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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Experimental Choreographer Tere O'Connor Embraces the Ambiguity

Posted by on Thu, Nov 20, 2014 at 11:50 AM


Choreographer Tere O'Connor doesn't want to tell you a goddamn story. Unlike in traditional ballets or more contemporary dance polemics, he doesn't afford his audiences the safety net of preordained plots or moods. His choreography is not trying to communicate some line of argument or point of view, nor are there messages to glean from his dancers' movements. Instead, O'Connor gives the viewers the opportunity—the challenge—to simply watch bodies in motion. His work is experimental, but it's not an abstraction of something else. It is concrete without being literal…


If the New Cinerama Can't Save Movie Theaters, Nothing Can

Posted by on Thu, Nov 20, 2014 at 11:00 AM

The re-refurbished Cinerama is a marvel, inside and out.
  • The re-refurbished Cinerama is a marvel, inside and out.

"I have seen things you people wouldn't believe," says replicant Roy Batty in Blade Runner, which screened at the Cinerama in 1982. Thirty-two years later, I can say something similar about my visual and also aural experience of the new technology in the newly re-renovated theater. The depth and detail of the images on the screen (the Hulk smashing another car in the trailer for Avengers: Age of Ultron), and the sharpness of the sounds that circulated above my head struck me as pretty unbelievable.

What cannot be denied is that some serious money went into the three-month renovation of the Cinerama…



President Obama Will Declare Himself "Monarch" Tonight, According to Ted Cruz

Posted by on Thu, Nov 20, 2014 at 10:40 AM

By Ted Cruzs logic, Ronald Reagan is lawless, defiant, and angry.
  • American Spirit /
  • By Ted Cruz's logic, Ronald Reagan is "lawless," "defiant," and "angry."

Tonight at 5 pm Seattle time, President Obama will announce his plan to fix "our broken immigration system" through executive orders. (I'll be live-blogging the speech right here on Slog.) But Texas Senator Ted Cruz has already formed his opinion on the matter. Shockingly, he's against it. In fact, the headline of his Politico article is "Obama Is Not a Monarch."

Cruz's argument begins with an outright falsehood: "The [midterm] elections were a referendum on amnesty, and the voters soundly rejected it. There was no ambiguity." I don't understand how Cruz can even make that argument. Maybe inside his wacko right-wing Texas bubble, he heard a lot of chatter about immigration, and maybe the disproportionately old white wealthy Americans who showed up at the polls for the midterms cared about immigration, but the two-thirds of America who didn't bother to vote makes the phrase "no ambiguity" a very arguable one.

And so Cruz amps up the scary language in a concertina for dog whistles. "Undeterred, President Obama appears to be going forward," he warns us. "It is lawless. It is unconstitutional. He is defiant and angry at the American people." Cruz surely couldn't be warning Politico's old white audience that President Obama is an...angry black man, could he?

Cruz continues, "If he acts by executive diktat, President Obama will not be acting as a president, he will be acting as a monarch." This is bold stuff. And it ignores the fact that, as Bill Clinton pointed out on Wednesday, "...every president in the modern era has issued some executive action on immigration, so I imagine he'll be on pretty firm legal ground." And yes, that includes Reagan and both Bushes.

Cruz warns Obama will "threaten a shutdown"—bold talk, coming from the guy who almost single-handedly shut down the government last year—and then he concludes his piece with a threat: the American people, Cruz says, "have elected a new Congress full of members who have promised in their campaigns to stand up to this lawless President and stop the amnesty. We must honor our commitments. If the president will not respect the people, Congress must."

Like the rest of Cruz's piece, it's just hot air and bluster, a screed tossed out to score easy political points with the racist base. But as a very vague threat, it's really kind of breathtaking. Is he threatening a shutdown? Impeachment? Outside of big talk, what power does Ted Cruz really have?

RIP Mike Nichols

Posted by on Thu, Nov 20, 2014 at 10:02 AM

The ridiculously gifted writer, performer, filmmaker, and producer was a perennial force for artistic good.
  • Everett Collection/Shutterstock
  • The ridiculously gifted writer, performer, filmmaker, and producer was a perennial force for artistic good.

Eli mentioned it in The Morning News but it deserves a follow-up: Mike Nichols—Emmy-, Tony-, and Oscar-winning director and Grammy-winning comic performer—died yesterday at age 83.

Nichols's primary artistic legacy will likely be his films—1966's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, 1967's The Graduate, 1983's Silkwood, 1988's Working Girl, and so many more.

