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Music, Nightlife,
and Drinks

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Anyone Else Catch that Bit on The Colbert Report Just Now About Fireworks and Gas Works Park?

Posted by on Tue, Jun 30, 2009 at 11:39 PM

Hilarious. Will post as soon as Comedy Central puts it up.

Fort Worth: The Police Are Lying

Posted by on Tue, Jun 30, 2009 at 10:57 PM

The police in Fort Worth have changed their story about what happened to Chad Gibson, the 26-year-old man who suffered a brain injury during the raid on the Rainbow Lounge. Today the police claimed that Gibson groped an officer during the raid, was arrested, and then fell and hit his head when he left the bar. The police assert that Gibson—who was handcuffed and being escorted to a police car by at least one officer—was so intoxicated that he was unsteady on his feet and that he was vomiting when he fell. But on Sunday the police were telling a very different story about Gibson's arrest:

The investigators then went to the Rainbow Lounge, where seven arrests were made, the police statement said. While walking through the Rainbow Lounge, an "extremely intoxicated patron made sexually explicit movements toward the police supervisor," the statement said. This individual was arrested for public intoxication.

Another intoxicated individual also made sexually explicit movements toward another officer, and he was arrested for public intoxication, the statement said. A third individual inside the lounge assaulted a TABC agent by grabbing the agent's groin, according to the statement. [Gibson] was escorted outside and arrested for public intoxication. He was released to paramedics because of his extreme intoxication as he was repeatedly vomiting, police reported.

While dealing with this suspect, another officer requested assistance from inside the club with an intoxicated patron who was resisting arrest. This person was placed on the ground to control and apprehend him, police reported.

No mention of a fall. The only time the first police reports have this "person"—Gibson—on the ground was when he was "placed on the ground" by the officers who apprehended him. And Gibson's behavior after his arrest—unsteady on his feet, vomiting—are consistent with a head injury. And two other witnesses to Gibson's arrest dispute the FWPD account:

Club Manager Randy Norman said Gibson didn’t seem drunk and was walking from the men’s room, holding a bottle of water, when an officer pushed him against a wall and then pushed him to the ground. Some patrons said they heard Gibson ask the officer a question, but that he didn’t fight back. At least three officers were involved in handcuffing him.

“The first question I heard was, ‘How much have you had to drink?’” said Shane Wells, a dancer at the club. Gibson “said, ‘I don’t have to answer that question’ and they grabbed him and ran him against that little wall.’”

Box Turtle Bulletin points out that Gibson's behavior after his arrest—unsteady, vomiting, disoriented—are consistent with many of the symptoms typically displayed by someone who has just suffered a traumatic head injury.

The Fort Worth Police Department is lying.

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What Obama Must Do

Posted by on Tue, Jun 30, 2009 at 8:52 PM

Dan Savage on Countdown with Keith Olbermann:

This is where I totally agree with Dan (and we are not always in agreement): Obama has to stop pandering to the GOP. They mean nothing anymore. The whole bipartisan dream is dead. Obama has the power to permanently change this society. He cannot miss this opportunity.

Quick Thought

Posted by on Tue, Jun 30, 2009 at 7:57 PM

Iran, Honduras, Franken—symptoms of a crisis at the root of democracy in its national form? Then there is Kenya, Zimbabwe, the 2000 presidential election. Economic globalization is not possible without political globalization?

Drudge Is Trying To Be a Douchebag...

Posted by on Tue, Jun 30, 2009 at 6:41 PM

...but it made me laugh.

drudgemajority.jpg

With Franken's election being official now—enjoy Norm Coleman's concession speech by clicking here—the Democrats now enjoy a filibuster-proof 60-seat majority in the U.S. Senate. I look forward to health care reform, the confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor, clean energy, the repeal of DADT, chocolate air, and Franken debating family values with David "The Shitter" Vitter during the push to repeal the "Defense of Marriage Act."

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WSDOT Employee Accused of Scamming $67,000 in Overtime Pay

Posted by on Tue, Jun 30, 2009 at 5:34 PM

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) has asked the Washington State Patrol and Pierce County Prosecutors Office to investigate a former WSDOT employee for allegedly scamming the state for $67,000 in unearned overtime over the last two years.

