THE LAST TIME I had Frank Blethen over to my Orcas Island home, I told him to offer you people a decent contract. Frank was up at the island to check out my new 60,000-square-foot greenhouse. Did you know that Frank and I share a passion for raising rare orchids? The man does have a soft side.

Anyway, I looked Frank in the eye and said, "Don't be a skinflint, Blethen. Pay your people what they're worth." He replied that they aren't worth a pinch of shit. I stood up for you folks and told that tight S.O.B. that you are certainly worth a "pinch of shit." And not a penny more. Ha!

Anyway, that vein on Frank's forehead was starting to throb when my Jewish wife (as rare on Orcas as some of my orchids!) rolled out the cocktail cart. Seeing as it's Christmas, if any of you strikers are looking to make some extra cash or are just missing the feel of the newsroom, we're looking for help at The Stranger.

You'd have to come 'round at night, however. Empty the bins, scrub down the break room, clean the bird cages in my bi-level office suite, and go. I don't want a lot of strikers putting ideas into the heads of my employees. We've never had a strike at The Stranger, and I intend to keep it that way.

If big labor wants to unionize a local weekly paper, I suggest they go after a certain publication that's been afflicting the comfortable (with bridal issues) and comforting the afflicted (with gift guides) for 75 years now.

My family sends blessings to all of you at this sacred time of year.

Tim K

Publisher, The Stranger