white lies. Most people can tell their artist friends, to their faces: “Hey great job!” And then whisper, in private: “Man, that show sucked.” We can’t. Which means lots of people get their feelings hurt and get mad at us. Occupational hazard.

3. It doesn’t really matter how much ass people have busted to make their shows. Effort counts for something, but results count for more.

4. Art-making is not kindergarten. Not everyone gets a gold star just for showing up.

5. Tough criticism can actually build and strengthen your audience. We have to be trustworthy. Even if you disagree with us, you have to trust us to be honest. Imagine this scenario: We soft-pedal a review of a bad play. Somebody who doesn’t go to theater often reads that soft-pedaled review and buys a ticket. That somebody then thinks: “Huh. That was supposedly a good play. And I thought it was a waste of money. I guess I don’t like theater.” You just lost that somebody—a potential audience member and theater-lover—forever. And that somebody won’t take her kids to theater, won’t donate to theaters, won’t support her tax dollars going to theaters. Then you, as an artist, have lost.

6. Jokes—sometimes cutting jokes—are an efficient, strong way to make an argument. Witness the oeuvre of Lindy West. Or just this opening gambit:

Back in the salad days of the early-to-mid-to-late 19th or 20th century sometime, one bitchy suffragette (let’s call her Susan B. Anthony) was on her period, as usual. “I tire of childcare!” she screeched, “Why can a man not care for a child? Surely a mister can be a mom! A cop can manage a kindergarten! Three men can scrape feces from the buttocks of a baby, and a fat uncle can cook a very, very large pancake, and these things are not beyond the ken of a just and decent society! Also, hand over the chocolate and no one gets hurt.” Then she died.

Now, when the president of Hollywood (let’s call him Louis B. Mayer) heard Susan B. Anthony’s idea, he leaned back in his chair and cracked his knuckles. “$$$$$$$$$,” he said to no one in particular, “$$$$ $$$$$$$$ $$ $$$$$$.” And lo, the mother-man genre of cinema was born.

7. Sometimes a joke is just a joke. I’m curious what has nearly brought you to tears in this week’s issue, Monica. I’m guessing that, since you’re a modern dancer, it might’ve been this:


That—well, there’s no excuse for that. That’s just mean.


posted by on August 28 at 11:56 AM

Obama’s up. Hopefully it’s just the beginning of Obama’s convention bounce.

Natural Male Imprisonment

posted by on August 28 at 11:48 AM

The douchebag responsible for those awful Enzyte commercials—which feature “Smiling Bob,” who looks a lot like our “Lying Dino”—was sentenced to 25 years in prison yesterday.

Steve Warshak, 42, founder of Berkeley Premium Nutraceuticals, also was ordered to pay $93,000 in fines. He was convicted in February on 93 counts of conspiracy, fraud and money laundering.

Federal prosecutors accused the company of bilking customers out of $100 million through a series of deceptive ads, manipulated credit card transactions and refusal to accept returns or cancel orders.

Remember, folks, herbal supplements will not make your dick bigger. Love the dick you’ve got because it’s all the dick you’re ever gonna get.

No, wait, that didn’t come out right…

Via Fleshbot.

“AFA Protest, Emails and Hallmark”

posted by on August 28 at 11:46 AM

This just in from Hallmark public-relations queen Sarah Gronberg Kolell:

Hi Dave,

I was just reading the Slog and the comments from your readers are very

If you would be so kind, would you mind removing my email address from the comments? The emails aren’t reaching Chairman Hall, just me! They then go to customer service. The AFA provided my email without permission, of course, and is giving their members incorrect information!

It will be much more effective for your readers to email our customer
service professionals, via this link.

This feedback will be compiled and sent through the proper channels.

Thanks so much!

Warm Regards,

Dear Sarah: Your wish is my command. Thanks for the update.

Savage Love Letter of the Day

posted by on August 28 at 11:21 AM

My husband has decided NOT to vote for the Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama which is the first time in his life he is not voting for a Democrat. I am stumped, flumoxxed, flabbergasted, shocked, disappointed and more. My question is, what can I do? Should I withhold sex until the election is over? Propose a little election day bondage and leave him handcuffed to the headboard for the day? HELP!

Dreaming Of Obama

Instead of telling your husband that you’re gonna cut him off until after the election, DOO, tell him that you’ll have plenty of sex with him between now and the election—but that you’ll be wearing a Ruth Bader Ginsberg mask every time. Why do that? Because you want your husband think about the Supreme Fucking Court while he’s fucking you, and the damage that two or three more Bush/McCain appointees will do to our democracy should McCain wind up winning the fucking election.

And if your husband votes for McCain and McCain wins the election, warn your husband that you’ll be wearing a John Paul Stevens mask to bed every night for the duration of the McCain administration.

“Hooray! Let’s Make Some Bacon!”

posted by on August 28 at 11:20 AM

A helpful tutorial very near and dear and detrimental to my heart:

The Bacon Flowchart.


(Thanks to Leah for the tip.)

Seattle Police Officer Charged With Assault, Perjury For South Dakota Shooting

posted by on August 28 at 11:20 AM

A South Dakota Grand Jury has charged Seattle Police detective Ron Smith and four other members of the Iron Pigs Motorcycle Club—a biker gang made up of law enforcement officers and firefighters—for their involvement in an August 8th shooting at a Loud American Roadhouse bar in Sturgis, South Dakota.

Smith and four other officers—one from Colorado and two others from Washington—were on vacation in Sturgis for an annual biker rally when a fight broke out at the Loud American Roadhouse. Smith claims he was attacked by a Hell’s Angel and fired his weapon in self defense.

Smith is a high-ranking member of the Seattle Police Officers Guild and the editor of the guild’s monthly paper, The Guardian. Some of Smith’s rants have been featured here on Slog.

The Grand Jury has asked that Smith be charged for aggravated assault or simple assault, perjury and for carrying a concealed weapon without a permit.

The four other Iron Pigs members—Scott Lazalde, James Rector, Erik Pingel and Dennis McCoy—are also being charged with carrying unpermitted weapons.

Joseph McGuire, the Hell’s Angel who was shot, has also been charged with Assault.

If convicted of aggravated assault, Smith could face up to 15 years in jail and a $30,000 fine. A Perjury conviction would add another five years while the unpermitted weapon charge has a maximum sentence of one year in jail and a two-thousand dollar fine.

This morning, the Seattle Police Department issued a brief statement:

Upon the Department’s notification of the incident in Sturgis, South Dakota, all SPD personnel involved were placed on administrative leave. As the Department continues to gather and receive information, the officers will remain on administrative leave.

Seattle Police Officers Guild would not comment on the charges.

Books for Dumb White People

posted by on August 28 at 11:05 AM

Because I have been thoroughly taken to task about books by Paul Constant, who is definitely more delightful than me, I would like to take this opportunity to put together a list (with the help of Paul Constant) of non-academic, contemporary looks at race relations.

In other words, you’ve already read Invisible Man, Beloved, The Color Purple, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, etc etc etc. We’re not talking about those. I stand by my claim that those have become historical abstractions. You’re looking for something more—besides, of course, the book of Barack. (The first one, the real, pre-candidate one.)

Here’s a start, and please suggest more:

1. James McBride, “The Color of Water”
2. Rick Bragg, “All Over But the Shoutin’”
3. Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, “The Random Family”
4. Colson Whitehead, “Apex Hides the Hurt”
5. Beverly Daniel, “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?”

Why Bowties Are Better

posted by on August 28 at 11:00 AM

Sam Davidson

For those of you who prefer the bow to the hanging (straight? long? what is the formal name for a regular tie?), please enjoy longtime Seattle art dealer and bowtie-wearer Sam Davidson’s thoughts on why bowties are better, how bowties help people talk about art, and why he refuses to join any bowtie clubs even though he has been invited.

To listen to the entire podcast with Davidson, click here.


posted by on August 28 at 11:00 AM


John at Purple State of Mind is doing a really good job of commenting on the DNC. I especially enjoyed today’s post about Joe Biden and that peculiar stretch of land on the north central east coast he’s from, and how it might help in the election:

Down in southern Delaware, northeastern Maryland and eastern Virginia, Chesapeake Bay country, people use a fantastic word to describe the region: Delmarva. Get it? Delaware, Maryland, Virginia. Actually, it sounds more like the invention of a clever adman. It’s often used to describe friends chicken, for instance, as in, “That was delmarvalous!’ I dream of towns where all the girl children go by the name Delmarva and the boys by Delvamar.

Be that as it may, I asked myself last night whether the Democratic nominee for vice president, Senator Joseph Biden was Delmarvalous or just pure Delaware. If he’s the former, then Barack Obama may have made a better choice than I realized. If he’s just Delaware, which is to say bland as Interstate 95, then maybe he’s less than meets the eye.

You should read the whole post. It’s great. Also, the post from yesterday, casting the Clintons as the lead characters in a Greek tragedy, is some lovely and refreshing literary political commentary, too.


posted by on August 28 at 10:51 AM

If you haven’t seen The Nexus Project yet—and if you’re content to watch Obama on every blog in the goddamned country tomorrow morning—tonight’s your night.

The Nexus Project is a bunch of short plays by (mostly) good Seattle-affiliated writers: Paul Mullin, Elizabeth Heffron, Mike Daisey, Scot Augustson, Marya Sea Kaminski, Waxie Moon, Stephanie Timm, and so on. (My review here.)

From director Mark Jared Zufelt:

tonight I wanted to make you aware of a very special talkback we’re having with NEXUS playwrights MIKE DASIEY (author of 21 DOG YEARS), PAUL MULLIN (2008 Stranger Genius Award-Winner) and SCOT AUGUSTSON (author of the delightfully adult Srgt Rigsby puppet shows). Admission is free, with the purchase of a ticket to NEXUS Program B, TONIGHT (7:30PM) at Richard Hugo House.

Normally, I’m against “talk-backs” always and everywhere (I can’t even write the word without scare quotes).

But Daisey, Mullin, and Augustson are three of the best talkers I’ve ever met. They’re all funny, gutsy, and fast on their feet. It doesn’t matter whether they’re talking about theater or Swedish meatballs—you should go.

(And it won’t be rebroadcast on every blog in the goddamned country tomorrow morning.)

This Loamy Excellence, by Mike Daisey.

The Best 9/11 Joke I’ve Ever Heard…

posted by on August 28 at 10:47 AM

…is #23 in the comments to this post.

There is no runner-up.

Michael Jackson Is Turning 50

posted by on August 28 at 10:45 AM


To celebrate or at least commemorate the occasion, London’s Daily Mail hired experts to cook up the fantasy image of a non-surgified Jackson above. They also hired preeminent Jackson chronicler J. Randy Taraborrelli to write a thoroughly depressing poratrait of Michael Jackson on the cusp of 50—drugged, stumbling, deeply in debt, and not even sure of the basic facts of his life.

[F]or a man who is so obsessed with youth, so intent on remaining a child, many fear his birthday will be a day of reckoning for Michael Jackson. He has no plans to celebrate, other than in some small, private way with his children….He has even begun to regret having plastic surgery and spends much of his time staring at his reflection in the mirror.

‘I don’t know what I was thinking back then,’ he recently said. ‘Everyone makes mistakes when they’re young, I guess. But I still look OK, don’t I? I mean, for 40?

When reminded that, in fact, he was about to turn 50, Jackson gave a sad, half smile.

‘It all went by so fast, didn’t it? I wish I could do it all over again, I really do.’

Sweet Jesus. Read the whole sad thing here, if you feel like it.

The Lord God Almighty: Still a Lousy Shot

posted by on August 28 at 10:39 AM


A majority of Californians—by a wide margin, wide enough to compensate for bigoted folks who tell pollsters what they think they want to hear—are telling pollsters that they’re going to vote against a proposed ban on same-sex marriage. So things are looking good for the gays in California. And yet the Lord God is hurling another hurricane at New Orleans.

The Lord works in mysterious ways, etc.

Multiple Climaxes at the DNC

posted by on August 28 at 10:31 AM

As I noted in my Michelle Obama write-up in the current edition of the paper, there’s always a danger of a previous speaker upstaging the main event at the DNC convention hall. The mood at the hall ebbs and flows—it’s impossible for thousands of people to pay attention for 6 hours straight—and a good speaker is often greeted by a loud murmur from the floor that doesn’t subside until two or three speakers (usually of the sympathetic ordinary citizen variety) have had their turn.

From what I can tell, though, the multiple climaxes are being spaced intelligently. On television, there may be a risk that people (especially on the East Coast) tune out after an early-evening star, like Bill Clinton last night. But in the hall, at least, they ensure that people stay attentive but never strain to pay attention.

The climaxes last night:

1) The roll call. I liveslogged this from the floor, wedged in between the Washington and Texas delegations, and—wow. Even though most delegates in the later states knew that they wouldn’t get to hear the list of their native lands’ cute and occasionally bizarre attributes (Nebraska bragging about its unicameral legislature was a little pedantic, if amusing), the mood was electric. Hillary Clinton’s entrance (Eli dubbed it a Deus Ex Clintonista) was well-timed—I didn’t think they were going to get all the way to the Ns—and awesomely executed. The nay vote on her motion to nominate Obama by acclamation was noticeably rushed, but nobody near me seemed to mind. Did you see that Washington state delivered 26 votes for Hillary Clinton, with hardly any pledged delegate reversals? That’s shocking. Many HRC-heavy states managed to convert themselves into unanimous delegations for Obama. Washington’s reticence probably has something to do with the Clinton whip, Paul Berendt, not being particularly inclined to crack it, given that he intended to stick with Clinton himself. And it didn’t hurt that Clinton formally released her delegates hours and hours after the delegates received their ballots.

2) Eli liveslogged both the Clinton and Biden speeches (that’s heroic work, Eli) because I was stranded without internet access. Here was the most riveting speech of the evening:

Bill Clinton put Hillary’s initially sotto voce support for Obama to shame. (Don’t get me wrong—I thought Hillary ended very strongly, but it was a problem that her praise for Obama came so early, when her speech hadn’t really heated up.) Whatever his personal feelings, Clinton clearly decided to banish any rumors that his public support for the Democratic nominee was ambivalent. And his transition from domestic to foreign policy was slick. This speech had all the drama, and the crowd would have licked butter off his palm.

3) John Kerry was excellent too (transcript & audio here). He delivered the first faux Freudian slip of the evening—Bush for McCain—and I bought it, initially. (When Biden did the same thing, though, I changed my mind.) The role of McCain attack dog worked pretty well for him, I thought. It was also very nice to hear policy reversals being criticized without the use of the term “flip flop.” And I think Democrats have been starving for this:

This election is a chance for America to tell the merchants of fear and division: You don’t decide who loves this country; you don’t decide who is a patriot; you don’t decide whose service counts and whose doesn’t.

Four years ago I said, and I say it again tonight, that the flag doesn’t belong to any ideology. It doesn’t belong to any political party. It is an enduring symbol of our nation, and it belongs to all the American people. After all, patriotism is not love of power or some cheap trick to win votes; patriotism is love of country.

Years ago when we protested a war, people would weigh in against us saying, “My country right or wrong.” Our answer? Absolutely, my country right or wrong. When right, keep it right. When wrong, make it right. Sometimes loving your country demands you must tell the truth to power.

4) Finally, Joe Biden. Eli wasn’t quite so enthralled with Biden, and he made some teleprompter mistakes early on. But again, great choice of close-relative introducer (Beau Biden is dreamy, as our commenters all observed), and a really strong sale to working class voters. I hadn’t before, but yesterday I definitely bought the notion that Biden will help secure Pennsylvania. Here’s the video:

Tonight: Charles, Eli, and I will be watching and liveslogging Barack Obama, Al Gore, and Bill Richardson live from Mile High Stadium. (Mile High is the original, city-boosting name of the stadium; Invesco is the corporate sponsor. The fact that Obama called it Mile High Stadium last night was not a mistake, I think.) Shawn Johnson is doing the Pledge of Allegiance, which must mean she’s a Democrat! I promise to abandon my love for Nastia if she does the Pledge at the RNC.

In the meantime, please enjoy debating whether Obama kissed Jill Biden on the lips. I vote bad camera angle.

Why is Everyone in Denver Crying All the Time?

posted by on August 28 at 10:30 AM

The question—one of those very basic, but very good questions—came up during my LiveSlog last night and stuck with me.

So I’ll take a shot this morning at an answer-on-the-fly (as I get myself together to head from my journalist tenement into downtown Denver and then over to Invesco Field). Because it’s true, this convention has been awash in tears.

Michelle Obama’s mother provides the voice-over on an introductory video: Tears. Michelle herself speaks: Tears. Hillary Clinton talks about her accomplishments on the trail and then reminds the delegates she’s now backing Obama: Tears. Joe Biden’s son talks about his former stutter: Tears. Mama Biden gets a shout-out from Senator Biden claiming the VP nomination: Tears.

What is going on?

Well, first of all, the fact that I wasn’t asking myself this question is telling. I’ve been watching all of these speeches from inside the convention hall, and in that atmosphere, the easily-welling eyes make a lot of sense. Some of it is theater from politicians and political spouses wanting to publicly emote, sure, but the cut-away shots of delegates and other onlookers wiping their eyes—that’s very real.

Here’s what I think it’s about: One, the people credentialed to watch this convention from inside the hall are, by definition, very emotionally invested in the campaign storyline. If they’re delegates, they’ve literally fought and lobbied and speechified their way here, overcoming challenges by other political junkies in their home states and struggling to prove to the home-state powers-that-be that they are serious, serious Democrats. If they’re not delegates but “honored guests” or “special guests,” as the various other credentials say, then they have kissed some serious ass to get here. They wanted it bad. They’re looking for a big, emotional moment.

Two, I think there’s a bit of a Stockholm Syndrome that goes on. Maybe that’s not quite the right metaphor, because everyone is here willingly, but in another sense we’re captive—held tight inside the secure perimeter of the Pepsi Center; stuck in the hall during the big speeches because it gets so crowded for them that if you leave the Secret Service won’t let you back in; bombarded by high-energy, nostalgic music and by cheers and by chants and by flashing lights and by the general intensity of the moment, ratcheted up many thousands-fold by the expectant eyes of everyone else in the arena.

Three, broadly speaking, I think there are two political types: The political type who is invested in policy and process, who recognizes that emotion is a necessary evil—something to be used for rallying support and building loyalty—but who at bottom believes that emotion is really only a means to a policy end, and kind of a waste of time otherwise. And then there’s the political type who’s been drawn into the process by intense personal identification with a candidate, the type who in some cases merges his or her own identity with that candidate (or maybe several candidates) and who rises and falls emotionally depending on what the candidate is doing or saying. Of course these two types often overlap, to varying degrees, in the same person. But broadly speaking, that’s the major distinction I’ve seen as I’ve covered this presidential race, and broadly speaking, the personal-identification type is quick to tears—and here in droves.

Given all of this, you can see why everyone’s reaching for the Kleenex all the time.

On top of all that, this moment is, inarguably, legitimately, historic. Step way back and this week is about the first African-American nominee of a major party, potentially the first African-American president of the United States, a man who had to overcome a challenge by a potential first female president of the United States to get where he is, and who knows how to move a crowd.

Denver is currently the emotional epicenter of this historic moment. So for those watching at home and wondering about the sob-fest, steel yourselves. I predict many more tears tonight as Obama accepts the nomination on the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “Dream” speech.

Here’s my question: At Obama’s speech tonight, will Charles Mudede, perhaps America’s fiercest opponent of male tears, remain stoic? Don’t tell Charles, but I’ll be watching closely, and am prepared to offer the Slog photographic evidence if there’s any misty-eyed Mudede to be seen.

Reading Tonight

posted by on August 28 at 10:02 AM


There are two open mics tonight and no other readings. This is because everybody is going to be listening to Barack Obama, who is a published author. Like Jen Graves did a few short posts ago, I would like to remind you to read Dreams of My Father. It’s really very good. I would ignore The Audacity of Hope, though, unless you buy the audio book version of it because you like to hear Barack Obama talk.

I would like to take issue with something that Jen Graves said. In the above-referenced post, she writes:

What’s the last book that a billion white people read that was even marginally about race, and that wasn’t treated academically?

In the comments, Brendan Kiley says:

How about Toni Morrison, for starters?

And Jen Graves responds:

Brendan: Toni Morrison isn’t a bestseller. She’s an English class writer. Hence, my distinction from academia.

But you said for starters: What else?

First of all, this is wrong. Beloved is a bestseller many, many times over, in two different decades. But never mind that. If you want to call someone an English class writer (and we will have fisticuffs one day, Ms. Graves, over that term. By extension, does this mean that most visual artists are simply interior decorators for bored rich people?), here’s one example of a popular book: James McBride’s The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother was a bestseller when it first came out and still sells very well. I would also recommend it to those of you who have read Dreams of My Father and would like to read more about being mixed-race. It’s not as beautiful, but it is insightful.

Rick Bragg also talks a lot about race in All Over But the Shoutin’, which was a bestseller, and more recently, Nicole LeBlanc’s Random Family is a more melting-pot study of life in the Bronx. It’s about a Latino family, but the book is all about the modern face urban race and class relations. And it was on the bestseller lists for like a half a year, and a book club favorite, and the kind of book (like Guns, Germs and Steel) that inspired non-book-buyers to wander into bookstores and say “Do you have this book? My friends are reading it and it sounds interesting.”

And that is why the delightful Ms. Graves is wrong for this one time.

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

Currently Hanging

posted by on August 28 at 10:00 AM

Work began yesterday on the Monique Lofts Mural project, next to Value Village on 11th Avenue (very close to our offices). Here’s a shot from the start of the work late yesterday, forwarded to me by a bystander (thank you, Ryan!) who happened to catch it:


I’ve been looking forward to this, but my only question is: Are they covering up all the ghost signage? I sincerely hope not.

Steve Jobs is Not Dead…

posted by on August 28 at 9:46 AM


…no matter what the Bloomberg financial newswire accidentally reported yesterday.

As Gawker reports:

The Bloomberg financial newswire decided to update its 17-page Steve Jobs obituary… — and inadvertently published it in the process. Some investors were undoubtedly rattled to see, as our tipster did late this afternoon, the Apple CEO’s obit cross the wire and then suddenly disappear. Jobs’s battle with pancreatic cancer, and speculation over his health, jarred Wall Street earlier this year and continues to be the subject of speculation.

The Bloomberg financial news wire isn’t the first media source to prematurely publish an obituary, but their accidentally published 17-page item offers an interesting glimpse of what the media calls “preparedness reports.”

