This sentence in an AP story caught my eye on Saturday:
The program has been criticized by the United States and the U.N. narcotics board, which said it would fuel drug abuse.
Hm... you can safely assume that any drug policy criticized by the United States is a good idea, and this case is no exception. The quote in context:
Dr. Daniele Zullino keeps glass bottles full of white powder in a safe in a locked room of his office. Patients show up each day to receive their treatment in small doses handed through a small window.
Then they gather around a table to shoot up, part of a pioneering Swiss program to curb drug abuse by providing addicts a clean, safe place to take heroin produced by a government-approved laboratory.
The program has been criticized by the United States and the U.N. narcotics board, which said it would fuel drug abuse. But governments as far away as Australia are beginning or considering their own programs modeled on the system, which is credited with reducing crime and improving the health and daily lives of addicts.
Swiss voters are expected to make the system permanent Sunday in a referendum prompted by a challenge from conservatives.
Which is just what Swiss voters did today:
A pioneering Swiss program to give addicts government-authorized heroin was overwhelmingly approved Sunday.... Sixty-eight percent of voters approved making the heroin program permanent. It has been credited with reducing crime and improving the health and daily lives of addicts since it began 14 years ago.
Sadly, the Swiss also voted down an initiative that would've legalized marijuana.
This week's Party Crasher is an election hangover edition by Erica C. Barnett, about what politicians do when they're all done running for office, and when their side wins big:
A group of local politicos and city employees wanted to do something different to celebrate this year's historic Democratic victories. Rather than gathering at one of the usual political watering holes—Collins Pub in Pioneer Square, say, or Kells behind Pike Place Market—they decided to sing.
I had no idea politicians did this sort of thing, and I bet you didn't either. You should read the whole thing over here.
There is an open mic and one reading today, at Town Hall. They'll be doing a Hanukkah-themed Short Stories Live. If you haven't attended a Short Stories Live performance before, it's actors reading work by different authors, usually on some kind of a theme. Today, they'll read Hanukkah-themed work by Sholem Aleichem, Lemony Snicket, Max Apple, Gloria DeVidas Kirchheimer, and Daniel Mark Epstein.
Aleichem and Epstein write some great stuff, but iIf you have not read Lemony Snicket's The Latke Who Wouldn't Stop Screaming, you are missing out on the glories of Jewish holidays.
Full readings calendar, including the next week or so, is here.
US unlikely peacemaker: India may retaliate against militants in Pakistan.
Pakistan denial: Leaders deny country's involvement in Mumbai attacks.
Somali pirates relinquish ship: Military cargo on Ukrainian ship.
Obama appointments: Good news for LGBT community.
Shuttle landing delayed: Bad weather.
Confess/apologize: Modesto priest suggests Catholics should confess if they voted for Obama.
Pumpkins smashed: Rampage in West Seattle.
Seattle Marathon: Today's route.
This week in the books section, I wrote about the Poet Populist and Poetry on the Bus programs. Here is the first paragraph:
Did you know that Seattle has an official Poet Populist, elected by internet vote? Did you know that Seattle's newly crowned Poet Populist, and the ninth person to be elected to the role, is named Mike Hickey? Now that you know, do you care?
In the comments field to that post, Bob Redmond, the head of the Poet Populist program, responded to my story. I'm actually going to run his whole comment here, because it seems fair to give him equal time. Plus, it's a funny and intelligent post:
Here are some _lengthy_ notes for you to consider on the Poet Populist piece. Thanks for giving attention to the program and generating conversation about some interesting questions.
1 - The candidates. Your readers should know that the candidates were nominated by local arts organizations, including 826 Seattle, ArtsCorps, CD Forum, Cheap Wine and Poetry, Jack Straw Productions, Vital 5 Productions, and 7 others. All of these organizations want to get the work of poets and writers into the public, so your criticism of "public poetry" as "almost always bad" is quite an indictment of these organizations and their constituents, not to mention 2500 voters. (Info at http://www.poetpopulist.org)
2 - The vote. I'm glad you liked the work of candidates Elizabeth Austen and Karen Finneyfrock; I hope you voted for one of them. You could have also supported their candidacy in SLOG or in the printed paper. You could have followed up on your idea before the election started to nominate Blue Scholars' Geologic and could have organized a write-in effort for him. If you did none of these things, especially vote, then you missed the point of the program: to offer people a way to get involved and make a difference.
