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Archives for 04/27/2008 - 05/03/2008

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Downticket Vindication

posted by on May 3 at 10:27 PM

Republicans were hoping to tar Democrat Don Cazayoux by associating him with scary, scary Barack Obama. One National Republican Congressional Committee ad blared, “A vote for Cazayoux is a vote for Obama.” But the results of the special election are in, and Cazayoux is the new House representative for Louisiana’s 6th CD (a traditionally red district). He’s also a newly minted superdelegate.

Meanwhile, Obama’s 7-vote victory in Guam is headed for a recount. Doesn’t look like the delegate tie is going to break, though. Darn!

The Best Part About Today’s Medical Marijuana March

posted by on May 3 at 5:50 PM

Sister VixXxen of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.


The best part about Sister VixXxen’s outfit?


“It’s all E-Bay, honey,” she says.

Bet on the Filly?

posted by on May 3 at 3:50 PM

Uh oh. Earlier this week Hillary Clinton instructed supporters to bet on the filly in the Kentucky Derby. In other words: Bet on Eight Belles, the only female in the horse race (and, Clinton obviously hoped, a potentially promising metaphor/omen for herself and her chances of winning the Democratic nomination).

Well, as local sports fanatic Seth Kolloen just pointed out via email (and on his blog), it didn’t go so well for the filly today.

In a development that you couldn’t even make up, Eight Belles finished second, but broke both her ankles during the race, collapsed at the end, and was immediately euthanized on the track.

Can’t wait to see how Clinton spins this one.

One Person, Half a Vote

posted by on May 3 at 1:59 PM

Holy shit! Obama is winning Guam! This wasn’t supposed to happen, was it? One of the biggest villages has yet to file results in the firehouse primary-style “caucus,” but Obama is currently ahead 53.3% to 46.7%.

My dearest wish today is that the half-vote thing has an appreciable effect on the final delegate totals. With 8 half votes at stake, the split could actually be 2.5 to 1.5 delegates or something wacky like that.

Three Things I Learned in the Last 24 Hours

posted by on May 3 at 12:45 PM

1. You can still smoke in bars in Portland, Oregon, despite the passage of an anti-smoking-in-bars-and-restaurants law here ten or so years ago. Oregon’s smoking ban doesn’t go into effect until January of 2009. Last night I ordered a drink from a shirtless, smoking bartender. Ugh on both counts.

2. You can stand outside bars in Portland’s Pearl District with a drink in your hand—right out there on the sidewalk, like you were in Munich or London or Paris. Apparently they don’t have Washington-state-style liquor control board Nazis down here making sure there’s a moat and a drawbridge separating dissolute drinkers from—think of the children!—defenseless minors.

3. The student newspaper at Beaverton High School—home of the Beavers—is called The Hummer. It only seems fair.

Today The Stranger Suggests

posted by on May 3 at 11:00 AM


Nicemaster Nice at Lo_fi Performance Gallery

Atlanta has T.I. and T.I.P. Seattle has Scratchmaster Joe and Nicemaster Nice. Scratchmaster Joe is a turntablist show-off, a selector of the nastiest ghettotech raunch, and a world-class jerk. Nicemaster Nice is a benevolent community booster, responsible for organizing legal graffiti murals and building an electronic music studio for the Meadow Lake Teen Center. Both are aliases for Joe Martinez. Tonight’s CD release party for the new mix, Scratchmaster Joe Is Nicemaster Nice, will unite his Jekyll and Hyde halves. (Lo_Fi, 429 Eastlake Ave E, 254-2824. 9 pm, $5 before 11 pm/$10 after, 21+.)



‘While’ at OKOK

OKOK continues its run of quietly excellent shows with While, featuring two artists who minimalistically reflect our national panic. Mauro Altamura shot the slightly ominous landing patterns of planes as seen from a hotel room near Heathrow. Anna Von Mertens made quilts depicting star rotation patterns above violent events in American history: September 11, Hiroshima on the morning the bomb was dropped, and the Battle of Antietam. All of those happened during daylight hours—these are what onlookers would have seen if the sky had turned black with disaster. (OKOK Gallery, 5107 Ballard Ave NW, 789-6242. Noon–6 pm, free.)

  • More Stranger Suggests for this week »
  • Currently Hanging

    posted by on May 3 at 10:00 AM

    Installation shot of Jenny Heishman’s rain-activated Water Mover (2008), steel, bucket

    Water Mover is a permanent public piece at Ernst Park; its dedication ceremony is today at 4 pm. (Park web site here.)

    Reading Tonight

    posted by on May 3 at 10:00 AM


    Only one reading tonight. Cristina Garcia is reading at the Elliott Bay Book Company from A Handbook To Luck, a novel. I had a girlfriend who loved Cristina Garcia. Things ended badly with that girlfriend, and that’s why I’ve never read Cristina Garcia. She could be a lovely author for all I know, and I should totally get over it. I have a similar situation with Gretl Ehrlich.

    Also, it’s Free Comic Book Day. If you go to pretty much any comic book shop, you should be able to get free comic books. Some shops that are participating in Free Comic Book Day have advertised in our paper this week, including a shop I’ve never been to, Dreamstrands, up in Greenlake. Apparently, Jonah Spangenthal-Lee thinks that Free Comic Book Day is a bunch of bullshit, but his post has some good recommendations for comics to look for if you’re interested.

    And now, some advice from Ernest Hemingway:

    Full readings calendar, including the next week or so, is ready for you now.

    Want a Good Taco?

    posted by on May 3 at 9:59 AM

    Have dinner with the Latinos at El Centro’s Cinco de Mayo Celebration this afternoon at the Jefferson Community Center (3801 Beacon Ave S, in Jefferson Park) from 4-9 pm. It’s free.

    Traditional foods—tacos, horchata, limonada—artisan crafts, multilingual books, an Oaxacan band, an Aztec dance circle, Skin Deep Tribal Bellydance, and lots of local Latino and Latina flavor. Proceeds benefit El Centro de la Raza, a Seattle nonprofit that serves as the voice and hub of the Latino community in Seattle.


    The Morning News

    posted by on May 3 at 9:03 AM

    posted by news intern Chris Kissel

    Whoops: Hospital damaged, workers injured after U.S. strike in Sadr City.

    Back to work: After nation-wide moratorium, thirty-five states get ready to kill some people.

    Back to the polls: Zimbabwe opposition party weighs possibility of run-off election.

    Russert vs. Stephanopoulos: The other big rivalry of the year.

    Food woes: In the face of skyrocketing food prices, Asian Development Bank worries about gains made in reduction of poverty.

    : Microsoft gives in, makes higher bid for Yahoo.

    Ace Smith, Clinton strategist: Preparing North Carolina for Hillary Clinton.

    Indiana: Looking good for Obama.

    Liver patient dies: Medical-marijuana user’s death demands a second look at hospital policy.

    Taxed books: Amazon suing over New York’s sales tax law.

    Happy Birthday Spam!

    posted by on May 3 at 8:48 AM

    Spam reaches 30-year anniversary!

    The first recognisable e-mail marketing message was sent on 3 May, 1978 to 400 people on behalf of DEC - a now-defunct computer-maker.

    The message was sent via Arpanet - the internet’s forerunner - and won its sender much criticism from recipient…

    …Statistics gathered by the FBI suggest that 75% of net scams snare people through junk e-mail. In 2007 these cons netted criminals more than $239m (£121m).

    Statistics suggest that more than 80%-85% of all e-mail is spam or junk and more than 100 billion spam messages are sent every day.

    The majority of these messages are being sent via hijacked home computers that have been compromised by a computer virus.

    Friday, May 2, 2008

    Heckova Job Bushies

    posted by on May 2 at 10:33 PM

    Correlation is not causation, but…

    (The blue line is US GDP in billions of barrels of oil, at “current” dollars/prices for the given year. The red line is a four year moving average of the same. Values for 2008 are the current estimate for annual GDP over last week’s oil price.)

    … check out the nifty inflection points in 1993 and 2001.

    Now I want to do per-capita GDP in barrels of oil….

    Free Comic Book Day is a Bunch of Bullshit

    posted by on May 2 at 4:43 PM

    Free Comic Book Day (FCBD) is, in concept, a great thing. Tomorrow, you can walk into just about any comic store and walk out with an armful of free comics. The event is supposed to pump more money into the long-stagnant comic industry by drawing in new readers and get people to see that (some) comics are more than just a bunch of big dudes in spandex punching shit.

    Well, FCBD’s supposed to help change that perception. There are plenty of great independent, non-superhero books on the market right now, but FCBD isn’t doing doing much to push those books on the public and, unfortunately, FCBD is really set up to benefit the big two: Marvel and DC

    For FCBD, comic shops can order batches of books at cost—about 12-40 cents a book, depending on the title—but in order to get a break on independent books, retailers first have to buy about 250 copies of ten different mostly superhero books. At cost, that only works out to about $50, plus shipping, but according to one local retailer, that pricing scheme is keeping comic shops from promoting indie books.

    Aaron Tarbuck, owner of The Dreaming in the University District—full disclosure: that’s where I get my comics—says he’d rather promote books like Atomic Robo than give Marvel and DC more money. “The independent, [who is] probably not even drawing a profit, he’s the guy who needs me to be buying these from him,” Tarbuck says. “The big guys can write this off.”

    It’s unfortunate FCBD doesn’t put as much of an emphasis on indie books, but that doesn’t mean you can’t hunt something down when you’re in a comic store tomorrow.
    Look for Ganges by Kevin Huizenga, Glamourpuss by Dave Sim or anything by Oni Press. Or just ask your friendly neighborhood comic book guy for a recommendation.


    Apparently, My Price Is $20

    posted by on May 2 at 4:28 PM

    I got this letter in the mail today, along with a self-published cookbook:


    Nobody here at the office can recall anything like this happening before. I guess that I must give off that “My reviews can be bought for twenty bucks” vibe. Should I just return the money, or should I do something more creative with it? Someone suggested using the money to buy groceries to make some of the recipes. Or there’s always booze.

    This Weekend at the Movies

    posted by on May 2 at 4:27 PM


    Wee but savvy Picturehouse may merge with struggling distribution label Warner Independent Pictures.

    Nicole Kidman is set to play Dusty Springfield in a biopic written by—uh oh—Michael Cunningham (The Hours, Evening).

    Paul Verhoeven thinks Jesus was the product of a rape!

    Opening this week:

    You have precisely one week to see the following image on the big screen (at the Varsity):


    Charles Mudede reviews Flight of the Red Balloon, Hou Hsiao-hsien’s tribute to the beloved ’50s French film The Red Balloon, which recently got a handsome DVD release from Criterion. Charles takes advantage of this opportunity to write about why we go to foreign films: “The class of people who frequently watch foreign-language films must not be separated from those who frequently travel to faraway places to experience other worlds. The foreign-film lover is a species of this larger type, the tourist, with the sole exception that he/she doesn’t travel far to see strange things, wonderful places, bizarre habits.”

    And in the print edition of On Screen this week, the no-good, very-bad rom com Made of Honor (me: “Do not make me address the abhorrent pun in the title”—though I kind of wish I had written: “Made of Honor is made of poop”), Helen Hunt’s directorial debut Then She Found Me (Paul Constant: “It’s hard to imagine anyone clamoring for Helen Hunt’s directorial debut [outside of Helen Hunt, of course]”), and—oh my goodness, this one isn’t excruciating—the dark pop musical Love Songs (me: “The film never fails to fascinate, if only for the exceedingly French way it deals with ethnic types, from comic lines about Ismaël the uncircumcised Jew and Erwann the gay Breton to self-consciously sober shots of more exotic immigrants passing silently in the streets”).

    Only to be found online this week is Andrew Wright’s review of Iron Man (“The megabucks cinematic adaptation is pleasant enough, but it doesn’t live up to the promise of its almost obscenely qualified and willing cast”).

    Also online only: The DVD column returns! For an issue. Here is the inimitable Michael Atkinson on the stop-motion auteur Ray Harryhausen: “Unlike CGIs, Harryhausen’s homely behemoths obey the same laws of movement that constrain the actors, and inhabit the same space, turf, gravity, and sunlight. Their three-dimensionality is not illusory, and their hesitant, abruptly animalistic, unblurred motions remain qualmy and loaded with frisson.”

    Lindy West went to the Seattle Polish Film Festival last weekend, and found more stop-motion genius. Scarecrow Video would like you to know that, no matter what the Seattle Polish Film Festival asserts, they do have a copy of The Tale of the Fox. It’s PAL, though, so for region-free players only.

    Tucked away in Limited Runs this week is every single movie playing at the Hazel Wolf Environmental Film Festival. Quite a few filmmakers are attending, and the info is noted in the film short—I’m told Everything’s Cool director Judith Helfand is quite entertaining. Also: Blade Runner: The Final Cut at the Egyptian, NWFF’s Duel of the Cool—pitting the Jean-Paul Belmondo of Le Doulos against the Marcello Mastroianni of 8 1/2, the nutso Japanese creation Maiko Haaaaan!!! at the Grand Illusion, Four Sheets to the Wind and more in Northwest Folklife’s City Folk Film Series at SIFF Cinema, the “sweet, nostalgic” Graduation at the Varsity, Rawstock at ACT Theatre, Young Frankenstein at Central Cinema, and, starting again Tuesday, more United Artists films at SIFF Cinema, including Marty, In the Heat of the Night, and Night of the Hunter.

    For all your movie times needs, use ours.

    The Top Five Nuclear Weapons of All Time

    posted by on May 2 at 4:24 PM

    My week is ending poorly.

    Rather than go into a lengthy whine about irritatingly arrogant-yet-foolish coworkers, crappily designed and maintained websites, the evil of both the SAX and DOM XML parsers in Python and “what, you can only do one miracle at a time” management, I’d rather present you with an appropriately glum bit of my knowledge.

    Thus, I present to you Science’s top five most awesomest nuclear weapons of all time!

    V. Little Boy

    Little Boy was the first nuclear weapon used on a human population during the decimation of Hiroshima. I happen to love the evil simplicity of the beast.

    Let’s take a moment to talk about what makes an atomic bomb go boom. Every element secretly, deeply, desperately wishes to be iron—atomic number 26. The bigger or smaller you—Mr. element—are, the more you yearn for iron-ness. As the fatter elements or skinnier elements get closer to the ideal of iron, they breathe some relief—in the form of a massive release of energy. Boom!

    Take Uranium, for example. At a mighty atomic number of 92, it’s so irritable! This is a big boy, coming in isotopes of 238, 235 or 234; the rare 235 variety is particularly ready to cause some mayhem. When it spontaneously splits into two smaller atoms—a little bit closer to iron. YES!—it flings off high energy neutron bullets that have a tendency to split other obese atoms. Get enough U235 in a small space, and a chain reaction starts, resulting in a whole mess of atoms splitting in a short period of time. Combine all the energy and you have a big boom.

    So, you’re tasked with building a bomb around these ideas. Some general comes to your desk and tells you “here are kilograms of Uranium enriched for 235. Make a bomb that will definitely work. We don’t want to look bad in front of the Japanese. Boom, or it’s your ass!”

    You think to yourself… hmm… if I put this much U235 together it’ll explode. Let’s split this amount into two pieces, and put them on opposite ends of a loooong track. One piece will be bolted in place, the other on a little track, with wheels and shit. Put a little chemical explosive charge at the end of the piece-on-wheels, careening it towards the fixed bigger piece. When they meet, BOOOOM! Excellent. While the bomb might blow itself to pieces before all the U235 can fission, spreading incredibly radioactive half-split products all over the place, who gives a shit! They’re just Japanese! And it’s my ass if there isn’t a boom.

    Ah! Little boy was invented.

    Very few actual atomic bombs have this design. What if the little piece falls of the track?! No boom! No dead Japanese! It’s your ass. The Fat Man-style plutonium implosion device is quite a bit more popular. Still, not everyone has gotten the memo. The North Korean nuke, so far as we can guess, was most likely a Little Boy-like device. Hence more a fizzle than a boom. I cannot imagine what the poor North Korean bomb engineer’s week-after was like. To quote Ghostbusters, “Many Shuvs and Zuuls knew what it was to be roasted in the depths of the Slor that day, I can tell you!”

    Continue reading "The Top Five Nuclear Weapons of All Time" »

    Tao Lin and the Internet Freakouts

    posted by on May 2 at 4:21 PM


    Jesus Christ, people! Seventy-somthin’ somethin’ comments on a post about Tao Lin’s feature this week! Lin does seem to be a bit of an inter-web lightning rod. In June of last year, Gawker had it out with Tao Lin:

    Tao Lin, I know you’re reading this. I just want you to know that because of your ill-conceived self-marketing strategy, you have 100% guaranteed that I will never read your damned book with its oh-so-wacky title…Your publicity games aren’t a play on fame-seeking or celebrity culture. Actually, you’re maybe perhaps the single most irritating person we’ve ever had to deal with—and you wouldn’t believe our in-box. Stop it. Stop it now. And now we will go back to never mentioning you again.

    but then they pardoned him for the piece that he wrote for us back in November, about the varying levels of greatness that American writers can attain.

    Then he got into a fight with n+1 by printing his entire correspondence with editor Benjamin Kunkel. He also ran some of an e-mail that was probably not intended for him:

    Well, I read or tried to read Tao Lin’s story. It’s not horrible, nor horribly written—some of it is pretty nice—but I found it over-rhetorical, full of the deliberate whimsy afflicting many of our younger writers, and it seemed kind of aimless too, although I might not have thought so if I’d read through to the end.

    And then he or a friend of his might have accidentally called someone a faggot.

    I just read a little of that right before going to a reading at Melville House where Tao was in the lineup—I hadn’t seen him in maybe six months. Weirdly, he read a story with me in it as a character, incorporating my emails and gmail chats. Afterward I finished reading the comments and they seemed so exasperatingly stupid/ugly that I posted, “Judgments of quality aside, many people posting here in “defense” of Tao could stand to be a lot less obnoxious about it…” A couple minutes later—although I didn’t see it until the next afternoon—Zachary German wrote, “you are a faggot…you have sex with other gay men like yourself” on my blog, and then “syke.”

    On Eric’s blog, Tao said, “i don’t approve of calling people faggots…” When I noted that his friend Zachary German had just called me a faggot, Tao said, “he typed that as a ‘joke’ just to show me on the screen then i accidentally pushed ‘enter’ or something.” Accidentally! I’m laughing.

    The comments for all of these posts are numerous and fervent. All of which is to say that apparently, Tao Lin is the master of the Internet.

    This Week on Drugs

    posted by on May 2 at 3:51 PM


    New York City: Racial bias in skyrocketing pot arrests.

    A study released Tuesday reported that between 1998 and 2007, the police arrested 374,900 people whose most serious crime was the lowest-level misdemeanor marijuana offense.

    That is more than eight times the number of arrests on those same charges between 1988 and 1997, when 45,300 people were picked up for having a small amount of pot.

    Nearly everyone involved in this wave of marijuana arrests is male: 90 percent were men, although national studies show that men and women use pot in roughly equal rates. And 83 percent of those charged in these cases were black or Latino, according to the study. Blacks accounted for 52 percent of the arrests, twice their share of the city’s population. Whites, who are about 35 percent of the population, were only 15 percent of those charged — even though federal surveys show that whites are more likely than blacks or Latinos to use pot.

    South Korea: Six teachers busted getting high.

    Which employers aren’t drug testing? These ones.

    Alcohol Impact Areas: Meaningless.

    Thrifty Consumers: Cutting back on Starbucks.

    One Down, An Infinite Number To Go: Colombia kills kingpin.

    Probed: Wachovia for drug-money laundering.

    Rerouted: Cocaine to Europe.

    Detained: Child placed in state custody after father accidentally gives him hard lemonade at baseball game.

    The 47-year-old academic says he wasn’t even aware alcoholic lemonade existed when he and Leo stopped at a concession stand on the way to their seats in Section 114.

    “I’d never drunk it, never purchased it, never heard of it,” Ratte of Ann Arbor told me sheepishly last week. “And it’s certainly not what I expected when I ordered a lemonade for my 7-year-old.”

    But it wasn’t until the top of the ninth inning that a Comerica Park security guard noticed the bottle in young Leo’s hand. “You know this is an alcoholic beverage?” the guard asked the professor.

    “You’ve got to be kidding,” Ratte replied. He asked for the bottle, but the security guard snatched it before Ratte could examine the label.

    The Comerica cop estimated that Leo had drunk about 12 ounces of the hard lemonade, which is 5% alcohol. But an ER resident who drew Leo’s blood less than 90 minutes after he and his father were escorted from their seats detected no trace of alcohol. But it would be two days before the state of Michigan allowed Ratte’s wife, U-M architecture professor Claire Zimmerman, to take their son home, and nearly a week before Ratte was permitted to move back into his own house.

    Billion Souls Harvest

    posted by on May 2 at 3:37 PM

    The Nigerian author of this book
    cv155369189X.jpg…Dr. N.D. Audu, is also author of: I Love Raising the Dead. Who can better that title? Who?

    Re: Pike Street Fish Fry

    posted by on May 2 at 3:06 PM

    Just wanted to chime in re: Paul’s assessment of Pike Street Fish Fry. It is awesome.

    It’s the perfect combination of good food (fish fresh daily from Mutual Fish Company; housemade sauces such as tartar, preserved lemon aioli, chili mayo, salsa verde, curry ketchup) and the kind of greasy food you crave when you’re drunk. Which I happened to be the last two nights when I stopped in for dinner. (Thank god the Jack in the Box on Broadway has closed and cannot stand in the way of me and the Fish Fry.)

    Wednesday night was fried asparagus (get it!), fried halibut, grilled spearfish, and Spanish fries (alas, too sweet for my taste). Last night it was a fried oyster sandwich with the preserved lemon aioli and housemade slaw, which is delicious, super tart, and made with red cabbage. But my favorite thing is the slices of lemon they fry up and serve alongside the fish—unexpected, amazing.

    Pike Street Fish Fry isn’t exactly cheap (last night’s sandwich set me back $8.81), but for the quality of the food, it’s reasonable. If any of you find yourself inebriated and anywhere near the corner of Pike & 10th this weekend, do yourself a favor and stop by.

    GTA IV Contest: Posse on Broadway

    posted by on May 2 at 3:02 PM

    Methinks Rockstar Games would be wise to mock Seattle in a future video game. Your entries for the Grand Theft Auto: Emerald City contest were full of corruption, elitists, slums, bicyclists, asshole developers, and creative uses of landmarks and stereotypes. Well done! Thanks for building the next great crime simulator—and, in the case of entry #35, the next utter, soul-crushing depression simulator. Jesus, man.

    Shorter entries with a flair for the cinematic were appreciated:

    [After throwing Clay Bennett off of the Space Needle:] The silhouette of Bennett’s falling body against backdrop of Key Arena at sunset.
    Kidnap the Pig on Parade from Pike’s Place market and violate it in no less than two holes.
    Film a woman fisting herself on the Jimi Hendrix statue.

    Jonah leaned toward these two eloquent, city-appropriate crime ideas:

    Smoke a bowl, then steal a bike from a messenger and ride to city hall to hand out pot brownies to the Mayor’s staff, all while armed to the teeth.

    And my personal favorite came from Steve in Chicago:

    Get elected to Emerald City council. Consistently use your influence to table motions expanding greenbelt development while quietly softening restrictions on payday lenders. Also, kill a hooker. Dark irony bonus awarded if you bury her body in a P-Patch.

    But, as many of you predicted, the Stranger council wholeheartedly agreed that entry #9 beat everyone to the punch with what’s probably the most appropriate “criminal mission” in a Seattle video game:

    1. Pick up posse at 23rd and Jackson. 2. Down to MLK. 3. Back to 23rd. 4. Up Union to Broadway. 5. Down Broadway to Taco Bell — closed! 6. Back to Dick’s; pick up girl; start a fight.

    S. Ben Melhuish, you life-long Mix-a-Lot fan, this copy of GTA IV for the PS3 is yours. Even though S. Ben later posted that he didn’t have a PS3, we didn’t care. As Jonah put it, “he can trade that shit in, or cut it up and snort it.”

    Poetry and Pomegranates

    posted by on May 2 at 2:44 PM


    The Seattle PI had a poetry contest and picked this poem as the best:

    “Bloodspell” by Marie-Caroline Moir:

    Now just ho there, splayed peacock,

    and spare the poor girl but a ruby

    from your pomegranate heart.

    She’s far goner than long and

    nosing that notch in your seashell ear

    (the mere thought of it!)

    just sends her —

    wakes her daily with a tickle/thump

    before the shuffling on of sun,

    and the augur of hair patties from the

    mystic drain.

    Should you not want her,

    she may end up in rubber sandals

    and very loose pants,

    at some artists’ commune

    stuffed up in the Ozarks.

    Making origami jockstraps

    and other gestures of homage.

    This is what the judges had to say about “Bloodspell”:

    The poem demonstrates a wonderful mixture of sincerity and surprising humor, alloying its various tones and moods into something completely its own. The language leaps energetically from one verbal register to another (we go from the arcane and serious ‘augur’ to the gross and everyday ‘hair patties,’ from the antiquated greeting ‘ho’ to unmistakably contemporary language), and the imagery — pomegranate heart, hair patties, origami jockstrap — is as original as it is vivid.

    The above reasons for admiring the poem are as bad as the poem itself.

    My Life with the Electopedia

    posted by on May 2 at 2:30 PM

    On a slow news day, massive time wasters are of essential value to anyone tasked with producing blog content. Thankfully, New York magazine has produced a time waster of such staggering depth that you could literally disappear into it for hours of lost productivity:

    The Electopedia is the home for all minutia—sometimes interesting, often pointless— regarding the three remaining contenders for the presidency. Who is Barack Obama’s worst political enemy? What Swedish band does John McCain threaten to play in the White House elevators? How do the three candidates get along with their siblings?

    (Answers after the cut!)

    It’s Friday, and it’s approaching late afternoon. Don’t even pretend you have something more interesting to be doing.

    Continue reading "My Life with the Electopedia" »

    Bill Moyers Weighs in on Rev. Wright

    posted by on May 2 at 2:08 PM

    In a video essay airing tonight, he tries to unpack some of the reaction to Wright’s comments—and laments the “double standard” and the media circus that he says contributed to the whole mess:

    Living in a Box

    posted by on May 2 at 2:02 PM

    Remember that British one-hit wonder Living in a Box that performed the song Living in a Box off the album Living in a Box? I know—you were trying to forget. But Mithun Architects is keeping the memory alive. They wanted to live out every vagabond’s dream of converting an old freight container into swank digs. But there’s one catch to the metal cargo-conversion fantasy.

    “It’s hard to beat the cost of wood in the Pacific Northwest,” says Joel Egan of HyBrid, a Seattle-based construction firm commissioned to build prototype residential units. So, rather than steel boxes like some pre-fab projects in Australia and England, an apartment building with ground level retail proposed for Dexter Avenue North will contain about 60 boxes built from wood (a pop-up about how they’re built is here).

    Two stacked units, at approximately 675 square feet each, look like this:


    Together in an apartment building—after being assembled in a warehouse, delivered by truck, and plunked down by a crane—they will look something like this:


    The greatest benefits of pre-fab apartment buildings are for the financiers of development. Although the construction costs, according to Tammie Schacher of Mithun, remain the same as on-site construction (the goal is $80-90 per square foot), the construction time decreases by three to six months—reducing the window of investment risk and adding months to collect rental fees. One hopes the savings are passed down to renters.

    On the con side is the potential for flat-faced, dinky-looking buildings. The boxes don’t lend themselves to the variety of shapes to create interesting visual relief as on-site construction. However, there are examples, such as one in Manchester (pop-up), which looks quite dashing. In the preferred scheme of the proposal that went up for early design guidance this week, the boxes stood clustered together like several World’s Fair motels connected by pathways through the air. This has roughly the same esthetic effect of giant hamster cages connected by Habit Trails.


    We’ll hold out opinion on the appearance until more designs are in, as the city needs more inexpensive apartments and Mithun fucking rocks. As for the dream of converting a cargo container into an upscale slumber tube, “All of us are hoping we can [eventually] get to a metal frame building,” says Schacher.

    Late Lunch Date: Mortarville

    posted by on May 2 at 2:01 PM


    (A few times a week, I take a new book with me to lunch and give it a half an hour or so to grab my attention. Lunch Date is my judgment on that speed-dating experience.)

    Who’s your date today? Mortarville, by Grant Bailie.

    Where’d you go? This is a very special Lunch Date. It’s actually more of a Dinner Date: last night, I went to Pike Street Fish Fry. They’re only open from 5 ‘till “Late,” so it’s not strictly lunch, although I hadn’t eaten lunch when I went there at 5:30, so it still counts.

    What’d you eat?
    I had the cheapest order of fish, which was a white fish($5.50). And I had an order of Spanish Fries ($5), which is a regular order of french fries with sour cream and spicy sauce.

    How was the food? Awesome. The fries aren’t as good as Frites’ fries were, but they’re still good. The Spanish part of the Spanish fries, with the sour cream and the spicy sauce, was a little excessive: Next time I’m getting the regular fries and the curry ketchup. If I was drunk, I’d be all about getting the Spanish on, though. The fish was light and juicy and fried just right. Next time I might try the asparagus instead of fish. The biggest problem I had with the place was the lack of wet-naps: I smelled like an armless Alaskan fisherman by the time I was done eating.

    What does your date say about itself?
    The author came to town a few weeks ago, but I just got a copy of the book in the mail yesterday. It’s about an artificial human created by mad scientists, born from a spigot, who gets a job as a mall security guard.

    Is there a representative quote? Try the first three sentences: “My parents died in a fire before I was born. Drs. John and Jonathon Smithee—no relation. It was a fate that befalls so many of our better mad scientists.”

    Will you two end up in bed together? Yes. I’m very excited to read this one. I’ve been on a bit of a depressing run in fiction, lately—I’ve been reading a lot of books that seem like they should be interesting, but they never really work out to actually be interesting. This one, at least, seems funny and weird and vaguely sweet.

    Confidential to the Female Clerk at the Post Office on Broadway…

    posted by on May 2 at 1:57 PM


    …who was just accosted by an older African-American man who spent a minute and a half trying to convince you that you “look exactly like that girl from Kill Bill—what’s her name? The karate expert!”: You handled that very well.

    (In all fairness, the clerk in question was female, and some sort of Asian, with hair. But she resembles Lucy Liu about as much as I resemble Emilio Estevez.)

    Obama’s Kentucky Problem May Not Be Fixable

    posted by on May 2 at 1:00 PM

    A question more daunting for Barack Obama than “How do I win working class whites?” may end up being “How do I win working class white supremacists?” My feeling is that it may take more than having a beer at the local VFW Hall.

    From George Packer, of The New Yorker:

    J. K. Patrick, a retired state employee from a neighboring county, wore a button on his shirt that said “Hillary: Smart Choice.”

    “East of Lexington she’ll carry seventy per cent of the primary vote,” he said. Kentucky votes on May 20. “She could win the general election in Kentucky.” I asked about Obama. “Obama couldn’t win.”

    Why not?

    “Race,” Patrick said matter-of-factly. “I’ve talked to people—a woman who was chair of county elections last year, she said she wouldn’t vote for a black man.” Patrick said he wouldn’t vote for Obama either.

    Why not?

    “Race. I really don’t want an African-American as President. Race.”

    What about race?