Gawker’s got the full accidental obit, along with Bloomberg’s bland retraction, here.

Image from Flickr funnyman Donatreides.

Nostalgia Is Good

posted by on August 28 at 9:27 AM

Yesterday, Ed Schad, the author of the really great blog I Call It Oranges (and also curator at the private Broad Foundation in LA), wrote a post in response to my Currently Hanging post about an Alec Soth photograph that reminded me of my parents’ failed marriage.

After I described my personal connection to the image in the post, I backtracked. Schad calls me on my insecurity, explains why I didn’t need to backtrack, and talks about his own family and August Sander.

It’s Obama Day!

posted by on August 28 at 8:34 AM

Just saying.

Is anyone else reading Dreams from My Father right now? I realize I’m a little late to this, but I’m at the angry-young-black-man section at the moment, and I’m stunned by how open this book is. (Do not miss Eli’s review, here.) What’s the last book that a billion white people read that was even marginally about race, and that wasn’t treated academically?

Where to Watch Obama’s Speech Tonight

posted by on August 28 at 8:30 AM

As promised, here is The Stranger’s list of Seattle’s Obama-watch parties. If you have a party you want to add to our list, just email me.

Hosted by the Washington State Obama campaign:

Thursday, August 28th 2008

5:30 PM

Showbox SoDo

1700 1st Avenue South

Hosted by the people at the Washington Bus project, and others:

The WA Bus, Fuse and APIA Vote present… Run DNC. It’s tricky.

Moe Bar

925 E Pike St

Thursday, August 28

Convention viewing 5pm-9pm

DJs Chris Pro and Vodka Twist on the wheels of steel 9pm-they kick us out

And Steven Severin of Moe Bar adds: “We have the TV’s hooked up to the sound system so it should be easier to hear than in past.”

Hosted by Equal Rights Washington:

Obama Pride and Equal Rights Washington

R Place

619 E Pine Street, Seattle, WA

$4.00 wells, $2.00 domestics, $5.50 pitchers

And the blog Sonja’s Kitchen writes to suggest that you have a bunch of people over to your house for arugula salad and other Obamariffic delights. Like so:

I am fired up about the Democratic convention this week! We aren’t THAT into politics, but Obama’s speech this Thursday night seemed like as good a reason as any to have a little get-together. I will admit to having a little bit of Obama-fever though… Join us for homemade pizza (we’ll set up a little pizza bar so you can make your own individual pie) and arugula salad anytime after 6pm… I’m going to whip up some Obamarama cocktails for the occasion. And we may even have some elitist protein bars for dessert.


Hosted by the 43rd District Democrats:

43rd Democrats Obama Watch Party

Thursday, August 28, 5:30pm

Spitfire: 2219 4th Ave. in Belltown

Pope, He Angry

posted by on August 28 at 8:25 AM

Over this:


A man has been hospitalized after recently going on a hunger strike in response to this. What a wuss! He’s been eating happily for years while this thing has been in existence, tormenting, absolutely tormenting the sacredness of human life. What I mean is, this art’s old. The artist, Martin Kippenberger (a good, spicy one, as you might imagine), has been dead since 1997. Here’s the best overview of his work that I’ve found on the web.

Laying Low

posted by on August 28 at 7:59 AM

Typically the other party’s nominee lays low during his opponent’s convention. It’s considered, you know, decorous. But Rove Republicans—currently running John McCain’s sleazy campaign (but don’t ask the tetchy old man about it)—don’t do decorum. McCain has decided on his VP pick, and “the name may leak at 6 PM,” says Drudge, with “some sort of confirmation at 8 PM.”

So McCain may announce his VP pick while Barack Obama delivers his acceptance speech in Denver tonight. No doubt if someone were to ask McCain why he’s doing this, McCain would respond that for five and half years in Vietnam he couldn’t announce anything to anyone because he was a prisoner of wocka wocka wocka.

Here’s hoping Obama camp is planning some payback, some attention-drawing announcement or stunt, timed to land during McCain’s acceptance speech.

On the Radio

posted by on August 28 at 7:47 AM

Just taped a segment for KUOW that will air today during Morning Edition, at about 8:30 a.m. Seattle time. We talked about yesterday’s delegate roll call, Bill Clinton’s speech, and what’s happening ahead of tonight’s big Obama address. That’s 94.9 FM if you want to listen.

The Morning News

posted by on August 28 at 7:38 AM

Coming Out Swinging: Biden accepts VP nom, begins taking shots at McCain.

Storm Warning: As three-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approaches, Louisiana declares state of emergency for Tropical Storm Gustav.

Jack Out the Box: Justice Department asks federal judge to slash Abramoff’s sentence.

Uncle Ted Rides Again:Sen. Ted Stevens under indictment, still wins GOP primary.

Time to Start Building That Ark: Arctic ice drops to near record-low levels.

Who Says There’s Racism in Golf? LPGA will require players to speak English.

More classics:

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Can We Jump In a Time Machine and Go Back to 2004…

posted by on August 27 at 10:07 PM

…and nominate this guy. He’s great, much better than that guy the Democrats nominated in 2004, whatever his name was.

Bill Clinton was terrific but John Kerry was dazzling. I was at home baking a cake—blueberry pound cake from scratch, typical gay lifestyle stuff—with the convention on the radio. About four minutes into Kerry’s speech I stopped what I was doing and just stood there and listened. If you missed it—TPM says most of the networks cut away because, hey, wouldn’t you rather hear what Wolf has to say?—you missed something remarkable. Watch it.

The Bill Clinton and Joe Biden Speeches

posted by on August 27 at 6:40 PM

That Queasy Feeling

posted by on August 27 at 6:32 PM

Barack Obama just claimed the nomination. And Joe Biden, as his official running mate, is about to speak. But Obama selecting Biden was a punch to the gut. Like that sickening feeling you got as a high school freshman, walking up the steps to the big party—and you’re telling yourself, if I fuck this up, my dreams are shot. But if things go well, this could be an excellent four years.

I am anything but a single-issue voter, but I’m also a die-hard zealot against the drug war. Everything that could have gone wrong has been an unbridled catastrophe: Drug epidemics and cartel routes breeze across the continent, privacy laws are gutted for sport, kids try drugs younger and younger, our prisons are stuffed with young black men…

And it’s Joe Biden’s fault.

As former chairman for the Senate Judiciary Committee, Biden is the person most responsible for passing a package of laws in the mid-80s that we think of as today’s drug war. Biden presided over the mandatory-minimum sentencing guidelines that required judges to sentence dealers’ girlfriends and small-time peddlers to decades-long terms in state and federal prisons, where thousands are rotting to this day.

He used hearings “to mislead his colleagues and the public… on drug policy where police, prosecutors and DEA officials got the opportunity [to speak] while opponents were kept out,” says Kevin Zeese, a former director of Common Sense for Drug Policy and a leading drug-law reformer in Washington, D.C. since the 1980s. “Pick a drug law you don’t like from the last 25 years and thank Senator Biden.”

It wasn’t just coincidence that these laws were passed while Biden was at the helm of the judiciary committee. He was the leading advocate for establishing the Office of National Drug Control Policy—the White House Drug Czar’s Office—an agency that to this day gives lip service to drug treatment programs but spends its millions on ads linking pot to terrorism. The ads actually increased drug-initiation rates among teenagers. He’s a conservative on most crime issues. And in recent years, Biden pushed the so-called RAVE Act, which criminalized everyone attending parties where drugs were found. Biden is the drug war embodied.

But, since this is Obama’s campaign, I’m trying to hope—hope that Biden can change.

“Our intentions were good, but much of our information was bad,” Biden said in February. He decried the very sentencing disparities he created between crack and cocaine, which is one of the reasons prisons are full of young black men. “Each of the myths upon which we based the sentencing disparity has since been dispelled or altered,” he said.

A change of heart, perhaps. And when it comes to the playing the old white guy card—a requisite in the run against McCain—Biden’s the king of hearts. Also, nice teeth. They must be fake. Anyway, I like to think that the folks who pushed the drug war in the 1970s and 1980s—Richard Nixon, Nancy Reagan, Joe Biden—believed that it may have worked. Clinton should have known better. But by every measure of efficacy, it’s failed.

Obama cannot alter drug laws on his own—he’s lived a youth of indiscretions. (Realistically, no politician can make any sweeping changes; it must be incremental.) But if anyone has the credibility at the federal level to say we were wrong, to push the Senate for sentencing reform, to back Barney Frank’s bill in the House to decriminalize pot—nobody is more more capable than Joe Biden. And if he does, this could be an excellent four years.

Where to Watch Obama’s Speech Tomorrow?

posted by on August 27 at 5:54 PM

Hoping to find a good bar in Seattle where you can watch Obama’s DNC acceptance speech tomorrow night with a bunch of fellow Obamaniacs?

Check Slog tomorrow morning and we’ll have a list of Obama-speech-watching parties posted. (And if you want to add your party to that list, shoot me an email.)

ABC News Producer Arrested At DNC

posted by on August 27 at 5:28 PM

An ABC News producer was arrested outside of the Brown Palace Hotel in Denver earlier today while taping a story about lobbyists at the DNC.

A cigar-smoking Denver police sergeant, accompanied by a team of five other officers, first put his hands on Eslocker’s neck, then twisted the producers arm behind him to put on handcuffs.

A police official later told lawyers for ABC News that Eslocker is being charged with trespass, interference, and failure to follow a lawful order. He also said the arrest followed a signed complaint from the Brown Palace Hotel.

Eslocker was put in handcuffs and loaded in the back of a police van which headed for a nearby police station. During the arrest, one of the officers can be heard saying to Eslocker, “You’re lucky I didn’t knock the f..k out of you.”

More on the story here, with video.

So, Slog:

Which Stranger staffer will be the first to end up in jail?
Annie Wagner
Charles Mudede
Eli Sanders

My money’s on Annie.

Getting Ready For PAX

posted by on August 27 at 5:22 PM

Blissfully ignoring this week’s politics and protests? Charging your DS and PSP batteries? Waxing your “PWNED” Washington State license plate? You must be going the same place I am on Friday.

Every day this weekend, I’ll be at the convention center to cover the hell out of the Penny Arcade Expo. The big announcements, the PAX10 indie games exhibit, the industry panels, the kinda-decent concerts, the Jenga competition, the thousands of penises drawn on Pictochat—no virtual stone will go unturned at America’s largest public gaming expo. There is talk that I may dress up as an underappreciated gaming icon for one of the three days.

To get in the mood for the show, do check out my exhaustive Q&A with Penny Arcade’s hometown creators, Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins, over at It has everything the other outlets didn’t dig up, including dirt on the Penny Arcade Adventures game series, the drama behind PAX07’s Halo 3 reveal, and the “fucking barbs” that fuel the duo’s tension. And if you’re really stoked about the show, knock yourself out with my Live-Slogging from last year’s Expo.

Ignore Melissa Etheridge, Listen to Harry Reid

posted by on August 27 at 5:17 PM

I wasn’t listening to Melissa Etheridge—I was reading this intriguing profile of Obama by Jodi Kantor at the New York Times. It’s got a lot of detail I hadn’t heard before.

Meanwhile, Harry Reid is giving a speech that one of the journalists down in the area we’ve been banished from criticized immediately upon receiving the transcript a couple of hours ago. She said it sounded like at thesis. I don’t know. I like it. Can’t the convention throw a little bone to scientists and nerds?

Deus Ex Clintonista

posted by on August 27 at 5:15 PM

While Annie Wagner was blogging the roll call vote and Hillary Clinton’s deus ex machina, I was running around the floor shooting some pictures.

Some people, like Seattle mayor Greg Nickels, kept a close eye on the roll call count as it was happening.


Others waited patiently.


And then Clinton swept in from the wings, interrupted the count, and moved to nominate Obama by acclamation. The crowd exploded, “Love Train” began blasting out of the convention hall speakers…


…and just about everyone was up out of their seats dancing, shouting, and singing along.



posted by on August 27 at 4:58 PM

He’s John McCain, and he approved this message.

Debra is such a butthole.

Feel Misled by Lying Anti-Bag Fee Petitioners?

posted by on August 27 at 4:18 PM

I just received an email from Council Member Tom Rasmussen informing me that the city’s getting numerous complaints about signature gatherers for the city’s Referendum 1 campaign—the campaign to remove the 20-cent tax on disposable plastic and paper bags the city passed last month. Reportedly, petition gatherers are telling voters that the referendum would actually support a tax on plastic bags—that is, the tax that already exists—which is exactly the opposite of what the referendum would do.

If you were misled about the intent of Referendum 1 (not to be confused with Proposition 1, the Sound Transit ballot measure, also on the November ballot) and want to get your name removed from the petition, contact city clerk Judith Pippin. She can be reached by email, by fax at 206-386-9025 (if emailing or faxing, be sure to include a document, like a PDF, with an image of your actual signature) or by mail at PO Box 94728 Seattle, WA 98124-4728. Do it soon, because Pippin estimates the last day to withdraw a signature will be sometime early next week; the American Chemistry Council-funded campaign turned in 20,3000 signatures, or about 6,000 more than they needed.

The Three-Mile March

posted by on August 27 at 4:03 PM

Thousands of young protesters have just entered the city of Denver. This man leads them:
The marchers were too many to be stopped by the equally too many cops. The goal is the convention, where the vets will demand an answer from the Democratic party to their petition. The demands in the petition: end the war now, full benefits for all who fought in the war, and payment to the Iraq people for war damages.

No one expected the demonstration would be this big. Not even the cops. And the reason why they didn’t arrest the protesters of the illegal march is their sheer number surprised them.

The end of the march? In stead of blocking the entrance of the Pepsi Center, the protesters were forced by the cops into the notorious “freedom cage.” As Feli Kuti once put it, “Democracy—demonstration of strength.”

OK, The Roll Call Has Begun

posted by on August 27 at 3:49 PM

Sorry for the delay. We got kicked out of Defense Daily’s assigned seat and are now on the floor next to the Washington delegation.

The roll call is proceeding alphabetically. A few states have cast unanimous votes for Obama; most are casting a smaller proportion for Hillary.

Hillary Clinton is widely expected to interrupt the roll call and ask to proceed to a direct nomination of Obama.

Democrats Abroad cast 8.5 votes for Obama and 2.5 for Clinton. I love the half votes!

As other states cast their votes, Governor Gregoire is down here with King County Exec Ron Sims and state party chair Dwight Pelz, about six rows behind us in the Washington delegation, taking copious notes—she’s tallying every vote, looks like.


This is totally exciting down here on the floor. Guam split 4/3 Obama/Clinton.

Hawaii couldn’t get it together to cast all their votes for their “native son,” Obama. One vote went to Clinton.

Illinois passed so it can be part of the big rollout at the end. But Kansas, home of Obama’s grandparents, cast 36 for Obama and 6 for Clinton.

OK, the rumor is that Hillary Clinton is getting ready to shut this business down.

Massachusetts gives a shoutout to its sports teams before casting its votes. It also brags, “we are first in equality for marriage in the United States!” 65 Obama/52 Clinton.

Minnesota is proud of having the highest voter turnout in the U.S.

Paul Berendt, former state chair and Hillary subcaucus whip, just stopped by to let me know Washington state is casting 26 votes for Hillary Clinton—there was one pledged defector and one superdelegate stayed with Clinton. Not sure who yet—Eileen Macoll, perhaps?

Montana got a big cheer when its speaker mentioned Brian Schweitzer’s speech last night. 18 Obama/7 Clinton, I believe.

Nebraska, home of the unicameral legislature! Hot. Nebraska goes 3 Clinton/28 Obama.

I’m getting a little worried our floor passes are going to run out before this concludes. If I stop updating suddenly, that’s why.

New Hampshire went unanimous for Obama.

So did New Jersey—all 127 votes. That started a “Yes We Can ” chant on the floor around Washington.

New Mexico yields to Illinois. Hillary must be about to appear.

Illinois yields to New York, and Hillary materializes. “The great state of New York, led by its great new governor, Governor David Patterson, the home of its senior senator, Senator Charles Schumer, the home of the chair of ways and means Charlie Rangel… etc… I am proud to call upon the great senator from New York, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton!”

“With eyes firmly fixed on the future, in the spirit of unity, with the goal of victory, let’s declare together in one voice right here right now, that Barack Obama is our candidate and he will be our president! Madame Secretary, I move that the convention suspend the procedural rules […] All votes cast by the delegates will be counted […] I move that Senator Barack Obama be—” I couldn’t hear this part, everyone’s cheering and shouting and clapping.

Madame Secretary: “Senator Clinton moves that we nominate Barack Obama by acclamation—is there a second? All in favor of nominating by acclamation?” “AYYYYYYYYYYYEEE.” She rushes over the nay but I don’t hear any protests.

Song and dance to “Love Train.” (Is that what it’s called?) I have to turn in my floor pass so I gotta run. Back soon.

UPDATE: All right. So there aren’t any outlets up here in the boonies where The Stranger has been banished. To save energy, we will probably be light slogging until Bill Clinton comes on, unless Eli gets the guts to reoccupy Defense Daily’s assigned seat. I’m too chicken.

Savage Love Letter of the Day

posted by on August 27 at 3:20 PM

A reader responds to something I wrote in the current “Savage Love”:

I’ve been reading your column for over a decade and this is the first time I’ve disagreed with your opinion enough to write in. No offense, but this is where the generational gap kicks in and you start showing your age.

What happens on the Internet, unfortunately, DOESN’T stay on the Internet. It would be nice if it did, but it’s way too late for that now. Google saves everything that happens on massive computers so even something that is only posted for a few days, then removed, will be indexed and cached FOREVER. That means, if these videos of the boys wanking it is ever attached to their names, it’ll be one of the first things that comes up when people Google them.

Continue reading "Savage Love Letter of the Day" »

The Jekyll and Hyde that is Incense!

posted by on August 27 at 3:05 PM

Catholics and stoners and swamis in general have always understood it: Incense is delightful! It fills the room and fuddles the senses! It goes well with curry and carries your prayers to the gods!

But they are all going to die now. Observe:

Researchers in Denmark studied the effects of long-term incense exposure on 61,000 Singapore Chinese ages 45 to 74. They found that burning incense, an important part of many cultures’ religious rituals, almost doubles the risk of squamous cell carcinomas in the upper respiratory tract (which includes the tongue, mouth, sinus and largyneal areas).

And now you’re thinking, “Oh, wicked, wicked incense! Putting squamous tumors in the lungs of the faithful! Killing innocent stoners! Fie on thee! FIE!” Right? Me too! (And who can blame us?) But wait! Incense is also our friend! The champion of swollen joints everywhere! (If you eat it.) Look:

In a study in the journal Arthritis Research & Therapy, researchers found that an enriched extract of Indian frankincense, known as 5-Loxin, a product developed by Laila Nutraceuticals, not only reduces the pain of arthritis, but does it quickly.

Incense: Spiritual, room-deodorizing, lung-strangling, tumor-making, and the quick sure cure for aching grannies. Is there anything incense can’t do?

Are there no levels to which it won’t stoop?

Sam’s Complaint About SAM

posted by on August 27 at 3:04 PM

Recumbent Bear Drinking by Marcus De Bije (Dutch, 1612-1670), from 1664, is one of many prints in Davidson Gallery’s Antique Print Department, which is catalogued online.

Lately, it may seem like I’ve been hammering on Seattle Art Museum, but this time, it’s not me who’s complaining. I sat down with Sam Davidson, the longtime Seattle dealer, for a podcast a few weeks ago, and he revealed (in his incredibly soft-spoken way) that he has a major bone to pick with the museum. He says SAM pretty much ignores prints, and is losing out on, or will lose out on, local collections from contemporary to Old Masters.

For the entire podcast with Davidson, click here.

Why Am I so Jumpy About This?

posted by on August 27 at 2:42 PM

I know that the media has nothing to do right now but pick apart every presentation the DNC has made or will make, but these two non-stories are a little troubling to me:

Kos says that Bill Clinton will not be in attendance for Obama’s acceptance speech,


Reuters says that Obama will give that speech from “an elaborate columned stage resembling a miniature Greek temple.”

I know that I’m totally playing into the fingernail-biting worrywart audience that the media wants here—probably, the set will look like Washington D.C. and not a temple to our anointed savior, and some people are contesting that the Clinton-skipping-the-speech thing is just a rumor—but I think I might be falling for it, anyway.

Re: Selling Obama

posted by on August 27 at 2:35 PM

Charles, check out what I saw in that very same Obama market in downtown Denver yesterday:


Barack Obama is your new toe warts!

Today in Prank Calls

posted by on August 27 at 2:25 PM

This just in from Slog tipper Melody:

I am a UW employee currently sitting at my desk, hard at work in my office in the old Safeco building. Not fifteen minutes ago I was eating my pho and reading the Slog on my lunch break when I received the following call on my UW phone:

Me: This is Melody
Caller (deep, older man’s voice with a heavy southern drawl): Yeah, I’m looking for the shameless hussy who made a fool of herself on national television last night.
Me: Excuse me?
Caller: I’m looking Anne Rice Mills, or whatever, that cried and went on and on about Hillary Clinton last night. I want to talk to her.
Me: What?
Caller then hung up.

As a volunteer for the 43rd District Democrats, my contact information is “out there” but this is just odd. I was wondering if any of your readers have reported similar calls, be they “prank” or from some bona fide angry Democrat…

Anyone? In the meantime, enjoy the “shameless hussy“‘s call-inspiring DNC performance here.

And We’re Off.

posted by on August 27 at 2:25 PM

“Two candidates have qualified to have their names placed in nomination,” Nancy Pelosi explains to the delegates.

“The first candidate to be nominated tonight will be Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.” The applause is only scattered—many of the delegates aren’t here yet. The nominating speeches begin.

UPDATE: Pelosi’s announcement of the nominating process for Barack Obama is met with enthusiastic applause and a chant of “Obama, Obama, Obama.” The first speaker identifies himself as a registered Republican, and is still getting crazy cheers.

Hearts and Minds

posted by on August 27 at 2:12 PM

New York Times:

In March or April 2007, three noncommissioned United States Army officers, including a first sergeant, a platoon sergeant and a senior medic, killed four Iraqi prisoners with pistol shots to the head as the men stood handcuffed and blindfolded beside a Baghdad canal, two of the soldiers said in sworn statements.

Why did they do this? Because they had been ordered to release the men, due to lack of evidence.