3 - On "public" poetry: you say "Public poetry is almost always very bad." What's a logical response to this, if it were true? Either (a) poetry should not relate to the public; (b) poetry should not be read in public; or (c) only fascists should write poetry? But luckily, your assertion is not true: the history of poetry as a private practice is only a few hundred years old, while the whole history of poetry is thousands of years old, and most of that as a social enterprise.
4 - On comprehending poetry: you say "Poetry, by its very definition, is a difficult thing to write and to comprehend." Certainly you can't mean this, or perhaps you are simply uninformed. Since Mallarmé and especially since TS Eliot, perhaps, poetry's hallmark is to be difficult, but again this is recent history given the history of bards: the Odyssey was the equivalent of a pulp fiction bestseller or action-adventure flick, ditto Beowulf and the Eddas. The Canterbury Tales, the Divine Comedy and Paradise Lost were intended to be blockbusters, not PhD theses. Shakespeare was not looking to mystify the objects of his love sonnets, nor is the work of Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, William Carlos Williams, Langston Hughes, Adrienne Rich, Carlos Drummond de Andrade, Ntozake Shange, Sharon Olds, Saul Williams, Li-Young Lee or in fact most poets worth their salt supposed to be incomprehensible or even that difficult. As for difficult to write, that's like saying if Usain Bolt didn't have a hard time winning the 100m dash, then he shouldn't really win, or if Mozart didn't have a hard time writing an opera, then nope, not genius. Of course, practice never hurt nobody, least of all an artist.
5 - On critics: Why do literary critics (and in fact critics in all arts except music) insist on incomprehension by the public as a criterion for success? Here's why: because maintaining such a criterion is job security for critics, who can then decode the art. First of all, the idea of "art" as a secular pursuit needing criticism and demystification is only 270 years old (since Baumgarten, Kant, Hegel, on through Lyotard). This short history is dwarfed by the hundreds of millennia that preceded it—in all cultures—and the object of art therein: as Tolstoy puts it (in "What Is Art"): "The business of art consists precisely in making understandable and accessible that which might be incomprehensible and inaccessible in the form of reasoning. Good art is always understood by everyone."
(The same book says this about critics: "Critics are the stupid discussing the clever," a definition, says Tolstoy, that "however one-sided, imprecise, and crude, still contains a partial truth, and is incomparably more correct than the one according to which critics are supposed to explain works of art.")
So poetry should be comprehensible, and it is the audience's responsibility to communicate their degree of comprehension. Conversely and necessarily, artists should be beholden to their audiences, as you correctly quoted me. If an artist can't communicate with his or her audience, then—taking nothing away from their rights to express themselves—they don't deserve a public audience for that expression.
6 - On Spoken Word and Kenny G: You represent the program and poets reading in public as "spoken word poets." Five of the 13 candidates have experience doing spoken word; the rest do not. Nor do almost all of the 14 write-in candidates. I disagree that spoken word (which is a format) is qualitatively bad (in content). That's like saying that , OR that, god forgive me for saying this, that Kenny G is automatically that bad. Personally, I like Rahsaan Roland Kirk or Cannonball Adderley. But I wouldn't ban everyone everywhere from playing soprano, and if someone held an election, I'd vote for one of the good ones.
7 - On Nobility: you say that the program is a noble idea. Thanks for the sentiment, but it's not a noble idea at all. It's based on this regular, run-of-the mill idea: language lives among us, and like a good dog, we should treat it better.
8 - Correction: The goal of the program is not to support a medium or mediocrity, as you suggest, but to cultivate a relationship between artists and audiences, in effect instituting some accountability for public art. This actually sounds like something you would like—except perhaps that authority resides with the public. Since we live now more than ever in the age of open source and access, though—not to mention desperate times—I think you will not succeed in trying to serve as the arbiter of quality. The doors are way off those jambs…
So, yes—thanks for the coverage, however belated. See what you're generating though? (unless this long tome kills the thread). Next time, start this dialogue sooner! You could have had a big impact on the election and education of the general public about how we are (or are not?) important to the perception/ reception/ rejection/ appreciation of art.
You can comment on Bob's thoughts and mine over here.
