I have the attention span of a goldfish, so the prospect of sitting still and silently through a play without an intermission makes me break out in hives. It's why I don't write theater reviews. Add to that the fact that David Schmader himself has said that it would be impossible for anyone at this paper to review this show, for obvious, nepotistic reasons. But holy cowfish. I've seen A Short-Term Solution to a Long-Term Problem, twice now, and Schmader is brilliant. He's as hilarious as you'd naturally expect, but, much more importantly, riveting from beginning to end. I strongly encourage you to get tickets before it ends on April 14. Or somebody might beat the crap out of you. Like, yourself.
You left it near Broadway and Madison on one of those oldfangled parking meters:
The best moment of today's caucus happened early on, when the man in charge of the proceedings tried to fire up the young Ron Paul fans in attendance by starting a chant. He shouted "Gimme a C!" "C!" the audience happily replied. "Gimme an O!" They shouted back "O!" "Gimme an N!" "N!" "Gimme an S!" There were some nervous laughs in the audience, as everyone started wondering if they were going to have to chant all the letters in the word 'conservatism,' but they still replied "S!" "Gimme a T!" Okay, it occurred to just about everybody, the word was going to be 'Constitution,' which is way too long a word to expect an audience to shout-spell back to you, but whatever. A few people stopped responding, but others were game: "T!" "Gimme an I!" "I!" "Gimme a T!" "T!" And then he said, "Gimme an I!" The audience broke out laughing, and people shouted back to him, "U!" He realized he had misspelled the word, paused for a moment, gave up, and then shouted, "Whatever! What does that spell?" "Constitution!"
Having completely fucked up the Constitution, the Republican caucus was ready to begin. On the way in, caucusers gathered at tables marked with candidates' names, and campaign representatives gave them lists of delegates to support. As a loyal Santorum supporter, I was handed a letter informing me that "Senator Santorum directed us to coalition with the Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich delegates" so that we could "select delegates to the state convention who are not fooled by the Media's insistence that our nominee should be obvious." (The full text of this letter is after the jump.) Along with the letter, I received a list of delegates to vote for, in what the Santorum and Paul campaigns called the Open Convention Slate. The Romney voters, and a few Gingrich supporters who apparently didn't get the memo on the Paul/Santorum/Gingrich alliance, were given their own slate to vote for, which was creepily named the "Unity Slate." You'd think that with such clear lines drawn before we even walked into the room, the votes for delegates would be a simple one.
You'd be wrong. First came all the arguments over Robert's Rules of Order. Then came the people who spoke on behalf of the candidates ("Ron Paul has delivered over four thousand babies...") and the people who spoke for apparently no reason at all. And then came the real meat of the thing: A mosquito fleet of tiny, annoying, dumb speeches. There were 62 nominees for delegate positions. They each spoke for 30 seconds, in what could be the most futile use of free speech I have ever heard. Listening to one person after another try to sum up their entire political philosophy, the candidate they prefer, and why they should be selected above all the other candidates, when 97% of the room already knows exactly how they are going to vote, is a totally soul-crushing experience. Especially when people say things like this:
If Obama is re-elected, we will no longer be a Constitutional country.
"I like Ron Paul, but I'm open to anyone but Romney. Santorum is great on global warming. It is a hoax. I am a physicist." (This speaker also claimed to be a "victim of Hillarycare." I have no idea what that even means.)
The Occupy movement wants to be friends-with-benefits with America.
Nerds! I'm three hours into today's Con madness! I'll be posting photos this evening or tomorrow.
If you're thinking about coming down, George Takei is here today, and having a panel at 5 pm. There's also a fantastic array of costumes.
See you here!!
Mastered Card: Potential U.S. data breach under investigation.
The Internet Appears to Be Working: Anonymous threat to shut down internet is just a threat.
Keep Them Home: 4000 Lewis-McChord troops ready to deploy for Afghanistan.
Senate Republican Leader Mike Hewitt Very Optimistic about his tumor.
Unrest in Thailand: Bomb blasts kill 10, injure 100.
Time to Retire: Three winners claim $640 million.
Do Not Trespass: North Bend homeowner fatally shoots intruder.
Susan Powell: Blood and note found in family home.
Olbermann to Be Permanently Replaced by Spitzer on Current TV: Everything about that sentence is just weird.