Release them? Fuck that. Let’s kill them instead.

Sergeant Leahy, in his statement, said, “I’m ashamed of what I’ve done,” later adding: “When I did it, I thought I was doing it for my family. Now I realize that I’m hurting my family more now than if I wouldn’t have done it.”

Ugh. On the bright side, the three soldiers are expected to be charged with murder.

King County Rolls Out Green Bike Program

posted by on August 27 at 2:10 PM

King County has rolled out its Green Bikes Project (GBP), a partnership between the county, the Cascade Bicycle Club, REI and local businesses to cut down on car commuting.

The GBP will provide 200 Novara bicycles to employees at partner companies—Foss Maritime, Expedia, Zymogenetics, Perkins Coie, Boeing, REI, Swedish Hospital and other—who commit to riding to work through May 2009. Companies must provide secure bike parking and access to showers and employees must take safety classes and sign a liability waiver.

“We spent a lot of time encouraging people to drive. We built houses out in the burbs, schools out in the burbs, this is turning things around,” says Cascade Bicycle Club Advocacy Director David Hiller, who refers to the GBP program as “social marketing.”

While it’s an interesting idea, we’re about to head into our dreary, nine-month rainy season. Although GBP participants aren’t required to ride between November and February— GPB also operates on an honor system and rider mileage will not be tracked—Hiller doesn’t see the impending crappy weather as a problem. “This is really the time to test people’s tolerance for 42 degrees and drizzle,” he says. “I have a felling that the bikes will all be spoken for in very short order.”

GBP participants may get to keep their bikes when the pilot program ends, and Hiller hopes companies will start up their own biking programs. The county is waiting to see how the program goes, and there probably won’t be any talk of expanding or continuing the program until next year.

Music Democracy

posted by on August 27 at 2:10 PM

Though the Rage Against the Machine show is pretty packed, it’s still lacks any sense of magic or joy. The security for this show, organized by Tent City, and happening at the 10,500-seat Denver Coliseum, is striving to be as tight as the one at Pepsi Center.
-2.jpeg As for the Common Market/Blue Scholars show last night at Cuernavaca Park, they dropped out of it because of poor organization. Anything to do with the radical left is in a state of confusion. A depressing state of confusion. And in a moment, the Rage Against the Machine show will end and possibly thousands of young people led by 60 anti-war veterans are going to march into downtown Denver (3 miles from here) without a fucking permit! The cops are gathering on the street across the coliseum. The press is waiting. A loud helicopter is in the sky. Something might happen.

But something special did happen last night at the Sherman Event Center. Two members of Death Cab for Cutie, Ben Gibbard and Chris Walla, played a wonderful acoustic set for the DNC. The audience loved the two musicians, and the two musicians loved their audience. The whole business was a happy one. And it made me feel that the radical left is not only outside of politics, but not there at all. If you are on the left, you are either in the party or you are nothing.

Hillary Releases Her Delegates

posted by on August 27 at 2:03 PM

As the AP reported she would a week ago, Hillary Clinton released her delegates at a reception for them this afternoon at the Convention Center. Via the New York Times:

Mrs. Clinton told her delegates they were free to vote for Mr. Obama during the afternoon nominating roll call, but she did not direct them to do so. “I am here to release you as my delegates,” she told her supporters at the Convention Center in Denver, according to The Associated Press. Many responded with shouts of “No, no.” She added, to cheers, “I am not telling you what to do.”

The announcement of Mrs. Clinton’s move largely ended any suspense about how the nominating process would play out and assured that Mr. Obama would appear before the convention Thursday evening with the vigorous support of the more than 4,400 Democratic Party delegates.

The formal roll call of the states will begin at 4 p.m. local time and end quickly with the nomination of Mr. Obama, the first African-American presidential candidate of a major political party.

I’m pretty sure this piece changed over the last few minutes to reflect the fact that many Clinton delegates plan to (or already have—the ballots were distributed this morning) vote for Clinton anyway. I’m here at the Pepsi Center now, watching the Washington delegation cheer wildly every ten minutes or so for reasons I can’t figure out.

The teleprompter was showing the opening lines of the Pledge of Allegiance a minute ago, but the screen is blank now.

As ever, I am freezing my butt off. But I brought dinner.

And the band that you all hate so much has just begun its opening number.

Today in Nerdiness

posted by on August 27 at 1:47 PM


USA Today says that a woman has been arrested for attempting to abduct a man she met on Second Life. Though they were apparently passionately involved as avatars in the pointless online video game, after they met once in real life the man dumped the woman. She was spotted outside the man’s home last Thursday “with a stun gun, handcuffs and duct tape,” and she tried to flee when the man called police.

In other, unrelated nerd, Virgin Comics appears to have shut down. Virgin Comics was a comic book company created by egomaniac Richard Branson. I think that maybe one American, total, has read a Virgin Comic. The entire line looked painfully generic and was relying on celebrities to make people interested. Here’s PW’s description of Virgin:

The company produced a series of periodical comics based on Gotham Entertainment’s Shakti line of comics. The venture also included the Director’s Cut line, featuring comics series created by such Hollywood figures as Ed Burns (Dock Walloper), Guy Ritchie (Gamekeeper) and John Woo (Seven Brothers), which the company expected to morph into blockbuster films. The company’s Voices line of comics emphasized projects created by actors and musicians including Nicholas Cage (Voodoo Child); porn star Jenna Jamison (Shadow Hunter) and British musician Dave Stewart (Zombie Broadway).

Remember, kids: Don’t name your comic book company “Virgin”—some fanboys get kind of agitated around that word—and if you want to kidnap a Second Life mate, be sure that you kidnap them in Second Life. The law’s a lot hazier regarding online kidnappery.

Gallons of Gas per 1000 Miles

posted by on August 27 at 1:06 PM


(Or another reason to love My Gassy L’il Pony.)

“A Silvery Tribute to All Who Were Lost on That Tragic Day”

posted by on August 27 at 1:00 PM


Last night during a USA network rerun of Law & Order: This Baby’s Been Raped!, I saw an absolutely astonishing two-minute infomercial for the product pictured above.

The basics:

The National Collector’s Mint makes history with the release of this Government Authorized non-circulating Liberian legal tender September 11th commemorative. This $20 Silver Leaf Coin-Certificate displays a standard $20 denomination on one side. But on the other side, it’s the first time ever that two separate denominations have been used to add up to the full $20 face value—it uses 9 and 11 to commemorate the 7th anniversary of the World Trade Center tragedy.

The specifics:

On the front, the frosted Twin Towers stand out against a mirror-like background, double dated 2001-2008 with our promise – “We will never forget!” On the back , the Statue of Liberty heralds a stunning design of the new Freedom Tower skyline in a silvery tribute to all who were lost on that tragic day.

So for $20 (plus shipping and handling), you can purchase a $20 Commemorative, essentially commemorating the $20 you just threw away on this garbage. But this isn’t just a $20 Commemorative—it’s a September 11th $20 Commemorative.

I like non-circulating Liberian legal tender as much as the next person, but this is just gross.

(Those interested in seeing the instigating commercial can go here.)

Tap Shoes?

posted by on August 27 at 12:53 PM

Does someone have a pair of tap shoes, size 10 or 11, that I can borrow next week for the RNC?

Close to the Assassination Action, Anyway

posted by on August 27 at 12:32 PM

While the Washington delegates are not very near the convention, I should probably note that the glamourous Hyatt Regency Tech Center, where the Washington delegation is staying, played a role in the supposed attempt (since dismissed by a U.S. attorney as “no credible threat”) on Obama’s life. Here are the details:

Martin Dwaine Johnson told authorities that an associate and an accomplice were planning to kill Sen. Barack Obama using a sniper rifle simply because he is black, but the threat was not deemed credible by federal authorities.


The case began 1:37 a.m. Sunday when Gartrell, 28, who was driving a rented Dodge pickup, was pulled over in Aurora after he was seen swerving and driving erratically. He was driving without a license and was on probation for a methamphetamine conviction, authorities learned.

Police then saw a wig and two high-powered rifles in the truck, along with a hunting scope, a bulletproof vest, a walkie-talkie, several boxes of ammunition and methamphetamine. One rifle was threaded for a silencer attachment. The other, which was stolen from the Sherman County Sheriff’s Office in Goodland, Ka. in 2005, according to court records released today.

Three backpacks contained equipment for making methampahetamines: three large boxes of matches, two glass cooking vessels, pseudo-ephedrine pills and a bottle of pH base. Officers found a baggie of suspected methamphetamine in Gartrell’s pocket.
Gartrell told authorities the weapons belonged to his cousin Adolf, according to federal documents.

Police went to the Denver Tech Center Hyatt Hotel, 7800 E. Tufts St. and contacted Johnson, 32, and a girl. He told police that Adolf was at a sixth floor room at Cherry Creek Hotel in Glendale.

At 6:37 a.m. Sunday, police knocked on Adolf’s hotel room door. Adolf told officers to wait while his wife changed her clothes.
Officers then heard “glass breaking inside the room and an unknown female screaming.”

Adolf, 33, had jumped from the sixth-floor window, landed on an awning four floors down and then jumped to the ground, breaking his ankle, Glendale Police Chief Victor Ross said.

An unnamed female witness from Fort Morgan, who had been driven to Denver on Saturday with Adolf, told Colorado State Patrol officers about possible threats against Obama, according to the federal court records.

The witness said in the Hyatt hotel room, Adolf and Gartrell talked “negatively” about Obama using racial epithets. She believed they were “white supremacists.”
They “could not believe how close he was to becoming president,” and that no black should live in the White House.

In a subsequent interview between CSP troopers and Johnson, the suspect said he was with Adolf and two women at the Hyatt at 10 p.m. Saturday when one of them started talking about killing Obama with a camera with a gun hidden in the lens. But Adolf and Gartrell dismissed her statements.

Johnson cried and said Adolf and Gartrell talked about going hunting, but what they meant was that they were going to kill Obama during his speech Thursday.

There you have it. Close to the white supremacist action.

Mmmmm, HOT POCKETS: Now with Foreign Materials!

posted by on August 27 at 12:27 PM

The greatness/grossness of the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service email updates is indisputable (remember our old friends Class II Recall of Frozen Cattle Heads That Contain Prohibited Materials and Hot Beef Carcasses?). Now the USDA is being good enough to tell you WHERE the food with E. coli, Listeria, botulism, “undeclared allergens,” mislabeling, and good old “adulteration” is being sold, so if you got some, you might have a clue about it. (Or, if you didn’t get some, maybe you still could!)

The latest recall is from Nestlé, involving approximately 215,660 pounds of pepperoni HOT POCKETS® that “may contain [unspecified but presumably undelicious] foreign materials” (“The problem was discovered after the company received consumer complaints”).

Where can you get some?

Wal-Mart Stores & Wal-Mart Supercenters, Natiionwide [sic]

Ramey’s, Various locations in Mississippi

Easy Way Stores, Memphis TN [love the name!]

Superlo Foods, Memphis TN [ditto; my new band’s name]

…and in more convenient Southern locations.

You may sign up for the USDA FSIS emails here. As with HOT POCKETS®, you’ll “Get more of what you’re hungry for”!

I Knew Nicolas Cage Wouldn’t Lie to Me!

posted by on August 27 at 12:04 PM


We just got a press release that informs us the Library of Congress has teamed with Disney to create a display of the Book of Secrets from National Treasure: Book of Secrets.


Shortly following the release of “National Treasure: Book of Secrets,” millions of moviegoers might have left theaters around the world believing that the Library of Congress, the world’s largest library, was home to a book that holds all of the U.S. presidents’ secrets from alien autopsies to the truth about the JFK assassination, as well as the location of buried treasure. That was fiction, but the real story and the “reel” story merge a little when the “Book of Secrets” movie prop and a bonus feature about the Library and its formidable collections went on display this summer in the South Orientation Gallery on the first floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building. Visitors to the Jefferson will have an opportunity to see the display through Sept. 27.

Joining the “Book of Secrets” in the display case is another prop from the movie, John Wilkes Booth’s diary. However, unlike the “Book of Secrets,” a Booth diary actually existed.


The full press release, if you’re interested, is after the jump. I think this is kind of sad, but I also understand these sorts of movies do pull in the tourists. I know somebody back in Maine who went to Philadelphia just because he loved National Treasure so much. (Semi-unrelated: This was the same guy who once told me that he heard “If you walk around Boston after midnight and you’re white, you’ll get shot,” and so I often wonder how his trip to Philadelphia went. He must’ve been terrified the whole time.)

Continue reading "I Knew Nicolas Cage Wouldn't Lie to Me!" »

Washington Delegates Party—Or Play Hooky to Catch Up on Sleep

posted by on August 27 at 12:04 PM

Yesterday after the convention activities wrapped, I hopped the shuttle bus to the Hyatt Regency Tech Center, the hotel where the Washington state delegates are staying (along with the Oregon and Arizona delegations). It’s 12 miles south of downtown, and it takes at least forty-five minutes to get from the convention to the shuttle departure stop, wait in line, hop the shuttle, and stop at two other hotels before arriving at the Hyatt. But that’s better than light rail, which can take over an hour at night.

The entire Tech Center complex is packed with hotels of all shapes and varieties—it’s this eerie island of temporary residences about a ten minute walk from the nearest light rail stop. The way Denver went about building these southern line rail lines was not especially smart. The rail line runs along the freeway, which I’m sure was convenient in terms of grade and eminent domain. But that’s the industrial side of town, with little preexisting commercial activity. Every stop is accompanied by a huge parking lot, and there has been very little development close-in to the stations. The system is pretty navigable by light rail+bike (you can take your bike on the train when it’s not too busy), but woe to the pedestrians.

Yesterday was the official party for the Washington delegates, and the state party decided to hold it offsite, at a bar called the Tavern Tech Center. Amgen and Microsoft plastered their propaganda everywhere.


The party was fairly swank, with free drinks, Kobe beef sliders, bruschetta, etc. State Party chair Dwight Pelz was there, rules committee member and superdelgate David McDonald made an appearance, and the governor was supposed to show up sometime after the Death Cab for Cutie show she was introducing all the way across town. (I couldn’t stay late at all—I had to leave at 11:30 in order to get back to the place we’ve been staying before 1 am.) Dave Meinert stopped in for a minute. He complained about Qwest’s sponsorship of the convention, especially considering the telecom lobbying on FISA. (Note to Meinert: Qwest, which is based in Denver, was actually one of the only telecom companies to refuse to spy on its customers without a warrant.) But there were surprisingly few delegates in attendance. I don’t blame them—getting to the delegate breakfasts by 7 am is a major chore.

Instead, the party was packed with uncredentialed hangers-on. I spent most of my time regaling assorted PCOs and donors with tales from the convention floor. (Not that I was on the floor—my pass gets me into the press risers above the floor.) I have a hard time understanding why people would pay so much money to come to Denver on the off chance that they might win Washington’s extra convention credentials in the morning lotteries. It can’t be that exciting.

The only gripe I heard that seemed relatively legitimate came from College Democrats representative Amelia Phillips, from Lake Forest Park. A political science major at the University of Oregon, Amelia told me she couldn’t understand why the party didn’t want to get them more involved: “I’m pretty disappointed by the way the College Dems have been treated, considering the supposed importance of the youth vote this year.” Amelia is only allowed in to the afternoon events at the Convention Center (like the LGBT caucus meeting headlined by Gavin Newsom that I’m totally missing right now). I asked her what the DNC could do to make their experience better. “Access,” she shot back.

Then I embarked on my hour and a half trip (via light rail and cab) back to bed. But first, I saw a bunny in the Hyatt parking lot.


Feral? Wild? Anyway, cute bunny.

Think of the Bag Ladies!

posted by on August 27 at 12:03 PM

These folks are.

We in the plastic bag industry are determined to improve the lives of the homeless, and cheap disposable bags are key to our approach. Before cheap disposable plastic bags derived from petroleum-based compounds were widely introduced in the 1970s, there was no weather-proof way for people of the street to carry their belongings—you try putting your stuff in a canvas tote through a rainy Seattle winter and see how that works out! By providing cheap disposable bags by the millions and millions and millions and millions every year, we make sure there’s an ample free supply of gently used & slightly-dirtied bags available for the less fortunate. It’s just something we do.

More at Plastic Bag Makers for More Plastic Bags.

Lunchtime Quickie

posted by on August 27 at 12:01 PM

Not all men of the cloth lie about their porn collections, or dress like clowns so they can bad-touch little boys. Meet Fratello Metallo. He just loves a little Metallica…

Del Martin

posted by on August 27 at 11:41 AM


Del Martin—a pioneer in the gay rights movement, the co-founder in 1955 of the Daughters of Bilitis, one of the first lesbian-rights organizations in the country/world—died today at 87. Martin married her partner of 55 years, Phyllis Lyon, in California on June 16, 2008, the day that same-sex marriage became legal in that state. (Martin is on the left in the photo above.)

“Today the LGBT movement lost a real hero,” Kate Kendell, Executive Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said in a statement released moments ago. “Her last act of public activism was her most personal—marrying the love of her life after 55 years. In the wake of losing her, we recognize with heightened clarity the most poignant and responsible way to honor her legacy is to preserve the right of marriage for same-sex couples, thereby providing the dignity and respect that Del and Phyllis’ love deserved.”

Our sympathies go out to Mrs. Martin’s widow.

Today The Stranger Suggests

posted by on August 27 at 11:00 AM



Robert Bresson’s most famous movie that is not about a donkey is a thing of minimal pretense and maximal refinement. In it, there are acts of petty crime spelled out with thrilling precision. There is a bare Parisian garret. There is a girl so perfect and serene you expect her to pop out a second Son of God any minute. But the component parts add up to something far more basic and bracing, something like cold water, or a punch to the gut. (Metro Cinemas, 4500 Ninth Ave NE, 781-5755. 7 and 9 pm, $10.)


Beacon Hill: Don’t Drink the Water

posted by on August 27 at 10:56 AM

Seattle Public Utilities is asking Beacon Hill residents to refrain from drinking their tap water until crews are able to repair a broken water main in the area.

SPU says 460 customers from Bennett and Graham Street, between 13th and 16th have been affected.

If you must drink your tap water, SPU wants you to know that:

SPU teams will be arranging to distribute water in the area. Area residents are advised that if they must use water from their taps, they should boil it first. Following are instructions on how to boil your water: * Strain the water through either a cheesecloth, coffee filter, or other clean, porous material to remove as many solid particles and dirt as possible; * Bring the water to a rolling boil for 1 minute; * Let the water cool. Pour into a container that has been boiled or sanitized with chlorine bleach; * To preserve the quality of the water, refrigerate the water until use.
SPU says the problem should be fixed sometime today.

Selling Obama

posted by on August 27 at 10:32 AM

Today at the Obama market in downtown Denver…

Plenty shirts for sale…

Continue reading "Selling Obama" »

The Procession

posted by on August 27 at 10:30 AM

I think I’ve finally settled into a good daily rhythm here in Denver. It took a little while, partly because this whole experience is a huge swirl of logistical and technical and celebrity-gawking madness, but mostly because convention time takes some getting used to. It turns out to be close to the ideal type of time, but it’s definitely something different.

I’m not talking about the one-hour time difference between Seattle and Denver. I’m talking about the fact that nothing happens at the Democratic National Convention before 3 p.m. Think about that. If you’re a journalist, you’re used to politicians holding conference calls and press availabilities at insanely early hours of the morning, but here in Denver, the rule is that no big public business gets done before 3. It’s lovely. It’s also a recognition of the fact that most people here, including the politicians, were probably out drinking until 3 a.m. the previous night and need some time to sleep before showering and heading to one of the early afternoon free cocktail hours that precede the opening gavel.

So, for example, yesterday I woke up early (the fatal flaw in my daily convention cycle is that I don’t have time for the sleep-in-until-noon part); grabbed one of the free bikes (a much better one than before, whoever thought up the idea of automatic transmissions for bicycles should be shot); rode to a light rail station to grab my computer from Annie Wagner (don’t ask); rode back to the journalist tenement I’m crashing at and started riding the Slog; showered; rode across town to the convention hall; checked out the scene; left to go to a free 4 p.m. cocktail hour hosted by Media Matters; and then joined the procession:


Continue reading "The Procession" »

A Deal

posted by on August 27 at 10:26 AM

A deal has been worked out between the Obama and Hillary camps with regard to the roll call vote this afternoon. But the details are still fuzzy.

Via the AP’s Nedra Pickler:

Democratic delegates began marking their presidential nominating ballots Wednesday, making the unprecedented choice between a black man and a white woman. But only a limited number of the ballots were expected to be counted in an afternoon roll call before Barack Obama was declared the party’s presidential nominee by acclamation.

With the convention balloting just hours away, delegates still were waiting to hear which states would participate in the roll call before it was cut off in unanimous support for Obama. The abbreviated vote was the result of a deal between Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton so that some of her backers could express their support without dragging out a divided process.

The deal was short on specifics, though. Delegates still were not clear which states would get to participate in the roll call. State delegation chairs were simply instructed in a joint letter from Clinton and Obama advisers to distribute ballots to delegates Wednesday morning and return them no later than 4 p.m., when voting is scheduled to get under way.

Hillary Clinton is addressing her delegates at 1 pm Denver time, well after those delegates received their ballots and could begin marking them as they wished. But any roll call drama that might have resulted will be quashed by a motion for nomination by acclamation. Still, it seems like this would require a yea/nay vote from the seated delegates. We’ll be at the hall early today to witness any theatrics.

Now Accepting Intern Applications

posted by on August 27 at 10:22 AM

A three-metre (10ft) python has killed a student zookeeper who let the snake out of its enclosure in Venezuela while working a night shift at the zoo.

Horrified colleagues at the Caracas zoo had to beat the snake to make it release the body of Erick Arrieta, whose head it was swallowing, local media reported.

Marks on the biology student’s wrist suggested the snake had bitten him before crushing him to death.


Sometimes Helping the Environment Looks Stupid as Poop

posted by on August 27 at 10:13 AM

I first had to deal with the fact in the subject line when I began sporadically riding a scooter. With the big round helmet on my big round head, perched on a shrimpy little scooter (that nevertheless can reach 65 MPH on the freeway), I look, quite literally, retarded. (If I don’t quite look like a legitimately developmentally disabled person, I at least look like I’m playing one in a movie.)