But I'll always remember him most fondly for the work he did in theater, as a performer, director, and producer. Nichols had an eye for exceptional young talent, directing the stage and film versions of Gilda Radner's Gilda Live! in 1980 and bringing Whoopi Goldberg's star-making one-woman show Whoopi Goldberg to Broadway in 1984. And then there was his own early stage work—improvisational comedy created and performed with Elaine May, which took Broadway by storm in 1960 with An Evening with Nichols & May. In closing, here's the young duo performing at the 1959 Emmys. RIP Mike Nichols.

NY Times Spends Six Minutes in Seattle. Do You See Yourself in This Google Ad?

Posted by on Thu, Nov 20, 2014 at 9:39 AM


The paper of record has released the latest in its series of Google Maps-sponsored 36 Hours In... travel videos for a city, and Seattle winds up looking a lot like all the other cities in the series (Nashville, Glasgow, Nice, Madrid). This probably has more to do with the format than with the subjects. Though it also reflects the homogenous (and cloying) version of "local" branding that's sweeping the nation. It would probably be unfair to expect more from a six-minute commercial, however nicely shot and edited.

"36 Hours In Seattle" stops by Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum, Wing Luke Museum, Damn the Weather, Marination Ma Kai, Stoneburner, Westward/ Little Gull Grocery, The Belfry, and other fine local businesses, pops into a Seattle Living Room Show with Mikey & Matty, and features interviews from noteworthies Jason Stoneburner, Carrie & Kristen Watt, Kamala Sexton, Christian Harding, Jessica Harding, Tom Douglas, Michelle Bufano, Beth Takekawa, Joshua Henderson, and Bryn Lumsden.


Self-Checkout Machines and the Existential Status of the Worker

Posted by on Thu, Nov 20, 2014 at 8:12 AM

The machine orders the buyer to work.
  • CM
  • The machine orders the buyer to work.

What do self-checkout machines tell the worker in a supermarket? What is their ultimate message? The answer can be found in a lecture, "Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism," delivered just over a year ago by the Marxist geographer David Harvey. About thirty minutes into the lecture, he mentions, while discussing the ever-increasing robotization of the workplace, an idea by the French social philosopher and journalist André Gorz. A quick background: One argument made by this thinker is that people in advanced capitalist societies work too much; another is that there's no real need or justification for economic growth. Indeed progress in advanced capitalist societies is now marked by de-development, by going backwards—walking instead of driving, buying locally produced goods instead of globally transported ones, recycling instead of trashing, and so on. The idea that Harvey draws from Gorz's body of work is that robotization alienates the worker from his/her job. (By the way, self-checkout machines are not robots—they do not do the work, they command you, the customer, to do the work.) The machine says to him/her that your job is not a solution, but a problem to capital.

The supermarket or company that hired you actually hates your job and will do what ever it can to remove or reduce it. This is the existential status of your job; it is not created by people who love it, in the way Christians imagine a god who made humans out of a sense of love that permeates every part of the expanding universe. And the more it expands, the more this god's love grows. Your creators are the opposite of this cosmic benevolence. Your creators are absolutely satanic. They at once made you and despise you. So when you leave yourself (the person made by love) and become your work (the person made by hate), it is with the understanding that not a second you spend making a living is relaxed, is safe, is without the threat of extinction. The forces from above want nothing to be your job.

The Morning News: Why Kshama Sawant Got Arrested Protesting Against Alaska Airlines

Posted by on Thu, Nov 20, 2014 at 7:44 AM

Socrates Bravo, left, and Kadra Osman, right, were arrested yesterday along with Seattle City Council Member Kshama Sawant and one other person. They were part of a protest aimed at getting $15 an hour for SeaTac Airport workers.
  • Working Washington
  • Socrates Bravo, left, and Kadra Osman, right, were arrested yesterday along with Seattle City Council Member Kshama Sawant and one other person. They were part of a protest aimed at getting $15 an hour for SeaTac Airport workers.

About that minimum wage protest in SeaTac yesterday: Why, exactly, was it focused on Alaska Airlines? According to Working Washington, which organized the protest, it's because the company was part of a failed attempt to keep SeaTac's $15 minimum wage vote off the ballot back in 2013, then gave big money to the campaign against the measure, and then, when the measure passed, was part of a lawsuit that affirmed the Port of Seattle's power to ignore SeaTac's $15 vote and set its own wages at the airport. Now, Alaska Airlines is also part of a lawsuit over a planned minimum wage hike—to a lower $13 an hour by 2017—at SeaTac Airport. At yesterday's protest, Seattle City Council Member Kshama Sawant and three others were arrested.

In 2013, Boeing paid its CEO more than it paid in federal taxes: According to Bloomberg News, the United States government gave Boeing a "federal tax benefit of $82 million" last year. Meanwhile, the company paid its CEO $23.3 million in "executive compensation."

