I was Party Crasher for over two years and I never once got invited to a lesbian party. This week, I amend that egregious omission.
Out front, standing by a fire, there is a band of army boys. They've made a point of taking weekend trips to the Heartbreak Hotel—or, as they refer to it, the Lesbian House—for the past month and a half. "These chicks really know how to party," one says, awed. Someone else suggests that one of the hostesses is "the dopest Hawaiian in the motherfucking world." Nearby, someone is doing a birthday keg stand. After that, it's balls to the wall: One after another, the ladies are lifting their friends to the sky.
I hope you'll read the whole thing.
One aspect of childhood Fanshawe had not expected to return in old age was the mutability of things—the willingness of a chair, say, to become a leggy animal in the corner of his vision, or the sensation that the solid darkness of an unlit room is teeming with inimical presences. Headlights floated on the skin of Fanshawe's windshield like cherry blossoms on black water, whether signifying four motorcycles or two trucks he had no idea, and he drove braced, every second, to crash into an invisible obstacle.
That's the first paragraph of a short story called "Playing with Dynamite" by John Updike, who's been dead for four days now.
This week in Constant Reader, I visit the 826 store for a reading of children's letters to Obama, from a new McSweeney's book called Thanks and Have Fun Running the Country.
There's no political agenda to these letters. They range from advice ("Meet with your helpers. Get a puppy. Talk to America. Make a speech. My name is Matthew Wong.") to important questions (a 5-year-old writes, "Do you work with Santa Claus? Can I meet you in your house? Can I say bye to you after I meet you? And then can I meet you again? And then again after that?") and demands ("let kids visit the Oval Office, but don't make it boring" and "I want a gasoline card").
I'm not usually convinced that children are intrinsically cute, but this was pretty cute. I hope you'll read the whole thing.
The shoe statue is no more.
A sculpture of a shoe erected in Iraq to honour a journalist who threw his footwear at George W Bush has been dismantled, reports say. Foreign media say the bronze-coloured fibre-glass shoe was removed from its site in the city of Tikrit on the orders of the local authorities. It had been erected in the grounds of an orphanage.
The monument was reportedly taken down just a day after being unveiled in the late Saddam Hussein's home town.
The head of the Childhood organisation, which owns the orphanage, said she had been told to remove the monument immediately by the Salaheddin Provincial Joint Coordination Centre. "I did take the shoe down immediately and destroyed it, and I did not ask why," Shahah Daham told the German news agency DPA.
Salaheddin's deputy governor, Abdullah Jabara, told DPA: "Children should be put away from any political-related issues. Since this is an orphanage, this monument can instil in children's heart things for which the time is not now."
Though I agree with the dismantling of the sculpture, my reasons are not the same as the ones expressed by the deputy governor.
There are a lot of different things doing on today.
Elliott Bay is hosting what appears to be a mini-food conference. In the early afternoon, Shannon Borg, Lora Lea Misterly, Kären Jurgensen & Harley Soltes, who are the authors of Chefs on the Farm: Recipes and Inspiration from the Quillisascut Farm School of the Domestic Arts sign their book and discuss operating the aforementioned tongue-twister of an institution. And then in the later afternoon, William Emery & Scott Squire discuss their journeys with "guerilla farmers, butchers, beekeepers" and other such Che Guevaras of food in Edges of Bounty: Adventures in the Edible Valley.
Up at Third Place Books, Jean Haner reads and signs Wisdom of Your Face, a book whose title appeals to the narcissist in you. I'd like to take this opportunity to request a five-year moratorium on the word "wisdom" appearing in book titles. Between this book and The Wisdom of Teenagers, I think we've lost track of what the word means.
And at Seattle Public LIbrary, Linda Medley, who is the writer and artist behind the excellent fantasy comic Castle Waiting (and this is coming from somebody who hates fantasy), will be reading and talking to aspiring cartoonists as part of Seattle Public LIbrary's Comixtravaganza celebration. Medley is a rare gem and you should go get informed by her. This is the reading of the day.