Emerald City Comicon is going on today and tomorrow at the Washington State Convention Center. Hopefully, in between all the celebrity sightings and panel discussions about movies and TV shows, you'll remember to check out the acres of comic books for sale. Here are a few comics you should keep an eye out for:
· I'll be sure to check out Corey Lewis's Sharkknife series, the second volume of which just came out this month. David Brothers at 4th Letter wrote a great review that makes me want to hunt this series down and read it to death with my eyes.
Have you ever spent a Saturday night at the top of the Space Needle, drinking fine booze, talking about art, and dancing to soul music with people who read books?
Who says our tax dollars go to waste? For the seventh year in a row, the Seattle Center for Book Arts hosts a government-funded exhibition of literary-themed baked goods.
Two quick comments on the Seattle Times editorial board's latest call for legislators to balance the state budget by slashing pension benefits for state workers: 1) The Blethens can't manage their own fucking pension, let alone advise others; and 2) The editors' insistence that slashing pensions sets our state on a "sustainable path" suggests that they are either idiots or liars.
The only reform that can possibly set our state budget on a sustainable path is tax reform. We've been slashing spending for years, and still the budget gap grows. Not even an economic recovery can set things right again, because in the long run we have a tax structure that over-relies on taxing a base—the sale of goods—that has been steadily shrinking as a portion of the overall economy for more than a half-century. And as state revenue shrinks as a portion of the state economy, so does its ability to meet demand for state services at a constant level. It's simple math.
I'm not suggesting that we shouldn't have a debate over pensions and other priorities and reform, but until we're willing to put revenue back on the table, the entire budget debate is bullshit.
For your Saturday-morning morbid reading, here are the latest restaurants and bars in Seattle to go belly-up, along with our best information as to why.
Look at what the Alki Crab and Fish Co. is going to be reincarnated as! And in the undead category, your favorite place in Belltown, Copper Cart, is already open again, under the same ownership, as Empire Lounge—and tonight is "Sex Appeal Saturday," with no cover charge for "ladies." SWEET.
Christopher Martin Hoff, the young plein air painter you'd see set up all over the city with his easel, has died.
David Martin met the artist when Hoff moved to Seattle more than 10 years ago. They used to catch up at Martin's gallery, Martin-Zambito, when it was on Pike Street, one of Hoff's favorite working locations. Martin said he spoke to the family, and that Hoff's death was a surprise, but that he died at home of natural causes.
Hoff's Facebook page today is overflowing with comments that echo what Martin had to say about the young artist: "It sounds corny, but I just want to say that I thought he was one of the finest young painters here in Seattle, and he was one of the sweetest, nicest, most genuine people I’ve ever known, and I really mean that. I know people say things like that when people die, but he really was an excellent person, too."
It helped that the crowd loved President Obama—that ridiculously long round of spontaneous applause after he says the words "I'm here" is a flashback to the adoring days of the 2008 campaign—but I get the sense from watching this speech that he's starting to enjoy campaigning again. President Obama's probably going to give some version of this speech dozens of times in the next few months; it lays out his achievements from the last four years and then sets the stage pretty much exactly where he left off in 2008:
I can see Republicans scoffing at this speech—not that there's a speech from President Obama that Republicans wouldn't scoff at—but it seems to invigorate the Democratic base pretty well.
While the current drama unfolding between the mayor, the city council, the Seattle Police Department, and the Department of Justice is interesting, I'm also curious about the national picture.
About a year ago, Salon.com noted that the Obama administration was (very publicly) pushing the DOJ to crack down on police departments with bad reputations:
In a marked shift from the Bush administration, President Obama’s Justice Department is aggressively investigating several big urban police departments for systematic civil rights abuses such as harassment of racial minorities, false arrests, and excessive use of force.
In interviews, activists and attorneys on the ground in several cities where the DOJ has dispatched civil rights investigators welcomed the shift. To progressives disappointed by Eric Holder’s Justice Department on key issues like the failure to investigate Bush-era torture and the prosecution of whistle-blowers, recent actions by the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division are a bright spot.
There is no doubt that the SPD has deserved local and national criticism over the past few years for its habits of needlessly hitting, kicking, pepper-spraying, undercover-investigating, and beating "the Mexican piss" out of the citizens of our fair city. (And that blowhard Rich O'Neill, who runs the SPD union, only makes things worse—seriously, guys. Fire him. No matter what you think about the DOJ investigation or proper use of force, he's not doing your asses any favors.)
But it's worth remembering that Seattle's turmoil over the DOJ and its local police force is one scene in a national (and highly politicized) drama: Newark, New Orleans, and Denver are other places to watch while this thing happens.
