December 17, 2008


They should remake Cloverfield, except set it in Seattle and have a quarter-inch of snow as the monster.

November 01, 2007

Halloween: Post Mortem

We get no trick-or-treaters at our house. Zero. So we went over to the home of some friends, who live on Capitol Hill.

When they invited us, they made it sound like it would be a delightful, relaxing evening. Some food. A little wine. The occasional interruption by visiting children. Little did we know that we were being conscripted to work in their candy-handing-out sweatshop.

The quantity of trick-or-treaters they expected to receive was described to us as "a lot." I took this to mean, like, 100. Instead, it was more like "a throng" or "a battalion" ... possibly even "a multitude." I don't know what time they opened their front door (the insanity was already well on its way by the time we arrived at 6:00), but it did not close again until well after 9:00. The stream of kidmanity was ceaseless.

Handing out candy was a three-person operation: two stood on either side of the door, frantically shoving Fun-Sized Snickers bars and Laffy Taffy into the gaping maws of waiting bags; the third served as a kind of bucket brigade, feverishly scooping tooth-rot from the supply barrel and feeding it to the hander-outers, to ensure that their ammunition never ran low. Any hesitation and we would get overwhelmed. At one point a surge of kids drove us back into the house; the doorframe filled with a mass of costume-clad bodies, threatening to explode into the foyer if the pressure behind them continued to swell. We began just hurling handfuls of candy at the crowd, the high-caloric equivalent of firing a shotgun indiscriminately into an approaching zombie horde.

Our friends had purchased 100 pounds of candy; by the end of the evening, every last Tootsie Roll had been distributed.

Some observations from the front lines:

  • The most common non-generic costume ("generic" being define as a mainstay: pirate, ninja, superhero, witch, sexy ______, etc.) was Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. A surprising number Dorothys. But perhaps not as surprising as the four different kids dressed as bananas. Am I so out-of-touch that I've missed the resurgence of the banana as a pop culture icon?
  • Also in the "more popular than you'd expect" column: penguins, Boba Fett, Santa Claus.
  • Favorite costume (tie): the two teens dressed as Jemaine and Bret. Bret had disheveled hair and a guitar strapped to his back; Jemaine had muttonchops and was crooning about how he was going to buy us a kebab. When The Queen and I complemented them on their costumes, they looked astonished. "Do you know who we are?" one asked. Sure, the Flight of the Conchords guys, we replied. "You're the first people all night!" they cried. "We have a fan!"
  • Second favorite costume: kid dressed up like a box of Chinese take-out.
  • A homemade costume is, by default, 30 x more awesome than any store-bought costume. Fact! I would refer doubters to this photo.
  • On the porch, standing next to the door, was a plastic skeleton with a long, curly dark wig and gummy eyeballs in its sockets. Early in the night, one young boy looked at it and exclaimed, "It's Michael Jackson!" He wasn't joking; he honestly mistook it for Captain EO. We though that was pretty hilarious / odd. Then, an hour later, another kid had the exact same reaction. And 20 minutes later, another. All were totally sincere; we were completely baffled.

    At the end of the night a few of us stood around it, trying to figure out the resemblance. "Well, it doesn't have a nose," my friend observed. "And it's about the same shade of white."

  • The only thing more shameful than waking up after a night of heavy drinking to find a stranger in your bed is waking up the night after Halloween to find your jacket pocket literally bulging with empty candy wrappers.

October 18, 2007

Local News: Blows!

Seattle has been rocked by, like, 14 mph winds today. So naturally the local media is reacting as if flesh-eating marmosets devoured the mayor.


Please to be noting:

  • Video caption reading "One man was forced to hold onto a tree to keep from being blown over."
  • Actual video shows man using single hand to grasp sapling about 1/50th his diameter and approximately 1° off perpendicular from the ground.
  • Lovable seven-year-old ragamuffin nonchalantly walks his bicycle past in the background.
You can't truly appreciate the devastation until you've seen the raw footage. (Warning: contains scenes of umbrella carnage not suitable for all viewers.)

Of course HOLY SHIT WINDSTORM 2007!!! did manage knock out power at my house, which left me without access to online porn for an hour or so. Fortunately I have a copy of the 1977 Sears Catalog in our emergency kit for just such a contingency.

June 22, 2007

Sick Leave

Sorry for the lack of posts, but I've been sick as a dog.

If you scour my previous entries, you may craftily deduce the identity of the infecter.

April 25, 2007

Seattle Follies

Last Friday I got email from my friend Phyllis Fletcher:

To: Matthew
From: Phyllis
Subject: Help--need jokes!!

I will represent KUOW at Town Hall's Seattle Follies, Thu April 26, 7:30PM. Send me some jokes!


* * *

To: Phyllis
From: Matthew
Subject: Re: Help--need jokes!!

How many Seattlites does it take to replace a light bulb?

One to propose replacing it with a traditional light bulb, one to propose replacing it with a energy-efficient fluorescent bulb, one to propose replacing it with a single candle in protest of the Iraq war, and 100,000 to vote on a non-binding referendum.


* * *

To: Matthew
From: Phyllis
Subject: Re: Help--need jokes!!

Hahaha. But I will be delivering a fake newscast, so what I really need are jokey/satirical news items.


* * *

To: Phyllis
From: Matthew
Subject: Re: Help--need jokes!!

