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Friday, September 12, 2008

I've Said It Before, I'll Say It Again

posted by on September 12 at 11:48 AM


Dolly Parton is the greatest celebrity in the history of the world.

From my beloved WoW Report:

Last night, at the Ahmanson Theatre in LA, we saw the first ever public performance of 9 to 5: The Musical. There'd been anxious chatter about the show after previous previews were canned at the last minute. But the show was a feel-good scream-a-thon: fabulous Allison Janney, fabulous sets flying about, and fabulous songs from Dolly Parton. The only hitch proved to be a huge bonus: at one point the hyperkinetic set jammed and they had to stop the show, lower the curtain, and start banging away.

"Uh-oh!" shouted a familiar voice from the audience. Dolly Parton was right there, and she jumped up and entertained everyone for a good 20 minutes, tossing off a quick performance of "I Will Always Love You." "OK, so I don't sound as good as Whitney, but I make more money off that song than she does," she quipped.

The rest of the show went off without a hitch and a standing ovation deservedly followed. Don't worry if you can't get tickets to the fab musical – you can always come see the art show in her honor opening this Friday at the World of Wonder Storefront Gallery.

Here's some footage of the impromptu Dolly show.

Goddamn I love her. Speaking of goddamn love: My fella Jake and I will be seeing Dolly Parton's 9 to 5: The Musical on September 27 in LA—the day after we get married. (Here's a story I wrote about it for this year's Queer Issue. To those who've already read it, I'm happy to report that Jake's dad will be coming to LA to conduct the ceremony, which makes me so happy I can hardly stand it.)

Dear God: Please let something go wrong at the show so Dolly can appear. Also, please defeat Proposition 8. Amen.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Headline of the Year

posted by on September 10 at 10:00 AM

"Burglar Wakes Men with Spice Rub, Sausage Attack"

The victims told deputies they awoke Saturday morning to the stranger applying spices to one of them and striking the other with an 8-inch sausage.

Burrimond said money allegedly stolen in the burglary was recovered. The sausage was tossed away by the fleeing suspect and eaten by a dog.

More details in tomorrow's Last Days.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


posted by on September 9 at 2:46 PM

From the New York Daily News:

American Airlines sent the body of a Brooklyn mom to the wrong country for burial - and then callously demanded more money to fix the screwup, the widower and others involved in a lawsuit charged Monday.


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Happy Birthday, Fnarf!

posted by on September 3 at 10:00 AM


Everyone at the Stranger and Slog wants to wish you a very happy 50th birthday, Fnarf. I will personally drink to your health today on the floor of the Republican National Convention. Congratulations!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

You Know...

posted by on August 28 at 12:55 PM

...if this is how our summer is going to end—leaves are falling off trees outside my office window—then it had better be snowing in the goddamn mountains by Monday.

Books for Dumb White People

posted by on August 28 at 11:05 AM

Because I have been thoroughly taken to task about books by Paul Constant, who is definitely more delightful than me, I would like to take this opportunity to put together a list (with the help of Paul Constant) of non-academic, contemporary looks at race relations.

In other words, you've already read Invisible Man, Beloved, The Color Purple, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, etc etc etc. We're not talking about those. I stand by my claim that those have become historical abstractions. You're looking for something more--besides, of course, the book of Barack. (The first one, the real, pre-candidate one.)

Here's a start, and please suggest more:

1. James McBride, "The Color of Water"
2. Rick Bragg, "All Over But the Shoutin'"
3. Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, "The Random Family"
4. Colson Whitehead, "Apex Hides the Hurt"
5. Beverly Daniel, "Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?"

Steve Jobs is Not Dead...

posted by on August 28 at 9:46 AM

1172090604_ec5cccb1c6.jpg matter what the Bloomberg financial newswire accidentally reported yesterday.

As Gawker reports:

The Bloomberg financial newswire decided to update its 17-page Steve Jobs obituary... — and inadvertently published it in the process. Some investors were undoubtedly rattled to see, as our tipster did late this afternoon, the Apple CEO's obit cross the wire and then suddenly disappear. Jobs's battle with pancreatic cancer, and speculation over his health, jarred Wall Street earlier this year and continues to be the subject of speculation.

The Bloomberg financial news wire isn't the first media source to prematurely publish an obituary, but their accidentally published 17-page item offers an interesting glimpse of what the media calls "preparedness reports."

Gawker's got the full accidental obit, along with Bloomberg's bland retraction, here.

Image from Flickr funnyman Donatreides.

It's Obama Day!

posted by on August 28 at 8:34 AM

Just saying.

Is anyone else reading Dreams from My Father right now? I realize I'm a little late to this, but I'm at the angry-young-black-man section at the moment, and I'm stunned by how open this book is. (Do not miss Eli's review, here.) What's the last book that a billion white people read that was even marginally about race, and that wasn't treated academically?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Jekyll and Hyde that is Incense!

posted by on August 27 at 3:05 PM

Catholics and stoners and swamis in general have always understood it: Incense is delightful! It fills the room and fuddles the senses! It goes well with curry and carries your prayers to the gods!

But they are all going to die now. Observe:

Researchers in Denmark studied the effects of long-term incense exposure on 61,000 Singapore Chinese ages 45 to 74. They found that burning incense, an important part of many cultures' religious rituals, almost doubles the risk of squamous cell carcinomas in the upper respiratory tract (which includes the tongue, mouth, sinus and largyneal areas).

And now you’re thinking, “Oh, wicked, wicked incense! Putting squamous tumors in the lungs of the faithful! Killing innocent stoners! Fie on thee! FIE!” Right? Me too! (And who can blame us?) But wait! Incense is also our friend! The champion of swollen joints everywhere! (If you eat it.) Look:

In a study in the journal Arthritis Research & Therapy, researchers found that an enriched extract of Indian frankincense, known as 5-Loxin, a product developed by Laila Nutraceuticals, not only reduces the pain of arthritis, but does it quickly.