According to WSDOT spokesman Lloyed Brown, WSDOT has been reviewing its budget and closely examining overtime when alterations to timesheets showed up. The female employee—who had worked for the department for four years—accused of altering her own time sheets has resigned and Brown says WSDOT has referred the case for criminal prosecution and is also seeking a "civil penalty and restitution with interest."

Brown says the department is continuing its audits but hasn't turned up "any other irregularities."

"I have a gnoll warlock named Gnarla, her nickname is Bayonce Gnoll"

Posted by on Tue, Jun 30, 2009 at 4:27 PM

6b92/1246388142-product_50782.jpgButt Magazine has an interview with a group of gay men from Washington D.C. who regularly get together and play Dungeons & Dragons.

Now do you guys have gay characters in the game?

Sean C: My character is gay in the game, it doesn’t come up a lot-
Jim: I tend to play tough women. I don’t know why, but they always tend to be strong women.
Sean W: I haven’t really thought that far out, it’s still too new a game. All of our characters are young and exploring ourselves.
Brian: But we have had a lot of gay characters in previous campaigns. Most of our characters like men, whether they’re male or female.

It's a really interesting interview (and in case the name Butt Magazine has you worried, it's totally Safe For Work, although the website is a bright, garish pink).

(Via The Awl, which might get bought by AOL. Which would be a huge mistake in my opinion, but then nobody at The Awl is asking me.)

(Rainbow 20-sided dice from Eclipse Ball.)

Fort Worth Police Chief: That Faggot Had It Coming

Posted by on Tue, Jun 30, 2009 at 4:18 PM

Most residents of Fort Worth have never even seen the inside of a gay bar. Fort Worth's police chief Jeff Halstead is counting on that fact—counting on the average person's ignorance about gay bars and certain stereotypes about gay men—to get a half a dozen Forth Worth police officers off the hook for conducting a violent raid on a Forth Worth gay bar, the Rainbow Lounge, late last Saturday night. Seven men were arrested during the raid, which took place on the 40th anniversary of the raid on the Stonewall Inn that kick-started the modern gay rights movement, and one of those men—Chad Gibson—remains in intensive care with a brain injury. Gibson may not survive.

The officers who raided the Rainbow Lounge claim that the men in the bar made "advances" on them—and Forth Worth's police chief is backing them up:

Monday, police chief Jeff Halstead said the officers' actions are being investigated. However, he also said that officers that entered the bar during the scheduled inspection were touched inappropriately.

"You're touched and advanced in certain ways by people inside the bar, that's offensive," he said. "I'm happy with the restraint used when they were contacted like that."

Allow me to translate the chief's comments: "Them faggots in that thar bar touched mah officers and now they're complainin' about some rough stuff and one little ol' faggot with a brain injury? Those perverts should be grateful they're alive."

This is a classic example of the Gay Panic Defense. In the very recent past all a straight man who brutally murdered a gay man had to say was, "He made a pass at me!", and the jury would ignore the evidence and let the murderer off. The Gay Panic Defense doesn't fly in many courts of law these days but it still has currency in the court of public opinion. And the chief of police in Forth Worth, a major U.S. city, is attempting to use the Gay Panic Defense to convince the citizens of Fort Worth to ignore the evidence—to ignore photographic evidence and credible eyewitness accounts—and let his officers off.

And you'll never guess who the police are accusing of being the groper: Chad Gibson, the one man arrested at the Rainbow Lounge who can't defend himself and may never be able to give his side of the story. But another person at the bar witnessed Gibson's arrest:

"They were hyped up. They were loaded for bear," said Todd Camp, a veteran journalist who was there celebrating his birthday with friends. "They were just randomly grabbing people, telling them they were drunk."

Camp told me he has been in bars during TABC/police "checks" before, "and it was never anything like this." Usually, he said, officers discreetly walk through, looking for anybody who has had too much. This was different. "They were shoving patrons," Camp said, "asking, 'How much have you had to drink?'"

...

"[Gibson] was taken down hard," said Camp, with "four or five" officers wrestling him to the floor inside the club. Cellphone photos shot by patrons and posted to blogs show a person being held facedown by officers in a short hallway inside the club, then show a dent in the wall where his head was apparently banged.

The police claim that Gibson wasn't injured when those four or five cops slammed him to the floor of the bar, but after his arrest, when, drunk and handcuffed, Gibson somehow fell and hit his head on the pavement outside the bar.