And what does Boeing pay in Washington State taxes? Might be nice to know, but sorry, it's a state secret. So is the total number of Washington State tax breaks given to Boeing. So are the specific values of those tax breaks. As Darwin BondGraham reports in this week's Stranger, it's the same story if you're asking about Microsoft, Amazon, or any of the "small number of big, highly profitable corporations in aerospace and high tech that are claiming the bulk of Washington's most lucrative tax breaks."

Seattle police may halt body camera rollout: At issue, according to the Seattle Times: "Concerns about broad-reaching public-disclosure requests that officials say could cripple the city of Seattle financially and tie up employees for countless hours."

Continue reading »

Washington State Is Flying Blind in a Storm of Corporate Tax Breaks

Posted by on Thu, Nov 20, 2014 at 6:00 AM

  • James Yamasaki

We often don't know who gets them, why they were created, and what we get in return. Why is Olympia keeping this secret? Continue reading »


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Council Member Kshama Sawant and Three Others Arrested in SeaTac While Protesting Minimum Wage Lawsuit

Posted by on Wed, Nov 19, 2014 at 6:25 PM

Saying Alaska Airlines is trying to "block the $15/hour minimum wage" from being given to SeaTac airport workers, activists rallied outside the company's headquarters late this afternoon chanting, among other things, "Show Me $15!"

After some activist blocked traffic, four were arrested—including Seattle City Council Member Kshama Sawant. According to the group Working Washington, which organized the protest, the other three people arrested are: SeaTac airport worker Socrates Bravo; the Rev. John Helmiere of Valley & Mountain Church; and former SeaTac worker Kadra Osman.

"Today’s events come after a year of mounting community frustration with Alaska Airlines, which tried to keep $15 off the ballot in the first place, campaigned unsuccessfully to vote it down, and then sued in state court to block it from taking effect for thousands of airport workers, arguing that SeaTac doesn’t have the power to set a minimum wage," Working Washington said in a statement. "Their latest effort: just last week, their big national airline lobby group filed a Federal lawsuit too, claiming this time the Port of Seattle doesn’t have the power to set a minimum wage, either."

Last year, explaining its involvement in one of the lawsuits mentioned by Working Washington, a spokesperson for Alaska Airlines told the LA Times: "Alaska Airlines believes in fair pay and benefits for all workers, and we respect every worker and the job they do. We also recognize pay inequality is a serious problem. This lawsuit is not about $15 an hour. It's about an initiative that violates state and federal law."

SL Letter of the Day: You've Done Nothing Wrong

Posted by on Wed, Nov 19, 2014 at 6:07 PM

I am a bisexual male in my early twenties who until recently was in the closet. I have been exploring my sexuality for only the past year or so and I didn't want to label myself and open Pandora's box of oppression in the American south before I knew who I was for sure. I learned through my exploration that I have a few kinks and I have been acting on those kinks for about a year now, seeing what I am and and not into. It appears I may have been too trusting because someone I interacted with decided that he was having none of me and that he disapproved significantly of one of the kinks that I tried briefly, but decided wasn't for me.

This person took it upon himself to find all the info he could about me, both regarding kink as well as my career and other aspects of my life, and compile it on a website. He then sent links to several of my friends, taunting me, though he never actually gave any explanation for why he was doing this.

My family has been very supportive and the few friends who I've spoken to have been great. I am curious, however, how I should go about talking to these other friends the next time I see them. My life is out in the open now and although I am trying my best to roll with it and become more comfortable with myself, it is a struggle. These people are close to me and I value their friendship. I don't believe they think poorly of me, but I am uncomfortable knowing that they have seen a part of me that I was trying to keep somewhat compartmentalized. How can I approach the situation without making it more uncomfortable and awkward? And how do I go about asking them to keep this to themselves so I can come out in my own time?

Outed And Unsure

Continue reading »

Free Will Astrology: For the Week of November 19

Posted by on Wed, Nov 19, 2014 at 4:30 PM

SCORPIO (Oct 23–Nov 21): Many people use the terms "cement" and "concrete" interchangeably, but they are not the same. Cement is powdery stuff that's composed of limestone, gypsum, clay with aluminosilicate, and other ingredients. It's just one of the raw materials that is used to make concrete—usually no more than 15 percent of the total mass. The rest consists of sand, crushed stone, and water. Let's regard this as a good metaphor for you to keep in mind, Scorpio. If you want to create a durable thing that can last as long as concrete, make sure you don't get overly preoccupied with the "cement" at the expense of the other 85 percent of the stuff you will need.



