Discolor Online

Weblog of the sweetest person you never want to piss off.



Baghdad is a city of around five and a half to six million people. It's hard to say exactly, of course, with violence and chaos swirling around it and the region in a flux of war, but roughly six million seems to be close enough for government work, as the old saying goes. That makes it about the size of the metropolitan areas of cities like Dallas-Ft. Worth, Philadelphia, Detroit, Boston, Miami, Houston, Toronto, or Madrid. I doubt anyone reading my blog has been to Baghdad itself so I've thrown up a lot of options in the hope that everyone reading along has been to at least one of those cities and thus will have a sense of scale.

More than 1500 violent deaths were reported by Iraqi officials in Baghdad in August. More than 60 bodies of people who had been tortured and killed were discovered around Baghdad in one 24-hour period, more than 120 such bodies in one week. It's sometimes hard to get to the real numbers, the real tragedy happening to innocent people, especially when the United States tries to keep the numbers down with statistical tricks, like not counting civilians killed by car bombs or mortar attacks (only counting victims of events like drive by shootings or torture and execution). Still, The top US military spokesman in Iraq said Wednesday that murders and executions are now the number-one cause of civilian deaths in Baghdad.

Please imagine the bodies of 120 people who had been tortured and executed turning up on the streets of Houston or Miami or Boston. Imagine roving death squads in the streets of Philadelphia or Detroit. Imagine militia checkpoints, indistinguishable from legitimate government security check points, where your heritage and religious affiliations are put to the test by people who will kill you if you're on the "wrong" side. What would we call this if it were happening in our cities? Would we be blaming our government for not keeping our cities safe? Would we believe that our military had things under control?

May 1, 2003 President Bush declared "Major Combat Operations in Iraq Have Ended". Exactly two years ago, The Washington Post quoted everyone from former intelligence agents to Secretary of State Colin Powell admitting that things in Iraq were looking worse even then. One source said outright, "There's no obvious way to fix it. The best we can hope for is a semi-failed state hobbling along with terrorists and a succession of weak governments." In June 2005, Vice President Dick Cheney famously claimed the insurgency in Iraq was in its"last throes, if you will". Though tens of thousands of Iraqis have been killed, Cheney maintains that he is "absolutely convinced we did the right thing in Iraq."

Baghdad Burning is the blog of a 27 year old Iraqi woman who has been posting from Baghdad since August of 2003. She wrote a post on August 5th titled "Summer of Goodbyes". She wrote that as of June she could no longer safely leave her house without a head scarf, could no longer driver herself or be seen without a male relative as escort. She wrote of threats, armed Islamists, and people fleeing their homes, neighborhoods, even the country. She's not written since. Where is she? What has happened to her in the nearly two months since her last post? Thirteen months ago I expressed my dismay that the new Iraqi constitution did not offer more protections for women. It was foolish of me to be concerned over the wording of the Iraqi constitution...naive of me to think that there was a chance in hell of it being put in place as law. I wrote: These things weigh on me. I'm ashamed to see the result America's "help" and "liberation" have held for the daughters of Afghanistan and Iraq. Today, the situation in Iraq even more dire for innocent Iraqis. We should be ashamed of what our government has wrought.


Rancid Report

Had a kickass time at the show last night. The Insurgence were so thrilled to be there, it was cute. They were also filming a video of the show so they kept posing and jumping and exhorting the crowd to really get stirred up. They gave away free CDs of their 4-song EP (the fronts of which were printed with an image of the Showbox, the date of the show and the names of the performers) to everyone at the show who wanted one.

The Aquabats do a fun live show. Due to my unabashed fangirl love of The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets I have long appreciated the fun inherent in a performance by band of costumed avengers. The Aquabats had a full multimedia stage show, complete with an animated introductory origin story and a mid-set break for a video. The band also fended off an attack by a giant, evil lobster-man. Their theatrics are unsurprising considering their pedigree: founder Christian Jacobs (aka The MC Bat Commander) has done some acting, including a bit as that kid in the record store in Pretty in Pink. MCBC took a break mid-show to call out to the kids in the pit and ridicule those of us old folks hanging back in the over-21 bar areas (aka The Old Punks' Lounge), demanding that the lights be brought up and the youngsters turn and cast their scornful gazes our way, we old folks who have "forgotten how to have fun." They flipped us off, we flipped them off back...ah, feel the punk rock love.

The crowd was hot for Rancid. I had few expectations and merely hoped that they would play all of my favorite songs, which they did. Since I don't have a full collection of Rancid material (and definitely nothing they've done in the last couple of years) I fully expected to go in not knowing much of anything, but they played all the hits. To my surprise and delight, they thrilled by busting out with Operation Ivy's Unity (only one of my favorite songs ever!) and the whole place was fist-pumping and singing along. (Civilization ha I call it as I see it / I call it bullshit you know I still cannot believe it / Our evolution now has gone the way of hate / A world evolved resolved into this stupid fate / Stop this war / Stop this war). I also has a chance to really see and appreciate bassist Matt Freeman. Holy shit! He is incredible and they gave him a chance to really show off his skills playing a bass-led solo. Give that dude a bass-player trophy, he's just outrageously good. I'm not at all surprised that he's got a psychobilly side project. They came out for a couple of acoustic songs for their encore: Fall Back Down and (another pleasant surprise) Op Ivy's Sound System and then kicked it electric again for some Roots Radicals among others.

Great show. I had a great time.


Anniversary Punk Rock

Pramas is taking me out for a little early anniversary celebrating since he's going to be spending our 5th anniversary at Endgame in Oakland for their 5th anniversary.

So, Kate's having a sleepover with R&C and Chris and I are taking in some punk rock down at the Showbox. It's Rancid, with The Aquabats and pissed off punk rock local boys The Insurgence. Woo!

This reminds me of a funny exchange with a 20-year-old guest at Evan's birthday party last weekend: Evan's toddler was running in circles in the center of the room and I cracked that this was good practice for a future when she was at a show and a circle pit started up. Our 20-year-old friend asked, in a shocked voice, "How do you know about that?" I laughed. I've quite literally been going to shows since before she was born. I guess that makes me officially old now. Fire up the bubble machine and queue up Lawrence Welk, eh?


Power of the Media


The Game Gallery?