The Seattle City Council voted unanimously today to reappropriate the $4 billion currently earmarked for the 520 floating bridge replacement project. The funds will now be given to the research department of Blue Origin, to be used for the development of jetpacks and hoverboards. Richard Conlin, chairman of the council's state Route 520 committee, defended the decision, pointing out that the creation of such alternative commuter technology for crossing Lake Washington would likely require less time and prove more feasible than finding a 520 plan everyone can agree on.

Meanwhile, the Seattle chapter of NORML unveiled another 520 replacement proposal last Friday at the Hempfest benefit concert: the 420 floating bridge. The six-lane "high-way" would have a speed limit of 7 miles an hour and just kind of meander around aimlessly, without any real direction.


In a recent memo to employees, CEO Howard Schultz said that Starbucks had "lost its soul". Schultz last remembers having the soul while visiting one of the Seattle-area coffeeshops, but is unable to recall which one; Starbucks personnel are currently searching the 850,000 downtown Starbucks outlets, an operation they expect to conclude by 2019. In the meantime, Starbucks patrons are asked to be on the lookout for nutty and aromatic soul with overtones of cocoa and a pleasingly complex aftertaste.


After weeks of searching, The Bush Administration has finally found a candidate for the newly created position of War Czar. General Alexander Mullen accepted the offer earlier this morning, and immediately performed his one and only duty: accepted full responsibility for the bungled efforts in Iraq and offered his resignation. To the surprise of Rove, Cheney, and the others who had engineered the plan, Bush unexpectedly rejected Mullen's resignation, and vowed to resist all calls to let the General go. "The Mullman has been doing a heck of a job in his three hours of Czaring," the president said at an early afternoon press conference, "he's a good American, and I stand by him." Mullen--who was hastily given a cubicle, desk, and computer--is expected to play minesweeper until the troop pullout begins in January of 2009.


Update: I just sent this as well:
Scott McClellan announced yesterday that he is writing a memoir, to be published next spring. In the book--which covers the former press secretary's childhood, entry into politics, and prominent position in the Bush Administration--McClellan will insist that he already addressed these topics in earlier statements, refuse to answer hypotheticals, and reiterate his longstanding policy of not commenting on his life while it is currently in progress.
Can't really take credit for that one, pretty much wrote itself.

August 31, 2006

A Walk In The Park

I wrote a tribute to Seattle's park system and it's available today at The Morning News.

August 10, 2006

Where There's Smoke There's Ire

If you drive around downtown Seattle long enough, eventually you'll see the billboard of a little girl eating a dead, bloodied rat. (Warning: the hypertext immediately preceding this sentence reading "a little girl eating a dead, bloodied rat" links to a picture of a little girl eating a dead, bloodied rat.) It's a wonderful thing to see as I'm commuting to work. One moment I'm humming along, fantasizing about the two Top Pot donuts I'm going to buy from the corner bakery when I arrive at the office, and the next I'm looking at a 20 ft. high portrayal of rodentaphagy.

The aim of the billboard is not to ensure that I maintain my girlish figure. It is, in fact, an anti-smoking ad. Below the picture is the text "Kissing A Smoker Is Just As Gross," along with the slogan "Tobacco Smokes You." You can find our more that their website,, which has the following in the "keywords" section of its HTML header:

Ashtraymouth, ashtray mouth, Kissing a smoker, Tobacco smokes you, Kissing a smoker is just as gross, Don't kiss a smoker, Yuck Chuck Challenge, Spin the Bottle and smoking, Gross Factor and smoking, Gross things and smoking, Eating a dead rat, Eating a cockroach, Eating roadkill, Eating a hairball, Eating cat throw-up, Eating a dirty sock...
All of this courtesy of the Washington State Department of Health.

To be fair, the billboard doesn't show an actual photograph of a girl. It's more like an adorable Nightmare Before Christmas-style doll eating a dead, bloody rat. The whole thing looks like something a emo girl would have tattooed on her lower back and then publish a picture of on her MySpace page. But, still.

This is not the first time that the WSDOH has used gross-out tactics to discourage people from smoking. I remember back in the 90's I used to watch reruns of The Simpsons at 6:30 and, during the first commercial break, the screen would invariably get filled with a shot of diseased lung tissue. Just what you wanna see during the dinner hour.

I don't smoke, and never have. So why am I subjected to this stuff? The fact that I'm paying for it as well just twists the knife. There's much ado about the perils of secondhand smoke, but who's raging against the scourge of secondhand smoker education? I mean, let's face it: at this point I would pretty much have to voluntarily put myself in the position of inhaling secondhand smoke (especially since the passage of Initiative 901, Washington's recent paean to the Nanny State), while these unappetizing ads are erected in the middle of our public square.

For that matter, why should smokers be subjected to these? These billboards don't even offer education, only condemnation. At least when they cut from Ralph Wiggum to lip cancer, they were showing you something connected to the hazards of smoking. What the hell does a billboard of Gothy McMopper eating rat-on-the-cob have to do with anything? They aren't supplying smokers with the facts so they can make informed decision anymore -- now their goal, as near as I can tell, is simply to make smoking Not Enjoyable. I dislike your habit, so I'm going to make you dislike it too. It's aversion therapy without the high electrical bill.

When you think about it, though, this ad isn't even for smokers. It says "Kissing A Smoker Is Just as Gross," implying that this billboard is aimed at friends of smokers. That's right: we're paying the state to run ads to train us to shun people for smoking. Jeeze, I can't imagine why the folks in this city are perpetually pissed off about taxes.