All of this is bullshit.

I've been in a million gay bars. I've been in gay bars on multiple occasions when the police came in to check everyone's IDs and make sure no minors were being served. Gay men don't grope police officers when they enter gay bars. I find it inconceivable that the gay men drinking in the Rainbow Lounge in Fort Worth responded to a raid by attempting to grope the police officers. This "they groped us!" shit is a lie. As the owner of the bar, J.R. Schrock, put it at the protest the night after the raid:

"The groping of the police officer—really? We're gay, but we're not dumb," Schrock said to the crowd that gathered at the bar Sunday afternoon. "That is a lie, and I am appalled by it."

Jeff Halstead can't be allowed to use the Gay Panic Defense. His officers weren't groped, no one was "touched and advanced." Homophobic cops raided a gay bar, roughed up the patrons, and a young man is in the hospital and may die.

Some will say that this was just an ill-timed raid on a gay bar in Texas, of all places, one that got out of control. So what's the big deal? But this is exactly the kind of state-sponsored violence that gays and lesbians fought back against at Stonewall 40 years ago. Gay men all over the country are going to have to speak up and defend the patrons of the Rainbow Lounge. We can't allow the chief of police in Fort Worth to use the Gay Panic Defense or exploit stereotypes about gay men—so sexually reckless that they can't even keep their hands off cops during a raid!—to get away with violating the civil rights of gay men in Fort Worth or murdering Chad Gibson.

UPDATE: More on Chad Gibson's condition:

ac33/1246404201-gibson.jpgChad Gibson, the 26-year-old Fort Worth resident who wound up in John Peter Smith Hospital in the intensive care unit after a law enforcement raid on a gay bar over the weekend, remains in danger with a blood clot on his brain. Dallas Voice senior editor Tammye Nash reports on the newspaper's blog, Instant Tea, that Gibson's sister, Kristy Morgan, told her a CAT scan had revealed the blood clot has quit growing, but it is still considered a life-threatening situation. Until the clot dissolves, there is a danger that the clot could break off and cause severe brain damage or death. A rupture of the clot could also start bleeding again.

The blood clot could take from six months to two years to dissolve, according to the update. Gibson, shown in a picture from facebook.com, will likely remain in the hospital for the rest of the week and will be referred to a neurosurgeon for follow-up treatment. Surgery is reportedly not being considered at this time.

Discussion is under way about the establishment of a medical fund to assist Gibson. His hospital bill will undoubtedly be enormous, and it is unlikely that he will ever recover any of those medical expenses from the City of Fort Worth. Police officers and other government employees are protected by state law from liability in any legal action that arises in connection with the performance of their official duties, unless they are involved in misconduct or broke laws.

UPDATE 2: Someone needs to put this follow-up question to Fort Worth's police chief:

If Chad Gibson—the 160-pound, 26-year-old gay man that it took five of your officers to subdue—groped one of your officers, and if it was Gibson's lewd action that caused your officers to go absolutely apeshit, then surely Gibson—who is in an intensive care unit and may not survive his injuries—was charged with assault, right?

Wrong:

Officers then went to the Rainbow Lounge, which had opened about a week ago. They encountered two drunk people who made "sexually explicit movements" toward officers and another who grabbed a TABC agent's groin, according to the police report.

No one was arrested for assault but about half a dozen people were arrested on charges of public intoxication, according to police records. Police Chief Jeff Halstead said Gibson was the patron who grabbed at the agent's groin.

So... Chad Gibson sexually assaulted a Fort Worth police officer and, according to the Fort Worth's chief of police, Gibson's assault not only prompted but justified the actions of his officers at the Rainbow Room, but... Gibson wasn't charged with assault.

Can someone please ask the chief of police to explain how that works?

UPDATE 3: Via Slog commenter jasonzenobia: The Fort Worth Police Department's email address is fwpdweb@fortworthpd.com and the number for FWPD's internal affairs office is 817.392.4270. That's the number to call to report officer misconduct. Joel Burns is the openly gay member of the Fort Worth city council and he's been all over this. You can reach him at his email is Joel.Burns@fortworthgov.org.