The Game Gallery geeks
The Game Gallery geeks,
originally uploaded by Nikchick.
I had the Flexcar this morning and dropped Kate off at school on my way out to do other errands. As I pulled out onto Rainier Avenue in Columbia City I was nonplussed (and briefly excited) to see that the Columbia City Gallery seemed to have become, overnight, a game store. Through the window I could see people inside playing games and all the usually game accoutrements (fantasy posters, light-up Magic: the Gathering signs).

Quickly, though, I clicked to the fact that the people moving around in front of the unusually crowded store (a game store, crawling with gamers at 9:00am on a Monday morning?!) were not moving into the store or setting it up, but were filming something. The giant light, diffusers, green sheets, and guys walking around with cameras were a clue. I can only claim caffeine deficiency for the fact that I was as slow on the uptake as I was.

After running my errands, I swung the car back past the "Game Gallery" and snapped a few photos from across the street. I wonder what they're filming... the Magic logo was so prominent, I'm wondering if it could be a commercial for Magic or something. I'll have to keep my eyes open for the "Game Gallery" to make an appearance somewhere... meanwhile, there are still no game stores in our area.


Elvis Costello

When I was 16 my dad allowed me to go on a train trip to visit my aunt in Arizona over Christmas break. I took the train from Minnesota, across the Great Plains and down the west coast to L.A. where I was to change trains and cut eastward to Arizona. On the way home I was to travel east for some distance, then north along the Mississippi to Chicago, where I was to again change trains and back-track to Minneapolis and home.

I was an insufferable twit, being 16 and all. I thought I knew everything, I believed I was invulnerable and behaved in a deplorably selfish manner in retrospect. I impulsively jumped off the train mid-way through California when I realized the train stopped in the hometown of a friend. I grabbed my shit, exited the train at some ungodly pre-dawn hour and then called my friend's house to see if they wanted to "meet me for breakfast". They immediately freaked out because I was in a bad part of town and insisted that they pick me up right away. They put me up overnight without notice, treated me kindly, gently prodded me to call my aunt to tell her I would be a day late arriving, and got me back on the train when the next one rolled through 24 hours later.

When I was in Arizona I called my boyfriend long distance and talked for over an hour every night, about no goddamn thing at all, but I was convinced it was the end of the world if we couldn't speak to each other. I never even thought about the bill, being 16 and completely self-absorbed. My blessed aunt never said a word to me about it, then or at any time for the rest of her life. I'm still appalled at my behavior looking back on it.

When I hit Chicago I was immediately set upon by scam artists. The way the train connections worked out, I had a 23 hour layover and there was no way I was going to just sit in the train station for an entire day. I wandered around in downtown Chicago. I visited the Sears Tower. I went shopping for cassette tapes. At the music store, I was hit on by a "helpful" young clerk who, upon hearing that I was in town trying to kill 23 hours offered to take me back to his place. You know, just so I didn't have to wander around the city. Amazingly, I had enough of a weird vibe (and perhaps just enough basic sense) that I refused his offer and got the hell out of the store, but not before buying Elvis Costello's latest release, Blood and Chocolate. The friend I'd stopped to visit in California had been on and on about Elvis Costello and I decided to get myself some.

After leaving the record store I wandered around aimlessly for a long time. Finally I decided to treat myself to a movie. I had walked a good 12 or 20 blocks from the Sears Tower by that time and had nearly no idea where I was except that I hadn't strayed more than two blocks off whichever main street I'd been following. I found a theater showing an Eddie Murphy double feature. One of the movies was The Golden Child. The other was probably one of the Beverly Hills Cop movies, though I can't honestly remember. I was immediately being hit on my the ticket taker, who tried to get me to go up to the balcony with him before I'd even set foot inside the theater. I declined. He asked if he could come sit with me during the movie. I laughed, "As if you could find me!" He countered, "Honey, you're the only white girl in the place." God, I was stupid.

During the movie an "older guy" came and sat down right next to me, even though the theater was half empty. Between films he introduced himself and asked if I wanted to hear his poetry. Looking back, he was probably in his late twenties or early thirties at most. At the time, he might as well have been 50. He insisted on walking me back to the train when the movies let out because it was quite dark and late and, he insisted, not safe for me to be wandering alone. Then he led me off toward the L because he thought when I said I was taking the train I meant the elevated train, not the Amtrak. Finally, after quite the wrong detour, he kindly led me back to the Amtrak station (because after following him to the L, there's no way I would have gotten back myself). He, also, offered to let me stay the night at his house and (amazingly, since I apparently had brain damage on that trip to judge by my reckless behavior) I declined. I wasn't even trying to be outrageous or adventurous on this trip... I was merely young and ridiculously naive.

So, back to Elvis Costello. When I bought Blood and Chocolate, I was hoping to hear something like Alison, or Radio Radio, or Pump It Up. I was maybe pre-figuring a little (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding. What I got was bitter, divorced thirty-something Costello: Uncomplicated (Blood and Chocolate / I hope you're satisfied what you have done), Home is Where You Hang Your Head (But you know she doesn't want you / But you can't seem to get it in your head / Oh and you can't sleep at night / And she haunts you when you go to bed) and I Want You (Go on and hurt me then well let it drop / I want you / I'm afraid I won't know where to stop / I want you / I'm not ashamed to say I cried for you). To say I didn't "get it" would be an understatement. I owned it. I kept it and listened to it. I thought I "got it" a little, anyway. It's a gorgeous album but I didn't know the half of it at the time, just like I didn't know a thing about the rest of the world that I was blundering my way through.

We took Kate and her friend bowling this weekend. At 9:00pm they dimmed the lights, turned on the neon and the black light and the disco balls, lowered video screens and started blasting music and videos (from some dreadful Toby Keith American patriot garbage to Queen). Among their choices for the evening was Elvis Costello (doing Pump it Up). Since seeing that video, I've been craving Blood and Chocolate again. I no longer have the cassette. Rhino recently released a remastered CD (with a second CD of bonus material) but they don't offer it at the iTunes store or anywhere else as a MP3 download. I've tried listening to My Aim is True as a substitute but it's not the same. I love Mystery Dance in a very different way, but tonight, after the kids have finally ended their sleepover hijinx and with the full weight of my age and experience upon me, it's Blood and Chocolate that calls to me.


Birthday Fiesta

Ay ay ay! Two weekends, two birthday parties for my two best friends! Happiness abounds.

