This paint-by-numbers tabloid is, of course, quite familiar with the dark artistries involved in publishing stories that lack any serious purpose or intellectual heft. Usually the formula involves putting an enticing—and thoroughly misleading—headline atop the latest puddle of poisonous bile, in much the same way that the fearsome Dionaea muscipula (commoners call it the Venus flytrap) lures its unsuspecting prey with pretty colors, interesting its intended victim just enough that the poor, doomed creature decides to venture more deeply into the inviting column of promised delight, at which point the flytrap snaps shut and drowns the fly in a tiny sea of dark toxic muck.

My little insects, I have been warning you for some years about the tiny sea of dark toxic muck that is The Stranger in the hopes that you would avoid it, along with the flesh-eaten demise that comes to all who wallow inside. My further hope was that, as a result of your decision to stay away, this devil beast of a civic weed would simply wither up and die of starvation. Unfortunately, young Seattleites breed like, well, flies. There is simply no end to the new arrivals who show up slavering at the city's news boxes with no knowledge of my warnings, blithely buzzing toward a grim fate. This week, however, I have been given hope that protection for our fair youth may be arriving from a different direction.

To my surprise, it appears that The Stranger is suddenly losing its ability to employ smarm and hyperbole as bait for readers. How else to interpret TRENT MOORMAN's remarkably pointless piece on the Bodies exhibition in downtown Seattle? In the former Stranger-as-Venus-flytrap conceit, the story would have been framed as something along the lines of: "Trent Moorman Exposes [Expletive] in the Amazing [Expletive] Body [Disgusting] Because [Not English]." Instead, in this new "I don't even care anymore" age of The Stranger, the story is simply framed as Mr. Moorman sneaking dried meat products into the exhibit... and eating them. I am not complaining that Mr. Moorman is merely guilty of the crime of misplaced mastication; I am merely surprised that this concept made it past the prurient tastes of the editors of this dried-up scandal sheet. Surely, the ink-stained newsmen down at Fairview Fanny are shaking in their boots at this show of journalistic might.

In another sign of some sort of psychic shift (or, more likely, psychotic break) within the Stranger offices, this week the music section, instead of sneering at the world through irony-tinted glasses and studiously ignoring the entire genre of polka, pays attention to the greatest popular song of the last quarter-century, "We Are the World," by two men whom I would rather not mention. Of course, it took a remake to garner MICHAELANGELO MATOS's interest in this masterwork, but I am willing to forgive him his tardiness for the simple act of finally grasping that, as I have long said, "the world must come together as one." (Under proper conservative leadership and without soaking the rich, mind you.)

I don't know what is happening to you, Stranger, but I sincerely hope this leave from your normal senses continues into next week. recommended