Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Funemployment

Bloomberg news reports "the average work week fell to 33 hours in June, the lowest level on record."

America, we're just like France! Only not by design.

May I suggest more wine to lessen the anxiety? Weed is cool, too.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

P(a)L(in)AYA Haters

It's funny, while most of Sarah Palin's support arguably comes from people who are angry and want to hate the things she rails against, like the so-called liberal elite media, Barack Obama and Democrats in general, I equally revel in stories that make fun of just how asinine she is. Emperor Palpatine was right, the dark side is strong.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Lafayette

Whoa. Axl Rose and the lead singer of Blind Melon, Shannon Hoon, are from the same town, Lafayette, Indiana, home of the Purdue Boilermakers. Thank you, wikipedia.

Lafayette, Louisiana, of course, is the hometown of local hero Marc M.

And the Marquis de Lafayette? There is nothing I can say that hasn't already been said.

Number 1 in the running for my child's name, should he or she ever come about? take a guess.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Arnold

Dear Fellow Californian,

California is running out of time to find a real solution to close the state's budget deficit. In just a few days California will be forced to start issuing I.O.U's instead of tax refunds and payments to small businesses.

The time for action is now.

Bold emphasis his.

Now try to tell me that you didn't read it out loud in the exact same voice that you would use to say, "I'm a cop, you idiot!"

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

New Friends

If this NBA trade goes through (Mike Miller and Randy Foye for a bucket of chicken including Etan Thomas) I predict that Etan Thomas will start kicking it with Rep Keith Ellison (D-Minn.).

Just predicting.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Great Marshall Sanford, Jr Watch.

All along I've thought that the Mark Sanford saga has been completely overblown, but Josh Marshall's post tonight finally gives some real credence to the fact that this may be a real story.

Sanford, who has been out of contact for days, is allegedly on the Appalachian Trail, although there have been reports that he made a cell phone call near Atlanta.

It is certainly plausible that someone, especially someone like Mark Sanford who is a bit of a maverick, would want to take 4-5 days in the woods after a long legislative season and a very public battle over stimulus funds. Plus it is very reasonable that Sanford may have wanted to begin his trek at the Georgia trailhead and move north for a few days. The trail, after all, stays a short drive from South Carolina for about a hundred miles.

If that were the case, the governor (especially a staunch and paranoid conservative like Sanford) would almost certainly want his whereabouts unknown in the vulnerable woods.

But it is also something that one more or less disqualifies themselves from during the time that they choose to be an elected leader. So in other words, it is really weird.

Or, as Dan Savage implies, maybe he's fuckin' a dude.

What Dodd's Decision Means, Part 2

Chris Dodd, with a strict emission standards and carbon tax proposal that won over the likes of Al Gore, had arguably the best energy plan out of the entire 2008 Democratic presidential field.

He was an early and forceful voice on FISA and has since discussed the idea of Bush administration torture trials. Plus he had the balls to endorse Ned Lamont over his long time colleague and King Rat Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) in 2006.

Now Dodd stands up for marriage equality in the middle of a re-election race that the Republicans are salivating all over.

He deserves more love from the left. If you know someone in Connecticut, where Dodd’s polling has been dismal all year, I suggest you call them.

What Dodd's Decision Means, Part 1

Sen. Chris Dodd's (D-Conn.) decision to support full marriage equality means that embattled statewide politicians can finally run toward marriage equality rather than away from it.

With his op-ed in the Meriden (Conn.) Record-Journal, Dodd became the second U.S. Senator in recent weeks to change his mind on the issue, joining Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) who announced in May.

Nor should it be ignored that Rhode Island's former Republican-turned independent Sen. Lincoln Chafee also cast his vote for marriage equality with an op-ed in Bay Windows last week. Chafee was voted out of office in 2006--after a 16-point victory in his 2000 election--because Rhode Island voters couldn't stomach having anyone associated with the Republican Party representing them in Washington. Now Chafee is positioning himself for a gubernatorial run.

It starts with a few states; it moves across the nation.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Cry Me A River

I've cried (well, teared up) twice this week already. Granted I am in a mildly emotional state, but still I think it would take a stone to stand up to what I saw.

For starters, I watched the trailer for Precious on Tuesday. Holy fucking shit. I spent the first thirty seconds trying to find a reason to make fun of Tyler Perry's production credit, and the last thirty seconds trying to keep from falling apart entirely. I need to see that film, and I admit that I am a little bit afraid.

Then tonight I couldn't help but take a wee dip into the river of emotion while reading this blog post from The Atlantic's Andrew Sullivan detailing the tweets and photos coming out of Iran right now. Just when you think it is powerful to see the throngs coming out for a transformational force like Barack Obama, something like this happens. To rally after an election is so much more difficult than to do it before.

Notes on karaoke

You gotta make love to the microphone. Treat it like a woman. Don't be afraid to caress it, and even kiss it every now and then. There is no such thing as a PDA taboo on the karaoke stage.

A true gentleman, by the way, dances with the mic.

Deep Thoughts

It would be funny if, on your karaoke slip, you said that your name was some singer or band that no one wants to hear during karaoke like Frank Sinatra or Metallica or Pink so that the DJ would say, "coming up next, Pink!"

Then the crowd would groan and when you sang something good, they might laugh at your misdirection. Either that or they will just think you are a tool. They wouldn't think that about me, though.

Laughing Dog Imp IPA

I've skimped, as usual on any beer news of late. Shame on me.

Still, wanted to make it known that I had a Laughing Dog Imperial IPA at the Parkway Wednesday night, and it was delicious. Didn't have that super boozy taste that usually ruins the imperials for me. Solidly hoppy, pretty smooth and a good aftertaste. What more could you want?

Plus, it is an Idaho brewery. Much respect for the underdogs.

In other, better news, I stopped by the beer supply store in Lakewood earlier that day, priced out some gear, and I can confidently say that I will be enjoying some fly ass homebrew IPAs by mid-August. Boo ya.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Estate Tax

Isn't it counter intuitive that the super rich families who stand to inherit vast sums of money would argue against the estate tax on the terms that it would hurt the economy when, if they are sitting on multi-millions, they clearly aren't investing enough in the economy about which they claim to care so much?

We won't get started on the ruthlessly gaudy estates and fancy foreign cars they own.

It is about greed, plain and simple, and it is a shame they have fooled some poor folk into thinking anything otherwise.

The fact that two of the prominent opponents, the Blethens and the Nordstroms, are locals is even more disturbing, if not surprising.

P.S. Anyone who calls it a death tax deserves a titty twister.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The A-Team Movie Is a Hoax

The rumored A-Team movie is a hoax. At least that is the power of positive thinking strategy that I am using to pray that it never happens.

More noise erupted about the movie today fueled by the rumor that Liam Neeson has signed on to play Hannibal, with Bradley Cooper giving questionable denials about his being cast as Face. Please make it stop.

The original A-Team of George Peppard, Mr. T, Dwight Schultz and Dirk Benedict was, to borrow a phrase from the great Benjamin Franklin, proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. Creating a new cast of A-Team members will only make us sad. Remember when they brought in Frankie? Please, Hollywood, for the good of humanity, don't make us sad.

Although if some asshole team of brothers does have the hubris to taint one of the greatest casting groups of all time, and even (ugh) update the story, I hope he at least has the sense to agree with this dumbass who made a mock A-Team trailer and cast Terry Crews as B.A. Baracus.

Now for your viewing pleasure, the A-Team intro in German.

Friday, June 5, 2009

America's Wasteland

Gov. Sarah Palin made a speech this week condemning the Obama administration's spending habits, and is roundly rebuked as a hypocrite.

When will they learn? It's just not feasible to elect an Alaskan to national office. Take glory in Carlos Boozer and leave it at that.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

McDermott Backs Duwamish

Tacoma, WA - Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Seattle) introduced a bill today that would give federal recognition to the Duwamish Tribe.

Props.

The federal recognition battle is a tricky one. Frequently opposed by Republicans and other negative-U.S.-history-deniers (which at this rate is beginning to include Barack Obama), adding federal recognition is an important step toward becoming an honest society, simply by living up to the words that we spoke when we swindled the original inhabitants out of their land.


Clearly, we made a deal with the Duwamish. Why don't we recognize it?

See McDermott's press release below.

Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) introduced legislation today, H.R. 2678, calling for federal recognition of the Duwamish Tribe. The bill’s introduction came on the same day the House voted to extend federal recognition to Virginia Tribes; in recognizing those efforts, Rep. McDermott noted in remarks on the House floor that there was more work to do:

“Despite the Treaty of Point Elliot the Duwamish signed in good faith with the United States in 1855, federal recognition has not been extended and this is wrong. Promises were made to the Duwamish, but not kept. And it is time to correct this injustice for the Duwamish, just as we are doing in Virginia.”

