MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 27 The week begins with a hearty congratulations to Dr. Bertil Hille, the University of Washington professor of physiology and biophysics who has been named one of three recipients of the prestigious Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research! The Lasker Award -- created in 1945 by philanthropists Albert and Mary Lasker and known by many as "America's Nobel" -- was bestowed upon Dr. Hille for his work in helping to identify and describe the ion channel, a protein in the membrane cells that manages the electrical impulses which control nerve and muscle function. Like a biomedical Rocky, Dr. Hille waged a 30-year fight to identify the elusive protein, often combating the scorn and derision of the scientific community, who for years denied the very existence of the ion channel. But Hille, along with co-recipients Dr. Clay Armstrong of the University of Pennsylvania and Dr. Roderick MacKinnon of Rockefeller University, showed those faithless fucks what's what when they conclusively proved the existence of this basic electrical mechanism that resides in all living creatures, playing a valuable role in hormone secretion, the regulation of cardiac rhythms, and many disease processes. Hurrah!
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28 The week continues with our heartfelt condolences to what's left of the Roosevelt High School varsity football team, after more than half the team's members were suspended in connection with $13,000 worth of athletic equipment stolen from the University of Washington. Today's Seattle P-I reports that police recovered shoulder pads, athletic shoes, jerseys, jackets, and other Husky team equipment, as well as six two-way radios, from 25 Roosevelt football players; the seizure came after a Roosevelt student was seen at the recent UW-Colorado game sporting a soccer jacket reported missing from the UW athletic department. So far, punishment for the thieving students has ranged from five-day school suspensions to a single case of expulsion, and the Roosevelt team (having already lost their first three games) must forfeit its next two matches, as they don't have enough players to field a team. And while the theft of Husky equipment -- reportedly a long-standing tradition among Roosevelt footballers -- has cast a dark shadow over what was once considered Seattle's premiere public school, Roosevelt principal Dave Humphrey is upbeat about the possibility of "healing and change" for repentant students. However, rival high schools might not be so quick to forget; at their most recent match, Roosevelt's volleyball team was taunted by opponents with this encouraging chant: "Keep an eye on your stuff!"
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 29 Tonight Last Days put on long pants, applied products to our hair, and ventured out to the Intiman Theatre for opening night of their production of Kaufman and Ferber's classic comedy The Royal Family. The play was entertaining enough (particularly the performance of Dame Barbara Dirickson, who is, it must be said, funnier than shit), but the real show began after curtain call, when the theater was transformed into a back-slapping, celebrity speech-giving, wine and hummus-drenched tribute to departing artistic director Warner Shook. After opening remarks from Barbara "Funnier Than Shit" Dirickson, the stage was taken by Mayor Paul Schell, who informed the flamboyantly abashed Shook that Wednesday, September 29, 1999 would forever be "Warner Shook Day," before passing the mic to chanteuse Andrea Marcovicci, who managed to make it through three whole numbers without drowning in her own tears. And while the departure of Warner Shook is a bittersweet affair (sure, he brought us Angels in America, but he also cast what's-his-face as Prior Walter -- twice), this festive commemoration of Shook's near-decade of artistic service was a winner, if only for providing Last Days the opportunity to share a restroom with Paul Schell (who urinated in a stall and diligently washed his hands afterward).
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 30 Today at a uranium reprocessing plant in Japan, a worker loaded 35 pounds of uranium into a container meant to hold less than five pounds, accidentally creating a "critical mass" and causing the worst nuclear accident in Japan's history. He has been fired.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 1 While the sticky-fingered students of Roosevelt grapple with their guilty consciences and soiled permanent records, one dim-witted Puyallup student faces charges of racism. An unnamed senior at Puyallup High School has been expelled indefinitely for posing in his class' group photo wearing blackface. The incident, reported today by the Associated Press, took place on Tuesday, when the 606 members of Puyallup's senior class gathered on the football field for the Class of 2000 photo. School officials report that some of the students had used black paint to cover their arms, while one used the paint to cover his face. And though several students complained to the assistant principal about the inclusion of the boy in the school photo, the teenaged Jolson was allowed to remain in blackface until after the shot was taken. In the wake of complaints from outraged parents and students, the school district is investigating whether the student painted his face black as a joke, or as a racist act (can't it be both?), as well as why the student was allowed to remain in the photo in the first place. In the meantime, the formerly blackfaced student will be mulling over his transgression at home, and his face will be airbrushed out of the school picture.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 2 It's the question that's been quivering on the tip of countless Seattleites' tongues for months: In the lush, plentiful bounty of the Pacific Northwest, why is it so freaking hard to find pot? Today the Associated Press offered an answer, reporting the Oregon State Police's seizure of 130 pounds of marijuana at the scene of last week's deadly 42-car pileup along Interstate 84. Police have confirmed that the dope -- stashed in four duffel bags and with an estimated street value of $600,000 to $750,000 -- has been tied to a Canadian operation that supplies drugs to the West Coast. One of the first vehicles involved in the pileup was a motor home with Canadian license plates; police believe the vehicle's owners tried to hide the dope after the vehicle was totaled and subsequently towed. The stash was found at the scene of the pileup by a citizen who thought the blue nylon duffel bags might contain a coat. Upon discovery of the duffel bags' true contents, the deeply stupid man immediately handed the goods to authorities.
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 3 Happy Birthday, Gore Vidal! Today was the 74th birthday of America's meanest, smartest, and funniest writer (piss off, Parker; too bad, Twain). Born in 1925 at the United States Military Academy at West Point, Vidal published his first novel in 1946, going on to write essays, plays, and historical fiction, and teaching several generations of writers how to have eloquent scorn for everyone and everything. Last Days adores Gore Vidal and insists that everyone reading this column drop this trashy rag and immediately go read everything he ever wrote (start with the slender Myra Breckenridge and the hefty United States). Next month, Gore Vidal will be appearing at the University Book Store, and if we may be candid, no matter what condition Gore Vidal is in today, married or not, decrepit or not, Last Days is ready to give him a good time for old times' sake.
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