    “I thought about it. I think he would put too many minorities in positions over the white race. That’s my opinion. After 1964, you saw what the South did.” He meant that it went Republican. “Now what caused that? Race. There’s a lot of white people that just wouldn’t vote for a colored person. Especially older people. They know what happened in the sixties. Under thirty—they don’t remember. I do. I was here.”

    As it often seems that, lacking any other kind of metric to decide who will win the Democratic nomination, campaign coverage lingers over how a candidate will win their most improbable demographic, this seems to be an important case study:

    Will Obama assure the voters of rural Kentucky that he won’t appoint an inappropriate amount of ‘minorities’ to lord over the white race? And if not, doesn’t Senator Obama risk losing out on an important slice of the electorate that fears an impending race war?

    The HuffPost Puts Sidney Blumenthal On Trial For Media Sins

    posted by on May 2 at 12:54 PM

    Is the man who once coined the term “vast ring wing conspiracy” now an integral part of the monster he once decried, willingly abetting a yellow journalism vendetta against Barack Obama?! Peter Drier, of the American Prospect and the Los Angeles Times (amongst others), brings forth the case against Clintonista Sidney Blumenthal:

    Former journalist Sidney Blumenthal has been widely credited with coining the term “vast right-wing conspiracy” used by Hillary Clinton in 1998 to describe the alliance of conservative media, think tanks, and political operatives that sought to destroy the Clinton White House where he worked as a high-level aide. A decade later, and now acting as a senior campaign advisor to Senator Clinton, Blumenthal is exploiting that same right-wing network to attack and discredit Barack Obama. And he’s not hesitating to use the same sort of guilt-by-association tactics that have been the hallmark of the political right dating back to the McCarthy era.

    Amongst the questionable media narratives Drier accuses Blumenthal of pushing (there are many, and it is a long and winding piece):

    • Obama’s high school exposure to a Hawaiian Marxist poet, who Obama mentions briefly in Dreams from My Father and who has since been elevated to an Obama father-figure by hard-right press critic Cliff Kincaid.

    • The recent ‘Obama as Radical Black Nationalist’ narrative, and his Chicago connections to Weather Underground member William Ayers.

    • A National Review article which accuses Obama of being an integral part of Chicago machine-style politics, which notes: “Blacks adapted to both the tribalism and the corrupt patronage politics.”

    • A plethora of different Tony Rezko stories.

    • And lest anyone forget, the circa February ‘Obama as Cult Leader’ narrative penned initially by Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer.

    Hardball politics or cavorting with the enemy? Read the piece and draw your own conclusions.

    “I know you are a socialist and want to be nannied by the government because you are weak”

    posted by on May 2 at 12:43 PM

    I usually try to answer all the e-mails that come to me with at least one response, even the hate mail (Just yesterday, I wrote to someone: ” Thanks for your assertion that I “know nothing” and am “downright stupid.” I would like to point out…”).

    But I’m not sure what to do about the Ron Paul hate mail.

    I reviewed his new book, The Revolution (no relation to Prince’s stellar backing band), and I found it wanting:

    People have called Paul a Libertarian, but that’s not strictly true; neither is he a strict Constitutionalist, as many of his single-minded followers insist. Paul is the kind of nerd who still owns issues of The Objectivist Journal that were published in 1966—he named his son Rand Paul in honor of Ayn Rand, after all. The president Paul claims most respect for is the nerdy, ineffectual Taft.

    Unsurprisingly, I got letters. The one that was published this week, in our letters section, was relatively nice—at least he offered to take me to lunch—but I just feel like any sort of response would be like pissing into the wind.

    But in the interest of fairness, I’m going to run the two other letters so that they can have their day in the sun. If you’re reading this, boys, I’m sorry I didn’t write back. I hope that publishing your letters unmolested will be acceptable enough. Because they’re long letters, they’re after the jump. I encourage you to go take a look; the first e-mail accuses Obama of being a servant of the New World Order, and the second one is entirely unaware of the fact that his hero and political savior is a huge Objectivist.

    Hello, This letter is regarding the review by Paul Constant of the Ron Paul book “The Revolution: A Manifesto”. Basically, I am disgusted with Constant and I think he is an idiot. On top of that, I don’t think he realizes what profound influence Ron Paul has had on the general public and to say that his only achievement of his presidential campaign is “successfully renting a blimp” is simply absurd and shows how ignorant this boy is of politics. Hey, wake up Constant, just because the main stream media chose maliciously not to report on Ron Paul and the supporters he was gathering because they were shitting their pants in fear of what the man proposed, doesn’t mean the millions of supporters didn’t exist. To bring you in on some facts of the Ron Paul campaign, here they are:

    Much, much more, including government cheese, why I care more about my hair than the Constitution, and why Ron Paul was against World War I, after the jump.

    Continue reading ""I know you are a socialist and want to be nannied by the government because you are weak"" »

    Tim Eyman Wants You to Feel Sorry For Him

    posted by on May 2 at 12:13 PM

    Mukilteo watch salesman-cum-Republican activist Tim Eyman—fresh from mortgaging his house to pay for his latest ballot measure—has been barraging supporters with emails begging for donations. Yesterday’s plea, subject-lined “$250,000 loan will ensure I-985’s success — PLEASE help retire this debt ASAP,” asked supporters to kick in a total of $290,000, an amount that would bring Eyman’s total initiative war chest to $612,000. “I’m jumping off a big cliff —please help catch me,” Eyman wrote. “As you can imagine, this is scary stuff — but failure is simply not an option.”

    Today, Eyman followed up on his initial plea, asking supporters to “let opponents’ comments inspire you” to open their checkbooks. “Donating to I-985 not only gets the initiative qualified for the ballot and helps me out of this huge financial challenge, but you will drive these opponents absolutely bonkers. It’s win-win-win.:)”

    Why does Eyman need so much money, anyway? Because under Washington State’s hopelessly flawed initiative process, the only way to get an initiative on the ballot statewide—especially an initiative that’s unpopular in densely populated urban areas like Seattle, where gathering signatures is less difficult—is to hire a firm to gather signatures for you, paying signature gatherers as much as a dollar a name. Paid signature-gathering efforts are the single biggest reason so many bad ideas make it onto the ballot in Washington State. Ban the signature gatherers, you’ll ban most of the dumb ideas.

    And speaking of bad ideas, I-985 is one of Eyman’s worst yet. The measure would open up all carpool lanes to all drivers during “off-peak” hours—that is, all hours except between 6 and 9 am, and between 3 and 6 pm—and on weekends. Given that many roads in the Puget Sound region are now experiencing “rush hours” that last allday with congestion starting in the early morning and not letting up until well into the evening, Eyman’s proposal would effectively render HOV lanes useless. With no incentive to carpool (because the HOV lanes will be just as clogged as the general-purpose ones), the number of people driving alone during “off-peak” hours will go up… making traffic congestion even worse. (The initiative would also make conditions worse for people riding on Metro and regional buses—again, eliminating the incentive to take transit instead of driving to work alone).

    Eyman’s proposal would promote congestion in other ways, as well:

    • It would restrict the use of funds from high-occupancy toll lanes (carpool lanes that solo drivers can access for a fee) to building and operating those lanes; all other revenues from HOT lanes would go into a special “Reduce Traffic Congestion Account,” which would pay, in part, for “expanding road capacity and general purpose use to improve traffic flow for all vehicles.” In other words, Eyman would siphon money from transit, carpool, vanpool, and trip reduction services and pour it into more general-purpose roads.

    • It would also redirect all proceeds from traffic tickets obtained through red-light cameras toward Eyman’s road-building account, siphoning money away from cities’ general funds; and he would end all transportation-related funding for public art, directing that money to roads as well.

    • Finally, Eyman would prohibit tolls on I-90 (and require that all tolls on 520 be spent exclusively on 520, rather than going, say, to HOV lanes and transit)—an idiotic proposal that would have exactly the opposite effect of what Eyman’s “congestion relief” proposal promises. State transportation planners generally agree that if 520 is tolled, I-90 will have to be, also, to prevent people from clogging up the “free” cross-lake bridge and making congestion even worse.

    Eyman’s proposal, like Dino Rossi’s single-solution road-building plan, would worsen traffic congestion and reduce transportation alternatives in the guise of improving the roads for all. Let’s hope that this time, Washington State voters won’t let him get away with it.

    Smoked Out

    posted by on May 2 at 12:11 PM

    I was shocked to read just now that as a young man David Sedaris felt pretty much the same way I did about cigarettes. From his piece in this week’s New Yorker:

    How could [my mother], or anyone, really, make a habit of something so fundamentally unpleasant? When my sister Lisa started smoking, I forbade her to enter my bedroom with a lit cigarette. She could talk to me, but only from the other side of the threshold, and she had to avert her head when she exhaled. I did the same when my sister Gretchen started.

    It wasn’t the smoke but the smell of it that bothered me.

    It was always the smell that bothered me too. I’m convinced that my father’s smoking did more damage to our relationship than my homosexuality. When he would smoke at the table, I would refuse to eat. My mother would demand that my father put out his cigarette so that his sensitive third son—one of his two asthmatic children—could eat. Frustrated and in the grip of what has proven to be a lifelong addiction, my father would refuse, turn in his chair, grandly hold his cigarette to the side, and exhale his smoke away from the table. This wasn’t good enough, of course, because the horrible smell filled the room just the same and it made me nauseous and I would refuse to eat until my mother forced my father to put out his damn cigarette.

    My mother smoked too, slyly, over the kitchen sink, but would one day summon up the nerve to quit. And two decades later her lungs would rebel against her and kill her anyway.

    Back to David Sedaris: He’s long been a kind of a folk hero to America’s embattled smokers. An unapologetic smoker and a bestselling author, Sedaris asked for ashtrays in bookstores and, of course, was provided with them. He smoked his way through a reading at Bailey/Coy books in the mid-90s. He smoked on stage at theaters that didn’t allow smoking, he teased his smoking readers with details about his adopted home, France, where you can smoke in movie theaters, and his author photo, above, was the kind of smoking-is-glamorous shot you don’t see anymore.

    David Sedaris announces in this week’s New Yorker that he’s quit—wait, that’s not the word he likes to use. He’s announced that he’s finished smoking.

    More Human Than Human

    posted by on May 2 at 12:06 PM

    Blade Runner: The Final Cut is the midnight movie at the Egyptian tonight and tomorrow. This 2007 release, overseen by Ridley Scott on the occasion of the film’s 25th birthday, is a new digital print with polished special effects, audio remastered in Dolby 5.1, extended pivotal scenes, more violence, and some minor dialog and plot alterations.

    Go, especially if you haven’t seen it since you were a kid in the ’80s. The dystopian classic is more gripping, more lush, and sexier than ever.

    Lunchtime Quickie

    posted by on May 2 at 12:01 PM

    Not just any ‘ole drug bust…

    How Sick of the Democratic Race Are You?

    posted by on May 2 at 11:20 AM

    With the Indiana and North Carolina primaries coming up on Tuesday, a Slog poll:

    How sick of the Democratic race are you?

    Today in Campaign Hoaxes

    posted by on May 2 at 11:09 AM

    That video linked in the Morning News is a fake. From the Huffington Post:

    Mickey Kantor, who served as campaign chairman during Clinton’s 1992 run for the White House and says he has offered help and advice to Sen. Clinton, insisted that the tape was a fraud and that he was exploring legal steps against the individual who posted it online.

    “I’ve never used that word in my entire life, ever, under any circumstance, ever,” an angry Kantor told The Huffington Post, citing his and his parent’s work fighting for civil rights. “I have listened to [the video] and so have you. You can’t tell what it is I’m saying in that second sentence, you can’t decipher that.”

    Indeed, a review of the original copy of the 1993 film The War Room, from which the excerpt was taken (around the 4:40 mark) is virtually inaudible. The sound suggests, if anything, that instead of saying “How would you like to be a worthless white n****r?” Kantor says, “How would you like to be in the White House right now?”

    The director of the film, moreover, says that Kantor never uttered those words. “He does not say that. He does not say that,” D.A. Pennebaker told Ben Smith.

    Meanwhile, a blogger at Daily Kos thinks it’s all an elaborate ploy to make Obama look bad:

    The video clip of Kantor talking to Carville and Stephanopolous is most likely intended to get Obama supporters to embrace a fake smear. It’s an old trick people and it works.

    The story isn’t going to be that a Clinton aide back in 92 insulted Indiana. The story is going to be that Obama supporters pushed a fake video trying to smear Hillary.

    This is classic Rovian shit. We all use the phrase and talk about the evils of Rove but we always forget what that actually means.

    (Via Sullivan.)

    Interrogation with Aurélia Thiérrée

    posted by on May 2 at 11:06 AM


    In France in the 1970s, Victoria Chaplin (daughter of Charlie) and Jean-Baptiste Thiérrée (a French movie star) started performing a kind of circus act nobody had seen before. It was a marriage of the new and the nostalgic, vaudeville for drug people, that ditched the traditional flashy costumes, animal acts, and other three-ring hooha for dreamy clowning.

    People called it cirque nouveau and it became the fountainhead for the cabaret and circus revival that’s everywhere today, from Circus Contraption to Cirque de Soleil. None of that would be possible without Chaplin and Thiérrée, the American actress and the French movie star who fell in love and ran away to their own kind of circus.

    Aurélia Thiérrée is their daughter and is coming to the Seattle Rep, to perform her show Aurélia’s Oratorio. We talked on the telephone—me sitting in the park in Seattle, her sitting in her apartment in New York. She did not want to talk about her grandfather, Charlie Chaplin, or her great-grandfather, Eugene O’Neill.

    You grew up performing with in your parents’ circus?
    It was a way to keep the family together. Sometimes we were on the road for eight or nine months. We had tutors who came to give us lessons two hours a day in each city.

    That’s nice. So if you had a teacher you hated, you knew you’d never see him or her again.
    Well, sometimes yes. But sometimes we would be in one city for a few months.

    What was your parents’ circus like?
    They were the first to believe circus could be changed, but circus performers weren’t ready to change. They were using traditions that had been passed down through the generations. Changing their acts, their costumes, or no more animals—it wasn’t possible. So my parents created their own circus to do whatever they wanted.

    Your mother created this show?
    My mother and I together, little by little, while I was working with the Tiger Lilies. As a family, we always work together.

    What were you doing with the Tiger Lilies?
    I prefer really to focus on this show, because that’s my reality today.

    What’s it like?
    It’s difficult to describe. It’s not circus, not dance, not a children’s show, and not theater. The original idea began with a book of medieval drawings of the world turned upside-down. They reverted situations to create humor and were also used as politically—maybe a man riding a horse upside-down or women going to war, things like that. That was the idea: to take a tableau you’re familiar with, but everything is upside-down. Also, I had the idea of a woman going completely mad.


    What will people see at the show?
    I’m reluctant to describe the acts precisely.

    Could you describe them generally?
    I tried to use whatever I could to please my mother.

    What pleases your mother?
    She has a very precise theatrical language. She uses old tricks but attaches them to images that are very modern.

    What kind of tricks?
    Optical illusions—there is a costume where I am an hourglass and then I turn into sand, using a really, really old trick but one that’s never been used in this way.

    Is there a name for this trick?
    If there were, I would never, never tell you.

    Today The Stranger Suggests

    posted by on May 2 at 11:00 AM


    Pleasureboaters, Vampire Hands at Vera Project

    Pleasureboaters, the fantastically spastic local trio, thrash around the stage like cartoons, bending their bodies and twisting their faces into positions and expressions that echo their corkscrewing, discordant sounds. Opening band Vampire Hands are on the opposite side of the spectrum. They captivate their audiences with a mellow—sometimes sexy, sometimes haunting—guitar-heavy vibe, layered with breathy vocals and the occasional psychedelic jam. (Vera Project, Seattle Center, 956-8372. 7:30 pm, $7/$8, all ages.) MEGAN SELING


    Hope and Change

    posted by on May 2 at 10:45 AM

    Obama gives Hillary the finger:

    Via Reclusive Leftist.

    News from the Human Kingdom

    posted by on May 2 at 10:43 AM

    Computer love:

    A local council employee in Japan has been punished after it was discovered he had accessed porn websites at work more than 780,000 times in nine months. His superiors were alerted to the problem only when his computer became infected with a virus.

    The 57-year-old man, who has not been named, works for the city of Kinokawa in southern Japan.

    He held on to his job, but has been demoted and his wages have been cut by about 20,000 yen ($190; £80) a month.

    Love in Iran:

    The penalties [in Iran] for prostitution are severe—ranging from whipping to execution. But there’s a loophole in Islamic law called sigheh, or temporary marriage. According to Shiite interpretation, a man and a woman may enter an impermanent partnership with a preset expiration date. There’s no legally required minimum duration (a day, a week, anything goes) and no need for official witnesses—unless the woman is a virgin, in which case she needs the consent of her legal guardian. An Iranian who’s wary of arrest can simply escort a prostitute to a registry, obtain a temporary contract from a Muslim cleric, and then legally satisfy his sexual needs.

    No love in Bahrain:

    A raunchy Lebanese singer [Haifa Wehbe] is causing controversy in Bahrain, where she is due to perform for the first time.

    All but one of the members of the Gulf kingdom’s Islamist-dominated parliament have approved a motion urging the government to ban Haifa Wehbe’s show.

    They objected on the grounds that the pop superstar’s performance would be sexually provocative, violating Islamic conventions and Bahrain’s traditions.

    This is Haifa Wehbe:

    Obama on MTP

    posted by on May 2 at 10:25 AM

    Barack Obama will be on Meet the Press this Sunday for the full hour. Despite the probability that Tim Russert will ask idiotic questions former radicals and former pastors and all manner of irrelevant things, I’m psyched—Obama’s intelligent Meet the Press appearance last fall was what made me really get on board his campaign. The episode airs 10 am Sunday on KONG 6/16.

    Oh, and Hillary’s on ABC’s This Week. But George Stephanopolous is a tool and his show airs at 4 in the afternoon in Seattle. Who’s at home at 4 pm on a Sunday? (Me, usually.) KOMO, this is the most intense presidential primary contest in decades. Can’t we get back to the 9 am slot? It was much easier to take Maureen Dowd’s sultry drawl and George Will’s obnoxious bow ties before I was really awake. Well, in any case, former Bill Clinton staffer Stephanopolous has a lot to prove with this interview. It should make for good TV.

    One Week Ago Today in Bellingham…

    posted by on May 2 at 10:10 AM


    24-year-old David Duncan Clark died after a four-hour standoff with police.

    As KOMO reports, officers were called to Clark’s home after getting calls that he and three other people were “acting disorderly and throwing objects out the windows.” When police arrived, Clark reportedly flashed a weapon from the front porch then retreated into the house, instigating a four-hour, SWAT-team-enhanced standoff. “At some point, Clark charged at police with the gun,” reports KOMO. “After attempting to disarm the man by shooting at him with immobilizing beanbags, two officers discharged their firearms at him. Clark then retreated into the house…Officers broke the door down at around 9:30 p.m. and found the man dead inside.” Later reports identify Duncan’s weapon as a pellet gun, and confirm Duncan died of a rifle shot to the back.

    Which brings us to this I, Anonymous submission:

    Dear Bellingham:

    When a tragic event takes place, we must remember that those involved are real people. They are more than the sum of their parts. I urge Bellingham to remember who Dave was, and to try to not judge him by his actions. Dave was not a deranged immoral drug addict, he was mentally ill. He was sick and needed help. He struggled to maintain his hold on reality and we (friends and family) gave as much support as we could.

    David Duncan Clark was a loving, caring, dedicated musician and philanthropist. He was a Western graduate, a member of our community, a friend. He had a contagious laugh, was an superb story teller and had an unshakable determination to become a professional musician. He had plans to change the face of the music industry, plans to help every musician who has a dream in their heart to share it with the world. He was going to be one of those dads who always comes home for dinner, helps around the house and never misses a game or recital.

    My anger extends to both parties of this event. What Dave did was out of character, dangerous, selfish, and stupid. Yet he should have been given the chance to be held responsible for his actions. A mentally ill person does not need to be gunned down, they need help.

    I am appalled by the behavior of the Bellingham Police Department. How did one man warrant the need for an armored vehicle and a swat team?! The media has created this image that the BPD did society a favor by taking down an obviously disturb man. When they truly robbed the world from unknown potential greatness.

    Where is the justice? At the very least take away the badges from the officers who took away all they could from Dave, his life. We have seen the abuse of police power, and the abuse of police force too often. Who is responsible for ordering shots to be fired? Someone must be held accountable for Dave’s death. The Bellingham police used unnecessary force. It is horrific the way in which the police responded. Where were the tazers, the mace? What happened to police procedure? Where was the negotiator? Why was there no effort to contact someone who could talk Dave down? Why wasn’t a dog used? Why were they so quick to use lethal force after only one non-lethal attempt? Doesn’t a SWAT team own riot gear and bullet proof vest? Did a 150 lb man truly seem so menacing that he needed to be killed rather than persuaded? What kind of police dept does not teach non lethal disarment? Is a torso that hard to miss? Why was he shot and then left inside to bleed to death?

    Yes Dave endangered the community but he did not deserve the degree of force used. It was excessive and it cost his friends, family and the world a unnecessary loss of a wonderful man. I hope that our community will respond to this event with compassion and a desire for justice.


    A friend in mourning

    For what’s it’s worth, cops reportedly tried to subdue Duncan with bean-bag shots and a Taser before fatally shooting him in the back.

    Condolences to everyone.

    Photo from the Bellingham Herald.

    Reading Tonight

    posted by on May 2 at 10:09 AM


    Ah, me. After all that business yesterday about how we’re in for nights with hundreds of readings from now on, there’s only one reading tonight, at the University Book Store. The normally stalwart Elliott Bay Book Company is hosting a non-book event in which the Seattle Opera discusses their new opera I Puritani.

    So I’m in a bind about the reading tonight. I used to work as a bookseller with the author, Matthew Stearns, for about a year or so. I think that we both have incriminating stories about each other—booksellers, as a rule, like to par-tay—and so I’m going to stick with the facts and leave reviewing out of it. He’s reading from his entry in the 33 1/3 series, in which each skinny book is about the creation and impact of an album. Stearns wrote about Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation. Here, in lieu of comment, is an excerpt:

    Sonic Youth’s manipulated-guitar fetishism, and by extension their avid affection for the modification of things generally, reaches its ultimate expression in the form of the lovingly destroyed (and tragically pilfered) Drifter. Ah, The Drifter. Now, this is the kind of guitar your mother warned you about. The mangiest, nastiest, rattiest piece of detuned refuse ever allowed out of the house after dark. Legendary for its Rasputin-like refusal to die, The Drifter was the kind of guitar-catastrophe that could make, one imagines, small or medium-sized children or the infirm recoil in horror at the sight of it; only to run for their lives once the magnificent, ungodly “wooooowruwrooooowruwrooooow” cry issued forth from its miserable bowels.

    The full readings calendar, including the next week or so, is awaiting your perusal.

    You Can Thank Yourself Later

    posted by on May 2 at 10:00 AM

    The problem with medical-marijuana marches, such as the one beginning Saturday at noon in Volunteer Park, is that people who hike for miles through the city don’t seem terribly sick. They just don’t appear to need life-saving medicine. Moreover, the stoners banging on djembes in the crowd seem to march mostly for their allegiance to the counterculture.

    But those people aren’t the reason to march for medical marijuana. Well, not all of them. Some of those “stoners” are only healthy enough to trek through the city because marijuana has helped manage their MS, severe pain, wasting syndrome, etc. So they are the living proof that medical marijuana works. But even those folks are not why we go.

    We march for the people who can’t.

    Yesterday afternoon Timothy Garon died at Bailey-Boushay House. He had Hepatitis-C and needed a new liver, but Harborview and UW Medical Center denied him a transplant because he used medical marijuana. Even though it was recommended by his physician, and legal under state law, and didn’t cause liver damage—the hospitals called it substance abuse. If he’d instead taken federally approved drugs that caused liver damage, the docs probably would have let him live.

    The people who need medical marijuana today have cancer and full-blown AIDS, and without pot they are too ill to hold down food or even anti-nausea pills. Those are the people who would be marching for medical marijuana tomorrow—if they could.

    You and I are those people; at least, we will be. We will probably die from cancer or an equally miserable condition. So will our friends and families. But before we die, we can either experience pain and nausea, or we can hang out and watch Oprah reruns with our family and eat pudding. Medical marijuana, for many of us, could be the deciding factor.

    Hospital officials, lawmakers, and opinion leaders routinely dismiss the proven medical value of pot and consider federal reform a low priority. And it is a low priority, until you or someone you love needs it. If they get it and nothing bad happens as a result, great. But as it stands, sick people are arrested for it, or in Mr. Garon’s case, he died because of it. So be healthy, and march on Saturday before you need that pot brownie. You can thank yourself later.

    Seattle’s march, held in conjunction with 200 other cities, begins at noon on Saturday, May 3 in Volunteer Park and heads to a rally at Westlake Park. The poster is super hippie dippy. Too bad it looks like that.

    Currently Hanging

    posted by on May 2 at 10:00 AM

    Title sequence from Kelly Mark’s REM (2008), two-channel video installation

    At Platform Gallery. (Gallery web site here.) Closes Saturday, May 3.

    News from the Animal Kingdom

    posted by on May 2 at 9:57 AM

    _44620484_seal_debruyn_466.jpg Yes, it is what you think it is: a seal fucking a penguin.

    [The] bizarre event took place on a beach on Marion Island, a sub-Antarctic island that is home to both fur seals and king penguins.

    At first glimpse, we thought the seal was killing the penguin
    Nico de Bruyn, University of Pretoria

    Why the seal attempted to have sex with the penguin is unclear. But the scientists who photographed the event speculate that it was the behaviour of a frustrated, sexually inexperienced young male seal.

    Equally, it might be been an aggressive, predatory act; or even a playful one that turned sexual.

    “At first glimpse, we thought the seal was killing the penguin,” says Nico de Bruyn, of the Mammal Research Institute at the University of Pretoria, South Africa…

    The 100kg seal first subdued the 15kg penguin by lying on it.

    The penguin flapped its flippers and attempted to stand and escape - but to no avail.

    The seal then alternated between resting on the penguin, and thrusting its pelvis, trying to insert itself, unsuccessfully.

    Animals! Animals! Animals!

    I Wish it Had Actually Gone By This Fast…

    posted by on May 2 at 8:45 AM

    Slate recaps the entire Democratic nomination fight in seven minutes:

    Like I said, wish it had actually gone by that fast. However. The Slate recap of that long ago (but very exciting) period before the Iowa caucuses did make me a little nostalgic about this trip. And this one, this one, and this one, too.

    Gay Love is Beautiful

    posted by on May 2 at 8:45 AM


    It looks like the Brits have a Dahmer of their own now.

    The first winner of the Mr. Gay UK contest has been charged with murdering a man amid fears he planned to eat the corpse.

    Anthony Morley, 35, was held after Damian Oldfield’s body was found at a house in Harehills, Leeds, with a chunk cut out of the right leg. Police are said to have found human flesh diced as though “for cooking”.

    Officers are now having to consider the possibility that the killer had “eaten some of the flesh.” They were alerted after a man, covered in blood and wearing a white nightgown and slippers, went into a nearby kebab shop.

    The former Mr. Gay UK worked for a publication called, er, Bent. Yikes.

    Via Towleroad.

    What Tao Lin Can Tell You About Seattle Based on the People He’s Met Who Are from Here

    posted by on May 2 at 8:30 AM


    (He lives in Brooklyn.)

    Here’s a paragraph from his piece chosen at random:


    People in Seattle seem less obese. I felt little or no intimations of obesity while there and I don’t know anyone from there who is obese or even overweight. In Brooklyn, it is difficult for me to view anyone as “not obese or overweight.” In Brooklyn, people seem “beat down” and “made obese” by unseen forces, whereas in Seattle people seem “strengthened” by some kind of aura of well-being emanating maybe from the downtown library. People in New York City eat at Taco Bell a lot; people in Seattle are knowledgeable about not mixing food groups. On my book tour, I had dinner with someone who talked about fasting every six months. I can’t remember ever having dinner with someone in New York City who viewed “fasting” as a possibility.

    Can’t resist—one more:


    When I make myself think concretely about Seattle, I get an image of a 12-year-old Native American boy reading a Sherman Alexie story collection in a Starbucks and it’s raining outside, then I seriously think, “The harsh reality of growing up in Seattle. Seems bad. Hard.” But if I think abstractly about Seattle, I feel a strange emotion like I’m currently living in a clean, well-furnished house with expensive electronic equipment in Tennessee in May by a small river on a green hill with no other houses nearby and that I have a steady cash flow and am working on multiple projects each day with a lot of excitement and no obligations. It feels really good and the opposite of hard. So “Seattle” abstractly means to me something like “basking in the sunlight of overwhelming gratitude for life and art” but concretely means to me something like “feeling like there’s no possible routes for escaping a life of poverty and alcoholism while staring at sentences written by Sherman Alexie in an environment of people shouting things like ‘quadruple soy latte.’” I don’t know. I feel “tricked.”

    Don’t miss it.

    P.S. Here come the letters! The subject line of this one is “Worthless, really worthless”:

    I grew up here and always find I want to know what the rest of the world thinks of our little green universe in the Upper Lefthand Corner. It’s kind of mossy and insecure, I know. But now I never want to know what Tao Lin thinks.

    What was that cover writ you published by Lin supposed to be? A reflection? A portrait? It was terrible. It wasn’t impressionistic or surrealistic or clever or funny or well-written or worthwhile. He must have penned it in one setting after three beers. Why the heck did you run it? I just don’t get it.

    Well, you made up for it with Paul Constant’s hearty recommendation for Island Soul, which I drive by but will now eat at. Thank you for that. But fire Tao Lin — he can’t write at all.

    The Morning News

    posted by on May 2 at 8:03 AM

    “Scandalous Daylight Robbery”: It’s runoff time in Zimbabwe after opposition candidate Morgan Tsvangirai “failed” to receive a majority of votes.

    Silver Lining: The economy lost some 20,000 jobs in April. The good news? Analysts expected the number to be closer to 85,000.

    The Long, Dry Summer: California may face strict water rationing this summer.

    “These People are Shit”: The Clinton campaign can’t be happy about this old video that somehow—mysteriously—just hit YouTube (and Drudge):

    Meanwhile: Polls seem to be turning in Clinton’s favor, but Obama keeps adding superdelegates.

    The Long, Wealthy Summer: University of Washington President Mark Emmert makes an extra $340,000 a year moonlighting for various Fortune 500 companies.

    Time to Get Serious: Microsoft’s bid for Yahoo! may soon turn hostile.

    Jailhouse Talk: Seattle is exploring possible locations for a new jail.

    The Annual March: Crowds for the May Day rally smaller than previous years.

    A Fungus Among Us: Washington’s frogs and salamanders are threatened by a chytrids fungus.

    Creepy Kids’ Show of the Day:

    Wrong Party

    posted by on May 2 at 7:30 AM

    Hillary Clinton to ABC News:

    “If we had the Republican rules, I would already be the nominee.”

    Well, then maybe you should’ve run as a Republican—I mean really run as a Republican, Hillary, not just behave like you’re running like a Republican.

    Thursday, May 1, 2008

    First, Do No Harm

    posted by on May 1 at 10:04 PM

    Unless the patient used medical marijuana—in which case, hey, feel free to murder the poor bastard.

    A musician who was denied a liver transplant because he used marijuana with medical approval under Washington state law to ease the symptoms of advanced hepatitis C died Thursday.