It was a totally fun, laid back gathering. Great to see lots of Evan and Rona's other friends and family and catch up with some of the usual gang who we haven't seen much of recently for one reason or another. Very fun for me was to catch up with one of my old Encarta team alumni who I hadn't seen in years (at Evan's wedding reception, maybe?) and to realize that I met Evan when Kate was just a baby, younger than his little girl is now, or that his now-young adult friends were barely Kate's age when I met them. Time marches on and all that, yadda yadda. For all of that, Evan is remarkably the same and yet better. He's all the good, sweet, wonderful things he's always been with the added depth and maturity that marriage and fatherhood contribute.

It was a delight to see my Dude of Honor in his native environment, surrounded by loving friends and family.

It's been a lovely couple of weekends.


Recipe Page Update

I haven't been cooking nearly as much as I would like but I have added a couple of items to my recipe page. We've been eating zucchini bread all week, it's good if you like that kind of thing (we do!). Pramas made the stuffed peppers (because I had most of the ingredients but not the energy to cook them up) and they came out great with a few substitutions. Red pepper flakes because I had no jalepeno, we were going to use ground lamb as our ground meat but when we opened the package the lamb was clearly (stinkily!) spoiled (even though the use by date was four days away). Had to pull some plain ground beef out of the freezer at the last minute, boo. Also used a can of crushed tomatoes in place of the tomato sauce.

Anyway, tonight's updates are:


She's Reading!

My daughter is sitting in a chair in the living room READING! Kate has always struggled with reading. Try as we have, we've never been able to overcome the fact that reading for Kate is hard. It's not for lack of trying on her part, nor for opportunities offered on ours. She's tried to like books the way we do, the way many of her friends do...it's just never clicked. She loves stories; she loves to tell them, she loves to hear them but she gets no joy from trying to read them.

Her WASL scores came this week and she passed reading. Not only passed, but scored well above her school average, the district average and the state average. She worked hard on her reading and with lots of effort she can do it, but it's the joy of reading that has escaped her. It's work, it's not fun.

Still, tonight she is reading. It's homework. Her blessed teacher (the same wonderful teacher she had last year) has assigned all of her students 30 minutes of reading every night. Just being homework is not enough, though. She's not in there watching the clock, putting in her time to be done with her work. She's enjoying the book. I wouldn't be surprised if she reads extra.

Last year she plowed her way through Eragon because that's what her friends were reading. I was shocked. I was afraid for her. I was, I'm ashamed to admit, doubtful that she could do it. She did it. She is very fond of the book and loves that she shares the experience with her more bookwormish friends... but I don't think that reading the book was actually fun for her. It's something she did on guts and I admire her for doing it.

This year I gave her the first two Spiderwick Chronicles books at the start of school. Tonight I have Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black to thank. Kate is not only reading, she is reading for fun. She said to me tonight, "I got hooked into it!" and before tonight I was seriously afraid I would never hear those words from her. I know Tony from his glorious work on Planescape. Holly Black is one of us, from her days with d8 Magazine (which started up as my own foray into the gaming magazine market, Adventures Unlimited, was also coming to market). What they've done with Spiderwick they've done right! My daughter is sitting in the big comfy chair in the living room, reading.


Cowboys and City Slickers

I have a friend whose husband is a bona fide cowboy. Extreme Home Makeover was shooting near their home and the Amana Society was donating some cattle to a family who lost everything in a home fire almost a year ago. They wanted to film a couple of cowboys driving the cattle into the pens at the family's home. My friend's husband was one of these cowboys.

His account of the shoot was pretty funny. Apparently, lady carpenter Paige Hemmis, she of the pink tool belt, was standing right in the gate hole calling "Here cows, here cows," and preparing to be trampled to death by thousands of pounds of cattle who were about to be driven into the pen. My friend's husband had to yell at her to get out of the damn way (although he's a very mild mannered cowboy and probably didn't actually say damn).

Later, Atlanta boy and Attention Deficit Disorder poster child Ty Pennington wanted to ride my friend's husband's horse. Ty claimed that he had ridden before, but then mounted on the wrong side of the horse, which certainly impressed none of the cowboys. Luckily, the horse was patient and not easily spooked and Ty wasn't tossed on his ass or trampled to death either.

The irony of this whole thing is that my friends can't get any reception for the ABC channel where they live, so they can't actually watch the episode when it airs. So much for his 15 minutes of fame, eh? Several of us have offered to TiVo for them if necessary.


In case anyone was wondering...

In case anyone was wondering...
In case anyone was wondering...,
originally uploaded by Nikchick.
the lounge was OPEN.

And to think I didn't even post all the most embarrassing photos!

In short, Christine outdid herself with everything she pulled off for this party. I would have to say it was the best party I've ever been to in my adult life. Conspiring with all of Ray's closest friends, she managed to pull off Vegas in Seattle for her husband. There was Elvis, gambling tables, booze, a gorgeous lounge singer, a stand-up comedian, some of Seattle's mega-talented burlesque girls and nearly non-stop karaoke. Oh, and souvenir t-shirts. Every time I looked around I caught people laughing and smiling and enjoying themselves, not to mention showering the guest of honor with love and attention.

I've been excited about this party for weeks and unable to mention the efforts that were underway for it, lest Ray read my blog and we lose the element of surprise. If I don't have too much going on this week I may just write up the saga of our trip to Goldies in search of some celebrity karaoke talent. Meanwhile, the photos of the night will have to suffice.


Ray's Roulette Cake

Final presentation
Final presentation,
originally uploaded by Nikchick.
It was Ray's 40th birthday party this weekend. The theme: Las Vegas. I baked a roulette wheel cake (and outfitted it with chocolate money of various sorts). I'll probably get photos of the event up later but for now food porn in cake form will have to do.


A "Representative" Group

Awake far too early this morning but at least that gives me a chance to write a bit before the rest of the day kicks in.

I attended last night's meeting about the K-8 transition for Kate's school. Turns out they won't know if there will be 6th grade classes available at Orca for the 2007-2008 school year for another couple of months. Unfortunately, they have to start planning for a lot of things (the K-8 curriculum, the physical move of the school, permits for rebuilding Orca's greenhouse and other facilities necessary to the program) before that crucial issue will be settled, so they're trying to form a steering committee to get work done and input from as many people as possible, as soon as possible.