Things get more acute with addition of my fella Jake, who occasionally “rides bitch.” When the two of us are straddling that poor little scooter, I can’t help thinking of the world’s fattest twins crammed onto one wee bike. Passersby laugh at us. We understand, and laugh with them, for it is ridiculous. We call the scooter “My Gassy L’il Pony,” or, alternately, the Dignity Mobile. These are the sacrifices you make during a gas crisis/environmental emergency.

I tell you all this en route to reporting something I saw this past Saturday at University Village. In the parking lot, I watched as two of those couldn’t-be-tinier Smart Cars pulled in and parked right next to each other.

Out of each teensy car emerged one plus-sized person—one large man, one large woman, who walked away holding hands.

It was strangely sweet, despite the vague WALL•E vibe…

Anyway, if you see me out-and-about on a scooter, feel free to point and laugh. It’s for the environment.

It’s Like Rain on Your Wedding Day

posted by on August 27 at 10:04 AM


CBS says:

Dave Freeman, co-author of “100 Things to Do Before You Die,” a travel guide and ode to odd adventures that inspired readers and imitators, died after hitting his head in a fall at his home. He was 47.

This is horrible, of course, and my heart goes out to Freeman’s family. But can I just say that it’s time to put an end to these “…Before You Die” books? There are 88 of them at Powell’, including 1001 Buildings You Must See Before You Die, Fifty Places to Sail Before You Die, Fifty Places to Golf Before You Die, 1001 Classical Recordings You Must Hear Before You Die , and To Die For: 100 Gastronomic Experiences To Have Before You Die.

Personally, I had no idea I had to listen to 1001 classical recordings before my death, and I feel as though it’s kind of rude for these books’ titles to keep reflecting on my mortality. They’re the “…For Dummies” books of the last four years, and it’s become a cliche whose time has now officially come.

Currently Hanging

posted by on August 27 at 10:00 AM

Allison Manch’s I’m on Fire, embroidery on handkerchief

At Grey Gallery. (Gallery site here.)

“Whoh-oh-oh, I’m on fire.” The moment you see it, you hear it. You hear Bruce. That’s why I like this work.

I say it’s “Currently Hanging” at Grey because that’s what the press release says, but when I was at Grey last week, I didn’t see this one. The one I did see, and liked, featured the lyrics “Biggie, Biggie, Biggie, can’t you see, sometimes your words just hypnotize me,” which put the song in my head for a solid two days—until, coincidentally, just driving down the road in my car one afternoon, I came across the song on the radio, which seemed to close the circle and put the song out of my brain.

Many artists work across the senses (vision to hearing, that is), and one of the best is Dario Robleto, whose Alloy of Love exhibition at the Frye Art Museum includes several works that form a sort of silent concert in the galleries—a concert that takes place in your head only. That show, in case you haven’t seen it, must be seen. And it closes Sept. 1, so get over to the Frye.

Bonus: The Frye has a brand new web site! It’s here. I haven’t done much roaming around on it yet, but my first impression is that it’s much improved—you can see the entire founding collection there, as far as I can tell. (Next stop: the Henry’s getting a new site this fall, and I can’t wait. That’s another great collection that needs to be online.)

Reading Tonight

posted by on August 27 at 9:52 AM


One open mic and one reading tonight, as we burn off the days in August when authors everywhere are on vacation.

Frank Wilderson III reads at Elliott Bay Book Company tonight from Incognegro: A Memoir of Exile and Apartheid. Powell’s says about the author:

One of only two Black American members of the African National Congress (ANC), Frank B. Wilderson, III helped the ANC coordinate clandestine propaganda and launch psychological warfare while teaching in apartheid-era South Africa.

Interestingly, this is the the third book titled Incognegro to be published this year, and the fourth in two years.

And that is all that’s going on tonight. Next week there will be an embarrassment of riches, I promise you.

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

Obama and Me

posted by on August 27 at 9:51 AM

On 16th Street Mall, I run into…
obamaandme.jpg …an Obama impersonator. His real name is Gerardo Puisseaux, he originally comes from Cuba, he loves himself because he loves the man he looks like.

[Gerardo] was a construction worker in Miami until about six weeks ago, when he hooked up with online Spanish-language news channel America TeVe ( Since then, he’s been going where Obama goes and causing a stir in each location.

This Obama speaks with a very thick Spanish accent.

The Laaand of the Freeeeeee!

posted by on August 27 at 9:50 AM

You might think that security guards at U.S. federal buildings would be pretty much immune to offensive words and images by now, what with all those pictures of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney that have been hanging in the lobbies of our federal buildings for seven long years now. But you would be wrong:

A woman wearing a T-shirt promoting lesbianism said she was forced the leave a federal building Monday by a security guard who didn’t approve of her attire.

Lapriss Gilbert said she was picking up a Social Security card for her son when the guard was offended by her “” shirt and threatened her with arrest.

I’m on Gilbert’s side, of course, and I can certainly appreciate why she was so upset after this encounter. (Still, it could’ve been worse—at least that guard didn’t shoot Gilbert in the back.) And LA Times? I don’t see how the word “lesbian” all by itself on a t-shirt promotes lesbianism. It acknowledges the existence of lesbians, for sure, and it promotes a particular website for lesbians. But it doesn’t “promote lesbianism” in the sense that you seem to mean here. Gilbert was just merely wearing a “” t-shirt; she wasn’t trying to turn straight female federal office workers away from the natural use of men.

Still, I wonder if this can really be true:

“As an African-American and a lesbian, I haven’t been through one day without facing some sort of discrimination,” Gilbert said.

Really? As an Irish-American and a faggot, I of course face far less potential discrimination on daily basis than Gilbert does, thanks to the color of my skin and the having of my cock. But I find it kind of hard to believe that Gilbert hasn’t experienced one day without facing some sort of discrimination. Surely there have been days when Gilbert stayed at home, curled up with a book or a girlfriend or both, days during which she encountered no discrimination at all. Or maybe Gilbert is one of those hypersensitive types that can just feel the discrimination oozing in under the door when she’s at home.

Hillary’s Speech

posted by on August 27 at 9:00 AM

As Annie mentioned in last night’s LiveSlog, while she was up in our increasingly messy work space…


…I was down on the floor of the convention hall watching Hillary Clinton address the delegates (and also Bill in his sky-box, and Michelle in hers, and the thousands of press people looking for any hint of on-stage peevishness).

It was so packed on the floor that one couldn’t really move. I was told to watch my elbows and had a lot of delegate flesh pressed up against me. But that’s not unusual. It seems, actually, to be a nightly occurrence on the floor. The people who come to Democratic conventions want to be at the center of it all—who wouldn’t, really?—so everyone’s always angling for a floor pass and, outside the hall, eying everyone else’s credentials to see if they got one.

Two nights ago I went out to the post-speech parties wearing a Hall Pass (which doesn’t get you on the floor), and got some “Yeah, me too” looks. Last night I went out wearing my Floor Pass and got a lot of compliments, questions, and “Wish I’d had one of those” looks.

The floor was great. Everyone seems drunk, either off the excitement of the moment or pre-speech boozing, and everyone’s there. I wiggled my way into a spot near the Pennsylvania delegation, and was standing next to Gov. Ed Rendell and NBC’s Andrea Mitchell (who definitely validates the notion that TV can makes a person seem taller). Convention staffers wearing neon traffic-cop-like vests ran back and forth hauling garbage bags full of placards and signs on long white cardboard tubes, passing them down the aisles at the appointed moments, yelling at certain enthusiastic delegates not to hold their “Hillary” signs aloft too soon.

I felt bad for Clinton when she walked onto the stage and the convention was all thunderous cheering and “Hillary” sign waving. If you didn’t know the back-story, you’d have thought by the crowd reaction that she was walking out to accept the Democratic nomination. She seemed to register this irony, and also the hard reality that Democrats love her—just not as much as him. That’s got to hurt.

She was magnanimous. Her “No way, no how, no McCain” line seems sure to join some of the other speakers’ catchy phrases from last night—”Four more months!” and “That’s not a maverick, that’s a sidekick”—in Obama surrogate talking points from here on out. And her appeal to her supporters to ask themselves what they were really supporting—a person or a set of principles, just Hillary Clinton or the veterans and teachers and invisible Americans she championed—was, I thought, her best, most selfless moment.

The deep affection Democrats have for Hillary Clinton (and Bill, who caused all manner of heads to turn when he entered his sky-box) recalled the reception Ted Kennedy received on Monday night. And this, it occurred to me on the floor, may be where Hillary Clinton is heading. The reality is that Kennedy is likely to die soon. Hillary, with her devotion to healthcare and her failed presidential bid and her stature within the party, is the natural heir to Ted Kennedy’s Senate role—the champion of needy Americans who tried for the presidency, lost, and returned to the Senate to become its leading voice on healthcare and other difficult liberal concerns.

That’s not the role she wanted. But it’s not a bad one to take on.

Full video of the Clinton speech is in the jump, and up tonight: Bill Clinton and Joe Biden.

Continue reading "Hillary's Speech" »

On the Radio

posted by on August 27 at 8:15 AM

I’ll be on KUOW’s Weekday this morning, around 10:45 a.m. Seattle time, to talk about all that’s been going on here in Denver this week—the parties, the speeches, the delegate drama. That’s 94.9 FM if you want to listen.

The Morning News

posted by on August 27 at 7:49 AM

Mending Fences: Hillary comes out to support Obama.

Space Germs: International Space Station infected by computer virus.

Oil and Water: UK calls dibs on oil rich section of Atlantic Ocean.

If She Won’t Talk, Waterboard Her: Judge orders Harriet Miers to testify in US Attorney investigation.

Fencing Lessons: Film on Golden Gate Bridge suicides reignites debate about building a barrier.

Is Nothing Sacred? TV ad links hot dogs with cancer risk.

Welcome to the 21st Century: Baseball finally starts using instant replay for in-game calls.

Here’s another forgotten childhood favorite:

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Movie Night at Havana: The Warriors: An Update

posted by on August 26 at 7:45 PM

Turns out The Warriors really wanted to go on tonight, but electronics and rain don’t mix, and the weather people are always fucking up (Case & Point: Tonight). As such, the gang are gonna hide out tonight, and they’ll come out whenever they feel like it.

Hillary Speaks.

posted by on August 26 at 7:36 PM


posted by on August 26 at 7:35 PM

I’m busy prepping the liveblog, so I missed some of Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer’s speech on energy independence. But this line really jumped out:

“Barack Obama understands that the most important barrel of oil is the one that you don’t use.”

The frank talk about how much oil is actually available on American soil is really refreshing. I am not looking forward to all the offshore drilling nonsense that’s coming imminently from the RNC.

Schweitzer is doing a great job getting people riled up. Hillary is up next.

While Mark Warner Is Talking About Business…

posted by on August 26 at 7:05 PM

… let me take a few moments to expose my personal biases re: Hillary Rodham Clinton day at the convention.

First, as most of you know, I became a full-fledged supporter of Barack Obama in the fall of 2007—rather late, as far as my picking candidates goes. I loved Al Gore from 1992 on and immediately wanted him as the D nominee in 2000; I helped campaign for Howard Dean throughout the summer of 2004. A lot of my delay this time around was because I wanted to hear from Hillary Clinton. But as the primary race developed, I became increasingly annoyed that her campaign was relying so heavily on Bill Clinton’s legacy. I wanted Clinton to talk about her Senate record, not ’90s policies and decisions she had very little authority over. And Obama impressed me with his nuanced thinking on Iraq and unabashedly intellectual approach to policy making.

But! I am a huge fan of noisy democracy, and I—like many journalists, whether they admit it or not—was kind of excited about the prospect of a brokered convention. Even though Obama narrowly escaped that spectacle, I’m still hoping that Hillary’s delegates get their public roll call vote on the floor of the convention. I don’t believe that delegates should change their pledged support for a candidate for the sake of appearances.

I still yearn for the conventions where actual decisions were made. Theater is great and all, but pure, relentless publicity can be draining.

So, go Hillary! I’m very much looking forward to the LiveSlogging her speech. (Looks like we’re running about 15 minutes late, according to the schedule, so I expect we’ll start around 7:15 Seattle time.) I wasn’t able to get on the list for the Emily’s List event HRC headlined this afternoon—either Friday was too late to request tickets or they’re not fond of the Stranger—but an Obama delegate texted me to say it was “inspiring.”

Movie Night at Havana: The Warriors

posted by on August 26 at 6:40 PM

So the last few Tuesday Movie Nights at Havana have been moved or cancelled do to the total Crapfest that replaced our August. It would be blasphemy, though, to let a few luminous clouds scare off a viewing of The Warriors. As such, the thing goes down tonight, as scheduled, whenever the sun goes down (Your guess is as good as mine). So buck up, bring a blanket, and do The Warriors proud. C’mon, would they be scared?

Robert Casey, Jr. at the DNC

posted by on August 26 at 6:39 PM

Well, that was a slam dunk with the delegates. The sweet lines:

John McCain calls himself a maverick, but he votes with George Bush 90 percent of the time. That’s a sidekick.


The Bush-McCain Republicans inherited the strongest economy in history and drove it into a ditch. They cut taxes on the wealthiest of us and passed on the pain to the least of us. They ran up the debt, gave huge subsidies to big oil companies, and now they’re asking for four more years.

How about four more months?

That got the crowd chanting “Four more months! Four more months!” It’s a nice slogan. Too bad its shelf life is so brief.

Free to Be Sexy and Borderline Retarded

posted by on August 26 at 6:35 PM

For my column in the upcoming issue, I tackle The House Bunny, which is quite obviously the worst movie ever AND I REALLY SERIOUSLY MEAN IT THIS TIME, YOU GUYS*.


You can read a bunch of words in all-caps about how it chafes my lady parts (and by lady parts I mean FEMINISM) tomorrow when the paper comes out, but for now, here are two things I didn’t have the space to include:

1. The House Bunny marks the big-screen acting debuts of singing wig stand Katharine McPhee AND If They Mated poster child Rumer Willis. Um, why is it my responsibility to sit through the acting debuts of people who are famous for other things that aren’t acting (i.e. televised karaoke, celebrity chins)? Can’t they debut their acting somewhere in private? GOD.

2. The House Bunny was directed by one Fred Wolf (his second feature, after Strange Wilderness) who was previously best known as the animator of beloved 1970s morality tales The Point! and Free to Be You and Me**. SAY, FRED WOLF! Didn’t you learn anything in the ’70s? Didn’t you learn that boys can play with dolls, and girls can run fast and be construction workers, and it’s all right to cry because crying gets the sad out of you, and that mommies are PEOPLE (people with children)!? Because I couldn’t help but notice that The House Bunny, which you directed in 2008, is the most backward, sexist sack of shit in the history of hot pink.

How would Marlo Thomas feel about this? My money’s on sad, grumpy, and down-in-the-dumpy.

*Wait - no I don’t.

**And because it came up during the writing of this post, and I am amused by its existence, here is a picture of an Alan Alda Impersonator.

UPDATE: Fuck!/Thank God! My friend Tom writes, “But Lindy, Isn’t the House Bunny director Fred Wolf different from the ’60s and ’70s animator Fred Wolf?” Well Tom, the Wikipedia page for House Bunny links to the Wikipedia page for Fred Wolf, animator, which is what got me all confused. But the imdb page for Fred Wolf (II), director of House Bunny, bears no mention of ’60s and ’70s animation. My guess is that there are, indeed, TWO Fred Wolfs (three if you count theoretical physicist Fred Alan Wolf), and only one of them totally sucks. Which means this post is totally irrelevant now, but fuck it! I’m not taking that Rosey Grier video down for anything. Carry on!

Smart Stuff

posted by on August 26 at 6:28 PM

… from cressona:

1. Maria Cantwell. Wishy-washy, passionless, pandering, painless, politically correct, pareve.

2. Ed Rendell. Tough, no-nonsense, frank, fearless, occasionally stupid.

What a contrast between Democratic politicians. It’s a bit like the difference between Neville Chamberlain and Winston Churchill.

I know Maria is the way she is because Washington is the way it is: a state full of Scandinavians and liberal intellectuals who are exceedingly polite, especially towards bullies like Tim Eyman and Kemper Freeman.

But I would say, we’re never going to overcome the Eymans and Freemans, and the next generation of Eymans and Freemans, until we start growing some Rendells of our own.

(Hmm, that sounds a bit like I’m saying, we should grow a pair of Rendells. Well, he wouldn’t be the first PA pol whose name has been appropriated, shall we say, by polite folks up in WA.)

There’s No Such Thing as Free Banquet Chicken

posted by on August 26 at 5:57 PM

This is clearly the blue-collar hour at the Democratic National Convention. The very extra-quiet regular guy up now whose job is being shipped to Mexico is talking about clipping coupons. Forgive me, but I’m going to rewind for a bit to write about the Human Rights Campaign-sponsored LGBT delegate reception I attended this afternoon.

There are more self-identified LGBT delegates at this convention than ever before, amounting to about 6% of the total delegation. Only four states or territories failed to send a gay, lesbian, or transgender delegate to Denver. Delegates, including Seattleites Jen Hauseman and Pam Keeley, were being served salad, rolls, chicken, and dessert while speakers including out lesbian congresswoman Tammy Baldwin and the heavily accented gay congressman Barney Frank addressed them. I wanted to chat with the Washington delegation, so I sat down at a table instead of cowering in the back with the rest of the press. (It also wasn’t clear from the invite whether we were going to get to eat or not, so I hadn’t eaten anything but some cereal and an oatmeal cookie all day. I’m afraid I’m going to lose some weight—don’t scoff, I’m abnormally skinny—at this convention. It’s absurdly hard to schedule eating in between the hour-long light rail trips and painfully expensive cab rides and searching for wi-fi and Slogging the nonstop action at the convention.) Anyway, it went swimmingly for a while.

The event was extremely delayed, so I talked to Jen Hauseman, who’s an Obama delegate, about whether the media were exaggerating the level of dissatisfaction from Hillary Clinton voters and delegates. I told her that, from the evidence at the HRC subcaucus I attended yesterday, emotions were still running extremely high. She said, “People are talking about the Supreme Court—or she could be the next Teddy Kennedy. She’s not going to go away. I think she’s going to parlay this into something real.” She didn’t mind the idea of a Clinton roll-call vote on the floor of the convention. (The other option is a roll call at the separate delegate breakfasts, which would then be officially recognized on the floor of the convention that afternoon.) “I think getting all that emotion out on the floor is helpful.”

Continue reading "There's No Such Thing as Free Banquet Chicken" »

Maria Cantwell, Ed Rendell

posted by on August 26 at 4:38 PM

Maria Cantwell got a standing ovation from the Washington delegation a minute ago, but she spoke very briefly—I’m guessing three minutes or so. Her topic was energy, of course, and… uh, yes, it was very succinct and had next to no detail.

That was part of a series of little speeches running up to Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, who is also speaking on energy, and is also a prominent superdelegate who supported Hillary Clinton’s candidacy. There’s some concern that this evening is way too Clinton supporter-centric, on top of her being the headliner.

Rendell’s speech is very tough on John McCain. “It’s clear the only thing green in John McCain’s energy plans are the billions of dollars in tax cuts he’s promising to oil companies.” He wants to “end the age of oil once and for all.”

There’s lots of “green collar jobs” cheerleading in this speech, criticism of outsourcing followed by vows to reduce energy consumption. The press people didn’t give me a transcript—though I have like five others sitting beside me—but I’ll try to dig up a transcript later if I can.

It’s not terribly rousing, though. The floor is restless.

Chicken-Fried Love

posted by on August 26 at 4:18 PM

People love chicken-fried steak. In this week’s paper, Joan Hiller (“Chicken-Fried Vision Quest”) loves it:


As a kid growing up in Katy, Texas, chicken-fried steak day in the lunchroom came twice a week, and I reminisce more than is probably healthy about using a doughy roll to sop up the final globs of country gravy that clung to my hard plastic tray…. I still thoroughly relish each bite of Banquet’s $3 TV-dinner version of the dish, which speaks to the sophistication of my palate, sure, but I know a good—or a cruddy—chicken-fried steak when I meet one. I’m Texan. A certain percentage of my blood is gravy, so if CFS is on a menu, dang if I ain’t gettin’ it. Gotta keep the levels up.

She especially loves it at the 5-Point, the Mecca, Cyndy’s House of Pancakes (pictured, gloriously, above; photo by Jennifer Richard), Julia’s, and Blue Onion Bistro.

Y’all love it, too. From the mailbag:

My father was born near Chickasaw, Oklahoma, and due to this fact I also have a gravy-positive blood type. Chicken-fried steak was a meal that was often requested, though infrequently delivered due to the labor of cooking it for a family of nine. To this day, it is still the meal that my brothers and I request for our birthdays. Joan’s article brought back greasy, aromatic memories of my chicken-fried childhood.

Finding a good CFS in the Northwest is not an easy task. Most have been passable; some have been Lovecraftian creations of pure fucking terror.

The single best CFS I have had in the Pacific Northwest is from a little restaurant in Centralia called the Country Cousin. I stopped there on my way to Portland last year and I cannot recommend it enough. If you decide to stop there, I would advise you to skip the dining room and head straight to the lounge.

Thanks for the memories.

—Ryan Ellis

Alrighty. If you can eat more chicken-fried steak, then go to Tommy’s in Renton. You’ll find it to be better than the rest.

Here’s how I order: CFS, eggs over hard, hash browns and biscuit instead of toast. When it comes to the table, cut the steak and eggs, then mix together with the gravy and hash browns and top it with a few drops of Tabasco… (a lot of drops if you’re using smoked chipotle Tabasco if you can find it someplace else and bring it in).

Please do thank me later.

—Lava Rock

Beth’s has the best CFS ever. Will check out Cyndy’s. —c.
I am in love with the chicken-fried steak at Geraldine’s Counter in Columbia City. I will be going to Cyndy’s House of Pancakes very soon to try their chicken-fried steak. Thanks for the article. —Nicky
About the best (and best deal) I’ve had on a chicken-fried steak was about ten years ago at the Cozy Diner in Chico, California, a place where you were considered a regular if you had three breakfasts in a row. The CFS was $5.99 and included soup AND salad and dessert (tapioca or ice cream). It’s a bit of a drive, though.

You should really check out the Austin Cantina. Jefe Berkner, the owner and chef, lived for several years in Austin, and he is offering a Tex-Mex menu that includes a real tasty version of chicken-fried steak, with some good sides, too.

The collection of music posters in the restroom is worth the trip all on its own.

Bon appetit!

—John Watt

Mmmmm, gravy.

