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Monday, July 21, 2014

Interview with The Stranger's New Managing Editor, Kathleen Richards

Posted by on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 1:35 PM

Kathleen took this selfie while answering questions.
  • Kathleen was forced to take this selfie while answering questions.

You've been The Stranger's managing editor for two weeks. What do you make of Seattle?
Everything about Seattle is like living in the 90s. In a good way. There's actual mom-and-pop record stores. A lot of them. And instrument shops. And camera stores. It's like the internet never existed. Which is totally awesome. And everyone has funky haircuts and cat-eye glasses and vintage clothing.

You're from the Bay Area. Surely everyone in the Bay Area has funky haircuts and cat-eye glasses and vintage clothing.
Not to the degree that you find here. So far at least from what I've seen, the population of tech bros is way smaller than it is in the Bay Area. I think there's an ease, a more relaxed way of life here, that allows people to fully embrace their weirdness. Whereas in the Bay Area there's more anxiety about it, more pressure to be modern or something—everyone's got to be five steps ahead of everyone else.

What was your job down in the Bay Area?
I was the co-editor of the East Bay Express.

That's like The Stranger of Oakland?
Yes, but way more earnest.

Continue reading »

Thursday, July 10, 2014

What Do You Think of the Home Dry-Cleaning Device?

Posted by on Thu, Jul 10, 2014 at 2:09 PM

Gizmodo clued me in to the existence of the Swash, a kind of home-dry-cleaning device. It's a very tall, very thin chamber that freshens up your clothing, one piece at a time. It will apparently cost $500, but the catch is that you'll need special dry-cleaning "pods" made by Tide to operate it, and they haven't announced the price of those pods yet, which leads me to believe it might be a Keurig-style rip-off. AND! As Gizmodo's Andrew Liszewski explains, "the Swash doesn't even actually clean your clothes either; it just makes them smell nicer between washes, and removes minor wrinkles if you need to dress to impress." Here's a video:

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Unbearably High, Obsessed with the Obvious, and Anti-Newsworthy: Questions to Guide Your Reading of The Stranger

Posted on Wed, Jul 9, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Read the whole new issue of The Stranger over here (or click on the cover)!

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1. In the internet age, newspapers are understood to be oft-forgotten repositories for yesterday's news. Assuming you are reading this on Wednesday, this issue of The Stranger is chockablock with column inches devoted, literally, to yesterday's news. (If you're reading it later in the week, the news is even older.) The stories about legal marijuana retail stores include ANNA MINARD's interview with Pete Holmes about tourism and marijuana, ANSEL HERZ's account from the first day of a Bellingham pot shop, CHARLES MUDEDE's account of the first day of a Vancouver pot shop, DOMINIC HOLDEN's account of the first day of a Seattle pot shop, DOMINIC HOLDEN and BEN LIVINGSTON's account of how the Washington State Liquor Control Board botched the launch of pot shops, and CIENNA MADRID's interviews with old-school pot dealers. Roughly 15 percent of this information is still important today; even less will still be useful later. Why would The Stranger position itself as gatekeeper to recent history like this? Could it be that the staff is, in the parlance of the street, "getting high on their own supply"?

2. Once you sift through the old news, you'll discover that a hefty chunk of the rest of the paper—nearly 14 pages—is devoted to spending time outside. Yes, exactly that. No, nothing more: It's a collection of brief anecdotes and reviews written by the Stranger staff about drinking, eating, and doing drugs in parks, on patios, etc. in good weather. Given the aforementioned obsession with a much-publicized event, is The Stranger's interest in facts like "the sun is hot" and "pleasant weather is enjoyable" even a surprise anymore?

3. Since we're strolling—crawling, really—down memory lane, why not mention an overlong autobiographical account written by MEGAN SELING about how much she enjoys the music of the Go-Go's? Is it possible that the entire Stranger staff just took last week off for summer vacation, and that this issue is what happens when an organization stops trying?

4. KELLY O's Drunk of the Week "column" is still running? Even she seems sick of it—it's renamed Bartender of the Week in this issue, and it's not about inebriation at all (except, perhaps, Kelly O's). Are the words "played out" ever uttered at Stranger headquarters, or were they banned along with any instance of originality or energy in the pages of The Stranger? Given the subject of the bloated, anti-newsy news section this week, does the question "What are they smoking?" even need to be asked anymore?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Race-Baiting, Contemptuous, and Impossibly Dull: A Study Guide for The Stranger

Posted on Wed, Jul 2, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Read the whole new issue of The Stranger over here (or click on the cover)!

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1. It's BRENDAN KILEY's turn to attempt to stir up controversy in exchange for pageviews this week, with an overlong story about the "controversial" casting of the lead role in a local production of Othello. Apparently—and this is classic Seattle—only one African American actor showed up for the Othello casting call, and now white people are up in arms over the theater's decision to go with a different, albeit also non-white actor. In the spaces provided below, please list three constructive things you could do with your time that would be better than adding to this nonissue with a click or a comment:

a. ___________________________

b. ___________________________

c. ___________________________

2. In case the above "scandal" isn't prickly enough for you, SEAN NELSON contributes a piece about male body anxiety, which is sure to start a flame war in comment threads. Nelson is at pains, however, to inform "comment thread trolls"—whom he refers to as "worthless dicks"—that "[he] won't be reading" the comments. Couldn't Nelson's refusal to contribute to the talkback on the article be construed as a summary dismissal of his readership? Shouldn't writers today be obligated to contribute to online discussion of their work, where the digital-savvy audience interprets a written piece as a conversation rather than a monologue?

3. ANNA MINARD and ELI SANDERS writeagain—about the already passed $15-an-hour minimum wage, this time pointing out allegedly unscrupulous methods utilized by signature gatherers seeking to overturn it. As you yawn and turn the page without reading this most unnecessary of "news" stories, consider the fact that medical science still does not know what purpose yawns serve. Some say it's to provide brains with oxygen, others suggest it's an internal-cooling mechanism, and still other biologists claim to have no idea at all. Having just yawned to the point of nearly dislocating your jaw, do you have any insight to offer on the purpose of yawns?

4. In the music section, CHARLES MUDEDE opens his discussion of New Order with a lyric from the Eagles' song "Hotel California." His formula seems to be showing: Open a review by talking about some other random element, then, once you've wasted 300 words on whatever the unrelated topic is, you only have 400 words or so in which to avoid writing about your subject, which you have undoubtedly failed to research. Do you believe Mudede prepares for the writing of his pieces by plucking a piece of paper from a hat filed with disparate subjects, or does he just hit the "random article" button on the Wikipedia home page?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Very Gay, Clueless on Transit, and Occasionally Willing to Do Their Jobs: A Study Guide for The Stranger

Posted on Wed, Jun 25, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Read the whole new issue of The Stranger over here (or click on the cover)!