June 16, 2006

Blue State Skies

The Queen: I think Bush is in town for a few days.

Me: He was just here this morning. He left a few hours ago.

The Queen: Ah. I wondered why the sun came back out.

June 14, 2006

A Pitcher's Worth A Thousand Words

I get a lot email. Not all of it is mine.

To: Matthew Baldwin
From: Geoffrey Ambler
Subject: Friday Night

Hey Matt,

I was talking to frazz last night and we were talking about how we should have a late night dinner before we go out of friday. I have work til like 630 on friday and then I am coming into the city with bull should be there by 9. Make a reservation somewhere for like 930. I mean bars don't get good til after 11- 1130 anyway. We might aswell eat and drink and then drink drink delta til 6 am. Let me know what you think?

I love you,

* * *

To: Geoffrey Ambler
From: Matthew Baldwin
Subject: Re: Friday Night

Hey, Geoff. This sounds great, except I think you're probably talking about a different city than the one I live in (Seattle). Also, you may have intended this to go to a different Matthew Baldwin. Sounds like a good time, though.

Best to frazz and bull,

* * *

To: Matthew Baldwin
From: Geoffrey Ambler
Subject: Re: Friday Night

You know what you're right the baldwin I am talking about is straight. You must be his gay twin who his fucking Jamie Moyer (pitcher for the seattle mariners). I'm sorry man I won't bother you anymore. Seattle, huh, doesn't it rain 23 hours a day 6 days a week there?

Best to grunge rock and starbucks!

* * *

To: Geoffrey Ambler
From: Matthew Baldwin
Subject: Re: Friday Night

Oh hey man, I thought you knew: Jamie Moyer (pitcher for the seattle mariners) and I broke up back in February. It was probably for the best. Honestly, we'd been drifting apart for years. He spent so much time on the road with the team, and I was spending so much time on my latch-hook ... you know how it goes. We were really only staying together for the kids there at the end, you know?

I still see him occationally, at Starbucks or grunge music concerts. He's moved on now, I guess -- got a new guy named Trevor or Tyler or something.

Thanks for asking, though -- it means a lot to me that you care.

Well, too bad Friday night didn't work out for us. I guess I'll just stay at home this weekend. Been doing that a lot, lately. Just staying home and listening to the rain and thinking about Jamie. We had some great times together, me and Jamie. Some really great times.

I love you too,

May 25, 2006

The Most Loneliest Jack of My Life

You know who the most boring people in the world are? People who describe television commercials to those who haven't seen them.

And yet ...

So there’s this television commercial running here in Seattle for a radio station called "Jack FM." (Note: I only saw the ads once, so everything that follows is a Dramatic Recreation, and could be 100% misremembered / wrong.) It features a guy throwing his Nirvana and Pearl Jam CDs into a dustbin, while a voiceover says: "Tired of hearing to the same old music, Seattle? Jack FM is liberating listeners from the same-old same-old." And, to illustrate the point, Joan Jett’s "I Love Rock And Roll" kicks in at that moment.

Omigod, "I Love Rock And Roll" by Joan Jett! Boy, that sure takes me back. All the way back to the last time I heard that song, which, at any given point in my adult life, has never been longer than 72 hours.

I actually listened to Jack 96.5 once. I was tooling around the FM dial one afternoon and stumbled across this bizarro station that featured "the best of the 80’s, 90’s and today" and no DJs whatsoever. They played a series of hits so familiar that you could belt out any one of them at karaoke even after imbibing several gallons of sake, and occasionally, between songs, a prerecorded voice would come on and bellow some nonsensical phrase, usually a cliché with one random word replaced with "Jack" (e.g., "A fool and his Jack are soon parted!" or "A Jack and his money are soon parted!" or "A fool and his money Jack soon parted!")

In other words, Jack FM is just about the farthest thing from The Same-Old Same-Old Liberation Front imaginable. I’d speculate that the music was programmed in a nondescript building somewhere in the Midwest if I thought it was programmed at all; instead I’m guessing there’s an 500-song iPod somewhere hooked up to a radio antenna and set on perpetual shuffle-play. And yet here's this ad, promoting Jack FM as the Really Real For-Real Alternative Radio Station, bold enough to play those songs that have been heard at every single wedding reception since 1979. You could pretty much hear the same playlist (with none of the commercials) by locking yourself in the bathroom of your local grocery store.

If George Orwell were like George Lucas (and less dead), constantly going back and inserting new material into his masterpiece, he'd probably add "CONFORMITY IS REBELLION" to the list of Oceania's Party slogans. YES IM SO INCENSED I HAVE NO RECOURSE BUT TO MAKE A 1984 REFERENCE!!

(After writing the above I checked out the Wikiepedia entry on Jack FM, which reads "The stations are officially classified as the Variety Hits or Adult Hits format ... but listeners sometimes refer to the stations as random radio or an 'iPod shuffle.'" WTF -- I though I came up with that "iPod shuffle" line. Apparently you can't even talk about Jack FM without becoming banal. And here's an article from Business Week on the Jack FM business model, in case you're interested.)

As long as I'm in Cranky Old Man mode, here, have you heard "Lonely Day," this new song by System Of A Down? I'm not one of those people who reflexively badmouths Top 40 music -- I own both a Blink 182 and a Third Eye Blind CD, for crissakes, and have even defended Creed in my day -- but Great Grandmother of Cher is this song ever bad.