UPDATE 4: I've heard from folks in Fort Worth that Joel Burns' office is being slammed with furious phone calls and emails about the raid on the Rainbow Lounge and the assault on Chad Gibson. Burns, however, has taken action on this and has called for an investigation and is doing everything an openly-gay elected official is supposed to do in a circumstance like this. If you're itching to send an outraged emails, Sloggers, I'd urge you to send emails to the six Fort Worth councilmembers who haven't joined with Burns and two of his colleagues in calling for a full and independent investigation into the appalling raid on the Rainbow Lounge.

Councilmember W.B. "Zim" Zimmerman
817-392-8803
District3@fortworthgov.org

Councilmember Danny Scarth
817-392-8804
District4@fortworthgov.org

Councilmember Frank Moss
817-392-8805
District5@fortworthgov.org

Councilmember Jungus Jordan
817-392-8806
District6@fortworthgov.org

Councilmember Carter Burdette
817-392-8807
District7@fortworthgov.org

And send an email to the mayor, Mike Moncreif, who has yet to make a statement:

Mayor Mike Moncrief
817-392-6118
mike.moncrief@fortworthgov.org

Tell them the whole country is shocked and outraged and that you're appalled by their failure to join their colleagues Joel Burns, Sal Espino, and Kathleen Hicks in calling for an investigation into the raid on the Rainbow Lounge and the assault on Chad Gibson.

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Overheard on the Sidewalk

Posted by on Tue, Jun 30, 2009 at 4:14 PM

A toddler and a guy in flip-flops walk hand in hand down the sidewalk. It's sunny.

Toddler [pointing]: "Is that graffiti?"

Guy: "No. It's art."

Fawcett Shrugged

Posted by on Tue, Jun 30, 2009 at 3:25 PM

The Daily Beast says that Farrah Fawcett and Ayn Rand were friends. Further, Rand was a Charlie's Angels fanatic who "never missed an episode." She considered Fawcett the ideal woman to play the female lead in a proposed Atlas Shrugged TV miniseries.

dc0f/1246386333-ayn_rand_stamp.jpgWhy did Rand say she was so determined to see you in the role of Dagny Taggart, the female heroine in Atlas Shrugged?

I don’t remember if Ayn’s letter specifically mentioned Charlie’s Angels, but I do remember it saying that she was a fan of my work. A few months later, when we finally spoke on the phone (actually she did most of the speaking and I did most of the listening), she said she never missed an episode of the show. I remember being surprised and flattered by that. I mean, here was this literary genius praising Angels. After all, the show was never popular with critics who dismissed it as “Jiggle TV.” But Ayn saw something that the critics didn’t, something that I didn’t see either (at least not until many years later): She described the show as a “triumph of concept and casting.” Ayn said that while Angels was uniquely American, it was also the exception to American television in that it was the only show to capture true “romanticism”—it intentionally depicted the world not as it was, but as it should be.

(Via Bookslut.)

Today in Fascinating Stock Photography Found with the Search Term "Sobbing"

Posted by on Tue, Jun 30, 2009 at 3:24 PM

bf5e/1246400262-scaled.docsob.jpg

06f5/1246400286-scaled.ladysob.jpg

8a5c/1246400304-momsob.jpg

As I've titled them: Not Again!, Constipated Grandma, and The Annoying Emotions of Others.

(Research undertaken for this post, all photos from Photos.com.)

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Cantwell: "I Support a Public Plan"

Posted by on Tue, Jun 30, 2009 at 3:17 PM

The first question from the audience today at Sen. Maria Cantwell's public meeting at the UW Medical Center branch in South Lake Union was: Do you support a public plan for health care reform?

Cantwell's answer: "Yes, I support a public plan."

The un-asked question: Does Cantwell consider the coop compromise to be a public plan? In other words, is this a real change of position or just semantic slipperiness?

Authors Should Not Be Allowed on the Internet

Posted by on Tue, Jun 30, 2009 at 2:28 PM

396e/1246384867-cover_status.jpgAfter Alice Hoffman's Twitter meltdown, you'd hope that would be all the authors-behaving-badly business on the internet this week.

Sadly not. After Caleb Crain wrote a negative review of Alain de Botton's new book The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work in the New York Times Book Review, de Botton left a long negative comment on Crain's blog. It's pretty exceptional:

Caleb, you make it sound on your blog that your review is somehow a sane and fair assessment. In my eyes, and all those who have read it with anything like impartiality, it is a review driven by an almost manic desire to bad-mouth and perversely depreciate anything of value...You have now killed my book in the United States, nothing short of that. So that's two years of work down the drain in one miserable 900 word review...I will hate you till the day I die and wish you nothing but ill will in every career move you make. I will be watching with interest and schadenfreude.