The full readings calendar, including the next week or so, is here.
The "every child deserves" fundies are screaming about this, right?
An ethical debate erupted Friday after it was learned that the Southern California woman who gave birth to octuplets this week had six children already.
Large multiple births "are presented on TV shows as a 'Brady Bunch' moment. They're not," fumed Arthur Caplan, bioethics chairman at the University of Pennsylvania. He noted the serious and sometimes lethal complications and crushing medical costs that often come with high-multiple births.
But Dr. Jeffrey Steinberg, who has fertility clinics in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and New York, countered: "Who am I to say that six is the limit? There are people who like to have big families." ... The children's grandmother, Angela Suleman, told The Associated Press her daughter resorted to in vitro fertilization because "her fallopian tubes are plugged up" and she had trouble conceiving.
She said her daughter, who is unmarried, conceived all her children that way and has been obsessed with having children since she was a teenager. Fourteen grandchildren later, Suleman expects her daughter is finished with fertility treatment.
"It's over now," she said. "It has to be. It can't go on any longer. She's got  children and no husband. I was brought up the traditional way. I firmly believe in marriage. But she didn't want to get married. So she got the in vitro."
Fourteen children by in vitro and no husband. The screamers are screaming, right? Or is just lesbian parents that get shouted at for "depriving" children of fathers?
Posted by News Intern Aaron Pickus
No such thing as a free car: Tom Daschle shells out some money for his ride.
Half-brother of Obama: Allegedly smoking pot in Kenya.
Lame: Bishop apologizes to Vatican for media attention but not for antisemitic douche baggery.
Banksters hate socialism: President Obama hates banksters, loves America.
We can do better: US liquor sales take a hit in our winter economic climate.
Russia plans: For a Russian future.
Apostrophes are doomed: No more in Birmingham.
AHHHHHH!: Google experiences technical difficulties.
Republicans have a unity eating disease: Situation critical.
John Way Pioneer Trail: Suffers closure of a few tunnels.
Always be closing: Highline Community College closing down their branch in Federal Way.
Nothing really happened: In Seattle so I'm going to put this up.
Safety Video of the Day:
Today, around 3:30 pm, two cars collided on 15th at Armour St. 15th is closed off in both directions and traffic is being rerouted through Magnolia (15 and 18 bus riders, take note). The street opens again at Dravus.
The scene is right outside my building and it is brutal.
A dozen units responded, including a heavy rescue unit. Officers are out there now photographing and measuring everything. There's no traffic. It's eerie and quiet.
Update (9:35): Everything is cleared—15th Ave is open to traffic in both directions.
King Pinhead: Obama appoints man with an enormous mouth the acting drug czar.
Tetra Delta 9: WSU fraternity suspended after a SWAT raid turned up pot and paraphernalia.
Murder He Wrote: US General gives troops authority "to attack directly drug producers and facilities throughout Afghanistan." He continues in a letter that it's "no longer necessary to produce intelligence or other evidence that each particular drug trafficker or narcotics facility in Afghanistan meets the criteria of being a military objective."
The War Next Door: Mexican cartels are getting their guns from the US.
How Else Could They Eat So Much? Fourth sumo wrestler arrested in pot scandal.
Star Tribune: Wyoming newspaper evacuates offices in reaction to letter containing cocaine.
This could be the year that Google unveils the GDrive, the online hard drive that would enable you to basically use your home computer from anywhere.
A watchful blogger has discovered a change in one of the files included in the Google Pack which offers a description of the service.
* GDrive will provide reliable online backup and storage of your files, including photos, music, and documents.
* Files will be accessible anywhere by using your desktop, a web browser, or a cell phone.
I know there are plenty of online hard drives already. I'm just a Google whore.
I posted earlier today about a non-answer I received from a Hearst Corporation spokesman in response to two questions about his company's plans for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Here's a third question, which I've asked of both Hearst Corp. and The Seattle Times Company—and can't get answered by either:
Is Hearst going to make, or has it already made, the $1 million payment that it needs to deliver by Feb. 1 in order to secure a "right of first refusal" to buy The Seattle Times if the Blethen family ever puts the Times up for sale?