The music itself is forgettable, but the lyrics would probably sweep the Bulwer-Lytton contest. Here's how it starts:

Such a lonely day
And its mine
The most loneliest day of my life

Such a lonely day
Should be banned
This day that I can't stand

The most loneliest day of my life
The most loneliest day of my life ...

You heard the man, kids: "most loneliest." I have no objection to a songwriter sticking an extra word in here and there to make a line fit the meter, but we're talking about the motherloving chorus. And each line of the chorus contains eight beats, while the phrase "the most loneliest day of my life" contains nine. That's right, the signer shoehorns a superfluous "most" into a line that would otherwise have been both grammatically and metrically correct, and then rushes through the word "loneliest" to compensate. (You sort of have to listen to the song to appreciate this, but -- let me state this plainly -- I am not recommending you do.)

I'm willing to overlook the fact that he begins by rhyming "mine" with "life" since it's well nigh impossible to find any words that rhymes with either. And I assume that the misuse of the word "its" in the second line above is the fault of whomever transcribed the song's lyrics onto the website I stole them from. But, honestly, this song is so awful I can almost hear the apostrophes's absence when it comes on the radio.

It's no "Brass Monkey" by the Beastie Boys, but it's a bad one for the ages, that's for certain. If you haven't heard it yet, don't you worry. I'm sure it will be in heavy rotation on Jack FM by 2015 or so.

April 24, 2006

Take Your Best Shot

Conversation with a fellow dad over drinks:

Me: How old is your son, now?

A: Five and a half.

M: Going into kindergarten next year, then?

A: Yeah. That's kind of a hot topic of debate at our house these days. He's currently going to Montessori, and we have to decide if we're going to put him in public school.

M: Right. And you, bleeding heart liberal that you are, are advocating public schools. Because you want to give your child a ruinous education and score a few cheap political points.

A: Exactly. In fact, that's kind of the problem: the Seattle school system is actually pretty good, so it's not even like we're throwing him to the wolves. It's more like we're throwing him to a bunch of puppies. It doesn't burnish our liberal credentials at all.

M: That's rough, man. Well, look at the bright side: the way things are going, I'm sure the "Indeterminate War On Terror" will still be in full swing 13 years from now. So you can always encourage your son to enroll him in the military after high school, thereby proving some sort of political point or another.

A: Hmm, that's a thought. Of course, if we don't put him in public school he'll probably wind up in a specialized military academy for Montessori graduates. They'll be all, like, "We're not going to tell you who to shoot. Just get out there on the battlefield and express yourself."

March 13, 2006

Material Girl

It's the first sunny day Seattle has seen in a season, and a man in the park is doing tai chi. He performs some maneuvers slowly, methodically, concentrating on his every move. Then he settles cross-legged onto the grass and closes his eyes. His muscles go limp, the emotion drains from his face. He recedes into himself, severing his ties to our world, ridding himself of his Earthly burdens.

He reopens his eyes just as a pretty girl walks by. He cranes his neck to watch her pass. Suddenly the material plane ain't lookin' half bad.

January 24, 2006

I Heart The Seahawks!!!!

I went out for a jog around my neighborhood yesterday afternoon around 4:00. About halfway through I started to get that eerie "it's quiet ... a little too quiet ..." feeling. There were no pedestrians on the sidewalks, no cars on the street. It wasn't until I realized that the windows of every house on the block were flashing in blue-white synchronization that I started to remember. A big TV event? Something about a sport, or something?

Ah yes. That. How could I have forgotten.

Actually, forgetting hadn't been difficult at all, as I have never cared about football. Honestly, I don't care about any sports, but at least I have friends who are fans of the Seattle Mariners and the Seattle Sonics, and keep me somewhat abreast of the baseball and basketball season. But as I only have one person in my circle of acquaintances that is enthusiastic about football -- and the only team she follows is the Green Bay Packers -- it's perhaps unsurprising that I was out trotting around, blissfully ignorant about The Biggest Football Game In Seattle History.

When I got back home I turned on the TV to see the status of the game. I still didn't care, but it was like checking the weather. I wanted to see if the 14-day forecast for Seattle showed dark clouds of Football Fandom amassing on Seattle's horizon, or whether we would dodge that particular storm.

Incredibly, the former appeared to be the case. The Seattle Seahawks were leading the Mumble* Panthers 27-7 in the fourth quarter of the NFC Championship. (* I'm embarrassed to admit I don't even know where the Panthers hail from.) ( I'm not actually embarassed.)

Without turning off the TV I left the room for a few minutes. When I returned, The Queen was stationed in front of the television, gawping in amazement. "The Seahawks are going to the Superbowl!" she shouted with what sounded suspiciously like real enthusiasm. My god, I though, they've already got my wife!

Anyhow, it appears that Seattle has abruptly become A Town That Gives A Rats Ass About Football, and everyone is now scrambling to prove that they were fans waaaaay before last weekend. Fortunately, I was able to unearth this photo, demonstrating that, at at least on point in my life, (I / my father) cared enough about the team to (wear a piece of Seahawks-related apparel / dress me in a piece of Seahawks-related apparel for picture day). PUT THAT IN YOUR ENDZONE AND, um, TACKLE IT, YOU BANDWAGON HOPPING JOHNNY-COME-LATELYS!

