Forgive the headline for being so crass about bucks—the honor at stake is the Harold and Mimi Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award—but $25,000 is serious money for a play.
The play in question is Pilgrims Musa and Sheri in the New World, which had its world premiere at ACT Theatre last summer. I loved it, especially for its light sympathetic resonance with Annie Hall. But El Guindi's New York love story concerns a neurotic honkey gal and a recent Egyptian immigrant instead of a blissfully ignorant shiksa and a neurotic Jewish guy. A dose of one of my favorite moments, from the review:
Later in the scene, Sheri picks up Musa's Koran and starts reading it aloud. Actor Shanga Parker's tense physical comedy (directed by Anita Montgomery) in this moment is magnificent. Musa doesn't want to be inhospitable and doesn't want to seem too physically aggressive—Sheri has already expressed nervousness about whether it's "safe" for her to visit the apartment of a man she barely knows—but is clearly uncomfortable about her cavalier handling of and reading from his Koran. He keeps trying to sneak up behind her and snatch it back, but she always turns away at the last moment. He had told her earlier that he learned English by reading mystery novels—Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett—and she makes a reckless comparison to his Koran:
Sheri: This is a kind of mystery book, too, right?
Musa: Not really.
Sheri: It's a whodunit, isn't it?
Musa: We know who done it! God!
The script is full of trap-door surprises and characters you're not expecting—it's a complicated, romantic thriller, if such a thing exists—but remains humane and intelligent and doesn't succumb to the gimmicks of a thriller. My fingers are crossed for El Guindi. He, and his play, deserve laurels.
A populist bill in Olympia designed to cap impound rates across the state, while still allowing cities the autonomy to set rates for themselves, has seemingly been hijacked by Washington's nefarious towing lobby. Now, thanks to an amendment recently adopted by the Senate transportation committee, HB 2372 designed to prevent people from being hit with exorbitant $800 towing fees has morphed into a measure that takes away cities' abilities to set impound-rate caps (thereby guaranteeing that towing companies can set those rates themselves) and would set the state cap at roughly $270.
"We want the authority of the city to come in at a lower maximum rate," says Denise Movius, a spokewoman with Seattle's Department of Finance and Administrative Services, which has been tracking the issue.
I know, it is confusing. Let me explain: Currently, individual cities (as well as the state) contract with towing companies to, say, tow cars from public streets if they're parked illegally. The rates those companies can charge people for impounds are capped through a competitive bidding process with the city (or state). However, there's currently no limit on what towing companies can charge someone whose car impounded on private property—like a business parking lot or residence. Those fees, as we've seen can stack up to $800 or more if you want your car back.
So Representative Gerry Pollet (D-Seattle) introduced a bill that would cap towing fees at, roughly, $333 for the impound and first day of storage—while still allowing cities to set lower caps for themselves, if they wished. It passed the House; however, in the Senate's transportation committee this week, Chair Mary Margaret Haugen (D-10) tacked on an amendment that, among other things, includes this pre-emption clause that takes away Seattle's authority to set its own rates:
So far "I Want You Back" seems to the be favorite among Line Out readers. Though Dave Segal makes a compelling argument for "2-4-6-8."
Remember all that controversy last year over granting King County the authority to impose a measly two-year $20 vehicle license fee (VLF) in order to stave off massive cuts to Metro bus service? The council eventually got the taxing authority, although with a two-thirds supermajority string attacked, and after much wailing and gnashing of teeth, Republicans Jane Hague and Kathy Lambert crossed over to vote for approval.
The $20 fee raises about $25 million, which along with Metro's remaining reserves is just enough to fill the $60 million annual budget hole left by declining sales tax revenues. But it's only temporary—a stopgap measure intended to help Metro tread water until a more sustainable revenue alternative could be devised.
Just such a local transportation revenue bill has been wending its way through Olympia this session in the form of SB 6582, which among other things, would allow King County to levy a 1 percent motor vehicle excise tax (MVET) to fund Metro and other transportation needs. As the House version of the bill currently reads, King County would keep 62.5 percent of the approximately $100 million a year raised, with the other 37.5 percent being distributed to cities and towns on a per capita basis.