One of the phrases that the principle used was "a representative group" meaning they want to bring in volunteers to the steering committee who reflect the different racial, cultural, social and economic backgrounds of Orca families. Nice, sensitive, inclusive...right? Well, interestingly enough the one black woman who attended this meeting (other than one of Orca's teachers) at whom the principle kept looking as he said this had something to say on the issue. Basically, she said that she's tired of people assuming that because she looks a certain way that she thinks/feels/behaves as every other person with her skin color and that people make this mistake all the time. She doesn't want the burden of "speaking for" every other person who shares her skin color, and suggested that maybe the school should solicit the opinions of people interested in giving their opinions but just be thankful that there are people willing to volunteer their time to this process and accept their contributions as offered.

I've often felt the same way in the game industry as companies grasp for products that "appeal to women" and people raise the question, "What do women want?" As a woman I've frequently been looked to as if I can be held up as a representative for my gender and while I feel that I can certainly provide some insights (I was born and raised a girl, I am now a woman raising a daughter of my own, I've had a few experiences unique to my gender) I cannot possibly speak for "women" as a class. All women do not think identically, feel alike, or want exactly the same things.

There are many complicated assumptions people make about each other based on the first obvious qualities they can see: race and gender are certainly atop that list, social class (wealth, education) following closely thereafter. One common assumption I use to run into in the game industry was that as a women I must be someone's girlfriend or wife along for the ride, not a gamer myself. Thankfully, as more women have chosen gaming as a hobby and a career, that assumption is far less common than it used to be though it hasn't entirely disappeared. At Orca the common assumption seems to be that if you're white you're some sort of yuppie gentrifier, a member of the privileged class who needs to learn a thing or two about sensitivity (because you surely don't know what it's like for the "real" members of the community). I bristle when I see that assumption being acted upon, as I used to bristle at the assumptions based on my gender in the game industry. I come from poverty, I grew up there. I'm white but I'm no aristocrat. No million dollar home. My daughter does not have a nanny, we don't even own a car! I guarantee that my daughter's elementary school teacher makes more money herself than Chris and I make combined. If they're putting together a "representative" group and think that they're representing my sliver of Orca by putting a white doctor or university professor in the group (hey, we're both white and we both like lattes, right?) I would have to disagree. I mean, I appreciate the effort but my family faces issues that aren't even on the radar for some of these people and those issues have very little to do with my race or gender.

Bottom line for this steering committee is that they've got work to do, so they'd be best served if they just got to work. Kinda like my advice to the people who want to make "girl games" and want to know what women like: just make good, fun games and people will play them. Among those people will certainly be women.


Schedule Whining

Don't mind me, I'm just looking at my day planner for the next month and shuddering at how ugly it is.

Rumor has it that Pramas leaves for England on Sunday. I have no confirmation of that at this moment but am proceeding with things as if he is. If true, I expect him to be gone through the 25th, which will leave me holding down the fort both at GRHQ and on the home front.

In addition to my usual efforts on behalf of Green Ronin, I've got a lot on my plate with Kate and her school this fall. Orca is undergoing many changes this year in anticipation of moving to a different building next year. They're also supposedly being expanded from a K-5 school to a K-8 school. This is relevant to us because Kate will continue to go to Orca if it is expanded by next year. Otherwise, we have to choose a middle school for her and my research so far has shown that there are two COMPLETELY SUCKY middle schools here in the South End, both of which on the list of failing schools and are on the verge of having to plan for "alternative governance"...who can send their child into that kind of mess? Ug. Anyway, in addition to the regular PTA meetings, which I feel it is important for me to attend, there is also a separate group meeting to keep on top of the K-8 issues.

In addition to the school closures and K-8 program issues, Orca is also going to a different "camp" this year for their outdoor education. Orca has an environmental education focus and it's one of the things I really value and strongly support about Kate's school. This year the kids get to go out to the Olympic Park Institute, into the rain forest on the Olympic Peninsula. It is a more expensive camp and a longer trip for our students to get there but I have been to OPI before and it is a wonderful facility in a gorgeous area and I couldn't be more thrilled that these kids get to go there. Unfortunately, this has resulted in another set of meetings that I need to attend as the school tries to educate parents and students about what this trip is going to be like, what is expected, what kinds of things need to be packed and so on. And, of course, because it's a hippie school (bless their hearts, they're innocuous most of the time) there's a lot of concern from parents who are wondering if precious Joey is going to be alright if he doesn't have enough choices, of if little Janet is going to be accommodated if she doesn't feel empowered to decline the nature walk, blah blah blah. One parent actually had the gall to ask why the camp would call the parents (when told the discipline policy is that if your kid is screwing up and makes it to the third strike for behavior, they call the parents and on the fourth strike Joey or Janet will be sent home) and other parents' biggest concerns were how often background checks are done on the OPI staff. Holy missing the point, batman!

Were it totally up to me, I'd just head out to OPI with the kids as a parent chaperone and offset some of this hippie dippie bullshit. Unfortunately I also own a small business and it's just not possible to take off. Chris will have been in England for 8 or 9 days, then he's back for two days and it's off to End Game Oakland where he's a guest at their 5th Anniversary celebration. Chris will no sooner be back from that than I would be turning around to go to OPI with Kate.

Even that wouldn't be so bad, but that week runs right up to the annual Green Ronin summit! Once a year we gather the guys here in Seattle to go over plans for the next year of releases, meet face to face outside of a convention atmosphere, and generally do that team bonding stuff that doesn't happen when you don't have an office in which to gather and shoot the breeze around the company water cooler or at the company Beltane picnic. I'm the person who needs to make sure everyone is picked up from the airport, all hotel reservations are squared away, reservations are made for meals out, not to mention that everyone has copies of the agenda, various reports, charts and graphs are made, la la la, fun stuff. Even without Pramas in England and the school pulling at my time for Kate these next two weeks would be busy, busy.

Somewhere in there I've also got Kate's friend Alex staying over for a couple of nights while his parents are out of the country, one wedding and two birthday dinners (on the same night, natch). Hoo boy. I pray this blog won't devolve into nothing but memes between now and Columbus Day!


Deja Vu

Friday the Los Angeles Times carried a story about California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's "candid moments" being caught on tape. (There is also a link where you can also listen to the actual recording.) The Times described the recording thusly: This audio recording mainly consists of relaxed banter among Schwarzenegger and a few aides, and it offers an unusually candid look at his administration when the doors are closed.