For a matter of hours at the end of the Clinton Administration the Duwamish Tribe seemed to have obtained federal recognition, but the status was reversed at the beginning of the Bush Administration. The legislation introduced by Rep. McDermott would decide the matter once and for all.

In the House today, Rep. McDermott said: “It is my hope that the new day dawning across America is bright enough to shine enough light for us to see and correct the injustices endured for too long by the first Americans.”


Monday, June 1, 2009

Tancredo and Friends

Olympia, WA - I really don't know how to react to this story, but still I feel the need to at least spread it.

Tom Tancredo, the former Republican congressman and presidential candidate from suburban Denver who garnered the support of as many as 1 in 50 Republicans two years ago, has been in the news a lot lately denouncing the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to SCOTUS for her inappropriate cultural background because, frankly, he is a leader of the xenophobic wing of the GOP.

Fast forward to today (or rewind to two years ago) where we learn that his former speech writer, Marcus Epstein, has just pleaded guilty to the crime of accosting a woman on the street, calling her "nigger" and karate chopping her in the head.

No, folks, this is not a Dave Chapelle sketch. This is real life.

And get this, Epstein is currently the executive director of Tancredo's political action committee, which is actually called Team America PAC. Worse yet, he will remain on the job until he, gulp, goes to law school in the fall.

It is just plain sad that anyone would commit such a shameful act on another human. But while Tancredo, who himself is a fringe political player at best, at least has the sense to avoid karate chopping people of color, we still should stop and think a moment about the associations of folks who are guilty of these kinds of crimes, especially as we mourn the terrorist attack on Dr. George Tiller, and use that judgment as we move forward in the political world.

P.S. Here is a story I wrote about Tommy T during the NH primary two years ago.

Also, my gaydar was going off BIG time that day. Just sayin'.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Answers

Olympia, WA - I believe I have discovered the source of my life's malaise, and that is the current distance between now and the next contested Democratic presidential primary.
"Election Day -- especially a presidential election -- is always a wild and terrifying time for politics junkies, and I am one of those, too. We look forward to major election days like sex addicts look forward to orgies. We are slaves to it." - HST
Dammit, I don't want to wait so long for my orgy.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

SCOTUS and the HMS Diversity

Olympia, WA - Alan Dershowitz makes the case at TNR that Sonia (Maria?) Sotomayor, regardless of the ethnic and gender diversity she brings to SCOTUS, is a strong selection to the highest court in the land™.

"By the criteria of excellence, Sotomayor is a very good choice," Dershowitz says. "The fact that she comes from the Bronx is only an added plus."

Ironically, his article only proves to highlight the lack of diversity in the court.

Note his feeble attempt at humor, wherein he talks about the shadows of various baseball stadiums, no doubt a nod to what liberals are saying is Sotomayor's action to "save" MLB back in '95. Dershowitz mentions that potentially 3 of 9 justices will hail from New York City, along with Justices Ginsburg and Scalia.

Last I checked, NYC did not account for thirty-three percent of America.

Plus, let's consider the fact that New Jersey (Justice Alito) might as well be New York, and that Chief Justice Roberts was born in Buffalo. Now we're talking fifty-six percent.

Can I get somebody from the Northwest, or at least keep it real with Souter's New England seat?

And we won't get started on the potential of having a 2/3 Catholic SCOTUS if, nay, when Judge Sonia is confirmed.

Diversity, it's not just an old, old wooden ship.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Driven to Kill

Olympia, WA - I turned my computer back on a few minutes ago in a fit of insomnia, hoping that some casual news reading, and maybe the act of writing a few e-mails, would put me back on the path of the slumber. Alas, no such luck.

One thing I did find, 100% unexpectedly, was one of those pop-out video ads that take up the top part of your screen unless you "x" out of them. Sure, I see those all the time. But not for a straight-to-dvd-and-blue-ray Steven Seagal movie. Ho ho! Driven to Kill, baby.

I don't have sound on my computer, but it looked like the standard ponytail fare (minute the ponytail, sadly), where a good guy's principles are violated to the point that he must take up violence--pure, shit-kicking, frequently glass-breaking violence--against the thugs who are cramping his style. Looks like Seagal's still got it.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Back to Beer-sics

Olympia, WA - Although it is easy to describe my recent posting pace as sluggish, my beer-specific reports have been downright glacial. I don't know if it is because I have been drinking less (nahhh) or if I just haven't experienced many new beers lately, but this horrible drought ends tonight.

I'm reporting live from the Fishbowl in Olympia tonight, two cask Hodgson's in, and probably no more to go. This is the first time I've seen Hodgson's on cask in ages, so I figured I would partake for two days straight. The Hodgon's translates pretty well to cask, though it does sit on the bitter side of the fence without the floral base to really make it a cask winner. Still, as any good cask, it goes down like water, only more magical.

Also wanted to give a shout out to the spruce and juniper infused Winterfish they had pouring this week. Neither flavor was enough to overpower the beer, instead they mixed in a way that almost made it seem like every other sip was earthy, alternating with a delightful gin overtone. Liked it so much I bought a growler. Three cheers!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Senate Watch

Olympia, WA - This is just a snapshot, but according to Publicola Sen. Murray stands with Sen. Shelby in trying to protect evil defense contractors, while Sen. Cantwell stands with Sen. Bernie! in trying to keep industry insiders out of the commodity futures trading business.

Quite the difference.

Whatever. They both voted against Dodd's credit card bill.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Lil' Lebowski

Olympia, WA- A real life story in The Times of a Little Lebowski urban achiever, and in an eerie turn of events, the benefactor's name is Brandt.

They're not his, huh huh, they're not literally his children. They're the Little Lebowski Urban Achievers. Inner city children of promise but without the necessary means -- the necessary means for higher education so Mr. Lebowski has committed to sending all of them to college.

You think he's got room for one more?

Deja Vu

Olympia, WA - I just noticed that a sidebar ad on Slog was for a Deja Vu Mother's Day sale where all MILF porno videos are 35% off in celebration of, well, MILFs. Are they suggesting them as gifts, or is it more of a "treat yourself, too" kind of thing?




This is why I read the Slog.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Hammer, Sickle

Olympia, WA - Does anyone else think it is funny that Huck's new PAC t-shirts are red with a yellow star?



I mean, come on.
Fuckin' commies.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

BTB's Gangstarita

Olympia, WA - Yo, I need to know how much can I get for this sweet ass margarita mix recipe??

8 Squeezed Limes
2 Squeezed Oranges
2 Oz. Triple Sec
2 Oz. Alizé Gold Passion
Lime Juice/Cane Sugar to taste
Tequila to feel


Damn, shorty! That shit is the bomb.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Go Joe!

Tacoma, WA - The hits don't stop with Samuel Wurzelbacher, alias Joe the Plumber. They really don't. Peep this interview he did with an apparent publication called Christianity Today.


Highlights:
  • "People don’t understand the dictionary—it’s called queer. Queer means strange and unusual. It’s not like a slur, like you would call a white person a honky or something like that."
  • "God is recognized as, if you will, America’s religion."
  • "I like Sarah Palin a lot, actually. I just don’t know if that’s where God’s leading her. I just know the Republican Party’s done its best to blackball her. I don’t know what her agenda is. If she ran, would I vote for her? Absolutely. John McCain was the lesser of two evils."
Joe is fast becoming the worst name in politics.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Bury My Heart on Some Sweaty Dance Floor

Olympia, WA - My intellectual confidence is bruised and battered after a winless night spent on the yahoo! chess boards, leaving me sitting on my bed in a pair of orange rowboat boxers listening to Jack-FM and rolling a joint on top of a copy of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee in the type of comfort that could only come from the repetitive slaughter detailed in the aforementioned book.

Huzzah, let us honor the memories of the fallen and be grateful for the fruits, tainted though they may be.

The only thing left to do is dance, and possibly meet some folks willing to have a late night conversation about who can best define America's major political parties in 4 ideas or less, two negative. Or at least listen to some Whitesnake, or even The Scorpions.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Deep Thoughts

Olympia, WA - What if Rip Hamilton was 7 years younger and an emerging star on this Blazers team. It would make Rip City the coolest incidental NBA phrase ever.

The Links

Some well good linkz from the last few days

Bankers OWN Congress

Fishless Lakes in Maine

NBA Playoffs So Far

Local Robber Nicknamed "Man Hands"

Saturday, April 25, 2009

McCain on disclosure: Leave it to the Nicaraguans

Olympia, WA - Just as it was so many times on the campaign trail - John McCain is either willfully ignorant or completely naive.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Da Henvironment

Olympia, WA - John Tierney had an interesting post in his NYTimes science column earlier this week where he predicted, somewhat dystopianly, that people would never have the will to enact some great energy revolution.

Tierney cites Jesse Ausubel of Rockefeller University.