That formula would leave just enough money to close Metro's operating deficit, though with little left over for expansion. But according to Bill LaBorde in Seattle City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen's office, it might also drive an additional $15 million into city coffers, money that would likely be prioritized toward funding our yawning transportation maintenance backlog.
That would be roughly equivalent to raising Seattle's own VLF by an additional $45. Give or take.
Best of all, as the latest iteration of the House bill has it, the King County Council could approve this MVET by a simple majority vote, without having to put it before voters. (Though only King County has this option—other counties must put it to voters.)
Good news for Metro riders... assuming these provisions manage to make it through the House as well as a return trip through the much more hostile Senate. The version passed by the Senate did not provide for councilmanic approval, and it still only passed by one vote. Whether Democrats can get their conservative members on board to give King County the local taxing authority necessary to provide the transportation services we need, remains to be seen.
At the moment, it looks like the Lytro is a rich person's toy—it costs 400 to 500 dollars—but it really does look like this could wind up changing photography forever. Here's the most promising bit from the Verge review:
We got to see a few of the company’s next developments, like a 3D view and a view that lets you pan inside an image and slightly change the perspective. Both are absolutely wild — as you pan around an image, people’s reflections on a glass of water shift to match your new perspective, as if you were moving your head slightly — and both will be rolled out to Lytro owners without any new hardware required. My hunch is that some of the camera’s bigger problems, like its low-light performance, will require new and more powerful hardware — a better processor, improved microlenses, and the like — but if you buy the Lytro, you’re buying a camera that’s definitely going to get better with time.
This technology shifts a photograph from a 2D representation of a moment in time into something much more fluid. Eventually, photographs will basically be slivers of time that you can navigate around in, and today's photographs will look as primitive and quaint as early daguerreotypes do to us now.
If you're in the mood for a 40-minute blast of locally-made experimental animation—some of it "very gay," according to featured filmmaker Clyde Petersen—head to Northwest Film Forum tomorrow at 5 pm. From the official press release:
Clyde Petersen premieres "Fanning The Flames," a collection of short films about gender and gay sex. These films will screen in a 40-minute program with other works by members of the Seattle Experimental Animation Team. Not all films are all-ages. +18 age recommended for this screening.
Among the other filmmakers featured: Britta Johnson, Stefan Gruber, Tess Martin, Salise Hughes, Otto Bulut, Eric Ostrowski, and Stranger Genius Webster Crowell. And it's free!
For now, here's Clyde Petersen's video for Deerhoof's "Chandelier Searchlight":
From the beginning, directors have tried to blunt its teeth. There's the musical My Fair Lady, of course, which plays up the romance between Higgins and Doolittle. And there's the famous exchange between Shaw and the play's first director, Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree, who tried to "sweeten" the play's ambiguous ending (in which Doolittle shrugs off Higgins, and he smugly assumes she'll come crawling back) by having Higgins toss Doolittle a bouquet of flowers. "My ending makes money, you ought to be grateful," Tree sniffed. "Your ending is damnable," Shaw snarled. "You ought to be shot."
But this Pygmalion, by Seattle Shakespeare Company, appropriately rests on the script's thorns instead of its laurels.
Wait, Mitt Romney is against the Blunt Amendment? That means he believes the Catholic Church should pay for its employees' contraception? Looks like it!
Jim Heath, a reporter for ONN-TV in Ohio, just Tweeted a remarkable piece of news: Mitt Romney told him he does not support the Blunt amendment, which would empower employers and insurers to deny health coverage they find morally objectionable.
I mean, I guess this makes sense, since that's the Romneycare stance on contraception. I just figured that this version of Romney would flip-flop into extremist territory, as he's been doing for the last year. But it looks like he's taking a stand against the extremists in the Republican Party, this time. Here's video of the exchange:
Well, you know what? Good for Mitt Romney. Way to take a stand against his party's bullshit stance on contraception. This honestly shouldn't even be a debate in 2012, anyway. This could be the dawning of a whole new, moderate Romney...
...or his campaign could walk the whole thing back exactly one hour later:
“Regarding the Blunt bill, the way the question was asked was confusing," a spokesman told TPM. "Governor Romney supports the Blunt Bill because he believes in a conscience exemption in health care for religious institutions and people of faith.”