It was not an illicit recording. The Governor and the attendees at the meeting knew it was being recorded. Apparently, it is not unusual for the Governor's meetings to be recorded. However, it was apparently not intended to be distributed outside of the Governor's office.

Over the weekend a weak protest was made by some who were offended that the attendees chitchat about whether a state representative was of Cuban or Puerto Rican heritage and the Governor is heard to say, "I mean, they are all very hot. They have the, you know, part of the black blood in them and part of the Latino blood in them that together makes it." Not particularly sensitive remarks, to be sure, but certainly not received at the level of Virginia Senator Allen's macaca comment. Today, ABC News reports that the tape was leaked by workers for Gov. Schwarzenegger's opponent, Phil Angelides.

Why do I care? Well, I merely find it interesting what's being said as I read further about this story. For example, the Angelides campaign is saying (quoting from the ABC News story) But Cathy Calfo, campaign manager for Democrat Phil Angelides, said the campaign had done nothing wrong because the file was available publicly on the governor's Web site. "No one hacked," Calfo said.... Meanwhile the Schwarzenegger people are saying (again from the ABC News story) "The file that was leaked to the Los Angeles Times was in a private area of the governor's server not accessible to the public without manipulation of information," he said. Schwarzenegger's legal affairs secretary, Andrea Lynn Hoch, said the sound file was stored in a password-protected area.

Man, this sounds really familiar to me. Where have I heard this before? Oh yeah...the GAMA elections!

Ryan Dancey: I did not "hack" into GAMA's email system. I simply went to a public website and read it. Besides, they were a "clear and present danger" and they totally deserved it. (Ok, so I paraphrased that last bit, but he did straight-facedly used the phrase "clear and present danger" in his own defense.)

GAMA: Files of those e-mail exchanges were in a private area, not promoted or accessible to the public. Anyone looking to access that information would have had to falsely impersonate a legitimate user to do so. (Can't find any public links to direct quotes, but as I was there at the time and was one of the people saying the above, I can at least offer myself as witness.)

Hmmm. I suppose it depends on what your definition of "is" is, eh? "Hacked" or not, the Angelides campaign has relied on the same unethical behavior hoping for the same result. Unlike GAMA, it looks like the Governator's people aren't going to be hand-wringing pussies about it: they've already got the California Highway Patrol investigating. I'll be very interested to see what the outcome of this is out in California.


Not Blogging Tomorrow

Tomorrow is the five year anniversary of the terrorist attacks that are universally now referred to as "9/11". Government and media alike will not let us forget this, as if we could. 9/11 9/11 9/11. We live in a "post-9/11 world" where we are constantly reminded to live in fear of "9/11 happening again". We're treated to supposed entertainment in the form of films that at least attempt to glorify the heroes of the day (such as United Flight 93 and World Trade Center.)

That's one thing, but this fetish that has developed, this intent to relive the day moment by moment as television networks rush to re-broadcast the original coverage of the events of the day (as NBC, FOX, and CNN are all planning to do to some degree) goes disgustingly overboard. CBS was complaining that their actual 9/11 documentary (called 9/11) was being censored because FCC regulations (tightened up to protect the world from the likes of Janet Jackson's breasts) because it captured coarse language. Meanwhile, of course, we have those delightful folks at ABC/Disney who are airing their so-called docudrama Path to 9/11 which has been heavily advertised as "based on the 9/11 commission report" as if it is a factual depiction when it absolutely IS NOT FACTUAL (containing completely made up scenes and attributing them to real world people, businesses, and government agencies). That's okay to show and promote as factual, so long as no one says "Fuck!" Outrageous.

Listen up, you ghouls, I don't need to see the coverage again. I remember the first time. I remember Osama bin Laden. I remember the 9/11 Commission Report, the Patriot Act, Tora Bora, and I also remember Ann Coulter and her ilk feeling so properly patriotic that they think nothing of attacking everyone from responsible media, veterans, lawmakers and even the day's widows and orphans (you know, the people whose lives were most affected outside of the 2,973 actual confirmed victims). 9/11 was a national tragedy that has been compounded day after day for five years. I have not forgotten, I cannot forget and I certainly don't need to be "reminded" through half-baked dramatizations and rebroadcasts of the entire day's horrific images and awful, ignorant speculation about what it all meant.

I will be staying far away from the blogosphere tomorrow and television as well. A pox on everyone attempting to benefit from that horrible day.


AIDS Walk Photos

Look at that water!
Look at that water!,
originally uploaded by Nikchick.
And it's done. I've put photos up on Flickr. As you can see from this one, we did indeed get rained on.


AIDS Walk Tomorrow

It's nearly here. Can I just say off the bat that you guys have been wonderful? When our team started out with our goal of $1000, I wasn't sure what kind of response we were going to get. The support we got was AMAZING. I blew past my personal goal, raised it, blew past it again, raised it again, and you guys helped me blow it out of the water! With your generous support I've raised $827--well past my "pie in the sky" goal of $750 and only $173 shy of the original team goal of $1000!

Joey's Birthday Walkers have raised $7302.01 as of this posting. That's more than SEVEN TIMES what we originally hoped to raise! It is more than $1300 over the challenge the folks at the Lifelong AIDS Alliance challenged us to hit when the realized that our team was getting some serious response. We made the leader board and out of 296 teams walking this year, we're 18th for funds raised (as of $1000 ago) and the #4 non-corporate team. We're in front of QWEST, John L Scott, the Greater Seattle Business Association, and Wells Fargo! Again, this is thanks to the support of our friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances.

Chris was originally scheduled to be leaving for England tomorrow so I've planned all along for Kate to join us on the walk. I've been watching the weather with a worried eye. After a long, dry summer and unseasonably beautiful weather into September, last night's weather report was finally predicting showers. Only for tomorrow. In fact, only for tomorrow morning... during the AIDS Walk. By noon it will be merely mostly cloudy. In the end, Chris's trip was pushed back a week so Kate could stay back at the house with him if the weather is too ugly. I'm hoping that it truly will just be light or scattered showers so she can join me but I want her to have a good time at it and not see the AIDS Walk as an unpleasant thing, so I won't make her walk in the rain or anything. Me? I'll be there rain or shine, in my Team Joey's Birthday t-shirt and party hat. And, as always, if there's anyone who wants to throw in $5 or $10 to the cause, there's still time to hit my DONATION PAGE.