“My phones are in the room fridge. Let them listen to refridgerator (sic) noise.”

posted by on August 26 at 4:00 PM

Cindy Sheehan is claiming that she happened upon somebody bugging her phone at the DNC this past weekend:

I immediately said; “What the hell are you doing? Are you putting a bug on my phone?” He looked like he got caught with his hand in the cookie jar and stammered out: “N—no, we are having problems with the phone.” I told him to get out of my room because my phone was fine and I called the front desk and the person at the front desk stammered something out about “problems” with some of the phones…I am confident that that’s what was happening when I walked in on the “maintenance” man and I am becoming more shocked every day with what the ruling class are capable of….

I’m not sure why anyone would bug Cindy Sheehan’s phone, or why everyone in Cindy Sheehan’s hotel has a bad stammer. Or why Cindy Sheehan doesn’t have a cell phone. Answers may never be clear.

“Goats Downtown?”

posted by on August 26 at 3:56 PM

Slog tipper Kristi writes:

There is a fairly large herd of actual GOATS hanging out in the I-5 greenway by Pine St. and Boren, below the new dog park (down about 1 block west from the Baltic Room). Seriously! I can see them from my office. There is a also a collie going nuts because I think they are inspiring his/her natural herding instinct. Do you know the back story on this??

I do not, but I love actual goats. If anyone has any info, please share.

Hungry for Red Meat?

posted by on August 26 at 3:47 PM

Some analysts thought yesterday’s convention speakers were too easy on John McCain. But Ann Richards’s daughter was doing some pointed stuff just now.

Dennis Kucinich is up now. I’ll try to keep one ear open while I work on this print piece.

Wake up, America! is the refrain. The crowd is eating this populism up. I hear tambourines.

“Up with peace! Up with prosperity! Up with the Democratic Party!” Dennis Kucinich concludes. A very noisy reception from the floor.

The Pepsi Challenge

posted by on August 26 at 3:25 PM

-4.jpg At the gate of the Pepsi Center: The young man in the green shirt, pro-life, pro-war, pro-America; the woman in the orange shirt, pro-choice, pro-peace, pro-global community. She is with World Can’t Wait; he is with something or other. This was the conclusion of the main protest of the afternoon. Really, the far left is in shambles. I had expected much more than this—squabbling with nutters that even regular dems dismiss.

And yes, I thought Daryl Hannah would be here.

Next: Ralph Nader. Val Kilmer will be at this rally.

Don’t Panic Yet, Dan. Obama Still Leads Where it Counts

posted by on August 26 at 3:25 PM

Take some solace from this, Dan, from the exemplary

There is a lot of nervous buzz today about the national tracking polls…
It might tell us something about Joe Biden. I tend to agree with the conventional wisdom that there was liable to be a bit of a near-term backlash whenever Obama announced his VP choice, provided that the VP was not Hillary Clinton. The key phrase in there, however, is “near-term”. If Hillary is able to rally her supporters to the Obama-Biden ticket tonight, there could still be a latent/lagged VP bounce for Obama that gets rolled up into his convention bounce.

Besides all that, we also have a number of state polls today which generally look pretty decent for Obama

Screw the popular vote. McCain can win by ten, twenty or thirty percentage point margins where it doesn’t matter so long as Obama wins the electoral college.


posted by on August 26 at 3:20 PM

Hey Democratic National Convention obsessives… after much hassle, I made it to the convention hall here in Denver. They do not make it easy.

You have to go across this river to get to the Pepsi Center from downtown Denver, but it is not at all clear how this may be accomplished. I went to the regular bridge, but it was closed. Then I was directed to a street that leads to a pedestrian bridge, which has this helpful sign posted at the intersection:


But thru it I went, and after some security lines (no bottled liquids allowed—just like the airport!), I made it here.

This by way of apology: I’m supposed to write a quick-turn piece for the print edition, like, now. The early speakers aren’t too exciting, anyway.

But coming up when I get the chance: Michelle Obama makes a surprise appearance at the LGBT luncheon headlined by Barney Frank! And I’m told by a 43rd District Obama delegate that Hillary Clinton’s address to an Emily’s List reception is inspiring and effective. Hillary will be addressing the convention at about 7 or 7:30 Seattle time. I’ll be LiveSlogging it once again.

No Biden Bounce

posted by on August 26 at 3:01 PM

McCain creeps ahead in Gallup poll.

O They Will Know We Are Christians…

posted by on August 26 at 2:54 PM

…by our porn addictions, and our clumsy, emotionally manipulative efforts to cover them up.

The disgraced pastor at the centre of a fake cancer scandal has spoken for the first time about his “secret life of sin.” … The statement was read to a packed congregation at a pentecostal church his father, Danny Guglielmucci, founded - Edge Church International at Reynella.

Mr Guglielmucci says the reason behind his fictitious cancer story was to hide his 16-year obsession with pornography. “It is with much pain and sadness that I make this statement today,” he said in the statement. “For over 16 years I have struggled with an addition to adult pornography as a result of this secret life of sin my body would often breakdown.”

Everything gives you cancer—except porn. That just causes your body to “break down.” Some porn addicts may find their bodies breaking down two or three times in a single night.

“I’m not one to track campaign ads…”

posted by on August 26 at 2:38 PM

…writes perennial Slog tipper Matt Effing Hickey, “but this one from the Obama camp is actually kinda hardcore.”

That hugging pic deserves all the play anyone’s willing to give it.

Slog Commenter Book Report: PopTart Does Northline

posted by on August 26 at 2:34 PM

As you may remember, I brought a bunch of advance reader copies with me to Slog Happy. Everybody got books, and I promised to run the book reviews on Slog. Mr. Poe went first. Now it’s PopTart’s turn, which is appropriate since this Slog Commenter Book Report thing is her idea:


Here is my book report on Northline by Willy Vlautin, a gritty realistic American novel that…blah, blah, blah. If you want the adjective-laced drivel about what a great American novel this is, check out Vlautin’s website, but this is a book report for Slog so I’m just going to skip right to the good stuff. Northline has drugs, heavy drinking, a skinhead party in the desert, a gay bashing of a not gay, awful sexual encounters, and Paul Newman.

Well, Paul Newman isn’t in the novel, per se. The main character, Allison Johnson, carries on imaginary conversations with him. It’s a plot device, get it? See she’s fleeing Las Vegas because of some shit like being pregnant and having a crazy boyfriend, and Paul Newman is her hero so she has imaginary conversations with him. I’m not sure he’d be my choice in the imaginary conversation department. But, whatever, it sort of works in the story.

The book is short; there are even a couple chapters that are only about half a page. The shortness works for me on account of my short attention span*.

Allison flees to Reno where she attempts to rebuild her life and meets some characters along the way and gets a couple of jobs and meets a guy and instead of riding off into the sunset they stand around and hold hands and watch an old casino implode.

My only complaint about Northline is that it just sort of ends with parts of the plot hanging out there, but gee, I guess that’s JUST LIKE gritty America, where you never do know what happens with your sister stranded in Mexico and if your crazy stalker boyfriend is about to appear and rain down some bad shit on your head.

The best part of the book is that with the first edition you get a soundtrack for the novel, composed by the author who is a member of an alternative country band, Richmond Fontaine, based in Portland Oregon. Maybe all authors should think about including a soundtrack for their novels. But, not all authors are accomplished musicians like Mr. Vlautin. So, maybe authors and bands could team up and create something the suits like to call “synergy.”

For example, Death Cab for Cutie’s song “I will Possess your Heart” would be the perfect accompaniment to Kate Brennan’s new book about being stalked, In His Sights.

But, I digress.

If you are looking for a short read where the main characters will make you feel vastly superior about your own life then Northline is for you.

Many thanks to PopTart and any errors in this book report should be blamed on the editor of the piece, which would be me.

Continue reading "Slog Commenter Book Report: PopTart Does Northline" »

Savage Love Letter of the Day

posted by on August 26 at 1:50 PM

Since I was 15 or so I’ve filled the tub up with nice warm water and took a dump in the bath water. I found (and still do) that the nice warm water loosens up my muscles and allows me to really clean myself out. It’s not uncommon for me to do this for over an hour. I don’t beat off while I’m in there, or do anything sexual with it. Generally, once I’m done I clean out the tub and wash my hands/body.

Is this a normal thing associated with scat or what? I have a boyfriend of 4 years, who has a pretty good idea that I do this, although we’ve never really talked about it. However, I don’t think he realizes the extent that I do this. I don’t want him involved in the act, and I would never want to see or touch his. In fact, in the cases where I do see it/smell it (being a gay male it’s bound to turn up occasionally) I’m turned off and disgusted by the smell. We’ve bought a house together, and will be moving in together in the next two months. Once we’re together I’m afraid he’ll figure it out. So I really think I need to tell him before he moves in.

The only problem is I have no idea why I do this, or why I can’t stop doing it. I feel like I need to give him some reason why, sexual or not, that I do this. Have you ever heard of anything like this? Is this scat, or is it just a gross habit that is not sexual in any way?

I’m curious to hear your insight.

Scat Or Some Other Thing

Sounds like some other thing to me—some other really fucked up thing, SOSOT, some other thing that you might want to think about breaking yourself of someday.

Or not.

Disgusting as this is—and it is disgusting (and here’s hoping you’re really scrubbing the tub when you’re done)—you’re not really hurting anyone, or yourself. Should you inform your boyfriend? Well, gee. It sounds like he might already know. But by telling him, by going on the record with this in a official way, you may make him feel obligated to object to each and every bath you take, regardless of whether or not it’s a shit bath you’re taking, because that’s his tub too. There’s a chance he might prefer to go on turning a blind eye, pretending that he doesn’t know what he does, in fact, know. So it’s kind of a toss up, SOSOT.

And, no, if you’re not beating off or getting a sexual thrill from this, it’s not “a normal thing” associated with scat, which itself isn’t much of a normal thing.

The Long March

posted by on August 26 at 1:38 PM

A few hours ago, looking for a protest march, “Procession For The Future,” organized by The Backbone Campaign, I come across the root of all evil:

Amazingly, next to the place the state makes money is the construction site for a future jail!
DSCN1222.JPG The footprint for the building is huge. On this street, there will soon be lots of cash next to lots of prisoners—the state in a state of perfection.

Across the street from the future detention center:
DSCN1223.JPG What does this mean? Four and so thousand DNC delegates and one million Prius owners? What is Toyota trying to tell Denver?

At last…
DSCN1229.JPG …the march. The numbers: more reporters than protesters, and far too many Christian nutters and robo cops. Remake 68 is a complete flop.

The Prison Card

posted by on August 26 at 12:36 PM

In case you’ve spent all your time watching the DNC: Last night, Jay Leno asked John McCain how many houses he has. McCain responded that he was in prison for 5 1/2 years. He seriously needs to stop with the goddamned prison card. Did he learn nothing from Giuliani’s endless repetition of 9/11?

McDermott to Clinton Delegates: “Cut Your Losses”

posted by on August 26 at 12:30 PM

Echoing Dwight Pelz, Congressman Jim McDermott yesterday told me he thinks it’s time for Clinton delegates to support Obama:


My feeling is this: I’ve run races and lost. I know how hard it is, and how bad you feel, and how tough it is to go out and work for the other person after you’ve run against him. And I can understand that kind of feeling. But the stakes are so big here in terms of the Supreme Court, in terms of what we do with the environment and everything else, getting out of Iraq. I think that those issues are so big that, I mean—Barack Obama’s position on health care is not my position. But, look, I want a Democratic president, and then we’ll have a chance to talk and work the issue out. If we have John McCain, these people who support Hillary, I don’t know what they’ll say to themselves. I don’t think they get anything out of that. There comes a time when you cut your losses… Democracy is never all of what I want. It is always taking the best deal you can and saying, ‘All right, we’ll go for that for now.’

I’m basically at that point. I mean, my wife was a very strong Hillary supporter… But she’s fully for Barack now. And Barack is a fine man and has the character to be a good transitional president. To transform this country. And I think that unfortunately the Democratic party, we always try to do too many things at once. We try to break the racial barrier at the same time we’re breaking the gender barrier. And as a party we said, ‘All right, we’re going to do the racial thing, ok?’ That doesn’t mean we’re not going to do the gender thing. We’ll be back on that issue. And I wish we could have done both at the same time, but, not possible.

There Are Going to be 800 Gay Softball Players at the Mariners Game Tonight

posted by on August 26 at 12:26 PM

And thanks to the lesbians kiss that made news all over the world, some of those gay softballers are probably wondering what’s permissible, PDA-wise, at the home of the Seattle Mariners.

The softballers are in town for the Gay Softball World Series, which goes down in Seattle this week. And they’re no doubt familiar with the rough outline of the Lesbian Kiss Scandal: Two women at a Mariners game were threatened with expulsion if they didn’t stop kissing. The couple maintains that they merely gave each other a few quick pecks; they also claim that they were informed by a “seating host” that other fans were upset by the sight of same-sex kissers at the ballpark—and the women provided the media with a photo they took of a kissing straight couple seated in the same section that wasn’t told to knock it off. The Ms insist that the lesbians were groping each other and making out, that the team doesn’t treat gay fans any differently than it treats straight fans, and that they have just “one standard” for PDA at the ballpark, not different standards for gay and straight fans.

All those visiting gay softball players are probably aware of the story—seeing as it was everywhere—and some might be wondering how to conduct themselves tonight at Safeco Field. The Ms forbid “displays of affection not appropriate in a public, family setting,” which is a little vague. The rule implicitly allows for some displays of affection—those appropriate to a family setting—while forbidding others. But how can the average gay fan know what PDA is appropriate and permissible at Safeco and what PDA is inappropriate and will get you expelled from the park?

I have a suggestion.

One way—perhaps the best way—for gay baseball fans to determine what kind of PDA is permissible in the park is to watch what straight fans are doing. If straight couples are doing it and not being asked to stop, well, then gay couples can do it too. Equal treatment, right? No double standards, right?

So here are some photos I took of a couple of straight fans that I had the pleasure of sitting behind at a recent game (click on image for a larger version):


These two are clearly in love and they were terribly cute together. And while I’m not the PDA type myself, I certainly don’t begrudge this couple their marathon ballpark PDA session. (Luckily my child wasn’t at this game, so I didn’t have to explain to him that some men like to kiss women. But that is my boyfriend’s knee in the shot, and I did have to explain to him what “straight” means. He cried all the way home.) And it was a marathon PDA session: These two were going out at it throughout the entire game—they had their arms wrapped around each other for nine innings—and by my count they kissed each other 37 times. (I didn’t see any tongue but my angle was bad. There could’ve been tongue.) A Safeco Field “seat host” was stationed about ten feet away the entire time and the host was aware of this couple and never asked them to break it up.

So I thought I would share these pictures with the 800 gay softballers who are going to the game tonight. Guys? Wondering what displays of affection are appropriate to a family setting? Just reference these pictures. Heck, print them out and take them to the game with you. And remember, gang, everyone’s equal at Safeco Field. So gay couples at the game should feel free to wrap their arms around each other, hold each other in an embrace that lasts the entire game, watch the game cheek-to-cheek, and can kiss roughly 4.1 times per inning.

Enjoy the game!

Dear God, Please Let the Sunshine Continue Through This Evening…

posted by on August 26 at 12:16 PM

warriors1.jpg…so I can go see The Warriors tonight at Havana’s outdoor cinema series.

Here’s the Suggest for the event that would’ve run in the paper if I hadn’t written it for the wrong issue (working on a weekly paper can really complicate calendar comprehension…):

The Warriors (MOVIE) Havana’s outdoor movie series continues with Walter Hill’s 1979 cult classic, in which a crew of New York street toughs are framed for a gangland murder and must trek from the Bronx to Coney Island without being murdered by their 10,0000 sworn enemies. The Warriors is where urban bad-assery meets macho camp—a perfect fit for Havana, where audience members sit on low-slung lawn chairs and the drink service never stops. (Havana, 1010 E Pike St. Gates at 8:30 pm, movie at 9:30 pm. $3. 21+.)

See you there, weather permitting…

Lunchtime Quickie

posted by on August 26 at 12:05 PM

These guys perform at weddings, and events in Pakistan? It hurts my brain…

Num Num Num

posted by on August 26 at 12:00 PM


What’s that sound, you ask? Why it’s the sound of consuming social networking site Shelfari.

Shelfari, a social network for bibliophiles, has been acquired by Amazon for an undisclosed amount. Amazon has been a longtime supporter of the Seattle based startup, having invested $1 million in the site in February 2007.

The move comes less than a month after Amazon’s acquisition of AbeBooks, a vendor of rare and used books from independent publishers. As part of that acquisition Amazon also got a stake in Shelfari’s competitor LibraryThing, which AbeBooks had previously purchased a 40% stake in.”

I wrote about another book social networking site, GoodReads, here. I joined Shelfari and LibraryThing, too, and I was really passionate about each of them in turn before I immediately forgot about them. I don’t know if I remember my password for any of the three. But Amazon clearly believes that this sort of thing is valuable, and I’m sure Shelfari information will start showing up in Amazon’s book information pages soon. And congratulations to the Shelfari kids down in Pioneer Square. I trust they made a mint on this deal.

Also up at The ‘Zon, which I learned while researching this story is what some Amazon employees call their company, it looks like Kindle 2.0 is already on the way, and it’ll be thinner, with a bigger screen, and, most significantly, cheaper, with an eye on the college textbook market.

Today The Stranger Suggests

posted by on August 26 at 11:00 AM


Democratic National Convention

Check out this heee-larious new reality show in which normal, everyday Democrats are videotaped and forced to live together for days in a filthy convention center. Watch as they ramble on incessantly about politics while drinking and screwing themselves silly. But here’s the twist! Instead of winning a million dollars, one lucky contestant is eventually chosen to leave the convention center and lead the country for at least four years! (ABC/NBC, debuts Mon Aug 25.)


White Power in Numbers

posted by on August 26 at 10:50 AM, which boasts “the world’s largest Christian audience online,” thinks bigoted sheep everywhere will feel better knowing that there are lots more bigoted sheep just like them. According to results of a recent poll they saw fit for my inbox, evangelical Christians all pray to the same hateful god, but, when white evangelicals vote for president, they vote for a candidate whose skin color matches their own. Almost the entire pasty-white flock is voting for John McCain, and a smaller margin of African-American evangelicals are voting for Obama.


And this is great news to the publishers of Crosswalk, we infer, because there’s a thumbs up. And this is good news for whitey, specifically, because that thumb—it’s a white thumb. So amen… for racial division?

Continue reading "White Power in Numbers" »

Book Leak of the Week

posted by on August 26 at 10:39 AM


If you still love The Twilight series, Bookshelves of Doom points to a leaked version of Midnight Sun that might still be up as you read this.

Midnight Sun, of course, is the next Twilight-related book, only it retells the events of the first book in the Twilight series from the point of view of Edward, the vampire in love.

Imitation of Life

posted by on August 26 at 10:35 AM

The original tower:
Marcus-sqare-campanile.jpg It’s the Campanile in St. Mark’s Square, Venice.

This is our version of the tower:
789px-King_Street_Station_%28Seattle%29_2005_05_23-1.jpg The King Street Station.

This is Denver’s:

Continue reading "Imitation of Life" »

Reading Tonight

posted by on August 26 at 10:09 AM


Seattle is like unto a worlde of ye olde phantasy tonightte.

At the University Book Store, Terry Brooks reads from The Gypsy Morph, which is book three in the something something Shannara series. Amazon reviewer Harriet Klausner describes the book here:

The Lady tasks Knight of the Word Logan Tom (not the great volleyball player) to protect the Gypsy Moth, a being born of wild magic. Hawk’s magic is going to lead the rest of humanity and the elves to a land where everyone can live in harmony. Elf Kirisin Belloruus is entrusted with the Elfstone to lead and protect his people from the demon horde and their monstrous allies. Hawk agrees to lead the caravan, which picks up travelers on the road as all seek a haven.


And at Seattle Mystery Bookshop, Caitlin Kittredge reads from a book in which a werewolf cop winds up in the middle of a witch-fight. I hope that this is as sexy as it sounds.

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

Pelz to Clinton Delegates: “Get on Board”

posted by on August 26 at 10:05 AM

Yesterday afternoon I ran into Dwight Pelz, chair of the Washington State Democrats, on the 100 level of the Pepsi Center. (Which, by the way, is just like any large basketball arena, ringed with concession stands peddling awful-for-you food. A bit funny to have all this high-minded rhetoric inside and hot dogs and DiGiorno’s pizza outside.)

Pelz filled me in on details of the Washington State delegation party that’s scheduled for tonight. It has a lot of competition, including a Death Cab for Cutie/Gov. Gregoire bash that’s a little more centrally located. Plus, I highly doubt it will top the partying I’ve been doing with the New Mexico delegation—that state’s official delegation party on Sunday (not to be confused with New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson’s pool party last night) featured a literal smoke-filled room at the seemingly 100-years-old Brown Palace Hotel, with an open bar and cigars being handed out and a rotund lobbyist in a seersucker suit daintily smoking a big one while rubbing elbows with a Sikh man who was the escort for Antonella Barba, of American Idol semi-fame. She’s concerned about the youth vote, she told me. But one of us in the Stranger delegation will try to attend the Washington bash. Hope it can compare.

Back to Pelz:


He said his main job this week is to keep the Washington delegates happy and in line. To that end, he had pretty tough words for the state’s Clinton delegates.

This is the week that Hillary delegates finish their expression of support for her and get on board for Barack Obama. And I really mean that.

He sounded a little fed up with all the teeth-gnashing from the Clinton crew, but we parted ways before I could get him to tell me what exactly he meant by “I really mean that.”

Congressman Jim McDermott struck a similar tone when I spoke to him yesterday. I’ll post his message to the Washington Clinton delegation a little later on today.

Meat Compass

posted by on August 26 at 10:04 AM

cows1.jpgIt took the invention of Google Earth to reveal a simple fact about our friend, the cow: It likes to stand facing north. Or south.

German scientists used satellite photos to analyze 8,510 cattle at 308 places around the world. The animals were standing on flat ground and not near water, feeding areas, or other things that might influence their position.

The resolution of the images was not sufficient to tell which ends of the cows were pointing north, however.

Researchers have long known that certain bacteria, birds, fish, whales and even rodents have minute organs in their brains containing particles of magnetite that can act like a compass.

The LA Times article ends with this comically dour sentence:

Experts acknowledged that the research almost certainly has no practical applications.

Obviously, they’ve never been lost in the countryside.