Scratch that whole "Good for Mitt Romney" thing. What a fucking asshole the entire Romney campaign is.
Here is the letter of the law I mentioned earlier:
A person commits the offense of advertising commercial sexual abuse of a minor if he or she knowingly publishes, disseminates, or displays, or causes directly or indirectly, to be published, disseminated, or displayed, any advertisement for a commercial sex act, which is to take place in the state of Washington and that includes the depiction of a minor.
So, assuming Governor Chris Gregoire signs this bill, it is about to become a Class C felony in Washington State to "knowingly" sell or buy an advertisement for commercial sex that depicts a minor.
This bill is aimed squarely at Backpage.com, whose business practices have been under fire from public officials in this state for a long time now. ("According to the Seattle Police Department," the bill text notes, "since the beginning of 2010 at least twenty-two children have been advertised online in the Seattle area for commercial sex and were recovered by the police department.") But Backpage is controlled by Village Voice Media LLC, which—although it owns the Seattle Weekly—is not headquartered in Washington State. Backpage's servers likely aren't located here, either. And if the crime of purchasing and selling a commercial sex ad featuring a minor occurs after this bill is signed, and it occurs via Backpage.com, it will ultimately occur in the geographically unbound realm of cyber-space.
So how to proceed if this law is signed, and if Backpage is later suspected of "knowingly" selling commercial sex ads in Washington State that depict minors?
David Schmader wants to know: What the fuck's wrong with you?
Turns out, Romney spent all that money to win the popular vote in his state, but the delegate count amounts to a draw:
Rick Santorum claimed a partial victory Wednesday when final results showed he and Mitt Romney evenly split Michigan' s 30 delegates, even though Romney got more overall votes in the Republican presidential primary Tuesday.
The latest estimates from CNN showed both candidates with 15 Michigan delegates, while Romney was ahead in the popular vote with 41% to Santorum's 38%.
While the popular vote is all that matters as far as—ugh—"optics" are concerned, Santorum getting the same number of Michigan delegates has to be making the Republican Party machine pretty nervous.
This is probably my favorite news story of the week: The Navajo Nation is suing Urban Outfitters over their use of the word "Navajo" on a line of (shitty, shitty) products. The tribe sent a cease-and-desist letter months ago, but says that while some of the product names have been changed (like the underpants and the FLASK—no, I'm not joking), others are still being sold through other brands and outlets.
The lawsuit filed late Tuesday in U.S. District Court in New Mexico alleges trademark violations and violations of the federal Indian Arts and Crafts Act, which makes it illegal to sell arts or crafts in a way to falsely suggest they're made by American Indians when they're not.
The tribe has about 10 registered trademarks on the Navajo name that cover clothing, footwear, online retail sales, household products and textiles. Tribal justice officials said they're intent on protecting what they believe are among the tribe's most valuable assets.
I can't wait to see how this plays out. It looks like they have a seriously legitimate trademark law case.
Thanks, Slog Tipper Lindsay!
Stop being so hard on people who don't want to partners that have children. (You tore into someone in this week's podcast, you've made the same point in other podcasts.) I have chosen not to have children, I don't want to date people with children. That doesn't make me an asshole, that makes me aware of who I am and what I want.
I was a stepmom in my twenties, and I could tell you stories that would make your hair curl. Do you know how hard it is being a step parent? That fine line you have to constantly walk between being an authority and not being parent. Dealing with the ex or exes who will be a part of your relationship forever (just pray that are sane and rational). People expecting you to be responsible for the kids and then dismissing you because you aren't their parent.
It can fray your nerves Dan, I know from experience, I vowed never to do that again.
Those of us who don't want to date people with kids are not all douchebags, assholes and bitches. Isn't it better that I don't get involved with a man who has kids knowing it would make and everyone else unhappy? How is that a douchebag move? Dating someone with a kid IS NOT EASY, it comes with an entire hotel of baggage. Some people can handle it, some I can't. Stop judging the people who don't want that.
I apologize for the vehemence in this email. For my entire adult life I have dealt with people calling me every name under the sun and accusing me of all sorts of evils because I decided to commit the horrendous of crime of not wanting children. To hear this come from you was disappointing.