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1. This issue of The Stranger features the annual "Queer Issue," which focuses nearly exclusively on trans rights. Sound familiar? Recently, a Time magazine cover called trans equality the "next civil rights frontier." Orange Is the New Black proudly features a transgender character. President Obama is campaigning to expand transgender rights. In your opinion, why does The Stranger take its cues from straight magazine editors, TV producers, and politicians?

2. BRENDAN KILEY, who is known for walking out of plays that bore him, reviews a five-hour staging of the Michael Chabon novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. Bearing in mind his track record of abandonment, does Kiley deserve credit for sitting through a play long enough to require a dinner break? Or does this instead prove that Kiley could have sat through the other plays he skipped out on? Which, in your opinion, is the most morally repugnant of those two choices?

3. In the music section, EMILY NOKES, who generally has nothing of importance to contribute to any conversation about music, interviews the lead singer of a gay country band that performed at the first Seattle Pride in 1974. In your opinion, does this excellent piece demonstrate Nokes's evolution as a writer, or does it instead demonstrate that an interesting-enough subject can transform a total hack into a passable journalist?

4. In the news section, DOMINIC HOLDEN's screed about the state of public transportation in Seattle and the traffic jams the city has been experiencing lately is, truly, nothing more than a hissy fit. To respond to Holden's whining: If traffic is out of control in Seattle, wouldn't the solution be more and better roads? Does he have any evidence that the people crammed onto the highways would willingly set foot onto a light-rail train if they didn't have a gun aimed at them? Does Holden's vaunted, imaginary public transit system have a way to bridge the leap in logic that he's taken in this essay?

5. PAUL CONSTANT whines about having to read a political memoir. Given that Constant is the book critic for The Stranger, and given that Constant also covered the 2012 presidential election for The Stranger, what does his refusal to take Hillary Clinton's Hard Choices seriously say about The Stranger's books and politics coverage? Why does he still have his job? Is Constant engaging in some kind of blackmail—with, say, photographs of Dan Savage engaging in heterosexual sex? If he hates his job so much, why is he still here?

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Real Editor Would Never Let This Happen: A Study Guide for The Stranger

Posted on Wed, Jun 18, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Read the whole new issue of The Stranger over here (or click on the cover)!

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1. In this issue of The Stranger, DOMINIC HOLDEN and TRENT MOORMAN bemoan the stalling of Bertha, the deep-bore tunneling machine currently located underneath Seattle. Holden attempts to find someone to take the blame for Bertha's inaction—as though the largest drill in human history is going to run without a single hitch—and Moorman attempts to play the tunnel off for laughs. Meanwhile, in the art section, JEN GRAVES laments the impending destruction of some highway off-ramps that don't connect to anything. How is one infrastructure delay a boondoggle in the eyes of The Stranger, while another infrastructure delay—in the middle of a beautiful park, no less—is a "paradise," to use Graves's own word? Does anyone read this stuff before the paper goes to print?

2. Meanwhile, BETHANY JEAN CLEMENT visits a bar and restaurant that sounds loud—she lauds the soundtrack of "'70s classics—Led Zeppelin, Steve Miller, 'Free Bird'"—and she also reports that it's already crowded, and that it's located in a strip mall to boot. She describes this as "fun." This raises an important question: For whom, exactly, are Clement's reviews intended? The vast portion of Seattle's population that enjoys straining to hear and be heard while dining, after first standing in a parking lot to wait for a seat? What proportion of the Seattle population, exactly, do you think that is? Use a percentage. Extra credit: On a scale of 1 to 10—with 1 being deadly poison and 10 being ambrosia—how good does a "kimchi octopus pancake" sound to you? Feel free to use negative numbers.

3. In the music section, KELLY O recounts her first rock and roll concert, which was an Alice Cooper show at a drive-in movie theater. Unfortunately, if predictably, Kelly O's little piece of autobiography is dull as dirt, and furthermore, it's tied to a screening of a movie in Redmond Town Center, well outside The Stranger's purview. If you answered "yes" to the question proposed in item 1 above—that you do believe that an editor reads the contents of The Stranger prior to its publication—what, in your opinion, is wrong with that person?

4. In fact, imagine that you're The Stranger's editor. How much of this week's paper would you have allowed to see print? Use a percentage.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Very Important Slog Poll About Ethics and Arts Calendars

Posted by on Thu, Jun 12, 2014 at 1:11 PM

Imagine you're an arts editor at a city's only weekly newspaper. You get lots of calendar submissions every week, you write short descriptions of the stuff, maybe you write a little capsule review if you've already seen it or a version of it (or maybe you don't), maybe you give it a star if someone on staff is enthusiastic about it (or maybe you don't).

Calendar entries. Exciting!

Now imagine that your friend Francis (an artist) contacts you on behalf of her colleague Lydia (also an artist). Lydia wants a little extra love for her upcoming event—a few more words in the calendar, maybe a star, maybe even a Slog shout-out. The event looks promising, it's got some good folks involved, and if you hadn't written the description while racing to get your calendar done on your way to the next five deadlines, you might've given it that extra bit of love anyway.

However! This opens a question.

Should you goose the listing and make Lydia (and, by extension, Francis) short-term happy at the expense of reinforcing the old stereotype that The Stranger only helps its friends and drinking buddies? (They might be the only two people who'd know, but still...)

Or should you treat Lydia (and, by extension, Francis) like everybody else and leave things as they are, which will make them short-term irritated but is ultimately what they want—that everyone get treated equally (if only equally shoddily) by their only weekly newspaper?

Be nice or be fair?

Obviously, this conundrum needs a legally binding Slog poll. The fate of the calendar listing depends on you.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Aimless, Toothless, and Blandly Generic: A Study Guide for The Stranger

Posted on Wed, Jun 11, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Read the whole new issue of The Stranger right here (or click on the cover)!

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1. This week sees the publication of a new issue of A&P, The Stranger's arts quarterly. This summer edition of A&P is made up almost entirely of brief profiles of the nominees for this year's Genius Awards; the rest of the magazine consists of a series of calendars for arts events happening as far in the future as early September. If you were forced to write a mission statement for A&P based on this particular issue, what would it be? "All the stuff we couldn't fit in The Stranger, plus an unwieldy three months' worth of calendars, for those very few special people who plan that far ahead"? Is that a compelling reason for a publication to exist? Why or why not?