Apparently, pampered middle-aged authors throwing tantrums is the hot new thing.

UPDATE: Looks like de Botton won't be apologizing for his blog post anytime soon.

Street Wars

Posted by on Tue, Jun 30, 2009 at 2:12 PM

Today is the last day of amnesty for parking tickets in Seattle. This means no collections fees and no interest if you pay your tickets by the end of the day. I just paid off 12 tickets at a total of $625. (I used to be really bad at time-management.) If you don't know your ticket or case number, you can call 206-684-5600. If you do know your number, you can pay it here. The court closes in less than three hours. Godspeed.

Also, I regret knowing that I'm helping pay for these:

4fe1/1246321385-0506091509.jpg

Pornographic Time Capsule Opened on Bainbridge Island

Posted by on Tue, Jun 30, 2009 at 1:52 PM

Kitsap Sun:

A cache of pornographic and sex-related items were found inside the ceiling of a portable classroom at Blakely Elementary School on Thursday, according to Bainbridge police... The collection included six pornographic magazines, several pornographic VHS tapes, unused condoms, a dozen women’s panties and a 2001 hunting guide.

Dates on the items indicated that the cache had been left in the ceiling about eight years ago, police said.

No crime was committed, the police added, and school officials announced that they're going to destroy the secret porn stash—including those rare pornographic VHS tapes.

Touché, Wyoming.

Posted by on Tue, Jun 30, 2009 at 1:51 PM

From a friend currently stranded in Gillette, WY (a town whose main attraction is literally called The Rockpile Museum):

8e36/1246395046-fuck_the_french.jpg

You got 'em good there, restaurant. You got 'em good.

News From the Animal Kingdom

Posted by on Tue, Jun 30, 2009 at 1:50 PM

Says the professor: a2c2/1246394048-lion.jpg

"The most important way to think about this is that lion prides are like street gangs," says Packer.

"They compete for turf. The bigger the gang, the more successful it is at controlling the best areas. The main difference from humans is that these are gangs of female lions."

As for the males?

Males will often attack and attempt to kill female lions in neighbouring prides to tip the odds in favour of their own pride.

"Males turn out to be playing a greater role than we realised," says Packer. "Males attack females from neighbouring prides, likely altering the balance of power in favour of 'their' females."

Nature is the red in tooth and claw.


The Halloween costume in the image can be purchased here.

Amazon's Tea Party

Posted by on Tue, Jun 30, 2009 at 1:27 PM

MobyLives says that due to a new law in North Carolina that would require sales tax to be collected on click-through referrals, Amazon will no longer partner with vendors from North Carolina.

[L]awmakers are feeling pressure from brick and mortar retailers who have to collect taxes and claim online retailers therefore have an unfair advantage...“North Carolina expects to collect an additional $13.2 million in the coming fiscal year,” says the AP report.

At this point, it looks like this is going to become fodder for a weird pool: How many states do you think Amazon can boycott before it becomes more financially worthwhile for them to collect taxes? I'm betting ten.

Congrats, Sen. Franken

Posted by on Tue, Jun 30, 2009 at 1:20 PM

Strip Club Owners Indicted on Federal Racketeering Charges

Posted by on Tue, Jun 30, 2009 at 12:57 PM

A grand jury has indicted Rick's strip club owner Frank Colacurcio, his son Frank Jr. and four other business associates as part of a long-running federal investigation.

A year ago, Seattle police and federal agents raided four strip clubs in Seattle, Shoreline and Tacoma following an investigation into alleged prostitution and money laundering at the clubs.

Today, the grand jury unsealed an indictment for racketeering charges against Colacurcio, his son, and four other men, Leroy Christiansen, David Ebert, Steven Fueston and John Conte.

The US Attorney's office is seeking forfeiture of the clubs and $25 million in assets.

Colacurcio and his associates are scheduled to appear in federal court late next month.

Today in DVD Releases

Posted by on Tue, Jun 30, 2009 at 12:54 PM


(Gotta love Saul Bass.)