The Song of the Day Is Bratmobile's "Cool Schmool"

Posted by on Wed, Nov 19, 2014 at 4:00 PM

You know why? 'Cause Kill Rock Stars just this week re-released Bratmobile's Pottymouth on bright-pink vinyl. The first pressing in more than 10 years! F$%CK YOU! What's so cool about being cool? We're not in junior high school! Rather be dead than cool.

Elephants to Go Extinct in Seattle

Posted by on Wed, Nov 19, 2014 at 3:53 PM

News from Woodland Park Zoo:

Woodland Park Zoo announced today that it will phase out its on-site elephant program and continue to move forward with its mission of saving animals and their habitats through conservation leadership.

“We remain committed to putting the welfare of our elephants first. After several months of working to implement the recommendations of the Elephant Task Force, we have found that adding to the herd of our two aging elephants is not realistic in the foreseeable future. It is in the best interest of Bamboo and Chai to live in a social, multi-animal herd in a healthy environment,” said Woodland Park Zoo’s President and CEO Dr. Deborah Jensen. “This can best be accomplished by relocating them to another accredited Association of Zoos & Aquariums facility that is held to exemplary standards of care. Having only one or two elephants at the zoo for the long term would work against the broader social welfare of Chai and Bamboo and we are committed to following the recommendations of elephant health and welfare experts.”

The zoo has two elephants—47-year-old Bamboo and 35-year-old Chai—and hopes to have them placed in an Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) facility sometime in 2015.

Cinderella: Disney Really Wants a New Frozen

Posted by on Wed, Nov 19, 2014 at 3:30 PM

As everyone who plays even the smallest part in modern society on earth is painfully aware, Disney's Frozen has made more money than has even been invented yet, both in box office and branding. From the New York Times Magazine:

Disney said earlier this month that it had already sold three million Frozen dresses in North America, which, as it happens, is roughly the number of 4-year-old girls in North America. In January, Frozen wedding dresses go on sale for $1,200. Next summer, “Adventures by Disney” is offering tours of Norwegian sites that inspired the film’s animators at prices starting north of $5,000. The company is also rolling out Frozen-branded “apples and grapes, juice, yogurt, bandages and a complete oral-care line.” Disney estimates that Frozen brought in more than $1 billion in retail revenue over the last year. The chief executive, Robert A. Iger, told CNBC that he expected holiday sales to be “very, very hot.”

Disney has yet to crank out a Frozen 2, but they are most certainly seeking it—even now, all their will is bent upon it. In the meantime, though, all their other stuff that's princess-related is filling in the Frozen vacuum. Like, say, Kenneth Branagh's live-action Cinderella, which, like Maleficent and Alice in Wonderland, slaps a whole lot of CGI on top of good actors (in this case, Cate Blanchett, Robb Stark, Helena Bonham Carter, and Lady Rose MacClare) and then makes them rehash some stuff everybody's already seen. Here's the first trailer, which, in a nice bit of restraint, refrains from ending with an ad for Cinderella's dress.

I Love Television: A Very Netflix Thanksgiving

Posted by on Wed, Nov 19, 2014 at 3:15 PM


As you undoubtedly know, I maintain very strict Thanksgiving traditions, and they are as follows: sleep until 2 p.m. Drain the remaining liquor bottles in my cabinet and howl, "Closing liquor stores for Thanksgiving is NOT what our forefathers intended!!" Go back to sleep. Awaken, and invite myself to a Thanksgiving dinner I was clearly not invited to. Drain their remaining liquor bottles. Stumble home and watch the greatest motion picture ever produced, Annie.


Made in 1982, Annie—starring the bewitching Aileen Quinn as Annie, and the brilliant Albert Finney as Daddy Warbucks—is CLEARLY the pinnacle of western civilization...


Marriage Equality Comes to Kansas, South Carolina, Montana

Posted by on Wed, Nov 19, 2014 at 3:08 PM

It's been a good week for marriage equality—and it's only Wednesday. Freedom To Marry:

This is the 54th court ruling since June 2013 in favor of the freedom to marry. Just four courts - most notably, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit - have upheld marriage discrimination. Plaintiffs from the 6th Circuit cases, out of Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee, are now seeking review from that out-of-step ruling from the United States Supreme Court.... Freedom to Marry founder and president Evan Wolfson said today:

"Montana’s same-sex couples and their loved ones want what all families want: joy, protections, security, and respect – and that's what the freedom to marry is all about. This ruling, in keeping with nearly every other court that has ruled in more than a year, brings us to 35 states with the freedom to marry — but we are not done until we end marriage discrimination in all 50 states. It’s time for the Supreme Court to affirm the freedom to marry nationwide and bring our country to national resolution for all loving and committed couples in every state."