Tired Ex Stepmom Tellin' You
The first line of Maureen Dowd's column today:
Rick should scat.
Dowd works "limp" and "bottom" into the very next paragraph. We may not be #1 anymore, but Rick will always be #2.
Ron Paul’s SuperPAC is based in Salt Lake City, and one of the founders is Ladd Christensen, John Huntsman’s business partner in Huntsman-Christensen and Huntsman Chemicals...Ron Paul’s SuperPAC sugar daddy, Peter Thiel, whom I wrote about for The Nation, has a proven track record of using his money to play the cynical game of politics. According to a recent San Francisco Chronicle profile, “libertarian” Peter Thiel is funding a Democrat and former Obama trade official, Ro Khanna, in a primary challenge against anti-war, anti-PATRIOT Act liberal Democrat Congressman Pete Stark.
* Ron Paul’s SuperPAC sugar daddy Peter Thiel also funds other candidates supposedly anathema to antiwar, anti-PATRIOT Act, pro-gay marriage libertarians, including frothing pro-war GOP social conservatives Dana Rohrabacher, Ed Royce and Dan Lungren.
* Dr. Paul’s SuperPAC sugar daddy Thiel also donated the maximum allowable to the 2010 gubernatorial campaign of Meg Whitman, who was Mitt Romney’s campaign finance chair in 2008. Whitman was a protege of Romney’s when she worked at Bain capital; later, when Whitman was CEO of eBay, she made Peter Thiel rich when she bought out his PayPal in a deal roundly slammed as bad for eBay, but good for Thiel and Whitman.
It's funny, because Ron Paul fans love a good conspiracy, but they're not going to dig into this one because it's a direct assault on the precious integrity of their libertarian golden boy. There's definitely something going on behind the scenes of the Ron Paul campaign, and none of these rabid true believers are interested in figuring out what's going on.
"The chart above covers people who work in the city, no matter where they live," reports Clark Williams-Derry at the Sighline Institute. "There’s a similar pattern for people who live in the city proper, regardless of where they work: no matter how you slice the numbers, the Emerald City just has more transit commuting than the Rose City." Check out Sightline's full report.
"Astronomers have spotted young stars in the Orion nebula changing right before their eyes..."
Internationally adored burlesque diva Dita Von Teese is coming to Seattle for two shows in May, and we've got a pair of tickets to give away to give away right now.
To determine the winner, a quiz:
Last year, Dita Von Teese guest-starred on an episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. What was the name of the episode on which she guest-starred?
1. "Strip Mall"
2. "A Kiss Before Frying"
3. "No Clothes, No Cigar"
UPDATE: We have a winner, who correctly identified the episode as "A Kiss Before Frying." Thank you for playing. (And if you're heartsick over failing to win these free tickets, there will be another chance to win another pair tomorrow.)
The Atlantic has a list of 10 Fantastic Novels with Disappointing Endings.
I suppose it's a good enough list, but I think the best American novel with the most disappointing ending has to be Ethan Frome. Attempted suicide by sledding? When I first read it in high school, I thought someone was putting me on. It's a great, tense little book but the sheer passive-aggressiveness—not to mention the idiocy—of trying to kill yourself and your lover by sledding into a tree felt like a joke. Worse, that paves the way for a "twist" ending that just feels completely unsatisfying. I can't think about that book without feeling ripped off, and I was really enjoying it up until the end, too.
On a vast expanse of white wall facing the Seattle Art Museum entrance at Hammering Man, there's only one painting: Karin Davie's Distraction (click for a pop-up image). It performs its title, acting as an immediate distraction from the business of getting up and into the galleries to see the other art. Its swooping lines laugh down from the imperious perch, giving the slapsticky impression that a colossus has come by and simply swiped his arm up and down a few times holding a titanic loaded paintbrush, leaving behind a line that's squiggling and bunched like a hardworking worm.
Distraction was made in 1999. That year, Davie showed at Mary Boone Gallery and Marianne Boesky Gallery, both in New York, on the heels of being featured at the Museum of Modern Art. In 2001, she would show at White Cube in London, and in 2006, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo organized a major retrospective of her work. What's probably least known about Davie is that the Toronto native, who lived in New York for 20 years, three years ago moved to Kirkland.