February 1 is Sunday. If Hearst hasn't made the payment, and doesn't by the end of the day on Sunday, that could add a million reasons to believe the company's professed disinterest in buying the Times. (Or it could just mean that Hearst thinks it doesn't need the "right of first refusal" anymore—because who else would want to buy the Times right now?) On the other hand, if Hearst has made, or does make, the payment—well, that suggests a very serious interest in being absolutely assured that it's first in line if the Blethen family ever decides to sell.
Dear all you people who got offended when I said that Transformers was a bad movie and that G.I. Joe looked awful:
There is going to be a live action He-Man movie, directed by the guy who did Kung Fu Panda. What a spectacular idea!
Have a great weekend!
I insist that you go see Waltz with Bashir immediately:
Attempting to excavate his suppressed memories, [director Ari] Folman recorded interviews with fellow soldiers, journalists, friends, and his therapist; he then animated their accounts in a series of dark, disjointed, somnambular episodes. The finished product is stunning: weird, angular dreams of snarling dogs, bodies wrapped up in shining bundles, yellow skies, silent swimming, sudden death, gigantic women, boys walking out of the sea, and people being swallowed up by shadows.
Taken is the movie where Liam Neeson kicks people—and there's not much else to it, says Evan Stewart:
In terms of plot, there's not much new ground covered. The film draws heavily on its action predecessors—Neeson is "getting too old for this shit," but he "just wants his kid back," and presumably he's also "sick of these motherfucking snakes on this motherfucking plane."
And I couldn't help but enjoy the unabashedly ridiculous musical Were the World Mine:
You know once in a while when you stumble into something you weren't supposed to see? Like your grandpa's underpants? Or an intimate moment between two grandpas? Or your roommate, prone on the couch, weeping over a particularly moving episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, in which Data must defend his humanity before an inter- galactic court?* (There, there, Kevin.) It's not bad, it's not shameful, it's just not for you.
You can also catch the last few days of the Children's Film Festival, which I recommend.
And in Limited Runs:
The late night movies are Serenity (Egyptian) and Stunt Rock (Grand Illusion). The Grand Illusion also has Hitchcock's The 39 Steps. In their French Crime Wave series, SIFF Cinema is showing Shoot the Piano Player. At Central Cinema you've got your Thirteen, and tonight it's Garbage Warrior (which Dominic wrote about here) at Wallingford Meaningful Movies.
Oh! And Kelly O's porn column, of course! This week: Belladonna's Girl Train.
*Earlier today, this same wonderful, dear roommate knocked on my door to inform me that Commander Riker had just delivered the line, “What’s a knockout like you doing in a computer-generated gin joint like this?” and then proceeded to serenade the holodeck hottie on his trombone.
Nick Licata—apparently blindsided by the announcement that Jessie Israel is running for his city council position in November—says he won't make any decision or announcement about whether he'll seek reelection until March. Israel has $1,173 in cash on hand; Licata has $8,137... which, if you ask me, isn't the kind of cash you'd have on hand if you were running for reelection.
State Sen. Joe McDermott (D-34), says he will introduce legislation next Tuesday that would allow cities to make it a crime to kill or seriously injure someone while violating a traffic law. Currently, killing someone with your car is either a civil infraction (punishable by a traffic ticket) or, in rare cases, a felony; felony vehicular assault or homicide requires "reckless driving," intoxication, or reckless disregard, all of which are much harder to prove than that someone was, for example, barreling into a crosswalk without looking. "It gives municipalities a more reasonable option" than merely issuing a ticket or trying to prove felony assault, McDermott says.
Posted by News Intern Aaron Pickus
It's 2:00 on Friday, the temperature is right around freezing, and fog is just starting to gather. Eric Wirkman, Teen Feed Coordinator at the University Street Ministry, has just offered me an extra scarf that he brought along just in case. Wirkman, a One Night Count veteran, is the leader of the counting team I will be following around for the night. One Night Count is an annual attempt to make an organized tally of homeless people living outside. It is led by the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness (SKCCH) and numerous other nonprofits and government entities around the county.