2. CHARLES MUDEDE begins a book review by putting the words of a mycologist in the mouth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Mudede even remarks on his own cleverness in the piece, saying he's aware that he's probably alarming Christians with his little thought experiment. In truth, though, Mudede's tactic feels rote and uninspired, like a very old lion trying to gum something to death with its once-mighty jaws. Has Mudede lost it? Did he ever really have it? What is "it," anyway?

3. JEN GRAVES contributes a long and enthusiastic piece about a new exhibit at the Seattle Asian Art Museum. In the context of her usual work, it is surprisingly readable. What is different about this piece of Graves's writing when compared to all the other turgid pieces of pretentiousness that she delivers to The Stranger and, unfortunately, to us all on a weekly basis? Is this piece a fluke, or could we be on the verge of witnessing an upward trend in Graves's prose? If the latter, why now?

4. For the last year and some change, the writing of EMILY NOKES has been quietly transforming from nonsensical blather—think cut-rate Lindy West—to generic music criticism. In her review of Naomi Punk's new album in this issue of The Stranger, she refers to the music's "canorous heave," which demonstrates the predictable thesaurus-humping of the genre, and calls it "abstract post-grunge," which is a phrase that means exactly nothing, another hallmark. Now that Nokes has evolved from bratty language-molester to typical music writer, the question is: Which version of Nokes do you think is worse? Do you wish Nokes would return to her pre-literate state, or is it easier to ignore her now that she's writing Pitchfork-level pabulum?

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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Combative, Ridiculous, and Indecipherable: A Study Guide for The Stranger

Posted on Wed, Jun 4, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Read the whole new issue of The Stranger over here (or click on the cover)!

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1. As ANNA MINARD brags in her news story, The Stranger has won its battle against sound economic theory, with Seattle embracing a $15-an-hour minimum wage that's sure to topple small business and drive its citizenry to the suburbs with out-of-control inflation. Now that they've had their greatest victory since Mike McGinn's disastrous mayoralty, what could The Stranger possibly be planning for an encore? Choose from one of the following options:

a. The legalization of prostitution.

b. The lowering of Washington State's age-of-consent laws.

c. The decriminalization of cocaine.

d. Forced veganism.

2. Actually, the newest item on The Stranger's agenda seems to be all-out war with Amazon, the company that is most directly related to Seattle's booming economy. This week's feature is a collection of stories about Amazon and Seattle, and what a menagerie of dunderheadedness it is. ANSEL HERZ does what he does best—pestering innocent people on sidewalks. ELI SANDERS, typically, asks a lot of rhetorical questions about Amazon's dealings with Seattle and then fails to draw any conclusions. BRENDAN KILEY assesses rent with the economic understanding of a rabble-rousing schoolboy. And PAUL CONSTANT chimes in on Amazon with the usual fact-free histrionics we've come to expect from him. The fact that Constant loathes Amazon's success is a matter of record, but this marks the first time in which the rest of The Stranger's staff has followed him down this particular rabbit hole of jealousy. Compose an argument that The Stranger has consistently declined in quality since Constant's hiring as books editor in 2008. E-mail your argument to editor@thestranger.com.

3. JEN GRAVES reviews a giant head that was constructed on Seattle's waterfront for purposes of "art." Does the greater folly lie in the fact that Seattle Art Museum installed a giant head on the waterfront or the fact that The Stranger employs someone whose only job is to take wasteful expenditures like this seriously?

4. Here's the title of a story by DOMINIC HOLDEN: "The SPD's Internal Revolt: A Lawsuit by More Than 100 Officers Trying to Block Reform Reveals a Bigger Problem Than Some Admit." Have you ever read a more stultifying headline in your life? Would you call this headline "gibberish" or, perhaps more kindly, "gobbledegook"? If you were forced to guess what the story is about, what would you say?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

What’s Wrong With This Week’s Stranger?

Posted on Wed, May 28, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Read the whole new issue of The Stranger over here (or click on the cover)!

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1. The feature story this week is an extraordinary piece by FARHAD DOLATIZADEH about being a gay Iranian. Everything about this feature, from the high quality of its writing to its bighearted tolerance of family members who did not initially understand the narrator's homosexuality, is a perfect example of what Stranger writing could and should be. So why isn't more of The Stranger like this?

2. As a counterpoint to the above piece, consider ANSEL HERZ's news story about a proposed cycle track on Westlake Avenue. It begins, hyperbolically, with the sentence "This is how Seattle betrays itself," causing one's eyeballs to roll back in one's head so far that reading any further may be impossible. Sure, Herz may have a decent point hidden somewhere in this diatribe, but he blunts his point by referring to opponents as—yes, this is a direct quote—"nutballs," and by framing the story as an existential battle for the soul of the city. In any other issue of The Stranger, this would be the kind of slop that a callused reader would skim over. But in an issue of The Stranger featuring Dolatizadeh's essay, Herz's deficiencies become obvious—even embarrassing. Do you believe Herz and other Stranger staffers might resent Dolatizadeh for "raising the bar" to a level that is, for them, unattainable?

3. In another, even less ambitious part of the paper, BETHANY JEAN CLEMENT sets out to identify the best seafood restaurants in all of Seattle. This is, of course, supposed to be a "definitive" guide. (Remember when The Stranger used to mock Seattle Metropolitan magazine for their vapid listicle formats that claimed absolute authority over Seattle's food and culture scenes? How the tables have turned, eh?) On a scale from one to ten, rate Ms. Clement's trustworthiness as a restaurant critic, with ten being "I trust her implicitly" and one being "I would sooner trust a wharf rat to dictate my seafood dining options." Support your rating with evidence.

4. Meanwhile, ANNA MINARD writes about, you guessed it, the $15-an-hour minimum wage. Body-language experts explain how to feign surprise thusly: Elevate your eyebrows, widen your eyes, and open your mouth. Try it out yourself. In your opinion, is there a living actor who could convincingly pretend to be surprised by, much less interested in, Minard's ceaseless minimum-wage prattle? Could Bronson Pinchot? Anthony Hopkins? Meryl Streep?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

This Week's Edition of The Stranger: Is It the Most Vulgar and Incomprehensible Ever?!

Posted on Wed, May 21, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Read the whole new issue of The Stranger over here (or click on the cover)!

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1. The Stranger's obsession with the Seattle Police Department persists in this week's issue with not one, not two, but three stories taunting those who protect and serve Seattle. TONYA MOSLEY claims to be a better detective than trained ones with years of experience on the force! ANSEL HERZ apparently thinks the police can and should be omnipresent, or else they are a failure! DOMINIC HOLDEN sets up the brand-new police chief for disaster! Does the staff of The Stranger think it could do a better job of policing the city? List at least five ways in which they would fail spectacularly. Remember that they are partially or entirely intoxicated during almost every waking hour (and require a lot of beauty rest).

