What You Will

Another Burma Shave billboard on the information superhighway. Random thoughts about arts, faith, culture, music, language, literature, and the shortcomings of the Hegelian dialectic. (OK, just kidding about that last bit.)

My Photo
Location: Edmonds, Washington, United States

I wonder what goes in this space?


Clueless in Seattle

Seattle has a reputation for civic niceness, for compromise, for letting people have their say and building consensus before moving forward. For bending over backward to avoid negativity.

I guess it works for some things, like building nice libraries and city halls and having a fairly thriving arts scene (except that midsize theatres are dying off one by one...but I digress).

But it absolutely hamstrings important decisions like where, when, and whether to build public transportation projects or freeway viaducts or halfway housing for sex offenders who've served their jail time. Inevitably these decisions bog down amid all the public hearings and votes and redesigns and whatnot, and the resulting compromise pleases no one.

At least that is what's widely believed. But there could be another explanation: Seattle hires too many stupid people. Here's Exhibit A, as reported by KING-5 TV:

1) Evidently City of Seattle employees are too dumb to heat up popcorn in the microwave without burning it;
2) and then their supervisors overreact by evacuating the building because of the burned popcorn;
3) and then they further overreact by threatening to enact a ban on microwave popcorn in city buildings.

If I were Robert Mak, the TV reporter who filed this segment, I wouldn't know whether to laugh or cry. Notice how the City's facilities manager can't give Robert a straight answer? About popcorn?


More Literary Action Figures

James Joyce
The first of our action figures with the built-in Recitation Feature — but pull that string at your own risk, unless you've got unlimited time on your hands. Generally well-behaved, but tends to stroll downtown and give public readings every June 16.

(I'll probably get in trouble for this next one, but here goes...)

L. Ron Hubbard
Complete with Private Yacht, Attendants, and Highly Fictionalized Autobiography, but no Passport available. Other accessories, including Complete Science Fiction Library and Mini E-Meter (works just like the real thing!), are sold separately, starting at $1,200, but they're worth whatever you have to sacrifice for them. Also sold separately: Premium Nutcase Celebrity accessory packages, as follows. $1 million: Isaac Hayes. $2 million: Kirstie Alley. $5 million: John Travolta. $25 million: Tom freakin' CRUISE, baby! (Oprah's Couch not included.) Sure, maybe you could get along without owning it, but you might want to ask yourself: "Am I a happy literary action figure collector?"

William S. Burroughs
The holes in the left arm are NOT a manufacturing defect, silly. They are in fact precision-engineered to fit the Needle accessory.

Jack Kerouac
Typewriter accessory features Endless Loop of Paper.

J. D. Salinger
Extremely limited edition. Currently out of stock.

Ian Fleming
The coolest accessory package, by far. But warn your other action figures not to borrow the Exploding Pen.

James Frey
Does it belong under Novelists, or Autobiographers? You decide.

e. e. cummings
because the
   shift key
      that's why.



A little random sequence of events in world news:

An Russian expat and former spy falls ill after meeting in Britain with an official of the Russian government...

Later, that ex-spy dies of radiation poisoning. Britain accuses the Russian official and demands his extradition. Russia refuses...

Meanwhile, disputes arise between Russia and the United States over, among other things, the proposed placement of U.S. missile defense systems in former Communist bloc nations. U.S. President Bush meets with Russian President Putin at the G-8 summit in Germany to discuss ways to resolve the dispute...

The next day, Bush falls ill and misses two scheduled appearances at the summit...

I'm not worried. Are you?