Incense: Spiritual, room-deodorizing, lung-strangling, tumor-making, and the quick sure cure for aching grannies. Is there anything incense can’t do?

Are there no levels to which it won't stoop?

Gallons of Gas per 1000 Miles

posted by on August 27 at 1:06 PM


(Or another reason to love My Gassy L’il Pony.)

Sometimes Helping the Environment Looks Stupid as Poop

posted by on August 27 at 10:13 AM

I first had to deal with the fact in the subject line when I began sporadically riding a scooter. With the big round helmet on my big round head, perched on a shrimpy little scooter (that nevertheless can reach 65 MPH on the freeway), I look, quite literally, retarded. (If I don't quite look like a legitimately developmentally disabled person, I at least look like I'm playing one in a movie.)

Things get more acute with addition of my fella Jake, who occasionally "rides bitch." When the two of us are straddling that poor little scooter, I can't help thinking of the world's fattest twins crammed onto one wee bike. Passersby laugh at us. We understand, and laugh with them, for it is ridiculous. We call the scooter "My Gassy L'il Pony," or, alternately, the Dignity Mobile. These are the sacrifices you make during a gas crisis/environmental emergency.

I tell you all this en route to reporting something I saw this past Saturday at University Village. In the parking lot, I watched as two of those couldn't-be-tinier Smart Cars pulled in and parked right next to each other.

Out of each teensy car emerged one plus-sized person—one large man, one large woman, who walked away holding hands.

It was strangely sweet, despite the vague WALL•E vibe...

Anyway, if you see me out-and-about on a scooter, feel free to point and laugh. It's for the environment.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Currently Hanging

posted by on August 26 at 7:52 AM

The sun.

Aflo's Starburst Sun Above Clouds in Blue Sky

For the moment, anyway. Please. I beg you to stick around for a few hours.

UPDATE, 8:01 am: It's gone.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Stranger's Official Sunday Afternoon ColumnTM (Brought to You By Condo Advertisements with Questionable Grammar)

posted by on August 24 at 1:29 PM

Earlier this week, we got an email from someone named Doug/Schatzi, which is, alas, not someone with a slash in their legal name (wouldn't that be marvelous?), but someone named Doug who works at a place called Schatzi Marketing. He wrote:

Hi there, my name is Doug Perkul and I am the former AP at SPIN Magazine. Together with Sundance Award Winner Stefan Nadelman, we created a new literary site called Lit Mob ( Now, before you start to yawn, please note that this is not like what is currently online--the site is more like Pitchfork in that it focuses on books, but also design and musical artists. We would love your thoughts on the site as well as any editorial love that you may be able to share.

Thanks a million! I have attached our press release for your review and am of course available to answer any questions that you may have.


Doug Perkul
Publisher & Founder

You get a note like this and you feel something. "This is not like what's currently online"? "Readers unite!"? It's heartwarming, no? The language of revolution is a little crazy, but literary culture is Saltine-y and ridiculous and nowhere near commensurate with how great great writing can be, and it's refreshing to hear from one of those valiant few who's with you on this, who likewise believes that something must be done, that reading The Elegant Variation and Maude Newton and Arts & Letters Daily and subscribing to The New Yorker and n+1 and The Believer is not enough, and moreover that literature and music have some things in common, that there's got to be a way to get the average person as excited about books as they are about bands, that more alliances between to two mediums could be forged for... well, marketing reasons, really, horrible as that sounds. Reading could use a marketing update. Writers are rock stars. This at least was the thinking behind The Stranger's reading and dance party with Charles D'Ambrosio and Jonathan Safran Foer at Chop Suey in April 2005, and the one with Zadie Smith and Amos Latteier and the Dead Science at Neumo's in October 2005, and the one with Miranda July and Sarah Rudinoff and "Awesome" at Neumo's in May 2007.

Anyway, then I visited the website to see what a site about books that's "more like Pitchfork" is like, because that sounds pretty great, and started to read it and skipped right past yawning to narcolepsy. I have keyboard shapes on my cheek. The writing on Lit Mob is a lazy pile of unnecessary first-person and book-review cliches ("The protagonist is extremely self-absorbed yet easy to root for"). How can book reviewers who can't write be trusted? There is one page on Lit Mob that's kind of not a bad idea--a page of "what our favorite artists are reading now," where members of Earlimart and Cut Copy and Menomena and other bands recommend titles by dead people you already know about (Phillip K. Dick, Kurt Vonnegut, Charles Bukowski) and not-dead guys too (David Berman, Alex Ross, Keith Gessen, Jeffrey Eugenides). It's a handsome page, but it doesn't make for compelling reading. I reread Doug/Schatzi's email--what's an "AP at Spin magazine"? Apple polisher? Aryan procreator? Awful person?--and wondered why I ever extended any hope in his direction, then visited the website for Schatzi Marketing, just to round out the picture, and, well, here's what came up on the first page:


In case that's too fuzzy for you to read:

Schatzi is a unique marketing firm that specializes in creating compelling campaigns and programs for brands seeking "authentic" interactions with the marketplace.

Doug/Schatzi writes that he is "available to answer any questions that you may have." OK: Is this a joke, Doug/Schatzi? Could it please be a joke? What does "'authentic'" mean? Does that refer to something that seems authentic but isn't? Something that doesn't seem authentic but is? Something that doesn't seem authentic and isn't? It's compelling, that grammar there. It's packed like a poem.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Georgia on My Mind

posted by on August 22 at 4:09 PM


As you've probably heard, the country of Georgia has been going through some rough shit in the South Ossetian War.

I cover some basic facts of the war in this week's Last Days (see Monday) but none of that gets at why I'm semi-personally concerned about the citizens of Georgia, which is this: Georgia is the only non-North American locale I've ever spent time in.