Of course, now I am on the horns of a real dilemma. Because even as a kid, I didn't really care about football, except insofar as it was expected of me. So while I publicly pledged allegiance to the Seahawks, I secretly rooted for another team, from another state entirely. Why were they my favorites and not the Seahawks? Simple: they had the coolest looking helmets in the league.

That team was the Stealers -- and that's who the Seahawks will face on February 5, 2006, in the Superbowl. What's a fair-weather fan to do?

Update: I have been informed that the actual name of our rival is "the Steelers." Wha-?! The other reason I liked them as a kid was because they had a cool, rougey name, like the Raiders and the Pirates. Now I learn that they are named after a metal alloy? GO SEAHAWKS!!

January 06, 2006

Another Awesome Seattle Weekend


You know how, in science-fiction movies, every world has a single, defining characteristic? It's always, like, The Desert Planet or The Ice Planet or The Swamp Planet or The Lava Planet?

I have apparently been marooned on The Planet Of Perpetually Shitty Weather, populated by a race of pale, damp creatures who subsist exclusively on coffee, and spend their days fretting about the standing water in their crawl spaces.

December 01, 2005

Snow Advisory

Attention citizens the Greater Seattle Metropolitan Area. As we have now received 1/16th of an inch of snow, municipal code N-774290.4.c is in effect, requiring all drivers currently on the roads to drive their vehicle into a ditch at the earliest convenient moment. If you are unable to do so, because your nearest ditch is already filled with vehicles, you may instead precipitate either a rear-ender or a fender-bender. Your compliance will ensure that local news stations have no difficulty obtaining footage for their "BlizzardWatch '05!!" coverage, which began three days ago and will continue until the last sludgy lump of ice has melted from the median of I-5.

Residents should also be aware that all chit-chat, small talk, and informal shit shooting must, by law, be confined exclusively to weather-related topics for the next 48 hours. We thank you for your cooperation.

October 17, 2005

The Slump

You'd think that with all the calamities that have recently befallen the White House -- the fallout from the Katrina response, the Plame investigation, the Miers nomination, the Delay indictment, the disastrous Tikrit teleconference, etc. -- we progressives would be gloating every chance we got. Actually, I've noticed that most of my friends daren't even mention the current state of the executive branch, as if they were afraid of jinxing things. It's like we're seven innings into a no-hitter, but no one wants to mention this fact aloud.

Or it could just be that we here in Seattle are so familiar with this particular brand of meltdown that it hardly bears mentioning any more. Because the trajectory of the Bush Administration almost perfectly parallel any given season of our beloved (and occationally behated) hometome baseball team, the Seattle Mariners.

Things start out promising and soon they are flying high, packing the stadium every night and well over five hundred. But then, just after the mid-season All-Star game (which, in thins case, would coincide with the 2004 election), things start to go south. Soon they go into a full-on tailspin: they can't do anything right, they routinely snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, the fair-weather fans desert them, and even the season-ticket holders start grousing about the lousy management.

On the bright side, the Bush administration will probably trade John Bolton to Paraguay for a young but promising diplomat and a yes-man to be named later, and begin scheduling events like a "Press Secretary Night" where the first 10,000 visitors to the White House receive a commemorative "Scotty's A Hotty" jersey and get to attend a special ceremony where they retire Ari Fleischer's number.

October 12, 2005

Souled Out

Hey, have you heard that new Death Cab For Cutie song, "Soul Meets Body?" Oh boy, I have. I'm listening to it right now! And I don't just mean "I'm listening to it as I type these words," I mean "I'm probably listening to it at the exact moment you read these words, regardless of when that might be."

Every radio station in Seattle has that thing on, like, 24-hour rotation. In fact, I'm pretty sure that most Seattle DJ's are just putting track two of the "Plans" CD on repeat at the start of their shift and then kicking back for four hours. The only time it's not playing is when the DJs come on the air to boast that they are the only station in America with the balls to play such an obscure, indie, local band.

Seriously, that song is becoming 2005's "Hey Ya," at least here in the Northwest. Every station is playing it, regardless of format: top 40, alternative, "alternative," adult contemporary, NPR/olde tymey guys-shouting-songs-through-megaphones, Spanish language (Cuando Alma Encuentra Cuerpo), conservative talk radio ("... the question we should be asking Harriet Miers is 'Do you believe that soul meets body at conception?'"), etc. I wouldn't be surprised if, starting tomorrow, we started hearing this:

This station is conducting a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. This is only a test.

"When soul meets bah-deeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee..."

October 05, 2005

when you ask

when you ask
when you   ask
the love
of your
(of your
of your

you want to give
          to give
(custom design
one of a kind) 
you want   to give
an engagement ring
not to be found
the          finger
of            anyone

we have the largest
of engagement rings
engagement rings
are what we do
             (i do)  
              and all we do
are engagement rings

unlike that fucker
        that fucker
tom shane
                    - e. e. robbins

July 19, 2005

Estate Planning

If anyone in Seattle wants to recommend a lawyer for estate planning, drop me a line or mention them in the comments. I need to get a will and a living will, and would prefer not to pay so much that there's nothing left to bequeath. Suggestions for estate planning software packages are also welcomed, thanks.