2. The Stranger's Communist bent is also in evidence this week with not one, not two, but three stories on the evils of capitalism. PAUL CONSTANT praises the latest work of a known radical author to the skies! BETHANY JEAN CLEMENT thinks tacos should be free and that Lenin's mustache was cute! BRENDAN KILEY reviews a show about the woes of the working class at a theater that also happens to be named after the criminal Bolshevik dictator! Is there anything that cannot be twisted into near-incomprehensibility to support the paper's red agenda?

3. In music, MEGAN SELING makes an unwelcome return to The Stranger's pages with a more-than-graphic diagram to accompany her vulgar material. What justification could there possibly be to print so-called artwork like this:

beyond sheer sensationalism? Be specific, if you are still able to function after such retina-searing crudity.

4. And every issue of The Stranger may be counted on to provide some nonsensical, pseudo-intellectual, and also-probably-Communist-though-it's-hard-to-tell ramblings from CHARLES MUDEDE. But does this:


This consciousness departs from the failed postcolonial, postindependence projects of the past and now finds itself thoroughly entangled in the neoliberal global order of flows that are free for finance and telecommunication technologies but restricted for labor.

represent a nadir in Mudede's prose? If not, please provide an example of his work that makes even less sense.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Unfunny, Race-Baiting, and Bug-Infested: Questions to Guide Your Reading of The Stranger

Posted on Wed, May 14, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Read the whole new issue of The Stranger over here (or click on the cover)!

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1. This issue of The Stranger brings with it the too-long, too-pretentious, and ultimately too-boring SIFF guide, written by the entire staff.
Selected reviews in the guide feature what the newspaper industry refers to as “bugs” next to them—these are the little graphics that
indicate whether Stranger critics believe the film to be a “Don’t Miss” or a “Recommended” movie. Which of the
following “bugs” would be more useful for The Stranger’s film guide than a bug that indicates whether a reviewer liked the film?

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The reviewer watched the film while high, so your sober enjoyment may vary.

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The reviewer liked this documentary because it endorsed his/her biased liberal viewpoint, but the film itself is atrocious.

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The reviewer gave this film a pass because it comes from an underprivileged part of the world, and a similar American film would have received a critical drubbing from the same reviewer.

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The reviewer screened this film while impossibly high and perhaps wasn’t even technically conscious while watching the film.

Please support your bug choice with examples from the guide.

2. BETHANY JEAN CLEMENT introduces tempest to teacup with a liberal screed about a Cinco de Mayo celebration. Clement indicates that she believes the
celebration, which is mostly attended by white people—as most events in Seattle are—asks leading questions of event organizers in what could be
construed as an attempt to publicly shame them. In your opinion, does this kind of hashtag activism do any good outside the rarified circles of Tumblr and
Twitter? Or does it add to the racial divide by separating humans up into “good” and “bad” factions on the subject of race?

3. This week’s LAST DAYS was written by CIENNA MADRID. Obviously, the regular author of the column, DAVID SCHMADER, cannot write the column every
single week of the year. But swapping Schmader out for Madrid is the equivalent of the Red Cross arriving at a disaster scene and handing out whoopee
cushions to the stunned, homeless families. List five options—examples: rerun columns, Twitter submissions, a sudden punch in the face—that
would be preferable to reading a Madrid-penned Last Days column.

4. The news department is in a tizzy because Mayor Ed Murray has suggested an intelligent, workable plan to save transit in Seattle. In your opinion, will
the next three-and-a-half years under the management of a competent mayor be enough to send the entire Stranger newsroom to an insane asylum?

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Way Too Gay, Very Unmanly, and Looking for Trouble: Questions to Guide Your Reading of The Stranger

Posted on Wed, May 7, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Read the whole new issue of The Stranger over here (or click on the cover)!

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1. It's Wednesday again, which means the streets of Seattle are besieged by another overlong piece by ANNA MINARD attempting to explain the $15 minimum wage debate. How much would you pay Minard to not write another cutesy screed on this topic? More than $15 an hour? Less?

2. In the film section, PAUL CONSTANT reviews Locke, which is a film about manhood and responsibility. The Venn diagram below indicates the intersection of Constant and masculinity:

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Using the above diagram as a guide, please explain the folly of sending the least manly Stranger staffer—and, yes, this includes female staffers—to review a film of this sort.

3. CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE reviews a musical staging of A Room with a View. Can you imagine a sentence that could possibly be any gayer than that one? If you are heterosexual, did that sentence make you feel slightly more gay than you were before you read it?

4. In her column celebrating rampant alcoholism, Drunk of the Week, KELLY O asks Stranger readers to help her locate Texas bars that over-serve alcohol, so that she may mock Texans in her weekly parade of inebriates. What do you believe are the chances that Ms. O, with her typical blue-state cavalier attitude, might wind up dead of a gunshot wound if she tries to, you will forgive the colloquialism, "mess with Texas"? Can you offer her any safety tips?

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Fictional, Obvious, and Unaware of History: Questions to Guide Your Reading of The Stranger

Posted on Wed, Apr 30, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Read the whole new issue of The Stranger over here (or click on the cover)!

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1. ANNA MINARD takes leave of reality in the news section this week to hail the return of disgraced former mayor Mike McGinn. In reality, The Stranger's failed favorite merely shuffled through City Hall to praise the filing of a divisive and ill-considered transportation initiative, but to hear Minard tell it, McGinn is the Tolkien-inspired King come to reclaim his throne. Will future generations of Seattleites point to Minard's story as the moment when The Stranger completely divorced from reality and started reporting on a fictional Seattle in which The Stranger still had influence? Or did that moment happen in a previous issue? Support your claim with evidence.

2. In his review of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY derides a superhero film as being targeted at 10-year-old boys. On your best stationery, write a brief note to Mr. Humphrey informing him that Spider-Man is now, always has been, and always will be intended for an audience of 10-year-old boys. Try not to make him cry tears of impotent kidult rage with your note.

3. The music section opens with ANDREW HALL writing this sentence: "The last few years have seen more Pacific Northwest rock records go big out of town than usual." Presumably, Mr. Hall is too young to remember the grunge years, in which local rock records "went big" out of town with frightening regularity. On the same stationery you used to disabuse Mr. Humphrey of his idiotic nerd-notions, please inform Mr. Hall that the 1990s existed. Break it to him gently.

4. For what feels like the 900th time, BRENDAN KILEY reviews a staging of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? For once, let's leave Kiley's imbecilic ravings out of the equation entirely and address a larger issue. With all these tired restagings of the same six plays, is a newspaper theater section still relevant in this day and age? Imagine if the publishing industry only produced reissues of Agatha Christie novels, or if Hollywood only released old Bond movies again and again; would those artforms still be covered by local newspapers? Why, then, does theater still earn coverage?