More Obama Art

posted by on August 26 at 10:00 AM

After I wiped the tears from my eyes when Michelle finished her awesome speech, I found myself bereft. Oh, so far from the action! (I miss you Eli, Annie, and Charles!)

So I went online to look at the online gallery of Obama art sponsored by during the convention. It’s here. Most of the art, as expected, was terrible.

How terrible?

Well, yes, you can, but I can’t believe you did: A “Barack-in-the-box” by Heather Courtney of San Jose, California.

Continue reading "More Obama Art" »

Today in Revolting Spam Subject Lines

posted by on August 26 at 8:35 AM


“Touch Her Heart with Your New Babymaker.”

The spam linked to something called Canadian Pharmacy, to a page listing various boner enhancements, including but not limited to Viagra, Cialis, Viagra Soft Tabs, Cialis Soft Tabs, Viagra Super Active, Cialis Super Active, and, my favorites, Viagra Professional and Cialis Professional. (Are these meant for executives, sex workers, or executive sex workers?)

The questions don’t stop there. Does a wang inflated via pharmaceuticals really count as a “new babymaker”? Is the spam’s usage of “touch her heart” in a physical, sexual context the ickiest bit of vag-bashing since the Notorious B.I.G. offered to “hit you with the dick, make your kidneys shift”? And are Viagra Soft Tabs as delicious as they look?

Michelle Obama’s Speech

posted by on August 26 at 8:30 AM

The full video is after the jump.

If you’ve been following the campaign, or even if you’re just curious about Michelle Obama, this is an absolute must-see. I was watching from a downstairs cabaret lounge in Denver that has been turned over to gavel-to-gavel coverage (with drinks!) of the convetion. A guy sitting next to me said at one point: “She’s killing it.” Absolutely true.

This was the best speech Michelle Obama has ever given, and I’d venture to say the best speech/performance we’ve seen from a First Lady or potential First Lady in my lifetime—and maybe ever (and, for those of you accusing me in the comments of being overly-gushy, this is actually not as big a compliment as it may sound; First Ladies and potential First Ladies have only been expected to take on roles like this in recent decades).

Also, since Michelle paid tribute to Hillary Clinton in the speech, it’s worth noting: The speech was far, far better than any speech Hillary Clinton ever gave during her campaign.

Speaking of Clinton… she’s up tonight, addressing the convention in prime time. Whatever she ends up saying, Michelle Obama is going to be a tough act to follow.

Continue reading "Michelle Obama's Speech" »

The Forces of Reaction

posted by on August 26 at 8:14 AM


And on Monday, the Coalition to Stop the Seattle Bag Tax said it turned in petitions with more than 20,000 signatures to the City Clerk in an effort to overturn the 20-cent fee on plastic and paper grocery store bags. The ordinance, which backers say is needed to help protect the environment, is set to go into effect in January…. A spokesman for the anti-bag-tax group said the signatures were collected in 11 days, using paid signature gatherers.

So if the tax is onerous and must be stopped, maybe the city should ban plastic and paper shopping bags altogether.

Assassination Vacation

posted by on August 26 at 8:04 AM


These fine specimens of manhood drove to Denver with “two high-powered, scoped rifles in the car along with camouflage clothing, walkie-talkies, wigs, a bulletproof vest, a spotting scope, licenses in the names of other people and 44 grams of methamphetamine.” Guess where they were headed?

Denver’s U.S. attorney is expected to speak on Tuesday afternoon about the arrests of four people suspected in a possible plot to shoot Barack Obama at his Thursday night acceptance speech in Denver…. One of those suspects spoke exclusively to CBS4 investigative reporter Brian Maass from inside the Denver City Jail late Monday night and said his friends had discussed killing Obama.

“So your friends were saying threatening things about Obama?” Maass asked.

“Yeah,” Nathan Johnson replied.

“It sounded like they didn’t want him to be president?”

“Yeah,” Johnson said.

Yeah? More here.

Currently Hanging

posted by on August 26 at 7:52 AM

The sun.

Aflo’s Starburst Sun Above Clouds in Blue Sky

For the moment, anyway. Please. I beg you to stick around for a few hours.

UPDATE, 8:01 am: It’s gone.

The Morning News

posted by on August 26 at 7:43 AM

Rednecks With Guns : FBI investigating Obama assassination plot.

Because Discouraging Adoption Is Always a Great Idea:: Proposed Arkansas law would bar gay couples from adopting.

Crackdown: Feds detain 350 workers in Mississippi factory raid.

The Upside to Pain at the Pump:
Study says
higher gas prices mean fewer traffic fatalities.

Border Patrol:
Security tightened along US-Mexico border over threats from drug cartels.

Movie Madness: Netflix blames week-long meltdown on “faulty hardware component.”

Now, forgotten cartoons from my childhood:

Monday, August 25, 2008


posted by on August 25 at 7:23 PM

A (Much Lower Profile) Lieberman of Our Own

posted by on August 25 at 7:14 PM

The last speaker at the Democratic National Convention was—gasp! A Republican. Former Representative Jim Leach of Iowa was introduced by the true blue Tom Harkin.

There was some scattered applause when he talked about the way the United States’ standing in the world has been diminished in recent years. But the murmur of the crowd definitely increased. It’s clear that this speech was for the viewers at home. So, Republican-leaning independents who inexplicably read Slog, were you moved by this talk of national parks and global warming and the Gulf War?

Still, the crowd perked up at the line, “In troubled times, it’s clear that country comes before party.” The attempts to appeal to the libertarian wing of the Republican party also went over fairly well. And it takes some chutzpah to use the word “Hence” in a speech, teleprompter or no.

I have a feeling Lieberman will be much more warmly embraced at the RNC. Unless, of course, he’s he’s McCain’s running mate.

Paris Hilton: Her Exhaustive Weekend in Review, Brought to You by SPAM!

posted by on August 25 at 7:04 PM

Last week, it was all about Britney Spears. The email spam I got, I mean. (Remember? REMEMBER?! ) But now that zippy genius that invents junk email in the mysterious land where spam is born has abandoned Britney altogether for some reason, and turned his/her hi-larious attentions to, yes, Paris Hilton. The Paris Hilton spam I’m getting is relentless.

And fabulous!

I just checked my spam box, and it is clogged as a coot’s cooter with these Paris-oriented emails, each promising to detail the alleged adventures of our dear Miss Hilton—even though they are nothing but base and common e-trash, and really just hawk V1@gra or something. (I’m not opening one to find out.)

Over the last three days, I have received easily over a hundred of these. I have, below, puzzled the best of them together into something (very) slightly resembling a time line. The alleged and spamy highlights, composed entirely of junk email, I give you below. (And yes, the information is more accurate and entertaining than anything on TMZ. But what the fuck isn’t, right?)

It begins…

(After the jump…)

Continue reading "Paris Hilton: Her Exhaustive Weekend in Review, Brought to You by SPAM!" »

Canary, Meet Coal Mine

posted by on August 25 at 6:24 PM

The Seattle Rep just dubbed Jerry Manning—an old man of the mountain in Seattle theater—as its acting artistic director. (How does the Puget Sound Business Journal always get arts-administration stories up so quickly?)

He’s directed some good shows around Seattle. (A few: John Lennon’s Gargoyle at Schmeater, Thom Pain at the Rep, the long-running Stones in His Pockets at the building formerly known as CHAC, the doomed production of Nocturne that ran for two seconds, and so on.)

The Rep is being cagey about whether Manning will slide from “acting artistic director” to “artistic director” once Esbjornson leaves. According to the swifties at PSB:

In his new position as acting artistic director, Manning will work side by side with Managing Director Benjamin Moore while the theater’s board evaluates its organizational model to determine the appropriate artistic and business-management structure.

The board will complete that process before beginning a search for a permanent artistic director.

Locals seems to be winning at the regional theaters lately—just what they’ve always wanted, right? Intiman hires Sheila Daniels (and, to be fair, some guy from Pasadena), the Rep hires Manning, ACT hires Carlo Scandiuzzi, and the shows running at Intiman and ACT? All local actors.

It’s what theater folks have been clamoring for for years—except for the niggling feeling that theaters are doing this out of compulsion, not conviction. Because they can’t afford fancy out-of-towners any more.

Now when they start producing local playwrights, then you’ll know they’re really in trouble. (That one’s for you, Paul Mullin. And you, Scot Augustson. And all y’all.)

Anyway: temporary congratulations to the Rep’s new temporary artistic director. (And apologies for my cynical reading of what is doubtlessly a well-deserved promotion.)


posted by on August 25 at 6:22 PM

The Kennedy signs are being distributed throughout the floor, so a Kennedy is up—the word is Ted Kennedy will be making an appearance, though Caroline will probably be the only one to speak.

OK, so it’s just Caroline for now: “I’m here tonight to pay tribute to two men who have changed my life—and the life of this country: Barack Obama and Ted Kennedy.”

The repeated refrain is “Teddy is your senator too.” Caroline’s droll delivery doesn’t punch it up much, but if the man makes an appearance all will be forgotten.

And… she introduces a video tribute, featuring testimonials from John Kerry, John Lewis.

At the conclusion of the video, the words EDWARD M. KENNEDY flash on the screen, and he comes out to the podium. The crowd is chanting “Teddy, Teddy, Teddy” and shaking their Kennedy signs.

“My fellow Democrats, my fellow Americans,” Kennedy begins. “It is so good to be here. And nothing is going to keep me away from this special gathering tonight.” Huge applause.

It strikes me that the one thing the Obama campaign has to be given credit for is making a fundamentally negative campaign (the last eight years have been awful) sound irrepressibly optimistic. After speaking about his central issue, health care, Kennedy pounds out the words, “Yes… we… can, and finally, yes we will!” In between shoutouts to the gays and the American military (separately, natch), he talks about the moon and the heights and everything lofty. It nonetheless sounds gravelly and serious.

“This November, the torch will be passed again to a new generation of Americans,” Kennedy concludes. “The work begins anew! The hope rises again! And the dream lives on.”

There was some nice suspense—and real human emotion—in that bit of political theater.

(No one listened to the following two speakers. The floor was buzzing with conversation.)

Maya Gets a Warm Welcome

posted by on August 25 at 5:47 PM

Maya Soetoro-Ng, Barack Obama’s half-sister, just addressed the convention. She seemed very real, after a parade of politicians and union bigwigs. Surprisingly calm and composed. She didn’t say much, really, but she got very warm applause from the delegates. I’m surprised the campaign hasn’t tried to use her more often.

Jesse Jackson, Jr. is now talking about Illinois, Illinois, Illinois, trying to emphasize Obama’s connection to all of his adopted state, not just Chicago.

Hey, School District, Leave Those Trees Alone!

posted by on August 25 at 5:41 PM

A judge has ordered the Seattle School District to halt plans to remove a grove of 68 trees from Ingraham High School’s campus in North Seattle.

Under the judge’s order, the district must now reapply for permits from the city and go through a full environmental review.

Seattle Schools spokesman David Tucker says the district is hoping to get the case dismissed.

The district already owes a logging company as much as $17,000 for delaying the tree removal, and Tucker says the district is also worried about dealing with rising construction costs. “Any delays start to effect…construction costs and our ability to continue with the project,” Tucker says.

I’ve got a call in to Save Our Trees spokesman Steve Zemke to talk about his legal victory.

Double Standards and Double Talk

posted by on August 25 at 5:36 PM


Asked why they didn’t mention the fact that Australian diver Matthew Mitcham was gay—and that his boyfriend, the man Mitcham credits with getting him back in the sport after a crippling depression that NBC did mention, was sitting in the stands with his mother—when he pulled off a huge upset and won the gold medal, NBC told

“In virtually every case, we don’t discuss an athlete’s sexual orientation.”

Mentioning the spouses, boyfriends, and girlfriends of heterosexual athletes—even discussing a love triangle involving heterosexual athletes—somehow doesn’t equal discussing “an athlete’s sexual orientation.” But mentioning the boyfriend of a male athlete does.

Because, you see, straight people have sex, while gay people have sexual orientations. Please make a note of it.

Overheard in the Office

posted by on August 25 at 5:15 PM

Lindy West: “Did you hear there was a tornado or something in the U District?”

Comic Books Are Totally Literature

posted by on August 25 at 5:05 PM

From Newsarama, this is page 4 of Superman issue # 679, which is scheduled to be released this Wednesday:


Comics! They aren’t just for kids anymore!

The View from Behind the Claw

posted by on August 25 at 5:02 PM

I’m holding down the fort at the Democratic National Convention, with a lovely vantage point that allows obstructed views of both video screens and no view at all of the speakers at the podium. Wait, no. I can see the shoulder of the current speaker, whoever he is.

The view from behind the set looks remarkably like a claw.


Nancy Pelosi is up now, and she’s more interesting than most of the previous speakers—that’s not saying much. The hall is starting to fill up for Michelle. I’m guessing she’ll start around 7:30 Seattle time.

God’s Country

posted by on August 25 at 4:59 PM

Along with the estimated 2000 protesters in town, there are a larger than expected number of these types.

Plug That Leak

posted by on August 25 at 4:56 PM

Apparently it isn’t just santorum that leaks out after you’re done…


…but the odd state secret as well.

South Side Girl

posted by on August 25 at 4:50 PM

Michelle Obama isn’t speaking until 8 p.m. (Denver time) tonight, but the Obama campaign is already pushing out excerpts of her speech and a summary of a video piece, called South Side Girl, that will introduce Michelle.

The dominant theme is that she’s an American woman with a deeply American story. Got that? American! This is intended, of course, to combat Republican attempts to paint Michelle Obama as somehow anti-American, angry, and, like her husband, too much of an unknown quantity. Some advance excerpts from her speech, which Annie Wagner will be liveblogging and which Slog readers tell us you can watch at Spitfire among other places:

But each of us also comes here tonight by way of our own improbable journey. I come here tonight as a sister, blessed with a brother who is my mentor, my protector and my lifelong friend. I come here as a wife who loves my husband and believes he will be an extraordinary president. I come here as a Mom whose girls are the heart of my heart and the center of my world – they’re the first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning, and the last thing I think about when I go to bed at night.

Their future – and all our children’s future – is my stake in this election.
And I come here as a daughter – raised on the South Side of Chicago by a father who was a blue collar city worker, and a mother who stayed at home with my brother and me. My mother’s love has always been a sustaining force for our family, and one of my greatest joys is seeing her integrity, her compassion, and her intelligence reflected in my own daughters.

And Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values: that you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond and you do what you say you’re going to do; that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don’t know them, and even if you don’t agree with them…

And Barack and I set out to build lives guided by these values, and pass them on to the next generation. Because we want our children – and all children in this nation – to know that the only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work for them…

And in the end, after all that’s happened these past 19 months, the Barack Obama I know today is the same man I fell in love with 19 years ago. He’s the same man who drove me and our new baby daughter home from the hospital ten years ago this summer, inching along at a snail’s pace, peering anxiously at us in the rearview mirror, feeling the whole weight of her future in his hands, determined to give her everything he’d struggled so hard for himself, determined to give her what he never had: the affirming embrace of a father’s love.

We’ll find out if the actual performance meets expectations. A few minutes ago, Congressman Jim McDermott, who is here in the convention hall for the speech, told me (after a very, very long pause to collect his most politic thoughts) what he believes Michelle Obama needs to accomplish.


The best thing she can do is portray who she is, so people get to know her. And also talk about her husband. Because really, we’re electing her husband, we’re not electing her… I think she should use it as an opportunity to say that while she’s doing her thing about herself, she also tells us who he is…

We’re still getting to know her. I ran for governor in 1972, and I lost. I got my ass kicked. And it was dumb to have run. Somebody said to me at that time, ‘You could have been the best governor we’ve ever had, maybe, but we didn’t know you. We have to feel like we know you. I think I’m there now, but she should use this as an opportunity to say who he is.

Check Annie’s LiveSlog to see how it plays.

Chewin’ Butts in Cle Elum Washington

posted by on August 25 at 4:27 PM

Is my mind perpetually in the gutter, or is there a really good fag joke here?


A Bumper Sticker Broke My Heart…

posted by on August 25 at 4:24 PM

I heard whispers that this damn “slogan” or whatever existed. Nasty rumors that, um, “protesters” (of what, exactly?) carry it printed on signs. Hell’s bells: maybe this has even been posted here before, a million years ago, and everybody’s seen it but me.

But, dammit. I just saw it myself, for the very first time, on a bumper sticker. And the damn thing totally crushed me.



I feel like kicking a puppy.

A fucking Republican puppy.

I Give Up

posted by on August 25 at 4:19 PM

Seattle’s We Are Change blog, the big blog for Seattle 9/11 Truthers, has just bravely come out against the worldwide conspiracy to cover up the real truth about…

global warming.

Many Truthers now believe that the climate crisis doesn’t exist. The We Are Change post in question quotes liberally from a report by “Christopher Monckton, who once advised Margaret Thatcher.” Oh. My. God. Here are some “facts”:

CO2 enrichment will add little more than 1 °F (0.6 °C) to global mean surface temperature by 2100;
It was proved 50 years ago that predicting climate more than two weeks ahead is impossible;


In the past 70 years the Sun was more active than at almost any other time in the past 11,400 years.

The right-wing migration of Truth Groups is complete.

If You Don’t Hear From Me Tomorrow…

posted by on August 25 at 4:08 PM

It’s probably because I’m slowly dissolving in the stomach-pod of a giant alien fungus.

Here is the situation: I have lived in my current apartment for one year and eight months. Today, I stepped through my front gate for an unremarkable (if drippy) walk to work, and was confronted with this magnificent beast:


Dear people of Slog,
WHAT THE FUCK!?!?!?! I have never seen this extremely large yellow thing before in my entire life. Was it always there, but somehow eluded my gaze for 20 unsuspecting months? Did it appear overnight, in conjunction with that glowing chunk of space garbage I found pulsating in the ferns? And most importantly, SHOULD I EAT IT!? Please advise.

PS Isn’t it pretty?

Jesus Shreds

posted by on August 25 at 3:15 PM

At the YMCA skate park in Mukilteo…


The War Zone

posted by on August 25 at 2:59 PM


Protesters? Not that many. Cops? All over Denver. And their mode for engagement is not law enforcement but military action. They move in squads of ten, one armed with an automatic rifle, the others with automatic pistols and the brutal instruments of riot repression. All of them wear the kind of body armor that the soldiers in Iraq can only own in their dreams.


Savage Love Letter of the Day

posted by on August 25 at 2:30 PM

I love your column and respect you for telling it like it is, but in your August 14 column you were wrong in crediting a quote to Barack Obama. In your response to MOWO, you said “Or if I may paraphrase Barack Obama: Straight men? Sometimes you gotta be the change that you seek.”

Dan, please….. Barack Obama???? It was Mahatma Gandi who said “Be the change that you want to see in the world.” Give credit where credit is due.


Damn. I’m always getting those two confused. Perhaps I was misremembering Barack’s “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for,” which paraphrased in “Savage Love” would turn into something like, “We are the ones we’ve been waiting Foreskin Quarterly.” Or something.

Anyway, thanks for the catch, SD.


posted by on August 25 at 2:03 PM

One of my very first Constant Readers was about the magazine known as Murdaland. Here’s a bit:

…But a friend introduced me to Murdaland, a magazine now on its second issue, and it’s that almost-impossible achievement: a brand-new literary magazine that’s actually good. Subtitled Crime Fiction for the 21st Century, Murdaland is a collection of novel excerpts, short fiction, and a bit of nonfiction about crime and criminal activity. Murdaland’s not exactly crammed tight with Big Names of Literature: Mary Gaitskill, Jayne Anne Phillips, and Rudolph Wurlitzer are the most famous authors of the lot, discounting a classic short story by David Goodis. But it’s just the kind of magazine that Cornell Woolrich would’ve stolen, killed, or kidnapped for, back in the day: one devoted to well-written stories from America’s seamy underbelly.

Today, The Rap Sheet brings news that Murdaland has died due to lack of funds, and its second issue will be its last. Here’s what they’re telling contributors:

Magazines pay very little and markets are few. You’re thus asked to make the sacrifices and meet the demands of love (for literature, for the short story form, for the genre) while confronting the imposing standards of an extremely difficult craft.

That so many of you continue to write and work on such stories is an inspiration.

We take solace in the knowledge that countless gifted writers are out there laboring to create just the kind of quality dark fiction we were fortunate enough to feature for a time.

This is a big bummer.

A Reader Asks…

posted by on August 25 at 1:52 PM

Can Slog point me in the direction of a bar that will be showing Michelle Obama’s speech tonight? Thanks.—Joe

My boyfriend is threatening to kick me out of the house tonight, so I’d kinda like to know where I can sit and drink and watch the Michelle’s speech too. Anybody?

An Update From the Lorax!

posted by on August 25 at 1:50 PM

The fight to save a grove of trees at Ingraham High School continues:

In an email, Save Our Trees spokesman Steve Zemke says:

Save the Trees is back in court today on their motion for a Preliminary Injunction to prevent the Seattle School District from cutting down 68 Douglas fir, Western Red Cedar and Pacific madrone trees on the west side of Ingraham High School

The temporary restraining order barring the district from cutting the trees expires today, so if a judge does not extend the injunction against the Seattle School District, logging could begin tomorrow.

The View from Washington

posted by on August 25 at 1:40 PM

Past multiple fences, concrete barriers, body scanners, and the like; into the powerfully air-conditioned Pepsi Center; through another security checkpoint; and finally, into the hall, where the view from Washington is not that bad, for a not-really-a-swing state:


But here’s a much better view of the stage (which seems very Miss America / American Idol), shot from somewhere around the Massachusetts delegation seating:


Spotted at the Washington area:


A bunch of Washington Obama delegates, including Willetta Ward of Mercer Island, Sharon Winesberry of Steilacoom, and Hope Busto-Keyes of Spokane. They seemed to have completely out-hustled Washington’s Clinton delegates in getting to the Pepsi Center early to check things out. Maybe the Clinton folks are still busy emoting?

Was Somebody Praying for Rain in Denver?

posted by on August 25 at 1:26 PM

It worked! But, um, it’s only raining in the FOX News booth

A sprinkler system partially flooded part of the Pepsi Center Monday morning. The Denver Fire Department, which has a crew stationed at the center all week, was able to respond quickly before 5 a.m. when the sprinkler went off.

The sprinkler was located on the club level in a skybox which had recently been renovated to host a news crew. It appears the skybox belongs to Fox. After going off, the sprinkler released 50 to 100 gallons of water per minute and 9NEWS crews estimate it was on for around 5 minutes.