A full story on the Seattle area's newest already-famous painter here.
UPDATE: I forgot to add that there's an artist talk Saturday (March 3) starting at noon at the gallery (James Harris). The reception, with coffee and pastries, starts at 11:30. Admission is free and open to everyone.
Rick Santorum says he's counting on Washington state, Ohio, Oklahoma and Tennessee to prove he can win across the country and best Mitt Romney for the Republican presidential nomination.
The Washington state caucuses are this Saturday. If Mitt Romney were to win these caucuses, it would only help his inevitability argument. Rick Santorum really does need a win here. Democrats can caucus with Republicans in Washington state. I'm just saying.
Note that the phrase both Rob McKenna and NOM prefer—"redefine marriage"—is nowhere to be found.
That "redefine marriage" language, says Josh Friedes of Equal Rights Washington, "is inflammatory, and it puts in jeopardy civil rights for all Washingtonians."
This language? Much better, from his perspective (and from the perspective of the League of Women Voters of Washington and the PFLAG Washington State Council, who are the petitioners of record for this filing).
A hearing on all of this is set for March 13 in Thurston County Superior Court.
Cienna Madrid has an excellent story this week on the aftermath of a federal Plan B ruling, which says that all but three pharmacists must still dispense the contraception drug. The problem is, more than 150 pharmacies haven't been complying:
"We don't carry it because our pharmacists don't want to carry it," said a Vancouver, Washington, pharmacist—who refused to identify himself—from the Apothecary at Salmon Creek. When pressed for a reason, he hung up. A call back confirmed that, like the plaintiffs in the recent lawsuit, the decision was for "religious reasons, because what if baby Jesus had been aborted?" another pharmacy employee said.
The WHOLE STORY.
HOME. MADE. ENGLISH. MUFFIN.
It's an idea that could go terribly, terribly wrong—after all, an English muffin should be exactly like an English muffin, not fancied up or differently textured or (the horror) sourdough or something. But done well, it is precisely that—and just a little bit better than any English muffin you've ever had before.
I really, really wish I could have the eggs Benedict at the Fat Hen, made with their own in-house English muffins out in the hinterlands of Ballard, right now.
Earlier this month, a few Sloggers requested their FBI files—I got my confirmation letter from the DOJ a few days ago. Got yours?
For those of you who'd like to join in this little experiment (an unscientific core sample of whether and how extensively the FBI has been keeping tabs on folks), you can request your FBI file here. The form takes just a few seconds to fill out, print, and pop in the mail.
And if you're curious, here's a story about one lady who requested her file on a whim and was shocked by how closely the FBI had been following her—details sitting outside her house surveilling her, following her to the movies, etc.—several years ago.
Join the club! Who knows? Maybe if enough Sloggers make the request, we can have a surveillance-themed party and compare files...
A reporter who wrote about cops will start writing for the cops:
The Seattle Police Dpertment has hired former Seattlecrime.com owner (and former Stranger crime reporter) Jonah Spangenthal-Lee to write for its blog, SPD Blotter. "Not only does he have a lot of credibility as a journalist, he's run his own crime blog that covered us," says an SPD source.
Cops making an It Gets Better video, bacon cookies, and MORE GOSSIP HERE.
Lifetime has picked up Bristol Palin: Life’s a Tripp, an all-new docuseries that will provide an exclusive, rare glimpse into Bristol Palin’s real life as a young, single mother forging her own way in the world while living under the constant spotlight as a member of one of America’s most high-profile families.
With never-before-granted access to Bristol’s real-life experiences growing into womanhood, Bristol Palin: Life’s a Tripp will reveal how she adjusts to her life in Alaska, where daily she faces the many pressures of raising her toddler son Tripp alone and maintains the close relationship she holds with her parents, former Alaska Governor and Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin and Todd, and siblings.
"Sarah Palin and Todd"? It's like Tony Orlando and Dawn! Also, blet.
You guys, a black man is threatening to kill a wealthy white man!
I'm sure that contributing to a quarter-billionaire's presidential campaign must fill your chest with pride.