    The death of Timothy Garon, 56, at Bailey-Boushay House, an intensive care nursing center was confirmed to The Associated Press by his lawyer…. Dr. Brad Roter, the physician who authorized Garon to smoke pot to alleviate for nausea and abdominal pain and to stimulate his appetite, said he did not know it would be such a hurdle if Garon were to need a transplant.

    Garon died a week after his doctor told him a University of Washington Medical Center committee had again denied him a spot on the liver transplant list because of his use of marijuana, although it was authorized under Washington state law.

    The sadists at the University of Washington Medical Center—and Swedish Medical Center—didn’t just deny this guy a transplant. They really seemed to get off on torturing this dying man. Check out these details from the PI report:

    He had been in the hospice for two months and previously was rejected for a transplant at Swedish Medical Center for the same reason he later got from the university hospital.

    Swedish said he would be considered if he avoided pot for six months and the university hospital offered to reconsider if he enrolled in a 60-day drug treatment program, but doctors said his liver disease was too advanced for him to last that long. The university hospital committee agreed to reconsider anyway, then denied him again.

    Here is Dom’s previous post about this medical travesty. And here again are those numbers…

    UW Division of Transplant: (206) 598-6700

    The fax number: (206) 598-0628

    The chief of the division is Jorge D. Reyes:

    The director is Kay Wicks:

    The full directory for transplant staff is over here.

    “This already exists all around the world, you just have to watch any American soap to see that.”

    posted by on May 1 at 5:11 PM

    The outgoing government in Italy released information about every single Italian’s declared earnings and tax contributions on a website. The site barely stayed up for a day due to protests, but it was hard to access during the time it was up because everyone wanted to see what everyone else was making. People were looking up their neighbors, sports stars, and celebrities.

    The quote in the headline of this post is from Italy’s Deputy Economic Minister, who was confused about why everyone was so upset. I’m not sure who the first person I’d look up would be, but I’d be on that website so friggin’ fast.

    Re: A Brief History of Misogyny

    posted by on May 1 at 4:25 PM

    As Schmader notes below, the P-I’s David Horsey has a cartoon today depicting a history of what happens to “uppity women”—from stoning to “vilifi[cation] by right wing media.”

    Which is sorta ironic, since Horsey’s the genius responsible for this image:


    (Not to mention cartoons depicting Hillary as a whining, unibrowedschoolgirl, a beauty queen, an ugly hag shopping for cosmetics, and a ball-busting bitch.

    Shooting at 23rd and Jackson

    posted by on May 1 at 4:19 PM

    Police have responded to a shooting at 23rd and Jackson where, according to an SPD spokesman, “Somebody [was] screaming that they had been shot.”

    …more details coming.

    UPDATE: Police have someone in custody. Still working on getting more details.

    UPDATE 2: SPD received a call from the victim, who said they had been shot. According to SPD, the victim was shot in the neck and is being treated at the scene.

    Re: Police Guild Contract “Tweaks”

    posted by on May 1 at 4:10 PM

    Since the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild (SPOG) announced they’d tentatively agreed on a contract with the city, police watchdogs have been freaking out over a line from a Times article last week:

    As for police accountability, O’Neill said some language was tweaked but otherwise, “the spirit of the recommendations … came through.”

    According to O’Neil, the tweaks are indeed fairly minor. Some of the changes involved how many people were allowed to sit in on disciplinary hearings, and the conditions for when an officer can be terminated for dishonesty. According to O’Neil, an officer has to have provided a “flat out, bold-faced lie” about a material fact in a case in order to be dismissed.

    One thing that hasn’t changed—for better or worse—is the so-called 180-day rule, which limits the length of an internal misconduct investigation. The Mayor’s police accountability panel recommended giving the Office of Professional Accountability Director—which conducts internal probes—more discretionary power in extending the investigation period, but O’Neil says the OPA already has the ability to request a deadline extension. However, SPOG can deny OPA’s extension requests.

    There’s been some grumbling amongst officers about the contract, but O’Neil still believes it will get approved. Ballots were mailed out to officers last Friday, and votes will be counted on May 16th.

    Trailers of the Deranged

    posted by on May 1 at 3:32 PM

    So the above is a book trailer for Matt Taibbi’s upcoming book, The Great Derangement. I’ve posted a book trailer before, for Sloane Crosley’s book I Was Told There’d Be Cake, but this seems to be a regular thing now: Books—non-fiction books, at least—automatically have to have trailers, like movies.

    I’m not sure how I feel about it. Book blogs seem to be fond of the Taibbi trailer, but I find it a little…difficult. It seems to be as shrill as the media it claims to be mocking. I’d say that it makes me not want to read the book, but it’s Matt Taibbi, so I’m definitely going to read the book, trailer or no. But this book trailer thing just feels like a shiny distraction to me.*

    Continue reading "Trailers of the Deranged" »

    SIFF Is Trying To Kill Me

    posted by on May 1 at 3:25 PM

    I’ve been wearing my skinny pants lately. I’m sure you’ve noticed. (Sorry…um…try putting some ice on that.) My secret? Recession? Mania? Booger-sugar? Yes. And SIFF, goddammit. SIFF! Opening Night is coming quicker than a coked-up choir boy, so I’ve been living on rice and foul intentions. The press kick-off happened just this morning, which I missed completely of course, because they insisted on moving the event someplace completely asinine called “SIFF Cinema”, which is waaaaaay the hell down in Seattle Center, and not conveniently just across the street from me at Harvard Exit Theater, which is where the damn thing usually happened, and where God damn well intended it to be. And I try never to burn fossil fuels just for free Mimosa if I can help it. But these are the terrible rumors:

    Charlize Theron and Stuart Townsend have something or other to do with the Opening Night Movie, which is about a traumatic event I personally suffered called the WTO Riots, and they will be attending said opening night to dazzle us with their Theron/Townsendness. I’m planning an in-depth interview with Stuart’s abs, and also to Wikipedia Charlize Theron presently to educate myself, and thusly the world, as to exactly what the gosh darn heck a Charlize Theron is. (Some kind of water bird? A mystery.)

    So. Stay tuned for further developments. Or don’t. Whatever. I’m getting dizzy.


    (Stuart’s abs are on the left. That’s Condoleeza Rice there on the right.)

    Today in Hillary Bashing and Defending

    posted by on May 1 at 3:23 PM

    From Slog tipper Brad, this ridiculous monstrosity, which seems to be making the rounds as a “real” photo (Brad labeled it “tough photo for Hill”) but more than anything it’s a damning failure for whoever did the photoshopping.


    Meanwhile, over at the P-I, cartoonist David Horsey offers “a short history of misogyny.”

    Most Unpopular President in Modern History

    posted by on May 1 at 3:20 PM

    George W. Bush:

    WASHINGTON (CNN) — A new poll suggests that George W. Bush is the most unpopular president in modern American history.

    A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Thursday indicates that 71 percent of the American public disapprove of how Bush his handling his job as president.

    “No president has ever had a higher disapproval rating in any CNN or Gallup poll; in fact, this is the first time that any president’s disapproval rating has cracked the 70 percent mark,” said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

    In the Last 24-Hours on Line Out

    posted by on May 1 at 2:56 PM

    First, I will get your attention using this photo of this cute, weird little pig smelling a flower…


    Now, that you’re here, I will tell you about some of the hot shit over on Line Out…

    We Need a New Music Intern: Are you brave enough?

    Going to See Iron Man This Weekend?: Just know it won’t feature Ghostface.

    Billions and Billions of Years Ago: Terry Miller remembers the music of Cosmos.

    Eurovision Semi-Final: Terrace concrete, Nico & Vlad, Dima’s mullet and Kalomira.

    I Can’t Wait: New Hold Steady album coming soon.

    Bumbershoot Additions: Ludacris and Mike Doughty added to the line-up.

    Operation STOP COVERING EVERYONE’S FLIERS!: Is there anything more to obnoxious Operation Bright Pink posters?

    Today’s (Tragic) Music News: Assault lawsuits, post-stroke comebacks, and visits to the hospitals.

    Video: Tapes ‘n Tapes - “Hang Them All.”

    Atmosphere Reaches the Billboard Charts: Their new album is at number five this week.

    The $10,000 Microphone: Trent Moorman talks to Jonathan Plum of London Bridge Studios.

    The $360 Billion Record Label: Big dreams land a music fan in jail.

    Winning the War on Drugs

    posted by on May 1 at 2:52 PM

    Brooklyn Park police were looking for a meth lab, but they found a fish tank and the chemicals needed to maintain it.

    And a few hours later, when the city sent a contractor to fix the door the police had smashed open Monday afternoon, it was obvious the city was trying to fix a mistake. It happened while Kathy Adams was sleeping. “And the next thing I know, a police officer is trying to get me out bed,” she said.

    Adams, a 54-year-old former nurse who said she suffers from a bad back caused by a patient who attacked her a few years ago, was handcuffed. So was her 49-year-old husband.

    Police were executing a search warrant signed by Hennepin County Judge Ivy Bernhardson, who believed there was probable cause the Adams’s home was a meth lab.

    “From a cursory view, it doesn’t look like our officers did anything wrong,” said Capt. Greg Roehl. Roehl said the drug task force was acting on a tip from a subcontractor for CenterPoint Energy, who had been in the home Friday to install a hot water heater.

    “He got hit with a chemical smell that he said made him light headed, feel kind of nauseous,” Roehl said. The smell was vinegar, and maybe pickling lime, which were clearly marked in a bathroom Mr. Adams uses to mix chemicals for his salt water fish tank.

    This story has a happy ending—the city came and fixed the door!—so what’s the problem with a cadre of armed officers breaking it down? Adams, as many Americans do, could have had a gun in her bedroom. If she’d pulled it out, not knowing the men walking into her bedroom were cops, she could have unwittingly shot a cop. Or the cops could have shot her. Over a fish tank.

    Meth is nasty crap, agreed. But investigating it doesn’t require risking innocent lives.

    Slats Featured in Wired

    posted by on May 1 at 2:40 PM

    Looks like the bigwigs have caught on to our local celebrities…

    Seattle Notables tracks local residents like Slats, aka “the Original Hipster,” a quirky musician and nightclub aficionado noticeable for his Ramones-esque leather outfit and scraggly mop of brown hair hidden under a broad-brimmed black hat.

    They even get an interview with our pride and joy!

    “It’s kind of strange when I go in a bar and everyone’s taking a picture of me, or I walk down the street and they’re yelling my name,” says Slats, whose real name is Chris. “I’m just living my life and all of a sudden it’s like, ‘Whoa, what’s going on?’”

    His real name is Chris!


    Turn the tables, Chris. Turn ‘em right around!

    China Today

    posted by on May 1 at 1:57 PM

    Pulled from the Drudge Report:
    A secret submarine base, a massive airport, the longest bridge? Robert Mugabe is right about one thing: learn Chinese.

    Prescription for Regional Growth Could Be a Bitter Pill to Swallow

    posted by on May 1 at 1:35 PM

    In the ballroom of the UW Husky Union Building yesterday, at a daylong “Reality Check” event put on by the Urban Land Institute, about 300 development professionals, public officials, and land-use and neighborhood activists stood around 30 enormous tables, each with a giant map of the Puget Sound region. A box on each table contained LEGOs—each yellow block represented 2,000 new residents, and each red block represented 2,000 new jobs—and pieces of colored yarn, which represented new roads and mass transit lines. Each group was tasked with placing the blocks and string to accommodate the area’s projected population growth.

    Although the tools were elementary, the exercise was serious: According to an estimate released last month by the Puget Sound Regional Council, King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish Counties are expected to grow by 1.7 million people—roughly the entire population of greater Portland—by 2040.

    “No challenge in our region is greater than the challenge of growth,” says Pat Callahan, senior vice president of Seattle-based Equity Office Properties. “We’re taking this bold step to ensure that the significant work that lies ahead starts now.”

    Three trends emerged across the room as the game proceeded: dots sprawling into the green foothills of Snohomish and Pierce Counties; a fairly level swath of density along the I-5 corridor from Everett to Tacoma; and another strip of density hugging I-5, this one peaking sharply in downtown Seattle. Virtually all the plans would have focused growth in urban areas and limited it in rural and suburban areas—however, because none of the plans included rules for making that happen, they were more like guiding principles than specific prescriptions.

    Most of those participating in the exercise agreed that there are limited options for growth in the region: Grow up or grow out. “There is a real division of interests [here],” Seattle City Council president Richard Conlin said. “This puts groups together to agree on the facts.” But putting those facts in practice will entail accepting some unwelcome realities.

    “It’s hard for elected officials to think beyond their terms,” says Conlin. “But when we are looking at 20-, 30-, 40-year projections, it forces us to start thinking in that way.” He has asked the ULI to make a presentation to the council on the findings from the exercise.

    The tallest stack of downtown density was at table 1, where towering LEGO buildings had lost their footing and tumbled into Lake Washington (the group later tied the towers together in a makeshift retrofit). The ringleader of the group, which called itself “Up Not Out,” was Al Clise of Clise Properties, which manages three million square feet of real estate downtown. “Seattle [will be] the preeminent center of commerce in the region for the next 100 years,” he said, explaining why the group elected to focus on central Seattle and avoid rural areas.


    Richmond and Clise

    “I think the government has been slow to get it,” said Clise. “It’s been so expensive to build in cities, developers go where there are no fees and create sprawl,” he says. “I just hope that the people who do the zoning and planning listen to this.” Clise would like to see more incentives to build dense urban developments, rather than penalties for not doing so.

    But that vision of density, while increasingly recognized as the model that will reduce traffic and decrease carbon emissions, raises questions about how focusing the entire region’s development in Seattle will change the city. “The problem is when you get into north and south of the core,” Clise said. “The neighborhoods that will not change dramatically are those representing wealth. Those that don’t represent wealth and power— those neighborhoods will feel the effect of more change.”

    Irene Wall, president of the Phinney Ridge Community Council, was a lone voice for neighborhood preservation at her table, where LEGOs were piling up around North Seattle. “If this is about coloring and staying within the lines, we’re wasting our time,” she snapped at the other players, mostly suit-clad developers. Growth shouldn’t have to sacrifice what we love about a city, she told me to the side, “but that’s exactly what’s happening.”

    “Along every arterial in the city, you can kiss your ass goodbye to sunlight at every bus stop,” says Wall. “One-point-seven million is too many people. We need to look at directing growth across the entire state… looking at Spokane, Wenatchee, and maybe even Leavenworth.”

    Although Wall’s point about scale is valid—planning needs to happen everywhere, not just in urbanized areas like Seattle—it’s not clear neighborhood groups will ever agree to the level of density we need across Seattle. You can’t just wish that people who want to move to Seattle will move to Wenatchee instead, nor can you expect arterials within 10 minutes of downtown to stay single-family forever. Nor should we want to.

    It’s part of Seattle’s culture to simultaneously “hate sprawl and despise density,” said Mayor Greg Nickels. But “you can’t have it both ways.”



    The underlying problem with regional planning is how to translate the emerging trend on the tables, which leaned toward dense construction centered around Seattle, Everett and Tacoma, to a land use policy the region can actually put into place. For instance, Bremerton Mayor Cary Bozeman delivered a bitter pill to Clise and other developers at an afternoon forum in the afternoon, when he explained the reasons for the nickel-and-dime taxation of urban development. Without fees and taxes, it would be impossible for cities to provide the services that dense urban areas require.

    “As long as we have a regressive tax system in this state, we’ll have a hard time controlling growth,” Bozeman said. And despite the state’s growth management act, which is geared to limit sprawl, there is currently no policy or enforcement body that could enforce the plan set forth at yesterday’s exercise.

    Continue reading "Prescription for Regional Growth Could Be a Bitter Pill to Swallow" »

    Lunchtime Quickie

    posted by on May 1 at 12:45 PM

    Did he say Horse Balls?

    More Changes at The Seattle Times

    posted by on May 1 at 12:36 PM

    From: Company Communications

    Date: Thu, 1 May 2008 10:05:07 -0700

    To: All Seattle Times

    Subject: Message from Frank Blethen

    I am pleased to share the attached press announcement with Seattle Times employees regarding the promotion of Ryan Blethen to Associate Publisher, The Seattle Times. One of the primary responsibilities of my Blethen generation has been inculcating the fifth generation in our public service mission and preparing them for eventual leadership of the Seattle Times Company. This promotion for Ryan is a major step in the transition from the fourth to fifth generation of Blethen family stewardship of The Times.

    My fourth generation has always been grateful to work alongside talented and dedicated employees who share our passion for both journalistic and business excellence. It is gratifying that the fifth generation will have the same privilege. Please join me in congratulating Ryan on his promotion.

    Frank Blethen

    The Council Fights Back on Nickels’ Budget End Run

    posted by on May 1 at 12:19 PM

    Earlier this year, Mayor Greg Nickels spent around $150,000 in city funds for four surveillance cameras in Cal Anderson Park. The sneaky move infuriated many on the city council, which had placed a hold on funding for the cameras (and cameras in three other city parks) until they could get more information from the mayor.

    This morning, the council’s budget committee—inflated to seven members by the presence of several pissed-off council members who aren’t normally on the committee—met to talk about how they could keep the mayor from usurping the council’s budget authority in the future.

    The council—whose discussion was replete with terms like “prosecutable offense,” “misdemeanor,” and “violation of trust”—was unusually indignant, not only at the mayor’s end run but at the fact that no one from the city’s finance department (which answers to the mayor) could be bothered to show up at the meeting. When committee chair Jean Godden explained Dively’s absence by saying he “wasn’t able to” attend, members pressed her to tell them why. “I don’t know exactly—he just couldn’t attend,” Godden said. Council member Nick Licata responded that, given that the mayor’s move constituted a serious violation of council trust, “it would seem that someone from Finance should be able to show up. … I am in some ways as disturbed by the absence of any appearance of cooperation by the executive as I am with the expenditure of funds contrary to our expectation.”

    Indignation aside, most of this morning’s discussion centered around how to tighten the legal impact of budget provisos, which are explicit policy statements by the council setting requirements for money to be spent. In the case of the cameras, the mayor got around a council-imposed restriction by taking money from another area of the budget—funding that was supposed to help pay to cap the reservoir and add new green space and park improvements at Jefferson Park on Beacon Hill.

    By siphoning off money from Jefferson Park, Nickels was able to get around the proviso, which only applied to a separate area of the parks budget.

    Although the council’s central staff director Ben Noble, who led the council’s discussion, didn’t know the exact consequence of ignoring a budget proviso, he did say the mayor had a lot of flexibility to do what he wanted under the current rules. “There’s trust not only that provisos will be followed but that the intent of the council will be followed.” (I have a call in to the city’s law department to find out what the legal consequences might be.)

    Now that that trust has been violated—as council member Richard Conlin said, “We’re in a ‘trust but verify’ mode with the executive and this unfortunately puts us in kind of a disappointing situation”—the council has to decide what action to take to make sure the mayor doesn’t go behind its back again. The options they looked at this morning range from writing an angry letter—which they’re doing—to holding up the entire budget until the mayor agrees to every restriction. Another proposal would keep capital spending from carrying forward every year—so that, for example, a park under construction in 2008 would have to be approved again, along with all its provisos, in 2009. That proposal, which Conlin likened to a “nuclear standoff,” would be “administratively burdensome,” Noble said, “but it would address the problem.” He added: “If the system of trust is going to break down, there may be no other approach.”

    Ultimately, besides its (probably satisfying, but ultimately meaningless) angry letter, the council decided to move forward with proposals to write provisos so that they apply more generally (preventing the mayor from simply grabbing money from other funds within a department), and to work with the city attorney to tighten the rules on what the money allocated for specific projects (like the Jefferson Park improvements) can be spent on.

    In the meantime, the mayor continues to seek $850,000 to put cameras in three more parks. By all indications, they seem prepared to give it to him.

    What’s Worse than Reading About Video Games?

    posted by on May 1 at 12:10 PM

    Listening to people talk about them. Tune in to 94.9 KUOW at 1 p.m. today, as I’ll be a guest on The Conversation and its opening segment about Grand Theft Auto IV. I’m crossing my fingers that they’ve also booked a pro-family, anti-gaming horse’s ass. And even if sparks don’t fly, you’ll at least get to hear how my last name’s pronounced. (Hint: Not Makokokokovich.)

    Real Life Superheroes

    posted by on May 1 at 12:00 PM


    I took the above photograph of the Black Monday Society, a team of people who dress up like superheroes to protect Salt Lake City, back in November. This week, in the Salt Lake City Weekly, I write about them.

    I have some problems with the photos—I can’t believe that they use sound effects to illustrate the story when I write in the story about how lazy news outlets use comic book sound effects to punch up the stories about real life superheroes—but I’m happy to finally have the piece see the light of day.

    If you’re interested in grown men in spandex walking the city streets, how their wives feel about them doing this, and whether or not you should be worried, go check it out.

    On the Cover

    posted by on May 1 at 11:38 AM

    This week’s cover photo, by Los Angeles-based photographer Alex Prager, is part of Sugar and Spice, an exhibition at the Photographic Center Northwest, May 2–28. There’s an opening reception Friday May 2, 6–8 pm.


    Alexandra (2007), Courtesy of Robert Berman Gallery, Santa Monica, CA, and the artist.

    Flickr Photo of the Day

    posted by on May 1 at 11:33 AM


    from The Real Mike Wilkes

    Polls, Polls, Polls

    posted by on May 1 at 11:32 AM

    The Clinton campaign is touting some new national and state polls that show her doing better against McCain. Here’s one of them. And here’s the Clinton memo, which includes this:

    The data shows that Clinton not only outperforms Obama in head-to-head matchups, but is also stronger in the all important subcategories that serve as bellwethers for a candidate’s overall strength. In addition, new data out today in three swing states vital to Democratic prospects in November show Clinton beating McCain.

    HEAD-TO-HEAD WITH MCCAIN: In a hypothetical general election match-up with McCain, Clinton wins handily (50-41) while Obama is virtually tied with McCain (46-44), according to the AP-Ipsos poll released Monday. A new poll from CBS/NYT show Clinton beating McCain by five points (48-43), while Obama ties McCain (45-45). The new Fox poll has Clinton beating McCain by one point (45-44), while Obama trails McCain by three points (43-46). And in Gallup’s daily tracking poll, Clinton leads McCain by one point (46-45) while Obama trails McCain by two points (44-46).

    SWING STATES: New Quinnipiac polls out today show Clinton dramatically outperforms Obama in the critical swing states of Ohio in Florida. In Ohio, Clinton beats McCain by ten points (48-38), while Obama loses to him by one point (43-44). In Florida, Clinton beats McCain by 8 (49-41), while Obama loses to him by one point (42-43). Hillary also tops McCain by 14 points in Pennsylvania (51-37), while Obama’s lead over McCain is in single digits.

    Meanwhile, the Obamas were on the Today Show explaining their response to the Wright flap—with Obama saying, if I heard him right, that it’s obvious the Wright mess has hurt him in the polls.

    Slog Happy: Now with Trivia and Fish

    posted by on May 1 at 11:29 AM

    As you requested, next week’s Slog Happy will include a Slog Trivia Contest (five people to a team max, start studying…) and the brand-new Pike Street Fish Fry’s menu will be available inside Moe Bar:

    the menu (as of today)

    battered and fried:
    catfish , ling cod, rockfish, spearfish, smelt, oysters, halibut, asparagus

    just fried:
    fries, spanish fries, fish balls

    fish o’ day, octopus, steak, house sausage

    housemade tartar, lemon aioli, curry “ketchup,” salsa verde, smoked-chili mayo

    want a sandwich?
    we will slap anything on this menu inside a French roll with a pile of slaw for an extra $1

    Hope you can come!

    Separated At Birth

    posted by on May 1 at 11:15 AM

    The second in a series:


    Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels


    Actor Robbie Coltrane aka Hagrid

    Thanks to all of you who pointed out my unforgiveable Harry Potter faux pas.

    More on Rossi’s Fishy Numbers

    posted by on May 1 at 11:08 AM

    As I wrote this week, Republican gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi’s transportation plan doesn’t just suffer from a lack of local, regional, and statewide political support; it’s also based on numbers that range from wildly optimistic to totally nuts. Among the examples I cited in my story:

    Rossi estimates his eight-lane 520 bridge would cost $3.3 billion, or less than Gov. Christine Gregoire’s proposed six-lane 520 replacement—a number he arrived at by taking Gregoire’s estimate for a six-lane bridge and just assuming construction would happen faster.

    He predicts a cut-and-cover “tunnel lite”—the so-called “surface/hybrid” tunnel that Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels proposed in early 2007—would cost just $2.7 billion. That’s $700 million less than Nickels’s own estimate, which was widely regarded as optimistic—and subsequently rejected by the state transportation department as unsafe.

    And he estimates that the controversial Cross Base Highway in Pierce County (omitted from last year’s rejected roads and transit plan after lengthy negotiation) could be built for a new, low price of $252 million—down, inexplicably, from the state’s own estimate of $318 million.

    After my story went to press, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) sent me the numbers on other aspects of Rossi’s plan. Not surprisingly, they’re equally or more fantastical than the big-ticket items I talked about in this week’s paper:

    • Rossi estimates that improving US Highway 2 in east Snohomish County—including new passing and turn lanes and a new two-lane highway around Monroe—would cost $600 million. WSDOT’s own estimate for its US 2 Route Development Plan: $1.2 to $1.8 billion.

    • Rossi’s estimate for extending SR 509 to I-5 and providing a new, direct access to Sea-Tac Airport is $818 million—WSDOT’s own estimate for the same project, meanwhile, is a much higher $1.35 billion.

    • The candidate’s estimate for connecting SR 167 to the Port of Tacoma, similarly, is right around $1 billion—just half of WSDOT’s own estimate of $2 billion.

    • Finally, Rossi anticipates that nearly the entire cost of a new bridge across the Columbia River—estimated by WSDOT at between $3.1 and $4.2 billion—will come from unspecified “matching funds” from Oregon, “potential money from the federal government” and “additional state funds.” Rossi’s plan would provide just $870 million.

    Where is Rossi coming up with these numbers? His plan doesn’t say. Nor does it say what he’ll do when his lowball estimates prove to have been wildly optimistic—not surprising from a candidate who’s so comfortable with doublespeak he refers to a roads-only transportation plan as a “progressive” system of “transportation choices” to “get Washington moving.”

    Politically Motivated Prosecutions

    posted by on May 1 at 11:02 AM

    They’re all fun and games until someone gets hurt.

    Police say a woman they believe to be convicted Washington escort service operator Deborah Jeane Palfrey has committed suicide. Police in Tarpon Springs, Florida say the body was found in a shed near Palfrey’s mother’s home Thursday morning. There was a suicide note, but police did not disclose its contents.

    Palfrey was convicted April 15 by a federal jury of running a prostitution service that catered to members of Washington’s political elite.

    Anyone know where David Vitter was yesterday morning?

    UPDATE: Here’s CNN’s Fred Graham on the politically-motivated prosecution of Deborah Jeane Palfrey.

    But the most perplexing question is why the prosecutors are pursuing this case. They have given no indication that the “DC Madam” case is part of a broader campaign against prostitution by the thriving escort business [in Washington D.C.]. No similar cases have been brought. Palfrey’s attorneys claim they are punishing her for giving them a hard time in an unrelated case. The government should not prosecute a citizen for such a reason, and if the prosecutors have a proper reason, they should declare what it is.

    Today The Stranger Suggests

    posted by on May 1 at 11:00 AM


    ‘Autobahn’ at Re-bar

    Autobahn is a cycle of five short plays by Neil LaBute—the world’s leading misanthrope—all of which happen in cars. In one, a jackass husband begrudgingly apologizes to his silent, weeping wife: “I was wrong. Is that what you want to hear? Is it? ‘Kay. It was bad of me to call you a cunt, whether we were in the Albertsons or not.” Re-bar is an appropriately moody place to watch a couple returning a foster child, a date turning sour, and other stripped-down vignettes on human awfulness. (Re-bar, 1114 Howell St, 233-9873. 7:30 pm, $15, 21+.)


    It’s May Day!

    posted by on May 1 at 10:31 AM

    Courtesy of the Wicker Man. Not to bee confused with this:

    Reading Tonight

    posted by on May 1 at 10:22 AM


    Yet another day full of readings, with one open mic—it appears that the winter doldrums are past and we’re in the time of year where there are five to eight options a night. Prepare for long Reading Tonight posts.

    Up at Kane Hall, Peter and Rosemary Grant are talking about “long-term research into the biology of populations of Darwin’s finches on the Galápagos Islands.” Maybe you should invite your favorite jackass who talks about “survival of the fittest” as a financial imperative, to straighten him/her out.

    Up at Third Place Books, Lawrence Cheek reads from Year of the Boat, about taking a year to build a boat in his garage….just like Noah and his Ark! Only without the animals. Presumably. The publisher didn’t send us a review copy of the book, so I can’t say for sure.

    William Dietrich will be reading from The Rosetta Key, which honestly looks like a pretty standard thriller to me, at the University Book Store.

    Frances Richey, a poet who lost a soldier son in Afghanistan, will read at Elliott Bay Book Company from her new book The Warrior, about her experiences.

    At Town Hall, Jared Bernstein reads from Crunch: Why do I Feel So Squeezed? (And Other Unsolved Economic Mysteries). It’s about economics as they apply to the personal. Maybe I would stop feeling so squeezed for punctuation if certain authors stopped hoarding all the good punctuation in their book titles. Seriously: A colon, a question mark and parentheses? Trying way too hard.

    The most interesting reading of the night is Margot Kahn Case, who is referred to on the Hugo House website as Margot Kahn Case and Margot Kahn, and who Amazon refers to as Margot Kahn, and who is on our readings calendar as Margot Case, will be reading from her book Horses That Buck, which is a biography of an honest-to-God rodeo motherfucking cowboy. It looks fascinating. Also, the local country group The Maldives, who Seattle Weekly apparently once referred to in their own clever way as “Honky-Tonk Heroes,” though you shouldn’t hold that against them, will be on hand to play. And it’s free, no matter what name the author goes by. AND! The Hugo House has booze. How can you resist?

    And don’t forget to check out the full readings calendar, including the next week or so of readings.

    McCain: Bush Deserves a Pass for that “Mission Accomplished” Banner

    posted by on May 1 at 10:20 AM

    Instead the president should be slammed for the conduct of the war. Hard to argue with that.

    Fremont to Appeal City’s Dump Plan

    posted by on May 1 at 10:00 AM

    The Fremont Neighborhood Council plans to appeal the city’s decision to move forward with a rebuild of the North Transfer Station, Seattle’s north end dump.

    The city wants to modernize the aging facility, but neighbors in Fremont are upset about what they say is a lack of proper city process. Neighbors don’t believe the city took the time to fully assess other sites and they want the city to look at moving the dump to alternative locations in Ballard or Interbay.

    The Council has until May 8th to file their appeal.

    Currently Hanging

    posted by on May 1 at 10:00 AM

    Skull by Anonymous, 2008, watercolor, 10 by 8 inches

    At SOIL. (Gallery web site here.)

    An Important Correction

    posted by on May 1 at 9:56 AM

    This is not Ronaldo’s girlfriend (NSFW). Below is the girlfriend of the famous footballer in the middle of a sex scandal involving no less than three transvestites.
    Her name is Maria Beatriz Antony.