Lindy West liked Two Lovers, the film that's supposed to be Joaquin Phoenix's swan song as an actor:

You know that person who, at all times, is manufacturing their next 1,000 crises and needing constant attention and rescue and affirmation but offers nearly nothing in return? Maybe they're sort of exhilarating and magnetic and you can't help but want to be around them, until one day you realize that they've never asked you one single question about yourself and you are an exhausted, moldy shipwreck? This is a movie about that person completely fucking up someone's life.

She did not so much enjoy Princess Protection Program: Royal B.F.F. Extended Edition:

I'm not totally clear on who this "Selena Gomez" person is. I think she dates a Jonas Brother? Or two? Anyway, as far as I can tell, she has brown hair and a face. Her hair is big. Her face is small.

Other movies out on DVD today include The Education of Charlie Banks and Jonas Brothers: The Concert Experience (um, squee?). There's also 12 Rounds, the weirdly popular revenge/action movie starring a professional wrestler; Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li, which stars hottie Kristin Kreuk, who was the sole reason I watched the first two seasons of Smallville; Pedro, a documentary about the cast member of the Real World who championed AIDS education; and Wolphin: Issue 8, which includes a short film starring James Franco. The Frank Sinatra-starring classic The Man With the Golden Arm gets a re-release, too.

TV series out on DVD today include Season 5 of Entourage and the first season of Danny McBride's HBO comedy East Bound and Down. Also (barely) notable is Kong: The Animated Series, in which a boy is genetically linked to King Kong by his scientist grandmother to become Mega-Kong. And Eureka season 3 is out on DVD also.

A full list of all 90 of today's releases is here.

Today in Regional Theaters Gripping onto Life by Their Fingernails

Posted by on Tue, Jun 30, 2009 at 12:25 PM

First: Seattle Rep has issued a survey—leaked to me by a patron—asking, basically, what will it take to make you people happy? They ask dozens of questions about childcare, quality of the bathrooms, political content of the plays, ticket cost, etc., etc.

You can see (and, I assume, take) the survey here.

Second: While the Rep surveys, ACT acts. Recognizing that the season-ticket model will probably die along with its audience base, ACT has issued a gym-membership-type model. It sounds boring, but it's a small revolution in the way big theaters do business.

Instead of asking people to pay hundreds of dollars up front to see each play once, people can pay $25 a month to go to theater the same way they go to movies or dance clubs or concerts or pretty much anything else—when they feel like it. (Sports are an exception because sports are always an exception.)

This month at ACT, for example, a member could see the break/s, Below the Belt, Orange Flower Water, and whatever music or comedy is programmed at the Central Heating Lab in the downstairs theater. They could see them all five times. They could bring a friend who'd get a half-price ticket.

ACT has been talking about easing out of the subscription model into a monthly membership model for years—this Wild West, throw-it-at-the-wall-and-see-if-it-sticks era seems as good a time as any to test it out.

Now the real question stands—can they bring and produce theater that people (who can't afford season tickets) will want to come see?

Currently Readable

Posted by on Tue, Jun 30, 2009 at 12:25 PM

There is a new story by Lorrie Moore in the New Yorker this week. If you're unfamiliar with her, Lorrie Moore is one of the best American short story authors in the business today, perhaps only after Amy Hempel.

I didn’t know anything about adoption. I’d known only one adopted girl when I was growing up, Becky Sussluch, who at sixteen was spoiled and beautiful and having an affair with a mussed and handsome student teacher whom I myself had a crush on. In general, I thought of adoption much as I thought of most things in life: uneasily. Adoption seemed both a cruel joke and a lovely daydream—a nice way of avoiding the blood and pain of giving birth, or, from a child’s perspective, a realized fantasy of your parents not really being your parents. Your genes could thrust one arm in the air and pump up and down. Yes! You were not actually related to them!

“Congratulations,” I murmured now to Sarah. Was that what one said?

The story—about Chinese food, the Midwest, and child care—is at once warm and lonely and observant, and you should read it. Lorrie Moore will be publishing a novel titled Gate at the Stairs this September. It'll be the first book of original fiction she's published since 1998, and the first novel since 1994.

Wii: Now With Motion Controls. Wait, What?