I went to Georgia for the same reason most people go to Georgia: To perform in a production of Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Here's a photo, and before you get too dazzled, you should know that this was a student production from the North Carolina School of the Arts, and the entire cast consisted of people in their early 20s (yes, even the elderly Big Daddy and Big Mama.) I played the role of Gooper (that's me to the left of the bed) and in Georgia, each cast member was handed over to a Georgian host family in the city of Tbilisi. (We flew into the Tbilisi airport, which was recently hit by a Russian air strike.)

This was in early 1991, right after Georgia had achieved its independence from the Soviet Union, and the people of Georgia were all lit up with national pride. They'd reclaimed Georgian as the official language (making the handful of Russian phrases we'd learned not only useless but insulting) and they were thrilled to have Americans around to show off their reclaimed country to.

For the week and a half of our visit, I stayed with the family of a Georgian drama student named Uri. Living in a small-ish apartment were Uri, his fiance, his mother, and his sister, all of whom were so incredibly sweet I could hardly stand it. After dinner, they'd sing at the table. Russia had somehow cut off Georgia's access to hot water, so when I needed to bathe, the mother would fill the bathtub with water heated in pots on the stove. I'd offer to help, and she'd never let me: I was their guest, and behind every bit of generous fussing was the hope that we'd be friends forever. "We're brothers now!" Uri exclaimed on at least three (drunken) occasions, and when I had to leave they cried and insisted I come back again before long.

Which brings me to the great underlying problem of my trip to Georgia: The country's deep and proud homophobia. "Blue boys" was the term used for male gays, who were treated with unapologetic scorn. "If someone is gay, they are banished from society and their families," said the cousin to the left of Uri in this picture, as translated for me by the cousin on the right. Violence against blue boys was presented as comedy, or an act of valor.

Of course, they had no idea I was gay (happily involved in a relationship with the guy playing Brick) but of course I never forgot it. Through all of the Georgians' proclamations of love and gestures of kindness, I could only think, "If you only knew..."

During the teary goodbye at the airport, the family made me promise to stay in touch, come back soon, write when I could, and they'd do the same. I never called, I never wrote, and I disposed of the family's contact info soon after I got back to the states. I have no idea how Uri and his family are doing with the recent troubles. I hope they're okay.

Typo Fixers on Probation

posted by on August 22 at 3:30 PM

jimas-fixed-20080522-212246.jpgjimas-diner-20080522-212205.jpgI wrote about the Typo Eradication Advancement League, and its pursuit to fix bad grammar and punctuation on public signage, when it came through the Northwest last spring.

Now, the members of TEAL are in the doghouse for defacing a more than 60-year-old, hand-painted sign at Grand Canyon National Park.

From the Associated Press:

An affidavit by National Park Service agent Christopher A. Smith said investigators learned of the vandalism from an Internet site operated by [Jeff] Deck on behalf of the Typo Eradication Advancement League, or TEAL.

Authorities said a diary written by Deck reported that while visiting the watchtower, he and [Benjamin] Herson "discovered a hand-rendered sign inside that, I regret to report, contained a few errors."

The fiberboard sign has yellow lettering with a black background. Deck wrote that they used a marker to cover an erroneous apostrophe, put the apostrophe in its proper place with white-out and added a comma.

The misspelled word "emense" was not fixed, Deck wrote, because "I was reluctant to disfigure the sign any further. ... Still, I think I shall be haunted by that perversity, emense, in my train-whistle-blighted dreams tonight."

Deck, of Somerville, Mass., and Herson, of Virginia Beach, Va., pleaded guilty to conspiracy to vandalize government property.

They were sentenced to a year's probation, during which they cannot enter any national park or modify any public signs. They were also ordered to pay $3,035 to repair the watchtower sign.

"There are writers who die to the world long before they are dead, and if this is sometimes by choice, more often it is a fate imposed on them by others and not easily dealt with."

posted by on August 22 at 12:25 PM

Yeah, yeah, it's Dorothy Parker's birthday--hats off. But can we talk about her death day for a second? Heretical as this is to type, Dorothy Parker wrote very little that was better (in my opinion!) than Brendan Gill's introduction to Penguin Books' The Portable Dorothy Parker (wish I had this edition of it). The first sentence is committed to memory; it's fun to come out with it at a party full of people who think of themselves as writers. The whole first paragraph is a coiling, chilly rumination on the vicissitudes of literary fame, written by a writer who absolutely deserved literary fame and never got it, not like Parker did.

For your reading pleasure, I just had an intern, Julia Mullen Gordon, type it up the first two paragraphs. Pour yourself a tumbler.

There are writers who die to the world long before they are dead, and if this is sometimes by choice, more often it is a fate imposed on them by others and not easily dealt with. A writer enjoys a vogue, and, the vogue having passed, either he consents to endure the obscurity into which he has been thrust or he struggles against it in vain, with a bitterness that tends to increase as his powers diminish. No matter how well or badly he behaves, the result is the same. If the work is of a certain quality, it survives the passing of the vogue, but the maker of the work no longer effectually exists. Even though he goes on writing, he dwells in the limbo of the half-forgotten, and his obituary notices are read with a flippant, unthinking incredulity: who would have guessed that the tattered old teller of tales had had it in him to hang on so fiercely? What on earth had he been waiting for? Hoping for? Dreading?

A protracted life-in-death is all the more striking in the case of writers who make a reputation in youth and then live on into age. It is most striking of all in the case of young writers whose theme is the pleasingness of death, and for whom it amounts in the world’s eyes to a betrayal of their theme when they are observed to cling far more tenaciously to life than their happier contemporaries have managed to do. Dorothy Parker’s career was of this nature. She enjoyed an early vogue, which passed, leaving her work to be judged on its merits, and because the subject of so large a portion of her verses was the seductiveness of a neat, brisk doing away with herself, many people were astonished to read of her death, in 1967, from natural causes, as an old lady of seventy-three. Under the circumstances, it seemed to them a tardy end, and by an irony that had been one of Mrs. Parker’s chief stocks in trade she would have been the first to agree with them. She had indeed taken an unconscionably long time to leave a world of which she had always claimed to hold a low opinion. Her husbands, her lovers, and most of her friends had preceded her; for a person who boasted of wooing death, she had proved the worst of teases--an elderly flirt of the sort that she herself at thirty would have savaged in a paragraph.