July 13, 2005

Oh My God, It's Full Of Stars

The new Google Earth application lets you zoom in on any place in the world, and then overlay the satellite image with the locations of commonly-searched for establishments, such as grocery stores, bars, and schools.

On an online forum I frequent, someone posted this Google Earth map:

That's pretty amazing but, frankly, I find this even more telling.

June 20, 2005


We're having one of our rare bouts of sunny weather here in Seattle, and man am I exhausted. I must suffer from some kind of reverse photosynthesis. It's, like, the more direct sunlight I receive, the less energy I have.

Maybe it's an adaptation, having been raised in the perpetually overcast Pacific Northwest. Maybe our bodies are trained to think that there is only one explanation for a bright light in the heavens: God has come to take us home. So just lay down, lay down and sleep.

June 14, 2005


This may be the last post ever on defective yeti, as I started this blog with one main objective and that objective has now been fulfilled.

Yes, O envious Internet: I met Mighty Girl.

Long-time readers know that I have based my entire on-line literary career on Margaret Mason's model: Mighty Girl started a blog devoted to conversations overheard on public transportation, so I started a blog devoted to conversations overheard on public transportation; Mighty Girl became a contributing writer for The Morning News, so I became a contributing writer for The Morning News; Mighty Girl launched a profitable website called Mighty Goods and started writing for The New York Times, so I often daydream about launching a profitable website and writing for The New York Times while squandering my life away playing Kingdom of Loathing. Fortunately, I hold an edge on Mighty Girl in one key category: production of small people. So when Mr. and Mr. Girl rolled into town last Wednesday, they requested an audience with The Squirrelly. It took some wheedling, but eventually they said I could come along as well.

We agreed to meet for lunch. The Squirrelly, perhaps sensing the momentousness of the occasion, spent all morning preparing. First, he woke up an hour earlier than he usually does. I realize that the non-parents in the crowd don't recognize this as Ominous Foreshadowing, but when you're going to take a toddler out in public around his usual naptime, any change in regular sleep patterns is as foreboding as a shark filled with nitroglycerin. Worse, The Squirrelly has music class on Wednesday mornings, which is applesauce's only serious rival for the title of "Best Thing In The Universe" in his opinion. During music class the two teachers play guitar and sing while the babies and their parents sit quietly and listen enraptured -- all the babies, that is, except The Squirrelly, who spends the hour racing around the room like an balloon released before it's tied closed.

So by our prearranged meeting time The Squirrelly was both sleepy and tired. He had, in fact, fallen asleep in his carseat moments before we arrived at the hotel. Unfortunately I had arranged to meet them inside the lobby, so I had no choice but to wake him up and carry him in. So Margaret and Bryan's first look at my child was as he was curled up on my chest, blinking sleepily and completely docile. I should have been wearing a t-shirt reading "WARNING: TODDLERS ON SHOULDER ARE CRANKIER THAN THEY APPEAR."

We headed down to The Bell Street Diner, got a table, and strapped The Squirrelly into a high chair. He immediately set about demonstrating the suitability of his nickname, squirming about with such velocity that I was afraid he might pull a Flash and vibrate himself into another dimension. In an attempt to calm him down, I pulled out his bowl of food and set in front of him. He immediately began grabbing handfuls of avocado and cramming it into his maw. Remembering that I was sitting across from a woman who writes columns on etiquette, I said, "uh, we read that it's empowering to allow toddlers to feed themselves like that, using their hands," i.e., his complete lack of decorum is the result of a deliberate philosophy, and not because he is being raised by a race of subterranean lizardmen who live in our crawlspace.

Fortunately, I had an unexpected ally in Bryan. "Wow, lookit him go!" he cried with genuine enthusiasm. "He's just shovelling it on in there!"

I spent the rest of the meal dividing my attention between my guests and my son, the former of which was politely asking me questions about my life and family, the latter of which grabbed everything within reaching distance and dropped it on the floor like he had been deputized to enforce the law of gravity. As a result, I have pretty much no recollection of our conversation. I do remember, though, that at one point The Squirrelly got so fussy that Margaret scooped him up and carried him around the restaurant, pointing out things and speaking to him quietly. Act like a savage and you get cuddles from Mighty Girl: take note, people.

(If "Touched By An Angel" has a spin-off show called "Cuddled By A Mighty Girl" I would totally watch it.)

All-in-all a complete debacle, I'd say! So we tried again later that evening, this time removing The Squirrelly from the equation and replacing him with The Queen and copious amounts of alcohol. We met at Cyclops for cocktails, and then moved on to the Dahlia Lounge for after-cocktails cocktails and six dollar doughnuts.

And I'm happy to report that Mighty Girl is every bit as charming as you'd expect, one of those rare Internet personalities that turns out to be as engaging in real life as they are on their site. And whatta great guy, that Bryan. If airplanes ran on charisma these two could fly around the world.

Naturally I have no photographic evidence of any of this, because I am a very poor blogger. But it all happened, I swear.

P.S. Seattlites will be pleased to know that I did my level best to convince the duo to move to our fine city. I think we have a shot, too -- so long as they never do the math and realize that Seattle will one day be home to a teenaged Squirrelly, roaming the streets.

P.P.S. Those six dollar doughnuts at the Dahlia Lounge were freakin' awesome.

May 12, 2005

A Run Around Lake Union

My friend Kate Bicket and I collaborated on a Seattle-centric photo essay called A Run Around Lake Union, appearing today in The Morning News.