When You Care Enough to Boycott the Very Best

posted by on August 25 at 1:23 PM

So… the American Family Association is boycotting Hallmark, which any idiot could’ve seen coming. So I’m thinking…

Considering the number of companies being actively boycotted or threatened with boycotts by Christian fundies, perhaps Hallmark should launch a line of greeting cards for the CEOs of companies—Disney, Ford, McDonalds, Hallmark itself—that are being boycotted by the likes of the American Family Association. I’m seeing something tasteful on the front of the card, perhaps a photo of a beautiful sunrise, along with the words “We heard you’re being boycotted by the American Family Association…” Open the card and the inside reads: “…which must mean you’re doing something right. Thanks.”

First Vineyards, and Now This?

posted by on August 25 at 1:18 PM

Last week we polled Slog readers for the next, most unbelievably shocking place pot growers would grow pot. Because it doesn’t matter where the Seattle Times discovers pot growing—whether it’s a house or a field—it’s always the most shocking place it’s ever been growing. The winners tied—the Fun Forest and Joni Balter’s asscrack—at 21 percent. Dude ranches earned a disappointing 4 percent.

The survey was, of course, all in jest (cheers, Joni). But the yuks are on us. No sooner had we published the poll, believing we’d outdone ourselves with unlikely pot-growing locations, than even we were shocked by where pot was found next.

The Drug Enforcement Administration discovered something unexpected in the Mall of the Americas.

DEA agents found a hydroponics lab with more than 200 marijuana plants, standing 3 to 6 feet tall in the air and worth millions of dollars, in a storage area on the second floor of the mall.

By the way, that’s the Mall of the Americas in Miami—not the bloated Mall of America near Minneapolis-St. Paul. But they’re growing pot in malls! Take note, Seattle Times; one sprout at Northgate could mark a troubling trend.

The Day the Board Said No to the Flying Cars: An Artist’s Fantasy About Seattle Art Museum

posted by on August 25 at 12:30 PM

As the curtain rises, curator Lisa Corrin is finishing her explanation of why Cai Guo-Qiang’s installation of flying cars would be perfect for the new Seattle Art Museum lobby. (We’re back in the day.)

It sounds like a done deal, but when the executive committee of the board takes a vote, there are a few whopping nays, including from Mimi Gates, the museum’s director.

Bagley Wright starts to explain. He’s a nay, too, along with Susan Brotman (another powerful longtime board member), and Bagley’s wife, the longtime collector and super-power-broker Virginia Wright.

What do the nays want?

They want to take the $6 million that would be spent on the cars, invest it in a trust, and instead spend $25,000 a month until 2030 buying art by regional artists.

“Sure, these flying cars would look good for a postcard,” Wright says. (He, and in fact most of the people at the meeting, can not pronounce Cai’s name, anyway.) “But I’m not going to stand behind a six-million-dollar chandelier to spruce up the lobby.”

Virginia and Mimi chime in, also cheerleading for local artists, and for the museum’s connection with them.

The joke is that SAM has a mostly deserved reputation for being imperious and disconnected. (Witness the frantic don’t-touch signs at the Olympic Sculpture Park, or SAM’s recent no-go on the whole idea of hosting painters in the galleries, or the fact that SAM does not get involved in the business of regional biennials the way TAM and PAM do.) The Wrights in particular are the force that has brought (often great) work by New York artists to Seattle throughout the last three decades.

This recorded conversation, of course, never took place (and I don’t believe a cost figure for “Inopportune” was ever released).

But it’s the conversation that contemporary artists wish would happen at SAM.

Unfortunately, SAM did buy the cars, and we’re left to marvel at how shallow an experience they are, and how bad they look in the chopped-up architecture of SAM’s various lobbies.

But you can revel in this artists’ fantasy nonetheless, on the Unauthorized Seattle Art Museum Audio Tour by PDL here:

To receive other tracks on the tour, free of charge, email the artists here.

Re: On the Radio

posted by on August 25 at 12:25 PM

If you want to listen to my interview this morning with KUOW’s Derek Wong—in which we talked about Denver protesters, Washington delegates, and Michelle Obama’s big speech tonight—you can find it here. It’s about 5 minutes long.

Sims (Now) Solid for Obama

posted by on August 25 at 12:10 PM


Just ran into King County Executive Ron Sims on the way to the Pepsi Center. You may recall his fervent support, as a superdelegate, for Hillary Clinton—until she dropped out of the race. But if you ask him about all that here in Denver, it’s in the past. “That was a long time ago,” he told me.

A side note: I’d spotted Sims while riding down the street on one of the free bicycles that are being handed out here this week. Here’s mine:


There’s no reason Seattle can’t do this—offer free bikes in the downtown core to conventioneers and anyone else who wants them, set up a few hubs for picking them up and dropping them off, and track the whole thing using bar-code scanners and plastic ID cards. The Denver program is even able to track the total mileage we’re all riding on these bikes this week, which I think is pretty cool.

So I used the opportunity to lobby Sims on the matter and was told that this is, in fact, coming to Seattle. He told me bids are being collected, they’re watching the Denver program closely, and at some point in the hopefully near future—after much Seattle process, no doubt—we’ll have this in our city too.

What’s That Smell?

posted by on August 25 at 12:09 PM

Thanks to Slog tipper Balt-O-Matt.

Lunch Date: Mike’s Election Guide 2008

posted by on August 25 at 12:07 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? Mike’s Election Guide 2008, by Michael Moore.

Where’d you go? Guanacos Tacos, on Brooklyn Ave in the U District.

What’d you eat? I had a sampler with a pupusa, an empanada, and a fried yuca ($6.50).

How was the food? It was really good. Guanaco’s does Salvadoran food, and I believe they’re the only pupuseria in the greater Seattle area the northern Seattle area. I had the pork carnita pupusa, and it was terrific, a fried pocket of dough wrapped around spiced, but not spicy, meat. The meal came with a bunch of different salsas, too. The fried yuca didn’t have a whole lot of flavor, but the texture was just about perfect and it was perfectly fried—crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside. The empanada was dessert, filled with sweet cream and covered in cinnamon. It was all lovely. The horchata ($1.50) was not as good as the horchata at other Mexican places in the area, mostly due to a crippling lack of cinnamon.

What does your date say about itself? ‘Welcome to Mike’s Election Guide, my effort to make sense of this fall’s race for the White House and Congress. Herein I answer the nation’s most pressing questions: “Why is John McCain so angry?” “Do the Democrats Still Drink from a Sippy Cup and Sleep with the Light On?” “Can I Get into the Electoral College with Only a 2.0 GPA?” and “How Many Democrats Does It Take to Lose the Most Winnable Election in American History?”’

Is there a representative quote? “The important thing to remember here is that the terrorists have lost! OUR WAY OF LIFE has won! Yes, we will gladly strip naked at the airport if we have to. Yes, we will pay whatever the pump tells us to pay. Yes, you can listen in on my phone calls and read my private emails—hell, you can put a friggin’ drill in my head and insert a thought-control chip on my frontal lobe—just as long as you promise me that I will be safe and the terrorists will be defeated! Wait, wait—is that a 100-inch plasma screen TV I see over there in the window? I have to have it! I must protect America and kill more terrorists!! Oh, God, PLEASE…do you take Discover?”

Will you two end up in bed together? Not a snowball’s chance in hell. You know, I’ve never read a Michael Moore book before: Are they all this stupid? I know he’s got his everyman schtick, but this bullshit ‘satire’ is so 2004. Also, when he’s talking about gay marriage, he suggests that, because the image of two men kissing is gross, we should imagine two hot girls making out instead, because everybody likes two hot girls making out. And then he runs a picture of two bottle blonds touching tongues, to get the point across. Also: he goes after fat people for being fat. I wish Michael Moore would just go away. He was doing an important job at a time when nobody else was doing it on a national level, but now that the job’s been done, and he’s just embarrassing us all.

Lunchtime Quickie

posted by on August 25 at 12:00 PM

Angel Matos and his “brain explosion” take The Gold for most memorable Olympic moment…

Blue Scholars Slog From the Democratic National Convention

posted by on August 25 at 11:20 AM

Seattle hiphop stars Blue Scholars are down in Denver, performing during the Democratic National Convention. Here’s what they’ve reported back so far. Words by Geo, photos by Sabzi.

1. The Arrival

After being bopped for an unexpected charge for having just ONE bag to check in at the Spokane airport, we arrived in Denver at 9:30 am. The first thing we see out of the gate is a row of about Obama supporters holding up welcome and campaign signs. They were eclipsed by the biggest sign of all… for FOX News.


2. The Numbers

50,000 people are expected from out of town this week—20,000 of whom are media and press. 4,000 police officers will be on duty all week, along with 2,500 national guard. 75,000+ are expected to attend Obama’s Thursday night acceptance speech at Invesco Field (damn shame what they call Mile High Stadium these days). And one large sign declaring that Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Republican:


3. The Capitol


Benjamin, a kind young fellow organizing with the Recreate 68 folks, drops us off at Lincoln Avenue facing the Capitol. He’s running off the fumes of a two-hour sleep, which makes three of us. Atop the building’s steps, dead prez breaks into their first song, a remix over that Black Rob joint (“War” instead of “Whoa”). 1,500 people look on.


Ward Churchill and Kathleen Cleaver are chillin’ in the shade on the building’s left side. When I meet Ward, he asks if John is with us. John who, I ask? He says John Sinclair, as in John Sinclair and his Blues Scholars, a jazz outfit fronted by the former MC-5 manager and ex-Chairman of the White Panther Party. A cutie from Out The Box TV interviews Ward, ending the segment by looking into the camera and yelling “DNC, bitch!” Ward glances over, confounded.


It’s sweltering and somebody forgot to provide water. The elevation magnifies everything. After dead prez’s spirited performance and a shoutout to their candidate of choice, Green Party nominee Cynthia McKinney, the crowd is ready to march. In a couple hours, they’ll be back, and we’ll greet them with music with the help of our gracious soundman, Wynn (Wind?), who might share more than few DNA strands with Seattle’s own rally/mobilization soundman of choice, Bob Barnes.


Thanks Wynn.

Continue reading "Blue Scholars Slog From the Democratic National Convention" »

“Yogurt-eaters come from every race, but just one socio-economic class: the class that wears grey hoodies.”

posted by on August 25 at 11:19 AM

I don’t care how old Target: Women’s meme is—it isn’t polite to discuss a lady’s age.

Just watch the yogurt installment again for the very first time:

More Target: Women here.

(Thanks to Slog tipper Matthew R.)

Today The Stranger Suggests

posted by on August 25 at 11:00 AM


‘The Edge of Heaven’

If you’re expecting a movie as raging and ferocious as his aptly titled Head-On, you might be disappointed. But German-Turkish filmmaker Fatih Akin’s new movie—scheduled to play at the Varsity for just a week—is another kind of devastating. The braided narrative is about the disruptive urgency of sexual desire, the ties of kinship, and the faint tactlessness of requesting forgiveness. And I don’t care if she never makes another film that reaches American shores: Nurgül Yesilçay is a goddamn movie star. (See movie times,, for details.)


Today The Stranger Suggests

posted by on August 25 at 11:00 AM



Tapas: It’s back. Opened in the last five minutes: Txori in Belltown, Ocho in Ballard, Tidbit near Roanoke, Bilbao in the University District, and Olivar on Broadway. Of these, Ocho is the most authentic: a small, crowded bar with superdelicious, inexpensive snacks meant to go with drinking. But the bar at Tango—a Seattle favorite for a billion years—comes close, especially at happy hour (Sun–Fri 4:30–6:30 pm) and especially on half-price-wine night (Mon). Chili-cinnamon carnitas, shrimp-and-avocado ceviche, and a bottle of Albariño equals a splendid summer supper. (Tango, 1100 Pike St, 583-0382. 5–10:30 pm.)


The Invisible Library

posted by on August 25 at 10:52 AM

The Invisible Library is a collection of books that only exist in other books.

From the Ks:

KLOPPER, Wilhelm: Die Kultur als Fehler

—from Stanislaw Lem’s A Perfect Vacuum

KNIGHT, Sebastian:
The Doubtful Asphodel
The Funny Mountain
Lost Property
The Prismatic Bezel

—from Vladimir Nabokov’s The Real Life of Sebastian Knight

KOUSKA, Cezar: De Impossibilitate Vitae and De Impossibilitate Prognoscendi

—from Stanislaw Lem’s A Perfect Vacuum

KRAFT, Fellowes:
Bitten Apples (novel of a young Shakespeare)
Bruno’s Journey (biographical novel about Giordano Bruno)

—from John Crowley’s Aegypt cycle

This is a great way to use a blog.

What He Said

posted by on August 25 at 10:51 AM

Paul Krugman in today’s NYT (and tomorrow’s PI and Seattle Times):

Is it fair to attack Mr. McCain for having too many houses?

In an ideal world, politicians would be judged by their actions, not by their wealth or lack thereof. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was born to wealth, but that didn’t stop him from doing more for working Americans than any president before or since. Conversely, Joseph Biden’s hardscrabble life story, though inspiring, didn’t stop him from supporting the odious 2005 bankruptcy bill.

But in the world we actually live in, pro-corporate, inequality-increasing Republicans argue that you should vote for them because they’re regular guys you’d like to have a beer with, while Democrats who want to raise taxes on top earners, expand health care and raise the minimum wage are snooty elitists.

And in that world, stripping away the regular-guy facade—pointing out that everything Rush Limbaugh said about Mr. Kerry applies equally to Mr. McCain, that Mr. McCain lives in a material world few Americans can imagine—is only fair.

HA Gets There First

posted by on August 25 at 10:43 AM

Some folks in comments predicted that the Stranger would, in typical fashion, piss all over the protesters in Denver. Looks like Goldy Geov beat us to it. Someone take that man’s Drinking Liberally privileges away.

Washington HRC Delegates Are Passionate, Torn

posted by on August 25 at 10:38 AM

Following a hellishly early breakfast meeting for the entire Washington state delegation, headlined by Jay Inslee, the Obama and Clinton subcaucuses held breakout sessions to consult with their whips, elect subcaucus chairs, and discuss how to sneak extra people onto the floor through well-practiced credential jujitsu.

The Clinton delegates also had to broach the subject of how their delegation should proceed at Wednesday’s roll call vote. Washington does not require its delegates to vote for the candidate to whom they are pledged, so switching from Clinton to Obama (or vice versa, for that matter) is an option. But first, delegates signed a Hillary Clinton poster in sparkly silver ink.

HRC breakout session

HRC delegate Anne Price-Mills of Kent signs the poster.

Then came the delicate stuff. Paul Berendt, former Washington Democratic Party chair and Clinton delegate, was appointed by the party to act as whip for the Hillary Clinton delegation. He tried his best to herd them (a task made harder by the fact that he intends to vote for Clinton at the convention), explaining that “It’s critical that we as Hillary delegates really honor Hillary… She’s made her position in support of the Democratic nominee abundantly clear.” At first, the delegates seemed to be taking these vague instructions in stride. The first question was whether Hillary t-shirts could be worn on the floor of the convention. Berendt said sure: “We can lay the love on Hillary as deep and as wide as humanly possible.”

The emoting continued. Julie Johnson (Neah Bay) had already made up her mind to cast her vote for Obama on Wednesday: “It’s hard for me to change my vote. It’s heavy. I feel like I’m grieving. But I’m a Democrat. And we need to put a Democrat in the White House.”

Most others disagreed—vehemently. Anne Price-Mills, pictured above, insisted, “I will vote for Hillary. That’s the promise I made to the people who elected me.” Delegates said that hundreds of people in their districts had contacted them to demand that they vote for Hillary at the convention, that democracy was not served by coercion, that the Hart-Mondale split in 1984 showed that pressuring people to vote a certain way led to losses for Democrats.

Victor Collymore, an unpledged add-on delegate from Bellevue, caucused with the Hillary delegation, but he was losing his patience with all the emotional talk. “I think there are people in this delegation,” he said slowly, “and I think there are people nationally who are not committed to voting for the Democratic Party in November […] There’s a saying that Democrats fall in love with their candidate, but Republicans fall in line. If we fall in love with our candidate, that’s problematic.”

Most of the Clinton’s pledged delegates from Washington state are voting for Hillary Clinton at the convention, unless she says something extremely persuasive at her reception for her delegates Wednesday. But one woman said her obligation was no longer to the politician; it’s to the caucusgoers who supported her.

“Fuck FOX News!”

posted by on August 25 at 10:22 AM

I realize this plays right into FOX’s hands—ooh, dangerous, potty-mouthed leftists!—but it’s still pretty sweet.

Via Queerty.

Every Child Deserves a Mother and a Father

posted by on August 25 at 10:11 AM


A San Antonio couple is accused of trying to trying to trade sex with the woman’s 5-year-old daughter for an apartment, a used car and child care for her 10-month old daughter.

Jennifer Richards, 25, and her married boyfriend, Sean Michael Block, 40, appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Nancy Stein Nowak on Friday…. According to an affidavit, the investigation began when an informant told the FBI about a text message allegedly sent by Block reading: “Nice piece 5 yrs old belongs to my gf and she wants to sell it.”

Richards and Block crafted a deal that, in addition to the apartment and used car, included child care for Richards’ 10-month-old daughter, whose sexual service the couple intended to sell later, Rex Miller, the FBI’s lead agent on the case, testified.

Thanks to Slog tipper Shannon.

Ninjas: The Anti-Drug

posted by on August 25 at 10:11 AM

So… um, wow. I guess this happened last week…

Concerned an ex-girlfriend and others in their circle of friends were descending into drug use, two young men from Clifton took their intervention to unusual heights.

First the pair, self-described admirers of the Shinobi ninja warrior culture of feudal Japan, donned masks and black SWAT-type vests early Wednesday. Then they armed themselves with swords, ninja throwing knives, nunchuks and throwing stars.

They carried letters that threatened “justified yet merciful force” to those who ignored their warnings and continued to smoke pot or, worse yet, persuaded others to try the drug.

They planned to drop the letters at the doors of friends, including one they accused of supplying the drugs to others. As assurance against counterattacks, they brought along homemade smoke bombs they’d concocted from instructions on YouTube.

But the art of the ninja, based on stealth and cunning, failed them.

The whole too-fantastic-to-be-fantasy news story continues in detail right over here. A note to concerned friends: If you find yourself donning ninja gear and orchestrating a blitzkrieg to stop your friend’s pot smoking, you may need to reconsider who needs the intervention.

What If Couples That Weren’t Into Monogamy Could Get Married?

posted by on August 25 at 10:07 AM

Amy Wax had this to say at a Federalist Society debate about gay marriage this weekend: “We should be wary of extending marriage to a community with influential people who believe that sexual monogamy isn’t that important.”

Yeah, we wouldn’t want a community of people out there giving people the impression that you can be married without being monogamous.

Uh, Ms. Wax? How is it that this large and organized movement of non-monogamous heterosexual married couples is never acknowledged by conservatives who seek to deny marriage rights to same-sex couples on the grounds that gay men are insufficiently monogamous? (Lesbian couples are better at monogamy than gay or straight couples, but never mind about that.) If you’re sincerely worried about the influence that non-monogamous, legally-married couples will have on currently-monogamous, legally-married couples—and not just looking for something to pin your bigotry on—then you should be up in arms about the organized swinging movement. Check out some of those websites, Ms. Wax. Swingers recruit. Here’s a website for a Christian swingers, for crying out loud.

If non-monogamous married couples represent a dire existential threat to the the institution of marriage, how come we never hear any complaints from social conservatives about all these non-monogamous married heterosexuals out there? How come they get a pass?

Probably because it’s not really about monogamy, is it?

Architecture and Reality

posted by on August 25 at 10:07 AM

Remember what Charles said last week on this subject?

Nicolai Ourousoff is agreeing with Mudede this morning, in a piece on the odd duck Lebbeus Woods:

By abandoning fantasy for the more pragmatic aspects of building, the profession has lost some of its capacity for self-criticism, not to mention one of its most valuable imaginative tools.

I agree. More often than not I see buildings whose designs seem to be backwardly rationalized, by which I mean that the designs are more or less logistically driven, but then are gussied up to “mean” something. I’m not opposed to logistical motivations, but I’d like them to be admitted as such. (This is also a huge problem in art, where artists can’t decide which of their choices to glorify after the fact, and it makes for some weirdly gap-filled conversations and artist talks.) I also am tired of buildings being discussed and classified in terms of modernism or postmodernism or neomodernism when, in truth, they are driven by practicalism. To me, this is the case with the new Seattle Art Museum.


posted by on August 25 at 10:06 AM

The “lol-cats” meme gets international and druggy at lol-qats, where Pakistani-English blogger Mr. Moo replaces goofy cat antics with goofy qat addicts.

lolqat.jpgI was first introduced to the concept of ‘qat’ on my first visit to Yemen. We were travelling with family, and my father was approached by a rather enthusiastic taxi driver. As he drove around at fantastic speeds, he explained he was chewing qat and he hadn’t slept for two days. I was quite worried.

Locally, in Birmingham, the habit has been picked up again. My understanding is that the socialising habits of choice are now to chew qat, have shisha and strong coffee all at the same time. It is Halaaaaal, they proclaim, as they are off their heads.

Qat has a horrendous social impact, like any drug. Wikipedia says that 17% of income on average could be spent on Qat.

For more on qat/khat, check out Charles Mudede’s Stranger feature on its Seattle impact here.

(And thanks for the heads-up, MetaFilter.)

Reading Tonight

posted by on August 25 at 9:48 AM


It looks like dusk outside. I hope that everyone had a great summer. In the readings world, we have an open mic and two readings today.

First, at Seattle Mystery Book Shop, Mary Daheim reads from Vi Agra Falls, which is a mystery with a title that makes me want to punch someone. It’s part of a series of bed-and-breakfast themed mysteries. That doesn’t make me feel too good, either.

Second, at Elliott Bay Book Company, Pamela Sackett reads from Two Minutes to Shine, Book 5. This is the fifth book in a series of collections of monologues for actors to use during tryouts. I have nothing more to say about this reading.

I recommend that everyone stays home and reads a book instead. That David Carr memoir was pretty great.

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

“He loved to shower, and had no aversion to a small splash upon his face of a fragrant liquid with a silly name.”

posted by on August 25 at 9:43 AM

That there is a line from the first chapter of Peter Plagens’s brand-new online novel! I say again, Peter Plagens has written a novel!