5. Pulitzer Prize finalist (really!) JEN GRAVES writes about quilting this week. Which of the following blockbuster stories will Ms. Graves unveil in next week's Stranger?

a. The high-stakes world of basket weaving.

b. This thing I just discovered called Etsy—have you heard of it?

c. The transgressiveness of people who write swears in needlepoint.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Credulous, Cliched, and Worthy of Scorn: Questions to Guide Your Reading of The Stranger

Posted on Wed, Apr 23, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Read the whole new issue of The Stranger over here (or click on the cover)!

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1. It's been a while since we've seen a feature from BRENDAN KILEY, but here we are again, with another story about a drug dealer. Kiley has made something of a career out of defending people who have been accused of the buying and selling of drugs in long, overblown features. What do you think Kiley's endgame is here? Is he interested in putting the lie to the War on Drugs? Why not just come out and say this directly, then? Why just credulously reprint the stories of drug dealers that paint federal authorities in a bad light?

2. In the news section, newest Stranger staffer ANSEL HERZ proves he's in the running to become Brendan Kiley Jr. with his report on Waid's, a nightspot that has been perennially identified as a problem by authorities. Herz claims instead that Waid's is a victim of the nebulous terror that is gentrification. Between Kiley and his student Herz, who do you believe is the more credulous? After reading his first story as an official Stranger staffer, is there any hope, in your opinion, for Herz's career as a journalist?

3. BETHANY JEAN CLEMENT begins a piece in the chow section with a long paragraph about how terrible the restaurant's name is. She then pivots, in the saddest Shakespeare reference you'll likely ever see, with "what's in a name," before writing a mostly positive review. Why bother poisoning the well with several sentences about the awfulness of the restaurant's name when you could instead be talking about actual foodstuffs that actual diners could put into their actual mouths? Do you believe Ms. Clement would be able to identify the play from which she draws her Shakespeare reference without employing Google?

4. Which piece in the film section do you believe is most worthy of scorn?

a. CHARLES MUDEDE's turgid preview of the Langston Hughes African American Film Festival, in which he "reviews" a film solely on the merits of its trailer?

b. PAUL CONSTANT's brainlessly rhapsodic review of a documentary about a science fiction film that was never even completed?

c. DAVID SCHMADER's insipid (when not outright confusing) introduction to a festival of films created by children?

d. The piece by JEN GRAVES that begins "In the annals of ballet..." and which then goes on for several hundred words, uncaring that its reader has either fallen asleep or died of boredom?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Cheap, Bloated, and Penis-Obsessed: Questions to Guide Your Reading of The Stranger

Posted on Wed, Apr 16, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Read the whole new issue over here (or click on the cover)!

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1. On Monday, this year's Pulitzer Prizes were announced, with JEN GRAVES named as a finalist for criticism. This is, of course, a great honor for a publication. How does The Stranger celebrate? By omitting any of Graves's art criticism from this issue. Of course, there is plenty of room for a lengthy special feature describing certain affordable food items available at new Seattle-area eating establishments. Although this "Cheap Eats" guide was likely assembled days or even weeks before Ms. Graves was honored by the Pulitzer committee, doesn't it somehow feel like a slap in Joseph Pulitzer's face?

2. Speaking of using plenty of room, DOMINIC HOLDEN supplies an overlong article—8,000 words at last count, though who knows, it may have bloated even more in the production and final editorial process—about the Seattle Police Department and Mayor Ed Murray's attempts to quote-unquote "unravel" reform within it. The Stranger itself famously (and heavy-handedly) promoted the election and unsuccessful reelection of former mayor Mike McGinn, whom Murray replaced; Holden was himself a high-profile figure in a case involving police officers. On a scale of 1 to 10—with 1 being entirely objective and 10 entirely scurrilous—how objective can Holden's article possibly be? Go to 11, if need be.

3. Speaking of Pulitzer Prizes, Pulitzer winner ELI SANDERS makes a rare contribution to the music section. His piece previews a concert that will benefit the Angel Band Project, which Sanders explains "seeks to provide music therapy to survivors of sexual violence." Considering the context of a paper staffed by a Pulitzer finalist and a Pulitzer winner, what do you think Holden's anti-SPD, anti-Murray screed is most likely to do?

a. Burst into flames.

b. Be immediately forgotten.

c. Be revealed as the shoddy hit piece that it is.

4. In the film section, GILLIAN ANDERSON reviews a documentary about penis collecting. You can practically hear the chortles rising from the page, and the review contains a wholly unnecessary number of uses of the word "penis"—12 total. The impression a reader gets is that of a third-grader in Sunday school who can't stop tittering over the word "hell" being used in polite company. How many uses of "penis" do you feel would be appropriate in a film review? How many uses would be overkill?

5. DAVID SCHMADER's "humorous" week-in-review roundup includes accidental death and child pornography. What could be funnier than this, besides literally anything?

Monday, April 14, 2014

ISO: Ticketing Customer Service Rep! Yeehaw!

Posted by on Mon, Apr 14, 2014 at 7:50 PM

Are you friendly? Do you love helping people? Can you explain things clearly and patiently via email and on the phone? Are you obsessed with getting things just right? Are you happy and comfortable using web applications and other technology?

Well, Stranger Tickets is hiring an entry-level Customer Service Rep, to work afternoons and evenings, Wednesday through Sunday. Is it you? Is it someone you know? Here's the scoop!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Hi! Do You Work at Starbucks?

Posted by on Fri, Apr 11, 2014 at 2:37 PM

Hey there. I'm looking for some Starbucks workers to talk to, and hoping Slog can help. Do you work there? Have you worked there recently? Do you want to talk about what it was like to work there? Did you love your job? Hate your job? Fill-in-the-blank your job? I don't need to use your name if you don't want me to, but I'd love to talk. Let me know: anna@thestranger.com. And thanks!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

My Creepy Jams Are Freaking Out My Coworkers

Posted by on Thu, Apr 10, 2014 at 1:50 PM

I sit in a somewhat sequestered corner of the Stranger™ office, so I can easily swear or fart or whatever as I openly listen to my sweet, sweet jams. Well, today while listening to '70s English folk group Comus, I sent a couple coworkers into a tizzy. Turns out, everyone but me thinks Comus is kinda spooky!!

(sigh) I love Comus. Their first EP, Diana, and their first LP, First Utterance, are SO beautiful—and, YEAH, creepy.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Repetitive, Pulverizing, and Surprisingly Readable, for Once: Questions to Guide Your Reading of The Stranger

Posted on Wed, Apr 9, 2014 at 9:00 AM

See the whole new issue right here (or click on the cover)!