There is an open mic today. There are no other readings. See yesterday's post for the importance of shopping at independent bookstores.
Here is Robert Anton Wilson talking with someone about his "IlluminAYtus TriloGEE" and conspiracy theories.
Full readings calendar, including the next week or so, is here.
Terrorist siege over: India eradicates resistance.
Mumbai Chabad house: Six hostages confirmed dead.
Thai airport surrounded: 3,000 protesters inside, thousands of police outside.
Soy and beef killing the Amazon: Amazon deforestation is on the rise.
Stuck with the tab: Bills sent out for gay porn download, recipients surprised.
President Chavez: Must be willing "to die for the revolution."
Three Venezuelan trade union leaders killed: Possible Colombian involvement.
Geopolitics of drug violence: Mexican government v. cartels.
Seattle Marathon: Tomorrow's route.
The city approved an ambitious proposal this week for a block-long building on North 40th Street and Stone Way North (between Fremont and Wallingford). You may know the block as "that gaping chasm where the Safeway used to be."
The site's fate has been in flux for years. After the Safeway closed, QFC proposed a new grocery store and a handful of apartments but then backed out. Prescott Homes later submitted an alternative for less commercial space and more residences. In its decision, the Department of Planning and Development approved a five-story building containing 143 residential units, seven live-work units, 15,000 square feet of multi-purpose convenience store and 2,000 square feet for a restaurant. (I’ve written about the site here and here.)
Although building something—anything—is better than that damn hole, the specter of more traffic on the side streets raised hackles.
Alicia Van Buskirk led a push among neighbors to meet with the city and ask developers (starting with QFC) to modify their designs. The final plans require parking to be contained underground (not on top, as previously proposed) and limit vehicle access to North 39th Street (scratching a plan to allow parking access through a residential alley). Nonetheless, Van Buskirk says that the influx of hundreds of new residents and shoppers could result in dangerous traffic levels on side streets.
According to the city’s report (.pdf), the development will generate about 1,360 vehicle trips per day. But, the report continues, "the current proposal would generate less traffic than the previous operating Safeway store."
This specific conflict—between development on busy streets and neighbors on the side streets—is bound to increase exponentially as Seattle develops its arterials. The arguments are always the same: it's too big, it doesn't look like the houses nearby, the units are too expensive, there's too much traffic...
But arterials—which are zoned for taller buildings and situated on transit lines—are the ideal place for increasing density. People who live on arterials have long accepted their proximity to traffic and noise, but now, people set back 100 to 200 feet from an arterial have to accept the same fate. Van Buskirk deserves applause for seeking reasonable solutions, such as keeping cars on the arterial and contained in the building, rather than a knee-jerk anti-devlopment response too common among some neighborhood groups. But there's no two ways about it: Single-family neighborhoods will get more through-traffic as Seattle grows into a big city. Meanwhile in Frellingford, neighbors and the developers are preparing to meet next week to keep hashing out a traffic plan.
Prescott Homes did not return calls in time for this Slog post. So no word yet on how long this gaping hole will remain a gaping hole.
Can't beat 'em? Join 'em!
Blue Angels Hold First-Ever Open Tryouts
87 Dead, 243 Injured in Day 1 of Weeklong Event
...Since 1946, the Blue Angels have recruited only elite military fighter pilots. But this week and this week only, the Navy is giving the public a rare treat: allowing ordinary, everyday citizens a chance to try out for the world's premiere stunt flying team. Memorial services for Enderby, along with five other late aspiring aviators and 81 others from the assembled crowd and surrounding communities, will begin Friday and continue throughout the month...
This just in from Slog tipper Meagan:
I have found myself but mere feet away from the Schauf. I am so happy.
Lucky!!! Where are you, and what is the Schauf doing!?
I'm downtown volunteering for Treehouse and he is here setting that Macy's star on fire or something. Dude, he doesn't even have his Schaufstache!
He is being so wacky.