    Candy-Colored Whimsy Downtown

    posted by on May 1 at 9:33 AM

    It’s May Day (daffodils for everyone at Pike Place Market, free gelato, three protest marches) and First Thursday; add to that this performance parade and First Avenue looks like the place to be this afternoon.
    I’m hearing whispers about dancing cakes, a concrete-bound ocean liner, a full orchestra, twisted French humor, and a huge cast of performers. The spectacle starts at 5:30 pm at Occidental Park and proceeds to the Harbor Steps (across from SAM) where the main event begins at 6 pm.

    Free Gelato for the Workers!

    posted by on May 1 at 9:30 AM

    Downtown workers, unite: In honor of May Day (and the gelateria’s grand re-opening), free gelato at Gelatiamo on Third and Union, today from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

    1400 Third Ave., 467-9563
    (one free small gelato per worker)


    The Nasty Keyboard

    posted by on May 1 at 9:29 AM

    “If you look at what grows on computer keyboards, and hospitals are worse, believe it or not, it’s more or less a reflection of what’s in your nose and in your gut,” [said Dr Wilson, a consultant microbiologist at University College London Hospital…]
    Out of 33 keyboards swabbed, four were regarded as a potential health hazard and one harboured five times more germs than one of the office’s toilet seats.

    Microbiologist Dr Peter Wilson said a keyboard was often “a reflection of what is in your nose and in your gut”.

    During the Which? tests in January this year, a microbiologist deemed one of the office’s keyboards to be so dirty he ordered it to be removed, quarantined and cleaned.

    It had 150 times the recommended limit for bacteria - five times as filthy as a lavatory seat tested at the same time, the research found…

    Who Are The Real Lesbians?

    posted by on May 1 at 9:14 AM


    I saw the headline yesterday and brushed it off as a last-day-of-April Fools joke. But no, it’s real: Campaigners on the Greek isle of Lesbos are going to court to wrangle exclusive rights to the term “Lesbian.”

    BBC News reports:

    The issue boils down to who has the right to call themselves Lesbians. Is it gay women, or the 100,000 people living on Greece’s third biggest island—plus another 250,000 expatriates who originate from Lesbos? The man spearheading the case, publisher Dimitris Lambrou, claims that international dominance of the word in its sexual context violates the human rights of the islanders, and disgraces them around the world. He says it causes daily problems to the social life of Lesbos’s inhabitants.

    In court papers, the plaintiffs allege that the Greek government is so embarrassed by the term Lesbian that it has been forced to rename the island after its capital, Mytilini. An early court date has now been set for judges to decide whether to grant an injunction against the Homosexual and Lesbian Community of Greece and to order it to change its name.

    Good luck with that. Full story here.

    Gays Gettin’ Hitched — Moonie Style!

    posted by on May 1 at 9:03 AM


    If the point is getting straight people to take same-sex marriage seriously, getting them to recognize the numerous injustices that bans on same-sex marriage rain down on the heads of committed gay couples and wocka wocka wocka, I don’t think mass, Moonie-style marriage ceremonies are really the best approach. Moonie marriages are legal, of course, recognized by the state and all that, but does anyone take them seriously? Well, The Matthew Shepard Foundation is planning a group commitment ceremony to kick off gay pride events in L.A. Says the press release…

    On June 4, 2008, “Grey’s Anatomy” star T.R. Knight will join the Matthew Shepard Foundation to help kick off National Gay-Pride month with a symbolic dusk commitment ceremony at the famed West Hollywood hotspot, The Abbey.

    At 8pm, couples from around the nation will “tie the knot” in an event officiated by the Mayor of West Hollywood and witnessed by Judy Shepard. Couples will be wearing the Matthew Shepard Erase Hate pendant courtesy of Love and Pride jewelry designer, Udi Behr. Love and Pride is the first online jewelry destination for people who believe in equality, diversity and tolerance for all.

    Um… uh… gee. There’s something about group commitment ceremonies—particularly ones crudely wedded to online jewelry “destinations”—that doesn’t make me think, “mmm… equality and stuff.” It makes me think, “mmm… crude and ineffective.” It will be particularly ineffective if, as some are speculating, out teevee star T.R. Knight decides to take part in the ceremony, committing to his boyfriend of six months, Marc Cornelsen, a UCLA student. Making a public spectacle of a premature commitment that is, as with most premature commitments, highly likely to end badly isn’t going to help our side. Participate if you must, T.R., but wait at least a year or two before you marry that boy.

    A Lying Sack

    posted by on May 1 at 8:59 AM

    According to the White House, that sign behind Bush…
    bushmission33.jpg…it was not referring to the war in Iraq but to something else entirely, something to do with the ship returning home. The sign just happened to be there, and the White House regrets that the American public thought it had anything to do with the victory speech.

    After shifting explanations, the White House eventually said the “Mission Accomplished” phrase referred to the carrier’s crew completing its 10-month mission, not the military completing its mission in Iraq. Bush, in October 2003, disavowed any connection with the “Mission Accomplished” message. He said the White House had nothing to do with the banner; a spokesman later said the ship’s crew asked for the sign and the White House staff had it made by a private vendor.

    “President Bush is well aware that the banner should have been much more specific and said `mission accomplished’ for these sailors who are on this ship on their mission,” White House press secretary Dana Perino said Wednesday. “And we have certainly paid a price for not being more specific on that banner. And I recognize that the media is going to play this up again tomorrow, as they do every single year.”

    The Morning News

    posted by on May 1 at 7:54 AM

    Good Riddance: Aden Hashi Ayro, one of Al Qaeda’s top men and leader of its Somali contingent, has reportedly been killed.

    Falling Short: Exxon Mobil earned $10.9 billion in the first quarter — short of what analysts predicted.

    Money Well Spent: According to a report from the Institute of Education Sciences, kids who take part in the No Child Left Behind Act’s billion dollar Reading First program “scored no better on reading comprehension tests than peers in schools that don’t participate.”

    Something to Make Your Blood Boil First Thing in the Morning: Afghan women don’t have it much better after the U.S. invasion:

    Trafficked across the border from Pakistan with her 3-year-old son, Rukhma was handed to an Afghan who raped and abused her, then beat the toddler to death as she watched helplessly.

    He was jailed for 20 years for murder, but Rukhma ended up in prison too.

    Rukhma, who doesn’t know her age but looks younger than 20, had put up with her mistreatment for three months last summer before seeking protection and justice from authorities. Instead she was given a four-year sentence on Dec. 5 for adultery and “escaping her house” in Pakistan, even though she says she was kidnapped and raped.

    The fall of the Taliban six years ago heralded new rights for Afghan women: to go to school or get a job, and be protected under the law. Women’s rights are now enshrined in the constitution.

    Yet except for a small urban elite, a woman fleeing domestic violence or accusing a man of rape herself often ends up the guilty party in the eyes of judges and prosecutors.

    “Why am I here? I’m innocent,” Rukhma said, crying in a musty jail cell and cradling a baby daughter by her previous marriage whom she bore in prison. “It is cruel to have your son killed before your eyes and then to be imprisoned.”

    In parts of Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan, where stern social codes prevail, a woman who runs away from home is typically suspected of having taken a lover and can be prosecuted for adultery. Simply leaving her house without her family’s permission may be deemed an offense — as in Rukhma’s case — although it is not classified as such under Afghanistan’s penal code.

    The chief prosecutor of eastern Nangarhar province who oversaw Rukhma’s case suggested she got off lightly.

    If my wife goes to the bazaar without my permission, I will kill her. This is our culture,” Abdul Qayum shouted scornfully during an interview in his office in the city of Jalalabad.

    His colleagues laughed approvingly. “This is Afghanistan, not America,” Qayum said.

    Roasted: Starbucks’ earnings down 21% in the second quarter.

    Profiles in Courage, Stupid Regulations: Pfc. Monica Brown was awarded the Silver Star for acts of bravery and courage in Afghanistan. Then, days after Vice President Cheney pinned the medal on her, she was yanked from her unit because “Army restrictions on women in combat barred her from such missions.”

    Blue Collar 007s: Spying, secret surveillance, and the International Association of Machinists District 751.

    Be Prepared: Starting today, the Department of Homeland Security will be conducting an eight-day terror drill in Seattle.

    Dept. of Me Buckling Over in Laughter: Tim Eyman has been forced to mortgage his home in order to fund his latest initiative.

    On the Rise: Tuition for community college students.

    Creepy Kids’ Show of the Day:

    Wednesday, April 30, 2008

    In/Visible Is Up: Dario Robleto

    posted by on April 30 at 6:17 PM

    An installation view of Dario Robleto’s An Instinct Toward Life, in his show Heaven Is Being a Memory to Others at the Frye. (Photos by Adam L. Weintraub)

    2008 is not even half over, and I’m putting money on Dario Robleto’s new exhibition at the Frye Art Museum as the Seattle exhibition of the year. Basically, Robleto, a San Antonio-based artist, went in search of a dead Seattle woman, Emma Frye (co-founder of the museum), and this show is the story of his dark travels.

    A closer view of An Instinct Toward Life, with two madonna-and-child paintings from the permanent collection.

    Not much is known about Emma, except that she was married to Charles, had a miscarriage, and never after had children. Heaven Is Being a Memory to Others is an imagined walk through her life led by a call-and-response of 19th-century paintings from the Frye’s permanent collection and 21st-century “sampled” sculptures made by Robleto using such materials as melted-down audiotape of the longest-married couple talking about their marriage, melted lead excavated from various wars, and fulgurites, or glass made from lightning striking the desert. The show is also a story about the making of an art collection, about war and love, and about loss and the remix—but this is enough to start with.

    A detail from Robleto’s sculpture Time Measures Nothing But This Love.

    Just listen to the artist talk.

    Woman vs. Machine

    posted by on April 30 at 5:10 PM

    Coffee machine, that is.

    In what some are calling an instant YouTube classic, today Hillary Clinton, after her much mocked gas-pumping photo op, tried to get herself a $1.27 cup of gas station coffee.

    And, well, the millionaire Senator, who doesn’t drive and admits she can’t remember when she last pumped gas for herself, had a hard time figuring out how to use the gas station coffee machine.

    Via Americablog, which is obviously hoping that this becomes this.

    Notes from the Prayer Warrior

    posted by on April 30 at 5:00 PM

    This one arrived with the subject line: “Day of Silence Protest Positive Story!”


    Wednesday, 30 April 2008

    Praise for a one life story! I received a call from a man who was the Student Body President and graduate of Mt. Si High School class of 1951! He and his wife who both attended Mt. Si and still live in Snoqualmie have been horrified as they have watched the purveyors of the homosexual agenda wield their power at their beloved Alma mater. They were so encouraged to read that we were taking a stand on the Day of Silence. However, two days before the protest, the wife suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. Her husband called to thank us for the hope we provided to her that someone cared enough to act.

    Pastor Hutch

    “This is Fyodor Dostoevsky. My car broke down.”

    posted by on April 30 at 4:55 PM

    The L.A. Times reports on a threesome of scam artists who are calling bookstores claiming to be famous authors. They say that they’re in trouble, and need some money.

    After getting a second call, in just a few days, from a writer needing money — this one purportedly from English writer Nick Hornby — Book Soup’s Tosh Berman didn’t hesitate to cut him off. “Almost exactly from the script he said, ‘I’m embarrassed to be calling you like this, but I’m at the airport… .’

    “He really managed the accent,” Berman said of the Hornby impersonator. “I almost fell for it. But I didn’t take that trip.”

    Berman speculated that this gang has several members — one black man, one English guy, one woman — to make impersonation easier. “It’s like the Mod Squad or something.”

    Vroman’s has hung up on someone claiming to be Ray Bradbury and, in late February, Ramos said, Russell Banks.

    I actually find this really charming. I mean, I hope that no bookstores are actually forking over money, but the fantasy of it all—that these con artists actually think that authors can call up bookstores and ask for a loan, like family—is quite sweet. But no actual author I’ve met would be able to pull of a scam like this one: The good ones are way too nice to request something like that, and the jackasses just out-and-out ask for a substantial discount and then pitch a red-faced fit when it’s denied and swear that they’re going to shop at forever “because my books have made you so much money and you treat me like this.”

    Re: Someone is Trying to Depress Voter Turnout in North Carolina Next Tuesday

    posted by on April 30 at 4:20 PM

    Dan, that’s a little unfair. Although I don’t defend their robocalls, I would hardly call Women’s Voices. Women Vote—the progressive advocacy group that encourages single women to register and vote—a surrogate for Hillary Clinton, as your post seems to imply. (WVWV is accused of trying to suppress voter turnout by making robo-calls encouraging people to fill out voter registration cards and mail them in, despite the fact that the deadline for mail-in voter registration has already passed.) In fact, the Americablog post linked below cites just two links to “the Clintons” (Hillary and Bill)—its president, Page Gardner, donated $2,500 to Clinton’s PAC this year and $4,200 to Clinton’s senate campaign in 2005, and its director worked for Bill Clinton during his first campaign, sixteen years ago, and gave Hillary $2,300. However, other members of its board donated to other candidates as well—including John Edwards (Chris Desser, $2,300 in 2007) and Barack Obama (Maggie Rheinstein, $900). And several Podesta family members (as long as we’re playing that game) gave money to Bill Richardson (brother Anthony, $2,000; wife Heather, $2,000) and Chris Dodd (Anthony, $2,000, Heather, $1,000). Most of the staff and board members, however, didn’t donate any money to any candidate. So it’s pretty hard to pin their robocall fuckup on Hillary. (And by the way, Clinton’s not the only one who ought to be concerned in North Carolina; according to recent polls, Obama’s lead over Clinton has been cut in half since the day before the Pennsylvania primary.)

    Incidentally, WVWV has suspended the calls and has stopped the outstanding mail-in registration forms from being delivered. In a statement, the group’s president apologized for the “confusion.”

    Now, This Is Just God Damn Re-diculous.

    posted by on April 30 at 3:44 PM

    I have two great loves: Getting stoned as a biblical whore, and taking so-called “perception tests”. I also enjoy crushing any and all annoying, annoying bicyclists beneath the wheels of my car*. And yay for me, these are three great tastes that go great together. Of course, I am put at cross-hairs, as it were, over the following so-called “perception test” that I just got stoned maybe and stumbled upon (thanks, tipper “Matt”), which is nothing, as I’m sure you’ll notice, but filthy pro-biker propaganda. But since ECB will probably appreciate that fact (and because her hellish power, which I for one am terrified of, is growing by the moment), I present it below for your consideration.

    Now wasn’t that fun? And clever? And strangely pro-biker? Of course it was.

    And I don’t give a tap-dancing monkey turd if you’ve seen this before, so save it, haters. The Internet is a race, yes, but I’m no fucking racist**.

    * Just kidding. I don’t have a car. I shoot bicyclists in the neck with homemade blow darts.

    ** Just kidding. I’m totally racist.

    Meet Kirk Makin—Stupid Fucking Credulous Hack of the Day

    posted by on April 30 at 3:15 PM

    Yeah, yeah—again with the Globe and Mail story. It’ll be out of my system soon, gang, I swear. But it needs to be said…

    Reporter Kirk Makin exposed his bias—he pulled it out and slowly stroked it—when he used the word “raunchy” to describe the sex life of a married couple in his piece today. Way to be objective there, Kirk. And then there’s this:

    Judge Nicholas noted that the couple—who have a son—had regularly engaged in sadomasochistic behaviour over the years.
    0416makin230.jpg You gotta love how Makin drops in the detail about these two being parents. He might as well have written, “OMFG! They let these people have children? These raunchy-ass sadomasochists?” Because, of course, everyone knows that good parents, if they’re going to have sex at all, should only have vanilla sex.

    As if insulting this particular couple and calling into question their fitness to parent weren’t bad enough, Makin fails Globe and Mail readers—raunchy or regular—by neglecting to get a quote from someone willing to defend a common type of sexual expression that is now, it seems, illegal in Ontario. Makin quotes a scandalized judge and a crusading prosecutor but he doesn’t bother to find anyone to speak for the other side, i.e. for all those raunchy, disenfranchised kinksters up there in Canada.

    Compare Makin’s piece to this ABC News story about the bondage-gone-wrong death of a man in Tennessee last week. The ABC News piece includes several quotes from Susan Wright of the National Coalition of Sexual Freedom. From ABC News:

    Bondage Rule of Thumb Broken

    “You never, ever leave someone alone when they’re in bondage,” Wright said. “For safety reasons, if someone’s in bondage, you have to be there to observe them and make sure there are no complications.”

    Wright likened responsible bondage to sky diving and rock climbing—both activities that are not smart to do solo. She said that typically, couples involved in the fetish establish safewords that are used when someone becomes uncomfortable.

    “You don’t just up and leave someone because accidents happen,” she said. “These are sex games. People are just supposed to be having fun.”

    So retroactive props to David Schoetz of ABC News for doing his job. And Makin? You’re a stupid fucking hack.

    Hillary Clinton At The Pump

    posted by on April 30 at 2:50 PM

    The publicity stunt du jour:

    Senator Hillary Clinton, highlighting her enthusiasm for a summer holiday from the gas tax, carpools with an Indiana steelworker to get his tank refueled. There’s really nothing I can add that the AP report doesn’t do justice to already:

    The Democratic presidential candidate and sheet metal worker Jason Wilfing, 33, pulled into the station in a large white Ford 250 pickup truck, Clinton riding shotgun. Never mind that it wasn’t even Wilfing’s truck — he had borrowed his boss’s larger vehicle to accommodate Clinton’s security agent and personal assistant, who rode in the back.

    Trailing Wilfing and Clinton was a Secret Service motorcade consisting of six gas-guzzling Suburbans, two squad cars and a green SUV bearing photographers and TV cameras. Several other reporters and cameramen stood shivering in unseasonably cold temperatures, ready to capture the multi-vehicle arrival.

    Then there’s this, from the Washington Post:

    Asked by one of the reporters when she had last pumped gas herself, Clinton said she did not know. Her staff was not only not sure when the last time the former first lady drove a car (it’s not clear she’s allowed to as the the Secret Service takes her everywhere for security reasons) but had to check to make sure that she actually has a valid driver’s license.

    Hillary Clinton rides around in a Ford F250 and can’t believe the price of gas, which may or may not be more important to the common man than Barack Obama loving pot roast. Has anyone asked how John McCain feels about Larry the Cable Guy?

    Meanwhile, here are policy critiques of the gas tax holiday via ECB, Annie Wagner, and the inimitable Mr. Golob.

    Games: 24 Hours Into Grand Theft Auto IV

    posted by on April 30 at 2:27 PM


    Every minute I play Grand Theft Auto IV, I feel the need to tack on yet another week’s play in order to review it credibly. That’s not because the basic experience has changed. You still control a hired gun whose main abilities—carjacking, driving, shooting, fighting—are employed to do dirty work for bossy assholes. See? Didn’t need weeks or months to figure that out again.

    But what throws me off is the weight. I mean that literally—when you get into a car and try driving crazy-fast like the older games, the result is a swerving, crashy mess. Now, the cars feel heavy. Might seem like an immaterial nitpick, but when your GTA IV hoopty plows into a dumptruck or a few passersby on the sidewalk, there’s a tangible difference in the feeling—the feeling of how it controls, and more importantly, the feeling of what you’re doing.

    I’m not saying you’ll go moral and feel awful for driving through the sidewalk (or waiting for paramedics to come to the scene and scream, “Don’t you fucking die on me!”). But game maker Rockstar North changed and rebuilt its crime-spree sandbox to feel heavier and overwhelming, as if the fictional city you’re blazing through has some life. In my one day of play, the little things have already begun to add up in Niko Bellic’s quest for revenge, reward, and a new life. Flip on a TV, and you can watch over an hour of original shows produced in Liberty City about Liberty City; the first time I turned it on, real-life cage-wrestling freak Bas Rutten was there to holler at me. Same with the car radio—surf through dozens of music stations (with DJs like Iggy Pop and Juliette Lewis), then flip to the talk radio stations that mock both the fictional city’s right and the left. You’ll find other real-life cameos here and there, from the blatant (stand-up comedians doing full routines) to the buried (turns out the hot dog vendor’s voiced by Fred Armisen). Then there’s the hustle and bustle of the living, breathing city, chattering folks all over the streets, tons of New York-accurate monuments, and on and on and on…

    This is a game, though, not YouTube, yet the reason you discover half of these YouTube-worthy moments is because you’re finding them while meeting your cousin at a pool bar, or going out on a date, or helping your Jamaican buddies with errands. The game’s makers have gone on and on about the social system in this game, that they want you to care about the people you’re working with and for. That push means nothing without good writing, so thankfully, what I’ve played so far has passed muster. Think of it more like a TV series than a movie in terms of dialogue, as the writers have hours to build a lot of personalities, and they’ve got a pretty good cast of voice-over actors to tackle the cliché-ridden job with humor and personality. GTA IV’s plot and dialogue won’t dethrone The Godfather or The Sopranos anytime soon, but the stuff at least rises above overblown man-boy fare like Entourage (though that lead largely depends on how much you like hearing Balkan expatriates use the word “titties”).

    The nuts-and-bolts mostly get the thumbs-up here. Driving, aiming guns, running around—these central actions all mostly feel improved and fluid, so you won’t get frustrated by figuring out how the hell to do something while five mobsters gun you down. To be fair, I’ve gotten plenty aggravated at a few missions already—I’m no GTA expert, and I’ve always given up on previous GTAs because a random, necessary mission was too unbeatable to be fun for me. But the difficulty, this far in, has been scaled much better for my sensibilities. And if one mission is pissing me off, I can bust out my in-game cell phone and find something else to do right away (or, of course, steal a police car and drive it into the ocean for no good reason…or use its in-dash computer to track down crooks and become, erm, a vigilante).

    I still have reservations—will the game wind down after doing the same few steal/kill/drive missions over and over? Will the plot and dialogue weaken and stumble with more brutish, misogynistic stereotypes? But the diversity of this title so far has taken me aback, in stark contrast to the game’s slow, boring tutorial missions, certainly. And the 16-player multiplayer modes are a blast—I’ll dig into those in a proper, finished-the-game review in the next week or so, but suffice it to say, they turned out and then some.

    Recommendation: I don’t see this game converting anyone who wasn’t swayed by the old games. The controls are complex enough to keep curious outsiders at bay. And GTA IV teeters between social satire and giddy exploitation far too often to make the cultural dent that other reviewers seem to be hinting at. But the target crowd—and the folks holding their breath before plunging into a new games system—have themselves the absolute pinnacle of bang for the buck.

    (Want the game? Enter the contest. You still have until early Friday.)

    Someone is Trying to Depress Voter Turnout in North Carolina Next Tuesday

    posted by on April 30 at 2:17 PM

    You’ll never guess who.

    Your Morning Glory

    posted by on April 30 at 1:33 PM


    Breakfast brings out strong feelings in Stranger readers. Many people wrote in to say we missed their favorite bacon or otherwise fell down on the job in this past week’s Food Fight! Morning Glory Edition. We can’t eat every strip of bacon in the city (much as we’d like to), so here are some of your thoughts.

    From the irate Mr. [name redacted] (sic throughout):

    You all F’d up!

    How can you not even mention the 5 Spot in your best breakfasts in Seattle? The Dish? There biscuits and gravy can’t touch the 5 Spot’s. The biscuits are big fresh and aren’t something that comes out of a can. The bacon there is the best I have come accross and you mentioned places like Tilth, Veil and Senior Moose, which the last I might add should be shut down for improper ventilation, I almost cried when I was there because it was so smokey in there.

    Get off your asses and wait in line for some breakfast at the 5 Spot, or try it during the week when there are no lines.

    Like I said you all F’d up!

    Interestingly, some Stranger reader-reviewers completely oppose Mr. [name redacted]’s point of view, while some entirely support it. Food fight!

    From the more moderate mind of the splendidly named Berl Nussbaum:

    I looked in vain for my favorite breakfast place, LC’s Kitchen. With your cadre of reviewers overwhelmed by geography and sheer numbers of Seattle restaurants, I’m not surprised. Lake City Way doesn’t even qualify as a region on the breakfast map.

    A prisoner of granola and breakfast virtue, I seldom walk on the fatty side before noon—but LC’s is always a weekend temptation. They have a variant on hash browns—more like 3-D potato latkes, really—that occasionally appears on the menu, alone worth the trip. If you ever feel adventurous, maybe give it a try—or send one of your minions. Ambience? Well, it’s unprepossessing, Lake City Way after all. But homey and tasty—and mercifully uncrowded on weekends. I wouldn’t mind seeing more crowds, it’ll help them survive.


    No, no: Thank YOU, Berl.

    Ms. Emily Parker instructs re: “BOMB breakfast grub”:

    Wonderful article on breakfast and drinking for breakfast… the best way to fill the void. My favorite spot is CJ’s on 1st in Belltown. I only ever order their pancakes (they have crispy edges, a very exciting pancake), but my friend tells me they have other stuff on the menu he claims is also good.

    Have a spectacular day!

    You too, Emily!

    And two anonymous AOL users wrote about the Hi-Spot (conspiracy?):

    I think it’s kind of strange that y’all missed my favorite, The Hi Spot Cafe in all categories. They, in fact, have the best bacon I’ve had in quite sometime. Almost always have to wait for a table, but it’s worth it!!
    Hi, seriously have you tried the bacon at the Hi Spot Cafe??? It is some of the best bacon you can buy and a must try. At lunchtime it becomes the best BLT known to mankind!!!

    Thank you all. As you were.

    [An aside: I said I wouldn’t disparage the $38.95-per-person brunch buffet at Salty’s on Alki here, but then I did anyway. Apparently people love a liquid chocolate fountain: Burn on me, Salty’s grossed $11.5 MILLION DOLLARS last year, making it one of only three restaurants in Washington state among the country’s 100 top-grossing independent restaurants (from the terribly named Restaurants & Institutions magazine, via the PI’s Rebekah Denn). Stranger reader-reviewers still think Salty’s sucks.]

    Coming To Terms With The New Boss

    posted by on April 30 at 1:15 PM

    The New York Times takes us into the raging id of the hard-right Congressional Republican, now faced with reconciling their often less-than-cordial relationship with Republican nominee John McCain:

    “For the pure, die-hard, dyed-in-the-wool Republican, they probably have a little bit of heartburn,” said Representative Ray LaHood, an Illinois Republican and McCain supporter retiring from the House at the end of this year

    Mr. McCain also liked to ridicule Congressional earmarks, the pet projects on which Republicans were feasting. And he led a Senate investigation into the bilking of Indian tribes by the lobbyist Jack Abramoff, a source of great embarrassment and trouble for Mr. DeLay and other Republicans.

    “They just hated McCain’s style of politics,” said Charles Bass, a former House member from New Hampshire who now leads a moderate Republican group.

    And yet for many House members trying to shake off the Republican reputation of Byzantine wheeling and dealing during the DeLay years, they find themselves having to applaud McCain’s prior stances, even when that stance was at the time firmly placed on their collective throats:

    Many Republicans have now concluded that it is only Mr. McCain’s willingness to challenge recent Republican orthodoxy that has left him in a position to credibly contend for the White House, given public dissatisfaction with Republican leadership.

    “If he hadn’t disagreed with us, he wouldn’t have a chance of being president,” said Representative Zach Wamp, Republican of Tennessee. “He is the one guy who can be the candidate for us this cycle.”

    Noam Scheiber of The New Republic believes that should the McCain candidacy look dead in the water at any point, the Congressional knives will likely come back out.

    Big homie’s telling me, ‘Represent your hood with a book in your hand.’

    posted by on April 30 at 12:47 PM

    Harry Allen has obtained a publishers’ promotional video of memoirist Margaret B. “Jones” Seltzer talking about being a gang member from South Central L.A. Of course, Seltzer wasn’t a member of any gang, and this video is from before she was busted. It’s pretty fascinating, watching her act in her fictional persona. She’s not a bad actor, I guess, but this video really doesn’t make me want to read the book—it sounds like an endless string of cliches and stereotypes, loaded down with inspirational nothings, which I think was what the book was like, also.

    Arts Headline of the Day

    posted by on April 30 at 12:43 PM

    Puppets can’t portray the full range of ‘Don Giovanni’


    Considering His Track Record…

    posted by on April 30 at 12:32 PM

    …why would anyone take dating tips from Reichen Lehmkuhl anyway?

    Next Year’s Model

    posted by on April 30 at 12:30 PM

    Last night at the Pico Iyer reading at Benaroya Hall, Seattle Arts and Lectures announced their next season of readers. Ready?

    Lecture Series: September 17, 2008 - Richard Russo

    October 7, 2008 - Terry Tempest Williams

    November 12, 2008 - John Updike

    January 12, 2009 - Michael Pollan

    February 24, 2009 - Junot Diaz

    April TBD, 2009 - Mira Nair

    Special Events:
    November 19, 2008 - Annie Liebovitz
    March 18, 2009 - Scott Simon
    May TBD, 2009 - Shirin Ebadi

    I’m excited to see Richard Russo, because I (heart) him. I also really should see John Updike before I die (because John Updike will outlive us all). I’m excited to see Junot Diaz as well. Michael Pollan will probably sell the place out faster than a KISS concert would, nowadays, and Mira Nair will probably be pretty popular also. All in all, it’s a pretty good schedule, I think. There are no OMGs on the list, but it’s solid, and not depressing the way many book-related schedules are nowadays, so this counts as a triumph, I think.

    Lunchtime Quickie

    posted by on April 30 at 12:01 PM

    Why I’m Never Ever Having Kids, Part II:

    (this, of course, was Part I)

    Global Energy Flux

    posted by on April 30 at 11:50 AM

    I’ve tried to stay out of this little fight, but I have to jump in here.

    (As a prelude, I think both Erica and Annie are smart and all three candidates energy policies are an embarrassment. As an example, corn-based biofuels are a fucking farce.)


    And she addresses some of the actual reasons gas prices are at record highs: America’s refusal to dip into oil reserves, and OPEC’s stranglehold on oil production.

    is wrong.

    1. The strategic petroleum reserve is intended for, and should remain for, genuine supply shocks—sudden losses of major sources of oil. A nuclear war in the Mideast, a revolution in Russia, a massive earthquake destroying the Alaskan pipeline, a hurricane decimating the gulf oil platforms, New Orleans and Texas—these are good uses for the strategic petroleum reserve, not as a response demand-driven rises in energy costs. If we use up the reserve in a vain attempt to reverse long-term trends, we will be left without petroleum when we really need it. And we need it. Without petroleum, our society stops. No food at the grocery store. No clean water coming out of the taps. No lights. No heat. The reserve is absolutely necessary to keep our civilization afloat after an unexpected sudden hit in production, to give us enough time to scramble and find an alternative source or drastically ration.

    Any politician than wants to use the reserve for short-term political gain—to drive down energy costs temporarily before a key election—is profoundly selfish and irresponsible.

    2. With the rise of major new suppliers and alterative oil sources, OPEC plays an increasingly minor role in global energy production. Further, the oil reserves and production rates in most OPEC countries have already started their decline.

    Let’s talk numbers. In 2007, the United States imported 13,439 thousand barrels of oil per day from foreign countries, down slightly from 13,707 in 2006. Domestic field production was about 5,103 thousand barrels per day in 2007. Therefore about three quarters of oil consumed in the United States is from foreign sources.

    Personally I think this is a good thing. I’d much rather the United States consume other nations oil resources for as long as we can get away with it, saving our deposits for the future in which they will inevitably be more valuable than they are now. From a strategic point of view, it’s a decent trade-off. We keep an intrinsically valuable resource in our nation while sending off a fiat currency abroad. Far better than the trade deficit from China, in which we mostly receive shitty consumer goods.

