MONDAY, DECEMBER 10 This week of deadly fundamentalism, indicted drama instructors, and spectacularly lousy parenting kicks off with the third-of-the-nation-paralyzing cold front that stretched from Texas to New Hampshire. Among the freakish and merciless ice storm's claims to fame: the blacking out of nearly a million homes and businesses (including hospitals, nursing homes, and sewage-treatment plants); the interruption of countless planes, trains, and automobiles; and at least 39 deaths, including three dozen people who met their ends on icy roads in Okalahoma and the Midwest and one transient who died of hypothermia. Condolences to our ice-caked fellow Americans, and confidential to God: After last week's flooding and this week's ice storm, Last Days looks morbidly forward to what you have in store for next week. May we suggest a rain of fire?
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 11 Speaking of the evils of God: Today brings a story from Mississauga, Ontario, where God's colorful cousin Allah stands accused of inspiring a Muslim father to allegedly murder his daughter over her failure to wear traditional Islamic dress. Details come from Canada's National Post, which reports the saga kicked into high gear early yesterday morning after Muhammad Parvez, a 57-year-old cab driver, told 911 operators that he had killed his daughter. Police arrived to find 16-year-old Aqsa Parvez lying motionless on her bedroom floor, to all appearances dead but with a faint pulse. Only after the girl was rushed to the hospital did her father's 911 report become accurate, as Aqsa was pronounced dead from what police sources cited as strangulation. "[Aqsa] was scared of her father," said friend and classmate Dominiquia Holmes-Thompson to the National Post today, confirming that the Aqsa had fled her family home a week before the attack because of arguments with her father and brothers over her refusal to wear traditional Muslim garb. Now, Muhammad Parvez stands charged with murder, older brother Waqas Parvez stands charged with obstructing police in connection with his sister's death, and Aqsa Parvez remains tragically, stupidly dead. Thank you, Allah, for teaching us what religion is all about: fatal arguments over fashion.
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 12 In lighter news (no one dies): Today brings the upsetting saga of Benjamin Keylin, the executive director of the Mercer Island drama school Youth Theatre Northwest who was charged yesterday with rape and inappropriate contact with a minor. Details come from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which identifies the 57-year-old Keylin's alleged victims as a 16-year-old girl whom Keylin allegedly "touched inappropriately" and the girl's 18-year-old, mildly autistic sister, whom Keylin allegedly groped then forced into sex. (Making matters worse: These aren't the first allegations against Keylin, who was charged with third-degree rape but pleaded guilty to fourth-degree assault in the early 1990s. A spokesperson for Youth Theatre Northwest, where Keylin has served as director since January 2003, told the P-I that a background check on Keylin revealed "nothing of this nature.") "No children of the theater are involved in this case," said Doreen Kindred, cochairwoman of the theater's board of directors. "It's a personal matter for Mr. Keylin." It's also a legal one: If convicted of third-degree rape and communicating with a minor for immoral purposes, Keylin faces up to a year in jail. Stay tuned.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 13 Speaking of staying tuned: Today brings some follow-up to the twisty tale of Richard Curtis, the former Washington State lawmaker whose secret hunger for same-sex tail led him into a nightmare of missing wallets, exploding closets, and alleged extortion. Today brought charges in connection with that alleged extortion, as Cody Castagna, the 26-year-old rent boy who tussled with Curtis in a Spokane hotel room—allegedly stealing Curtis's credit card and threatening to expose the Republican lawmaker if he didn't cough up more cash—was charged with three counts of second-degree theft of a credit card, one count of second-degree extortion, and one count of conspiracy to commit second-degree extortion. Also charged: Castagna's brother Joseph Castagna and friends Robert Fletcher and Brandon Burchell, all of whom stand accused of second-degree extortion and conspiracy to commit second-degree extortion.
The Associated Press reports that all four men have been asked to surrender to authorities, and prosecutors have sent out a news release asking for potential past victims of Castagna to come forward. "There were multiple threats and multiple payoffs in this instance," said police Sgt. Joe Peterson. "It just seems like this was not the first time."
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 14 Nothing happened today, unless you count the desertion of a naked 8-month-old baby in the ladies' room of a Bremerton, Washington, bowling alley. The Associated Press reports that the abandoned infant—a boy—was found by a patron of the bowling alley this evening. After waiting half an hour for the baby's owner to return, the patron alerted police, and officers arrived at Bremerton Lanes to find a baby who "appeared to be well-fed but was naked and had raised, red, pinhead-sized marks all over his body, as well as severe diaper rash." What's more, officers found the infant's mother—a 20-year-old Bremerton woman—on the other side of the bowling alley shooting pool. "Others at the bowling alley say the mother often left her baby naked in his stroller while she played pool," reports the AP. After the baby's grandmother told police the marks on the child were "probably flea bites," the boy was turned over to Child Protective Services.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 15 The week continues with an absolutely hideous happening at an absolutely ridiculous place: Hoppin' Houses, a 6,000-square-foot inflatable indoor playground in Castle Rock, Washington, where this afternoon a 3-year-old boy at a birthday party was fatally crushed when two bouncing adults landed on him. Details come from the Longview Daily News, which reports the unnamed 3-year-old had either fallen off or was standing beside an inflatable play structure when two adults who were bouncing inside the toy fell off and landed on top of him, causing serious and ultimately fatal head injuries. Condolences to everyone.
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 16 Speaking of condolences: Last Days extends voluminous ones to the City of Seattle, which tonight lost a major and beloved cultural institution when the Crocodile Cafe abruptly closed its doors for good. As a Croc patron for the past 16 years, Last Days has spent some of the most exciting hours of our life in that sweetly skanky pit, including but not limited to the amazing Sleater-Kinney show after the release of Dig Me Out; the even more amazing Libertines show after the (U.S.) release of Up the Bracket; the Velvet Underground tribute night hosted by Hannah Levin and yours truly, featuring a dozen great Seattle bands and one real-live VU vet (Doug "I sang 'Candy Says'" Yule); and of course, the first-ever Stranger Gong Show. RIP Crocodile, and final condolences to the Croc employees who suddenly found themselves jobless the week before Christmas. (Last Days knows nothing about owning and operating a nightclub, but you undoubtedly deserved better.)
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