January 12, 2005

Windows Pain

Wow, two anti-Microsoft posts in the last week -- what's up with that? I'm usually not a MS hayta -- I'm a linux and firefox guy myself, but I like Word and Publisher just fine. But driving home from work yesterday I heard a story on the local NPR station about how Microsoft was announcing yet another "critical" safety flaw in Internet Explorer, and I remember thinking, "Jesus, haven't I heard this exact same story, like, twice a month for the last four years?"

That's one bummer about living in Seattle: everytime there's a new vulnerability found in Windows we hear about it on the local news. At this point, the NPR affiliate probably just has a standard 30-second "Internet Explorer" piece that they use whenever they need to pad out their show a bit.

August 16, 2004

Holding Back The Giggles

Confidential to the guy in sunglasses and muscle shirt who was driving around downtown Seattle this afternoon in a tricked-out, bright red convertible with the top down: your Herculean efforts to look cool are being largely negated by the fact that you are blasting Simply Red's "Holding Back the Years" at volume 11.

July 27, 2004

Rabid 'Bout Reading

Waiting for a bus in downtown Seattle, I see a disheveled and possibly deranged man with an enormous duffle bag sidling down the sidewalk, stopping to bellow "Are you going to the library?!" at each and every person in turn. Most ignore him until he moves on, but some -- out of compulsive politeness, or because they have somehow mistaken this raving for a sincere query -- begin to reply "No, I'm waiting for my --" at which point the man cuts them short with an impassioned and spittle-intensive "GO TO THE LIBRARY!!!"

I dunno. Call me cynical, but I just don't think Seattle's literacy program is all that effective.

July 13, 2004

Three Items That Have Pretty Much Nothing In Common
  1. Seattleites! Here's a Excel spreadsheet listing Happy Hours of local watering holes. Don't say I never gave you nuthin'.
  2. New fathers! Whoa, Be Prepared: A Practical Handbook For New Fathers is a great, great book. When I saw it at the library I almost left it behind because it looked too jokey, but it actually turns out to one of the most useful new parent guides I've read thus far. New papas: read it; new mamas: pick it up for the spouse. For more info check out this review from Daddy Types.
  3. People who have just taken drugs! This is perhaps the most mesmerizing animated gif of all time.

April 05, 2004

When You Rage Against The Machine, You Rage Against Me

There are perks to fatherhood I never dreamed of.

Over the weekend, for example, I was walking through Pinoneer Square with The Squirrelly in a Baby Bjorn when I saw some youths on the upcoming corner handing out fliers about an upcoming protest of some sort. This is not an uncommon sight in Seattle, which has reinvented itself as Protest City since the whole WTO debacle of '99. George Bush, free trade, carnivory, illegality of marijuana, Clay Risen not winning American Idol, compulsory pants-wearing -- you name it, someone's got a protest scheduled for it next weekend in Seattle.

(Sometimes you don't even know what the people are protesting. I was on the bus last week and we passed by a municipal building were half a dozen people sat listlessly on the sidewalk while a women with a bullhorn shouted "What do we want?! {pause} When do when want it?! {pause}" The other participants were too engrossed in their own conversations to respond, so, alas, I was never able to ascertain what it was that they wanted, nor in what approximate time frame they desired it to occur.)

Anyway, there I was, walking toward the corner, and this kid was thrusting his protest fliers at everyone who passed. Most people were taking them out of habit, because people in Seattle are too polite not to take a flier from some kid protesting daylight savings time or whatever. And I, sadly, having lived in Seattle all my life, am one of these people who cannot not take fliers; worse, once saddled with a flier I cannot bring myself to throw it away, what with paper being a recyclable and all, so I wind up carry it around all day and eventually taking it home and leaving it on the dining room table where The Queen will later find it and wonder if I'm really going to attend a rally protesting "500 Years Of Polenta."

I tried to dodge around the youth, but he saw me and extended his arm toward me, flier in hand. Instinct kicked in and I started to reach for it. But then he saw the baby strapped to my torso and turned to some other passerby, handing him the flier instead.

It took me a moment to realize what had happened, but, when I did, I was jubilant. I was all, like, "that's right, don't even hand me a flier, punk: I reproduced and am part of the corporate, conforming, consumerist culture now! Hell, this kid's wearing a Baby Gap onesie right now: booyah!"

Seriously, I was totally all like that.

Update: Protesters in Westlake Park.

October 29, 2003

I Raised Her Good

Ma Baldwin phones from the East Coast.

Ma: I got a question for you.

Me: Shoot.

Ma: Your dad and I were at church, and I was telling some people about Seattle and what a big music place it is. But I couldn't remember the name of that one band. That band you like.

Me: [Inwardly sighs] Nirvana. You're probably thinking of Nirvana, Ma.

Ma: Not Nirvana. After Nirvana.

Me: Pearl Jam?

Ma: No, no. This is a newer band. All women. And they're named after a street, a street in Olympia, I think.

Me: Named after a ... Wait, Sleater-Kinney?!

Ma: That's it, Sleater-Kinney. I couldn't remember their name.


Ma: Hello? Are you still there?

Me: Yeah, yeah, I'm here. I'm just kind of, you know -- I'm all choked up with pride right now.