Yes, Plagens of the criticism. Plagens of the paintings. Plagens has written a novel—called The Art Critic—and judging from the first chapter, which went up Friday on, it’s going to be a hell of a read. (It’s quite the Roman a clef, but it’s also written for people who don’t know SoHo from Chelsea.)

The protagonist is Arthur, the critic who loves to shower, and who finds himself perplexed both by the squares and the cool kids of the art world. He’s a perfect outsider. He can’t even get a date because he’s so involved in a world he’s outside of. (I can completely relate to this; thank goodness for externally secured spouses.)

The first chapter is set largely on Arthur’s gallery walk through Chelsea, which begins with this caveat:

Don’t misunderstand me, Arthur argued with himself while he put his coffee cup into the dishwasher in his compact but smartly appointed downtown apartment, it’s not the real estate bonanza nor the wussification of a formerly gritty Noo Yawk neighborhood that gets me down. (I’m il wusso del tutti wussi.) Nor is it walking up and down those Alphaville Streets in desperate search of art with feeling rather than strategy at its core; nor is it, particularly, the monotony of one deluded, aspiring David Thornton wannabe after another displaying — to the accompaniment of laughably pseudo-enigmatic publicity material — another artist they think to be the next enfant terrible. (I can usually assent to either half of the term, but hardly ever the whole.) No, it’s the art itself that gets me down.

How many paste & doodle shows am I condemned to see today? he asked himself as he plodded up the subway stairs at 18th Street. How many discarded supermarket flyers drawn on in attention-deficit anger spasms with crayons or Sharpies, à la Jean-Michel Basquiat, will assault my eyes? How many dentist-diploma pseudo-academic “texts” with every other word ending in “-ification,” written by artists acting as their own theorists-at-law, embalmed on birch plywood under glossy layers of polyurethane, will I be forced to read while I stand on fucking cement? How many Rocky-Horror-Picture-Show-­meets-Fashion-Week performances will I be forced to endure? How many Granny’s-attic-on-crystal-meth installations need I stumble through? How many huge Cibachrome prints of exquisitely posed suburban-gothic banalities, produced with budgets that must have consumed whole trust funds in a single gulp, must I try to decode?

Obviously, I recommend it. It will appear “at the rate of about a chapter a week,” Plagens says. There are 24 chapters. I love serials.

Some Thoughts on the DNC Protesters

posted by on August 25 at 9:30 AM


It occurred to me during a cold shower yesterday—a nice way to cool off when it’s in the 90s here in Denver, and a good place to hide out and think when you’re crashing in a tiny apartment that’s quickly becoming a journalist tenement—that the DNC protesters must not have been watching the Democratic primaries.

The entire protest movement here is organized under the rubric of “Recreate ‘68,” no doubt meant to evoke a certain nostalgia for a time when hippies and other anti-war protesters famously confronted the Democratic party establishment in Chicago over the Vietnam War and the lack of openness in the convention process at the time. On the plane here I was reading an old photocopied magazine clipping from 1968 that Annie Wagner pulled out of a drawer at her Seattle apartment the other night. It’s Esquire magazine’s take on the 1968 protests and police violence, written by Jean Genet, William Burroughs, Terry Southern, and John Sack. It’s an amazing collection of work, and it’s quite possible that a lot of the younger “Recreate ‘68”-ers here in Denver have no idea who most of those writers are—which is part of the point they’re missing.

Burroughs, 1968, Vietnam… It’s all part of the cultural crucible that forged the identity of those in the baby boom generation, people like Hillary and Bill Clinton. What the “Recreate 68” people don’t seem to realize is that the Democratic primaries pretty well settled the question of whether liberals still want to be wrapped up in the personalities and pathos that came out of that era. The fight between Hillary (and Bill) Clinton and Barack Obama was in large part a generational battle, and the post-boomer generation won. A majority of people on the left have no interest in recreating 1968, or anything close. They voted for a new voice from the post-boomer generation, a guy who was only seven years old in 1968 and who was promising a break from the calcified grudge matches that politically-minded Americans have been fighting and re-fighting ever since he was born.

Though it didn’t come up a lot at the protests I’ve witnessed, Barack Obama also happens to be against the war in Iraq—which somewhat deflates the idea that there’s any real recreating of 1968 to be done. The 1968 protests were about an endless war, racism, a status quo Democratic nominee, and a Democratic party that the protesters felt had no interest in listening. Today the Democratic party is preparing to nominate its first African-American presidential candidate, he agrees with the protesters on the Iraq war (and a lot of other issues they’re raising), and he won the nomination in part due to reforms in the nominating process that were instituted after 1968.

If the protesters here in Denver are wondering why the promised “tens of thousands” haven’t shown up, they simply haven’t been paying attention. The nostalgia they’re marketing doesn’t sell anymore, and in most respects, it doesn’t even apply.

About Those Same-Sex-Wedding-Celebrating Hallmark Cards…

posted by on August 25 at 9:29 AM


As Dan predicted, Hallmark’s introduction of same-sex wedding cards has inspired a boycott from the American Family Association:

Hallmark Greeting Cards has announced it will begin selling same-sex wedding cards, even though same-sex marriage is legal in only two states…We’ve all given or received Hallmark Cards—remember their slogan—”when you care enough to send the very best.” But promoting same-sex marriage for profit is not the very best for families or our nation.

Hallmark is a private company obviously driven by greed. Let them know you do not appreciate Hallmark promoting a lifestyle which is illegal in 48 states. American Greeting Cards, Hallmark’s competitor, does not offer same-sex marriage cards.

Send an e-mail to Hallmark. Ask them to stop promoting a lifestyle that is not only unhealthy, but is also illegal in 48 states. Forward this to your friends and family.

And as Slog Tipper Stephen notes:

They even put up a link taking readers to a readymade complaint email which they urge everyone to send to Hallmark. They filled the form in with words of protest, but the forum I was on urged everyone to go and edit the text and send them a thank-you instead. Spread the word!

Thanks, Stephen, and will do. Hey everyone—send Hallmark an AFA-generated thank-you note here!

Youth Pastor Watch

posted by on August 25 at 9:22 AM

Additional charges filed, not-guilty pleas entered. Three YPW updates…


YPWjenkins.jpgA former O’Fallon church youth minister charged last month with assaulting an 8-year-old girl has been charged again with sexually assaulting another youngster.

Terrence Jenkins, 36, of 542 N. 14th St. in East St. Louis, was charged Thursday by St. Clair County prosecutors with aggravated criminal sexual abuse and criminal sexual assault. The girl was 14 when assaulted on Aug. 11, 2006, the charges state.

He is accused of molesting both girls while he served as a youth minister with Faith United Baptist Church in O’Fallon, according to the court documents. Jenkins is no longer with the church.


YPWandrewbelant1.jpgA former youth pastor and teacher’s aide pleaded not guilty to charges he molested four boys he met working at after-school and church-based youth programs.

Andrew Belant, 25, entered his plea Friday in Humboldt County Superior Court. He faces 19 charges. The allegations indicate the boys, aged nine through 13, were molested between January 2007 and March 2008.


rsz_YPWpicard.jpgInvestigators on Tuesday said additional charges were filed against a former youth pastor who was accused last month of sexually abusing a teenage girl. John Picard was arrested and charged in July with 10 counts of sexual battery….

Police said that the first claim against Picard, now 40, came in 2005. The girl, who at that time was 16, claimed that Picard first engaged with sexual conduct with her but investigators did not have any supporting evidence to charge him.

In July, another woman came forward said she and Picard had a sexual relationship that started when she was 13. Six new charges were filed against Picard this week after a third woman claimed that Picard had sexually abused her, 10TV News reported.

And this headline again, just ‘cuz…

New youth pastor has BMX skills, passion for children

A passion for children—that’s practically a job qualification, isn’t it?

Gay Men Don’t Win Gold Medals, Do They?

posted by on August 25 at 8:02 AM

Not if NBC can help it.

According to, of the 10,708 athletes at the Olympics this year, just 10 have identified themselves publicly as being gay. Of the 10, Australian diver Matthew Mitcham is the only male gay athlete.

Yesterday, Mitcham won the gold in the in the 10m platform diving event, scoring an upset over the Chinese team, which was heavily favored to win. But as Maggie Hendricks at Yahoo’s Olympics blog notes, NBC never mentioned Mitcham’s orientation.

Here’s an interview where Mitcham thanks his mother and his partner…

But his sexual orientation wasn’t mentioned by NBC, which went out of its way to point out the boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, and wives of heterosexual athletes. Mitcham credits his partner, Lachlan, with getting him through a rough patch; a patch that included depression and a decision to quit the sport. It’s the kind of human interest angle that NBC can’t resist—except, of course, when the person standing by a male athlete’s side and helping him work toward gold is the athlete’s boyfriend.

On the Radio

posted by on August 25 at 7:30 AM

I’ve been spending a lot of my time at the Democratic convention in scenes like this:


From left to right that’s David Rolf, president of a NW chapter of the Service Employees International Union; Geo from Blue Scholars; and Seattle music promoter Dave Meinert, all taking a break from their margaritas yesterday afternoon at Tamayo, a two level bar and restaurant in downtown Denver. This SEIU reception was just one in a huge schedule of parties, most of them fueled by lots of free booze and food, that happen in the background during convention week (or in the foreground, depending on your priorities). I’ve made it a high priority to be at as many parties as possible, which is why I may have sounded a little less than lucid in an interview I just did for KUOW about what’s happening in convention-land, what the Washington delegation is up to, and what the politics of the week look like.

It will air this morning during Morning Edition on 94.9 FM if you want to give it a listen.

The Morning News

posted by on August 25 at 7:28 AM

In Case You’ve Been Living Under a Rock: Obama picked a VP over the weekend (spoiler warning: it wasn’t Hillary).

In Iraq: 25 killed in suicide bombing.

In Court: Electronic Frontier Foundation suing US government over warrantless wiretaps.

Out of Jail: Israel to release 200 Palestinian prisoners. Meanwhile, 300 IRA members seek to overturn convictions.

Out in the Cold: Farmer’s Almanac predicts an especially chlly winter.

Out of Ideas: Texas schools will use GPS to track truant students.

In honor of the Redeem Team’s big win, here’s a little vintage ‘92 Olympic basketball action.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Hot Town, Summer in the City, Back of My Neck Feeling…

posted by on August 24 at 5:46 PM

…wet, sopping fucking wet.


It’s August, right? Not complaining. Just asking.

Winning the War on Drugs

posted by on August 24 at 5:32 PM

Another bang-up job in the fight against drugs. This time, in Houston:

Police tell us a suspect who was shot during a drug raid Friday afternoon by an HPD officer did not have a weapon.

Police also did not find any drugs in the southeast Houston home.

A narcotics tactical unit says the suspect had his hands behind his back and made a threatening move. An officer then shot him in the chest with an assault rifle.

The man was in critical condition Friday night.

This is the only story I’ve found on the incident two days after the fact—it’s a whopping 73 words long. But how many articles would have been written and how much longer those articles would have been if—instead of an innocent man being shot in his home—the innocent man had shot the intruder, not realizing it was a cop? Would the article be as indifferent as this one?

Clinton to Release Delegates Wednesday

posted by on August 24 at 5:15 PM

Says the AP:

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, hoping to unite the Democratic Party and cement her future in it, will gather her hard-won primary delegates Wednesday at a reception where she is expected to formally release them to Barack Obama.

The New York senator has invited her pledged delegates to a reception at the Colorado Convention Center, not far from the main Democratic National Convention arena.


A Democratic official told The Associated Press Sunday, a day before the convention begins, that she is expected to release her delegates at the Wednesday event. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to discuss details publicly.

Asked about Clinton’s plans for the event, her spokesman Philippe Reines said it will be “an opportunity for Senator Clinton to see her delegates — many for the first time since the primaries ended, thank them for their hard work and support, and most importantly to encourage them to support and work for Senator Obama as strongly as she has in order to elect him in November.”

Dear Cafe Septieme. It’s Over!

posted by on August 24 at 5:10 PM

Today, I came back to you, Café Septieme. You knew I would, you wretched bitch. I always do.

You know how desperately I want to love you.

And, hooray! I wasn’t moved to vomit at the sight of your new bright yellow walls! What a pleasant surprise. And you even got rid of that God awful organ for me! Hallelujah! And I was in a good mood, so I even decided to think that the, um, pastel colored paper lanterns that you’ve hung everywhere were quite jocular. Jocular!

But oh, Septieme. How you do disappoint.

Only after 15 solid minutes of sitting in, please note, a totally empty restaurant did our waiter finally deign to materialize. He was all smiles! Indeed, maybe a little too all smiles, frankly, for he fucked up our order good and proper. Where, for example, did that huge plate of strawberries and orange rounds come from? I demand an answer!

And then? Well, he left us to die.

Do you know what it feels like to be ignored, Café Septieme? To be completely invisible? To sit for eternity with an empty coffee cup and a bone-dry water glass and a big pile of strawberries that you didn’t order? To feel trapped? Neglected?

No. I didn’t think so.

Your entire staff, Septieme, seemed to have scampered into the walls. This isn’t the first time this sort of thing has happened, either, you know. And we were so very alone, my friend and I (and the strawberries). It was like Night of the fucking Comet.

We finally got up to leave because a potential dine-n’-dash seemed the best-if-not-only way to summon the neglectful waiter’s attention. It did, praise Allah, and we were finally able to pay and get the hell out, but let me tell you this, Septieme, and please take it most seriously:

In over one hour, my coffee cup was never refilled. Not. Even. The fuck. Once.

I can forgive many things, Café Septieme. And I have. But this? To leave my poor cold cup hanging there at the end of the table—a promise never to be fulfilled, a pipe-dream, a lie, mocking me!—for an hour?

No, Septieme. No, damn you! This I cannot forgive. This I refuse to forgive.

I am so totally sick of your shit.

Denver Is Difficult!

posted by on August 24 at 5:00 PM

Charles and I have touched down in Denver, though we’re currently too busy writing stuff for the print edition to have done much exploring. Damn, is it difficult to get from the Denver International Airport to downtown Denver. It’s almost an hour’s bus ride, past lots of this:


And even though it’s a RTD (public) bus, it costs $9. I never thought I’d say this, but it makes me long for the 174.

Then it took me about half an hour to navigate RTD’s trip planner, which failed to tell me that my route could be accomplished on light rail in about 15 minutes, rather than taking two separate transfers and 1 hour on the bus. I figured it out, though. Thanks, Hyatt Regency Tech Center! That’s where the Washington delegation is staying throughout this week—it’s quite a distance from downtown as well. Looks like this year’s hot swing states (Nevada, Colorado, Virginia) got the plum downtown assignments. Plus DC and Illinois and Iowa and other states with good connections. And, uh, Kentucky. (Maybe I’m reading too much into this.) In any case, the Tech Center isn’t so bad, as long as you know how to scrutinize a light rail map.

On the agenda for me tomorrow: Crashing a HRC Washington delegate breakout session to figure out what those forlorn souls are thinking/voting/feeling. And the first evening of conventioneering, with Michelle Obama headlining. Other speakers include Barack’s brother-in-law Craig Robinson (go Beavers!) and Colorodo Illinois State Comptroller Dan Hynes. Sweet.

Protesters, Protesters, Everywhere

posted by on August 24 at 1:57 PM

As suggested below, there’s lots of street action today in Denver, and a heavy police presence. But no WTO-style violence, no ‘68-style madness, and no arrests, at least as far as I’ve seen…




“Revolution, Brothers and Sisters. This is a Revolution!”

posted by on August 24 at 1:35 PM

Some photoblogging (some images are popups, sorry, technical difficulties) of one of today’s protest marches in Denver…


Hundreds of people gathered earlier this morning at the lovely state capitol building, where they listened to Rosa Clemente, VP candidate for the Green Party, utter the above-quoted phrases.

Blue Scholars and Common Market might have been there—they are scheduled to perform at one of these rallies, I know that, and I heard what might have been a performance by them, and Seattle music impresario Dave Meinert was at that very moment texting me that he had landed in Denver and was on his way to see the groups at some protest somewhere—but I was too far away to tell for sure.

Then all the protesters lined up behind this cute little police buggy with a reader board that flashes, “Welcome to Denver.”

And alternates that message with “Follow Us.”

Which the protesters did, headed for the Pepsi Center, where the designated protest zone—the protesters call it the “Freedom Cage”—is located.


The Stranger’s Official Sunday Afternoon ColumnTM (Brought to You By Condo Advertisements with Questionable Grammar)

posted by on August 24 at 1:29 PM

Earlier this week, we got an email from someone named Doug/Schatzi, which is, alas, not someone with a slash in their legal name (wouldn’t that be marvelous?), but someone named Doug who works at a place called Schatzi Marketing. He wrote:

Hi there, my name is Doug Perkul and I am the former AP at SPIN Magazine. Together with Sundance Award Winner Stefan Nadelman, we created a new literary site called Lit Mob ( Now, before you start to yawn, please note that this is not like what is currently online—the site is more like Pitchfork in that it focuses on books, but also design and musical artists. We would love your thoughts on the site as well as any editorial love that you may be able to share.

Thanks a million! I have attached our press release for your review and am of course available to answer any questions that you may have.


Doug Perkul
Publisher & Founder

You get a note like this and you feel something. “This is not like what’s currently online”? “Readers unite!”? It’s heartwarming, no? The language of revolution is a little crazy, but literary culture is Saltine-y and ridiculous and nowhere near commensurate with how great great writing can be, and it’s refreshing to hear from one of those valiant few who’s with you on this, who likewise believes that something must be done, that reading The Elegant Variation and Maude Newton and Arts & Letters Daily and subscribing to The New Yorker and n+1 and The Believer is not enough, and moreover that literature and music have some things in common, that there’s got to be a way to get the average person as excited about books as they are about bands, that more alliances between to two mediums could be forged for… well, marketing reasons, really, horrible as that sounds. Reading could use a marketing update. Writers are rock stars. This at least was the thinking behind The Stranger’s reading and dance party with Charles D’Ambrosio and Jonathan Safran Foer at Chop Suey in April 2005, and the one with Zadie Smith and Amos Latteier and the Dead Science at Neumo’s in October 2005, and the one with Miranda July and Sarah Rudinoff and “Awesome” at Neumo’s in May 2007.

Anyway, then I visited the website to see what a site about books that’s “more like Pitchfork” is like, because that sounds pretty great, and started to read it and skipped right past yawning to narcolepsy. I have keyboard shapes on my cheek. The writing on Lit Mob is a lazy pile of unnecessary first-person and book-review cliches (“The protagonist is extremely self-absorbed yet easy to root for”). How can book reviewers who can’t write be trusted? There is one page on Lit Mob that’s kind of not a bad idea—a page of “what our favorite artists are reading now,” where members of Earlimart and Cut Copy and Menomena and other bands recommend titles by dead people you already know about (Phillip K. Dick, Kurt Vonnegut, Charles Bukowski) and not-dead guys too (David Berman, Alex Ross, Keith Gessen, Jeffrey Eugenides). It’s a handsome page, but it doesn’t make for compelling reading. I reread Doug/Schatzi’s email—what’s an “AP at Spin magazine”? Apple polisher? Aryan procreator? Awful person?—and wondered why I ever extended any hope in his direction, then visited the website for Schatzi Marketing, just to round out the picture, and, well, here’s what came up on the first page:


In case that’s too fuzzy for you to read:

Schatzi is a unique marketing firm that specializes in creating compelling campaigns and programs for brands seeking “authentic” interactions with the marketplace.

Doug/Schatzi writes that he is “available to answer any questions that you may have.” OK: Is this a joke, Doug/Schatzi? Could it please be a joke? What does “‘authentic’” mean? Does that refer to something that seems authentic but isn’t? Something that doesn’t seem authentic but is? Something that doesn’t seem authentic and isn’t? It’s compelling, that grammar there. It’s packed like a poem.

Maybe John McCain Will Pick Hillary

posted by on August 24 at 12:57 PM

McCain’s latest ad…

…is a little pathetic. Hillary Clinton said horrible things about Obama! While she was running for president! And that’s why she’s not the VP pick! I hope somebody inside the McCain campaign will release the ad they would have run if Clinton had been the VP pick.

But still, the courting of Clinton voters is in full effect now. I don’t know if I was expecting it to be this bold-faced.

Today The Stranger Suggests

posted by on August 24 at 11:00 AM



Mirah Yom Tov Zeitlyn’s voice is a thing of wonder—perfectly tuneful yet distinctly personal, able to tackle everything from klezmer to electropop to folk without ever sounding dilettantish. More impressive than her voice, though, is her songwriting, which is full of idiosyncratic humor, home-sewn pillow talk, and a depth of emotion that ranges from geographical longing to deeply internalized anxiety, all expressed with deft poetic language. Mirah is a treasure. With Tender Forever and Fences. (Neumo’s, 925 E Pike St, 709-9467. 8 pm, $12, all ages.)


Reading Today

posted by on August 24 at 10:00 AM

There are no readings today. Just an open mic at the Little Red Studio. Instead, here is an interview with an author who has written a book about John McCain’s use of the word “gook.” More people should know about this book:

Here’s the full readings calendar.

And If Elected…

posted by on August 24 at 9:25 AM

One day I’m going to run for mayor of the city of Seattle on a “kill all the fucking geese” platform…


And I’ll win.

The Morning News

posted by on August 24 at 8:41 AM

In Mono: Seattle firefighters rescue stranded passengers from a stalled monorail car. Again.

Olympian Heights: Today marks the closing ceremonies of the Beijing Summer Games.

O’Biden: Deciphering the new political juggernaut.

Hearts and Minds: Hamid Karzai furious as 95 Afghani civilians killed in a coalition airstrike.

Get Money: How much will a hypothetical bailout of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae cost the average tax payer?

Marching: People touched by gang violence marched through Judkins Park Saturday.

Drinking Age: College officials who want to reexamine the legal drinking age of 21 state that they simply want a debate.

NOLA: Even after the horrific lessons of Katrina, many of the same levee engineering mistakes are being repeated.

The New Decider

posted by on August 24 at 2:28 AM

The New York Times on how Obama made the call, and where and when Biden got it:

It was a process in which Mr. Obama applied intense secrecy, careful pragmatism and political input from a team of internal and external advisers that have guided his campaign from the start. And it ended Thursday with a phone call from Mr. Obama, who reached Mr. Biden as he was at a dentist’s office where he had taken his wife to have a root canal.