Especially New Orleans:
The negotiations with the U.S. Department of Justice that will result in a long-awaited order governing the operations of the New Orleans Police Department are now at a standstill, after the resignation of a federal prosecutor involved in the process over his copious online commenting about his work, a state lawmaker told a group of Uptown constituents Thursday night.
To venture a hypothesis: some of this is honestly and plainly about the DOJ smacking down high-handed, counterproductive city police departments. And some of it's about politics—and what kind of message the Obama administration wants to send to voters in 2012.
This week's short is “Cooking with Pari Joon,” a deceivingly simple short film about a woman preparing a traditional Persian dish. The filmmaker is Sorayya Aminian (a recent UW graduate and an intern at the Office of Film + Music), the cook is the filmmaker’s grandmother.
If you are like me, then you have never before spent a Saturday night at the Space Needle. But given the right company and the right reason, you totally would. Because the Space Needle, all distasteful trappings of touristic enterprise aside, is the most marvelous marvel of kitsch the world has ever known.*
This is why I'm furtively excited about Satellite tomorrow night—it feels a little like an infiltration, a combination of glitz and substance. It's a party to raise money for the Stranger Genius Awards*, and general admission is sold out but there are still a few VIP tickets. They're 75 bucks, but for that, you get not just a ride up to the top of the city. You also get unlimited drinks, a stool at an absinthe bar, performances by Geniuses including Lead Pencil Studio and Lesley Hazleton, and something called a "VIP art bag," whose contents I would like to see.
But even if you will not join me tomorrow night, here is a poem about the Space Needle, written by Kristin Fogdall and published a few years ago by Slate poetry editor Robert Pinsky. I will be thinking about it as I look out those high windows Saturday night. Either you will be up there with me, or I will be looking out to where you are. I'll wave. Look for me.
*This is really only slightly exaggerating.
*Genius Awards: We give $25,000 in unrestricted cash every year to artists in five disciplines (art, theater, books, film, and music). Then we celebrate them with a giant party.
Updated with the scant details of an uninformative press conference.
With 18 minutes to spare, Mayor Mike McGinn announced in an email that he would hold an unscheduled press conference at 3:30 p.m. At issue—in case you're living under rock—is the Department of Justice's investigation that found Seattle Police Department officers using patterns of excessive force and problematic practices. Federal prosecutors met with city officials earlier this afternoon to discuss terms of a settlement—outlining reforms we must make—in US District court.
"We are not going to negotiate this in public," McGinn told a room of unsatisfied reporters. But that silence is upsetting to some who say the city and federal prosecutors need to "stop meeting in secret."
Repeatedly, McGinn told reporters, "We are going to work in good faith" with the DOJ. When asked what the city had to negotiate, McGinn said officials were freshly absorbing the DOJ's "proposals" and added, "We want to make sure whatever we agree upon is effective and fits within our budget." He would not provide a timeline for reaching an agreement.
I don't know why I'm so surprised by this, but VICE Magazine co-creator Gavin McInnes's memoir, How to Piss in Public, is fucking terrible. It's just a bunch of anecdotes about McInnes doing a lot of cocaine and having sex with women, with a few perfunctory references to VICE's "fearless gonzo journalism" thrown in every so often. And he says lots of "edgy" things, because he's Gavin McInnes:
There were homos in World War II? I thought the Village People invented fags and then they all died in the eighties.
[Some women McInnes fucked] were just colostomy bags for my cum. I couldn't imagine life without pussy. When I think of a guy buying a blow-up doll not as a joke, it makes me want to cry.
...after flirting with her for about two minutes, I noticed she had no panties on and she had moisture dripping down her leg like a horny teardrop. I'm not kidding. That's how much of a filthy whore she was.
It's pretty much all like that. McInnes writes like Tucker Max, but he's more insufferable than Tucker Max, because he somehow believes he actually contributes something to society. He recounts a bunch of parties and name-drops a bunch of celebrities. And then he gets older and he gets married (his friends dressed up as members of the Ku Klux Klan for his bachelor party, for purposes of edginess) and has kids, and then the end of the book is weighted down with a bunch of bullshit middle-aged "I'm so much wiser now, but I had a whole lot of fun when I was a kid" reminiscing. It's just as cliched as a hastily produced rock star's autobiography, only instead of rock and roll, it's mostly about the breakneck world of magazine publishing. This shit would be funny, if it weren't so pathetic.
Derailed—wherein you imbibe at nine different establishments from Othello to Westlake Stations—is a light-rail pub crawl. It happens tomorrow, starting at brand-new Deo Valente Cafe at noon.