Between 2 and 5 a.m., the counters tally 2,826 unsheltered homeless people across King County—a two percent increase over last year's count. Strangely, the 2009 count for the city of Seattle was exactly the same as last year's: 1,976. Both numbers will almost certainly be used by both supporters and opponents of the Metropolitan King County Council's 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness. Most agree, however, that the count probably underestimates the number of homeless people in King County, because it's impossible to survey the entire county, because people tend to hide, and because counters don't include abandoned buildings in the count.
The most interesting change from last year's count was the sharp rise in the number of unsheltered homeless people living in south King County. Federal Way saw an increase from 90 to 116, and Kent's numbers rose from 65 to 193, a nearly 300% increase. Overall, there were 68 percent more unsheltered homeless people living in South King County this year.
Earlier in the day, volunteers conducted a pre-count to give them a sense of which areas to focus on during the count itself. The count always takes place in the winter, because this gives the best sense of how many homeless people live outside in King County year-round (as opposed to those who move on to shelter or warmer climates in the winter).
There are numerous obstacles to conducting an accurate count, Wirkman says. Unsheltered homeless people who are caring for children may go to great lengths to hide in order to avoid Child Protective Services. The city of Seattle also has broad powers to sweep up homeless encampments and confiscate personal property. Fear of reprisal from the city has driven many homeless people further into hiding or, conversely, into encampments like Nickelsville, which is aimed at making people more aware of homelessness. And some predators target the homeless—another reason to go into hiding. Wirkman says some have even taken to living in trees, because "people don't look up."
The volunteers operated cautiously to avoid accidentally counting a homeless person twice. However, they acknowledge that the process is far from scientific. At one point, while crossing into Ravenna Park, we hear a man coughing in the undergrowth. We never actually see the man, but several other volunteer teams also report hearing him. For the rest of the night, Wirkman and the other team leader debate the validity of counting a cough and triple-check to make sure that the man wasn't counted twice.
The disembodied cough turns out to be the nearest we come, in three hours, to encountering an actual homeless person. Walking the trails in the ravine by Ravenna/Cowen Park, Wirkman and I do find a soiled foam pad that has someone has obviously slept on, but Wirkman doesn't add it to the count because there's no obvious structure nearby. Structures, which include tents or more permanent buildings, are counted as two people. However, even though the greenbelt we were searching had a large homeless population as recently as half a decade ago, we find no structures. Even with the earlier pre-count and Wirkman's veteran status, our nocturnal search takes a wrong turn and my guide, frustrated, notes that we are back on "the same trail we were just fucking on." SKCCH spokesman Joshua Okrent tells me count organizers reserved Ravenna Park, The Jungle, and other greenbelts throughout the county for "younger, more agile volunteers." That's me.
Which brings us to the aforementioned sex. Two volunteers, assigned to the U-Village area, reported seeing appeared to be a human-shaped mound. The volunteers were initially unsure whether to count the mound as a single person or two. The sounds of two people copulating answered that question. "The people we found," one of the volunteers surmised, "were doing it."
On March 15th, the Truther assault on Barack Obama begins.
It's like Zeitgeist or those other Truther films, with Obama instead of 9/11, but the end result...that some magical cabal of evil men are going to make a New World Order...is the same. I'm hoping that this will be the end of the 9/11 Truth Movement as we know it. Here are quotes from the comments on this trailer:
OBAMA is a SELL OUT... Illuminati got the american people gass up... HOOK LINE and SINKER
Last night I had a dream that I lived in a country where everyone was judged by the content of their character and not just blindly followed because of their shade of skin color.
Then I woke up and realized it was all just a dream.
Watch "V For Vendetta".
Bush and Obama are 2 puppets working for the same puppet master. It has been that way since JFK.