First Day of Fifth Grade

First Day of Fifth Grade
First Day of Fifth Grade,
originally uploaded by Nikchick.
It's that time of year again. Kate is off to her first day of fifth grade. All indications are this will be her last year at Orca because the school district plan for turning Orca into a K-8 school is unlikely to be put in place in time for her.

This make 2006-2007 her last year of grade school. Next year, we need to find a middle school! Yikes! Surely this can't be?


Bumbershoot Day Three

Kate and I did Bumbershoot up right yesterday.

We got to Seattle Center and immediately got passes for Tribe Called Quest (which was the big Mainstage closing act last night) before going to stand in line for my boys Speaker Speaker. I'd been excited about them being part of Bumbershoot all summer and I'd hoped they'd have their album available because I knew they'd been working on it but they made several references to it not being out yet. Guess I should check their website more often! It was so sweet as we milled around before the show started to see them with friends and family. I saw at least one of their moms. At one point during the show, between songs, Colin took pictures of the audience. It's always great to watch a band that is happy to be there, and Speaker Speaker are totally endearing in their enthusiasm. They played the hits from their EP and a selection of new material that I liked pretty well, though I have to say I like their faster stuff best. Kate and I were having a good time when we ran into a friend of hers from Orca (a year ahead of Kate, so is off at middle school this year) and her step-dad, also at the show, which made it even more fun for Kate.

They were running a bit fast and the show ended early but that allowed me to get Kate some roasted corn on the cob and find her a bathroom, hit the cash machine and whatnot before getting in line for The Briefs. Bigger crowd (in all ways, lots of freaky tall guys at that show, all of whom were drawn like magnets to stand in front of Kate), a couple of guys were hauled out right away for dancing or something. The bouncers at this venue had zero tolerance, which was pretty retarded for punk shows where the kids just want to dance. There was lots and lots of pogoing, because you're clearly not hurting anyone if you're just jumping up and down. Eventually some of the kids formed a circle pit and basically formed a conga line, but hey, at least they were allowed to dance and move and honestly, the bouncer who was set to guard their section seemed friendly and amused (probably because it was clear there were no troublemakers at this show). Who do we run into at this show again? Kate's friend and step-dad.

After The Briefs we went to the Pacific Northwest Ballet, just for a change of pace. The place was crawling with little girls and their assorted guardians, let me tell you. The line stretched around the building and while we were told we were "iffy" to get in from our place in line, the line grew at least half again after we joined it. I was afraid we wouldn't be able to get seats together but we were seated in the balcony, had a good view, and sat together no problem. Two short arrangements were followed by a longer piece called Lambarena which interwove and combined traditional African music with Bach (available on CD, apparently). Kate was confused by the weird symbolic pieces, but at least Lambarena had a lot of movement and interesting things happening.

After the ballet, I was starving, so Kate and I agreed to grab some food and head over to spread our beach towel out on the grass at the Backyard stage, a secluded little nook of a stage that was just perfect. Nouvelle Vague were playing and they were FANTASTIC. They played all the hits (Teenage Kicks, Too Drunk To Fuck, Love Will Tear Us Apart, Making Plans for Nigel...) and new arrangements from the new album (Ever Fallen In Love, Dancing With Myself, Bela Legosi's Dead, Human Fly, and the especially ironic Heart of Glass...which I'd heard Blondie perform on Day One.) It was so much fun! Of course the old punksters who recognized the songs from their original incarnations were hooting and clapping, but a lot of the older folks who seemed to be expecting an evening of soft jazz without all the curse words started filing out. Ha! Of course, who do we see? Why, Kate's friend and step-dad! They join us and Steve and I strike up a conversation because we clearly have similar taste in music. He's hoping to catch the English Beat later, I'm going for the nostalgia of Tribe Called Quest... but the girls have other ideas. Tianna is The Veronicas' biggest 11-year-old fan and can't wait to see them. Kate was intent on joining her and I gave up hope of seeing anything else.

So, off we go to The Veronicas. The Veronicas are like twin Australian Avril Lavignes. The crowd was made up of teenage girls, some boys, and creepy old guys. Kate and Tianna took off to plant themselves right at the front, in front of the stage. Two wildly excited almost-11-year-olds jumping up and down in front of the stage (dressed in pink, no less) got a lot of attention. The Veronicas pointed, smiled, and waved at them multiple times. Other teen girls in the crowd pointed and cooed to each other. Other parents smiled indulgently. As Steve said to me during a break, "A day of culture, wiped out in minutes." The Veronicas announced they'd be out to sign autographs and I watched the security scramble, as this was apparently news to them. Of course all the little girls desperately needed their posters signed (and Tianna had her Veronicas CD with her already) so we traipsed across Seattle Center to join the line for autographs. It was our good fortune that the autograph tent was right next to the stage where the English Beat were playing, so while waiting I got to hear them do a few songs, including a cover of Monkey Man.

Once the girls were satisfied and photos aplenty had been snapped, Steve and I bid our farewells and I dragged Kate off to see the last 20 minutes of Tribe Called Quest, most of which was a disappointing 10-minute chant about how they sure were in Seattle, Seattle, Seattle, Seattle was rocking it, Seattle, Seattle. Boo. However, the crowd was frenzied and leaping with hands in the air and roaring with approval, so I think I was in the minority in my opinions. After long waits for the Bumbershoot shuttle and our connecting bus (it took us two hours to get home after exiting Tribe Called Quest) we made it home. A long, long day but what better way to spend our last summer holiday?


Bumbershoot Day Two

I had every intention of getting up and getting to Bumbershoot earlier yesterday but couldn't resist the allure of lounging and catching up on some TiVo in the morning. I stopped for a latte downtown and got to the festival in the early afternoon. Made plans to meet up with Ray and Christine to attend Mike Daisey's Monopoly monologue later so I spent a while just wandering. Caught the tail end of Electric Shades of Blue's set, a 70s-style endless rock number called Riverside. Electric Shades of Blue's members are all about 16 and very good, but I couldn't keep myself from laughing. These kids have found their parents' Cream, Zeppelin and Rush albums. Still, they rocked their chosen style. Afterward, the long-haired lead singer shook hands and hugged squealing girls at the edge of the crowd while the bassist humped equipment off stage. Isn't that always the way?