Over the past century, he says, nothing has drastically altered the long-term trends in the way Americans produce or use energy — not the Great Depression, not the world wars, not the energy crisis of the 1970s or the grand programs to produce alternative energy.

But he also predicted that, as the world gains wealth our environmental problems will fix themselves, notably citing the Kuznets Curve that predicts a Laffer-like scenario where the wealthier a country becomes, the more dramatically it will curb its atmospheric pollutants.

America, btw, is that the top of its game. Good job, us!

Who is to say if that curve really works (does anyone even talk about Laffer any more?), and certainly it works only in cooperation with cultural attitudes, but an economist can hope.

Budget

Olympia, WA - Here is some schwag I wrote for Horse's Ass about the state tax structure. Don't worry, I spiced it up.

http://horsesass.org/?p=15473

I am a little worried that I might get in trouble. But I always think that. I'm such a coward.

Oly Weekend


Olympia, WA - Just wanted to let y'all know how it drops down here in Budd City. I got KAOS double streaming stereo style on my laptop and on the radio in my bedroom down the hall.

DJ Brady Rainey is closing it out on Whatever You Want to Call It with a Mock Orange cover of Only in Dreams while we wait for my boy DJ Luvva J with Live from I-5. Luvva J still owes me some mp3 copies of St. Ide's commercials from the early 90s, but I won't hold it against him. His show rocks.

But tonight is the real deal. Arts walk. Unlike Brattleboro, where arts walk goes down on a monthly basis, here in Oly it's just twice a year - once in the fall and the big daddy in late April. Tonight. Shit's supposed to be off the hook. Support your community.


Tomorrow comes the other Oly main event, The Procession of the Species. I don't even know what that shit is, so I suggest you peep the link.

Plus the legislative session is about to end so hopefully there will be a bunch of drunk pols roaming around babbling about how they can't wait to get the fuck out of this shithole town and back to their big cities and beloved farms. I might be saying the same things myself. Depends on if this cough clears up or not.

Greetings from the capital city which truly has no nickname, other than perhaps Cheet Woot, place of the bear, or maybe Smithter, where Doc Maynard used to split wood and make doctorin' calls.

History, folks. Read about it.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Hermit

Olympia, WA - This marks my first ever Hermit post from the Oly homestead, having finally gotten around to installing internet this morning after a four month post-Politicker hiatus.

And what a way to ring it in - feet up, door open and bottle of Anchor Steam in hand. Sunshine and a large window inches from my head recall summers in Quabbin Qountry, while the bare warmth of a Toshiba laptop bring back the glory days of sitting on a dock at Snow Pond, stewing over some way to trifle with the latest campaign foible.

But here, on The Hermit, there is no audience; there is no subject. Not yet. In the meantime, there are a few more sips of Steam left. And another one in the fridge.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

NBA Playoff Predictions

Tacoma, WA -

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Lakers over Jazz in 5
Nuggets over Hornets in 6
Mavs over Spurs in 6
Blazers over Rockets in 7

Lakers over Blazers in 6
Mavs over Nuggets in 7

Lakers over Mavs in 5

EASTERN CONFERENCE
Cavs over Pistons in 5
Celtics over Bulls in 6
Magic over Sixers in 5
Heat over Hawks in 7

Cavs over Heat in 4
Magic over Celtics in 7

Cavs over Magic in 5

NBA FINALS
Lakers over Cavs in 7

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Oly

Olympia, WA - Yo, I really need to start diversifying my datelines. For real.

Not Peepers?

Olympia, WA - I came into town tonight to check my e-mail and listen to some Creedence. Specifically their version of The Midnight Special, which I first heard on Chronicle Vol. 2, which has since been lost to me along with disc 2 of Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits and a bunch of other classic cds when I had one of my cd cases stolen or misplaced.

Given the hurricane aftermath state of my Nissan Sentra's backseat and the amount of travel I did last year, into Republican strongholds and otherwise, it could have been either.

Still, here I am. And once I'm here it is always easier to have one more hot toddie than it is to have one fewer. There are many arguments for why this is, but one of them should involve spring peepers, because the sound of them will always play a major role in my life.

About three weeks ago I had what I thought at the time to be a completely no sequitur notion that I wouldn't hear any spring peepers this year, and the silence would be deafening to my spirit, causing me to break out in a mad dash for Gulf Road in Belchertown, Mass., where I would spend at least a full week lounging on a rock next to Knight's Pond and repleneshing my soul with the consistent evening croak of the peepers (Pseudacris crucifer).

Yet within days of that thought I began hearing frogs in Olympia, and just as the weather was starting to turn toward the better. Simply on faith I had assumed them to be my own little peepers, but a quick internet search just now reveals that my guys don't live much further west than Kansas.

Again I am fooled, but who can blame a pacifier?


P.S Long live the Chuggypig Unlimited Express. I am glad that I came into town to write tonight, but I still have some regret over missing the second half of the show. KAOS comes through in the most mysterious ways.


Friday, April 10, 2009

The Snake.

Olympia, WA - Back to politics: Do we realize that Terry McAuliffe may become the next governor of Virginia? Not that all politicians aren't scum, but Heaven help us.

Dew Point

Olympia, WA - That old nicknameless backwater city of the Puget Sound, Olympia, has been humid the last two days, and I don't know if it is because the legislative session is nearing a crippling, blue-balled and grumpy end or if it is some sign from the Gods telling me to beat a path to Eastern climates, and fast.

Still, when I step outside my front door in sandals, underwear and a cum-stained t-shirt at 9:30pm, I feel ten degrees short of a heavy sweat.

It is still early April, after all.

Nevertheless what a stark reminder, that kiss of humidity, of the vast difference between winter and summer even in a Marine West Coast climate like this.

I should mention that I am glad to have felt the onset of stickiness. Nothing gets you down the line like some swamp ass and a moist head of hair.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Basketball Dungeon

Olympia, WA - I just noticed the striking difference in attitude between the cavernous insides of the China Clipper and the gold-reamed sunset dusk I just walked in from ten minutes ago.

There was street chatter and the whisper of a light wind off of the black hills. Here are bellows of drunken laughter and classic rock and country guitar riffs.

But its also day 2 of March Madness. And outside doesn't have any TVs.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Madness

Tacoma, WA - Rain down, glory. Tipoff just went down in the play-in game, Morehead and 'Bama State.

Mohawks, long braids, team-colored suits and Chief Kickingstallionsims, the Norwegian Navajo.

Picks below:

Midwest Region
2nd Round
Louisville over Siena, Wake over 'Zona , WVU over Kansas, Mich. St over USC
Elite 8
Wake over MSU

West Region
2nd Round
UConn over BYU, UW over Purdue, Mizzou over Utah St., Memphis over Maryland
Elite 8
Memphis over UW

East Region
2nd Round
Pitt over Tenn, Xavier over Wisconsin, UCLA over 'Nova, Duke over Texas
Elite 8
Pitt over UCLA

South Region
2nd Round
UNC over LSU, Gonzaga over W. Ky., ASU over 'Cuse, Oklahoma over Michigan
Elite 8
UNC over ASU

Final
Pitt over Memphis 71-66

Headlines

Two great headlines from today's Seattle Times:


Police search for suspect in Metro sexual assault

Recession's silver lining? Less Seattle-area traffic

Monday, March 16, 2009

After a Trip

Olympia, WA -Two weeks have passed since I left for my latest adventure in the Olympic National Park with my college roommate Angus, the kind of thing where, in times past, I would have reveled in bringing along my computer and logging in from small town outposts (Amanda Park, Forks, Sequim) regaling the web with descriptions of my travels and perhaps manufactured tales of hijinx at the road houses along US 101.

Instead, sapped for time before daylight, intrigued by changes in logging towns that I hadn't seen in more than a dozen years and joined by an old friend who I hadn't seen for more than a day or two in two years, my laptop bag found itself trapped in the trunk gasping for air over a long week.

This was followed by a return to the work week, where the few precious internet hours I scrounged were full of back-dated news gathering and a suffocating sense that I was irreparably far behind on the political, newshounding, social, and perhaps even sports circles that I had left behind two weeks ago.

That first foot forward after a three week daydream is always one of the hardest steps, weighed down by nerves, doubt, ignorance and frightened by unfamiliarity and the now-distant memory of when it was easy.

That same sense of distant memory has been magnetically attached to my mind all day, ever sine I realized late last night just how long I have been out of the pro journalism game.

At this time last year I was still high off the eighteen Guinnesses I drank after the Seattle St. Patty's Day Dash, and preparing to dive heard first into the state legislative races with the goal of becoming the go-to voice on the topic. Today I try to remember the last time I made an actual press inquiry, and wonder if it is something I will ever do again.

I feel like a climber, toproped but not thrilled about it, pondering how wise it is to let his fingers burn while he fidgets with a beautiful but shaky foothold.