I love that V for Vendetta is the new Fight Club. In the end of that movie everybody dresses exactly alike and passively watches while somebody else does something and they call it a revolution. Way to stick it to the sheeple. And, as to the trailer: way to seem extra-relevant, Truthers.
So: a gay theater in West Palm Beach tries to goad Fred Phelps and Westboro Church into protesting its new production as a publicity stunt. They summon GLBT groups, church groups, a thicket of rainbow-colored flags and picket signs, and even a few cops to keep the piece.
Then Phelps doesn't show. The theater looks silly.
And still, somehow, they manage to blame it all on a theater critic.
Now a string of emails have revealed the Phelps clan’s ‘protest’ was the result of a publicity stunt, claimed by an actor in the show. That actor—Larry Fields, who played the role of “Adam”—says he sent an email to the Westboro Baptist Church announcing the show and its contents.
Fred Phelps will not be made a fool of! For once.
Courtesy of the South Florida Blade and Slog tipper Dan.
While Hearst isn't shedding much more light on what the post-sale period (meaning early March) might hold for the P-I, some journalists at the paper are using the time to try to create their own fate—making the case for the value of the P-I and actively shopping it around to potential investors.
P-I columnist Joel Connelly, one those involved in an attempt to entice rich and/or benevolent locals to purchase his publication, confirms the paper-peddling is underway but told me he can't say much more for fear of jeopardizing the process:
An effort is underway. It's a tricky business, because those making noise are the least likely prospects . . . and the nibblers insist on silence. Since it's Super Bowl week, I'd evoke an old adage of onetime Steelers coach Chuck Noll: "The empty drum bangs loudest."
Hence, with regret, I can't talk about what's doing because I couldn't keep doing it.
But if you'd like to nibble on a newspaper, now you know who to call.
My friend who's visiting from San Francisco says she's seen more black people here in Seattle in two days than she does in a week there. She also says someone she knows in S.F. (a white person) rejected the idea of moving to Portland because "It's too white."
Per the 2000 census:
9.9 percent black
15 percent Asian
5.3 percent Hispanic/Latino
73.4 percent white
7.8 percent black
30.8 percent Asian
14.1 percent Hispanic/Latino
49.7 percent white
6.6 percent black
6.3 percent Asian
6.8 percent Hispanic/Latino
77.9 percent white
Is this like the Pong of mentally-manipulated objects?
Or is there a gimmick to it, like mood rings? Why do you have to clip your ear lobes to control a fan with your mind? Has the world gone mad?
Before we published my story on Village Voice Media's questionable partnership with social networking startup Likeme.net, I spent two days calling VVM ad staff, management—including the Seattle Weekly's managing editor Mike Seely—and corporate honchos, trying to get an explanation as to why VVM was allowing—and apparently encouraging—advertising staff to write reviews for their business clients on Likeme.
Initially, no one was willing to go on record, although VVM did release a snarky statement about my piece (edited for length):
Village Voice Media would like to welcome our new public relations agency, Seattle's Stranger, which will be announcing each of our new web initiatives at the top of its homepage. The first announcement was the introduction of VVM's partnership with LikeMe.net."
As with any business/PR firm relationship, the first press release might contain some errors. The Stranger stated that a majority of the recommendations were posted by VVM staffers. Majority would mean more than half. I wish we had 2500 employees! But alas, majority is not the case. As with any new web product you create or partner with, you give it to your friends and family to test drive. The Stranger is well aware of this, as they have seeded their own online comments and their personals section for years. Now VVM is launching the product to public. This is user generated content. Anyone can go log on and start entering their recommendations, uploading photos, and writing reviews, either positive or negative.
While VVM’s little swipe at us is cute—especially the part about us "seeding" our own comments, whatever that means—it completely fails to address the ethical problems with their cross-pollination with Likeme—posting reviews written by VVM ad staff without any sort of disclaimer—which was the crux of my story.
Since VVM didn’t seem interested in responding to my questions, I took another shot at contacting an ad staffer to talk about Likeme. This time, I managed to track one down.