For years I closed my Slog posts on marriage equality with this: "We're winning." I would tack those two words on at the end of posts even when we lost—when a court decision went against us, when voters approved an(other) anti-gay-marriage amendment. Because even on the worst days, even when the losses were particularly painful, it was clear to me that we were winning the argument. We were losing battles but winning the war. The "winning" arguments made by opponents of marriage equality were just so transparent, so ridiculous, and so appallingly heterophobic (marriage is how we trick irresponsible heterosexuals into taking care of their children!) that I knew they couldn't possibly carry the day.

Slog's resident trolls would erupt every time I ended a Slog post about marriage equality with "We're winning." They LOL'd at my delusions, they sneered at my efforts to buck up supporters of marriage equality, they trolled a little harder. They called me a cockeyedmouthed optimist. That was then. This is now: 35 states, motherfuckers. And, thanks to a "loss" before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit—the only U.S. Court of Appeals decision that hasn't backed marriage equality—we're headed back to the Supreme Court.

We're winning. We were winning then, we're winning now.

What Do the Aliens Want in Nancy Kress's Yesterday's Kin?

Posted by on Wed, Nov 19, 2014 at 2:29 PM

The first pleasant surprise in local sci-fi writer Nancy Kress's novel Yesterday's Kin is that it's a first contact novel that doesn't waste much time on the first moment of contact between an alien civilization and humanity. At the start of the book, the aliens are there; they've landed on Earth and they've made a base in the Atlantic Ocean just outside of New York. Kress understands that the interesting thing isn't the kind of ship they came here with, or the technology they used to get here; what's important about the aliens in a book like this is what they want from us.

This lack of drama surrounding the aliens' arrival helps keep Yesterday's Kin running smoothly. We meet Marianne Jenner, a geneticist whose research is of particular interest to our visitors, and her son, who is addicted to a drug called sugarcane that allows him to become a personality tourist, trying on random perspectives and personality traits while the drug is in his system. The novel is a family affair, but not in the overwrought faux-Spielberg style of Interstellar; Kress is excellent at keeping excessive sentimentality out of the story.

I don't want to give too much of Yesterday's Kin away; its pleasure is in its plot. Kress's primary interests of genetics and the end of the world are both involved, and the aliens are sufficiently alien, which is an important factor in a book like this. At less than two hundred pages, this is a book you should read as quickly as possible, preferably in one afternoon's sitting. The small size means that not every plot thread is inspected to its fullest (I would've liked to see sugarcane examined more closely; it's such a delightfully Philip K. Dick-style drug that it's a shame to see it squandered on a secondary plot) and that the reader is left with as many questions as when they picked the book up in the first place. But some people read science fiction because they want to investigate avenues of possibility on their own; Kress's fiction in general, and Yesterday's Kin in specific, is perfect for those readers. It's a book that asks its readers "what if?" and leaves them to wonder about what might be.

Savage Love: Sticking Points

Posted by on Wed, Nov 19, 2014 at 2:00 PM


I am a 30-year-old trans guy, on T since college, happy and comfortable with my sexuality. However, I can't find any helpful health info on a fetish I've developed: I insert needles directly into my clit, maybe an inch and a half in. I'm not talking through it, like a piercing, but into it, going in at the head and moving down into the shaft. There are lots of porn/BDSM sites that discuss piercing all sorts of "female" anatomy, and many that cover the excitement of needles inserted into the glans of the penis, but few go into details about putting needles directly into the clit itself—and none that I've found cover safety. As a trans man, this is a particularly tempting practice because, well, my clit is huge and I have a constant legal supply of safe, sterile needles. Still, I want to know if I am potentially causing permanent nerve damage. I'd like to keep my clit healthy and happy for future use! If one of your connections in the medical world has a sense of this, I'd love to know.

Sticking Things In Clit Knowledgeably

Yours is the kind of letter that gets me in trouble, STICK…


Have You Guys Met Eugene? He's a "Cool Dude in a Loose Mood"

Posted by on Wed, Nov 19, 2014 at 1:45 PM

I dunno if this ever made the MTV, but Crazy Joe and the Variable Speed Band's ridiculous video for their 1980 A-side "Eugene" kinda speaks for itself.

I ran into Eugene's son, Gary, this past Saturday night. I knew he was Eugene's boy because he acted exactly like his dad. The only difference is Gary has the cliché contemporary update: a shit ton of quickly fading "meaningful" tattoos, one of those fancy new Hitler youth haircuts (grown out, no less), and a sketchy Eddie Rabbitt beard. Oh, and all the girls at the table said Gary routinely booty calls texts Faceboook Instant Messages them tho' they aren't friends online or in real life.