Perhaps the NCAA Tournament will act as a weathervane. My initial picks favor 1 seeds and 4 seeds, and remember, always remember, the truth of the 12 seed. I'll die by it just as I've lived in the past.

No Excuse

for the lack of posts in the last three weeks. Advantage: Reader.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Cutoff Day, or, A Legislative Body's Conscience Gets an Autopsy

The state Senate Democrats released a compilation of the bills that died in committee yesterday, a sepulchral list with topics ranging from the too good to be true, like civil marriage and electric car tax breaks, to the cringe-inducing.

Cutoff Day hits Olympia

Cutoff Day hits Olympia

Josh at Publicola has the full list of thwarted bills, and a slightly more appropriate cutoffs picture.

Included in the list of killed bills are dozens of would-be laws that casual observers might call non-essential, but which clearly held some importance to a little-known constituency or some ill-funded interest group.

More importantly, the list speaks volumes about the legislative consciences of the two parties, and some of its particular members.

Aside from a few non-sequiturs, cutoff bills tend to be those that reach a little too far. In other words, they represent what the party activists really want.

Here is where the Democrats ran afoul of themselves.

Sen. Ed Murray’s (D-Seattle) SB 5674 would have recognized the right of all citizens to obtain civil marriage licenses, and had his SB 5476 not been cut off, Washington would have joined 14 other states (including progressive hotbeds like Iowa, West Virginia, Alaska and North Dakota) in abolishing the death penalty.

The Dems also apparently reached too far with one of the most intriguing (and risky) aspects of the Senate Dems’ green energy package, SB 5418, which was Sen. Fred Jarrett’s bit about providing tax breaks for companies who installed electric car charging stations in their parking lots, and would have directed state agencies to install them as part of a move to become full electric and bio-fueled by 2016.

Still some of the castaways are mildly Draconian, like Sen. Steve Hobbs’ SB 5183 to increase child porn cases to include people who voluntarily view it on the internet, as if the courts could prove that some innocent porn browser didn’t accidentally click on a tantalizing link.

And others border on the nanny state, like Sen. Rodney Tom’s SB5857, which tried to ban artificial trans fats from restaurants with local permits. But hey, it’s the thought that counts.

And then you’ve got the dead Republican bills.

SB 5362, brought by Sen. Linda Evans Parlette (R-Wenatchee) who hails from the state’s most conservative legislative district, would have suspended the component that currently requires our state’s minimum wage be tied to a Consumer Price Index and required it to stay at $8.55 per hour until further notice.

Val Stevens (R-Lake Stevens), against whom the Democrats poured a lot of money this past fall in the guise of disgraced Sultan Police Chief Fred Walser’s candidacy, put forth a bill that would prevent the Legislature from working on any problems not directly related to balancing the budget.

Because, you know, who needs forward thinking?

Stevens also proposed a WASL-worshiping bill that would have require school districts to pay for remedial education for students who graduate from their school but still move on to college.

Saving the best for last, Sen. Janea Holmquist (R-Moses Lake), wanted the state Senate to officially petition President Obama and others to reverse the 2005 9th Circuit Court’s ruling that stated that requiring children to say “under God” in the pledge of allegiance is unconstitutional.

Besides the general party flavor, cutoff day also gives us a chance to see which Senators suffer from Allen Iverson syndrome, whereby, no matter how successful they might be otherwise, they still heave up a bunch of forehead slappers.

Long-serving Sen. Ken Jacobsen (D-North Seattle), who is both prolific and Quixotic in his legislative writing, led the way with seven failed bills.

Jacobsen’s bills touched on important, if slightly errant, topics like reinstating WWU’s football team, labeling cloned animals sold as food, limiting bank fees, allowing dogs in bars and coffee shops, creating an airline passenger’s bill of rights and creating a fund for local students heading to historically black colleges. Another, SB 5128, would increase the driving age for ORVs from 13 to 18 and designate some state money to look into the costs of ORV usage.

Runner up to Jacobsen in the failed bill department is Sen. Mike “Law & Order” Carrell (R-Lakewood), who represents the swinging 28th District that covers portions of Tacoma, Lakewood and the area west of the South Puget Sound’s major military posts, Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base, and aside from Carrell has elected two Democratic State Representatives.

He had five bills miss the cut, and based on their content, it really causes one to wonder how this guy continues to be re-elected in a light blue district.

His SB 5213 would have required people who register to vote to provide proof of citizenship, and his SB 5217 wanted to make sure that no money was spent on art in state prisons, just in case someone was thinking about committing a crime but then before pulling the trigger thought, “a ten-year prison sentence on McNeil Island without the possibility of looking at a Rembrandt, or even a Betty Mears, is just too much to bear!”

He also wanted to increase sentences for criminals who wear body armor, and require the state to build and maintain monuments outside all military bases in the state. Sir, yes sir.

Anyway those are the laws that the legislature definitely won’t be passing this session. As for what will come through the hatch, we’ve got two more exciting months to find out.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Work Out

Olympia, WA - Yeah, baby, work it out.

I ran my first workout of the year AD 2009 tonight after a sturdy spaghetti supper and a few long hours spent in Olytown this afternoon on what would best be described as a whim.

Three blocks down Tullis Street I decided that, instead of my usual Capitol loop, I should double back to my house, grab my watch and hit up the track at Reeves Middle School for the interval workout that has been haunting me ever since I made my commitment to mediocrity back in December of last year.

I held true, perhaps to the detriment of my long-term mental health, with a 6x400m at :80 seconds with equal rest workout on a dark, muddy, messy, puddled, slick and thin track.

Going on, old pride told me that I might be able to crank out a few :75s to close out shop, or even extend the session to eight repetitions, but after 900m my body told me the truth.

Still nothing beats the feeling of the middle section of that second rep, when your body knows the pace but still has ignorance enough not to fear it.

I was able to hit :79 for my first two reps, followed by an :81, two :80s, and finally an :82 that made me realize it was probably in my best interest to stop the watch and just head on home.

The first 400m made me know my pace, and by the end of the second I knew to alter my form. Not in order to accelerate on the turns or power through the puddles, as I may have done once upon a time, but rather to maximize efficiency and do the least amount of work possible to reach the goal of an eighty second quarter mile.

O, how times have changed.

But one can never be too unhappy with a completed workout, especially if one shares the current relative lack of fitness that I have.

After six I walked to the end of the track then, crossing paths with the early stragglers from the middle school gym's Monday rec volleyball league, jogged up the parking lot and down Quince Street on a path that would bring me down and around Bigelow Park before returning to my house with a complete cool down.

I strutted around my kitchen in tights and a t-shirt, warmed up some food, drank some water, cleaned and took a shower.

A circle, more or less, but still it starts from a very low point.

Fear and Loathing

Olympia, WA - There have been two distinct periods in my unemployment (Dec. 12 - present) when my general feeling could be summed up with a would-be book title. It started in mid-January, after the holidays and the departure of my college companions, when the full-bodied shame of not being given compensation first hit acutely, and then reared its ugly head again this past week after I had successfully squelched it before the turn of the month.

The working title, of course, is Fear and Loathing: On the Unemployment Trail '09.

Today, for instance, I waked up at 11:30, baked up at 11:35, washed my face, put on clothes, hopped on my bike and headed into town. Once there, I took out some money from the bank.

The actual bank, not that ATM, since I lost my card in the BECU cash machine at the Olympia Co-Op last week. Some four times prior to my mistake, I had witnessed high and/or absent-minded hippie types almost forget to pick up their cards, only to be bailed out by the person standing in line behind them. And with this sort that I speak of, there would invariably be someone standing behind him because, stoned hippie-type that he is, this generic fellow likely took some five minutes to use the machine.

I, however, used the box quickly and rushed away irresponsibly. How fitting.

Upon leaving the bank I walked over to Cafe Vitta, ordered a coffee, an orange and dark chocolate-covered graham cracker, delicious all around, and proceeded to be too paralyzed with fear and self-loathing to actually get the things done that I wanted to get done.

All that I wrote was trite, a comment I'm sure has been said about me before and won't stop now.

Still, the painful self-awareness was heavy on my shoulders.

...

Now here I am with a temporary paid gig to assuage my worries, but still a little bit of the title remains.

On the front that dictates the rest of life, its funny how each random time I see a smiling girl who talks cheerily enough, I get the sparkle in my brain that I might believe in love again some time.

It fades, but still it creeps.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Width of a Circle

Olympia, WA - My curiosity is what keeps me from getting home in a timely, and cost-effective, manner.

The song on the stereo here, right now, is Bowie's The Width of a Circle.

So I cried for all the others til the day was nearly through
For I realized that God's a young man, too.

Beside me are three Evergreen girls talking about school evaluations, boys, and living situations. Once was the time that I could talk of such things.

But now I don't really care, which is kind of frustrating.

I care about the man who calls himself Uncle Mike and sings New York, New York during karaoke at the China Clipper. It was the best rendition I have ever heard.

blog

does this work?