Posted by on Tue, Jun 30, 2009 at 12:16 PM

Ever play Wii Bowling the American way? Give it a shot. While sprawled on a couch, jerk your wrist randomly, and your Wii character will nail a strike almost by default. Leave that bowl of Rold Golds on your belly, champ. It's not going anywhere.

Wii Sports was a pretty good ruse, limiting its games to tiny swipes because—hey now—the Wii remote only senses tiny swipes. It's more fun to think the Wii knows your real movements, Gramps, but your full-on bowling swing is for naught.

Or is it? This month saw the release of Wii MotionPlus, a doohickey that plugs into Wii remotes and promises 1:1 motion control—every angle, swipe, and shift of your hands is now, finally, so-long-awaitedly replicated. But it must suck to market this to the people who've already bought into the original Wii promise. What do you tell fun-lovin' Gramps? That it will sense "more" of his motion? Lost cause, Nintendo.

I've spent the past week testing the first few MotionPlus games and figuring out what "more motion" really means. Short answer: angular, not positional. Wave your remote around while standing still, and the sword on your TV will twist and turn in kind but stay frozen in space otherwise.

The latter issue kills EA's Grand Slam Tennis. The game plays fine at first when it senses your wrist angle while swinging a tennis racket; aiming and adding top-spin is better than the old Wii Sports. But the Wii can't tell where you stand in the room, so your on-screen guy will often hold the racket to his right while you're tilting it to your left. In high-speed tennis, this screws you.

Slower, simpler games do fine, which makes EA's Tiger Woods PGA Tour '10 the most impressive MotionPlus game so far: full swing motions, front and back, are measured for power, while swing angles will hook and slice with consistent precision. Any dork who has slammed a trackball on a Golden Tee arcade machine should pay heed. They'll never recover from the rush of nailing a golf shot with MotionPlus. I, king dork, can attest to fist pumps. It's a typical, solid golf game otherwise, padded with 27 full courses and a long career mode. But the swing, it is everything.

For great Wii tennis, you're better off waiting for next month's Wii Sports Resort. This weekend, I got my grubby hands on the early Japanese version thanks to an import-happy pal. Just like the original Wii Sports, this sequel is a mini-game explosion, upped from 5 games to 13. Most of them show off the MotionPlus's abilities, particularly the table tennis game, whose accuracy is startling. Paddle angle, stroke speed, shot location... whatever, all you need to know is how fucking good this mode feels.

Similarly, the best games focus on the angular motion of MotionPlus, like the dinky frisbee-throwing game, the samurai sword duels, and the bit where you hold the remote like a paper airplane to fly around an island. Others are clunkers that are probably more fun with three drunken friends, such as the awkward basketball mode, the wonky water skiing, and the canoeing game. Yep: four people row one canoe as quickly as possible. Get ready to hate your condescending friend who orders everyone else to row to the left and right alternating.

If you're burnt out on Wii Sports, you're not going to get much wow factor here after smiling at the accurate sword game for a few minutes. But it's a solid package of varied mini-games, so long as you ignore the stupid bicycle one in which you pedal with your hands (???). You'll love the table tennis mode, and Grandpa will delight in the rest.

Speaking of Grandpa, golf and bowling are back from the original Wii Sports, and both are smoother. Your golf swing no longer randomly wobbles out of place, and in bowling, you don't have to release a button to let the ball go—a tiny change that makes a big difference. But just to get you depressed, Gramps, I tested the new bowling mode on the couch. Bowl of chips on the tummy, and I rolled a 154. No spills.

Sage Advice Re: Buying That Spangled Glove on E-Bay

Posted by on Tue, Jun 30, 2009 at 12:07 PM

The Better Business Bureau would like to remind you not to be an idiot.

USE CAUTION WHEN BUYING MICHAEL JACKSON MEMORABILIA
Value of Items Could Only Be Sentimental

DuPont, WA — June 30, 2009 — Immediately following the announcement of Michael Jackson’s sudden death, enterprising individuals began selling memorabilia online to take advantage of the increased demand. Better Business Bureau warns that...the currently inflated prices for many items will drop over time.... by the morning following his death almost 20,000 Michael Jackson-related items and memorabilia were for sale on the auction Web site. Items included autographs, gloves, posters, newspapers and even a Cheeto which supposedly predicted the death of the pop star.

...Because the value of collectibles is largely dependent on how rare an item is, mass-produced commemorative items are not likely to appreciate in value.