Crazy Joe and the Variable Speed Band were a Kiss related group. Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley cowrote "Eugene" and, I think, you see him in the video as a member of the band. It's been hinted the "Eugene" character is based on Kiss bassist Gene Simmons. Crazy Joe, BTW, was in fact NY producer Joe Renda.

I Didn't Go to Jail for Any Kind of Cool Reason—It Was for the Dumbest Reason Imaginable

Posted by on Wed, Nov 19, 2014 at 1:30 PM


I didn't go to jail for any kind of a cool reason. I wasn't arrested at a protest; I didn't assault somebody deserving. I went to jail because I was a doofus. How I became a doofus of the magnitude I was—that's a different story.

Step one was a car accident. I caused it. It was the summer of 1998, I'd just turned 29, and I was leaving Capitol Hill in my old Volvo one late afternoon, heading back to Fremont, where I lived. I was near the old B&O Espresso, making a right turn onto East Olive Way, and I didn't leave enough room between cars going by for me to fit in, and I got rear-ended. The car behind me got rear-ended, too.

There was no place to pull over without blocking traffic...


What Are You Doing Today? What Are You Doing Tonight?

Posted by on Wed, Nov 19, 2014 at 1:20 PM


Mellowed with Age, But Still a Brilliantly Battered Songwriter: Guitar hero/OG indie whiner J. Mascis plays the Tractor tonight.

The More Academic Side of Avant-Garde Jazz, at the Royal Room: Take a trip from Duke Ellington's work through jazz's modern moment, courtesy of local talent.

Good Old Rock Sprinkled in Glam and Rolled in Punk Dough: Is what you'll find at Vera Project this evening, with Twin Peaks and Meatbodies providing the goods.

Kate Lebo, Molly Wizenberg: Of all seasons, this one lends itself most to pie. Lebo and Wizenberg have dedicated a good part of their selves and souls to pie and theyl read from their respective pie books tonight.

Art at Capitol Cider: Capitol Cider isn't just filled with cider, it's filled with art—replicas created by the Gage Academy artists. Tonight, Gary Faigin, a teacher at Gage, will host a free art demonstration.

And many more!

White House Releases Live-Action Trailer for President Obama's Announcement Tomorrow

Posted by on Wed, Nov 19, 2014 at 1:10 PM

Republicans hate this trailer just as much as Paul hates that trailer for the upcoming Peanuts film. NYT:

President Obama will speak to the nation in a prime-time address on Thursday, asserting his authority to protect up to five million undocumented immigrants from deportation, the White House said, and setting in motion an immediate confrontation with Republicans about the limits of a president’s executive powers. In a video posted on the White House website Wednesday afternoon, Mr. Obama said that he would deliver the 8 p.m. speech from the White House to announce “steps that I can take to start fixing our broken immigration system.”

Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush all made similar moves during their presidencies—halting deportations of particular groups of immigrants, legal and illegal. Obama may wind up getting impeached for doing the same thing other presidents have done because... well, for the exact same reason that Romneycare is a market-based reform and identical-to-Romneycare-in-every-way Obamacare is a socialist attack on our sacred freedom as Americans to watch our children die of toothaches. Because it's not okay when the black guy does it.

Jon Stewart Hits on Benedict Cumberbatch

Posted by on Wed, Nov 19, 2014 at 1:00 PM

Benedict Cumberbatch went on the Daily Show last night, and Jon Stewart couldn't contain himself. Stewart told Cumberbatch he wanted to rip his clothes off, encouraged Cumberbatch to put a Kardashian-style butt pic on the internet, gushingly proposed, and lamented how he just couldn't get over him. It was wonderful—two talented, smart, handsome men, together… siiiigh.

You're an Ancillary Character in a Poorly Animated Trailer, Charlie Brown

Posted by on Wed, Nov 19, 2014 at 12:30 PM

Yesterday, this trailer for next year's Peanuts movie debuted.

And I just don't know where to start. No, wait. Yes, I know where to start. I know exactly where to start: That song. I don't know where the fuck someone summoned up the lack of moral fortitude to try to segue Vince Guaraldi's theme into...whatever that terrible pop-rock song is, but whoever made that decision needed to be told "no" more often as a child. Nothing says "World War I flying ace" more than a cheesy 90s-style song about liking someone a whole lot!

I don't mind the 3D-ification of Charles Schulz's artwork as much as I thought I would. If you're going to animate Schulz's style, you're already violating the stillness and simplicity of his line. And so this is a cheerful violation that makes some minor nods to the source material, which is about the best you can hope for in an adaptation like this. None of this looks like Schulz drew it, but some of it looks like a tracing of Schulz, and, well, that's OK. Blue Sky is the maker of mediocre films (Horton Hears a Who, the Ice Age franchise) and so the fact that they even try to mimic Schulz at all is a surprising treat. Their Seuss adaptations have exactly none of the charm of his illustrations; this trailer at least looks like they know that what they're trying to adapt has some charm.