Hats off to Brendan Gill and all the other forgottens.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Standing Till the End....and Beyond

posted by on August 20 at 8:34 AM

The Associated Press has the story:

prcorpse.jpg A Puerto Rican man has been granted his wish to remain standing—even in death. A funeral home used a special embalming treatment to keep the corpse of 24-year-old Angel Pantoja Medina standing upright for his three-day wake. Dressed in a Yankees baseball cap and sunglasses, Pantoja was mourned by relatives while propped upright in his mother's living room.

His brother Carlos told the El Nuevo Dia newspaper the victim had long said he wanted to be upright for his own wake: "He wanted to be happy, standing."

The owner of the Marin Funeral Home, Damaris Marin, told The Associated Press the mother asked him to fulfill her dead son's last wish.

Pantoja was found dead Friday underneath a bridge in San Juan and buried Monday. Police are investigating.

More AP photos here and here. (I hope someone loves me enough to kiss my corpse when I'm gone.)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Stranger's Official Sunday Morning ColumnTM (Apologies for the Delay)

posted by on August 17 at 1:18 PM

He--for there could be no doubt of his sex, though certain of his proclivities did something (in the mind of the military wing of his family) to complicate it--was in the act of watching a slackliner on a slackline strung from opposing trees. It was hard not to think of Man on Wire (if you haven't seen it, go, go, go). The branches above the slackline, heavy with leaves, which the slackliner walked in and out of and occasionally ripped out of his way, made the whole sight kind of circus-y. Passersby stopped to watch. The stoner watched the slackliner (this guy) and then watched the sky, on his back, next to a girl he'd just met (bottle-orange hair, candy-striped top, also stoned). The leaves and the sky. A small airplane shot out of the leaves.

The stoner thought about all the people who'd given him a hard time about going to Hempfest: the friends going to Smoke Farm who blinked in disbelief when the stoner chose Hempfest (close to home, by the water) over the possibility of bad outdoor theater in a remote location; the actress/singer/Joni Mitchell fan who, when the stoner intimated that he was going to Hempfest by texting that he was "was being a hippie" today, texted back "the first step is admitting u have a problem"; Dan Savage, who declaimed over after-work drinks on Friday that every other weekend of the year is more ideal for getting stoned in Myrtle Edwards Park because there's no one else there; the stoner's young friend from New Orleans, another stoner, who nonetheless texted, "Hempfest is just a celebration of everything that's not fun about pot"; and so on and so forth). You get a lot of heat for going to Hempfest. It's easy to be intimidated by the disdain. By the unfashionable-ness of it. Dan Savage, of all people, is giving his friends a hard time for going to Hempfest?

Whatever with those people. Hempfest is fantastic. It helps to show up in the afternoon, around 2 or 3, and to go with friends, and to sit in the shade with a view the water and the sky and the barely clothed people in the ripeness of their youth walking by. It's true that you hear the stupidest shit from the people who are given microphones and access to a stage, but (satisfyingly) the people you are sitting with aren't falling for it either. "We are here and now!" an officially sanctioned Hempfest speaker was shouting into a microphone in the distance. The girl with the bottle-orange hair smiled and said, "Man, that's some motivational speaker. No wonder we can't band together. These are our motivational speakers."

Nevertheless, from those very unmotivational stages, or at least from the northernmost one, comes the most amazing sort of rain when the clock strikes 4:20 pm: free joints. Raining down. Hundreds (thousands?) of them. Onto the crowd. This year there was such a crush of people on the path in the minutes before 4:20 pm struck--perhaps the joints-raining-down-from-the-sky thing has been too well publicized--that the stoner and the slackliner and the girl with the bottle-orange hair couldn't get to the northernmost stage (does it happen at all the stages?) until about 4:22 pm, by which point the sea of bodies was already obscured in a haze, battlefield-like. The stoner asked a random girl for a hit of hers and she reached in her bag and gave him a fresh one, adding, "They handed them out."

This will happen again today, by the way.

If nothing else, the stoner thought, Hempfest is an answer to the dominant American culture--the suburban, generic, corporate-controlled mainstream. It's the embodiment of an alternative. That this alternative seems so drastic, that it causes so many of your friends to bristle, is only evidence of how well the conservative line has been sold to us. This alternative isn't drastic. It is not some lawless primal orgy. Hempfest is crawling with police officers and security personnel, watching everything: 100,000 people smoking pot outdoors on a nice day, laughing, relaxing, reading, buying stuff, listening to music, eating noodles, eating ice cream, walking on slacklines between trees, sitting on the rocks, watching the trains groan by, etc., etc.

The only hippie-riffic conversation the stoner got into occurred in one of the VIP areas, behind one of the stages, where a man in what looked like a utilikilt, except it was made out of black lace, sat down and smiled. This man in lace and leggings and some serious facial hair was walking with the assistance of a light-wood cane topped with a brass knob. The rest of the man's ensemble was more than dubious, but it was a handsome cane. The stoner complimented it. The man in lace replied, "It used to be Jefferson Airplane's manager's."

The stoner replied with an expression that must have looked like awe.

"Yeah, Jefferson Airplane's manager's cane. His son gave it to me."

The stoner was trying to think of a Jefferson Airplane song. He said, "What was one of their big songs?"

The man in lace shook his head and said he had no idea. Then he added, "If you ask me about psychedelic trance or something, I can probably tell you." Then there was a long silence.