With regard to celebrity-death-predicting Cheetos, can't we just leave it at caveat emptor? Doesn't the Better Business Bureau have better things to do?

Lunch with the Mayor

Posted by on Tue, Jun 30, 2009 at 12:07 PM

Mayor Greg Nickels is speaking to the SODO Business Association at the Starbucks Center today over lunch. According to a description on Ustream.tv, the company livestreaming the talk, "He requested this get together to review the many issues here in SODO. It will be set up town hall style to encourage open dialog. Bring your questions." Nothing to see yet except SODO Business Association's dizzying logo, but he's supposed to show up soon. It's underway:

UPDATE: Apparently we crashed the livestream. "System overload," the company doing the streaming tells me. "Should be back up soon. Also, they're taping it so there will be a full archive."

What He Said

Posted by on Tue, Jun 30, 2009 at 11:59 AM

Michelangelo Signorile:

It was nice to see President Obama commemorating Stonewall on the 40th anniversary and bringing LGBT people into the White House. But we've been here before, and it was the least a new Democratic president could do. Anyone who sees it as a "win" of any kind is setting the bar very low.

Obama pledged nothing more in his speech than what he has promised before, during his campaign speeches. Again, it looked like an important event that the president took time out to host, and the recognition of our history is equally important, by the President of the United States and many others. But this should not be what we see as a measure of our success. We have to listen to his words carefully—and I heard nothing new, in terms of moving forward—and still keep his feet to the fire.

Win Tickets to Seattle's Chocolate Salon (AKA All the Chocolate You Can Eat!)

Posted by on Tue, Jun 30, 2009 at 11:42 AM

4c55/1246385806-chocolatesalon.jpgThe 2nd annual Seattle Chocolate Salon is Sunday, July 12th, at Bell Harbor Conference Center. What's a Chocolate Salon? Basically, it's ALL THE DELICIOUS CHOCOLATE YOU CAN EAT!

Over 30 chocolatiers and wineries will be there, sharing their goods, and for the $20 ticket price, you have access to sample as much of it as you'd like. There will also be recipe demonstrations, chef talks, and awards given in categories like "Best Truffle," "Most Delicious Ingredient Combinations," and "Most Artistic Designs."

The participants include Theo Chocolate, Intrigue Chocolates, Oh! Chocolate, Posh Chocolate, Crave Chocolate, Forte Chocolates, Divine Chocolate, Carter's Chocolates, Chocolopolis, Chubby Chipmunk Hand-Dipped Chocolates, La Chatelaine Chocolat Co., Eat Chocolates, Choffy, the Chocolate Traveler, William Dean Chocolates, Xocai Healthy Chocolate, and Marco Polo Designs' Chocolate Jewelry.

Tickets are on sale through seattlechocolatesalon.com, but we have a pair of tickets to give away! One lucky Slog reader, and their very lucky date, will get to go to the Chocolate Salon and indulge in delicious truffle after delicious truffle for absolutely free.

To enter, just tell us in 50 words or less why you deserve the tickets. Send your mini-essay to chow@thestranger.com with Free Chocolate in the subject line. The top 5-10 entries will be put up on Slog later this week for a reader vote.

Also: Since you probably just skimmed that above list of participants, let me just point out again that there's a company called CHUBBY CHIPMUNK HAND-DIPPED CHOCOLATES. And their truffles look giant and amazing.

Good luck!

Image from last year's Chocolate Salon via TasteTV on flickr.

Sen. Al Franken (D-MN)

Posted by on Tue, Jun 30, 2009 at 11:31 AM

It's unanimous:

The Minnesota Supreme Court has handed down its much-expected ruling in the heavily-litigated Minnesota Senate race from 2008—and it's a unanimous one—deciding against Republican former Sen. Norm Coleman's appeal of his defeat in the election trial and affirming the lower court's verdict that Democratic comedian Al Franken is the legitimate winner of the race.

The courts finds that "Al Franken received the highest number of votes legally cast and is entitled under Minn. Stat. § 204C.40 (2008) to receive the certificate of election as United States Senator from the State of Minnesota." This means that when Franken is ultimately seated, the Democrats will have 60 seats and be able to beat any Republican filibuster if they stay completely united (though good luck with that, obviously.)

But it ain't over. More details at TPM.

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