It's worrisome that so much of trailer is taken up with Snoopy, but that's the nature of adaptations, too. Snoopy is visually dynamic, has cute sidekicks, and has none of the sadness of the rest of Peanuts. It's natural that Hollywood would focus on him. The thing that really bothered me about the trailer was the scene in the end where Charlie Brown fumbles his popcorn and spills it everywhere and everyone laughs at him. It's such a simple-minded reading of Charlie Brown's loserdom. It's the Alanis Morissette-style "Ironic" of Charlie Brown fuckups: "I spilled everything everywhere! This bucket landed on my head! How embarrassing!" A good Charlie Brown mess-up hints at greatness or kindness or thoughtfulness, but then reality clambers into the way. A Charlie Brown who can't even walk to his seat without spilling his popcorn for no reason isn't a sympathetic Charlie Brown. It would be more characteristic if he was buying malted milk balls to share with his friends but they all melted into one single rock of gray chocolate, say, or he passed the bag of popcorn down the aisle for everyone to share and the bag never came back. A Charlie Brown movie that can't capture the idea that melancholy arrives paired with aspiration isn't a Charlie Brown movie at all.

Is Viagra for Women a Sham?

Posted by on Wed, Nov 19, 2014 at 12:25 PM

Sure looks that way:

It’s been more than 15 years since Viagra first hit the market, changing the world of male sexual health — and the world of cringe-worthy commercials—for good. Since then, numerous other sexual function drugs for men have been approved, but none for women. Two campaigns, #WomenDeserve and, have been fighting for that to change. The video above, a Viagra parody commercial and part of #WomenDeserve’s campaign, cheekily presents its claims of disparities for men and women seeking treatment. But in an LA Times op-ed published late last week, two prominent professors argue that the campaigns are using the language of equality to misconstrue the truth about female sexual dysfunction—and hide the campaigns’ ties to the pharmaceutical industry. The op-ed reports that both sites were developed by Sprout Pharmaceuticals, which has been seeking FDA approval for its female sexual dysfunction drugflibanserin.

The astroturf Viagra parody/protest ad above suggests that what men with erectile dysfunction need is help feeling randy. But the problem isn't that some men aren't horny; men don't take Viagra or other ED meds to feel horny. The problem is that some horny men can't get or keep erections. These men want to have penetrative sex, but they can't get it up or keep it up. That's where Viagra comes in. And here's how Viagra works:

Viagra does not cause a man to be sexually aroused. Viagra is only effective if you are sexually aroused. To understand how it works you need to understand the mechanics of how a man gets an erection. When you get sexually stimulated, the nervous system in the erectile tissue of your penis releases nitric oxide (NO). The nitric oxide stimulates an enzyme that produces something called a messenger cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP). The cGMP relaxes the smooth muscle cells. One result of this is that the arteries in your penis dilate and the blood can flow into your penis more easily. Another result is that the erectile tissue itself fills with blood. Both of these process result in an erection. Viagra works by maintaining the level of cGMP in the smooth muscle cells. If you are not turned on, your brain will not stimulate the release of any nitric oxide and you will not produce any cGMP.

Women have erectile tissue too; the clitoris—all of it, not just the exposed glans—is mostly composed of erectile tissue, same as the penis. But the issue for women isn't erectile dysfunction* or insufficient cGMP levels. It's low sexual desire. They're not sexually aroused. Which is why throwing Viagra or similar drugs at women—drugs that act on erectile tissues—hasn't proven effective. They don't treat the problem. Because the issue isn't horny women who aren't capable of having sex. The problem is millions of women who are not horny and consequently don't want to have sex.

Back to the article...

[There] are medications approved to treat sexual dysfunction in women. “There are lots of drugs for treating pain during sex and vaginal dryness—it’s not like we have nothing out there,” Herbenick told Yahoo Health. Sexual dysfunction doesn’t only include desire and arousal, but also things like lubrication and discomfort, she added. “But for some reason when this 26-0 campaign was created, they suddenly made the definition of sexual dysfunction very different, and I think that’s just disingenuine and misleading.”
Herbenick also underscored that there are no sexual desire drugs for men or women currently on the market.

There's no Spanish fly in the wings to be approved. Not for men, not for women. These campaigns are about pharmaceutical companies bullying the FDA into approving drugs that don't treat the problem—which is most likely boredom—by making the lack of an approved "pink Viagra" look gender discrimination. Which it isn't.