    But wait, you say, why should we send all this money to the Mideast! Only about 2,170 thousand barrels per day came from the Persian Gulf, or 16% of all imports, ten percent of the total. Imports from all OPEC nations were just shy of 6000 thousand barrels per day, or just under half of all imports, a third of all oil consumed.

    The nation from which we imported the most petroleum? Canada at 2,426 thousand barrels per day. For those of you keeping track, that’s more than we imported from the entire Persian Gulf in 2007. Much of this was alternative petroleum sources, like oil sands. As I’ve written before, these alternative sources often come at a horrific environmental cost.

    Which brings me to my final point. Probably the single most important technology to develop right now, if you care about protecting the environment and expanding energy reserves, is carbon sequestration. Coal, oil shale, tar sands and other dirtier fossil fuels are going to play in increasingly large part in global energy production. China and India are, right now, embarking on a massive expansion of coal-fired power plants. Italy and Germany, having banned nuclear power, are also on a coal-plant building spree. With carbon sequestration, at least, the emissions of these plants can be contained and the impact reduced.

    Carbon sequestration, often absurdly wrapped under the term “clean coal,” remains a lab process. No one has invested in the R&D needed to make it commercially viable. We should. It’s the most obvious, the easiest and clearly most potentially effective way of reducing the impact of coming environmental and energy crises.

    So, I give Obama credit for having a policy position that recognizes coal as an increasingly dominant source of energy worldwide, a policy that seeks to reduce the environmental impact of this reality—even if I think the majority of his energy policy is about as crappy as the others…


    Commenter arduous takes me to task:

    First of all, I disagree that carbon sequestration should be our first priority. Carbon sequestration is far from proven, and like hydrogen vehicles, appears to be pie in the sky and somewhat of a red herring. The science isn’t there yet, and may not be there for a long while. Our first priority should be on alternative energy like solar and wind. According to Scientific American’s article entitled “A Solar Grand Plan” investment in solar could supply “69 percent of the U.S.’s electricity and 35 percent of its total energy by 2050.” Here the science is much more clear, and the technology is closer to being developed. Renewables HAVE to be our first priority….

    Read what Tim Flannery has to say about carbon sequestration.

    Even if you are right and he is wrong about carbon sequestration’s viability (and honestly I hope carbon sequestration is eventually viable because I think it would be another useful tool to have in our arsenal, shouldn’t we be focusing the bulk on our money on REDUCING emissions rather than something that MIGHT in a few decades be able to sap emissions out of the air?

    Solar energy might be cheaper than oil in about FIVE years. We’re so close. It’s ridiculous to say that carbon sequestration should be our first line of offense.

    To which I reply:

    If I was elected president in 2000, I would have invested massively in solar and wind technology. Solar and wind power are among the very few energy sources with even the possibility of having a lower lifetime environmental impact—when considering producing the plant, running the plant and dismantling the plant—than fossil fuels.

    I wasn’t president; arduous wasn’t. Bush was.

    The policy decision worldwide—in India, in China, in Germany, in Italy and dozens of other nations—was to stick with coal for at least another thirty years. We didn’t make this decision. The lack of a viable non-fossil fuel technology right now, not five years from now, did.

    The plants are going to be built, regardless if we get carbon sequestration working. So, although I don’t prefer carbon sequestration and I share the doubts that it’ll ever work on a commercial scale, it’s our best and last hope for dealing with the decisions already made.

    Since we’re in fantasy land, if I were president today, I’d focus policy on the demand side of the equation. I’d progressively increase the gas tax over time, add in a fossil fuel windfall tax and use the revenues to invest massively in deploying existing energy efficient technology. Increase federal subsidies for mass transit. Invest in a West coast high speed rail corridor. Pay for homeowners to put in new insulation and windows, new boilers and air conditioners, new refrigerators and ovens and so on.

    Dick Cheney Never Met A Whale He Couldn’t Kill

    posted by on April 30 at 11:40 AM

    Joining the many things Vice President Dick Cheney has no patience for? The endangered Right Whale, which has the unfortunate distinction of having become a nautical speed bump for high-speed shipping approaching American ports.

    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued new rules calling for slower ship speeds off the coasts, hoping to save the lives of the whales. The Vice President’s office was less than enthused, according to a House oversight report (PDF):

    Another internal document shows that the officials working for the Vice President also raised spurious objections to the science. According to this document, the Vice President’s staff “contends that we have no evidence (i.e., hard data) that lowering the speeds of ‘large ships’ will actually make a difference. NOAA rejected these objections, writing that both a statistical analysis of ship strike records and the peer-reviewed literature justified the final rule. In its response to the objections from the Vice President’s staff, NOAA reported that there is “no basis to overturn our previous conclusion that imposing a speed limit on large vessels would be beneficial to whales.

    In the immortal words of Marge Simpson:

    “Out of my way, nature.”

    (Via TPMMuckraker).

    Why Pay Premium Cinema Prices…

    posted by on April 30 at 11:39 AM

    …when you can read hilariously thorough synopses of today’s top films for free at

    The site’s stated mission:

    The purpose is to provide parents and other adults with objective and complete information about a film’s content so that they can decide, based on their own value system, whether they should watch a movie with or without their kids. We make no judgments about what is good or bad or anything else. We are not affiliated with any political party, any cultural or religious group, or any ideology. The only thing we advocate is responsible, engaged parenting.

    It’s a perfectly noble goal, carried out with scientific precision, with every reviewed film dissected for Sex/Nudity, Violence/Gore, Profanity, and Substance Use. The resulting text makes for some good, weird reading, as every “adult” component of a film is spelled out plainly. (The voluminous cataloguing of Sex/Nudity in Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay ranges from “A man is shown masturbating under sheets (we see rhythmic movement and then see a spurt of semen hit his face)” to “A young man’s arm accidentally grazes a young woman’s clothed breast,” and “A man massages a woman’s ankle.”)

    Best of all are the final messages presented for each film.

    Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd: “Revenge is not always the answer to pain. 19th century London was an awful place.”

    The Rolling Stones concert film Shine a Light: “If you love what you do, you can achieve excellence and longevity. Music is about feeling and teamwork.”

    Juno (in which “A young man is shown in running shorts in several scenes (bare legs to the thigh)”): “Love is hard work. Parents seem to assume that teenagers are not sexually active, when in reality they are.”

    Jenna Jameson’s Zombie Strippers (whose vast Sex/Nudity roundup reads like porn written by a computer): “Zombies can do anything.”

    Explore for yourself here. (And parents: Don’t let my camp appreciation of the site deter you from availing yourselves of its offerings, which really do lay out every single potentially objectionable detail for a given movie, from come-splattered faces to caressed ankles.)

    Thanks to MetaFilter for the heads-up.

    The Seattle Times’ Credulous (Viaduct) Reporting

    posted by on April 30 at 11:37 AM

    In today’s Seattle Times, Susan Gilmore credulously reports that the state has reopened the process for replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct—“juggling 10 options — what [the state] calls ‘families’ — to replace the one-mile stretch of the viaduct along Seattle’s central waterfront.” Those options, Gilmore reports, include three tunnels, three surface proposals, and four aerial viaduct options.

    Well, not exactly.

    The group of 30 “stakeholders” that is considering those ten options is supposed to adhere to a set list of “guiding principles.” Those principles include efficiently moving people (not cars) and goods; enhancing the waterfront, downtown, and adjacent neighborhoods for use by people; creating fiscally responsible solutions; and improving the environment, “with a particular emphasis on supporting local, regional and state climate change, water quality and Puget Sound recovery.”

    At the stakeholder group meeting at Puget Sound Regional Council HQ on April 24, Seattle Department of Planning and Development director Diane Sugimura noted that any viaduct replacement would have to focus particularly on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and creating “a great waterfront city.” Although some, including lone rebuild supporter Gene Hoaglund, lamented that plans to improve the waterfront were only “great if you’re a land speculator or a developer,” there seemed to be general consensus that the elevated rebuild was no longer a viable option.

    By the criteria being considered by the stakeholders, in fact, the vast majority of the ten options Gilmore cites drop off the list. Among those that are likely to fall aside: the (fiscally irresponsible) deep bore and cut and cover tunnels; the (environmentally irresponsible and non-waterfront-enhancing) retrofit and elevated roadways; the (non-waterfront-enhancing) “surface expressway”; and the (infeasible on many levels) “Elliott Bay Crossing,” which would include a 900-foot-high (!!!) tower right out in Elliott Bay adjacent to the waterfront.

    So ridiculous were some of these options, in fact, that members of the 30-person Stakeholder Advisory Group giggled audibly when they were presented last week; as advisory group member Mike O’Brien (the chair of the Cascade Chapter of the Sierra Club) recalls, “people couldn’t keep straight faces. I mean, it was laughable.”

    So while all the options are technically “on the table,” only a limited number will be seriously considered. A quick look at the guiding principles should have made that abundantly clear.

    Youth Pastor Watch

    posted by on April 30 at 11:30 AM


    A former Upshur County youth minister was sentenced to life in prison Tuesday for aggravated sexual assault of a child, said Billy Byrd, Upshur County district attorney

    Kevin Othell Laferney, former youth minister at the First Baptist Church in Glenwood, was scheduled for trial on May 12, Byrd said. Laferney, 41, changed his plea today and accepted a sentence of life in prison, he said.

    Laferney was arrested in August 2006 on charges of sexual assault of a 13-year-old girl. He was also charged with indecency with a 10-year-old child in another investigation.


    Pleas of “not guilty” were entered in Kenai Superior Court on Monday on behalf of a 46-year-old Kenai church youth leader on charges ranging including sexual abuse of a minor, indecent exposure and possession of child pornography.

    Kenai police arrested [Richard J.] Wagner on April 18, following an investigation by the Alaska Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force looking into child pornography. When task force members served a search warrant at Wagner’s Kenai residence, they seized multiple items including at least 20 pornographic videos on a computer.

    The investigation revealed Wagner allowed at least two boys to spend the night at his residence unsupervised, according to Alaska State Troopers, and during police interviews, one of the boys told Kenai police of the alleged sexual abuse.

    North Carolina:

    More than 9,000 North Carolina license plates have been recalled because they begin with “XXX”—a common symbol for sexually explicit material. At least 1,015 of the plates were distributed before the recall went into effect….

    A Winterville man returned his plate Thursday afternoon, after realizing in the parking lot that he was holding the suggestive prefix.

    “I definitely don’t want XXX on there,” Blake Coghill said. “I’m a youth pastor.”

    Today The Stranger Suggests

    posted by on April 30 at 11:00 AM


    Keith Gessen at Elliott Bay Book Company

    Gessen is a founder of the journal n+1, which originated with a lovely, scathing essay chastising McSweeney’s naiveness and defending negativity. n+1 quickly established itself as a thoughtful publication about life and literature and other great things. Tonight, Gessen reads from his debut novel, All the Sad Young Literary Men, a poignant book about success and failure that could create a movement around n+1 in the same way that A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius did for McSweeney’s. (Elliott Bay Book Company, 101 S Main St, 624-6600. 8 pm, free.)



    Cut Copy, Black Kids, Mobius Band at Neumo’s

    Cut Copy’s new album, In Ghost Colours, is discotheque perfection—dizzy, delirious dance rock, alternately euphoric and melancholy, with more than a hint of New Order at their ecstatic electronic peak. Lead singer Dan Whitford’s soft crooning floats on thick, pulsing bass that occasionally wanders up the frets, live and programmed drumming, washed-out guitars, and glittering synth arpeggios. Live, they are mission control, orchestrating audience liftoff with nary a problem. With last year’s great blog hope Black Kids and the dependably bittersweet Mobius Band. (Neumo’s, 925 E Pike St, 709-9467. 8 pm, $15, 21+.)

  • More Stranger Suggests for this week »
  • Department of Municipal Theater Envy

    posted by on April 30 at 10:57 AM

    For those of you who enjoyed the seven-plus-hour Gatz, by Elevator Repair Service, at On the Boards last September…


    … please enjoy/chafe under today’s NYT review of ERS’s latest project: The Sound and the Fury.


    Take it away, Benjamin D. Brantley:

    … after a few first minutes of resistance, I let myself fall into the shifting swirl of voices and movements. Sometimes it was the stylized, seemingly incongruous elements in this activity that most sharply summoned Benjy’s dissociative worldview.

    Antic, jaunty dances, for example, become a sensual metaphor for Benjy’s watching social rituals without having a clue as to what they mean (and perhaps also for our own bewilderment). In a scene where the carriage in which Benjy and his mother are riding suddenly turns around, Ms. Sokol’s body is physically twisted by others, conjuring the disrupting disorientation Benjy feels.

    When he cries, as he often does, the haunted bellow that fills the air usually comes not from the person playing him, but from some unspecified source. It’s a device neatly matching Benjy’s inability to connect cause and effect, even when the cause is himself.

    Remember how great Gatz was? How hypnotic? And surprising (like reinventing the character of Jay Gatsby by giving the role to a brooding John Malkovich type instead of a golden playboy)? Remember the way time stretched and bent around the actors and the story? Stretching in the aisles afterwards, some people said it was like a transcontinental flight. Others said it was like a drug trip. Pretty much everyone said it awesome.

    So who can we convince to bring TSaTF here? Seattle Rep? Can you put it on your smaller second stage? Maybe in conjunction with the International Children’s Festival (like you’re doing with Aurélia’s Oratorio)?

    Maybe under the rubric of a helping-adults-understand-developmentally-disabled-kids program?

    Maybe we can score some education grant money to make it happen? Can we get the Mayor’s Office and 4Culture in on this?


    Currently Hanging

    posted by on April 30 at 10:44 AM


    Sorry, but back to the prosecutor in today’s Globe and Mail story for just a moment:

    “It is paradoxical to argue that a person who lacks consciousness is in a position to enjoy heightened or intensified sexual gratification,” Mr. Cole argued in oral submissions to the court.

    He he. Oral submission—is that still legal in Canada?

    Anyway, this statement is so willfully obtuse about BDSM that it makes me wonder if this guy got a fair trial. Again, I’m against breath play, and I’m not saying that what went down on that particular night between that particular couple was consensual. That was for the court to decide—which the court could have done without leaning on case law that criminalizes spankings.

    Did anyone testify during this trial about the sexual and emotional dynamics of BDSM? Many people that enjoy BDSM—folks that cheerfully consent to eroticized violence and what might look like “bodily harm” to others—don’t enjoy the actual spankings, whippings, etc., in and of themselves. (Some do, of course.) What many BDSM players enjoy, what many find erotic, is the dread of what’s to come and, once spanking/whipping/whatever ends, the charged memory of what they’ve just endured. Someone can consent—foolishly, in my opinion—to being choked into unconsciousness and very much enjoy “heightened or intensified sexual gratification” before and after the act, just as someone that doesn’t enjoy the pain of an actual flogging, say, can enjoy the thrill of an impending flogging and the erotic charge they get knowing they made it through a flogging.

    Sheesh. I mean, take the guy in the photo above—you can watch him endure bodily harm by clicking here. (NSFW—duh.) He certainly seems to be dreading and enduring and yet thoroughly enjoying himself in the process, no?

    It Takes 1,047 Steps to Walk Across the Ballard Bridge

    posted by on April 30 at 10:33 AM

    Give or take a hundred. My count might’ve been thrown off when someone honked at me.

    Headline of the Day

    posted by on April 30 at 10:20 AM

    Leave your bondage gear and floggers at home if you’re headed up to Canada for the weekend. Check out this headline in today’s Globe and Mail

    People can’t invite violent sex acts, judge rules

    Okay, before we look at the judge’s ruling: The details of this particular case are… troubling, to say the least, even for a kink-positive writer like me. (“Kink-positive” does not equal “anything goes.” Never did.) A man choked his wife into unconsciousness and when she came to a few minutes later, she was bent over the bed, her hands tied behind her back, a dildo buried in her ass. A month later the woman reported her husband to the police, and he was arrested and charged with assault. But before going to trial the woman “changed her mind,” and claimed she hadn’t been assaulted.

    The woman insisted in her testimony that they had engaged in similar activities in the past, and that she routinely consented to being choked….

    Judge Nicholas noted that the couple—who have a son—had regularly engaged in sadomasochistic behaviour over the years. They even had a codeword—”tweety bird”—which either could use at any time to indicate to the other that a particular sex act must stop immediately.

    Okaaaaay. I don’t know what the hell was going on in this marriage. And for the record I’m opposed to erotic “choking games” during sex—particularly during solo sex. (Here’s an excellent Control Tower on the subject. On the subject of “breath play,” as on so many others, I agree with and defer to the Mistress.) It’s also possible for one half of a kinky couple to assault his or her other half despite the couple having engaged in “similar activities” in the past—hell, the activities could be identical. A lack of consent the second, third, or millionth time a couple indulges in any form of sex play makes the act assault and/or rape—and that’s the case whether the couple enjoys a thoroughly vanilla sex life or, as the Globe and Mail gratuitously and inaccurately put it about this particular couple, “a raunchy sex life.” (Note to G&M reporter Kirk Makin: “raunch” is its very own kink, one that that involves bodily filth—stanky pits, dirty buttholes, rank piss, vomit, etc. Next time, Kirk, keep your disgust to yourself, eh?)

    Why did this woman wait a month before going to the police? Dunno. Why did she recant? Dunno. But we do know this: Many women have hesitated to report sexual assaults due to shame and fear—particularly when the perp is a spouse. And many, many women with physically abusive partners have recanted in the past. Again, I don’t know what was going on in this marriage or this woman’s head. But the circumstances are, as I said, deeply troubling, and I’m not opposed to an investigation or, indeed, a prosecution under the circumstances.

    But here’s what I do know and really want to address: The judge found the husband guilty of assault—but, according to details in the Globe and Mail, her ruling was not so much based on the particulars of this case (although the judge did point to “contradictions in the woman’s testimony”), but on disgust for BDSM and a willful cluelessness about human sexuality. For the judge didn’t merely rule that, regular BDSM players or not, this woman had been assaulted by her husband on that particular night. She ruled—and ruled broadly—that BDSM is always assault. Back to the G&M:

    “Even if she had consented previously—or on that night—she cannot legally consent to sexual activity that takes place when she is unconscious,” the judge said.

    Citing a line of case law involving voluntary whippings, brandings and canings—some from England—Judge Nicholas said the courts have generally ruled that individuals cannot voluntarily invite violent acts against themselves.

    Oh, man. So an adult—in Canada or England—cannot “invite,” or give consent to, an erotic thrashing? Having a cigarette extinguished on his chest? Being punched in the gut—hard, over and over again, until he’s bruised and gasping for air? (Yes, all kinks.) This judge’s ruling doesn’t just rest on a finding about the absence of consent in this instance—and wouldn’t that have been enough to find guilt?—but on previous cases that criminalized spankings, for crying out loud. It sets a precedent that defines eroticized, controlled, mutually consensual sexual “violence” as sexual assault, regardless of consent. Here’s the prosecutor:

    Crown counsel Mihael Cole successfully contended that an individual cannot consent to bodily harm, such as being choked to the point of unconsciousness.

    That “such as” really troubles me—it implies that this prosecutor has a list somewhere of other non-fatal, non-permanently-injurious sex acts that he thinks are illegal because a person cannot consent to “bodily harm.” And you know what they say about bodily harm: One couple’s “bodily harm” is another couple’s “tender lovemaking.” (They don’t say that—but they should.) Short of permanent and irreversible bodily harm—amputations, castrations, beheadings—courts and police and prosecutors shouldn’t interfere in or try to limit adult consensual sex expression. Period. It’s about the right to control your own body and pursue your own pleasures without having to worry about the state tossing you into prison for the crime of being kinky.

    Reading Tonight

    posted by on April 30 at 10:15 AM


    I woke up with a Blind Melon song stuck in my head (or I guess the Blind Melon song in my head), but it’s another day chock-full of readings, including a young adult novelist up at Third Place Books and a Poetry Slam in Fremont, so I must push the Hoon aside to let you know what’s going on.

    The big reading of the day is Keith Gessen, reading from All the Sad Young Literary Men at Elliott Bay Book Company. Jonathan Crimmins directed his giant brain toward the book in this week’s paper:

    In each story, AtSYLM metaphorically mates love pangs with political troubles: For Sam, perpetually failing to write the great Zionist novel, women are like an intifada; for Mark, a graduate student in Russian history, women are dangerous Bolsheviks to his idealistic Mensheviks; and for Keith, the earnest cultural and political observer, women are like writing itself, an activity he watches, worshipfully, from afar. Taken too seriously, this structure would be as demeaning to history as it is to women. But the book remains light and jocular, endearing even in those places where it tries so hard to be funny.

    At Ravenna Third Place, Jennifer Lowe-Anker reads from Forget Me Not, which is a memoir about love and mountain climbing. I haven’t read the book, but I do believe that the love is for a fellow human being, and not for a mountain, which would be a good plot for a Peter Hoeg novel.

    If you’ve got 45 bucks to blow, you might want to attend the Kevin Phillips reading at the Westin, where he reads from Bad Money, about how global over-speculation might be assisting forces of ill (i.e. terrorists). This is not to be confused with the recent Queen Latifah/Diane Keaton masterpiece, Mad Money, which is also not worth $45.

    : Phillips is also at Town Hall tonight for 5 bucks. Thanks for the information, commenter Wier, and have I mentioned how much I love having my new intern in the office? The schedule next week will be flawless.

    David Cay Johnston is also at the Elliott Bay Book Company, two hours before Gessen, reading from Free Lunch, about how the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer and so on. Perhaps Mr. Johnston will talk about how some wealthy authors are doing $45 author readings, thus making their readers poor.

    And if literary fiction readings aren’t your thing, you might be into Ursula LeGuin, reading at the University Book Store. I’m not at all crazy about her new book, Lavinia, but if you’ve spent any amount of time reading sci-fi, you probably have enjoyed Ursula LeGuin at some point in your life.

    Don’t forget to check out the full readings calendar for upcoming events.

    The Brazilian

    posted by on April 30 at 10:01 AM

    Poor Ronaldo

    Having dropped off his girlfriend at her house in Rio de Janeiro on Monday night, the 2002 World Cup winner picked up three prostitutes.

    When they all booked into a motel, the AC Milan striker discovered that the prostitutes were in fact men.

    According to Rio police, he alleges that the transvestites then tried to extort money from him.

    Local press reports quoted one of the prostitutes, Andreia Albertine - otherwise known as Andre Luiz Ribeiro Albertino - as saying that Ronaldo had threatened to hit him, on discovering that he was a transvestite.

    This is Andreia Albertine (SFW). This is Ronaldo’s girlfriend (NSFW).

    Currently Hanging

    posted by on April 30 at 10:00 AM

    Michael Knutson’s Blue/White Star Coil (2002), oil on canvas, 30 by 144 inches

    At Greg Kucera Gallery. (Gallery web site here.)

    On Hillary’s Gas-Tax “Holiday”

    posted by on April 30 at 9:59 AM

    Annie asked yesterday what I had to say about Hillary Clinton’s support for a so-called “gas tax holiday”—implying that my silence on the subject meant that I, as a Clinton supporter, was simply ignoring the proposal.

    As I mentioned then, I’ve been swamped putting out the paper. But, Annie and Obama supporters shouldn’t take my silence (on this blog, at least) as tacit support for a gas-tax holiday.

    As I said when McCain first proposed the “holiday,”

    First, McCain says his proposal will reduce gas prices. The problem is, the federal gas tax isn’t why prices are so high (high enough that, for the first time in recent memory, people are starting to drive a little less); the reason gas prices are high is because the price of oil is $113 a barrel—a record level. The nationwide average price for a gallon of regular gas is $3.40 a gallon; cutting that price by 18 cents amounts to a five percent reduction. Put another way, the savings for a typical driver—one who drives about 12,000 miles a year—would be less than $28, or about half the price of a tank of gas. If that’s the tax cut that’s supposed to trickle down to ordinary Americans in the form of cheaper goods, food, and packaging, good luck even noticing it.

    Not that McCain’s “trickle-down” thesis makes any sense in the first place. The “tax holiday” he’s talking about, after all, is only three months long. The economy is unlikely to respond to such a short-term reduction—especially if gas prices continue to increase. In fact, economists say that reducing prices actually stimulates consumption, triggering even higher prices. That “tax relief” isn’t going to be very comforting when you’re paying $4.00 a gallon.

    Fortunately, that gas tax isn’t paying for anything important, right? Oh, just the Highway Trust Fund, which pays to fill potholes, fix crumbling roads and bridges, and patch up America’s failing highway infrastructure. Oh, yeah, and it’s running out of money already; currently, the trust fund faces a $2-$3 billion deficit. McCain says he’ll fill the gap by taking money out of the nation’s general fund. That’ll increase the deficit, but whatever—when you’re already $410 billion in the hole, what’s another $8 to $10 billion?

    Now, Clinton’s gas-tax holiday scheme differs from McCain’s in a few respects: Unlike McCain, she would pay for the proposal by taxing windfall oil company profits and closing tax loopholes that benefit oil and gas companies. She wouldn’t dip into the Highway Trust Fund. And she addresses some of the actual reasons gas prices are at record highs: America’s refusal to dip into oil reserves, and OPEC’s stranglehold on oil production.

    Regardless of those differences, Clinton’s plan to cut gas taxes temporarily suffers from the same flaws as McCain’s: It would provide only minimal “relief” and could lead to increased gas prices in the long (or even medium) term. Cutting gas taxes temporarily is no solution to increased fuel prices or to the economic woes of ordinary Americans.

    OK. That said, there are huge differences between McCain and both the Democrats on energy issues; focusing on ONE dumb proposal by either of the Democratic candidates ignores the huge gulf in energy policy between both Clinton and Obama and McCain. It’s a “gotcha!” move that equates two policies that are very, very different and ignores all the occasions when Obama has made equally pandering moves.

    Where were Obama supporters when he took tens of thousands of dollars from the Exelon (nuclear power) Corporation, and subsequently helped kill an amendment in Congress that would have spiked millions of dollars in loan guarantees for the company—loans that Taxpayers for Common Sense and Citizens Against Government Waste called “one of the worst provisions in this massive piece of legislation”?

    Where were Obama supporters when he backed Joe Lieberman over Ned Lamont, contributing $4,200 to Lieberman’s campaign?

    Where were Obama supporters when he pushed big subsidies (including the “Obama amendment,” offering oil companies a 50 percent tax credit for building gas stations offering the E85 ethanol blend) for corn ethanol production in Congress—calling corn ethanol “a clean, renewable, and domestically produced alternative fuel”? For that matter, where were they when he voted for 2005’s corporate-welfare energy bill?

    Where were Obama supporters when he backed “clean” coal initiatives as part of the “clean energy revolution”?

    Where were they when he enthusiastically picked up an endorsement from Big Coal’s biggest lobbyist?

    I’m not saying you can judge a candidate by a single dumb position taken in isolation. Quite the opposite: By judging Clinton on one stupid, pandering policy point—the pointless, idiotic, probably harmful gas-tax holiday—Obama supporters ignore the huge gap between EITHER of the Democratic candidates and McCain on energy policy.

    And if you don’t believe me, check out McCain’s speech on energy policy.

    Continue reading "On Hillary's Gas-Tax "Holiday"" »

    Clinton Comments on Obama and Rev. Wright

    posted by on April 30 at 9:40 AM

    And she does it on Bill O’Reilly’s show, saying of Obama:

    He made his views clear—finally.

    She also calls Wright’s remarks as “outrageous” and “offensive.”

    China Today

    posted by on April 30 at 9:30 AM

    The 19th Century is still here.

    The children, from the ethnic Yi minority, came from poor families in Sichuan about 600 miles ( 960 km) away.

    The China Daily said 167 children had been rescued from the factory in the industrial city of Dongguan so far, and several arrests had been made.

    China announced a nationwide crackdown on slavery and child labour last year.

    It emerged that hundreds of poor farmers, children and mentally disabled people had been forced to work in mines and kilns in Shanxi province and neighbouring Henan.

    China desperately needs a Dickens.

    Secret Superdelegates

    posted by on April 30 at 9:27 AM

    While we’re on the subject of superdelegates, The Politico has a story today that declares the battle for uncommitted Congressional superdelegates (that means you, Rick Larsen and Jim McDermott) to be over.

    While more than 80 Democrats in the House and Senate have yet to state their preferences in the race for the Democratic nomination, sources said Tuesday that most of them have already made up their minds and have told the campaigns where they stand.

    Well, where do they stand?

    Asked which way the committed-but-unannounced superdelegates are leaning, McCaskill — who has endorsed Obama — said: “James Brown would say, ‘I Feel Good.’”

    Outing Superdelegates

    posted by on April 30 at 9:12 AM

    We’re all used to thinking about undeclared superdelegates as though they’re really, truly unsure which candidate would be the best standardbearer for the party and candidate in the general election. But there are clearly some superdelegates who have their minds made up—and are just retaining their undeclared status so they can make partisan arguments to the media.

    As I wrote way back on March 17, it’s pretty clear that Washington State undeclared superdelegate Eileen Macoll is for Clinton. First she issued this bubbly statement to the New York Times: “They have so much to offer. It’s an amazing experience to be a superdelegate and in this position. I truly am undecided.” Then, all sneaky style, she offered the classic Clinton formulation on big states: “I’m going to watch the traffic and watch the flow and see which way it’s going. I’ll especially be watching how the vote goes in the large states that remain, like Pennsylvania, Texas and Ohio. That will perhaps lead me to a decision.”

    But now that Clinton has won Pennsylvania and Ohio and has half-won, half-lost Texas, what does Eileen Macoll do? She stays undeclared so she can make it seem like the superdelegates are totally torn up about this Jeremiah Wright business. From today’s New York Times:

    Eileen Macoll, a Democratic county chairman from Washington State who has not chosen a candidate, said she was stunned at the extent of national attention the episode has drawn, and she said she believed it would give superdelegates pause.

    “I’m a little surprised at how much traction it is getting, and I do believe it is beginning to reflect negatively on Senator Obama’s campaign,” Ms. Macoll said. “I think he’s handling it very well, but I think it’s almost impossible to make people feel comfortable about this.”

    Come on, Eileen.

    Obama has a few underhanded undeclared supers of his own, most notably South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn, a stately voice of outrage on behalf of the African-American community. First, Clyburn started slagging Bill Clinton for his Jesse Jackson analogy, now he issues such blatantly partisan cris de coeur as this:

    “I think a lot of Clinton surrogates have been marginalizing, demonizing and trivializing Obama,” said the undeclared superdelegate, who worried the Democrats will lose in the fall if Americans lose faith in the election process.

    Eileen Macoll and James Clyburn, I know what you’re up to. Declare already and stop this silly posturing.

    Ribbed for Her Plea… Oh, No. Oh, My God!

    posted by on April 30 at 8:58 AM

    This ribbed child’s toy, intended for straddling, is located at Miller Playfield.


    Now, I’m not saying kids shouldn’t ever, well, do what most kids do. But they ought to learn not to do it in the middle of the park. That could rub people the wrong way, as it were. I guess that’s all I’m saying.

    What He Said

    posted by on April 30 at 8:53 AM

    The Jed Report:

    For most of this campaign, the Democratic Party has been unified by optimism that our eventual nominee would trounce the Republican candidate in November, 2008. That began to change towards the end of February, when the contest between Senators Clinton and Obama began to turn sharply negative.

    The media and the Clinton campaign deserve their share of blame for this. And Obama is not perfect, either. But the people who deserve the most blame are the superdelegates, for it is their indecision that has made this mess possible in the first place.