The stoner went and got his bike and rode out to Elliott Avenue, and then up the west side of Queen Anne Hill to watch firemen march uphill into brush fire. He took a photo of the fire engines with his cell phone. Then he rode back down to Elliott Avenue and, hungry for ice cream, stopped into a Baskin Robbins. For there one was. He ate it outside on the sidewalk, next to his bike, staring into cars waiting at the light.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Bus? Well, It's Trying to Kill Me.

posted by on August 15 at 1:26 PM

How you feel about riding the damn bus depends entirely upon your point of view. It’s all in how you look at it.

You can choose to see it as a grand service to the environment, for example—a brave move to, uh, curtail global warming or something. Then you can feel noble and wise and martyr-y about it, and really look down your nose on all those poor stupid stressed-out polluting idiots that you're so jealous of because they can actually afford a God damn car.

Or you can, as millions of smart young office slaves and organic grocery store workers have before you, convince yourself that taking the bus is just a temporary thing, a segue, something you’ll do until…well, until you don’t anymore. Someday. And it’s okay: you can just turn up your IPod, plug your nose, whip out a battered old paperback, and suck it up. Or you can decide to visualize yourself as a responsible, egalitarian, um, citizen. If you’ll pardon the expression.

But really? You’re probably just broke. And that’s alright. It’s a sign of the fucking times.

And me? Well. I’ve been riding the damn bus with alarming frequency lately (you will forget that last statement--FORGET!) and I choose to see riding the bus as…well, it really isn’t anyone’s damn business what I see it as, which probably has some kinky thing to do with gay sex that I have absolutely no intention of explaining here anyway. But I’m having a little problem.

I'm pretty darn sure that I am allergic to public transportation. As in, the bus. It's terrible. Humiliating! And I am in no way making this up. Allergic!

Do bums give off pollen? Are office dicks so very dusty and danderous? Do old women emit spoor? Please, tell me! I must know!

It takes 90-seconds—sometimes less. I get on the bus, pay my dollar fi'ty or what-the-fuck-ever, I accept the disgusting and infuriating little piece of paper from the driver (“transfer”, indeed! It’s pocket pollution!), and take a seat, if they all aren’t already full of winos and people trying to ignore them. Then, suddenly, with no warning or mercy, my sinuses swell and drain, and an evil little tickle, relentless, out to destroy me, causes my throat to spaz-out, my lungs to heave like a drowning dolphin, and I suffer an uncontrollable coughing fit worthy of an emphysematic spaniel. I gag, I wretch, I cough-cough-COUGH!

There is no hiding it or stopping it or relaxing into it, and my fellow bus riders, let’s face the sad truth, begin to look at me as if I were an oily plague rat. The damn bums scooch away from me. And that, ladies and gentleman, can devastate a man.

More than a few times, in fact, I have had to de-bus far from my actual stop out of sheer exasperation. And the moment I step off the bus? Nothing. My sinuses open like a clear blue sky and my cough evaporates. Silence descends. Just like that.

Please to note: I have never suffered an allergy before in my life. Not one! Drown me in penicillin! Dunk me in dairy! Stuff every orifice with peanuts! Powder me in pollen until the cows come cowing home! Nothing! I am, indeed, disgustingly healthy, knock wood. Hell, I might not even be human. But there’s just no denying it anymore. And I’m not really sure how to cope.

I am allergic to the God damn bus!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Gentle Giantess, Farewell...

posted by on August 13 at 10:32 AM

The Tallest Woman in the World is dead.

Sandy Allen, who used her height to inspire schoolchildren to accept those who are different, died at a nursing home in her hometown of Shelbyville, family friend Rita Rose said.

Although the poor woman--a mere 53 years old--suffered from about a zillion health troubles (diabetes, breathing problems, kidney trouble, and, of course, serious gland issues) the precise cause of her death has not yet been determined.

She was 7 feet, 7 inches tall.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Bicycle Diary

posted by on August 12 at 2:46 PM

The other day on the Burke-Gilman trail near Sandpoint, some jackass almost killed a man. The trail was scattered with people in the prime of their lives--giggling college students, joggers, etc. The lake, when you could see it, shimmered between houses. Several guys and a girl on bikes were whizzing down the flat trail, not holding their handlebars, arms raised parallel to the ground, shouting "Zombie on a bicycle!" whenever they passed someone. The jackass in front started it and his friends behind him got to catch the expressions on the passeds-by. (New word!) The first passeds-by looked perplexed--the delivery was too goofy. Then he tried roaring "ZOMBIE ON A BICYCLE!!!" loud enough to make a person jump, and people jumped back, terrified, but they didn't laugh. On the fifth try, he nailed the delivery--a sly smile, an early roar so it could be appreciated, a big gale of laughter from the passeds-by.

That's where the antics should have stopped. But when the ride got a little boring, and a tantalizing elderly couple materialized on the path, the jackass couldn't help himself--he would pass them from behind, and as he entered their peripheral vision, his hands thrust forward, he would shout "Zombie on a bicycle!" The jackass readied his hands. He got closer. He hadn't noticed that at this point in the trail, the asphalt path was rippled, veined with tree roots. He didn't notice this until too late--suddenly, his front wheel, redirected by one of said bumps in the asphalt, veered cataclysmically toward the elderly man's backside. The bike was traveling at such a speed, and carrying a rider of such a weight, that the man would surely be knocked forward on impact and likely shatter and/or die.

Then something happened--or descended, rather, some kind of divine forcefield. Although there was no physical reason the bike and the elderly man's backside should not collide, the bike and the elderly man's backside did not collide. The jackass didn't utter "Zombie on a bicycle!" as he passed, and he did not hit the man, and minutes later, riding in a stunned silence, the jackass and his friends were still remarking on it. "I can't believe you didn't hit him," one of the friends kept saying, as University Village came into view. "I can't believe you didn't hit him."