Got in line a little late and just barely made the cutoff for the "Best of SIFF - Jury Awards" film program. I didn't see any of these films during SIFF itself, so I was very interested in catching this program at Bumbershoot. First up was a great animated short, FUMI AND THE BAD LUCK FOOT. Just delightful, really had the audience laughing. Next up was RINGO, a western musical mash-up told the story of Lorne Green's Ringo (a #1 hit from 1964) through clips of John Wayne and Roy Rogers. From there we went into the sad documentary LOT 63, GRAVE C about the 18-year-old black man murdered on camera by Hells Angels (providing "security" for the show) in front of the stage at the Rolling Stones' Altamont concert. Rolling Stone ran a piece on the killing back in 1970 that's online now. It's a short documentary that doesn't get into anything more than the fact that the incident happened and the young man's unmarked grave. I'd very much like to know how the killers were acquitted when the killing was caught on camera but the film doesn't go there. MARVELOUS, KEEN LOONY BIN brought the mood up again with a surreal cartoon of faceless (or legless or armless...) people, balloon-headed monkeys, and giggling baked goods. Then BEFORE DAWN brought us back down with a grainy, grey, oh-so-Eastern European tale of dreams and dashed hopes in a Hungarian field. Beautifully shot, no dialog, but sad in that old Cold War desperation way.

I enjoyed a few delicious fair-food snacks (roasted corn, piroshky, ice cream in a waffle cone) and met up with Ray and Christine for a while. We wandered by the Bumberella stage where Common Market was playing. Common Market and the Blue Scholars share DJ Sabzi in common so we stopped to listen for a while, then headed over to get in line for Mike's monologue where we met up with John and Jenny. I'd also seen Mike Daisey regulars the Grubbs earlier in the afternoon and they, too, were at the show. Mike's work was tight and finely honed. As part of his monologue he referred to Ray by name a couple of times. It was kooky to be in the audience surrounded by people who were hearing about this "Ray" character when I was there sitting right next to him.

After Daisey's performance (which ran long), I split off from the group and made a mad dash over to the main stage (for which I had earlier picked up the extra-special, super-secret limited pass that would allow me to get in and which I had told numerous begging children that yes, I really did intend to use the pass myself) because the only other thing I really wanted to do was see the Blue Scholars. What I hadn't counted on, even knowing that Daisey was going to overlap their show a bit, was the crowd of people already lined up to see Kanye West (who I could give a shit about) milling around in my way, clogging up the check points and whatnot. After finally, finally getting to the venue, finding a seat and sitting down, I hear, "And now we'll close it out with this last one...." as the Blue Scholars sang their last song and said goodbye to the audience amid a roar of cheers. I briefly held out hope there might be an encore or something more, but no. I'd missed everything. I turned around and left, disgusted with myself, and decided to go over to the nearby McMenamins to have a proper non-fair-food dinner and a couple of pints that cost less than $7 each (and taste better). The Daiseys and the Scott Tyneses turned up there as well and I had a fine time with them the rest of the evening before catching the last bus home.

In mere moments we'll be leaving to pick Kate up from her dad, her triumphant return to Seattle after a summer spent mostly in Canada. School starts Wednesday, but I'm hoping today that Kate will want to spend the last day of summer at Bumbershoot with me.


Bumbershoot Day One

Well, People Talking and Singing was a very good show. During the intermission, volunteers and our celebrity guests roamed the aisles taking up a collection for 826 Seattle; David Eggers was hugging anyone who gave him a $20, Sarah Vowell would "buddy punch" anyone who put in $5 (or 5 buddy punches for a $20), posters signed by the entire guest cast were being sold from the stage and handed over by John Hodgman for $100. Sarah Vowell insisted on counting her donations herself and reported that she collected over $700 (and faced her bills, which drew a cheer from all the retail workers in the audience). They raised over $10,000 in addition to the ticket sales and were selling and autographing books and other items in the lobby after the show. Since Carol was giving me a ride I didn't linger but the whole event gave off the feeling that any one of us in the audience could have strolled up to any one of the people on stage after the show and had a conversation with them. My personal favorite bits of the night were Vowell's reading of a new essay on John Fremont's explorations of Nevada (after whom Las Vegas's Fremont Street is named, the man whose expedition officially "discovered" Lake Tahoe for the United States) and specifically the sections about his cartographer, Charles Preuss (whose diaries of his three expeditions with Fremont are full of complaints such as "All my pants are torn." or "We're out of salt. Oh, what I wouldn't give for some salt." where one might expect him to be writing about the wonders which his party is discovering). Vowell set up each scene and Daniel Handler read Preuss's lines in hilarious deadpan. Jonathan Coulton did his delightful song about corporate co-workers turned brain-eating zombies (Re Your Brains) and had the whole audience singing along. While most of the musical interludes (at least those that didn't include Daniel Handler on the accordion) were not really my style, being more of the single musician on a stool with his guitar stuff (though I would have loved to have seen last year's line-up which included Mike Doughty, a personal favorite of mine since his Soul Coughing days) but the literary stuff was right up my alley. Loved it.

Today I got off to a bit of slow start because I was caught up finishing Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World which Warren recommended to me recently. I blew through that book in two days and found it strange in a good way. Maybe I caught on to the "twist" too early or something, I've read reviews by people who were completely baffled by the structure and subject of the story to the point of putting it down or being angry about it afterwards... I did not have that reaction. It's an odd book, nothing I would have picked up on my own, but I didn't find it unpleasant at all and I may try some of Murakami's other novels.

Anyway, because I spent the morning absorbed I didn't get off to Bumbershoot until early afternoon after running some errands. The 106 was dreadfully late again if you go by the posted schedule, but I've just about given up on trusting the posted schedule for that route. Made it downtown and headed straight for the Bumbershoot shuttle which helped me make up some time. First on the agenda was Blondie, whose show was about half-done when I arrived. I had no trouble getting in, though. Debbie Harry was clad head to toe in dayglo green spandex and they played recognizable versions of all their hits while I was there, so woohoo. Next up were the Epoxies. I was a little worried about getting into that show because the line seemed very long but it was ok. Had a great view of the stage, right up close, and the Epoxies rocked the place down. It was fantastic. The crowd was so into it and I think Roxy was a little surprised at our enthusiasm. This may have been the best Epoxies show I've been to yet!