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1. This week, The Stranger—and this sounds like a joke, but it is not a joke—has decided to include four more editorials hashing over the positive and negative sides of the $15-an-hour minimum wage debate. Have the editors of the paper just given up and decided to run the same content over and over again, week in and week out? Will anyone but those of us who are paid to read The Stranger ever notice this gambit?

2. DAVE SEGAL's piece about a band called Godflesh certainly supports the Stranger-is-only-publishing-reruns thesis. This could be any Segal article, from any decade, and it certainly follows his typical pattern: Segal peppers his introduction with meaningless, or possibly made-up, phrases like "grindcore avatars" before describing the band's music in ways that would inspire no normal human being to ever want to hear it. Seriously: Are "blasted dubscapes, and pulverizing guitar and bass riffs" supposed to be a positive trait? What about "witheringly bleak lyrics and gruff vocals, which make drill sergeants sound like Mr. Rogers"? Why would anyone possibly want to do anything but avoid this, as Segal describes it?

3. Oh, look. New content. Hooray? DAVID SCHMADER, KELLY O, and BETHANY JEAN CLEMENT mourn the end of Piecora's, a pizza restaurant that has existed on Capitol Hill for 30-plus years, but is now closing to make way for a new building. Would it be helpful for readers if The Stranger were to supply some sort of a flow chart demonstrating which kind of development is "good" in their new, density-obsessed Seattle, and which kind of development is "bad"? Why does Piecora's rate a full-fledged, full-page good-bye when, say, a long-running coffee shop disappears with barely a mention? Do only the "cool kids" get that kind of attention?

4. BRENDAN KILEY contributes a surprisingly readable review of a play called Tails of Wasps. When a Stranger critic somehow produces a coherent piece of writing about a work of art, do you think that's because the Stranger critic is becoming a better writer, or is it because the work of art is so good that even a Stranger critic couldn't foul up the review? Which do you think is happening here?

5. In the first paragraph of her review, JEN GRAVES says that Ai Weiwei's new exhibit at Seattle Asian Art Museum is "just waiting to be smashed." In your opinion, is this a responsible statement for a critic to make or not?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Shrill, Self-Congratulatory, and Kind of Racist: A Study Guide for The Stranger

Posted on Wed, Mar 26, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Read the whole new issue of The Stranger over here (or click on the cover)!

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1. Did you know that although for some inscrutable reason the United States decided to bestow American citizenship upon him, CHARLES MUDEDE is originally from Africa? If you read The Stranger with any regularity, of course you know that, because Mudede never stops nattering on about it. Now Mudede has contributed a very long, entirely maddening story about Ugandan antigay laws to The Stranger. As any informed liberal would eagerly instruct you if you dared to suggest otherwise, Africa is a continent made up of many countries. To suggest otherwise brands white people as racist. Mudede is from Zimbabwe, which is a nation with completely different laws and mores than Uganda. How is he qualified to blather on about Uganda when he has never set foot in that country? On a map of Africa, locate Zimbabwe. Now locate Uganda. Notice that they're 3,291 kilometers apart by automobile, which is farther than the distance between Seattle and northern Mexico. Isn't the presumption that Mudede could be an expert on Uganda just because he's a black African more than a little bit racist?

2. In the news section, guest writers NICK HANAUER and ERIC LIU suggest that raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour would be "great for business." When do you believe we can finally go a single goddamned day without hearing about this $15-an-hour thing? Will our ears ever stop bleeding from all the shrillness?

3. Speaking of shrill: In the music section, Stranger writers BETHANY JEAN CLEMENT, PAUL CONSTANT, CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE, and KELLY O review an album called NVM from a local band called Tacocat. Why do three authors whose writing never appears in the music section suddenly deign to make an appearance there? Why is someone whose primary music-section responsibility is taking photographs of drunks in the street suddenly granted column inches that stretch for longer than 35 words? Because Tacocat's lead singer is one EMILY NOKES—aka The Stranger's music editor—that's why! Do you believe that The Stranger should have published this story, given the obvious, immense conflict of interest? Can you imagine how frustrated a local musician must feel, opening up The Stranger to find a bunch of buddy-wuddies praising the work of their best pal on the first page of the music section? Do you think anyone at The Stranger cares? Why, then, should you care about The Stranger?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Cocktail Compass Is Coming: Please Make Sure Your Happy Hour Info Is Updated!

Posted by on Tue, Mar 25, 2014 at 2:30 PM

Hey! Do you own or manage a bar in Seattle? Then pay attention! (If you do not, please feel free to carry on with the rest of your day as planned.) A new installment of Cocktail Compass, our semi-annual happy hour guide, will be hitting the streets in early May—now would be a great time to make sure all your happy hour information is correct!

Just head over to the Cocktail Compass website right here. If you already have a listing but just want to update the happy hour times and/or specials, click "Update Info" at the top. If you have a location that's not yet in the guide, click "Add an Establishment." Just fill out the necessary information and you're good to go!

If you don't have a bar or restaurant but do like cheap booze and/or food, you can download our happy hour app FOR FREE right here. It's available for both iPhone and Android devices.

Cool!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Jezebel Praises The Stranger's "Never Heard of 'Em" Column; Plus, Anna Minard's Greatest Quips

Posted by on Thu, Mar 20, 2014 at 3:59 PM

You will never, ever catch me listening to Music for Airports in the airport. There is no way I want to be in this deep, weird head space before I get on a plane; Id have a fucking panic attack. -Anna Minard
  • "You will never, ever catch me listening to Music for Airports in the airport. There is no way I want to be in this deep, weird head space before I get on a plane; I'd have a fucking panic attack." -Anna Minard

In a post titled "Oh, the Unbelievable Shit You Get Writing About Music as a Woman"—which includes commentary about the blog My Husband's Stupid Record Collection that's triggering a lot of gender-assumption chatter lately—Jezebel blogger Tracy Moore gives props to The Stranger's Anna Minard for her refreshing Never Heard of 'Em column. Instigated by former music editor Grant Brissey, NHOE approaches canonical and nerd-approved albums from a perspective rarely seen in the media: that of a curious novice who owns more books than music and who can write with exceptional wit and perceptiveness, making allusions and weaving in personal details into critiques that would never occur to more conventional music writers.

This is a good time to look back over Anna's five greatest moments from Never Heard of 'Em—according to me, the guy who edits the column. You probably have your own favorites, and that's beautiful. As good as the individual sentences are in NHOE, each piece really is best appreciated in its entirety, so read the whole thing. (It should be noted that Minard is a former copy editor and an absolute joy to edit. Most times, I only tinker with the punctuation of her submissions and then send her lovely words on their way to the copy department and thence to our readers' brains and hearts.)

