Autumn is finally here, and with it merciful relief from the crippling humidity-induced bursitis that grates on my good cheer in the summer months. Earlier this week, I made my twice-yearly visit to the haberdashery and then to the tailor to have my cravats adjusted to suit this season's fashions. I felt like a new man. But now, as I sit down with The Stranger, the left side of my hip is burning again and I feel that old, familiar sourness rising in my stomach. In short, the readership of this publication cannot dwindle to nothing soon enough for me; on the day The Stranger dies, I will feel like a spry young man of 50 again.

Sadly, that day is not today. Instead, in the portion of the paper ironically referred to as "News," we get ERICA C. BARNETT drunkenly clambering up onto her soapbox to blather about minor local-election issues of no consequence—something to do with those mobile homeless shelters we euphemistically refer to as "public transit" and a few superficial adjustments to an eyesore of a downtown tourist trap. All voters have to remember this year is to tick two boxes at the top of the ballot—one for John McCain and one for Dino Rossi—and other issues will surely sort themselves out in due haste. Elsewhere in "News," JONAH SPANGENTHAL-LEE weakly impersonates the pulpy, lurid dime-novel fare he so ardently admires whilst gibbering on about violence in the southern part of Seattle. He seems to envision himself a Sam Spade, wading waist-deep into the bloody gutters of Rainier Valley, when everybody knows that, at the first threat of danger, Mr. Spangenthal-Lee would fearfully retreat to the cooling shade of his trust fund, lest he scuff his most recent pedicure.

For a man who has made a sport—and a moderately impressive fortune—out of insulting other people's tragic vulnerabilities, DAN SAVAGE has written a feature that seems remarkably human. He reports on the recent passing of his mother from this earthly coil with tenderness and shockingly few references to his own deviancy. Frankly, I previously believed all homosexuals were bitterly estranged from their families. On that score, this piece has opened my eyes. Were it not for Mr. Savage's gratuitous, vicious, and unwarranted attacks on my dear friend and bid euchre partner Joel Connelly, I would say the article actually achieved the unimaginable feat of making Mr. Savage seem sympathetic and likable.

Elsewhere in this seemingly never-ending drone of a gossip sheet, opium addict BRENDAN KILEY attempts to tie a play about the horrors of partial-birth abortion and self-abuse to the esteemed governor of the Great State of Alaska (he fails); closet case PAUL CONSTANT dithers on about the specious subjects of hoboes, radical terrorists, and severely mentally retarded children (he bores); and functional illiterate DAVID SCHMADER visits a factory where some kind of horrific hippie food is produced (he disgusts).

And now, if you'll excuse me, my gall bladder is aching violently; I must take to bed and dream of collapsing circulation numbers. recommended