If You Wanna Be Happy

In advance of the Seattle-area Williams-Mystic reunion in just over a week, I'll be giving a series of shout-outs to the things that remind me of those days in the winter and spring of 2003.

My roommate Faisal and I listened to this song at least fifty times that semester.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Band Travels

Olympia, WA - Here at the Voyeur, a bar I have spent a grand total of 20 minutes in before tonight, they have a lineup of traveling bands from all over the West Coast.

All of them, or at least what I can hear over my headphones blaring Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers, are good.

But still, no one is here. Maybe ten people are listening in the lounge, and they didn't charge me to sit in the square bar. Thank God.

Anyway, to quote INXS, "makes me wonder. Wonder, wonder."

How do small local bands make money by touring? I mean, they probably don't and are just trying to raise their status by word of mouth. But still, I kind of feel bad for them.

But not bad enough to pay a cash cover to get closer.

Not when I am broke, and can hear them just fine from here.

Suckers.

I love you, but you're suckers.

Also, the Bulleit Bourbon is real cheap here. Real cheap.

Miles

Olympia, WA - I won a battle tonight in what has become, in the last two weeks--and last 6 months, really--a lopsided battle between fitness motivation and expanding my mind with one foreign substance or another.

The war, however, may never be over.

Still, battles are battles.

I went out for a 5-miler after my morning with the dregs, my afternoon with the bowl and my last night with 7 miles. Despite all of these trivial hurdles, I went out. I even tacked on to my original plan.

Obviously it is depressing to cite this as a highlight. Catharsis, though, is the key.

Sometimes, at least, it is the key.

But my brain continues to return to the notion that five miles, six miles, seven miles is easy. Today, my body tells me different. It whispered it into my lower back last night. It tapped me on the knee a mile into my run tonight. It yelled it into my lower calf as I ran up 4th Ave after 4 miles.

Now, four hours later, I revel in the fatigue. I use it as an excuse to have another drink. I use it as an excuse to write. I use it as an excuse to take a second shower.

I hope I have that excuse more often.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Swan Dive

Today was a challenge for me. I should say, instead, that my morning appointment was a challenging thing to get through.

I was being audited by Washington state unemployment, which is no big deal, especially since the work contacts I made during week they called me on were front and center in my gmail outbox.

The hard part was just being there.

Worksource.
Tacoma.
Hilltop.

At 9:45 this morning, when I arrived what I consider to be well shy of my 10:00 summons, the place was already packed with people who legitimately needed assistance creating a resume and, even, using the internet.

I made it a point to refrain from wearing a $200 shirt (which in my defense I only bought for $60, and at a time when I thought it was necessary to own such a thing), unlike my first trip to the unemployment office in Holyoke, MA where I had to undergo a job training session, but I still felt overdressed given my lack of a beat up old windbreaker and mud-stained sweatpants. Lacking a neck tattoo I also stood out, as I now recall.

The corner of High and Jackson in Holyoke, coincidentally, wasn't much different than the corner of Tacoma Ave. and So. 13th.

Tacoma is just a little bit busier, fitting for a city ten times the size of Holyoke.

Nevertheless it was today that I felt the helplessness of being grouped with my WorkSource colleagues. They, the limousine drivers and the security guards, the dime store mortgage brokers and the apartment cleaners.

I was no different, out of a job and looking to stay afloat.

But I know how to use a computer. Quite well.

Still, seeing the parade of neck-tattooed men in sweats, fat white women laboring to get through the door, and immigrants of either gender who struggled simply to read the directions on the form sheets, was a tough pill to swallow.

On at least three different occasions, the depression train started steaming up so hot that I almost ran straight out of the building, no longer willing to witness the plight of the unhappy, uneducated, unsophisticated lot that filled the rooms that make up the Pierce County WorkSource building.

But I stayed. I needed the money. Just like everyone else.

The parade of tired and poor made me think once more on the idea of government education. In times like these, when an overeducated sod like myself can't find a job, it is easy to shit on society's ideal that all should be educated.

But then, as you watch the line at the unemployment office wander through their morning, you see that what may be a loss on the margins for some, is a boon to society as a whole.

In the stumbles, the "habla Espanol?"s, in the shame, in the hope, you see it.

Today I saw it, and it was all that kept me from running away.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Back in Blog Business

Olympia, WA - I'm returning to the blog after more than a week's hiatus marked by laziness, timidity, failed job applications, bong hits and inactivity. What a shame.

Alas, I'm here to make several minor points, if not one major one.

  • For starters, I was looking at the Cleveland Cavaliers roster this afternoon, and the fact that Memphis' own Lorenzen Wright has been in the NBA for twelve years made me feel old.
  • Every time I am ready to dismiss DMX and delete half of the songs I have by him on my itunes, I randomly hear Party Up and it sucks me right back in.
  • I spent Saturday night in Seattle. I was underwhelmed, once again, by the city. It started out with such promise, too, as I drove into the city on such a beautifully lit night. My companions, though, were mad tight.
  • Today I ran 7 miles on the heels of two atrocious weeks (15 and 12, respectively) and have proclaimed that I am going to do 30 miles this week. Fuck it. I'd like to guarantee a 5:15 mile, too, but my confidence is down after those two hell weeks. That 7 miles is killing me already.
  • Speaking of that 7-miler, I'm not looking forward to riding my bike home up the SF hill, but I'm proud of myself for riding my bike into town on a winter night.
  • Boundary Bay IPA, unconscionably, is not considered one of the main beers on Boundary Bay's website! WTF? That beer is like the Mac & Chee or the PB&J of beers. It is the ultimate go-to in the PNW. It may never rock your world, but the shit never disappoints. Easily the draught beer I've drunk the most of since moving back 14 months ago.
  • The bartender here at the Eastside Club is sitting at his laptop, and I'm pretty sure I just heard the 1992-era EA Sports theme song. I blame him, in part because I resent tipping him. He is a shitty bartender.
  • I bought The Simpsons season 7 on dvd last week. It has some classic episodes, but it was mildly depressing to realize that the decline of the Simpsons, which I thought didn't happen until at least season 8, was already settling in like so many greasy pimples in season 7.
  • I am being audited by the unemployment office tomorrow. Weak.
  • Frequent are the days, still, that I think of New England.
Hear me now.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Friday Night Beer

Olympia, WA - Because it is Friday, and even though I am not working, I decided to make it beer night.

Honestly, it came about because I walked home for the last half mile of my run tonight, and my lower back has been twisted and sore ever since, so I figured I would forget about life for a while.

To begin with, I had a 10^2 ale on cask from the Fishbowl. They don't have any info on it from their website, but it resembles an imperial IPA, only it seems a tad darker than that. Rumor around the barstool was that the beer is so named because it is ten percent alcohol served in a ten ounce schooner glass.

After two of them, served in a perfectly by my neighbor Mel, I'd believe it.

Despite my usual aversion to strong beers, I'd give it my top rating as far as Fish Brewing beer goes, ahead of even the Hodgson's IPA.

Unfortunately, the Fishbowl was too crowded for me to do my usual double duty of drinking and internetting, so I had to bounce after my beer and head over to the Eastside.

So here I am, drinking a Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye, which they usually have on sale at a special-proof $3.50 (by which I mean, even on Mondays and Thursdays the price, regrettably, doesn't budge).

I got my first taste of the Hop Rod at the Moan and Dove, where it was a pretty frequent guest tap. Then, as now, it doesn't disappoint.

Reds, like suspected bisexuals, usually go both ways.

I've had both delicious and cringe-inducing reds, leading me to believe that they are the most questionable of all beer styles, only because they are so different from one brewery to the next.

Plus, they aren't really red.

Anyway, Hop Rod is a game changer. I'll go out on a limb and rank it as the top red on the market. Nice and hoppy, bitter with flavor, and smooth as a summer sunset.

From the website, "Essentially a bold American IPA made with 20% rye malt. Darker in coler, Hop Rod Rye boasts a huge hop aroma and flavor accompanied by a slightly sweet, malty finish.

In other words, its like Wild Turkey Rye. A delicious drink slightly modified by the use of some rye in addition to the normal ingredients.

Plus, its 8 percent, so it don't muck around.

Bear Republic, it should be noted, also makes Racer 5.

Sarah

Olympia, WA - Just to see what it is like, I have decided to become obsessed with Sarah Palin for a little while.

Here is a link to a story about her endorsing Rick Perry in the Texas Republican gubernatorial primary, and here is a link to her PAC.

Highlights: "SarahPAC believes America's best days are ahead."

It also believes that America was founded on conservative principles like freedom (and outlawing abortion).

"SarahPAC believes energy independence is a cornerstone of the economic security and progress that every American family wants and deserves."

Drill, baby, drill! We deserve it.

She is a very special candidate, no doubt!