The anti-bag-fee "coalition"—AKA, the American Chemistry Council, which advocates against regulation on plastics and toxic chemicals—has collected more than $227,000, according to Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission reports, for its campaign to repeal the 20-cent fee on disposable grocery bags. Fully $217,000 of that came directly from the chemical-industry lobby group. At the moment, there is no pro-bag-fee campaign. For this and other reasons, I'm certain that the well-intentioned bag fee—a voluntary charge for those who choose not to carry their groceries in a backpack or reusable 99-cent canvas bag—will be overturned by voters when it's on the ballot next year. That's a victory for the chemical industry and a relatively small loss for the environment, but a huge defeat for the idea that small steps will help—help— lead the way to a safer, less toxic world for everyone.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet Ali Wong. She's pretty fucking funny (even if she disallows embedding her best YouTube clip, which you can see here) and she's coming to Seattle on Dec 3 to perform at Hari Kondabolu's farewell performance before he moves back to New York:
When: Wed Dec 3–Thurs Dec 4 at 8 pm.
Hari Kondabolu is a national comedy treasure (and a smartypants with a master's degree from the London School of Economics) who just happened to live in Seattle for awhile. But now he's leaving us for his NYC hometown—don't miss his farewell show, featuring a pack of Hari's comic-friends. From Seattle: Danielle Radford and Solomon Georgio. From San Francisco: the potty-mouthed Ali Wong and Chris Garcia. We expect greatness.
Here's a little more Ali Wong:
This is what the Aurora Bridge suicide prevention fence will probably look like:
The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is working out a few final design issues and will present the proposal to the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board in January of February.
WSDOT has apparently come up with a design which will retain the view from the bridge. "As you’re driving along, the cables will become almost invisible," says WSDOT spokesman Greg Phipps. "This is a custom design. We’re trying to balance the community issues and the historic issues."
Phipps says construction on the barrier should be completed by the end of 2010.
In the comments on This Weekend at the Movies today, Smurfs! writes:
I first got interested in seeing Milk when I saw the great trailer on-line.
I, like many people, did not who Milk was, and sadly when I tried to find out about the film, there were so many spoilers in the information that I am kind of resentful now.
I mean, I try to avoid spoilers, but one web site or newspaper basically told me what role Brolin plays.
Um, history is not a spoiler. It's HISTORY. It happened! IT ACTUALLY HAPPENED. I'm pretty sure that when people go to see a movie about the assassination of Harvey Milk, they're not going to be too shocked when Harvey Milk gets assassinated. There would be no movie about Milk if what happened to Milk had not happened. Was your mind blown when bombs fell on Ben Affleck in Pearl Harbor? Spoiler alert! North wins Civil War. Spoiler alert! JFK does not complete first term. Spoiler alert! Humans walk upright and use tools.
Sorry. I don't mean to be such a dick. But let me reassure you, Smurfs!, the reason to see Milk is not for some kind of Shyamalanianian twist. Knowing the end of a story doesn't always make the story a waste of time.
With Palin, what we find is a beauty that is one with the beasts. Meaning, her beauty is not about truth or purity but about animals, often wild animals. With Palin’s arrival on the American political stage came a whole bestiary. Suddenly, everywhere around her: wolves, polar bears, pit bulls, caribous, cougars, barracudas, and moose. We only have to look at the image of Palin in her Alaska office to see her in her element—the beauty/beasts mode. With suntanned legs, Palin sits on a couch covered by the skin of a roaring grizzly. In front of her, a monstrous crab rises from the glass of a coffee table. If we were to pan to left, we’d expect to see a stuffed eagle or some other bird of prey.
To be seduced by Palin is to be seduced by something harmful to your soul. Palin is like those ghosts in Japanese ghost stories. To the eyes of those who are enchanted/seduced, she is a beautiful woman; but to those who can see the truth, she is worms, bones, and a slimy skull. If a man has the right vision of her (the inner ugliness, the animality) then there’s no way he could find her attractive. Absolutely no way! If you think she is beautiful, you are the slave of a wicked spell.
Palin's office image and her "Turkey Interview" have something to do with this image:
The origin of the image is unknown to me, but a part of its strangeness echoes with the beauty/beast code that is at the core of Palin's mode of being.
Some of my favorites:
First the infarction, then the ambulance ride, now going under the knife, he drifted away under anesthesia, humming Celine Dion's tune "My Heart Will Go On." But it didn't.
As he left, the captain flashed a smile — a wide, satisfied grin with lips parted a quarter-inch, the right corner of the mouth raised slightly above the left, and a dry lower lip slightly stuck to the teeth — that defied description.
And, best of all:
Red, white, and blue Christmas. Emphasis on blue.
