The 2019 Locus Award nominees: your guide to the best sf/f of 2018

Locus Magazine has published its annual Locus Award finalists, a shortlist of the best science fiction and fantasy of the past calendar year. I rely on this list to find the books I've overlooked (so. many. books.). This year's looks like a bumper crop. Read the rest

Seattle mainstay musician Shawn Smith of Brad, Satchel, and Pigeonhed, RIP

Shawn Smith, the soulful singer who was a legend in the Seattle music scene, died yesterday at age 53. I first encountered Shawn's voice in the early-1990s by way of Greg Dulli's bands the Afghan Whigs and Twilight Singers. But Smith's influence on the Seattle music scene, and rock in general, dates back to the mid-1980s when he was part of the tight-knit community of musicians that birthed Mother Love Bone, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden.

Eerily, April 5 was the anniversary of the deaths of Seattle singers Kurt Cobain (Nirvana) and Layne Staley (Alice in Chains).

My condolences to Smith's son, family, friends, and the Seattle music community that adored him. From the Seattle Times:

In recent weeks, Smith was working on a new album with the band Brad, which he founded in 1992 with Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard, drummer Regan Hagar and bassist Jeremy Toback. They were recording at Studio Litho, owned by Gossard.

Born in Spokane, Smith came to Seattle in 1987, and formed a band called Malfunkshun with Hagar and Kevin and Andrew Wood (who would go on to form Mother Love Bone with Gossard and bassist Jeff Ament).

In 1992, he released his first solo album under the name Pigeonhed. That same year, Brad released its first album, “Shame” in 1993. The band would put out four albums, including “Interiors,” which features one of Smith’s best-known songs, “The Day Brings.”

He made two records with the band Satchel, and appeared on The Afghan Whigs’ album “Black Love,” as well as Whigs founder Greg Dulli’s solo album.

Read the rest

Seattle! Come see me TONIGHT at the Central Library with my new book RADICALIZED! Next up: Anaheim for Wondercon!

We had a fantastic time on Tuesday at the Ft Vancouver Library Revolutionary Reads event for Radicalized, my latest sf book. Tonight, I'll be in Seattle, appearing at the the Central Library at 7PM. From there, I finish the tour with a weekend at Wondercon in Anaheim. See you there (tell your friends)! (Image: Fort Vancouver Library) Read the rest

God of Hammers cosplay with LED eyes (don't try this!)

Thor is in the house.

I'm going out on tour with my new science fiction book RADICALIZED and I hope to see you!

Radicalized is my next science fiction book, out on March 18 from Tor Books: it contains four novellas about the hope and misery of our moment, from refugees resisting life in an automated IoT hell to health care executives being targeted by suicide bombers who have been traumatized by watching their loved ones die after being denied care. Tor Books is sending me on tour with the book in the US and Canada and I hope you can make it to one of my stops! Read the rest

Amazon killed Seattle's homelessness-relief tax by threatening not to move into a massive new building, then they canceled the move anyway

Seattle's immensely popular business tax was designed to do something about the city's epidemic of desperate homelessness, but then Amazon threw its muscle around to get the tax canceled, mostly by threatening not to occupy its new offices in Ranier Square, a 30-story building currently under construction that Amazon was to be sole tenant of, with 3,500-5,000 employees working out of the building. Read the rest

Economists reverse claims that $15 Seattle minimum wage hurt workers, admit it was largely beneficial

Earlier this year, a group of business school researchers from the University of Washington and NYU, as well as Amazon, published an influential paper claiming that the rising Seattle minimum wage had decreased take-home pay for workers by 6% due to cuts to work hours -- the paper was trumpeted by right-wing ideologues as examples of how "liberal policies" hurt the workers they are meant to help. Read the rest

City of Seattle's official tow partner impounded a homeless woman's stolen car and wanted $21,634 to give it back

Update: An earlier version of this article misidentified Dick's Towing of Everett as the Dick's Towing of Seattle involved this this story. I apologize to Dick's of Everett for the error.

Seattle is in the grips of a dire housing emergency (though the city has money to burn when it comes to subsidizing multi-billion-dollar sports teams); Amanda Ogle is one of the many people in Seattle living out of a car, in her case, a 1991 Camry. Read the rest

Seattle cops announce registry for high-risk swatting targets

The Seattle Police Department, having coped with two (thankfully) nonlethal swatting incidents since June, has announced a registry where people worried they might be swatted (previously) can sign up; the registry is a modification of the existing, third-party, private-sector Smart911 system, and the SPD says that if your name is on it, they will tread extra-carefully in evaluating SWAT-like reports of hostage-taking, active shooters and other high-risk crimes at your home or office. (via /.) Read the rest

Seattle to clear past marijuana possession convictions

Judges on Seattle's municipal court have agreed to clear misdemeanor marijuana possession convictions from the era before weed was legal in their state.

Via KOMO:

Judges in Seattle have agreed to clear past misdemeanor convictions for pot possession that were prosecuted before marijuana was legalized in Washington state.

Read the rest

Seattle can't afford to fund arts, housing or tourism, but it can find $135 million to repair the Mariners stadium

King County Council was ambushed by a series of surprise amendments to its meeting on Monday that resulted in $135,000,000 being diverted from hotel lodging tax funds earmarked for affordable housing, arts, and tourism boosting, to effect repairs to the Mariners stadium, despite the team being valued at nearly $1.5 billion. Read the rest

Listen to Death Cab for Cutie's new album "Thank You For Today"

Death Cab for Cutie release their new album, "Thank You For Today," on Friday and right now NPR is streaming the whole thing. It's a gorgeous, cohesive, and fresh collection of soulful songs brought to life with startling arrangements and dazzling production. I'm proud of my friends. Have a listen!