Expect more in the coming days.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Pink Chocolate, Black Hills, White Mountains

Olympia, WA - Tonight's sunset was the finest I've seen in ages. From the corner of Tullis and Yew, in a pair of running shoes and SportHills, it was like chocolate being mixed above the Black Hills and the Capitol dome, but only if chocolate was pinkish purple.

The Black Hills, it should be noted over the past few weeks, have exceedingly reminded me of the same Whites, Greens and Berkshires that have dominated my life for the last 9 years.

The curved and layered peaks, January fog filling in admirably for August haze, have only strengthened my longing for the trails, bars, and people of Lincoln, Florence, and West Dover.

How fitting that they tower so close, yet so out of reach from my perch on the East side of Olympia.

Today also marks a return to running after four sick and lazy days off after Friday's mile time trial. From the moment I saw the pink chocolate sunset, I knew that I needed to do my dome loop backwards so I could gaze North and West as I ran down the Capitol trails toward the lake.

Unfortunately I was distracted by a fellow runner who was coming up as I was coming down, and in my paranoid state of unemployment and reminisce, my thought process was dominated by the idea that I had to get from one switchback corner to the next faster than he did, and by the time I got down the hill I realized I hadn't even taken advantage of the clear night sky.

I also couldn't really tell if I was going faster than him or not, so fuck me.

Alas, here I am at Jake's once again on a late Wednesday night trying to make up for the nervous lack of job search and writing that dominated my afternoon at the coffee shop, enjoying some rock solid karaoke as a backdrop to my work.

So far, so good.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Love Song of M. Rod Blagojevich

Below is something I wrote about a statement I made on January 29, 2009 in honor of the political career of Governor Rod Blagojevich.

And the peculiar thing is this, my friends: the statement I made on that fateful night didn't actually sound anything like this statement. This is just a tribute.

Text below:


Friends -

Well, I did it
.

I did my Milorad Blagojevic [sic] honor statement at the China Clipper karaoke night.

The background song (Nothing Compares 2 U) was over before I knew it. Because, shit, I could have spoken for another hour and a half about what that man has done for the PEOPLE.

The bar was empty, which only added to my soul companionship with Blago. No one had my back, even though I went on a major media blitz to sponsor my statement. I got essentially goose egged. "The people" are so fickle, so willing to believe what the biased and conservative MSM will tell them about a freedom fighter.

My karaoke name, Ivan Blago, deserved better.

It deserved an audience of 100, not of 2.

They needn't have been sympathetic (surely not!) but I begged of Olympia at least to listen.

Yet my humble plea fell upon silent ears.

How fitting.

Just like those pleas made by Martin Luther King, those pleas made by Mother Theresa. Those pleas made by Dennis Kucinich.

To end the discrimination. To end the starvation. To end the war against peace.

But mostly to end the war against humanity.

If no one will listen to me, BTB, the beacon of the Puget Sound, then why would anyone listen to G-Rod, the laughingstock of cattle country?

Certainly the ILLINOIS LEGISLATURE wouldn't listen. Those spineless political opportunists.

Well tonight was a victory for truth, even if no one was around to record it. Please believe I looked everyone in this room in the EYE while I spoke and I called them, no, made them, no, DECLARED them a witness!

Please believe!!!

So, point being, there were a handful of witnesses tonight here in Oly-town who now know that Blago is a man of principle, who cares for the people, but, more importantly, who cares about his own idea of the people and, who, MOST importantly, will DO or SAY anything to protect a view of the truth.

And that is what I care about.


Good night, and Fuck You.
BTB

What Does One Write After Three?

Oly, WA - Here I am at Sizizi's, the new all hours joint in Olympia. It was been a hell of a night, beginning with the fact that they charged a cover at The Royal. Fuck them. Adding insult to injury, the hack job "bartender" at the mini bar didn't even pop the top on my PBR.

Do you honestly expect a tip to being with, let alone when you fail to do something as simple as flip open an tab on a tall can?

Fuck you, Royal Lounge. I expect better.

Anyway, that doesn't begin to explain the extent of my night. I won't get into it here except to say that it was a night worthy of driving home, eating a bit, grabbing my computer, then rolling back to Sizizi's to at least talk some talk, whether it is full on or not.

Shit Christ, as they say.

I'm also a full French press in, at 3:15 in the morning. I wonder, will that impact my sleep schedule?

Honestly, I care not. All I can think of right now is the time that Dan Laz and I drove to Littleton, NH to either buy a gun and/or rent Evil Dead.

Turns out guns are expensive. All we did was rent Evil Dead.

Shit, that night I stuck to my promise of sleeping in my tent, even if the idea of tree roots killing me was mildly scary. But who am I to be scared?

WHO AM I?

Shit, right now I could give you ten answers, but I won't.

Now is not the time. Despair, which had set in earlier, is long gone. And now is only the time to report briefly, bot fully.

Hey, hey. Here is to the Super Bowl.

BT

Friday, January 30, 2009

Legislature announces plan to extend full marriage benefits to domestic partnerships

Olympia – In front of a crowd of more than 30 legislators, supporters and families of same sex couples Wednesday afternoon, state Sen. Ed Murray (D-Seattle) announced the introduction of Senate and House bills that would expand full state marriage rights to domestic partners, but would stop short of calling the relationships marriages in the eyes of the state.

The House bill has 57 sponsors out of 98 total Representatives, including two Republicans, Maureen Walsh (R-College Place) and Norm Johnson (R-Yakima), and the Senate offering has 20 sponsors from the body’s 49 members.

No Republican Senators, however, found the cause worthy of sponsorship.

The pair of bills would add over 300 rights and obligations for domestic partnerships ranging from survivor and pension benefits to business license transfers, which Rep. Jamie Pederson (D-Seattle), the chief sponsor of the House bill, said would “make sure our families are treated exactly the same.”

Still, even if the state legislation passes, certain same sex couples will lack some Federal benefits until President Obama makes good on his promise to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.

Besides the usual measure of equality and long-time-coming, the legislators also took time today to frame the issue in terms of the sour economy.

“Families across this nation feel more and more insecure. If there was at theme for this session,” Murray said, “it would be family economic security.”

Extending crucial benefits to families of same-sex couples, the implication suggests, is even more important now than it was before. He said now is the time that there needs to be a conversation about the concrete ways that families of same sex couples are harmed because they lack the same benefits as heterosexual couples.

To help hammer home the need for domestic partnership benefit rights, four same-sex couples, half of them with young children in tow, spoke about their feelings of going through everyday life not only with the hardships that come from improper benefits, but the stigma that their families, especially their children, have from being excluded.

It was a regular all-American display, with one of the couples’ nine year old daughter doing her best Piper Palin turn, struggling to hold onto her baby sister as she stood beside her mother at the podium.

Another couple, both of whom hold PhDs from the University of Washington, informed the reporters that their elementary school aged daughter was “just coming to terms with the fact that our family doesn’t have the same recognition and rights that her friends’ families do, and it is confusing to her.”

Then there was the Tacoma police officer who grew emotional while reminding those gathered that she faces the same dangers on the streets each day as her straight co-workers, yet she is saddled with the additional stress of knowing that if anything happened to her, only now, with the help of this bill, would her partner receive the full spousal benefits she deserved.

Those blatant displays of humanity aside, Murray commented that one of the aspects most worthy of celebration with the announcement of these bills was the relative lack of fanfare from the other side.

“I would say the most remarkable thing about this bill is that it is unremarkable,” Murray mentioned, explaining that many of the fiercely fought battles that had been fought in the last few decades were inconspicuously absent from today’s atmosphere, even resulting in the aforementioned Republican sponsors of the House bill.

“Instead of culture wars,” Murray said, “we see a legislature that is mostly on board.”

But if the atmosphere is so good, and domestic partnerships are such a no-brainer these days, why not just go all in and join the ranks of Massachusetts and Connecticut, the two states who currently recognize gay marriage?

The lawmakers answered this question in part by passing the buck to a public that they said, outside of the greater Seattle area, was still coming to terms with gay rights.

“We are involved in a conversation with the people of this state,” Murray said. “It is still new to a lot of people in this state.”

Plus, there will be the matter of initiative battles like the recent Proposition 8 that rocked the civil rights world in California this past year.

“On a personal level, it is kind of amazing what the opposition is willing to do,” Murray said, implying that the supporters of gay marriage intend to swing with a knockout blow when they finally push for full equality. “We know that there will be an initiative at some point. We are preparing ourselves for that battle…We plan to win. We don’t plan to win and then lose.”

Despite this ongoing conversation, Rep. Jim Moeller (D-Vancouver) will be introducing a bill in the House this session, H.B. 1745, that would bring full civil marriage rights to same sex couples in common with their fellow heterosexual citizens.

“There is nothing more personal than the decision between two human beings who make the decision to be committed to one another,” Moeller said and compared the issue to private entities that know that “discrimination is no way to run a business. What we know is what we have always known for a long time, that separate is not equal.”