Deo Valente is a sleek-looking (but not generically so) Italian cafe right by the Othello light rail station. It's also Latin for “God willing” (update! Or according to commenters, "if God is strong," or per Google translate, "God gifted")—an appropriate name for a first business venture. Owner Rob Libert makes the gelato himself, and there's also bruschetta, panini, coffee, beer, and wine. Sounds like lunch!
Also! SO MANY OTHER boozy events this weekend:
· Hop Scotch Spring Beer and Scotch Festival—they emailed to say enter code "SIP" when buying your ticket for two free extra drink tokens
· the Washington Cask Beer Festival—with more than 70 different cask beers
· and Taste Washington—for all you oenomasochists.
Thanks to valiant Chow intern Lauren Cardella.
Al Gore's Current TV just fired Keith Olbermann, according to The New York Times:
Current TV said Friday afternoon that it had terminated the contract of its lead anchor, Keith Olbermann, scarcely a year after he was hired to reboot the fledgling channel in his progressive political image.
Starting Friday night, the former New York governor Eliot Spitzer will take over Mr. Olbermann’s 8 p.m. time slot, according to a letter to viewers. His program will be titled “Viewpoint With Eliot Spitzer.”
Mr. Olbermann did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Current indicated that he had failed to honor the terms of his five-year, $50 million contract, giving the channel the right to terminate it...Mr. Olbermann will not be given an opportunity to sign off.
UPDATE: Olbermann is suing, calling his termination "improper."
Despite how the first sentence might've made you cringe, know this: Mirror Mirror isn't terrible. The sets and costumes are pretty magnificent, in fact (even if they do look like sweetened up versions of anything Tim Burton has ever done), and Julia Robert's is utterly unlikable as Snow White's horrific step-mother (as Julia Roberts should be, although I have no valid reason for disliking her as much as I do).
The film's heroine, Snow White, duh, is played by Lily Collins aka Phil Collins' daughter and she is super cute and Audrey Hepburn-y. In fact, apparently Maxim said she was one of the "Hottest Daughters of Rock Stars" (also, really, Maxim? That's a thing? Barf.) The prince is played by Armie Hammer who has very nice abs, and the updated "seven dwarfs" (the Baron, Renbock, Half-Pint, Grimm, Napoleon, Chuckles, and Wolf) are actually quite funny. Sometimes. At least in comparison to the rest of the characters who aren't really funny at all.
Do you eat food? Do you have—or have you had—a job or a father? If you answered "yes" to one or more of these questions, you must see the new documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi. It's at the Egyptian, for one week only, and you really do want to see it on the big screen.
Below is the trailer, and here's my review.
Here's all the sushi places that we recommend locally, but I was too depressed afterward about the fact that I will never get to eat Jiro's best-in-world miracle-sushi, so I had Mexican food. Sigh.
Wonkette posted video of Michele Bachmann saying incredibly stupid things about health care. Here, watch this:
If you don't have video, here's some of what she says:
[Health care is] an opportunity that some people choose to engage in, but 40 million people do not...And the premise was made that people don’t buy insurance because they can’t afford it. That’s not true. There are people who just decide they want to roll the dice and take their chances that they won’t need insurance.
We could rage at the dumb things that fall out of Michele Bachmann's mouth all the time—there are people who want to "roll the dice" and smoke crack, but Bachmann doesn't support their rights as Americans, for example—but it's kind of like like trying to shove the ocean into a Coke can. Who has that kind of time? Let me just say that it's incredible to me that we live in the twenty first century and there are idiots like this who want to claim that health care is not a basic human right.
Just listened to the most recent podcast and thought I'd chime in about the guy whose girlfriend doesn't like it when he goes down on her.
For years, I was that girl. It took me a really long time to get in touch with my body sexually, so the first time my first boyfriend tried to go down on me, I didn't enjoy it at all. Part of the reason was that, as a horny teenage boy, there was a lot of pressure on his end for me to let him do it because it was something he really wanted to do and had fantasized about doing forever, blah blah blah. So I let him and it was awkward and I didn't enjoy it, which turned into a vicious cycle: he really wanted me to enjoy it so that he could enjoy it, and my ability to enjoy it got lower and lower as the performance anxiety ramped up. This ended up with me banning him and future boyfriends from ever going down on me and me convincing myself that I had some weird clitoral malfunction that prevented me from enjoying oral sex.