This year's profits will go to Treehouse, a nonprofit founded by social workers who were frustrated by how few resources were available for foster kids.
And the packages? Well, we've got a Ducati scooter, an African safari, paragliding with Christopher Frizzelle, thirty brightly colored dildos commemorating that College movie that nobody saw, and more, more, more! For example:
So You Wanna Be a Rock Star
Yeah? Who fucking doesn’t? Well, here’s your chance, Lenny Kravitz! First of all, a complete STD screening from Aurora Medical Services (your groupies’ genitals will thank you). Then, your band plays a show at Easy Street Records, with a two-week-long window display at Easy Street, your CD on a listening station for a month, and one Easy Street hoodie per band member. Plus, a one-hour interview and in-studio performance at Hollow Earth Radio; four hours of studio time with a highly skilled engineer at Jack Straw Productions; and hanging and distro of 300 posters and 2,500 handbills by Poster Midget. OMG! Priceless! Opening bid: $1.99!
Throw Me the Statue Plays a Private Party
Holy shit! Throw Me the Statue, the best young pop band in Seattle, with the handsomest frontman and catchiest tunes in Seattle, plays a private show for you—the luckiest person in Seattle! They’ll play your house party, dinner party, wedding, picnic—or hell, just for you in your living room. Sitting on your couch. Next to a keg. That’s right: We’re also throwing in a keg of beer from Lazy Boy Brewery. Um, can this roof be raised at all? Priceless! Opening bid: $1.99!
Dinner for two at Woodinville’s legendary Herbfarm, where the tastiest northwest ingredients are grown on the premises and lovingly prepared by chef Keith Luce. Getting silly on Washington wines is encouraged. Also included: one copy of The Herbfarm Cookbook, by former chef Jerry Traunfeld, so you can recreate the experience in your own kitchen (provided you own your own small organic farm). A $600 value! Opening bid: $1.99!
Enjoy Your Chaise
Take a load off, pilgrim! It’s a little-known historical falsehood that Thomas Jefferson was unable to bend at the waist, and so reclined stiffly upon a plush patriotic chaise whilst quaffing flagons of wine to drown his chiropractic sorrows. Recreate this totally untrue chapter of American history with your own mocha- and cream-colored tweed Bento chaise from Kasala, and six expertly selected bottles of wine in a reusable cloth carrier (flagons not included). A $1,300 value! Opening bid: $1.99!
...and, just like every year, we're auctioning off chunks of the paper to the highest bidder for our January 22 issue. And that's barely scratching the surface.
Can't wait to give something to Treehouse?
Or want to contribute but don't feel like bidding? Donate directly via the Paypal button on this page.
And keep your eyes peeled—literally!—for the super-special Strangercrombie issue on December 4.
Strangercrombie: Once a year, we do something good.
...as I was in my Cop Rock Slog post of yesterday: Just a few minutes ago I was Googling the results of the 1981 Emmy Awards (like you've never done it) and learned that in 1981 Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series went to Barbara Babcock, star of Steven Bochco's then-smash hit Hill Street Blues, with Ms. Babcock winning specifically for her performance in the Hill Street Blues episode entitled "Fecund Hand Rose."
It is not a misprint.
Thank you, Steven Bochco, for what will be the world's most upsetting collection of words until the launch of Liquid Plumr Foaming Pipe Snake.
Apparently, in the comic books, Batman is...
The boyfriend wanted to go for a run; the kid wanted to go skateboarding. All I wanted to do was get out of the house. The kid's at the skatepark, the boyfriend is trotting around Greenlake, and I've been deposited at this here Starbucks for the duration. And after ten minutes I'm ready to pull a gun and order the baristas to turn off the Christmas carols—or else. The baristas, I expect, would cooperate cheerfully; they might not even call the police. I mean, if this ear-splitting Santa-Rudolph-Silver-Snowman tape loop is punishing anyone, it's punishing the poor baristas.
So last night, I "won" National Novel Writing Month, which is to say that I passed the fifty thousand word mark. This is my fifth time winning at Nanowrimo, and it's actually the first time that I'm nowhere near done with my novel—I think I'm barely halfway through the goddamned thing.