That bill has 40 sponsors already, including Republican Walsh, yet it won’t be considered in committee.

All part of the process, co-sponsor Rep. Marko Liias (D-Mukilteo) assured me later Wednesday afternoon.

“That’s where the conversation is centered right now,” Liias said, echoing Murray’s sentiment from earlier in the day. “Not everyone who needs to be part of the process is ready to go there right now. There isn’t quite the consensus we need.”

Liias also gave some recommendations for gay marriage’s staunch advocates.

“Get out there and start doing the community organization,” he advised, “and get folks to start writing in from all over the state. Those folks need to start speaking to their friends and neighbors.”

Even if the legislature stops short by simply adding domestic partnership benefits, Sen. Murray predicted today that it won’t be long.

“It will take some years,” he said, “but it will not take the 29 years that the civil rights bill took. It is a multi-year effort, but not a multi-decade effort.”



Cross-posted on HA Seattle

Mile Time Trial, Part 2

Time Trial #2

After an illness kept me sidetracked last week, I came back with another mile time trial today in my bi-monthly journey toward breaking 5:00 for the first time since the spring of 2007.

Despite a stale and lingering hangover caused by a booze-soaked tribute to Rod Blagojevic last night (complete with a lot of bourbon and a couple pre-game in-shower beer chugs, :19 and :21, respectively) I drove the four miles out to West Olympia's Capital High School, the nearest all-weather track to my house, and incidentally the site of my 400m PR, where I opened up the JV 4x4 team with a 52.8 in a fit of rage-induced speed from having been pulled onto the all-distance relay team at the last second.

The reason for the all-weather track is that I wanted to test out my newest accessory, a pair of Adistar MDs that came in the mail from my sponsor, Solomon Industries, a week or so ago.

After a mile and a half of warm-up on the trails around the school (where I also ran a xc invite in high school, but can't remember what place I came in, all I remember is that it was my one and only career loss to Olympia High School's Jesse Stevick) I laced up the spikes, stretched out my legs, focusing on my particularly tender left side, and stepped up to the mile line.

The spikes gave me some undue confidence as I hit the 100m mark in :17-high, but the windy back stretch leveled me out, bringing me through the 200m mark in a pre-planned :39, which I rounded into a 1:18.06. Lap 2 still felt pretty smooth, with a 1:19.78 giving me 2:38 800m, but instead of that split giving me hope that I might break 5:20, the coming dread in my chest only allowed me to instead grow confidence in my chances at breaking 5:30.

Lap 3 started out hard, and got harder as evidenced by the beginning of a series of grunts that, by the middle of the bell lap, had grown in frequency to the point that they were coming with damn near every step.

But I tried to stay focused on the fact that each step would bring me a little further beyond the halfway point, and I fortunately came through in 1:23.82 (no 90 second scares like last time) before closing in 1:22:23 on the strengh of a :38 second final 200m, followed by a lot of Blagovian cursing and a slight desire to collapse, which I fortunately overcame.

Final Time: 5:23.89 for the full mile.

But that last lap, let me tell you, was a bitch. Fuckin' shit.


The first thirty seconds are easy to take off, the next thirty not so much.

See you next time,
BTB

Thursday, January 29, 2009

So much for a dovetail

Olympia, WA - Greetings from Jake's on 4th. I dropped in here just after 1 AM because I thought it would be fitting to post my article on the state legislature's attempt to provide marriage benefits to domestic partnership's from the town's foremost gay bar.

What a shit show.

This is the fourth time now that I have been in here, and it has been a mixed bag. With one exception, I've not been here before 1 o clock, and three of the nights have been on Wednesdays, tonight included.

But never before have I seen this combination of people singing Smashing Pumpkins, chubby chicks grabbing each other's boobs, and weird short guys hanging out with strikingly attractive drunk girls who may or may not be low-rent prostitutes.

For the record, I did finish the article here, so the night was not in vain.

Alas, tomorrow I have an article to write about energy policy, and I imagine at least one bourbon on the rocks once I get home just to come down from this weird scene.

I'll close you with that idea, while they close it down here with some Salt N Pepa.

Its none of your business.

Fuck, I wish it was none of mine. They're terrible. I'm out.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Vive la France

Olympia, WA -

Here I am in a booth at The Brotherhood, a few too many drinks deep on a night where a mild depression has set in at the notion that I have decided to consider employment in such hideous places as Southern California and the Mid-Atlantic.

Why, God? Why?

But it's not just that. Romanteek, one of Olympia's allegedly premier bands, is set to take the stage any minute now, and I have been meaning to hear them ever since I was informed, just over a month ago, that their front man was one and the same as the lovely and talented (both vocally and fashionably) Greta Jane, whose jazz quartet I frequented throughout the fall on Monday nights at The Royal Lounge.

But in the meantime I have been studying up on the Washington state budget cuts in preparation for some face time with the leadership tomorrow, and drinking far more hot toddies than is in my best interest, especially given the relative dearth of my supper tonight.

Alas, some moments are give to you, not you to them.

...

Late last week I meant to post on the relative wackiness of the Olympia streets these days. Oly, like no other city I have experienced, goes in extreme phases of craziness, and last week topped the charts, or at least those charts that have recorded the days since my arrival in these backwaters late last summer.

I think that some of the explanation is due to the fact that clusters of teenagers run away from home for a few days until the money runs out and the weather turns cold, but this last week it was as if the crazy bus made a stop on the corner of Capitol Way and 4th Ave. and told its passengers to get out for a stretch and a cup of coffee, then sped off never to be seen again.

Good luck to the bus driver, bad luck to those of us who spent more than a passing amount of time in the coffee shops and on the sidewalks of downtown. Christ.

But now with the weather turning cold again, the undesirables have found their way back to the warm confines of their parents' houses, not matter how undoubtedly shitty they may be. But, fuck, its cold out here tonight, and anywhere has got to be better than the streets.

...

Lastly, I'd like to briefly touch on the NBA. The old Seattle Sonics are on a bit of a hot streak, which is, ironically, making me miss the guys. How hot would it have been to see a young and spunky group of Green & Gold running off a win streak in the more than palatable Key Arena?

Real hot.

But mostly, I wanted to shed a tear for the trading away of Johan Petro, which happened nearly a month ago. My favorite Sonic of the last two years is now a Nugget, riding pine under the stressful watch of George Karl.

I wish you well, Johan, and may you enjoy a round or three of the playoffs this year.

Three cheers for France, and all its wonderful citzens!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Soul Love

Out of honesty to my soul, and to pay respect to the amount of times I have listened to this song today, here you go:

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Topics

Olympia, WA -

Ever since the conclusion of the New Hampshire Primary, I have felt less and less of an urge to write about politics from a commentary standpoint. Part of the reason I started this blog last month was to get myself back into the flow, which is the same reason I started the Quabbin blog once upon a little over time two (two!) years ago.

But I was struck today when I updated the online newspapers to find that Caroline Kennedy had withdrawn her name from consideration for Hillary Clinton's now vacant U.S. Senate seat.

In the name of full disclosure I rooted against Ms. Kennedy for the same reason that I wildly opposed the presidential candidacies of George W. Bush and Hillary Clinton herself, because of my distinctly American despising of family dynasties. When the Senate is so far from my reach, I sure as hell don't want someone gaining entry just because his or her father/husband/brother had earned it, &tc.

Whether you believe the Times (she quit because uncle Teddy fell ill) or the Post (she found out the seat was going to someone else), I still call bullshit. We've known for a while now that Teddy, for all the good he has done, needs to retire and spend his final days leisurely chilling out in Hyannisport, and quitting because you might lose it a total cop out.

It is a fitting end to the quasi-candidacy of an entitled would-be pol. Besides, I can speak from experience because I never went to the fourth Stadium High School basketball tryout my freshman year because I knew that I was either going to be one of the last guys to get cut, or one of the last guys to make the team. In either case, I had no future as a baller. But in either case, I was 15 years old. Caroline is, ironically, 51.

But shit, part of the problem is that the man who seemed to be her main competition, NY AG Andrew Cuomo, suffers from the same identity crisis. Whatever, fuck New York state.

...

Oh yeah, and I am going to start contributing to another blog starting, I dunno, Friday. Something like that. While there, I will be covering the legislative session and calling out politicians, just like I used to, again, at the old Quabbin blog. So today is basically a return to form, but in a shittier location.

It all reminds me of this:

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Big Time


Seattle, WA -

Thanks to a perfectly planned 5:30 PM departure from foggy Olympia, I was able to make it up Seattle with only minimal traffic congestion, which gives me the chance to do a quick beer review from the Big Time Brewpub in the U-District.

Big Time is one of my favorites in Seattle, and someplace I invariably find myself when I am near the UW with some time to kill.