Monday, August 4, 2008

Discounts for Lawbreakers

posted by on August 4 at 4:59 PM

Recently busted for violating Washington's new talkie-on-the-phone-while-driving law? The makers of the super-fancy Jawbone bluetooth headsets would like to give you a $20 discount.

Just enter your violation number in their handy form and your $129 headset is now a mere $109.

Also works for scofflaws of California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, New Jersey, and New York.

via tuaw

Dear Airline Passengers: STFU

posted by on August 4 at 12:28 PM

US Air has announced that it will be charging for all beverages on their flights—all beverages including water. This news will prompt another round of moaning and groaning about the dismal state of air travel, how we airline passengers are treated like cattle these days, how no one serves in-flight meals anymore, how we're we're charged to check bags, wocka wocka wocka. Being charged for water will be held up as the last and final insult and an angry American populace will no doubt rise up and demand that the federal government begin seriously subsidizing our state-owned rail system—including high-speed rail links between major cities—the same way it subsidizes air travel and roads.

Oh, and if you think a state-owned rail system has to be a perpetual money-loser, check out France's national rail system. It turned a $1.7 billion profit—that's $1.7 billion—last year. It's going to make even more money this year.

But after we build our national rail system—and I'm not exactly holding my breath here—guess what new rail passengers are going to discover when they board a train for the first time? You have to pay for beverages—including water. And meals too.

Hey, Airlines Passengers... do you want free meals and beverages and the right to fly with ten checked bags and six carry-ons? Then we're going to have to re-regulate the airlines, jack the prices back up—way the fuck up—and pay for the privilege(s). If we don't want to pay four or five times as much for airline ticket as we're paying now (and I'm pretty sure we don't), then we're going to have to stop whining about the free meals we're not getting anymore (the food on airplanes was shit—can we please stop complaining about being deprived of it?) and the free beverages we're not getting on US Air and soon won't be getting on any other airline.

Bring an empty water bottle to the airport and fill it at a fountain. Buy some half-way decent food at the airport—or bring some really great food with you to the airport (you can carry food through security)—and carry it on the plane with you. For the prices we're paying all the airlines owe us is getting our asses from Point A to Point B reasonably close to the time promised. They don't owe us dinner or drinks or a cargo hold of our very own.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Mullet of the Day

posted by on August 3 at 6:04 PM

Safeco Field today...


For the record: My very own boyfriend currently has a mullet.

Friday, August 1, 2008

A Sad Day at Cafe Presse

posted by on August 1 at 3:39 PM

The sign on the door today at Cafe Presse:


Condolences to Thomas Miller's friends and family and everyone at Presse.

(And to all those citizens disappointed they can't go to Presse today: You're right to be sad—Cafe Presse is wonderful. Go there twice tomorrow.)

Good Advice is Timeless

posted by on August 1 at 2:11 PM

Thank you, Mental Floss, whose 8 Forgotten Kids Shows Sure to Give You Nightmare can be found here.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Bike Store Survey

posted by on July 29 at 2:13 PM


Photo by cloverity in the flickr pool.

You don't need the New York Times--or any of a hundred small-town newspapers that have run likewise stories--to tell you that cars are out/bikes are in. Not if you work above a bike shop. There is seemingly a new bike in the window at Velo, the bike shop below The Stranger's offices, every day. The other day there was nothing in the window--and they weren't just faking people out. "We're selling 13 or 15 bikes a day on weekends," says Velo sales associate Annie Gillberg. "Our mechanics are having trouble keeping the shelves stocked." (There's currently a 6 to 9 day wait for tune-ups at Velo, even though they have several mechanics and a tune-up is a one-hour job.) Ben Atkinson, a mechanic at 2020 Cycle, says the shop has been "absolutely insane"--not so much with new purchases as with repairs on bikes that people haven't used in years and just hauled out of the basement. Wayne Fujiki at Gregg's Cycle says "racks are flying out the door"--lots of new customers retrofitting old bikes, "putting racks on them to carry stuff to work." He repeats, "Rack and panniers have been going crazy." Erica at Recycled Cycles says, "It's really busy in here. A lot of people who come in say they want to start commuting," and are buying bikes to ride to work.

Just felt like scaring up some good news, bike-wise, to counterbalance all the acrimony over the Critical Mass mess.

(With reporting by Julia Mullen Gordon.)

Bun in the Oven, Money on the Dresser

posted by on July 29 at 9:02 AM


FOX News reports on the alleged ring of pregnant prostitutes busted in Camden County, MO:

Four women are under arrest for prostitution in Camden County. Three of the women were pregnant. One of the women arrested was eight months pregnant, another six months pregnant, and another was three months pregnant. They ranged in age from 18 to 22 years old. The undercover bust went down at a Lake Ozark area hotel after the sheriff's department received several reports that pregnant women were advertising prostitution on an internet advertising site.

Among many other awful things, this story brings new meaning to the phrase "My water broke on the john."

Full story here.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Murder, He Wrote

posted by on July 28 at 1:47 PM

Or implied, I suppose. Joel Connelly has issues with I-1000—which would legalize "physician-assisted suicide" in Washington state—and writes in today's Seattle P-I...

Should Washington be a launching pad for a movement that seeks to transform a crime into a "medical treatment?"

I hate to play the I-just-watched-my-mother-die card, but, um, I just watched my mother die.

My mother had pulmonary fibrosis, a degenerative lung condition, and her death came after a long, miserable week in the hospital. (It also came just eight weeks after her doctors had given her two to five years to live.) She knew that pulmonary fibrosis would eventually end her life, and she'd done some research into just what sort of an end she could expect. It wasn't going to be pretty. She would, when her time came, slowly and painfully suffocate to death.