The staffer I spoke with—who asked not to be identified—says he was never directed to write positive reviews for his clients. "I’m very active on Yelp and Facebook," the staff member says. "My boss was like ‘hey, check [Likeme] out.’ They never told us to rate anybody. I have rated...clients. For me personally, if it’s on my Likeme profile, it’s actually because I like the place.”
A lot of people who commented on my story argued that VVMers should be allowed to recommend and review anything they choose. Fair enough. The problem is that there’s an appearance of a conflict of interest when ad staffers anonymously review companies that advertise in VVM papers on a web site partially owned by VVM... which VVM continues to fail to address.
I asked the VVM staffer if he knew why his company had formed a partnership with Likeme. "I think it was a way for them to get into the social media game," he says. "As to their intentions, I really have no idea."
Despite the ad rep's defense of his company, VVM's intentions seem pretty clear, especially in light of our shitty economy: butter up and retain advertisers by any means necessary.
Posted by News Intern Aaron Pickus
Now...how 'bout shining some light on them, City Light?
Not to beat a dead bicyclist or anything, but riding a bicycle across the University Bridge in either direction could quickly become a rite of passage for roughneck ne'er-do-wells looking for cheap kicks in the big city.
There are six streetlights between the northern edge of the University drawbridge and NE 40th St in the U-District, three on the west side and three on the east side. All six of them have, since the Snowpacolypse, been turned off. Even. At. Night.
Seattle City Light's website has a nifty online form for reporting malfunctioning streetlights but you need to know the "light pole number" in order to identify the offending lamp. So, last night, I decided to do a little bare-knuckle journalism for once and try to identify the darkened streetlights on the bridge.
After skittering, IN THE DARK, across the University Bridge, hopping over concrete curbs, bumping into pedestrians and waving my bike light around, I quickly figured out that one of the streetlights doesn't even have an identifying number. These lights have been off for months, creating a significant risk for the zillions of cyclists who use the bridge every day. Does the city plan to fix them?
According to the West Seattle Blog, the city's going to have to shut down several lanes of the West Seattle Bridge in order to fix a few dead lights. Is that what's happening on the University Bridge?
I've called Seattle City Light about the U-Bridge but haven't heard back. What's the deal, SCL? Don't leave me in the dark.
Some cherry-picked stuff from tech/games sites this week to save Slog's lazier geeks the trouble:
* There is a college course at UC Berkeley dedicated entirely to the art of competitive Starcraft. A student in the class is blogging about it:
40% of the final grade comes from the final project where students must attempt to make a new contribution to the StarCraft community in the form of an analysis of some part of the game. These final papers will be public and subject to peer review—no doubt incredibly merciless peer review, given the tone of most gaming communities.
See, it's not "flaming" when someone calls you an "Xbox fanboy faggot" on the Internet. It's peer review.
* The dude who made Braid recommends ten video games that you'll typically never see on a top-ten list. Some of them are free. All of them are strange (except for Ultima 4, the first RPG that actually took the words "role-playing" seriously).
If there had been a #11, I would've hoped for Bolo—arguably the first-ever network-multiplayer PC game. I attended a school whose computer lab had this thing networked for the nerds to play while they skipped lunch. Way better than sitting at the teacher table in the cafeteria.
* New-ish MMO Warhammer Online announced that it'll soon pump out big chunks of free content for the people who are still playing it. Having heard this news, I logged on—my account is apparently still active—and noticed the "massively multiplayer" portion of this game is missing. Shame. When WAR debuted, I could barely play the game thanks to graphics bugs; now that the thing runs smoothly, I have nobody to enjoy it with. Hell, I can find more players on Tabula Rasa, and that MMO's shutting down for good in three weeks.
* Better preview video: A base-jumping simulator called, no fooling, "AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!!"
Yet another reason for some grave turning.
This age does not know how to stop surprising us.
Michael Steele has won the election to be chairman of the Republican National Committee, becoming the first African-American to lead the party.
Mr Steele won in the sixth ballot, with 91 votes out of a possible 168. His nearest rival, Katon Dawson, received the remaining 77 votes.