    Since late February, it has been clear that the Clinton campaign’s only hope for victory rested in their hands. Over the past two months, the sole uncertainty about the campaign has been whether or not superdelegates will stage a coup against the voters.

    At any point during the last two months, superdelegates could have made it clear that they would support the will of voters. Instead, by declaring their indecision, they provided Clinton with a new rationale for her campaign. Effectively, they encouraged her coup attempt. It was if they said to her: if you can prove to us that Barack Obama is unelectable, we will overturn the judgment of voters.

    It is now clear just how foolish and unwise the superdelegates were for offering Clinton such a destructive path to the nomination, for she has tried to meet it with unrestrained vigor. Two months later, a party that was once unified is now divided. The septuagenarian Republican presidential candidate who devised the Iraq war strategy and wants to stay there for one hundred years is leading or tied in most polls.

    And the ultimate blame for making this possible rests with the very people who are supposed to lead the Democratic Party: the superdelegates.

    Via Sullivan.

    Spotted in Church

    posted by on April 30 at 8:15 AM

    I’m not sure this helps Obama out of the Rev. Wright mess, but it does offers a new answer to a question we’ve all been asking since the controversy hit.

    I, for one, had settled on the interpretation that Obama joined Trinity to get the cred in the black community that a Columbia-grad egg head would need to advance as a black politician.

    However, this far less cynical interpretation (Obama’s intellectual curiosity found more satisfaction in Wright’s critical approach than with the pour-and-stir black churches that crowded the South side) rings true to me.

    Footnote: And while this isn’t the takeaway line, it does jump out.

    He [Wright] is a staunch advocate for homosexual rights, which is almost unheard-of among African-American ministers. Gay and lesbian couples, with hands clasped, can be spotted in Trinity’s pews each Sunday.

    Courtesy TNR.

    The Morning News

    posted by on April 30 at 7:46 AM

    Cheap Labor: Hundreds, maybe even thousands, of children have been tricked and kidnapped from poor areas and sold as workers in factories.

    Dept. of Turned Corners: April has been the deadliest month for U.S. soldiers in Iraq since September.

    Not Buying American: G.M. has posted a $3.3 billion loss for the first quarter.

    The Big Turnaround: The U.S. economy grew by 0.6 percent in the first quarter. Sadly, that’s better than most analysts expected.

    The T Returns: The Bush administration is bringing back the 1-year Treasury bill.

    Hey, At Least Someone’s Hiring: Federal, state, and local governments have added 76,800 new jobs in the past three months.

    Lawsuit of the Day: Courtesy of the island of Lesbos:

    Three islanders from Lesbos — home of the ancient poet Sappho, who praised love between women — have taken a gay rights group to court for using the word lesbian in its name.

    One of the plaintiffs said Wednesday that the name of the association, Homosexual and Lesbian Community of Greece, “insults the identity” of the people of Lesbos, who are also known as Lesbians.

    “My sister can’t say she is a Lesbian,” said Dimitris Lambrou. “Our geographical designation has been usurped by certain ladies who have no connection whatsoever with Lesbos,” he said.

    He Plays with Balls for a Living: Footballer Ronaldo, three prostitutes, and three surprise wangs.

    Coming Soon: Wild Sky Wilderness, Washington’s first federally sanctioned wilderness in more than 20 years.

    When Summer Travel Goes Bad: Seventeen UW students were “undernourished and improperly cared for” while studying in Ghana last summer.

    Beach Bums: Local man behind World Naked Bike Ride wants Seattle to have a nude beach.

    Flood Money: Mayor Nickels has proposed $33 million to help fix drainage problems in Madison Valley.

    Creepy Kids’ Show of the Day:

    Tuesday, April 29, 2008

    Grand Old Party*

    posted by on April 29 at 5:53 PM

    * Er, that would be Hitler’s birthday party in Indiana last week, which was attended by a GOP congressional candidate.

    A congressional candidate is defending his speech to a group celebrating the anniversary of Adolf Hitler’s birth, saying he appeared simply because he was asked.

    Tony Zirkle, who is seeking the Republican nomination in Indiana’s 2nd District, stood in front of a painting of Hitler, next to people wearing swastika armbands and with a swastika flag in the background for the speech to the American National Socialist Workers Party in Chicago on Sunday.

    “I’ll speak before any group that invites me,” Zirkle said Monday. “I’ve spoken on an African-American radio station in Atlanta.”

    And here’s a picture of the birthday party—which looks like a still from the Blues Brothers.


    That’s the candidate behind the podium.

    Via TPM.

    Another TV-Related Stabbing

    posted by on April 29 at 5:11 PM

    First Tyra, now Dr. Phil.

    A fight over the Dr. Phil Show resulted in a Barrie woman’s arrest Monday after police say she attacked her hubby with a table and a kitchen knife….

    When officers arrived, they spoke with the victim who advised that his common-law wife of 10 years had been drinking while watching the Dr. Phil Show. As a result of watching the show, they became involved in a verbal argument. Police say the man, wanting to avoid a confrontation, left the room. When he returned, police say he was hit with a table and various other household items. She then went to the kitchen, got a knife, then attempted to stab the victim, who was able to defend himself and take the knife from her. The man was cut on his arm in the process.

    Slog Happy May 8

    posted by on April 29 at 4:54 PM


    Two weeks until the next Slog Happy (put it on your calendar), and though the first five were well-attended and totally entertaining, it’s time to improve our monthly party. I’m sure you have ideas…

    Readers who’ve never been: What’s keeping you away? Slog Happy regulars, how should we make it better and more inviting? Free hot dogs? I’m listening.

    Serial Killer or Killers Picking Off Young Male College Students…

    posted by on April 29 at 4:35 PM

    …and getting away with it? Investigator links 40 similar deaths, all drownings. Go read this story—it’s fucking chilling. It seems highly improbable that every dude that accidentally drowns in Wisconsin and Minnesota just so happens to be the same physical type—no ugly dudes, no fat dudes, no dudes with facial hair. All good-looking, athletic, clean-cut college boys.

    Via Towleroad.

    Wouldn’t You Like a Free Copy of GTA IV?

    posted by on April 29 at 4:22 PM


    Looks like Slog’s murderin’ sock monkey has an extra copy of Grand Theft Auto IV (and if you can’t tell, this copy’s for the PlayStation 3). Want it? Then follow the lead of commenters in our last GTA post and enter our contest by making up a mission designed for the imaginary sequel, Grand Theft Auto: Emerald City. (Hat tip to Slog reader Harold for the contest idea.) For the uninitiated, the game’s filled with scattered, criminal missions—rob this place, intimidate that guy, drive somewhere to pick up a drug dealer, do something bad at a landmark, etc. To win this contest, come up with a Seattle-specific mission that is authentic to the seedy GTA rep. Good examples thus far: “Bolt from the grocery before paying your 20 cent bag tax,” “Lure a dancer away from undercover cops at Ricks,” and something about underage girls on Aurora. But I know the Slog nation can do better.

    Post your ideas as replies on this post to enter. 80 words or less, please—no need for an essay here. Make sure to type your legit e-mail address when entering your comment, or else we won’t be able to contact you if you win. We’ll pick our favorite entry as the winner on Friday at 1 p.m. PST, and multiple entries are encouraged. You must be in the USA—both for the cost of shipping and the fact that we think this game’s region-locked. Oh, we’ll also throw in some GTA IV stickers—in case you like the idea of being pulled over by a cop after he eyes GTA IV star Niko Bellic on your bumper.

    As far as impressions go, I’m hesitant to pass judgment just yet. The single-player quest is still largely the same as ever, but I’ve barely scratched its surface, while the multiplayer modes are growing on me mighty quickly. I’ll wait until tomorrow for a “24 Hours Into GTA IV” post.

    Courtyard by Marriott: Preferred by Piss Freaks

    posted by on April 29 at 4:13 PM

    Courtyard by Marriott is developing all sorts of new features for their hotel rooms in a top-secret test guest room, the X-Room, according to today’s New York Times. Among the features being tested out in the X-Room? Waterproof mattresses. Why waterproof mattresses? The New York Times doesn’t say.

    The room, set up last November by Courtyard by Marriott in partnership with the University of Delaware in Newark, is a test guest room. It is equipped with everything from waterproof mattresses to the experimental technology of wireless electricity (no plugs) to a specially designed Nintendo Wii game console for travelers. There is also a digital door display that lets people see who is in the corridor….

    Marriott is already introducing some of the concepts in its hotels. William Sullivan, managing director of the hotel in Newark, Del., that houses the X-room, says the company has made some interesting findings: “Everyone is interested in the Nintendo Wii. All hotels see that has potential.” A waterproof mattress is also being tried out across a pilot group of hotels while a Marriott in Las Vegas is testing the digital door display….

    Wiis, digital door displays, wireless—I can see the applications, I can see the benefits to weary travelers. Heck, the New York Times walks us through the applications and benefits. But what’s up with those waterproof mattress? Later in the story we’re told that researchers have discovered that travelers want, “a place to sit that wasn’t the bed with a surface they could wipe down,” so they’re putting leather-topped ottomans in the X-Room. But the still don’t explain what the hell the waterproof mattresses are for.

    They’re not for carrying down to the pool and they’re not floatation devices. About the only time adults—well, most of ‘em anyway—wet the bed is, of course, when they wet the bed on purpose. So… uh…

    Seattle Company Makes Finalist in MoveOn Obama Contest

    posted by on April 29 at 2:57 PM

    Local production company More Dust Than Digital created this 30-second Obama ad for

    It’s competing alongside 14 other entries for a possible MoveOn ad buy—among the judges are talented documentary filmmakers Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg (The Trials of Darryl Hunt) and Rory Kennedy (The Ghosts of Abu Ghraib) and producers James Schamus (Brokeback Mountain) and Ted Hope (Towelhead).

    Some of the other entries are a bit less, uh, artsy-fartsy Seattle, so I don’t really think it will win. But there’s always People’s Choice!

    New Slog T-Shirt Coming Soon

    posted by on April 29 at 2:45 PM

    Thanks to Jay for the suggestion…


    What Type of Creature…

    posted by on April 29 at 2:30 PM

    The Riddle of the Sphinx just popped into my head, I assume because of this. Then it rattled around and became the Riddle of the Slog:

    What type of creature in the morning posts about what must be done, at mid-morning posts news of what is probably going to be done, and by the afternoon posts a warning about the dangers of what has been done (even though it’s actually what he said in the morning should be done)?

    City Council’s Police Oversight Panel Still Looking For Applicants

    posted by on April 29 at 2:24 PM

    Now that the city is close to ironing out a contract with the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild, City Council is looking at expanding their police oversight panel—the Office of Professional Accountability Review Board (OPARB)—from three members to either five or seven. But, after receiving nearly 30 applications for seats on the panel, the Council is still on the hunt for qualified applicants.

    By ordinance, OPARB is required to have someone with law enforcement experience, a community activist and attorney on the panel. The new deadline for OPARB applications is May 23rd.

    Wait, Didn’t They Have to Shoot Old Yeller?

    posted by on April 29 at 2:07 PM

    So would you really want to buy your dog a 50 lb bag of Old Yeller dog food?


    It’s at QFC on Broadway and Pike if you really want to tempt fate…

    Young Republicans: Endangered, Specious

    posted by on April 29 at 2:00 PM


    Via Sullivan.

    Re: Gas Tax Relief—It’s the New Green Collar Jobs!

    posted by on April 29 at 1:43 PM

    As Annie’s well aware, it’s pretty hard for us news staffers to Slog on Mondays and Tuesdays—and I’m in my first week of a new job—so I haven’t had a chance to write anything here about Hillary’s proposal for a gas-tax holiday, which mimics John McCain’s equally dumb proposal.

    Since I won’t have any time to write much until after the paper goes out this evening, let this post on my personal blog serve as the record: I think Hillary’s proposal is dumb and shortsighted and bad—just like McCain’s.

    So, you know—no need to “say it for” me. I already said it myself.

    The Last of the Wright Story?

    posted by on April 29 at 1:35 PM

    Don’t bet on it—even with Obama’s strong denouncement today of Wright’s spotlight-grabbing silliness at the National Press Club in D.C. on Monday.

    First of all, Wright has yet to respond to Obama’s denouncements. Maybe he won’t, and the story will stop here, but it’s not in the nature of the vindictive narcissist—which Wright has proven himself to be over the last few days—to go quietly.

    Second, there was no way for Obama to break with Wright without opening up several uncomfortable lines of questioning. That may be why Obama waited so long to, as Dan likes to put it, DTMFA, but now that Obama has finally D’d the MFA… well, now those lines of questioning will be opened up:

    Why did Obama maintain a 20 year relationship with such a person? What does it say about his judgment? Why didn’t Obama sever ties with Wright sooner? Why do we all now have to sit through the uncomfortable drama of watching him break up with this guy?

    Obama wants to be seen as the candidate of superior judgment, the candidate with reflexes quick and tough enough to take on the Republicans, the candidate who will stop the drama that’s associated with the Clintons and bring the Democrats back into the White House via a new politics that rises above old divisions and debates.

    In publicly ending his relationship with Wright, Obama somewhat burnished those new politics credentials. “The reason our campaign has been so successful is because we had moved beyond these old arguments,” he said. “What we saw yesterday out of Reverend Wright was a resurfacing and, I believe, an exploitation of those old divisions.”

    But he also tarnished them by having to resort to the old-style political tactic of calling a big press conference to smack down a former associate who had gotten out of hand and, perhaps more damagingly, he opened the door to those questions about his judgment, quickness, and drama factor.

    That last one, the increased drama factor, is going to be hard to put back in the bottle. Dramatic story-lines soon to come: The reaction from Wright, the reaction from Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, and the reaction from Clinton and McCain.

    So Long and Thanks for All the Trips

    posted by on April 29 at 1:31 PM

    Dr. Albert Hofmann, inventor of LSD, is dead at 102.

    There’s uncertainty on teh nets whether Hofmann’s passing is just a rumor. However, a call to the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies confirms he died last night in his home in Basel, Switzerland. In his honor, please enjoy this classic video of his “problem child” on the battlefield.

    Tip from NaFun.

    What the?

    posted by on April 29 at 1:22 PM

    Did T-Mobile’s entire network just go out? What is happening? And why all the sirens outside?

    UPDATE: Seriously. Do you have T-Mobile? Try making a phone call. I would call T-Mobile but, uh, I CAN’T!

    Gas Tax Relief—It’s the New Green Collar Jobs!

    posted by on April 29 at 1:16 PM

    By popular request:

    Hillary Clinton wants a gas tax holiday, Erica! What do you have to say about that?

    OK, I’ll just say it for you:

    Here’s some “maverick” thinking for you: GOP Democratic presidential candidate John McCain Hillary Clinton wants to “spread [tax] relief across the American economy”focus every day on ensuring that [American families] can make ends meet.” So will she be cutting the income tax? Providing a rebate on the sales tax, one of the most regressive taxes in existence?

    Nope. According to the AP:

    Hillary Rodham Clinton criticized Barack Obama on Monday for opposing proposals to suspend federal gas taxes this summer, a plan she and Republican John McCain have endorsed. Obama didn’t take the bait. He ignored Clinton and focused on McCain.

    Clinton would pay for her summer cheap gas scheme by taxing windfall profits from oil companies. Obama would also institute a windfall profits tax, but he would use the money to help low-income families pay their energy bills.

    According to CNN,

    Analysts and Obama said the proposal to suspend the tax temporarily would do little to stimulate the economy or lower gas prices and could leave roads in disrepair.

    “It’s a quick fix for people who believe cheap gas is their birthright,” said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at the research firm Oil Price Information Service. “It’s not a prudent thing to do.”

    Kloza said the amount of money motorists would save would do little to stimulate economic growth. The revenue from the gas tax is much needed for road repairs, he added.

    “Look, somewhere down the road you have to use less,” Kloza said. “As painful as it might be, higher prices do sway behavior toward a more energy disciplined America.”

    School Outing

    posted by on April 29 at 1:10 PM

    A public high school principal in Memphis, Tennessee, outed a pair of gay male students—to their teachers, classmates, and parents—after she found out that they were a couple. The principal also called the mother of one of the boys to tell her that she, “didn’t like gay people and wouldn’t tolerate homosexuality at her school,” and posted the names of the boys on a publicly posted list of known students couples in order to prevent public displays of affection, “hetero and homo.”

    Both students say they’ve had to deal with verbal harassment from both teachers and students since word got out around the school about their principal’s actions.

    According to Nicholas, he also suffered another consequence of the principal’s discrimination. He had submitted extensive paperwork and several recommendations from teachers for a school trip to New Orleans to assist in rebuilding efforts.

    Having a long history of community service, he was considered a shoo-in to be selected to go before the incident, but then a teacher told Nicholas some faculty were afraid he might “embarrass the school” or engage in “inappropriate behavior.”

    A few days later, another student who hadn’t even applied to go on the trip was selected in his place.

    The boys were both A students, had never been in any trouble before, and had not engaged in any PDA. The ACLU is suing.

    “The principal’s outing of these two students to their families, classmates, and teachers is unacceptable. Its only purpose was to intimidate not only these students but all gay students at Hollis Price,” said Hedy Weinberg, Executive Director at the ACLU of Tennessee…. In Tuesday’s letter to the Memphis City Schools Board of Commissioners, the ACLU points out that the principal ordered the boys not to even walk or study together at school.

    It sounds like Ken Hutcherson’s kind of school—maybe he should send his daughter there?

    Via JoeMyGod.

    Dear National Media: Get Some New Analogies

    posted by on April 29 at 1:09 PM

    Hillary Clinton is not “Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction.” (That’s the character who stalks Michael Douglas, who tries to drown her, only to have her pop up from the tub and try to stab him.)

    She is not a pregnant bride-to-be in a “shotgun marriage.”

    She is not “Mommie Dearest.”

    She is not a “grieving widow.”

    And she is not a goddamned punching bag.*

    Please make a note of it.

    P.S. You know that stuff like this just helps her, right?


    * Sorry, but you can’t tell me that hitting a woman—with the goal of giving her bruises all over her face—doesn’t have specific, disturbing, connotations.

    Did the Obama Campaign Manufacture the Wright Scandal…

    posted by on April 29 at 12:53 PM

    …to distract us from this?


    In the Last 24 Hours on Line Out

    posted by on April 29 at 12:52 PM

    Mastering Master: Jeff Kirby wants to know who the best audio master in Seattle is.

    Chew Your Neck Like Wrigley’s: Charles Mudede remembers the blood-sucking toaster.

    It’s Not Disco Without Mustaches and Nipples: TJ Gorton on Pat Les Stache.

    Got Grunge?: A local record store’s sales chart is paging 1995.

    The Bronx are Playing Black Flag? That’s insulting.: Watch the trailer for the new Germs biopic.

    Love for the Death Set: Eric Grandy missed last week’s show, but at least he has their record.

    Because He’ll Never Not Be a Trainwreck: Scott Weiland is going to jail.

    It’s On!: Kiss-loving midgets vs. a Bee Gees cover band.

    It’s Still Not as Ridiculous as Facebook: Myspace launches a karaoke feature.

    Eurovision Semi-Final: The Bosnian Bjork, Armenian Qele and Dutch Hind.

    Good Morning: Who doesn’t want to wake up to boys dancing around to Daft Punk in their underwear?

    In Stores Today: Brian Cook reviews Boris and Langhorne Slim. Madonna, Jamie Lidell, and Portishead release new albums.

    Tonight in Music: Tyler Ramsey, Peter Morén, Geologic and Kiwi.

    Would You Watch It?: Alleged Jimi Hendrix sex tape coming to a porn shop near you.

    Voodoo Donuts is Excuse Enough: But if you need another reason to go to Portland tomorrow, the new Arthur Russell documentary will be screening.

    Today’s Music News: Who’s getting sued? Who’s breaking up? Whose handwritten lyrics are available on sale? And who’s performing on VH1 May 3? Find out here.


    By baconbits.

    Delegate Watch

    posted by on April 29 at 12:18 PM

    CQ Politics has been doing a great job parsing the proportional allocation rules in Democratic primaries, and their Indiana write-up is a must read.

    The takeaway: In all but one of Indiana’s congressional districts (the unit by which most delegates are assigned), there are an even number of delegates available:

    There are four Democratic delegates assigned to the Republican-leaning 3rd, 4th and 5th districts and six delegates in each of five districts that are more friendly to Democrats—the 1st, 2nd, 7th, 8th and 9th. The 6th District has five delegates.

    It’s notable that eight of the nine districts have an even number of delegates. Because of this, a wide range of vote percentages for the candidates will yield delegate ties of 2-2 or 3-3. In the four-delegate districts, Clinton or Obama would need 62.5 percent of the vote to garner a 3-1 delegate split; anything lower than that would yield a 2-2 tie. In a six-delegate district, the winner would need 58.3 percent of the vote to turn a 3-3 tie into a 4-2 edge.

    That accounts for 47 delegates; the other twenty-five are allocated by statewide vote, but again, there are smaller units of division that increase the likelihood of ties.

    The other 25 pledged delegates at stake—16 “at-large” delegates and nine party leader and elected officials (PLEOs)—will be distributed in proportion to the statewide vote. The 16 at-large delegates will split 8-8 if the winner takes less than 53.1 percent of the vote. The statewide winner is guaranteed a 5-4 victory among the nine PLEOs; it would require 61.1 percent of the statewide vote for a 6-3 edge.

    It’s entirely possible, CQ writes, that a 6-point win for Clinton would net her just one delegate.

    But I love this part. The easiest way to pull a delegate one way or another in Indiana is to zero in on the single 5-delegate district. Sounds like Obama should be pulling out all the stops in Ball State University in Muncie.

    • 6th District (East — Muncie, Anderson, Richmond). Indiana’s 6th, represented in Congress by Republican Mike Pence , is the only district with an odd number of district delegates (five), so either Clinton or Obama will emerge from here with a 3-2 edge. (It takes a 70 percent supermajority for a 4-1 split). The university community in and around Ball State University in Muncie is likely to lean Obama, but Clinton should otherwise do well elsewhere in this district, which is overwhelmingly white and has levels of income and education that are lower than the state at-large—a profile that matches many other districts in previous primary states where she has done well. Fayette County, which includes Connersville in the southeastern area of the district, has the highest unemployment rate of any of Indiana’s 92 counties. CQ Politics Projection: Clinton 3, Obama 2.

    Unfortunately for Obama, this is finals week at Ball State—good luck getting the kids to stick around till Tuesday.

    An Aside of Frey’s

    posted by on April 29 at 12:16 PM

    In the issue of Vanity Fair with the stupid Miley Cyrus bullshit photos, there’s also a stupid James Frey bullshit interview. It’s an incredibly fawning piece, and the writer adores Frey’s upcoming novel, Bright Shiny Morning. Here’s some of Frey’s James Dean-like behavior:

    Frey has fetishized breaking rules for as long as he’s been alive. On a casual level this makes him endearing. He routinely addresses women, even ones he barely knows, as “dude,” and he might break the ice with a stranger with “Yo, what the fuck’s up?” At the age of 38, he still makes crank calls. Sometimes he’ll call from the street corner and put on a high-pitched, crazy-old-person voice, drawing out every syllable of your name. Sometimes he pretends to be in an emergency, as he did the other day when he phoned his editor’s assistant:

    “Allison, fuck, Allison, I need your help now! I’m on the corner of 56th and Fifth Avenue and a fucking bus just drove by and drenched me! I have two more meetings and I need you to go buy me some underwear and buy me some pants.”

    He’s been known to show up at a Halloween party wearing nothing but a Speedo, and he’s not the sort who works out.

    Ho-ho! What a kidder! That sounds like a terrific 38-year-old man to hang around with!
    And he’s a literary renegade, too. This is the bit about him unveiling the manuscript for A Million Little Pieces for the first time:

    Early on, he showed it to someone who had an M.F.A. in writing. The reaction was the same one Kerouac got after he gave his editor On the Road, one crazy-long paragraph written on a paper-towel-size scroll. Frey recalls, “They sent back a note that said, ‘This is unpublishable. This would get destroyed in my workshop.’ And I was like, ‘Cool,’ you know? ‘Cool.’”

    Get ready for the Frey-pocalypse. Expect tons of reconsiderations and reassessments of his work: His new novel is released on May 13th.

    Meanwhile in Rome…

    posted by on April 29 at 12:05 PM

    … they’ve elected a fascist—an actual, true-blue fascist—as mayor. From the Guardian:

    Italy’s new parliament met for the first time today with applause for Rome’s mayor-elect, Gianni Alemanno, a day after followers celebrated his triumph with straight-arm salutes and fascist-era chants.

    Alemanno, a former neo-fascist youth leader, took 54% of the vote in a run-off on Sunday and Monday, crushing his rival, Francesco Rutelli, a deputy prime minister in the last, centre-left government.


    The prime minister-elect’s closest ally, Umberto Bossi, the Northern League leader, kept up the intimidating rhetoric, arriving for the first session of Italy’s parliament warning of violence if the centre-left did not go along with his plans for federalism.

    “I don’t know what the left wants [but] we are ready,” he told reporters. “If they want conflicts, I have 300,000 men always on hand.”

    Yes, yes, America’s a racist, troubled country—but could you imagine New York electing David Duke for mayor? By 54%?

    It’s going to be a long, dark night for the immigrants of Rome.

    Lunchtime Quickie

    posted by on April 29 at 12:01 PM

    Gong Show, Gong Show, Gong Show!!! Each and every performer…

    Apples to Bananas and Pot to Pablum

    posted by on April 29 at 11:30 AM

    While Timothy Garon is dying here in Seattle without a liver transplant because he used medical marijuana, folks in Michigan are fighting over a medical-marijuana initiative. An organization calling itself “True Compassion,” funded through the U.S. Department of Justice, is running a slick television ad to quash the measure.

    It’s a crisp ad, but, with an ironic twist, it uses muddy logic. Apples aren’t bananas, check. Dogs aren’t cats, check. Pot isn’t harmless, check. I think everyone is on board so far. Pot doesn’t help some people… wait.

    Here’s the strategy behind the ad (and the federal government’s latest talking points against medical marijuana). First, it implies that the debate over medical marijuana boils down to pot being either harmless or dangerous. As we know, all drugs prescribed by doctors have some potential for danger, but we accept that potential harm because our doctor believes the benefits outweigh the risks. This is true for everything from Ambien to Zyrtec. Pot is a drug, so when it’s used for medical purposes, it should be held to the same standards as every drug—not compared to some mystical hippie claim that it’s harmless. Now, do some trashy hippies with angels hanging from their rear-view mirrors claim pot is “just a plant” from “Mother Nature” and “God doesn’t make mistakes” and blah, blah, blah? Sure they say those things, but those people are total dips. Licensed physicians are the ones recommending medical marijuana.

    Next, the ad suggests that pot isn’t helpful to anybody. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you 66-year-old Jim Ware, a cancer survivor and former cop.

    More stories like Ware’s are over here. Last, the ad makes a familiar claim which is outright false: “Every major health organization rejects smoked marijuana.” There’s been limited research on medical marijuana because, well, the government rarely allows it. Nevertheless, medical marijuana has been supported by the American College of Physicians, American Nurses Association, American Public Health Association, American Academy of HIV Medicine, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Lymphoma Foundation of America, AIDS Action Council, American Academy of HIV Medicine, National Association of People With AIDS, and others.

    This debate isn’t about medical marijuana, of course; it’s about recreational pot smoking. The admission that medical marijuana is an acceptable treatment for the severely ill is to concede that the government has been lying. Pot isn’t purely dangerous, and pot, like alcohol, should be legal.


    posted by on April 29 at 11:19 AM

    The Human Rights Campaign—they’re the mainstream gay rights group with all the money and the little blue equal bumper stickers—has refused to endorse the leading candidate for the Democratic nomination for US Senate in North Carolina. His name is Jim Neal and he’s a homo.

    Jim Neal, a progressive Democrat in North Carolina, is running to take on Senator Elizabeth Dole. He was the only Democrat running for the nomination until the National Democratic Party found out he was gay. The DSCC freaked, and recruited a Republican-lite candidate named Kay Hagan to run for the nomination (she originally refused to run). Basically, everyone in Washington DC is freaked that there is a openly gay candidate who actually has a shot of winning the Dem nomination on May 6th.

    Jim Neal is supported by many here in North Carolina. He’s a businessman/investment banker, so he has financial sense. He also is progressive on many issues. He’s an amazing speaker in person, and would really put Elizabeth Dole on her toes.

    Why won’t HRC endorse Neal? Well, when the DNC says jump, HRC leaps into low-earth orbit.

    spnjeep at Kos points out that Jim Neal backs equal rights for teh gays, while his opponent in the Democratic primary refuses to answer any questions about her views on gay civil equality. So this endorsement would seem to be a no-brainer for which HRC would be over-qualified.

    Still… it seems to me that not receiving the endorsement of the nation’s largest gay rights group might actually help Neal with North Carolina voters. He should point to HRC’s refusal to endorse him as proof that he doesn’t march in lock-step with gay rights groups, blah blah blah, and that their non-endorsement is proof that he’s not a single-issue candidate.

    Obama Denounces Wright

    posted by on April 29 at 11:12 AM

    From Obama’s press conference just now:

    The person that I saw yesterday was not the person that I had come to know over 20 years.


    I am outraged by the comments that were made and saddened by the spectacle that we saw yesterday.


    I gave him the benefit of the doubt in my speech in Philadelphia, explaining that he has done enormous good in the church. But when he states and then amplifies such ridiculous propositions as the U.S. government somehow being involved in AIDS; when he suggests that Minister Farrakhan somehow represents one of the greatest voices of the 20th and 21st century; when he equates the U.S. wartime efforts with terrorism – then there are no exuses. They offend me. They rightly offend all Americans. And they should be denounced, and that’s what I’m doing very clearly and unequivocally here today.

    But… what will Wright say in response?

    UPDATE: Video of Obama’s opening statement at his press conference, via MSNBC:

    Today The Stranger Suggests

    posted by on April 29 at 11:00 AM


    ‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall’

    Oh my God. Someone actually made a really and truly enjoyable romantic comedy! Formulaic to perfection, it’s the story of a hapless musician whose TV star girlfriend dumps him for the world’s Britishest rock ‘n’ roll longhair. Here’s what makes it work: Jason Segel’s script takes this typical rom-com Mad Libs and fills in the blanks with sweet, relatable characters (not a Rob Schneider in sight!) and legitimately funny jokes. This movie dunked my week in delight and then stuffed it down the fun-time esophageal canal of entertainment. (See Movie Times.)


    The Black Church

    posted by on April 29 at 10:59 AM

    This is a lovely image of Mandela….

    These are my thoughts on the Rev. Wright situation: When Wright declares that the attack on him is an attack on the black church, he is not entirely wrong. What one must see is that Wright is by no means an exception to the black church. He is not outside of its mainstream. His ideas have a common place in the black church. The real collision is not between Rev. Wright and the white mainstream but between the white mainstream and the black mainstream. This crash exposes the fact that, in essence (or ideological essence), the black American experience and white American experience are not one. This is why an entrance to the mainstream (which is white and heterosexual) requires a shedding of what is not white and heterosexual.

    The only way Obama could have avoided the heat of the mainstream was not to have attended a black church in the first place, because any association with the black church will result in the same collision and exposure of essential differences.