I think it's fair to say that I wouldn't have this job if it weren't for Nanowrimo. The first year I did it, I Iearned the single most important rule that any writer can learn: You've gotta show up, put your butt in the seat, and actually type the fucking words. The deadline is more important than getting all the words exactly right, and you can fix everything later, in edits.
Seattle is actually the three-year worldwide champion region for producing the most words in Nanowrimo, and we're barely ahead this year:
(Take that, Holland!)
I know several Slog commenters are doing Nanowrimo, too. And I wish them a lot of luck this weekend, and I hope they finish, but if they don't, they should still be happy about what they've accomplished. I know some commenters (Fnarf!) have poked fun at the idea of producing 1,667 awful words every day for a month and calling it a novel, but here's the thing: nobody in their right mind would publish what they've written without a lot of work. But producing this huge sheaf of papers with your writing on it—something you can hold way up in the air and then drop and hear it hit the ground with a completely satisfying THWACK!—is actually accomplishing something. And it's really a lot of fun. Everything after the actual writing? That's gravy. Good work, people. See you in April for Script Frenzy.
As I noted in my column this week, state House Speaker Frank Chopp's elevated waterfront tunnel is fiscally irresponsible, aesthetically disastrous, and virtually unfunded (Chopp's plan pays only for a six-lane elevated viaduct; amenities would be paid for by a tax on businesses that move under the freeway). All of which is reason enough to oppose it—and to hope the state Legislature endorses the more fiscally responsible surface/transit solution.
One thing I didn't mention about Chopp's scheme is that, if it somehow did work, it would constitute a massive expenditure of government resources—taxes levied on the businesses underneath the viaduct—on behalf of private enterprise (the Gaps and condos and god-knows-what-all Chopp says will want to move under his viaduct). Hmm... where have we heard that idea before?
Seattle has a long history of activist opposition to government expenditure on behalf of private development. More recently than the aforementioned Commons, there was last year's battle over the viaduct, in which supporters of a new elevated structure argued that the alternatives would just lead to condos and shopping malls for
While I don't agree that development for wealthy people is de facto bad (and I certainly don't agree that "the people's option" is a new elevated viaduct on our waterfront), it would be hypocritical and bizarre for the people who opposed the tunnel and surface/transit options last year to rally behind Chopp's playground for the rich. Whatever you think of the alternatives, Chopp's retail-palace-in-the-sky is not a "populist" option. People who want to "save our waterfront from development" shouldn't get behind the man who's promising a mile-and-a-half-long mall along the waterfront.
A shooting inside a Toys "R" Us on the busiest shopping day of the year killed two people, authorities said. The violence erupted on Black Friday, the traditional post-Thanksgiving start of the holiday shopping surge....
"Some people got into a fight," said Splain, who spoke with some of the customers. "One of the guys here thought it was over a toy, but it got louder and louder and then there were gunshots."
Sarah Pacia of Cathedral City told The Desert Sun newspaper she was in the store with her two boys, ages 4 and 6, looking at coloring books when she heard a commotion in the next aisle. She thought it was people rushing to get a sale item. Then she heard three or four shots.
La Tête in Nice, France:
Courtesy of Nevdon Jamgochian.
Courtesy of Flickr.
The English word "head" comes from Proto-Germanic khaubuthan, which came from the Sanskrit word kaput. Which is now the German word for finished, destroyed, etc.
In an odd coincidence (since we're talking heads, kaputs, and Aryans), the first use of "heads will roll" is attributed to Adolf Hitler. From the OED:
1930 Daily Herald 26 Sept. 1/1 Giving evidence, Hitler declared..‘If our movement is victorious there will be a revolutionary tribunal which will punish the crimes of November 1918. Then decapitated heads will roll in the sand.’
Okay, I need a kick in the face or something.
See, me and my boyfriend of two years broke up a little more than a week ago. He cheated. But there's a bit more back story: He was a raging alcoholic, and I've broken up with him a few times. One of those times—when he was at our place and supposed to be packing his things and be gone by morning—I kind of rebounded off of some guy, had sex with this other guy, then came home later the next day and found out that my boyfriend was still at my place. We talked, and got back together. Later on, he found out about the rebound sex I had, and I think that's why he cheated. We weren't a healthy couple, all in all.