Immediately after the Epoxies finished the Bumbershoot staff cleared the venue to get it ready for the next show, so I literally exited the building and went back around to the front to get in line for The Thermals, another Portland band I've been wanting to get to know. The crowd for The Thermals was much younger. I ended up in line next to a pack of young teens who were just so damn cute I could hardly stand it: a kid with green mohawk and braces on his teeth (a combo that always makes me go awwwww) who seemed like a good-natured goof; Ziggy, who was determined to wrap his wet shoes in duct tape and have all his friends sign them; the young blonde who called her dad to make sure it was okay if she stayed out for the Blood Brother's show that ended at 10:15, the kid who allowed the blonde to draw a curly mustache on him with a black sharpie. Their discussions ranged over all sorts of things: which is older, Ozzy or Rocky Horror; which is more "sensual", duct tape or hand cuffs; if you're going to write LOVE and HATE on your knuckles, should HATE be on your left or right hand; is the cartoon Recess better than the cartoon Doug; who had been to Canada and what had they done there (which prompted the girls to begin squealing about High Tea at the Empress Hotel). I sat quietly and pretended to play solitaire on my Palm but mostly I just listened to their chatter and was amused. They seemed like nice, happy kids. The Thermals, while they're no Epoxies, were good enough to keep my entertained. I've certainly sat through far worse bands.

After The Thermals I thought about trying to get into the David Cross/Todd Barry/Jon Benjamin comedy performance, but the line was already full and the show sold out so I ended up buying a grossly expensive cup of beer and then making my way over to The Bumberbout Flat Track Roller Derby Invitational Championship bouts. Fighting it out for third place were Madison's Mad Rollin' Dolls (motto "Hurt in a Skirt") versus the Minnesota Rollergirls. As a Minnesota girl, I had to cheer my home state but the Minnesota Rollergirls got creamed 96 to 50 (or something very close to that). At the end of the match the Minnesota team had at least five girls holding ice packs to various body parts. Ouch. The second match to determine first and second place for the tournament was between Austin's Texecutioners and Seattle's own Rat City Rollergirls. This was a brutal, hard-fought match that the Rat City girls lost by only 5 points amid all sorts of rough play, leg-whips, penalties, general confusion, and special circumstances (such as what to do when both teams' jammers are in the penalty box; or under what circumstance the jammer can pass her position to her team's pivot, something that did happen during the game to the announcers' amazement). Ripping good game, that one. I am woefully ignorant of the rules for Flat Track Roller Derby (particularly scoring) but I picked up a good lot of it just by watching those two matches and had a good time. Plus the DJ was playing great punk rock that could have come pick for pick from our home collection.

All in all a good, if long day. I'm going to do it again tomorrow, only I'm going to try to get an earlier start so I have the luxury of just walking around and picking this or that if it appeals to me. Today I was on a schedule to hit several things in particular. Tomorrow is wide open.


Bumbershoot Pre-show

I've lived in the region since 1993 but never came down from Vancouver for Bumbershoot and haven't tried out the festival since I moved to Seattle almost ten years ago. I bought in early, got discounted passes earlier this spring and am now planning to make the most of this last weekend of summer.

It starts tonight with a pre-Bumbershoot benefit show. The show benefits 826 Seattle, a nonprofit writing and tutoring center whose goal is to help school kids up to age 18 "improve their creative and expository writing skills." It was my sixth grade teacher, Mr. Mills, who encouraged me to start writing. I wrote dreadful, abysmal pre-teen poetry, I wrote ridiculous diaries, I wrote protest letters (to Louisiana Pacific, for folding the Portland Timbers) and fan letters (to John Bain, my local soccer heart-throb) and 20-page letters to my pen pals from band camp. Now I own my own publishing company. Mr. Mills' seed of encouragement grew into a life skill and my life's work. Call me a do-gooder if you want but I'm pleased to contribute to a group that hopes to plant and nurture that seed in other children.

The line-up for People Talking and Singing is eclectic. David Eggers; Sarah Vowel; Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket); the Seattle pre-teen sisters who make up the band Smoosh and members of other indie and eclectic bands that I'm largely unfamiliar with (Rogue Wave, The Decemberists, The Magnetic Fields); John Hodgman, who is currently appearing in those Mac vs. PC ads in case you have missed seeing him on the Daily Show or hearing him on This American Life or reading his book The Areas of My Expertise; Jonathan Coulton, whose acoustic version of Baby Got Back is hilarious; plus other "surprise" guests promised. Sounds like another excuse for good fun for a good cause. Sign me up.

Chris is seeing Radio Birdman at El Corazon tonight and I'd normally be there right alongside him but I bought these tickets before I realized the conflict. Instead, my friend Carol is going to People Talking and Singing with me.


My Mom Needs Snopes

Argh. My mom tried to tell me tonight that "UCLA" was trying to "remove all headstones with crosses from national cemeteries."

"You mean the ACLU?" I asked, suspicious off the bat that my mom couldn't even get the name of the "enemy" right.

"Yeah, them." So she goes on to tell me how wrong it is to meddle in the expression of personal religious belief, especially that of veterans who defended our freedoms. (A position I completely agree with, which is why I oppose government discrimination against Wiccans, such as this case involving a deceased Wiccan military veteran, recipient of the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart, not that I got into that with my mom at this juncture.)

"Uh, ok," I said, "that sounds pretty crazy and really unlike the kind of thing the ACLU normally does."

"Write your congressman! Write the President!" says my mom.

"Uh, well, I'm going to have to investigate it. And seriously, Mom, it's not like the President cares what I have to say..."

"I've investigated it, I know it's true. The guys at the VFW and the American Legion are all fighting this!"

"Tell you what, Mom. I'll look into this. Lemme get back to you. Just promise that you'll hold off judging the ACLU as an organization based on this one story?"

Sure enough, Snopes has a page dedicated to this claim. And, just as my bullshit detector told me, it's not true. If only my mom had Snopes! Seriously, I feel like I have to protect her from this stuff. I worry that she's going to be one of those little old ladies who believes she "won" a "Mexican lottery" or who wastes her time and energy getting all upset because "those Mexicans have more rights than we do" because public buildings post instructions in Spanish. I love my mom and I really don't want to see her get suckered. I don't care if she decides that she hates the ACLU, I'd just feel much better knowing that she made her decision based on things they've actually done! Is that so much to ask?