    Youth Pastor Watch

    posted by on April 29 at 10:30 AM

    Here’s a youth pastor after my own heart. This story out of California has everything—porn, hookers, meth, nephews, videotape, and the always-reliable judgment of the devout. Meet Ramon Hernandez of Colton, California…

    He was a church youth minister when he was elected in February 2002 after the previous councilman admitted taking bribes. He ran on a platform of restoring the public’s trust in the city government…. He was a paid employee of the Diocese of San Bernardino from 1995 to 2006. Church members called him a man of the “highest moral character.”

    Did they now? Hm. Because after getting his youth-ministering, highest-moralizing ass elected to the Colton City Council, Hernandez quickly ran up “$5,500 in illicit charges” on his city-issued credit card and cell phone.

    He came up with at least three stories when confronted about stays at local hotels and calls to phone sex services:

    He blamed his nephew, who he claimed stole and cloned his city cell phone—three times.

    He blamed his behavior on being distraught at his brother’s death.

    He claimed he was being blackmailed by his nephew, then claimed he was being blackmailed by a male lover who had compromising videotape and forced him to use methamphetamine.

    Reading Tonight

    posted by on April 29 at 10:19 AM


    Holy God, if all of Seattle somehow had one pair of pants, those pants would be near-to burstin’ with literature tonight.

    V.V. Ganeshananthan reads at Elliott Bay from her new novel Love Marriage. Had I known further in advance that this reading was coming, I would’ve read the book, if just because everything I know about Sri Lanka would fit in a moderate-sized thimble.

    At the Seattle Public Library, Alice Hoffman reads from her new novel, The Third Angel. The more books that Jodi Picoult writes, the more I like Alice Hoffman. This is all I have to say on this matter.

    Up at the University Book Store, Jen Sorenson, artist of the comic strip Slowpoke, will be signing her new collection of cartoons. I’m not a fan, myself—her big response to Republicans seems to be “You’re fat and ugly,” and I like a little more depth in my funnies—but she is at least an interesting cartoonist.

    And up at Third Place Books is something called “Read and Rock Night.” There will be a “Rock/Neo-soul/ Alternative” band called Shotty and three authors of books for young adults with pink covers and titles like Confessions of a Triple Shot Betty, which is to say: Junior Chick Lit. This sounds like hell on earth to me, especially since, on Shotty’s MySpace page above, all the band members are wearing matching vests.

    At Town Hall, Howard Fineman, the senior Washington correspondent for Newsweek, reads from his new book The Thirteen American Arguments: Enduring Debates That Define and Inspire Our Country.

    And—phew—at Benaroya Hall, Pico Iyer, who refers to himself as “a global village on two legs,” which makes me hate him, will read. Iyer is Seattle Arts and Lecture’s replacement for the much more interesting John Banville, who bowed out for unknown reasons. Iyer’s vision of the world seems so late-twentieth-century to me that I can’t believe he’s reading at Benaroya Hall. The best—maybe only—reason to go to this is because Seattle Arts and Lectures will announce their next season of writers (cough-cough UPDIKE cough-cough) tonight.

    For upcoming readings, please consult the full readings calendar.

    Rev. Wright, Meet the Underside of a Bus. Maybe.

    posted by on April 29 at 10:12 AM

    Via The Page, Obama has called the new Rev. Wright drama a distraction and plans to address it at “a big press conference” later today.

    Currently Hanging

    posted by on April 29 at 10:00 AM

    Anna Von Mertens’s 8:45 am to 10:28 am, September 11th, 2001 (Above New York City looking toward Boston), hand-stitched cotton, 41 by 97 1/2 inches

    At OKOK Gallery. (Gallery web site here.)

    Alert PETA!

    posted by on April 29 at 9:56 AM

    Speaking of pigeons dying painful deaths and Grand Theft Auto IV, a gamer on staff writes…

    There are hidden packages in Grand Theft Auto IV, just like there were in the previous 3 versions. In GTA IV you have to shoot 100 Pigeons to achieve 100% completion. Not sure if you can select blowgun for one of your weapons though.

    More here and here.

    You Gonna Eat That?

    posted by on April 29 at 9:53 AM

    The abortion rate in the United States keeps falling—24% between 1990 and 2004—but access to abortion services doesn’t seem to be the reason. If access were the issue, birth rates would be rising. But birth rate are falling too, although not by nearly as much; birth rates fell 6% in the same time frame. (So access may be playing a role.) So what do experts think is going on?

    Well, it’s a complicated issue, multi-factored, with lots of variables….

    The answers are probably many: more contraceptive choices, state laws requiring parental notification where minors are concerned, fewer unintended pregnancies and some surprising trends among teenagers…. [And much] has been written about a teen “hookup culture” in which casual sex has become more commonplace than ever. Demographer Joyce Abma of the National Center for Health Statistics said that might be true for oral sex but not for intercourse.

    Let’s hear it for oral sex—seriously. For young and inexperienced straight kids that want to be sexually intimate, oral sex is great, low-stakes option, a way for them to enjoy each other without risking pregnancy. Oral sex, frottage, and mutual masturbation should be recommended to all young people, gay and straight, as a good ways to gain experience, minimize risks, and build confidence before they move on to vaginal or anal intercourse.

    Good Greed

    posted by on April 29 at 9:44 AM

    We must not bemoan high gas prices. The positives in this staggering increase will surpass the negatives. We can see for once that corporate greed is proving to be good.

    The world’s largest automaker by sales said the cuts, to take effect this summer, were brought on by weak demand due to high gasoline prices and an economic downturn. GM said it will make about 88,000 fewer pickups and 50,000 fewer big SUVs [the positive] this calendar year because of the cuts. The layoffs represent just over 4 percent of GM’s hourly manufacturing work force of about 80,000 in North America [the negative].
    Low gas prices have always been an illusion. America is now finally encountering a reality that is found in all other parts of the world—petrol is, to use the worlds of Kuti, “expensive shit.”

    Headline of the Day

    posted by on April 29 at 9:06 AM

    Seattle Times:

    Seattle’s pigeons shot with darts at risk of painful death

    Breakfast of Champions

    posted by on April 29 at 8:57 AM


    UPDATE: Folks want to know where they can get their hands on this new and already famous bacon—so I asked the person who forwarded me this picture, our own Aaron Edge, where he got it. And, uh, perhaps I should’ve asked Aaron that before I posted this picture. Anyway, Edge found it at How To Avoid the Bummer Life, which found the chocolate at Marini’s in Santa Cruz.

    UPDATE 2: There’s no chocolate-covered bacon available for sale on Marini’s website, so I gave the store a call just to make sure it wasn’t a hoax.

    Still selling chocolate-covered bacon?

    Yes, we are.

    Why can’t I order it via your website?

    They only have selected items on the website, and the bacon is kind of new. We’ve only had it for a month or two.

    How does it taste? Is it as good as it looks?

    I don’t know. I don’t eat red meat.

    But it’s not red. It’s brown.

    True. But it’s really kind of a guy’s chocolate.

    Like a stunt chocolate?


    Do you sell a lot of it?

    Yes, it’s selling pretty good.

    UPDATE 3: Aaron Edge has been a vegan for 17 years and he says he misses bacon more than anything.

    Same-Sex Mirage

    posted by on April 29 at 8:53 AM

    Australian gays and lesbians to get marriage-in-all-but-name by mid-2009. The proposed Australian solution for, as their new prime minister put it, “a group of our fellow Australians who have suffered discriminations under Commonwealth laws for far too long,” is similar to the “civil partnership” law in the UK, which provides all the same rights and responsibilities as marriage while saving those two magic syllables for insecure heterosexuals.

    Everyone in the UK, of course, refers to civil partnerships as marriage, so… the difference is semantic. But the benefits to gay and lesbian couples—including transnational same-sex couples—are very real.

    Could a similar solution be offered in the United States? Not for the foreseeable future. We’ll need a more liberal Supreme Court, for starters, one that is willing to scrap the anti-gay marriage amendments passed by most states over the last eight years. That court doesn’t exist now, and we’re unlikely to see that court for decades to come, of course, if John McCain gets his gray, hairy ass elected president.

    When Bad Meets Evil

    posted by on April 29 at 8:30 AM

    Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (or Law & Order: This Baby’s Been Raped!, as it’s known in my house) continues its reign as the most sadistic show in television history.

    Speaking of SVU: I recently watched the E! True Hollywood Story of Mariska Hargitay, and learned that the dark, twisted, sexual-assault obsessed storylines of the show took their toll on her emotions, so she took a vacation to Hawaii and went swimming with dolphins, and while she was swimming with dolphins she had an epiphany, and now she has a charity devoted to taking victims of sexual assault swimming with dolphins.

    Obama’s Oedipal Moment

    posted by on April 29 at 8:30 AM

    Via TPM, a take by sociology and journalism professor Todd Gitlin that I think places Obama’s current challenge in the right mythical context—and shows Obama what must be done.

    Wright on video, preening, smirking, reveling in his star turn, has spun my mind around. I found him convincing in this sense: He’s convinced me that he’s a clear and present danger to Obama’s candidacy. The father has turned on the son—it’s the Laius complex in action. Sure, sure, Wright offers a heap of clever and not-so-clever self-extenuations for his kind words about Louis Farrakhan, and absurdly claims to speak for the entire black church. But he makes it clear that he believes Obama is simply “a politician,” meaning a shifty no-good. He’s broken the parental contract.

    Obama has to overthrow his surrogate father.

    One problem, as Ben Smith has pointed out, is this quote from Obama’s race speech in Philadelphia: “I can no more disown [Wright] than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother….”

    Maybe this bind is why Obama is off his game today, but he needs to find a way around that problem, fast. When the father—or surrogate father, or father figure, or man who claims to represent the Holy father, or father-like mentor—sees his own egotistical needs as more important than the future of his progeny then, as said above, the parental contract is broken.


    Above: A re-imagining of the Oedipal drama, from a 15th Century French manuscript. Somewhat appropriately for this moment, it’s filled with Christian imagery that Oedipus and Laius (and the ancient Greeks who told their story) would never have recognized. However: It shows Oedipus’s father, Laius, leaving his son to die because an oracle has told Laius that his son will grow up to kill him. Which—take note, Obama—the son does.

    Liberty City Flu Outbreak

    posted by on April 29 at 8:27 AM

    Who else besides Steinbacher is playing hooky today to dive into GTA4? I don’t expect to hear from my husband for the next 72 hours at least. What does it say about culture when a $60 car-jacking sandbox will make far and away more money than any other piece of media this year?

    New in IV: radio stations’ playlists are mixed randomly (but sadly, no ’80s), parked cars must be hot-wired; sex is depicted (not super explicitly), humans react more realistically based on where they’ve been shot; and, most exciting: an online multiplayer option.

    Machkovech, is it all that?

    The Morning News

    posted by on April 29 at 8:01 AM

    Lack of Confidence: As the value of single-family homes has dropped by 13.6%, U.S. consumers “feel worse about the economy’s prospects than any time since the mid-1970s.”

    BJ & the Tax Break: Angry truckers invaded Washington D.C. yesterday to protest high gas prices. Meanwhile, on the campaign trail, Clinton has joined McCain in calling for a suspension of the gas tax during the summer. Obama is against the idea.

    Speaking of Gas Prices: BP and Royal Dutch Shell are expected to post first-quarter earnings of a combined $17 billion.

    Bush’s Big Economy Speech: Yeah, the economy is in bad shape, and what we need to do about it is drill for oil in Alaska. Oh, and Congress is letting the American people down. Thank you and God bless America.

    Countdown to the Beijing Olympics: The Chinese government has agreed to meet with the Dalai Lama — but first it needs to sentence 30 Tibetans to prison for their part in “anti-China riots.”

    Spring Storms: Virginia was hit by three tornadoes yesterday. Homes were destroyed, cars were overturned, and some 200 people were injured.

    Printing Money: Grand Theft Auto IV, which is expected to make $400 million in its first week alone.

    Strong Bones, Weak Heart: According to a study conducted in part with Group Health, the osteoporosis drug Fosamax may double the risk of heart problems in women.

    Painful Audit: Fixes to the King County jail started at a cost of $15.9 million. Five years later, the cost is $51.6 million — oh, and the County may have broken the law to boot.

    Capitalism Trumps Regulation: Seattle’s ban on brands of hardcore booze hasn’t been effective since drunks don’t really have much brand loyalty.

    Creepy Kids’ Show of the Day:

    Re: Sinking Fast

    posted by on April 29 at 7:51 AM

    That speech Rev. Wright gave yesterday at the National Press Club in Washington D.C.—the speech that may have delivered a fatal blow to the Obama’s chances? A supporter of Hillary Clinton set it up. That’s infuriating, huh? Pretty damn ruthless. But, you know, it has a certain swiftboat-or-be-swiftboated quality that is not without appeal. While Obama can’t seem to do what must be done to defend himself and his campaign, Hillary Clinton has made it clear that she will do and say anything in defense of herself and her own campaign.

    And that would include, it seems, standing silently by while a prominent supporter uses anti-gay slurs. From The Smoking Gun:

    With Hillary Clinton standing at his side, North Carolina Governor Mike Easley today described the Democratic presidential candidate as so tough that she “makes Rocky Balboa look like a pansy.” Easley’s compliment, as it were, may offend some voters since the word “pansy” is often used in a derogative fashion to describe a male homosexual.

    Sinking Fast

    posted by on April 29 at 7:40 AM


    Is it just me… or does Obama’s Rev. Wright problem seem like it could be the end? It’s not just me.

    But you know what’s really infuriating about this Wright stuff? Obama is being successfully swiftboated here. But unlike John Kerry, who was swiftboated by his political enemies and Karl Rove and GOP convention delegates wearing bandaids with purple hearts on them, Obama is being swiftboated by a friend—and by the candidate’s Kerry-esque inability to do what must be done.

    Obama needs to drag Rev. Wright to nearest intersection and throw him under a dozen or more buses. If Obama doesn’t do that, and do it immediately, Americans are going to conclude that Obama, like John Kerry before him, isn’t capable of defending himself. And the average voter isn’t going to trust a candidate that can’t defend himself with the defense of the country. Period.

    Monday, April 28, 2008

    Theater Letter of the Day

    posted by on April 28 at 4:49 PM

    Revenge of the comedians—a PRoK host, fed up with what sounds like crappy treatment from Mr. Spot’s Chai House, takes his audience with him and leaves the cafe empty.

    Any cafes out there want to offer Lo-Ball a home? It’s free and all-ages, but it pulls in crowds—you might be wise to offer the host (PRoK’s Paul Merrill) a little scratch to bring it to your establishment…

    On Friday night, a comedian took an entire audience outside with him to protest poor treatment from a club and performed the rest of the show in a nearby park.

    Lo-Ball (The Local Ballard Comedy Show) had been a staple of the Seattle comedy scene for the past two years, bringing in big crowds to Mr. Spot’s Chai House in Ballard to see a mix of amateur and professional comedians try out new material. Produced by the People’s Republic of Komedy (who will be hosting their own stage at Bumbershoot this year) the show had been featured in the Seattle Times, The Seattle Weekly, The Stranger and Seattle Magazine.

    Six months ago, however, a new booker was brought into the Chai House who clearly had no love for comedy. Shows were being booked at odd times or suddenly canceled at the last moment. Soon the crowds, who never knew when to show up anymore, stopped coming. Last Friday, two hours before the show, the Chai House sent a MySpace message to Paul Merrill, the producer of Lo-Ball, informing him that they no longer wanted comedy at their shop.

    After two years of bringing packed houses to the Chai House every Friday night for no compensation (the show was always free and all-ages), Lo-Ball was history.

    Instead of going out with a whimper, however, Merrill decided to show the Chai House what they’d be missing. At the start of the show, he asked everyone in the audience who had come to see comedy to stand. All of the 20-30 people in the crowd stood up. He then announced that they’d be moving the show outside. The entire crowd then followed Merrill outside to nearby Bergen Place Park, where they preceded to put on a comedy show to a loyal (and shivering) audience.

    Over the course of the show, the crowd grew as curious passersby stopped to enjoy the free entertainment. After the comedians finished, Merrill offered to buy everyone a drink—provided it wasn’t at the Chai House.

    The Department of Praying and Development

    posted by on April 28 at 4:08 PM

    Why bother with old-fashioned planning? Last week Ken Hutcherson sent this note to his Prayer Warriors:

    Please be praying! We have submitted a proposal to lease a 76,000 square foot building which would allow us to have a 24/7 facility. Please pray that we get a favorable response to our proposal tomorrow evening.

    The deal wouldn’t be contingent on a fat bank account—filled from the pockets of the Prayer Warriors—of course. Money takes a back seat to worship when it comes to signing leases. And the almighty hand obviously cinched the deal this morning.

    God came through, Prayer Warriors! It looks like Antioch is about to have a home!

    The master leaseholder of the building we want has agreed to sublease to us. All we need now is approval from the building owner so please be praying for that.

    The building’s owner wouldn’t be looking at past rental history, credit ratings, etc. Only prayer can cover the details. When we go to sign the lease, pray the car has gas in it. Pray that the pen works, and if it doesn’t, that another pen will be on hand. Is God’s help necessary for every little thing?

    “I call this move the Cricket.”

    posted by on April 28 at 3:51 PM


    When they’re done taking kids away from polygamists in Texas, maybe the authorities could look into the parents that allowed this kid to post this video to YouTube. You can clearly hear an adult saying, “Go,” at the start of the video. I don’t know what you can hear—or see—at the end of the video because I was too scandalized to watch past the kid’s post-Cricket, um, adjustments.

    The Secret is Money

    posted by on April 28 at 3:25 PM


    I have hated The Secret for a long time now. I think that the many people who’ve forwarded me this New York Times story thought that I’d be giddy at the prospect of the co-director of The Secret movie suing for his share of the profits. It’s understandable. After all, the people who popularized this whole Law of Attraction thing—think about an empty parking spot and, lo, an empty parking spot shall appear—being involved in a huge, ugly lawsuit isn’t very Law of Attraction-y.

    But I’m too depressed by this little snippet of information to take much glee in the schadenfreude:

    The suit claims that Mr. Heriot is the co-author of the screenplay and the book and is therefore entitled to up to half of what his lawyers estimate as $300 million in “Secret” revenue.

    That number is so depressingly huge that I can’t feel happy about any of this.

    Duh of the Day

    posted by on April 28 at 3:21 PM

    Why stupid questions should not be dignified with serious answers:

    Rick Downer wonders why vehicles carrying more than one person are allowed to use the regular lanes?

    “I don’t mind paying taxes to build High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes as long as the HOVs use them, but daily I see HOVs in the regular lanes when their lane is wide open,” he says.

    He thinks people with more than one person in their vehicles should be required to use HOV lanes.

    And the change should be called the Lane Fairness and Road Rage Reduction Act, he said.

    Answer: Washington Department of Transportation spokesman Noel Brady says HOV lanes were created to give commuters an incentive to car pool or take the bus.

    Vehicles with passengers could be forced to use HOV lanes when traffic is heavy enough. But it would be hard to decide what the threshold should be.

    At any rate, he said, Downer is most likely seeing drivers with passengers in regular lanes when there isn’t much traffic. When there is a lot of traffic, drivers who qualify for the car pool lanes usually head there, anyway.

    Next week, in the Getting There: How come old people act like they have a right to sit anywhere on the bus, when the front seats are clearly marked “for handicapped and elderly”? And why can’t we force people with fewer than eight items to only use the express lines?

    Almost Infamous

    posted by on April 28 at 3:15 PM


    If William F. Ball had murdered Shannon Harps, he’d be alive today. But Ball was cleared in the stabbing death of Harps and released—and then stabbed to death himself less than eight weeks later.

    You can read my feature here.

    Flickr Photo of the Day

    posted by on April 28 at 3:05 PM

    The Mae Shi, by ashlyn tahlier


    McDermott Pays Over $1 Million to End His Lawsuit

    posted by on April 28 at 2:55 PM

    Remember the “War on Jim McDermott”? It’s finally over, and he lost—to the tune of more than $1 million, payable in full to Republican Rep. John Boehner.

    Boehner’s spokesman, Kevin Smith, said the $1.09 million payment includes $628,000 from McDermott’s campaign account, and about $465,000 from McDermott’s legal expense trust fund.

    Every last penny will be used to help elect Republicans,” Smith said, calling it ironic that McDermott — an outspoken partisan — “is helping fund the defeat of his fellow Democrats. I wouldn’t expect he’ll receive a lot of thank you’s come November.”

    McDermott, for his part, was unbowed.

    “While the amount of damages assessed in this case is significant,” he said, “I submit that defending the First Amendment is beyond measure and worth every penny.”

    Five Years, Billions of Dollars…

    posted by on April 28 at 2:47 PM

    …and we haven’t quite managed to push Iraqi militants far enough away from the “heavily-fortified Green Zone” to prevent them from raining rockets and mortars down on our heads pretty much whenever they like.

    The near-daily shelling of the Green Zone has become acutely embarrassing for both Iraqi authorities and the U.S. military.

    Rather than mount an all-out assault, U.S. commanders have tried to limit the shelling by walling off the southern third of Sadr City and trying to put the Green Zone out of range of light rockets and mortars.

    Hey, did Obama’s crazy-ass pastor say any crazy-ass things today?

    re: The Day in WTF

    posted by on April 28 at 2:44 PM

    Look, PETA. It’s fine if you want to post a $2,000 reward for information leading to the identification of the person who has been shooting blow darts at pigeons downtown.

    I’m not sure hunting pigeons with blow darts is illegal, but if you want to burn a couple grand to find out, that’s your business.

    But don’t let your spokespeople (like Tori Perry, quoted in today’s Times) say dumb, dumb things like:

    “This is just a horrifying case… Someone who would do this to an animal is a short step away from doing this to a human being.”

    You don’t know that, Tori. Maybe, maybe—if we find out the blowgunner is just being cruel.

    But maybe he or she is just after dinner. Maybe he or she is like my great-uncle Angelo who, when he arrived in Massachusetts from Italy, used to hunt pigeons in the park to make sopa coada. (Which mortally embarrassed his nephew/my uncle John, who was afraid his friends would see fresh-off-the-boat Angelo creeping around the park with a big net while they played football. Ain’t that America, etc.)

    So, Tori, are you accusing my uncle Angelo of being a psychopath? Are you suggesting that immigrants whose culinary tastes differ from yours are psychopaths?

    Are you, Ms. PETA, perhaps guilty of a little xenophobia? Maybe even a little racism?

    Hm? Are you?

    There is No Morality Without Religion #2

    posted by on April 28 at 2:34 PM

    A part-time teacher and tutor associated with Palace of Praise Church in Aloha has been taken into custody in connection with sexual-abuse accusations. [David Michael] Schedin, 40, of Aloha, was arrested at 3:18 p.m. Thursday by detectives from the Beaverton Police Department, and transported to the Washington County Jail. He has been charged with third-degree sodomy and third-degree sex abuse.

    A juvenile female told her parents that Schedin had sexual contact with her Thursday in the parking lot at Beaverton High School, according to Sgt. Paul Wandell, Beaverton police spokesman. The parents contacted police.

    Part-time teacher, tutor, and no doubt an aspiring youth-pastor…

    Henry to Sounders FC?

    posted by on April 28 at 2:23 PM

    Via Yahoo Sports:

    Thierry Henry’s potential move to Major League Soccer seems to be drawing closer by the week as the France striker’s stay at Barcelona appears to be grinding to an unsatisfactory halt.

    Henry is unsettled in La Liga, and a report coming out of Spain this week further fueled intense speculation that the 30-year-old is bound for the United States.

    Seattle Sounders FC, who will join the league in 2009, appear to be the franchise with the greatest interest in and best chance of securing Henry’s services in what would be a spectacular coup for MLS.


    (Thanks to Slog-tipper Mike of Renton.)

    Tiny Techie Tip

    posted by on April 28 at 1:52 PM

    This discovery just made my job easier:
    Converting a .doc to an .html file inside Word results in a rat’s nest of MS-brand HTML and CSS. A quick way to get a clean version: Send the file to your Gmail account, then hit “View as HTML” and then view>page source in your browser’s toolbar.

    Wednesday Night: Lewd Puppetry and Accordion Music

    posted by on April 28 at 1:40 PM

    What: A benefit for the Vera Project.

    Who: A puppet show by the always awesome Sgt. Rigsby and His Amazing Silhouettes.


    Also, music by Accordion Boy (also known as Nate Mooter of Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground, Strong Killings, and the Lashes).


    Where: McLeod Residence.

    When: Wednesday April 30 at 7 pm.

    What else: Fish and chips. And whiskey.

    How much: Suggested donation of $15.

    Background: Last year, Sgt. Rigsby offered to donate a private puppet show for our Strangercrombie charity auction. Our own Ari Spool bought the package and, overachiever that she is, decided to double-down on the do-gooding: a puppet show bought for charity, repurposed into a fundraiser.

    The result is like a miracle—everything anyone could want (Sgt. Rigsby, Accordion Boy, McLeod, Vera, whiskey) all in one place.

    Headline of the Day

    posted by on April 28 at 1:25 PM

    From the BBC:

    ‘Free Tibet’ flags made in China

    There Is No Morality Without Religion

    posted by on April 28 at 1:24 PM

    Texas child welfare officials say more than half the teen girls swept into state custody from a polygamist sect’s ranch have been pregnant. Child Protective Services spokesman Darrell Azar says 53 girls between the ages of 14 and 17 were living on the ranch in Eldorado. Of that group, 31 already have children or are pregnant.

    I blame Miley Cyrus.

    Lunchtime Quickie

    posted by on April 28 at 1:15 PM

    In honor of all the brave souls who performed at the Stranger’s Gong Show Saturday, I present to you WAXIE MOON

    In the Last 24 Hours (or more) on Line Out

    posted by on April 28 at 1:07 PM

    Turn Down the Dicks: The cops bust Comeback for their nudie posters.

    It’s True: Have you ever seen Tracy Morgan and Kool Keith in the same room at the same time?

    Visions of the Road: Trent Moorman captures the essence of the highway.

    Overheard at Parties: About abortions, tater-tots, and really unfortunate baby names.

    Eurovision Semi-Final: Drag Barbies, golden GoGo Boys and a singing turkey.

    Today’s Music News: The tour that’ll make you shit your pants, a bomb scare at a Bon Jovi concert, and Yoko Ono sues Expelled.

    Tonight in Music: Coconut Coolouts with Blood on the Wall, and Chinese with Elephant Kisses?.

    Video: Prince plays Radiohead’s “Creep” at Coachella.

    Hypersexed Vegan Jehovah’s Witness: Why Brendan Kiley says Prince is the Perfect American.

    Freebies: Coldplay offers free song and free shows.

    Wild Rose’s Pride: Gay Pride at Wild Rose means good music for you.

    Flavor-Flav!: Trent Moorman talks to the man about real reasons and dreams.

    Punk/TV History: Some of the best moments of punk rock on TV.

    Currently Hanging

    posted by on April 28 at 1:06 PM

    Galen McCarty Turner’s King of France, mixed media including glass, electricity, noble gases

    At the new Fulcrum Gallery in Tacoma. (A nice review of the show in The News Tribune is here.)


    posted by on April 28 at 1:04 PM

    I was having trouble sleeping.

    That’s not unusual for me. I’ve always been a light/only occasional sleeper. And conditions were perfect for a sleepless night—I was sleeping on a couch in my aunt’s living room in Tucson, I had to get up early for a flight the next morning, And, um, I had just watched my mother die. So when I was offered an Ambien I decided to take it.

    I’d been offered Ambien in the past, mostly by a friend that swears by the drug. Ambien also inspires my boyfriend to swear—mostly at me, since he has to deal with me when I haven’t slept for a few days. He’s long wanted me to get a prescription but I’ve always refused. Isn’t Ambien that drug that makes people sleep walk, eat, fuck, drive, etc.? Did I really want to start taking that drug?

    But… I made an exception that night and took the pill. When I woke up and it was still dark I figured that, shit, Ambien isn’t that great. It was groggy, but I wasn’t asleep. So the drug didn’t work—not for me, anyhow. But when I looked at the clock in the kitchen it wasn’t 2 AM, my usual wake-up time, but 6:30 AM. I’d been asleep for nine hours. Nine hours in a row.

    I got a prescription. I took the drug every night for three weeks. I slept and slept and slept and slept. But one night I couldn’t take the pill—I was home alone with the kid and I needed to be capable of waking up in the middle of the night and snapping to attention if there was a late-night emergency, a nightmare, a zombie attack, etc. So I didn’t take the pill—and I didn’t sleep. Not at all, not a wink.

    The next day I got online and looked up Ambien’s less spectacular side effects—the side-effects that hadn’t made headlines—and guess what I found? One of the side effects was insomnia. Insomnia! But you’ll only get insomnia, I read, or get insomnia back, if you stop taking the drug. They call it “rebound insomnia.”

    I stopped taking Ambien—and I didn’t sleep for three days.

    Nice drug they’ve got there. Glad I’m not addicted to it. Anymore.

    The Second-Annual Stranger Gong Show

    posted by on April 28 at 1:02 PM

    …went down in a packed and sweaty Chop Suey this past Saturday night, and it was a 90-minute tornado of talent, packed with filthy sign language, peppy Poppins, and judge wigs made out of tampons. There was also the exposure of an actual butthole.

    For the closest thing to being there, look for Stranger videographer Kelly O’s Gong Show Video, premiering tomorrow right here on Slog. (And for an artistic rundown of the show—including an interview with the first-place winning comedian Soloman Georgio—see Brendan Kiley’s next Theater News column, landing Wednesday.)

    For thanks to all who came and screamed and sweated, and extra special thanks to every single one of the performers. Without you, we’re nothing.

    The Rev. Wright Media Tour

    posted by on April 28 at 12:50 PM

    Video of Wright speaking at the National Press Club here. Admission from top Obama strategist David Axelrod that this is probably “not helpful” (understatement of the day) here. Offer by Rev. Wright to be Obama’s vice president here.

    Joe Klein:

    Wright’s purpose now seems quite clear: to aggrandize himself—the guy is going to be a go-to mainstream media source for racial extremist spew, the next iteration of Al Sharpton—and destroy Barack Obama.

    Obama is in a bad spot on this one. If he now forcefully throws Wright under the bus, he only encourages more TV-worthy reactions from Wright—along with questions about why Obama didn’t throw Wright under the bus earlier. And if Obama ignores Wright’s recent statements (attacking him is attacking the black church, the U.S. government might well be behind the HIV virus, etc.) then Obama looks like he’s coddling a kook.

    UW Doctors Leaving Man to Die for Using Medical Marijuana

    posted by on April 28 at 12:45 PM

    This story came out over the weekend, but as of late this morning, Timothy Garon was still barely hanging on—in his hospice bed at Bailey-Boushay House. “He’s going to be dead here in a couple days,” says his attorney Douglas Hiatt. Garon needs a liver transplant to survive.

    Timothy Garon’s face and arms are hauntingly skeletal, but the fluid building up in his abdomen makes the 56-year-old musician look eight months pregnant.

    His liver, ravaged by hepatitis C, is failing. Without a new one, his doctors tell him, he will be dead in days.

    But Garon’s been refused a spot on the transplant list, largely because he has used marijuana, even though it was legally approved for medical reasons.

    Garon, who has been hospitalized or in hospice care for two months straight, said he turned to the university hospital after Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center told him he needed six months of abstinence.

    The university also denied him, but said it would reconsider if he enrolled in a 60-day drug-treatment program. This week, at the urging of Garon’s lawyer, the university’s transplant team reconsidered anyway, but it stuck to its decision.

