This week in the ridiculous soap opera of arrested development and smug self-satisfaction that is The Stranger, BRENDAN KILEY composes yet another ode to his one true love—illegal narcotics. At least this one is not as bad as I had originally feared: Mr. Kiley isn't trying to milk another few thousand column inches out of the tired subject of cocaine. (Notice how he yammered on and on and on and on about said stimulant, long after we'd all lost interest, like an aficionado thereof?) No, instead Mr. Kiley waxes poetic this week about an entirely new drug—a synthetic opiate called fentanyl that is reportedly much stronger than heroin.

While Mr. Kiley is ostensibly sounding an alarm about the ill effects of a new recreational drug, it is obvious if you read "between the lines" that he is alerting Seattle's drug-abusing community (that is to say, all Stranger readers) to the existence of a new "high" for them to experience. I expect demand for fentanyl to increase exponentially as soon as Mr. Kiley's advertisement for the dark side hits the streets. If I had not already wasted the better part of the golden years of my retirement reading The Stranger, I would ask if this newsweekly has lost its institutional shame at last, but of course there is no institutional shame at The Stranger and never has been.

As if to leaven the effects of Mr. Kiley's uselessly lurid prose, the arts editors have kicked in a series of rewritten press releases under the tired magazine-hack rubric of the Spring Arts Guide. I suppose it is better to be faced with a series of short, mostly inoffensive blurbs than a longer piece by any one of these "authors," so I approve of this waste of space. Better pointless and unreadable than malicious and unreadable, I always say.

Meanwhile, the gibbering dolts behind the "news" section have produced a smorgasbord of their pet causes, a kind of idiotic greatest-hits collection. CIENNA MADRID exults in the idea that we will be able to buy germ-coated food on the sidewalk from strangers, like Gypsies. DOMINIC HOLDEN contributes another diatribe about the tunnel. (Stand in the way of progress much longer, Mr. Holden, and you will have an enormous hole drilled right through the center of you.) Pair that with not one but two "stories" about marijuana (in case there wasn't enough drug-related content in this week's issue for you), and a piece about Seattle's doomed educational system that is as nonsensical and endless as the author's surname, and you've got a "hat trick" of mediocrity.

Elsewhere, the usual dreck by the usual bleck: MEG-AN SELING proves to be as awful at interviewing musicians as she is at "reviewing" candy bars... BETHANY JEAN CLEMENT continues to go on about some subject (food? One can never tell for sure)... and DAN SAVAGE tops it all off with the "joy" of laughing at other people's sexual shames.