Bad Day for Amazon: Amazon's Fire Phone debuted to fairly horrible reviews from the tech blogs. Also, today's Shelf Awareness reported that a survey indicates Amazon's battle with Hachette has hurt Amazon's image: "Of 5,286 book buyers polled by Codex between July 11 and July 19, 39.4% were aware of the dispute, and 19.2% of those aware of the dispute were buying fewer books from Amazon." In addition, Publishers Weekly actually talked to a real live Amazon spokesperson who did a terrible job of making a case for the online retailer, claiming that Hachette "should stop using their authors as human shields." They're asking authors to keep out of the conflict. (For the record: Most of the Hachette authors we've talked to don't feel like human shields; they feel like Amazon is using them as a doormat.)
Seattle Opera, the Book!: Bette Midler in the world premiere of The Who's Tommy in 1971? Power struggles at the company's beginning? The unbelievers who challenged the idea that a podunk town like Seattle could stage Wagner's four-opera Ring cycle, and the underdog company that proved them stark ravingly wrong, right up to the point of international acclaim? Seattle Opera, 50 years old this year, has written its first-ever autobiography—actually, it's commissioned longtime Seattle Times critic Melinda Bargreen to write it—and the book is available at the company's gift shop at McCaw Hall or online. It's $65 unless you're a subscriber, in which case it's $55. Designed by Marquand Books, it's bound to be a handsome object. (See what we did there?)
Work's Started on Three Big Murals Downtown, Each the Length of a City Block: Murals are going up on the fence that surrounds the huge future construction site of what's being called Civic Square, between Third and Fourth avenues and Cherry and James streets. (This will be the city's Civic Center campus, including City Hall, Seattle Justice Center, and Seattle Municipal Tower.) Out there working at the site this week is Chicago artist Hebru Brantley, whose Tuskegee Airmen-inspired sculptures in his hometown were just vandalized (boo). Next week the Denver wife-and-husband artist team Hollis + Lana start painting their mural, scheduled to be finished August 24; and tomorrow through September 12, terrific Seattle artists Claude Zervas and Joe Park will paint their work. The murals, funded by Triad Development, may remain in place for several years until construction begins.
We Really Like the Artist Ellen Lesperance: The Seattle native who makes paintings, drawings, and sweaters representing events of political resistance around the world last showed here in 2011; we just found out she's got an exhibition in Portland in September, so mark your calendar.
Here's a picture of one of Lesperance's works. It's called No More Nightmares.
- Ellen Lesperance
"Our goal was to create the deepest digital archive of any show ever." : Through a new deal with FXX, every episode of The Simpsons will soon be available online and accessible via the Simpsons World app. ("[The] experience is not for everyone," writes the Hollywood Reporter. "Simpsons World, like FXNow, requires cable subscription authentication.")
Man Booker Prize Finalists Announced: Read the list of 13 finalists at USA Today.
Headline of the Day: "Giant Yellow Toad Shrinks Online After Resemblance to Leader Is Noted."