    Dr. Jorge Reyes, a liver transplant surgeon at the UW Medical Center, said that while medical marijuana use isn’t in itself a sign of substance abuse, it must be evaluated in the context of each patient.

    The concern is that patients who have been using it will not be able to stop,” Reyes said. Reyes and other UW officials declined to discuss Garon’s case.

    Dr. Reyes’s voicemail box is full at the UW Medical Center. My calls to the transplant division this morning haven’t been returned. Their lips are apparently zipped and they don’t want to reveal who is on the transplant committee. But you can still contact the UW transplant division and try to get answers.

    Below is the main number and individual email addresses. Call and write. Ask who made this decision, what their names are and can you speak to them. Ask how Mr. Garon’s past marijuana use—as recommended by his physician and completely legal under state law—means he wouldn’t benefit from a liver transplant from the state hospital.

    UW Division of Transplant: (206) 598-6700

    The fax number: (206) 598-0628

    The chief of the division is Jorge D. Reyes:

    The director is Kay Wicks:

    The full directory for transplant staff is over here.

    The committee that made the decision knows full well that the marijuana Mr. Garon smoked hasn’t caused liver damage. Instead, Dr. Reyes justifies the decisions in the AP article by saying marijuana can be habit-forming, and he’s worried that Mr. Garon would continue to use marijuana.

    Excuse me, but what sort of backward logic concludes it’s best to let a man to die because he used the very medication that helped him live? Hep-C is explicitly covered under Washington’s Medical Use of Marijuana Act for helping curb the nausea caused by the disease’s viral load. In the article, another doc grasps at straws by saying that a form of mold that can be found on marijuana could cause his body to reject the new organ—if Mr. Garon smokes pot—but he wouldn’t smoke pot if doctors told him not to, because he’s not addicted to it like a crack addict. It’s marijuana, one of the least habit-forming of all psychoactive drugs. So he’s being denied the transplant for something that hasn’t happened. I know I’ve gotten my ranties in a bunch, but the UW’s decision is a death sentence for Mr. Garon.

    One more time:

    The number to call: (206) 598-6700

    The email address to write:

    Lunch Date: The Gift of Rain

    posted by on April 28 at 12:42 PM


    (A few times a week, I take a new book with me to lunch and give it a half an hour or so to grab my attention. Lunch Date is my judgment on that speed-dating experience.)

    Who’s your date today? The Gift of Rain, by Twan Eng.

    Where’d you go? La Puerta, at the top of the Broadway Market.

    What’d you eat?
    Three beef tacos, beans, and rice ($6.75).

    How was the food? I was thoroughly unimpressed. My mom has made me better tacos by strictly following the directions on an Old El Paso taco kit box, and I’ve had better refried beans out of a can. There’s been some love for La Puerta in the past on Slog, but I can’t get on that “it’s-just-like-authentic-Mexican-cafeteria-food” train: Cafeteria food is cafeteria food no matter where you go.

    What does your date say about itself?
    The Gift of Rain was shortlisted for the 2007 Man Booker Prize. It’s a novel set in World War II, about a young half-Chinese man who learns the Japanese martial art of aikijutsu from the world’s greatest aikijustu master. It has been compared to The Quiet American by more than one reviewer.

    Is there a representative quote?
    “It was a typical afternoon in the biggest town in Malaya: the English would leave their sweltering offices, go to the Spotted Dog to have a gin and tonic, play some cricket, and then return home for a bath before coming back to the Club for dinner and then dancing. It was a good life, a rich life filled with ease and enjoyment.”

    Will you two end up in bed together? Yes, though I’m slightly on the fence on this one. The novel is slow, to say the least, but there’s a definite sense that something good is going to come at some point. The only question is, will the goodness come too late to retain my interest? Possibly. Time will tell.

    International Espionage Barbie

    posted by on April 28 at 12:33 PM

    While the U.S. freaks out about Iran nukes, Iran freaks out about U.S. dolls:

    A top Iranian judiciary official warned Monday against the “destructive” cultural and social consequences of importing Barbie dolls and other Western toys.

    Prosecutor General Ghorban Ali Dori Najafabadi said in an official letter to Vice President Parviz Davoudi that the Western toys was a “danger” that needed to be stopped.

    “The irregular importation of such toys, which unfortunately arrive through unofficial sources and smuggling, is destructive culturally and a social danger,” Najafabadi said in his letter, a copy of which was made available to The Associated Press.

    Iranian markets have been inundated with smuggled Western toys in recent years partly due to a dramatic rise in purchasing power as a result of increased oil revenues.

    While importing the toys is not necessarily illegal, it is discouraged by a government that made its name on preserving Iran from Western cultural influences.


    This isn’t the first time the anatomically challenged Barbie has gotten under Iran’s skin:

    Authorities launched a temporary campaign of confiscating Barbie from toy stores in 2002, denouncing the un-Islamic sensibilities of the iconic American doll. The campaign was eventually discontinued.

    That same year, though, Iran introduced a competing doll — the twins Dara and Sara, who promoted traditional values with their modest clothing and pro-family stories but they proved unable to stem the Barbie tide.

    The Day in WTF

    posted by on April 28 at 11:09 AM

    PETA—taking a break from having naked ladies shower together in Times Square to demonstrate, um, something—is offering a $2,000 reward for information that leads to the capture of whoever’s been shooting downtown pigeons with blow darts.

    Previous Stranger coverage of Pigeongate here and here.

    The DNC’s First One-Two Punch

    posted by on April 28 at 11:03 AM

    Two new anti-McCain attack ads from the Democratic National Committee:

    Today The Stranger Suggests

    posted by on April 28 at 11:00 AM


    Mary Roach at Town Hall

    With her bestselling Stiff, Mary Roach wrote an intelligent, understandable, and, most importantly, hilarious book about the art and science of death. In her newest book, Bonk, Roach discusses the art and science of fucking. She introduces the reader to a penis surgeon who talks like Yoda, a meeting of sex-machine aficionados, and the difficulties of scientifically observing the cervix during heavy intercourse. It can be said, without hyperbole, that she’s the world’s funniest science writer. (Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Ave, 652-4255. 7:30 pm, $5.)


    Can I Smell Your Dick?

    posted by on April 28 at 11:00 AM

    Slog tipper damnqueerfuck sends us this…

    And asks…

    I dunno if you’ve seen this, but it seems it was made for Slog. Watch it, and you’ll keep singing along. I’d be curious about the accuracy of smelling dick. Does it take practice or is it pretty obvious where a dick has been? Unfortunately I’m unwilling to test it out.


    Self-Published Books Don’t Get Any Respect

    posted by on April 28 at 10:59 AM

    I often get indignant e-mails from self-published authors about why I don’t review their books. They accuse me of generalizing and saying that all self-published books are bad. In my defense, here is Exhibit A, weighing in at 3.2 pounds and 648 pages, and costing one hundred and fifty dollars:


    If you are the sort of person who gets headaches from ALL CAPS typing, you will not want to follow me after the jump, whereupon I will copy the entire Amazon product description.

    (Thanks to Slog tipper Lara.)

    Continue reading "Self-Published Books Don't Get Any Respect" »

    The End Is Nigh

    posted by on April 28 at 10:34 AM

    So much to make you wring your hands in this piece from Sunday’s NYTimes about the ways people are cutting back to deal with soaring food prices, but two quotes in particular jumped out at me.

    The first:

    Burt Flickinger, a longtime retail consultant, said the last time he saw such significant changes in consumer buying patterns was the late 1970s, when runaway inflation prompted Americans to “switch from red meat to pork to poultry to pasta — then to peanut butter and jelly.” “It hasn’t gotten to human food mixed with pet food yet,” he said, “but it is certainly headed in that direction.”

    The second:

    Such trade-offs were on vivid display last week in Ohio, where layoffs have been rampant. At Save-A-Lot, a discount grocery store in Cleveland, Teresa Rutherford, 51, chided her sister-in-law, Donna Dunaway, 44, for picking up a package of Sara Lee honey ham (eight ounces for $2.49).

    “We can’t afford that!” she said. “Get the cheap stuff.” They settled on a 16-ounce package of Deli Pleasures ham for $3.29, or 34 percent less an ounce.

    The women said that soaring prices for food and fuel had changed what they buy and where they buy it. “We used to eat out at Bob Evans or Denny’s once a month,” said Ms. Rutherford, who works in an auto-parts factory. “Now we don’t go out at all. We eat in all the time.”

    Ms. Dunaway, a homemaker, used to splurge on the ingredients for homemade lasagna, her husband’s favorite, before food prices began to surge this year.

    “Now he’s lucky to get a 99-cent lasagna TV dinner, or maybe some Manwich out of a can,” she said. “I just can’t afford to be buying all that good meat and cheese like I used to.

    Paging Michael Pollan: We are fucked.

    I Am Against Violence in All Its Forms

    posted by on April 28 at 10:33 AM

    Nevertheless, I enjoyed finding this photo on the Seattle Times website, accompanying Lynn Thompson’s report on the controversy surrounding Mount Si High School’s Day of Silence in support of gay and lesbian students, strenuously protested by anti-gay warrior Rev. Ken Hutcherson.


    Photo credit: Ken Lambert, The Seattle Times.

    (Also, the guy holding the sign is identified as 20-year-old John Sawyer; if you know him, please give him my regards.)

    P.S. Don’t throw rocks.

    Puff Puff Hurl

    posted by on April 28 at 10:26 AM

    A man is dying has been sentenced to death because the UW Medical Center doesn’t think someone who has used medical marijuana can be trusted with a new liver. Here’s hoping none of the folks in this band ever need a life-saving transplant….

    My favorite lyric: “It grows from the earth, the earth can’t hurt…” You know, poison ivy and cacti and hemlock.

    Courtesy of Slog tipper Jake, who writes…

    Part of me suspects that if you dug into this band’s finances, you’d find loads DEA money, considering how uncool they make weed look.

    Reading Tonight

    posted by on April 28 at 10:10 AM


    Two open mics and two super-fancy readings to choose from today.

    First, at the Elliott Bay Book Company, Lijia Zhang, whose name I envy, is reading from “Socialism is Great!” A Worker’s Memoir of the New China. It’s a well-written memoir, complete with lots of delicious writing about food—though some good novelists can’t write about food to save their lives, I say never trust a memoirist who can’t make you hungry—and painfully depressing work parties celebrating the sixty-second anniversary of communism in China.

    And second, at Town Hall, Mary Roach (author of the wonderful Stiff) is reading from Bonk, which is all about sex. It’s a really funny book, with lots of trips around the world to visit penis doctors and groups of men who build fucking machines for fun and a very thorough investigation of the Kinsey archives. Thrillingly, there’ll be a Powerpoint presentation, also.

    If neither of these readings interest you—even though they should interest you—you can consult the full readings calendar to check out this week’s upcoming readings.

    A. Stone and Rick A. on 15th and Mercer

    posted by on April 28 at 9:59 AM

    Excuse me sir, would would you like to join the CEG?
    The CEG?
    Yes, the Crystal Energy Group.
    Huh? Go on…
    Have you heard of the crystal pyramid energy? Have you heard of the path to the pyramid?
    Please enlighten me.
    We have witnessed meat turn to jerky. We have watched ill kittens heal themselves under the point of the pyramid. When the people realize this supreme power there will be no hesitation in becoming members of the CEG nation. You shall then receive our six rules to success and detailed instructions on mailing us your $50 initiation fee for salvation.
    We will be seeing you soon then?
    Is this a cult?
    We will be seeing you. Oh yes, we will be seeing you.

    Hannah Montana Bares Her…

    posted by on April 28 at 9:52 AM


    shoulder. And that’s not okay, because the Disney star is only 15 years old and she wasn’t wearing a top and so her teenage breasts can totally be inferred here. Parents are outraged, Cyrus is contrite, and Vanity Fair is bad. Because we all know that it’s a slippery slope from inferring teenage breasts to, you know, actually blowing loads all over ‘em. So instead of looking at this shocking, exploitative picture of Miley Cyrus’s bare shoulder, let’s look instead at this wholesome picture of a pre-teenage girl modeling the Hannah Montana Girls Rock Bikini—for sale now at Disney’s website.


    Ah… that’s better.

    “Really, anything is better than having to file four stories a day for the Web site.”

    posted by on April 28 at 9:45 AM

    What I love most about New York Times foreign correspondent Barry Bearak’s first-person account of his time in a Zimbabwe jail for the crime of “committing journalism” is the sub-plot that involves the Internet.

    You can blame Robert Mugabe and Zimbabwe’s broken justice system for the insanity that led to Bearak’s jailing, and you probably should, but Bearak also clearly wants you (and his bosses) to know that the Internet age was partly to blame, too.

    Here is how Bearak reported on Zimbabwe before the election crisis, back before he was arrested:

    With elections coming in Zimbabwe, I soon made two trips to Harare, each time taking ritualistic precautions for safety. I left my credentials and laptop at home, entered the country as a tourist and interviewed people only behind closed doors. Each night, I destroyed my notes after e-mailing their contents to myself at an Internet cafe. I wrote my articles only upon returning to Johannesburg.

    Sounds very spy-vs-spy, but safe. Then, surprisingly, Mugabe lost the election, Zimbabwe became huge news, and…

    Daily articles needed to be filed. I had to openly work the streets, then go back to a room with a reliable wireless link to transmit from my laptop. Over time, normally wary reporters began taking risks that mocked earlier prudence, announcing their names and affiliations at opposition news conferences.

    Necessity numbed my own caution. My articles required continuous updating for The Times’s Web site, so there I’d be in downtown Harare, a backpack slung over my shoulder, dictating quotes from my notebook and spelling names into the wavering connection of the mobile phone.

    In case you’re not getting the implication that the demands of reporting for the web led to his jailing, Bearak mentions it a few more times:

    I was staying at York Lodge, a collection of eight cottages spread around a lovely expanse of shrubs and lawn. At age 58, after 33 years as a reporter, I’d like to think I have a nose for trouble, alert to danger like some frontier cavalry scout who tenses up at the sound of a suspicious birdcall.

    But the police had been at the lodge for 45 minutes before I knew a thing. I was filing another update for the Web site when I left the room for a breather about 4 p.m. Maria Phiri, a tall, wiry detective in hoop earrings and a red dress, called out, “Hey you!”

    And then:

    I managed to call Celia with a borrowed phone. My wife somehow knows how to all at once be emotionally distraught and serenely levelheaded. She was already strategizing about how to free me; at the same time she was getting ready to assume the newspaper’s Zimbabwe coverage from Johannesburg.

    “Don’t worry, whatever the cells are like I can handle it,” I told her, attempting a tough guy’s bravado. I added a reporter’s inside joke. “Really, anything is better than having to file four stories a day for the Web site.

    It’s old news that it’s a new world out there for journalists, but it’s interesting to see that domestic reporters aren’t the only ones both embracing and harrumphing at all the change. Interesting, too, to see that during Bearak’s ordeal in Zimbabwe the new media world cut both ways—sometimes favoring him:

    The night before, I had wanly told [my lawyer] that the case against me seemed hopelessly open-and-shut. I had written articles, and anyone who Googled my name with “Zimbabwe” would have all the proof that was needed. She harrumphed at that, insisting that even a simple database search was beyond the technical expertise of the Harare police.

    I now realized she might be right.

    Bus Stop to Reopen This Summer?

    posted by on April 28 at 9:20 AM

    Originally posted Saturday evening, but moved up to today for those of you either too drunk to read on Saturday or, perhaps more healthily, not in front of your computers over the weekend.


    Via an excited forward from a friend, it looks like the Bus Stop, one of the now-razed but once beerly beloved bars from 500 block of East Pine Street, will rise again.

    We are ecstatic to announce they we have signed a lease on a new location and will hopefully reopen by the end of the summer. We will be taking up residence at 1552 E. Olive Way at the intersection of Olive and Denny. We will keep you all updated and look forward to intoxicating you soon!

    The Bus Stop

    Seemingly confirmed here.

    It Can’t Happen Here…

    posted by on April 28 at 9:15 AM

    …because of our unique topography and we’ve got these large bodies of water and all those hills and someone else thought of it first and poor people need those plastic bags/the Viaduct/smokey bars and things are already perfect here in every possible way. Still, it’s a not a bad idea.

    Starting next month, people [in Washington D.C.] will be able to rent a bicycle day and night with the swipe of a membership card.

    A new public-private venture called SmartBike DC will make 120 bicycles available at 10 spots in central locations in the city. The automated program, which district officials say is the first of its kind in the nation, will operate in a similar fashion to car-sharing programs like Zipcar.

    Bad News for John McCain

    posted by on April 28 at 9:10 AM

    White men aren’t voting for Obama, blacks aren’t voting for Clinton, blue-collar workers aren’t voting for Obama, white-collar workers aren’t voting for Clinton—and all this spells big trouble for whoever winds up getting the Democratic nomination, say the talking heads on the teevee. They say it over and over and over again. They scream it. But have you heard about all the Republicans that aren’t voting for John McCain? Me neither—not until I read Frank Rich’s column in Sunday’s New York Times.

    When the Pennsylvania returns rained down Tuesday night, the narrative became clear fast. The Democrats’ exit polls spelled disaster: Some 25 percent of the primary voters said they would defect to Mr. McCain or not vote at all if Barack Obama were the nominee. How could the party possibly survive this bitter, perhaps race-based civil war?

    But as the doomsday alarm grew shrill, few noticed that on this same day in Pennsylvania, 27 percent of Republican primary voters didn’t just tell pollsters they would defect from their party’s standard-bearer; they went to the polls, gas prices be damned, to vote against Mr. McCain. Though ignored by every channel I surfed, there actually was a G.O.P. primary on Tuesday, open only to registered Republicans. And while it was superfluous in determining that party’s nominee, 220,000 Pennsylvania Republicans (out of their total turnout of 807,000) were moved to cast ballots for Mike Huckabee or, more numerously, Ron Paul. That’s more voters than the margin (215,000) that separated Hillary Clinton and Mr. Obama….

    Given that the Democratic ticket beat Bush-Cheney in Pennsylvania by 205,000 votes in 2000 and 144,000 votes in 2004, these are 220,000 voters the G.O.P. can ill-afford to lose. Especially since there are now a million more registered Democrats than Republicans in Pennsylvania.

    Shadows and Ludwig

    posted by on April 28 at 8:57 AM

    Last night, my dream happened to be in this movie.
    reports_shadows.jpg Is there a more hip American film than Shadows? Its state (jazz cinema) of hipness is near (or is) perfect.

    Concerning a conversation with Golob that happened moments before the packed Gong Show began on Saturday night in the Chop Suey:

    If we take eternity to mean not infinite temporal duration but timelessness, then eternal life belongs to those who live in the present. Our life has no end in just the way in which our visual field has no limits.
    This simple passage from the closing (and best) pages of Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus says what I failed to express during our discussion. My goal was to somehow connect this understanding of eternity with the fact of biological replication. Biological replication is an effort to mirror the present, which is timeless and limitless. This idea is also expressed in the heart of The Symposium. This is Diotima’s revelation. Why replicate? Because all things aspire to the condition of the now, the present.

    The problem I have with my poorly expressed idea (biological processes as a—weak—mirror of the present) is it revives the mystical. To think of the physical as aspiring to the present is to regenerate dead Aristotelian/scholastic concepts of sympathy and affinity. That is one problem. Another is the of end of this aspiring is closely related to the end of Phenomenology of the Spirit—the mystical absolute. How does one remove the “transcendental moonlight” from this idea?

    Freedom on the March

    posted by on April 28 at 8:35 AM

    Arsonists and armed robbers and rapists can serve in our armed forces—but only good Christian ones.

    When Specialist Jeremy Hall held a meeting last July for atheists and freethinkers at Camp Speicher in Iraq, he was excited, he said, to see an officer attending.

    But minutes into the talk, the officer, Maj. Freddy J. Welborn, began to berate Specialist Hall and another soldier about atheism, Specialist Hall wrote in a sworn statement. “People like you are not holding up the Constitution and are going against what the founding fathers, who were Christians, wanted for America!” Major Welborn said, according to the statement.

    Major Welborn told the soldiers he might bar them from re-enlistment and bring charges against them, according to the statement.

    The Morning News

    posted by on April 28 at 8:03 AM

    “Old Man, Go and Have an Honorable Exit”: So says Zimbabwean oppostion leader Morgan Tsvangirai to President Robert Mugabe.

    Bogus: U.S. claims that Syria was building a nuclear reactor, according to Syria.

    Derailed: A Chinese high-speed passenger train, killing at least 70.

    Still Talking: Rev. Wright.

    Dean Declares: Either Obama or Clinton needs to drop out in June in order to unify the party.

    Upheld: Indiana’s photo ID requirement for voting, in a 6-3 ruling.

    Meanwhile: Florida will most likely to remain a clusterfuck on election day.

    Attack From Mars: The candy behemoth is acquiring the Wrigley chewing gum concern for a cool $23 billion.

    Rising: Oil prices, now at $120/barrel.

    Dropping: The New York Times’ Sunday circulation, by 9.2%.

    Doubling: The number of diabetes cases among pregnant women.

    The Latest Front in the War on Terror: Casual boaters out for a cruise are asked to be vigilant.

    Ohmygod, Like So Embarrassed: Miley Cyrus, who says a risqué photo shoot in Vanity Fair was supposed to be ‘artistic.’

    Happy to Pay: Some 9,000 people have signed up to use the Highway 167 “HOT lanes.” The average rush-hour toll will be $4 to $5.

    Smoked Out: The University of Washington Medical Center has declared a local man can’t be considered for a liver transplant because he smoked medical marijuana.

    This Week in Plummeting Productivity: Grand Theft Auto IV arrives Tuesday. Human Resources departments, FOX News commentators gearing up for a hectic week.

    Creepy Kids’ Show of the Day:

    Sunday, April 27, 2008

    Every Child Deserves a Mother and a Father…

    posted by on April 27 at 10:00 PM

    …and a grandfather.

    Authorities in Austria are trying to piece together the details of how a 73-year-old man managed to keep his daughter imprisoned in a windowless cellar for 24 years while he repeatedly raped her and fathered her seven children.

    Police said the 42-year-old woman, identified only as Elisabeth F, told them her father, Josef, had lured her into the basement of the block where the family lived in Amstetten, north-west Austria, on August 24 1984, and allegedly drugged and handcuffed her before locking her up in the dungeon. A police spokesman said she was “psychologically extremely disturbed”, but her version of events was “completely believable”.

    The father was in custody last night.

    Fair’s Fair

    posted by on April 27 at 12:09 PM

    As I said before, I think it was totally goofy for Clinton supporters to run as “uncommitted” delegates in Michigan (where Obama wasn’t even on the ballot). As several commenters from Michigan pointed out, a lot of people who were paying attention decided not to vote in Michigan’s meaningless primary, just as I decided not to vote in Washington’s meaningless primary. For them to be reenfranchised after the election makes no sense and is incredibly hurtful to the party’s base in Michigan. (Imagine if Dwight Pelz suddenly announced, months after our results had been announced, that Washington wasn’t going to count results from the caucuses but would instead count the primary!) Howard Dean got on Meet the Press this morning yapping about respecting Michigan’s voters, but in this special case, you really have to respect Michigan’s clued-in nonvoters as well. They were the ones who trusted the DNC to stick to its promised penalties.

    That said, Iowa had its congressional district caucuses this weekend, and some totally legit maneuvers deprived Obama of a delegate that had been expected to go to him. Here’s the thing: Caucuses really are like representative democracy—individual voters pick the person who they trust to represent their interests in platform creation as well as to vote for their chosen candidate through multiple successive caucuses. From the Des Moines Register:

    But Obama received three of his total Saturday in Iowa’s 1st Congressional District, where he was expected to receive four, based on projections from the county conventions.

    Obama slipped by one delegate because Edwards had sufficient support in the district, where he was not expected to receive any delegates.


    The shift was aided by Clinton supporters who agreed to support Edwards at the convention. Clinton had dispatched veteran Iowa organizer Teresa Vilmain, who ran Clinton’s third-place Iowa caucus campaign, to the convention in Dubuque.

    Crawford said Clinton supporters crossed over to boost Edwards’ totals and deny Obama the fourth delegate.

    Caucus delegates are empowered to do whatever they need to do strategically to help their candidate. If they want to switch and vote for Edwards to keep Obama from getting a delegate, that’s fine. In fact, I love it. Too bad Edwards dropped out before Washington got to vote.

    In primary states like Michigan, however, prominent people in the state party are running to create a national delegate slate that mirrors the proportion of votes the candidates received. Individual voters have no say in who represents them at the national convention—it’s really more like the electoral college than a representative democracy.

    As I’ve pointed out before, it doesn’t take a mind reader to figure out what voters were thinking when they looked at Michigan’s bizarre ballot, which included only Hillary Clinton, uncommitted, Chris Dodd (who’d already pulled out of the race), Mike Gravel (who joined the Libertarian Party a couple months later), and Dennis Kucinich (who had tried to pull his name from the ballot and failed). The Michigan Democratic Party had urged supporters of Joe Biden, Bill Richardson, John Edwards, and Barack Obama to vote “uncommitted” instead of writing in a name. Given these circumstances, you can be pretty sure that people who checked the box for “uncommitted” weren’t simply signifying that they hadn’t chosen a candidate. They were trying to indicate that they either had chosen a candidate who wasn’t listed on the ballot, or hadn’t decided among the candidates who weren’t listed. But they had decided to vote against Hillary Clinton.

    Is it technically permitted for Clinton supporters to become uncommitted delegates to the national convention? Sure. But the DNC has a very strong, rational argument for why those delegates especially and the delegation in general should not be seated. Nothing about the Michigan primary was free or fair. Michigan voters were disenfranchised during the primary, and they were disenfranchised again when national delegates were chosen. Its delegation does not have a legitimate claim to represent the will of its voters.

    Today The Stranger Suggests

    posted by on April 27 at 11:00 AM


    ‘Smart People’

    A droll comedy about a widowed English professor (Dennis Quaid), his hypercompetent Young Republican daughter (Ellen Page), and his underemployed adopted brother (Thomas Haden Church), Smart People lulls you with cliché—the professor is of the absentminded variety—and then sideswipes you with plot twists, sly jokes, and truly brilliant delivery. I’d quote an Ellen Page line about tax write-offs right here if it weren’t utterly unfunny on paper. Smart People is just a funny, sturdy, touching movie about the way grief keeps on rippling. (See Movie Times.)


    Currently Hanging

    posted by on April 27 at 10:00 AM

    Su-Mei Tse’s The Yellow Mountain (2004), video projection with sound, 3 minutes and 30 seconds

    At Seattle Asian Art Museum. (Gallery web site here.)

    Reading Today

    posted by on April 27 at 10:00 AM


    Only one reading going on today, at the University Book Store. Judy Norsigan, who is one of the founders of Our Bodies, Our Selves, is talking about pregnancy and childbirth. (SPOILER WARNING: There could be talk about mucous plugs.)

    If you’re not so much into pregnancy and/or childbirth, may I suggest that you read Ross Simonini’s books lead this week, which is about e-books and free literary magazines? You could literally spend all day sitting at your computer and reading free, good fiction. Here’s a snippet:

    For all those soothsayers who looked to the music industry and portended the literary apocalypse, it was never “the end of literature as we know it” but “the end of literature, period.” While the latter is horseshit, the former has a little truth to it. The term “publish” will take a new meaning. Gene Morgan, the editor of Bear Parade, presents a sober argument for e-books: “The same impulses that drive people to download MP3s and torrent movies will push literature forward. People want to consume art as relentlessly and cheaply as possible.”

    And before you get your anti-e-book freak on, you should read the end of Simonini’s piece, also, which is a loving tribute to the good old-fashioned book.

    Also, don’t forget to check out the full readings calendar.

    The Morning News

    posted by on April 27 at 8:33 AM

    Escape: Afghan President Hamid Karzai dodges assassination.

    Debate: Clinton calls for (yet) another face-off.

    Donate: Obama and Clinton spend $110 million on television ads.

    Berate: China takes editorial aims at Dalai Lama.

    It Puts the Motion Lotion in the Basket: Woman held prisoner to carry seven children from her own father.

    Custody: Polygamists challenge kids being taken by foster-care system.

    Density: A “head-scratcher.”

    Itty Bitty: Chihuahua races!

    Conflict of Interest: McCain uses wife’s jet.

    North Koreans: Protest Olympic torch.

    Justice Department: Torture is groovy in the name of terror.

    Injustice Department: Dying people denied transplants.

    Timothy Garon’s face and arms are hauntingly skeletal, but the fluid building up in his abdomen makes the 56-year-old musician look eight months pregnant. His liver, ravaged by hepatitis C, is failing. Without a new one, his doctors tell him, he will be dead in days….

    With the scarcity of donated organs, transplant committees like the one at the University of Washington Medical Center use tough standards, including whether the candidate has other serious health problems or is likely to drink or do drugs….

    But Garon’s been refused a spot on the transplant list, largely because he has used marijuana, even though it was legally approved for medical reasons.

    Dr. Jorge Reyes, a liver transplant surgeon at the UW Medical Center, said that while medical marijuana use isn’t in itself a sign of substance abuse, it must be evaluated in the context of each patient. “The concern is that patients who have been using it will not be able to stop,” Reyes said.

    Gong Hits: David Schmader last night in a sea-foam suit.

    Games: 24 36 Hours Into Mario Kart Wii

    posted by on April 27 at 1:29 AM

    It’s a sunny day, so my deeper impressions will have to wait (I’ll update this post with more later). In the meantime, for those of you Slog gamers wondering whether or not to buy the Mario Kart Wii game that hits stores tomorrow… well, I don’t have a resounding recommendation here. On the downside, the game comes off as a rush job—the art design is pitiful, the number of new tracks is sad, and any four-player play runs choppily enough to be a distraction. In the good news dept, though, there’s a new karts-versus-bikes element that is balanced and deep, and the online mode is quick—both in how little time it takes to start a game and how smoothly it plays. As of right now, the thumb teeters upward, if ever so slightly. More to come.


    Update: Honestly, the above is about it. Mario Kart’s been the same combat-racing video game for years now, and the only real changes to this version are tweaks to make it more newbie-friendly—wider racetracks, easier boosts of speed, better chances of recovering if you get stuck in last-place. These are the things that have made Mario Kart Wii a total hit in hours-long four-player frenzies from the past few nights with my non-gamer posse, and that’s not to say the skill has been sucked out of this one. Better put, the game’s barrier to entry, which had risen in fanboy-payoff versions of the past few years, has come back down to earth, and unless you’re a sullen cretin who can’t stand a random loss, the game’s the better for it.

    To be fair, when I first saw footage and reviews of this game, I’d resigned myself to hating it. MKW looks like the same old game Nintendo has shoveled up for years, and in many respects, it is. But even when Nintendo phones one in, they still pull off surprises, like MKW’s spread of oddball racetracks, refinement of the party-racing formula, and—I cannot stress this enough—replay value that comes from the first half-decent online mode in a Wii game. It’s not Xbox Live, and childproof “friend codes” make setting up friend-only matches a pain in the ass, but for a online racing game with no monthly fees, this one’s something else. MKW is probably priced $20 too high—this is a rushed version of Mario Kart’s Greatest Hits, after all—but compared to fanboy-crazy Super Smash Bros, you might actually convince buddies and significant others to play along. Since the rest of the Wii’s party-games catalog is a wasteland, you could do worse than this shameless-yet-refined retread.

    Coming soon — Grand Theft Auto IV. My copy arrives Monday, and I look forward to rubbing my, er, nine-hour head start in your noses.