We both want to remain friends, so the other day, a week after the break up, we went out for coffee, and we both realized that the feelings we have for each other haven't gone away. There's no chance in hell I'm getting back with him, but I can't resist this urge to have sex with him. And I know the feeling's mutual. So now I'm torn on either to start a sex based "relationship" with him (even though I know in the end it would probably end badly), or just block him from my life, and feel like I've completely lost something. S.R.
If you've ruled out getting back together with him because he's a raging alcoholic, S.R., that's fine with me. If you're not getting back together with him because this relationship generates way too much conflict and drama for you deal with, S.R., that's also fine. But if you're not getting back together with this guy—a guy that you clearly have feelings for—because he cheated on you, well, that seems kinda retarded 1. under the circumstances and 2. given your strong feelings for each other.
Yes, yes: you didn't cheat. Not technically. You two were officially "off again" when you had rapid-rebound sex with someone else; and you were "on again" when he had sex with someone else. But... come on. You fucked someone else during a particularly rough patch and kept that info from him when you decided to get back together. He found out you fucked someone else, and he went and fucked someone else. Now you can choose to view his cheating as an inexcusable violation of trust and a betrayal of the first order, wocka wocka wocka, and conclude that you can never, ever back together with this lying, cheating bastard... or you can choose to view his cheating as a part of your most recent rough patch and round his cheating down to rebound sex, even if he was rebounding after you were officially back together, and get back together. If that's what you really want. And it sounds like that really might be what you want.
I bring a batch of advance reader copies to Slog Happy for everyone to enjoy, with the caveat that the person who reads (or tries to read) the book has to review it for all of us here on Slog.
Today’s reviewer is the awesome Enigma, who has already reviewed one book for us this week—she might read as quickly as me. Enigma is reviewing The Faith of Barack Obama, by Stephen Mansfield, a book exploring the faith of our president-elect. Let's see what she thinks. Anything you don’t like about this review no doubt is due to the editing process and not at all Enigma’s fault and you should blame the editor. I am the editor.
Barack Obama is a man of great faith. Throughout the campaign we saw his faith exploited to vilify him on the right and the left. The right questioned the patriotism of a man who they believed lived for a while in his youth as a Muslim and who now belonged to a church led by, to their minds, a radical, paranoid black man. The left questioned him for having faith at all and for being so staunch in his faith that he considered one of Bush's programs—the Faith-Based Initiative—a good idea.
Mansfield wrote this book before Obama was even the Democratic nominee, but he writes about the hope that Obama brings to the field of politics in raising the public discourse on faith and reason. Mansfield repeatedly says that even if Obama isn't elected in 2008, we know he will be a force for many years to come.
Of course, we did win. We elected a reasonable, intelligent man to office, one who also is deeply religious. In the secular Northwest, we're used to glossing over discussions on religion. We ignore that which can't be explained away. But faith is a part of our lives as Americans. Mansfield shows how Obama is toning religious polemics down and is trying to supplant it with a reasoned discussion.
Most political books are obsolete as soon as ballots are cast, but this is one that all Americans should read to understand the journeys our new President has been through in his life. In understanding the beliefs a person holds, we understand how they make decisions. And Obama will be making a lot of decisions that affect us for the next four years.
Many thanks to Enigma for being so kick-ass.
Hello, everyone! Happy day after T-giving! Here is an idea for something to do today that is not sleeping or bickering: Why not smuggle a turkey leg and a thermos of gravy into a movie theater and watch a movie? Mmmmm, gravy! Smear some on your neighbor!
The obvious choice this weekend is Milk, the mostly-devastating-but-maybe-slightly-hope-inducing Harvey Milk biopic. David Schmader and Eli Sanders double-teamed this review: Schmader on the filmmaking ("the lion's share of credit for Milk's success belongs to star Sean Penn, whose devotion to the film helped secure its production, and whose performance in the title role is a major accomplishment: quietly amazing, simultaneously lived-in and spontaneous, his best ever"), and Sanders on the politics ("watching Milk in the afterglow of those Prop 8 protests, one is likely to experience an odd kind of political flashback, with the onscreen protest scenes from a decades-distant history triggering memories of real-life protest scenes from the very recent past").
Bonus! James Franco:
Then there's a bunch of shit that you should not see. You should, however, read the reviews, if hilarity is what you are into. This week's film section (Milk aside) is particularly hilarious.