Curtis showcases division and inequity, and then brings everyone back together, wraps everyone in a woven blanket of celebration and sadness and family and God. Pay attention to what's happening in the world. "God bless Miss Black America." "Ghetto blues shown on the news." Then dance to it.

I'm listening to Betty Davis, we're both entering another dimension, all the pain in the world is slowly receding from our minds. Maybe, like me, you can't help laughing out loud with utter happiness and appreciation. Hey, ears, say all the instruments in their best sex voices. Just relax. This is going to be spectacular.

[King Crimson’s In the Court of the Crimson King] sounds like the worst elements of the Beatles and Led Zeppelin had an orgy with some weird shit from the '90s and they had a deformed music baby. And in general, musicians who like to screw around by throwing cutlery and playing one individual note on 12 different instruments in no particular order—I don't really want to listen to your jazz-band rehearsal, okay? You're not "jamming." You're just being weird for the sake of being weird, like teenagers. [This column caused the biggest shitstorm among readers, because prog-rock fans don't take kindly to their gods being dissed by n00bs.]

At times, listening to music is a party, a ruckus, a soundtrack to connection and liveliness. Other times, the alone-ness of someone's voice matching your alone-ness multiplies it somehow. It's a comfort, but it's not enough. Sometimes, [Annette] Peacock makes your alone-ness too big. (Don't listen to this alone in the dark too much.)

When you need to concentrate at your desk job, pop [Heldon’s Interface] into your big padded earphones, turn it up loud, and see if you can't power through some all-star single-tasking. Let its metallic heart be your compass, since you can't be bothered with the real world while it's playing. Dive face-first into your computer screen like a cartoon character, do your shit, and then pull your head out after one go-round of the album. Success!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Obvious, Faux-Folksy, and Weighted with Leading Questions: A Study Guide for The Stranger

Posted on Wed, Mar 19, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Read the whole new issue of The Stranger over here (or click on the cover)!

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1. CONNER HABIB, who apparently acts in pornographic films, contributes a feature story to The Stranger that is primarily made up of repetitions of the question "Why do you hate porn stars?" In debate-club terms, this is what's known as a leading question. If Habib were being truthful, he'd ask why we were uncomfortable in our personal dealings with pornographic actors. Instead, Habib offers up a hate/love dynamic, and puts plenty of words in the reader's mouth, besides. ("I'm not sure why this... sounds so much like an I-told-you-so when it comes from your mouth," Habib writes, when you likely didn't say a word to Habib.) Perhaps the real question here is: Why does Habib love straw men so much?

2. In the chow section, BETHANY JEAN CLEMENT spends a disgusting amount of money on toast at several restaurants and then complains about restaurants that charge a lot of money for toast. Did she really need to pay $3 for cinnamon toast in order to determine that $3 is too much to charge for cinnamon toast? Would this review, on balance, be much more attractive if it were smacked silly with the common-sense stick?

3. A Little Shop of Horrors review by
CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE is
packed with folksy asides. He self-consciously inserts an "um" into a stammering first paragraph intended to mimic the stop-start speech patterns of an overexcited adolescent girl. He continually drops asides to the reader that are supposed to sound friendly but instead ring with condescension, like a drunken, underpaid children's TV show host. ("Funny how horror steps in out of nowhere, isn't it? So anyway, Little Shop of Horrors is about...") Is this an attempt by Frizzelle to appear more salt-of-the-earth, to establish himself as a blue-collar Garrison Keillor type for an aging print-media audience? If so, does this appeal to you? Should it?

4. The film section contains a review by DAVID SCHMADER that does everything a good film review should, along with two film reviews by PAUL CONSTANT that achieve the opposite. Schmader compares and contrasts Nymphomaniac: Volume I with the rest of Lars von Trier's body of work. Constant explains what his idea of a good Muppet movie would look like, and then he wastes three hundred words on a film adaptation of a José Saramago novel without even mentioning that it's an adaptation. (Let's have a hand for your book review editor, ladies and gentlemen.) Both times, Constant reviews his feelings more than the movie on the screen, and gives the reader no idea what to expect or appreciate in the films he's supposedly reviewing. Is Schmader simply using Constant as a decoy, like a moderately attractive man bringing his ugliest friends with him to the singles bar? Does this strategy work?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Troll-Bait, Baby Kittens, and Other Nonsense in This Issue of The Stranger

Posted on Wed, Mar 12, 2014 at 9:00 AM

See the whole new issue of The Stranger over here (or click on the cover)!

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1. The features in this week's edition of The Stranger are: (a) a blatant bid for online comments about race by DANIELLE HENDERSON, and (b) a bunch of photographs of musicians holding kittens—a piece that belongs on the internet and, clearly, nowhere else. Seriously? Troll-bait and a few snapshots of degenerates cuddling with baby mammals? What does The Stranger's credibility sound like as it gushes from the puncture wound in the paper's side? Is it a great gust of hot air, or more of a flatulent whining noise?

2. In the world of visual arts, JEN GRAVES documents an "artwork" that, even in that spectacularly nonsensical scene, stands out as particularly preposterous: a mural depicting seven cubes that any old hired-hand painters can re-create any old place, even changing the cubes themselves, if need be, to fit a new space. The original piece was destroyed. What was so wrong with just leaving it at that?

3. In the chow section, BETHANY JEAN CLEMENT loses her ever-loving mind over a French wine bar downtown. The wine bar has a very short menu—Clement herself says that the role of the food is "downplayed" there—so what, precisely, is this doing in the restaurant review space? Lest you imagine that Clement uses her word count to edify readers about the bar's wine selection, she somehow barely discusses that as well. The particular shade of the green walls is, however, well-documented. One question: Why?

4. Apparently, The Stranger still publishes a column by WM.™ STEVEN HUMPHREY titled I Love TV. This is a holdover from the pre-2010 era, in which people watched television "broadcasts" all at the same time. This week, Humphrey writes about an upcoming feature film and a long-since-canceled TV show that is now available only on DVD. Please explain how Humphrey still has a job in a post-Netflix era, when people "binge-watch" their "content." (And please refrain from proposing that Humphrey may be hoarding illicit photographs of Stranger staffers in compromising positions to leverage his role, as that canard is also obsolete in this selfie-obsessed digital culture. In your criticism of Humphrey, be smarter than Humphrey.)

Monday, March 10, 2014

Stranger Contributing Writer Travis Ritter Is Selling His Cassettes

Posted by on Mon, Mar 10, 2014 at 3:05 PM

This morning I happened upon a social media post by occasional Stranger contributor Travis Ritter; he is selling off his cassette tapes on Discogs!!