"First Listen: Death Cab For Cutie, 'Thank You For Today'" (NPR)

And in case you missed it, below is the video for the first single from the album, "Gold Rush," featuring a sample of Yoko Ono's "Mindtrain."

Read the rest

Seattle passes America's most comprehensive labor protections for domestic workers

Domestic workers -- overwhelming female, overwhelmingly racialized -- have historically been exempted from traditional labor protections, from the minimum wage to workplace safety to recourse for harassment and worse. Read the rest

New song and video from Death Cab for Cutie: "Gold Rush"

Today my friends in Death Cab for Cutie released the first song and video from their forthcoming album, Thank You for Today. Featuring a sample from Yoko Ono's "Mindtrain," the tune is a fantastic, funky, soulful shuffle with Ben Gibbard singing about the Seattle neighborhood of Capitol Hill that he's called home for two decades but now feels increasingly foreign. Not necessarily better or worse. Just different.

"As I've gotten older," Ben told NPR, "I've become acutely aware of how I connect my memories to my geography and [how] the landscape of the city changes. I'll walk down Broadway and walk past a location that used to be a bar I'd frequent with friends, or somewhere where I had a beautifully intense conversation with somebody that I once loved very much. The song is not a complaint about how things were better or anything like that. It's an observation, but more about coming to terms with the passage of time and losing the people and the moments in my life all over again as I walk down a street that is now so unfamiliar."

Death Cab for Cutie's ninth album, Thank You for Today, will be released August 17.

As a bonus, here's the sample source, Yoko Ono's Mindtrain from the album Fly (1971):

Read the rest

Podcast: Learn the hilarious stories behind the weird and quirky products of Archie McPhee

Want to know the stories behind finger hands, Handerpants (underpants for hands), and some of the other great novelty products from Seattle-based novelty giant Archie McPhee? I'm going to guess that you do. Let me point you to their new podcast Less Talk, More Monkey on iTunes and Google Play. It's hosted by my buddies-in-pop-culture Shana Danger, David Wahl, and Scott Heff.

Read the rest

Puget Sound mussels are failing drug tests

If you’ve been using or abusing an opioid, then your pee’s been full of opioids. When your opioid-laced pee gets flushed away, those opioids wind up in our water: our reservoirs, streams and oceans.

And that, friends, is why mussels are failing drug tests.

According to CBS News, scientists at Washington’s Department of Fish & Wildlife have found evidence that the dregs of the opioids we consume and then whiz out are now present enough in the waters around Seattle that mussels are testing positive for oxycodone. As mussels are filter feeders, they tend to soak up environmental contaminants into their tissues in large concentrations.

From CBS News:

Happily, mussels don't metabolize drugs like oxycodone and thus wouldn't necessarily be physically harmed by the presence of it in their tissues, studies show that fish are not so lucky. In fact, scientists at the University of Utah recently discovered that, if given the opportunity, zebrafish will willingly dose themselves with opioids. Scientists say salmon and other fish might have a similar response.

The Puget Sound Institute notes that the amounts of opioids detected were thousands of times smaller than a typical human dose. And none of the mussels tested are near any commercial shellfish beds.

So the shellfish are safe, but man are we screwed.

That the opioid levels in the mussels have become high enough to be detectable says a lot about the amount of painkillers that we, as a society, are using and abusing, let alone the environmental impact we as a species can have, simply by going to the bathroom. Read the rest

Archie McPhee's Rubber Chicken Museum opens in Seattle

They've been building it up for weeks...

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Have you heard? Just 5 days till our RUBBER CHICKEN MUSEUM GRAND OPENING! I heard there might be cake!?! 🍰🐔You don’t wanna miss out on cake do you?

A post shared by Archie McPhee (@archiemcphee) on May 6, 2018 at 4:20pm PDT

Teasing us with build photos of the world's largest rubber chicken...

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Adding some… ahem… chicken wire. #rcmuseum

A post shared by Archie McPhee (@archiemcphee) on Apr 23, 2018 at 10:24am PDT

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The World’s Largest Rubber Chicken is starting to fill out! (Next will be trimming it down.) #rcmuseum

A post shared by Archie McPhee (@archiemcphee) on Apr 26, 2018 at 9:53am PDT

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We don’t want to spoil the unveiling of the World’s Largest Rubber Chicken (happening at the grand opening of the Rubber Chicken Museum at our Seattle store this Friday (you should come))! But here are some pics to whet your appetite. #rcmuseum

A post shared by Archie McPhee (@archiemcphee) on May 9, 2018 at 9:54am PDT

Now, finally, the folks at Archie McPhee have opened the world's first Rubber Chicken Museum at their retail store in Seattle's Wallingford district! The grand opening ceremony for this fowl museum began on Friday at 3 PM, with much fanfare, clucking, and squawking.

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The opening of the new @archiemcphee Rubber Chicken Museum is close at hand.

A post shared by Mark Pahlow (@mcpheeceo) on May 11, 2018 at 2:45pm PDT

The museum's curator, the High Priestess of the Rubber Chicken Shana Iverson, used giant novelty scissors for the ribbon cutting, which was broadcast on Facebook Live. Read the rest

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