Her time came sooner than we expected. She was on vacation in Arizona, visiting her sisters, when her lungs took a dramatic turn for the worse. After eliminating all other possibilities—a virus, pneumonia, some rare desert fungus—the doctors pulled my step-father and me out of my mother's room. Nothing more could be done, he said. Her lungs were failing; one had a widening hole in it. When my step-father stepped out for a moment—to make a call, I think—the doctors suddenly needed a medical directive. Immediately. So it fell to me to walk into my mother's room, tell her she was going to die, and lay out her limited options. She could be put on machines and live for a day or two or three in a coma—long enough for her other two children to get down to Tucson and say their goodbyes, which she wouldn't be able to hear or respond to. Or she could last six hours or more by continuing to wear a brutal oxygen mask on that forced air into her lungs with so much force it made her whole body convulse. Or she could take the mask off and... suffocate to death. Slowly, painfully, over a couple of hours.

Her choice.

"No pain," she said, "no pain." Nurses promised to give her enough morphine to deaden any pain she might feel. So... after saying our goodbyes (which sounds dignified but those goodbyes included watching my affable step-father reduced to sobs, a mountain of snotty tissues, and my sister and I falling to the floor beside our mother's deathbed in tears), they pumped my mother full of morphine. Was she in pain? We don't know. She couldn't talk to us now, or focus on us, but she was awake, with her eyes open. She gasped for breath, again and again, for two excruciating hours.

They gave her some more morphine—not enough to kill her, only enough to stave off the pain while her lungs finished her off. But was she in pain? I don't know. I'm haunted by the thought that she could have been in pain—pain we promised to spare her—and that she had no way to tell us.

I don't know what my mother would have done if she had had the choice to take a few pills and skip the last two senseless, zonked-out, undignified hours of her life. If she could've committed suicide, by her own hand, with a doctor "assisting" only by providing her with drugs and allowing her to administer them to herself, after saying her goodbyes, I suspect she would have done so, so great was her fear of dying in pain.

I do know, however, that she should have been allowed to make that choice for herself. It's not a choice that Joel Connelly—or the Catholic Church—had a right to make for her.

I also know that, if my mother needed my help, I would've held a glass of water to her lips, so that she could swallow the pills that would've spared her those two hours of agony.

And that shouldn't be a crime.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Endorsement of a Lifetime

posted by on July 25 at 12:11 PM

Dale Bishop, a mentally disabled man, was sentenced to death in Mississippi and killed by lethal injection Wednesday night. His final words:

"For those who oppose the death penalty and want to see it end, our best bet is to vote for Barack Obama because his supporters have been working behind the scenes to end this practice," Bishop said. … "God bless America. It has been great living here. That's all."

Probably not the best endorsement for Obama, but it’s a sad and poignant call. Capital punishment is plagued with problems: upholding convictions is exorbitantly expensive, sometimes the penalty can be applied without enough evidence, and, frankly, the people who are guilty murderous fucks—they should be forced to rot in prison. However, unlike most people sentenced to death, Bishop wasn’t convicted of delivering the fatal blows that killed a man—but he was an accessory to a murder resulting from "a fight that had gone too far," he said. He’s the eighth person in the US to be executed without being found guilty of directly killing a victim. But GoBama '08!

Brought to you via TalkLeft, and Slog tipper Nicole.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

"Maybe If Someone Came Down with a Gay Allergy?"

posted by on July 24 at 1:42 PM

So muses Slog tipstress Karla, about the Mariners'/Safeco Field's inability/unwillingness to host a gay night (as so many other clubs have done) but complete devotion to a night for peanut-allergy sufferers.

A Philosophical Question Inspired by This Season's Project Runway

posted by on July 24 at 10:46 AM


So last night brought a new episode of Project Runway, and for a variety of reasons I can't be bothered to watch this season. (The fact that our hometown contestant is a yam-colored hate crime against taste doesn't help.)

However, I saw enough of last night's episode to lodge a philosophical question in my brain: Why is referring to yourself in the third person so repugnant?

Lying is wrong because it robs the victim of the truth.
Murder is wrong because it robs the victim of everything.
But why does third-person self-reference seem worse than lying and almost as bad as murder?

I'd ask Suede, but Suede's busy being Suede, and so I ponder, and wince.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

U.S. Olympic Committee Targets the Northwest's Large, Hairy Gay Men

posted by on July 23 at 11:42 AM


Today brings a story that seems too good—by which I mean too hilarious—to be true. And yet it is.

At the center of the saga is the annual summer campout of the Northwest Bears, the (hairy) gay men's social and service organization that, as you may recall, won The Stranger's first annual Pride Parade float contest. The "drama," as it is, comes from the name selected for this year's bear campout: Kamp Kodiak 2008 “Olympic Village.”

First came the U.S. Olympic Committee's astounding cease-and-desist letter:

Dear Mr. Fotter,

The United States Olympic Committee ("USOC") recently became aware that the NorthWest Bears Club (“NWBC”) is promoting an event called Kamp Kodiak 2008 “Olympic Village” from August 7-11th in at the Miller River Campground. The USOC has not given NWBC permission to use the word OLYMPIC, the Olympic Symbol or the Torch image in conjunction with this event and objects any attempt to misappropriate the goodwill associated with those marks.

Congress granted the USOC the exclusive right to control all commercial use of Olympic imagery and terminology in the United States, including the Olympic Symbol and the word OLYMPIC, or simulation of those marks tending to cause confusion or mistake, to deceive, or to falsely suggest a connection with the corporation or any Olympic Games activity. See The Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act, 36 U.S.C. §220501 et seq. (the “Act”). The Act also allows the USOC to file a civil action against any unauthorized commercial use of the word OLYMPIC “for the purpose of trade [or] to induce the sale of any goods or services, or to promote any theatrical exhibition, athletic performance, or competition.” NWBC’s use of the mark OLYMPIC in connection with this event without permission from the USOC clearly is prohibited under the Act. NWBC's use of the mark OLYMPIC therefore may give rise to claims of trademark infringement, unfair competition, and false advertising. In addition, NWBC’s use of the mark OLYMPIC dilutes the fame of the USOC’s OLYMPIC trademarks, weakening their value and therefore impairing the USOC’s ability to support U.S. athletes.