October 23, 2003

The Seattle Three-Day Forecast

Chance of continued, heavy showers: 70%

Chance of continued, tedious, "most rain in 50 years" chit-chat with coworkers and acquaintances: 100%

October 07, 2003


There was yet another riot on The UW's Greek Row last week:

All available Seattle police, the State Patrol, a sheriff's helicopter and campus police were needed to quell an alcohol-fueled disturbance early yesterday morning in the fraternity district north of the University of Washington A mattress was set afire in a street, a vehicle was turned over, and other cars, including three police cars, were damaged. Police estimated total property damage at $6,000. Witnesses and people who called police estimated 300 to 500 people were involved. [Seattle P-I]
Apparently the whole thing started as a block party and then raged out of control.

It's funny how that happens -- parties are held every night of the week without incident, but occationally one hits the flashpoint. In fact, these riots share a lot in common with forest fires, which also seemingly spring from nowhere and catch everybody off guard.

The problem in each case in an overabunance of fuel. That's why I'm a big supporter of The Healthy Colleges Initiative, which reduces the risk of college-based riots through selectively thinning of student bodies. Crack teams of "harvesters" sweep through campus every few months and cull those students that pose the greatest danger. Specifically:

  • Deadwood (students coasting by on C minuses, liberal arts majors, etc.)
  • Old growth (students who have been matriculated for 6 years or more)
  • Shallow-rooted seedlings (First-year students who are just going to drop out after a year of incessant alcohol- and drug-use anyway)
  • Monocultures (students who strive to look like whatever the prevailing fashion is at the moment)
  • Epiphytes (students who are unable to support themselves, and only going to college because their parents are paying for it)
I also think they should air PSAs starring Everclear the Binge-Drinking Bear. "Only You ... Can Stop Knuckledheaded University Riots, Bro"

June 09, 2003

Cold Comfort

A man stands on a corner in downtown Seattle. He is loudly sobbing, with one hand over his eyes and the other dangling at his side clutching a cell phone. A woman stands at his side, consoling him with one arm half draped over his shoulders. As I pass I hear her say, "I don't know why you are so upset. She's nothing but a ho."

May 16, 2002

Dave Neihaus

The lead color commentator for the Seattle Mariners in the excitable but loveable Dave Neihaus. This guy has been calling games since, like, the Civil War, and he has a near inexhaustible supply of stock "baseball phrases." After a while you may think you've heard them all, but sooner or later he'll spring a new one on you.

Co-announcer Rick Rizz: We just got word that White Sox are leading the Royals 14-0 in the eighth inning.

Dave Neihaus: I've been following that game. The White Sox need only three more runs to tie the record for the most lopsided shutout in the history of baseball.

RR: Man, I wonder what the scorecard looks like for that one.

DN: I've seen it, and it's a mess. The turning point in that game was the National Anthem.

I Like Baseball
[Games: Baseball] I've been saving up my baseball-related posts, so brace yourself for a full day of them. (Or just skip a day of yeti if you don't give a rat's ass about The Great American Pastime.)

I love baseball, not so much because I find it fascinating but because I can find it fascinating at will. If I'm at a game or in a bar watching the match on the tube, I can suddenly make myself really really care about who's winning and what's going on. But if I need to, say, leave the bar before the game is over, I can just as easily stop caring and head out the door. I could watch every game in a week, or miss an entire month without any regrets. The minute the Mariners blow a big match I can opt to throw a fit or shrug my shoulders.

Not so for many Seattle fans. We recently had a brouhaha of major league proportions. It all started with this letter, in which ex-Yankees fan Matt Villano labeled Mariner game attendees as a bunch of passive wussies.

People who call themselves "fans" know something about the game they watch. They encourage root, root, rooting for the home team, they stand and clap at two-strike counts, they're not afraid to boo an opponent or a hometown goat, and they always cheer more for a stolen base than for a stuffed Moose (or that idiotic hydroplane race on the Jumbotron). What sedentary Seattleites have proven is that the term "Mariners fan" is an oxymoron. These are the same people who sway like prom dates at a Built to Spill show and drive 50 mph in the left lane on I-5 ... With such somnolent Seattle game sitters -- fans who'd rather read four- sentence out-of-town game summaries on the scoreboard than scrutinize Lou's strategy behind an intentional walk or a safety squeeze -- it's no wonder the Mariners can't beat the Yankees when it counts.
Mariners management then deftly proved his point by banning "Yankees Suck" t-shirts at the next game in the name of "avoiding confrontation." Villano, who atteneded that game and wrote a second article in the following week's paper, said "The pathetic M's fans meekly accepted this suspension of their First Amendment rights in the name of a 'good time'."

If Villano's goal was to get Seattle fans worked up, he succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. According to a blurb at the top of The Seattle Weekly's letter page the following Wednesday "Villano's recent articles have got the Weekly inundated with more mail than ANYONE here can EVER remember getting -- more than WTO, more than the Palestinian conflict, more than the 100 Favorite Restaurants special in which we said that Ristorante Machiavelli is closed on Monday when really it's only closed on Sunday." And there followed half a dozen pages of missives sent by Seattleites who either thought Villano was a breath of fresh air or a complete ass. Typical line: "Who are you? The Mariner Moose? No. You're a Yankees fan. God, I can't think of a worse insult to put on you, Matt. Let's just leave it at that."

Incidently, at the next game the Mariners' management dropped their ban on the "Yankees Suck" T-shirt. Why did they cave in? "We didn't want to appear confrontational," they explained.

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