* Unless a woman is trans and has a penis.

Seattle Police Are Treating the Ferguson Grand Jury Decision Like May Day

Posted by on Wed, Nov 19, 2014 at 12:20 PM

Seattle May Day, circa 2012.
  • Ian Buck
  • May Day in Seattle, circa 2012.

Seattle police believe the grand jury decision on the shooting of Mike Brown—specifically, whether or not to charge the Ferguson, Missouri policeman Darren Wilson for the unarmed 18-year-old's killing—could lead to unrest along the lines of past May Day protests.

"Seattle’s Emergency Operations Center will plan to activate shortly in advance of the decision in much the same way as we have for several years for May Day events," Office of Emergency Management Director Barb Graff said in a November 11 e-mail, sent to dozens of city and county officials and obtained by The Stranger.

In the e-mail, Graff said she expects the decision to come out before the end of the month and hoped for "a little advanced notice." But she said she couldn't be sure about the date. She asked the city officials and various departments—including the Washington State Fusion Center—to identify who they are assigning to the emergency operations center.

The City of Seattle is making a series of planning assumptions, an attached document says, that includes "marches, rallies, protests, and other expressions of civil unrest" which may be "intended to provoke violence" or damage property.

Continue reading »

Big Hypocrite Rand Paul Votes Against NSA Reform

Posted by on Wed, Nov 19, 2014 at 10:29 AM

Shortly before posing for this picture, Rand Paul probably made a big speech about how hed never pose for a picture on a catwalk.
  • Debby Wong / Shutterstock
  • Shortly before posing for this picture, Rand Paul probably made a big speech about how he'd never pose for a picture on a catwalk.
Senator Rand Paul, who is praised by young people on the left and the right for being strong on civil liberties, has voted against a bill that would restrict NSA metadata collection. Paul joined 40 other Republicans in voting against the bill. (Eli Sanders mentioned this earlier this morning.) And as Scott Lemieux at Lawyers, Guns, & Money points out, even though Paul will claim he didn't vote for the bill because it wasn't strong enough, he actually voted against the bill at the behest of Mitch McConnell, who believed it took too many powers away from the NSA.

Republicans have been getting too much credit for standing against NSA wiretapping, mostly from people who don't remember that when George W. Bush was in office and you complained about the restriction of civil liberties, Republicans considered you a terr'ist who hated 'Merica. Does Senator Marco Rubio sound like a man who's concerned for your civil liberties when he calls the bill “a reaction to misinformation and alarmism?" And why is Paul agreeing with Marco Rubio? Does he truly believe a better anti-NSA bill is going to happen at any time in the near future?

No. We're watching the softening of Senator Paul, the attempt by Paul to become the kind of Republican that even a Republican could love. When he runs for president next year, a lot of hard-left liberals will entertain a flirtation with Rand Paul because when they happen to pay attention to him, Paul talks tough about things they agree on: NSA wiretapping, the drug war, the military-industrial complex. But if you closely watch Paul's actions, he's got a very spotty record. He's asking his followers to believe what he says, not what he does. You at least have to respect Ron Paul for always voting his conscience; Rand Paul speaks his conscience but votes with his party when it really matters.

(Thanks to otherchuchu—@nongnonghead on Twitter—for the tip.)

Christian Sex Toy Store or Missing Spice Girl?

Posted by on Wed, Nov 19, 2014 at 10:17 AM

Christian sex toy shop:

Welcome to Covenant Spice! We are a Christian sex toy shop and romance site for married couples, offering high quality, feature-packed products that enhance lovemaking—at unbelievably low prices. Our goal from our inception has been to offer sexual aids for Christians that help foster intimacy and strengthen relationships within the bonds of a healthy marriage.

I e-mailed Covenant Spice to ask how they verify that a couple is married before shipping one of their $32 handblown glass candy cane dildos—part of their Christmas Spice line of sex toys—out to a customer. Also, can the same-sex couples getting legally married today in South Carolina buy candy cane dildos at Covenant Spice or do they sell candy cane dildos to opposite couples only? I didn't ask this question, but I should have: When exactly did oral sex—which is not open to procreation (or only very, very rarely)—stop being sodomy?

I'll let you know when I hear back. (Thanks to Slog Tipper Jamie!)

UPDATE: Lael from Covenant Spice responds to my questions...

Hello, Daniel. Our site is meant to be a place where Christian couples can buy products to spice up their love lives in a porn-free environment that honors Christ and marriage and doesn't degrade women. Any adult can place an order, it's on the honor system.



My Christmas shopping is done!









Tuesday, November 18, 2014





















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