Unlike the National Olympic Committees of many other countries, the USOC does not rely on federal funding to support all of its efforts. We raise the money we need to feed, house, and train U.S. athletes primarily by public fundraising and by licensing the use of the Olympic marks, images and terminology to our official sponsors, suppliers, and licensees. These legitimate license and sponsorship fees house, feed, train and otherwise support U.S. Olympic athletes, and finance this country’s participation in the Olympic Games. Other companies such as McDonald’s and Coke have paid substantial sums to the USOC for the right to use Olympic-related marks, and through their sponsorships have supported U.S. athletes for years. On the other hand, NWBC has no official relationship with the USOC and therefore is not authorized to use any Olympic imagery or terminology.

The USOC is requesting that the NWBC change the terminology and imagery associated with this event. Accordingly, the USOC requests that NWBC take the necessary steps to remove all usages pertaining to the event, and ensure that Olympic terminology and imagery will not be used for any future NWBC function. In short, the USOC request that NWBC:

1. Ensure that all steps have been taken to remove the Olympic imagery and terminology from any internet site, advertisement enrollment form or signage that is in place to promote this event;

2. Refrain from using Olympic terminology in reference to the specific competitions by renaming such festivities as: Big Ass Bear Olympics with Dr. Bob and the Olympic Board Game Competitions;

3. Refrain from using Olympic terminology or engaging in any other commercial activities in violation of the Act in the future.

Please acknowledge your understanding of our position and your agreement of these conditions by return e-mail reply to my attention prior to the start of the August event. If you would like to discuss this matter directly, please feel free to contact me at XXX-XXX-XXXX.

One Olympic Plaza, Colorado Springs, CO 80909

The Bears' hilarious back-n-forth with Ms. Gross is continued after the jump.

Continue reading "U.S. Olympic Committee Targets the Northwest's Large, Hairy Gay Men" »

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Slog: Helping You Find Crab Shacks and Kirsten Since Right Now

posted by on July 21 at 10:52 AM


First came the query from Heather:

Hello. I've been looking for a crab shack in Seattle because, suddenly, eating at a crab shack sounded like an incredibly good idea. But I don't think they exist here. I mean, I'm from Portland and I've never seen a crab shack. Do crab shacks exist in Seattle? And, if so, who's got the best? Thank you and word to your mother.

Then came the query from Tye:

Hey, not to sure if you can help me but I'm looking for a women that I met on Alaska Airlines Flight 98 on July 9. Her name is Kirsten. I didn't get her last name. All I know is that her eyes and her smile knocked me over!! I know she is in the medical field and trains doctors on new medical equipment. She also mentioned she lives in right in the Seattle area. I'm kicking myself for not getting her number!! Would an ad in your paper be a good option?

Dear Heather: Crab is on the menu at a million and one local seafood restaurants, but the closest thing we've got to a good old-fashioned crab shack seems to be West Seattle's Alki Crab. (Those who have more info should share it in the comments.)

Dear Tye: Lucky for you, The Stranger is the publication of choice for medical professionals and those who pretend be them on airplanes. As for your question—"Would an ad in your paper be a good option?"—yes, an ad in The Stranger might help you find Kirsten, or at least help you find a friendly escort to help you forget her. Good luck.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Do Tattoo Shops Have Copy Editors?

posted by on July 18 at 11:26 AM


They should.

For more wonderfully permanent misspellings, see The L Magazine's comprehensive gallery of tattoo typos.

(And thanks for the heads-up, MetaFilter.)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Buddy, Can You Spare a Dime?

posted by on July 17 at 10:26 AM

The economy seems to be collapsing around us, which makes me a tad nostalgic. Are we going to be seeing former titans of Wall Street wearing barrels and selling apples? I'd like to be there to see the bankers and other money launderers flying out the windows of their offices when the crash takes place. Despair in dark suits, plummeting to the street below!


But the rain of suicides probably won't happen. I mean, does any self-respecting financial predator keep their money in the U.S.? I suppose that depends on whether you think Ken Lay is alive or dead.


The stimulus doesn't seem to have stimulated much yet, but stick around for the Pig Latin!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


posted by on July 16 at 3:50 PM


This short news piece has everything—pit bulls, mauled infants, brawling ladies of size, bad parenting, coin slots, and lots of really bad hair. Enjoy.

Thanks to Slog tipper Jennifer.

If This is the World's Greatest Dad, the World's in Bigger Trouble Than I Ever Feared

posted by on July 16 at 1:35 PM


ABC News introduces the world to Daniel Allen Everett, the 33-year-old Michigan man charged with child sexual abuse and using the Internet to attempt child sexual abuse after allegedly arranging a sex date with what he thought was a 14-year-old girl.

Even worse (or better, depending on how you view things), Everett showed up for the alleged sex date sporting his "World's Greatest Dad" t-shirt, as seen in the mug shot above.

(Fifty bucks says he's saving his "That's not a bald spot—it's a solar panel for a sex machine!" t-shirt for the trial.)

Ageless Hotness

posted by on July 16 at 1:07 PM


Helen Mirren is 63, and looks 500 times better in a bikini than Paris Hilton, not to mention the rest of humanity.

Thank you, Daily Mail, and you're welcome, Charles.

Swap the Living for the Dead

posted by on July 16 at 10:41 AM

From the IHT:

Hezbollah guerrillas from Lebanon handed over to Israel coffins containing the bodies of two Israeli soldiers. In return, Israel released five Lebanese prisoners, including a notorious militant, Samir Kuntar.