Paul Constant on Transporter 3:
In 2005, Transporter 2 director Louis Leterrier suggested that the main character of the Transporter series, Frank Martin (Jason Statham), is gay. Homophobic action-movie fans nearly wet their little pink panties over the suggestion—many pointing out that Martin made out with a woman in the first film, as though gay men have never swapped spit with ladies under duress. With the third installment of the series, the sexuality question is beaten to death: Freckly Ukrainian sexpot/plot device Valentina (Natalya Rudakova, beautiful and occasionally lifelike) outright asks Martin if he's "the gay," and he categorically denies it.
Jen Graves on Four Christmases:
After I saw Four Christmases, I went home, put on red boxing gloves, and punched the posts that hold up my house very hard. I really did do this. I could not help it. I predict other children of divorced parents who are not picture-perfect will do this also. Why must heartwarming Christmas movies be satanic? Why must they be my personal kryptonite?
And David Schmader on Breakfast with Scot:
In Breakfast with Scot, an all-but-married couple of "straight-acting" gay guys—one actively closeted, the other just discreet—are granted temporary custody of a nephew, a 12-year-old boy whose mother has died. This boy looks like Miranda July, dresses like Mrs. Roper, and introduces himself with the statement "I only like musicals." This is Scot, and Scot is a budding flaming homosexual, or maybe a robot programmed to act like one, built by someone who read about homosexuality in an encyclopedia.
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Mrs. Roper!
I have no idea what I wrote about in Concessions this week:
This movie might as well be Paul Hogan making love to a kangaroo, wearing a shirt that says: "CRIKEY! MY OTHER CAR IS A WITCHETTY GRUB," while the Crocodile Hunter's widow goes, "G'day, billabong! Joey wombat platypus marsupial. Walkabout! Men at Work, g'day! Crikey, Outback Steakhouse! Country? Continent? Both! Fuck you!" The end.
And in Limited Runs, you've got:
High school election documentary Frontrunners at the Northwest Film Forum. Says Paul Constant:
There aren’t a whole lot of dirty dealings or Machiavellian plots here; basically, if you were expecting a real-life Election, you’re going to be disappointed. Instead, it’s an interesting portrait of three gifted students in an incredibly competitive situation. Each is a different type of nerd (the socially awkward arrogant bastard, the hardworking cheerleader, and the laid-back big man on campus) and each of them wears the stress in a different way. The actual election is anticlimactic, but by the time it happens, you’re already invested in these geeks. You expect election drama and you get a clear-eyed high school documentary. It’s not a bad tradeoff.
Over at the Grand Illusion, there's Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and Steel of Fire Warriors 2010 A.D., which is a sci-fi epic made by a bunch of local comedians using a video camera and some cardboard and string, and is totally fucking funny.
Central Cinema has The Princess Bride and In Search Of.
SIFF Cinema has Louise Bourgeois: The Spider, the Mistress, and the Tangerine.
And the Egyptian late-night is Across the Universe.
And lucky for you, there's still time (STILL TIME!) to see the absolutely fucking amazing Swedish vampire movie Let the Right One in. You should go see it. Go see it!
And have a great weekend. TURKEY LEG!
A few days old, but Seattle Transit Blog has a nice breakdown of how Proposition 1 (mass transit expansion) did in various parts of King County. Not surprisingly, the highest "yes" votes were in the uber-liberal (and pro-transit) 43rd and 36th Legislative Districts (the latter supporting more transit even though it won't be served directly by light-rail expansion); however, every legislative district in Seattle supported the measure, and only the 34th and 11th Districts (which include parts of King County, such as Renton and Vashon Island, that aren't in Seattle) approved mass transit by less than 60 percent. The map, of course, is somewhat misleading; in many eastern King County districts in particular, only part of the district was eligible to vote on Proposition 1.
It is part of Slamdance Anarchy, an online contest to choose whose short films get into the alterna-Sundance festival.
Smith's contribution is a water-dance in an old claw-foot bathtub. She writes:
When we found the perfect bathtub, we easily overlooked the fact that its rim was jagged with plaster chunks. By the end of the shoot, my body was torn to pieces. Look close at the film and you'll start to notice all the bruises. And, the plumbing near the freight elevator we shot in wasn't connected to a water heater, which meant some 16-odd hours in freezing water.
Watch it (and maybe even vote for it) here.