Tonight I had two firsts with the Perspective IPA on cask, and a sample of The Maine Thing East Coast Pale Ale.

It was the first time I had ever seen a beer classified as an "East Coast Pale", and true to its name it felt like I was back in New Hampshire. The bartender wasn't certain of the hops origin, but it was clear they weren't Cascade or Chinook, though at the same time they weren't some shitty British kind, either. Mildly hoppy, not too bitter or bland. I always consider Pale Ales sort of a bastardized version of an IPA - why go for the silver when you can get the gold? But if hops bite you too hard, or if you are just looking to mix it up, I give this one a strong recommendation if only because when else do you see an East Coast Pale Ale?

One of the great things about Big Time, besides their weathered wood floors and walls full of old school beer memorabilia, is the fact that they offer a number of IPAs. Still, I had never seen the Perspective on tap, and was thrilled to have the chance to try it on cask. Maybe that tainted my introduction, but at a glance I can confidently say it is their best. Smooth, good scent, solidly bitter with a hit of florality. Shit, if I wasn't off to Drinking Liberally in five minutes (or unemployed), I'd stay for a few more.

Once again, well done, Big Time.

inOguration

Olympia, WA -

I watched the inauguration from the Olympia Film Society's free showing at the Capitol Theater this morning, shoved in with fidgety kids, old people and mild hippies, most of who jeered at every sight of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

For conservatives, it was the belly of the beast, right on down to the near unanimous laughter at Rick Warren's invocation, particularly his faux-lful pronunciation of Ma-LI-a and Sa-SHA. Lord knows, hallowed be his name, that the fat man was over the top.

Also, someone should've reminded Pastor Warren that Barack Obama was not actually an immigrant. And I'm sure a certain segment of the American population couldn't have been happy about this line from Warren.

Help us, o God, to remember that we are Americans united not by race or religion or blood, but by our commitment to freedom and justice for all.

For good measure, Warren even tossed in some eschatology to fit in with Obama's campaign message of hope.

And may we never forget that one day all nations and all people will stand accountable before you.

But it wasn't just the preacher who gave me pause. I was taken aback by Sen. Diane Feinstein's violence plagued words, and the contrast between the man of the hour's, frankly, cocky facial expression and the oath flub (or was that your fault, Justice Roberts).

Yet the defining picture of today's events were the people. Over a million jammed in from the capitol steps all the way to the Washington monument filled with chanting and tear-tracked faces, and even the fire hazard aisles of our own little movie theater, where an overflow crowd craned their necks from the concession stand just to catch a glimpse of what they knew was real history. The kind you wake up at 6:30AM for even after the luster of presidential politics had worn of months ago.

The final days of the Bush administration here along Budd Bay have been mired in a thick fog, a translucent darkness that you could see creeping up and down Capitol Way. When I walked out of the theater immediately upon President Obama's swearing-in around 9:05 in the morning, the fog was still lingering no doubt, but the sky was bright.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

End of an Error

Olympia, WA -

5:09 PM
The Fish Bowl has Hodgson's IPA on cask again for the first time in ages, and twelve ounces in I have to admit I'm not as happy about it as I thought I would be. The cask brings out more sweetness than I want, and far fewer hops.

I'm a man of simple needs, but bitter hops is one of them. Damn you, cask o' Hodgsons.

But the real question, as far as hops go, comes down to whether or not I'll have the balls to turn down the waitress when she comes by and, seeing my nearly empty glass, asks me if I'd like another. Lord knows I should hit pause right now and try to get a 25-minute run in before the night gets ugly.
---
5:25 PM

I failed. If it had been any one besides the Pittsburgh Steelers waitress in a lovely layered skirt I might have had the strength, but tonight she's a beauty and, like she said, "you might as well."

"Fuck it," I replied.

That combination of phrases could turn out to be the death of me.
----
5:31 PM

Otherwise today has been somewhat of an epic day, as far as this week is concerned.

Back on Sunday night, my abs, sides and lower back became sore, and only increased in intensity as the week went on. I first thought it was just been fallout from Sunday afternoon's clam digging session, but as the intensity increased and drifted away from my stomach and into my back, I became worried that the logical answer pointed either to liver damage or cancer.

Adding insult to injury, I spent the entirety of Monday night in an insomniacal stupor, existing in a state of pure consciousness from noon Monday all the way through until 1 PM on Tuesday, lacking the wherewithal to fall asleep, though certainly not the desire.

I took a three and a half hour nap on Tuesday afternoon in order to avoid full zombie status before heading down to Centralia for an amazing bluegrass show with a band called Greensky, followed by an ill-advised stop along 4th Avenue once I returned to Olympia.

By late Wednesday night, when the internal soreness was at its peak, I was legitimately worried about these things and had even begun announcing my disease worries to whomever would listen.

Luckily I awoke Thursday morning to find the soreness had receded.

By Friday the soreness was completely gone, giving me the base of ecstasy that I had touched upon earlier, add a bit of good news on the job front, as well as an unanticipated gift in the mail from Solley, a pair of middle distance spikes that I promise to wear in as many beer miles and mile time trials as possible going forward, sprinkle in the goodwill that my beard has received around the coffee shops and hippie bars these last two weeks, and next thing you know I'll be back to sleeping twelve hours a day in no time.

Cheers to that.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Changing the Subject

Olympia, WA -

I have been meaning to write on any number of subjects besides my shitty, slow runs lately, but a lack of internet at home, and probably a little bit of fear, has kept me from it.

Shame on me, but look to the future, my friends, and wait.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Another run

Olympia, WA -

After four days off the wagon, I finally went for a run this morning right after I rolled off the couch at 12:30. I guess that's not morning, but coming on the heels of a night where I didn't even fall asleep until 12:30PM, I was willing to count it.

The loop was as usual, down to Eastbay Drive, around past the Farmer's Market, over to Capitol Lake, up the trails to the campus, down Capital Way, over to 4th Ave and back up Oly Street to Puget Street and back home.

This time, though, my pace was everywhere. Having just woken up, I creakily started off at 8 minute pace, including the downhill portion of SF Ave, before heating up once I hit downtown, rolling at nearly 7 flat through the streets and the campus until I hit the wall at East Bay.

Three blocks up Oly and I was ready to quit until I passed a woman in a black VW. She was applying lipstick with the aid of her rearview mirror to the sound of Jay-Z in a car that had seen more miles and cosmetic damage than even she. It was then that I knew I couldn't walk. So I pushed on, 8:40 pace and all, back to the house, hunched over on the back porch, wiped sweat onto my t-shirt, unlaced my shoes, drank some water and hit the showers with a banana and the remainder of last night's guava kombucha.

God, I remember the days when I only felt like that on every fifth twenty miler.

Old age, it is no joke. It is the truth.

Beers drunk so far
Hodgson's IPA
Fish Old Woody
PBR

Friday, January 9, 2009

First Mile

Olympia, WA -

Ever impatient, I decided on a whim this afternoon to set up a baseline for my attempt to once again break five minutes in the mile, and mark how long it takes me to do it.

Three blocks into an afternoon run that was prompted by equal parts ennui and ambition, I turned around to grab my watch and head over to Reeves Middle School for a this-is-how-far-I've-come time trial that I can look back on in the spring and laugh at, and possibly feel a sliver of pride.

I arrived at the track after a mile plus warm up, did a few strides and attempted to psyche myself up for my first race-like behavior in two months, and my first one miler since 2007.

Mostly, I just wanted to be able to say that I didn't give up at 800m and start jogging the rest of the way.

Turns out, that was easier said than done.

I honestly had no basis for my current race fitness, but estimated (and told at least a dozen people in an e-mail) that I could run a 5:40 while hoping I could surprise myself with a 5:34 and worrying that I wouldn't even be able to break six.

The plan of attack, after a couple minutes of internal debate between busting out gung-ho style with an :80 or pushing for even-to-negative with an :85, was to go for the :85, which I almost did.

After an opening :40, I came through in :83 for the first quarter, and by the 500m mark I knew I had no prayer at a 5:40. It was then that, not only did running sub-6 pace become really fucking hard, but I also saw a crisp dollar bill in lane three and I developed the urge to stop and pick it up.

Lap two was an :88.

Lap three, no surprise, was a :92. I was running 6:10 pace and feeling that old third lap feeling, which is a mixture of helplessness, dread, frustration and despair. I knew I could close with at least a 20 for my last hundred, but what would precede that?

I rolled through my penultimate 200m in :45, all but assuring me a sub-6 performance, but I would need to drop it down to 5 flat pace to break 5:50, which, this late into the race, was nothing but icing.

Turns out I pushed through that grueling final half lap in :40, good enough for a 5:51.88.

Ladies and gentlemen, a baseline.

Guarantee I break 5:40 next week. Guar-an-fucking-tee.

BTB


Beers drunk so far
Leavenworth Hodgon's IPA
Fish Tale Old Woody (on cask)