Enter my last boyfriend. He was super hot, super affectionate, super good in bed, and refreshingly communicative. The first time he tried to go down on me, I stopped him and told him not to, which he respected. Later, we talked about it, and I told him what had happened with my first boyfriend and how I just couldn't enjoy it. He suggested that we try it again, but with no pressure for me to enjoy it or get off or anything, and that I could tell him to stop any time I wanted. He said it was something he really enjoyed doing, but that he didn't want me to feel uncomfortable.
Well, after a few goes and a champion marathon effort on his part, it turns out that I can enjoy oral sex (a lot!), but that I need to be really turned on and with someone that I really trust and that I know will respect my boundaries (the biggest turnoff, as it turns out, was the pressure to enjoy it, which may be part of your caller's problem). Also, it CAN be really awkward. You're sort of hanging out way up at the top of the bed kind of left to your own devices with not a whole lot to do/see/touch while your guy is hanging out at the bottom of the bed doing his thing. My #1 recommendation to any couple having oral sex issues is to try 69, which removes a lot of the awkwardness that I first experienced, and also is pretty hot because you're able to do stuff for your guy while he's doing stuff for you. If that doesn't work, try different positions/locations/whatever. Oral sex in a bed lying on your back, in my experience, is not really the world's best position for enjoying it.
Anyway, my $0.02.
Pressure Usually Severely Slashes Yearning
1. Earlier this week, Brendan Kiley told you about the Lit Crawl that's happening tonight. It's a pub crawl, but with great local authors—Ed Skoog! Stacey Levine! Sarah Galvin! Greg Bem! Kate Lebo!—reading work at every stop. I heard a rumor that the walks in between each reading may or may not be enlivened by a poet reading work from a wheelbarrow. This looks like it could be the kind of literary event you'll reminisce about for years to come.
2. Tomorrow, the Hugo House is hosting something called "Recto Verso: An Independent Press Expo." This is a selection of dozens of small presses selling their wares, with readings throughout the day in the Hugo House's theater, and a bar. At this expo, you will be able to buy copies of Fast Machine, the great new book by Elizabeth Ellen that I reviewed in this week's paper. If you miss Pilot Books, this should be kind of like that. Come get your independent literature on.
4. Find much, much more about all the events going on this weekend, including an appearance by sci-fi author Richard Paul Russo at Ada's Technical Books on Capitol Hill, in our readings calendar, which now features all the events taking place in the next three months..
Because today is supposedly something called National Cleavage Day, I present to you this classic:
Rumors about this started circulating Twitter yesterday, but it's true: Novelist and memoirist Harry Crews has died at age 76. His books—about body-builders, about southern towns gone horribly wrong, about religion—are creepy and intense and violent and beautifully written. If you're interested, start with A Feast of Snakes, then read The Gospel Singer, and then start digging into his non-fiction. He may not have been adorable or polite, but he was a great talent.
And/or those Asian-style cakes with layers of mousse and jellied tops and high-gloss strawberries and grapes and kiwi on them?
And/or croissants, or croissant-based fruit Danishes, or croissants with a whole hot dog in them?
And/or barbecued pork buns, or sunshiney egg tarts, or pastry-things piped full of coconut cream, or kouign-amann?
And/or a place with a delightfully odd layout and/or atmosphere?
Have I got a place—or, actually, two—for you. Enjoy!
We suggested it this week:
“This Land Is Your Land,” by Seattle choreographer Mark Haim, was a hit at the NW New Works Festival in 2010. The piece for 13 dancers had everything you’d want: bright colors, fashion-runway costumes, nudity, wry comedy, and country music. Its choreography was radically minimal: The dancers just walked, but Haim says more with walking than most choreographers can with a whole truckload of elaborate gestures. Tonight’s show, X2, will feature an extended version of “Land,” plus a new collaboration with design team Lilienthal|Zamora. (On the Boards, 100 W Roy St, www.ontheboards.org, 8 pm, $20.)
The photo above is from act two, "This Land Is Your Land." I regret to say that it has less punch than the original, distilled version seen at NWNW in 2010. It's more elaborated, and there are still sharp, bright moments, but it feels a little looser and more sprawling than the original. Still, it's worth seeing.
The photo below is a sketch of the set design for the first piece, which is much moodier and has some stunning light and set design by Lilienthal|Zamora (I'd link to their actual site, but it seems to be down at the moment):
I don't want to spoil any surprises, but the way L|Z realized the sketch above is a marvel—and required trucking in some very large set pieces from Whidbey Island. Their use of tight, carefully controlled lighting changes to make the set itself feel kinetic is kick-ass. They tame light and bend it to their will like a contortionist tames the body.