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Recently, for whatever weird reason, cassettes have returned. I'm guessing it's Millennials' nostalgia. Or people driving oldish cars who are sick of shitty radio? Perhaps. Anyways, as for Ritter's tapes, Red Hot Chili Peppers Freaky Styley notwithstanding, he's letting go of a batch of sweet jams. Like, he's selling the first Velvet Underground album, some rare Devo, Squirrel Bait's Skag Heaven, Wire 154 and Scratch Acid too!! DAG!! Sadly, Millennials, I didn't see a copy of Paul Simon's 1985 album Graceland on offer. And I mention Graceland as thing 'cause I just recently learned Graceland is now regarded as "classic" for those kids born in the early '80s. Oh, he does, also, have the cassingle version of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" with a RARE B-side. Nice.

Original owner. CLASSIC GRUNGE CASSINGLE, featuring then unreleased B-side "Even In His Youth". Cardboard cover has a crease down the middle from when my sister sat on it.

For those of you who care about cassettes check out his list HERE. I spoke with Ritter this morning and he said he'll be listing more titles tonight!!

Sidebar: As much as I generally loathe cassettes, if it wasn't for an incident in high school where all my cassettes were stolen out of my car I MIGHT not have become a record collector!! I still have a few tho, but only those which were first issued as "cassette only" or those with "bonus tracks," natch. Back in the '80s underground labels would sometimes add an extra track or two which wouldn't fit on the LP so you'd hafta buy BOTH.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Lazy, Profane, and Dangerously Self-Involved: A Study Guide for The Stranger

Posted on Wed, Mar 5, 2014 at 9:00 AM

See the whole new issue of The Stranger over here (or click on the cover)!

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1. It is time again for another edition of A&P, The Stranger's quarterly arts publication. Within it, you'll find two and a half pages of REBECCA BROWN waxing philosophic about spring, a so-called "anatomy of a photograph" by the indecipherable JEN GRAVES, interviews with Laura Griffiths and Lead Pencil Studio, an appreciation of Peter Brook, an array of calendars, and a collection of comic strips. Some of these pieces are readable—or at least they're short—and others are not. But the eternal question about A&P—really, the only A&P–related question that matters—is this one: If this is supposed to be meaningful information about Seattle's arts and culture, why doesn't it appear in the pages of The Stranger rather than hidden away in some specialty niche publication?

2. PAUL CONSTANT's incomprehensible books lead—it appears to be about the future of books, although who can really tell?—begins with a first-person account, which indicates that Constant believes that Constant is the future of books. Why would anyone read the dunderheaded ramblings of a narcissistic baby-man who considers himself to be a literary expert? Many years ago, Seattle Weekly writers joked among themselves that they could stop The Stranger from publishing new newspapers by removing the "I" key from all their keyboards. Why is this decades-old joke still relevant?

3. On the other hand, BRENDAN KILEY keeps himself out of his theater lead (perhaps he's saving up all his I's for an upcoming feature-length story about surreptitiously catching and eating goldfish at a mall pet store) long enough to tell the story of a one-woman show about anti-abortion activists. Remarkably, Kiley's piece is one of the best in this week's Stranger—on-point, interesting, and informative. Do you think there could be a correlation between the high quality of this third-person report and the low quality of Constant's first-person reportage? Will The Stranger ever learn from that correlation?

4. Apparently not. EMILY NOKES, DAVE SEGAL, and KELLY O provide an oral history of the Comet Tavern, which is supposed to follow in the footsteps of Ms. Nokes's popular oral histories of Linda's Tavern, the Tractor Tavern, and Moe's/Neumos. Most of the people interviewed here appear to be Stranger staffers. Ask yourself this question: Did the "writers" of this oral history do all that they could to find relevant sources? Or did they just send out an e-mail blast to all their friends, then cut and paste the responses into the "story"?

5. Is it possible for a newspaper to crawl up its own anus and die? Has The Stranger already done this, or is it merely in the process of doing this?

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Stranger Is Hiring a Social-Media Engagement Manager

Posted by on Mon, Mar 3, 2014 at 6:30 PM

Are you an excellent writer? Do you read The Stranger all the time? Are you better than everyone else at social media? Then you should know: The Stranger is hiring a social-media engagement manager.

Follow the link for information about how to apply.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Confusing, Off-Putting, and Ethically Wrong: A Study Guide for The Stranger

Posted on Wed, Feb 26, 2014 at 9:00 AM

See the whole new issue of The Stranger over here (or click on the cover)!

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1a. This week, PETER MOUNTFORD and PAUL CONSTANT contribute far-too-wordy pieces that introduce Seattle to the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (hereafter AWP), and AWP to Seattle, respectively. Two weeks ago, Constant favorably reviewed Mountford's new novel, The Dismal Science, in the book section. Is their shared-feature status this week perhaps proof of some behind-the-scenes collusion (or, worse, canoodling) between the two men—say, Constant trading a positive review in exchange for feature-length writing on the topic of AWP from Mountford? Is such a bargain really so hard to believe, given the ethics-challenged culture of The Stranger?

1b. But perhaps the "coincidence" listed above is merely a distraction from a larger issue: Why is The Stranger devoting such an outsize portion of its space to a celebration of MFA programs that exist solely to provide hope to untalented youth from wealthy backgrounds? Why would The Stranger possibly forsake its audience of millions of Seattleites in favor of the ten thousand or so wannabe-novelists coming to town for a drunken long weekend?

2. After contributing a worthwhile news story about Cornish last week, JEN GRAVES is back to her old tricks with an impenetrable description of a show by Lead Pencil Studio at Wing Luke Museum. The Gravesiest passage from this so-called "review" reads as follows: "Things in motion are harder to see; there's a whoosh." This is Graves at her worst: a nearly nonsensical statement followed by a painfully passive clause. A thorough reading and rereading reveal no information about the "whoosh"-er or the "whoosh"-ee in the piece, only a series of oblique references to frosted glass. Who is Graves writing for here? Herself? Lead Pencil Studio? What human being could possibly derive any meaningful information, or, even less likely, any pleasure, from reading this piece?

3. The music section is home to previews of two music festivals: Balkan Night Northwest, which SEAN JEWELL describes in all its costumed-folk-dancing glory, and Magma Festival, which DAVE SEGAL, ever the fan of the unlistenable and the esoteric, praises for its "subterranean musical weirdness" and "extreme unconventionality." Which festival sounds more unpleasant to you?

4. As a thought experiment, don't read the news section this week. Next Wednesday, do an assessment—to see if you felt uninformed, say, or missed reading the biased, curse-word-laden reportage for which The Stranger is known—and consider whether you should bother reading the news section at all in the future.

Friday, February 21, 2014

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It's Been Fun.

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