The Stranger's 2019 SIFF Picks

Slog PM: No Cookies for Ben Carson; Sue Bird Is Out; Compost Me, Mommy!

No cookies for you.
No cookies for you. Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Image; Cookie Emoji by Me

Feed me to the dirt, daddy: "Human composting" has been officially signed into law! Currently, Washington only allows burial and cremation, but starting May 1, 2020, Washingtonians can choose the environmentally-friendly option of being turned into soil. Stranger's Katie Herzog has an interview with Katrina Spade, the designer planning on opening "Recompose Seattle," a funeral home offering recomposition, here. I bet this is great news for people who have formicophilia ("a sexual interest in being crawled on or nibbled by insects," as Savage has put it).

No cookies for Ben Carson: Not until he can properly describe what an R.E.O. is. In case you forgot, this man is the United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

Also in case you forgot, Stranger readers voted in 2018 that Ben Carson is more fuckable than Betsy DeVos and less fuckable than Jared Kushner. TBH I'd fuck Ben Carson.

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The Reason Why We Live in the Future Birthed by Hiphop

Charles Mudede; Roy Christopher
Charles Mudede; Roy Christopher

As I have written before, the three great science fiction works of the first half of the '80s are Blade Runner (1982) by Ridley Scott, "Clear" (1983) by Cybotron, and Neuromancer (1984) by William Gibson. With these three, we get the images of the urban future, the sound of the urban future, and the language of the urban future. LA is the city in the movie, Detroit is the city in the music, Tokyo is the city at the center of the book. The movie takes place in the real of urban space, the music transitions from urban space to synthetic cyberspace, and the book is the immersion of real and synthetic space in cyberspace. (The transition from cyberspace to urban space also opens the movie Tron, which was released the same year as Blade Runner.) The world in which we find all three spaces converging is the precisely the one we live in now.

The cultural critic and professor Roy Christopher sees it in another but still similar way. For him, the defining cultural movements of the 1980s are hiphop music and cyberpunk (novels and film). They are, for him, two suns rising on a Western world with an atmosphere which, when fully formed, will fill the lungs of the inhabitants of the 21st century. This is a key theme in his new book Dead Precedents: How Hip-Hop Defines the Future. In order to understand the cultural impact of hiphop today, one has to examine its deep technological and science fictional origins, and how those origins are closely related to the way computing and biological technologies are represented in early cyberpunk fiction and film. There is, for Christopher, a correspondence. And we will discuss these correspondences and other aspects of his new book tomorrow at 7 pm at Elliot Bay Book Store.

As Amazon Opens the Cash Spigot to Flip the Council, These Candidates Say, "Yes, Daddy!"

We asked every single candidate for Seattle City Council whether they want help from a well-financed political action committee whose biggest donor (by far) is Amazon.
We asked each person running for Seattle City Council whether they want help from a powerful, Amazon-funded PAC. Here's who said yes. PeopleImages / Getty Images

It’s no secret that some of Seattle’s biggest businesses are attempting to tilt this year's Seattle City Council races. These companies are still pissed about last year's attempted "Head Tax" and seem to feel emboldened after successfully getting the council to ditch the tax, which would have funded homelessness services but was so hated by Amazon that the company halted local construction in protest.

To make sure the next council is more to Amazon's liking, the company has so far put $200,000 into a political action committee run by the Seattle Chamber of Commerce, making Amazon the single largest financial backer of the PAC, which now boasts a total of more than $700,000 in its war chest.

This PAC goes by the name Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy (CASE) and under city rules it'll be allowed to spend unlimited amounts to influence this fall's elections, though it can't coordinate its efforts with any individual campaign.

Mysteriously, CASE has yet to indicate which candidates it intends to push for the seven council seats that are up for grabs this year. So we decided to ask a different question: Which of the 56 Seattle City Council candidates actually want CASE to use its money to help them win?

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Trial by Fire: The Feel-Lousy Film of the Year

Be prepared to have your gut wrenched.
Be prepared to have your gut wrenched. ROADSIDE ATTRACTIONS

Trial by Fire is a the saddest movie I’ve ever seen in my entire life. It’s based on the real-life sad and depressing story of a Texas man, Cameron Todd Willingham (played here Jack O’Connell), who was sent to death row for allegedly starting the house fire that resulted in the deaths of his three young daughters. While in prison, Willingham is befriended by writer and do-gooder Elizabeth Gilbert (Laura Dern), who tries to help him with an appeal to save his life.

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Two Interactive Music Videos for Your Time-Killing Pleasure from Red Fang and Ale Hop


Long gone is the time of sitting goggle-eyed in front of your shitty television while the latest Def Leppard video played every hour on the hour on MTV. These days, you gotta put a little effort into it if you wanna enjoy the nice music.

In recent weeks, a pair of artists—Portland heavy rockers Red Fang and Peruvian experimental musician Ale Hop—have separately dropped new interactive videos into the world, both of which encourage your active participation to move the narrative forward or, in the case of the latter clip, change the sounds coming out of your headphones.

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99 Stranger (Than Usual) Things To Do in Seattle This Week: May 21-27 , 2019

Get your mind blown and your world rocked by the circus-trained felines of the Amazing Acro-cats (featuring the musically talented Tuna and the Rock Cats) through Thursday.
Get your mind blown and your world rocked by the circus-trained felines of the Amazing Acro-cats (featuring the musically talented Tuna and the Rock Cats) through Thursday.

Our arts critics have already recommended 44 great things to do this week and our music critics have picked the 38 best music shows, but there are still lots more events happening—including a few on Memorial Day. To prevent some of the quirkier and more extraordinary ones from slipping through the cracks, we've compiled them here—from TRL: "As Long As You Love May" Edition to PaizoCon, and from the Seattle Red Dress Party to Bascule: A Concert with Fremont Bridge Resident Paurl Walsh. For even more options this week, check out our complete Things To Do calendar.

Found something you like and don't want to forget about it later? Click "Save Event" on any of the linked events below to add it to your own private list.



  1. National Geographic Live — Day to Night
    In the latest multimedia show led by a NatGeo photographer, Stephen Wilkes will show how photos can change public perceptions. He has experience in the matter: According to publicity materials, his long-term study of Ellis Island's south side led to a restoration of its historical medical buildings, while his snapshots of the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy called attention to climate change. He'll give you insight into his latest series, Day to Night, in which he composites images taken from a stationary camera over 30 hours.

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The Man She Married Stole Her Car

I'm a 41-year-old woman in my second marriage to a 42-year-old man who's been married twice before me. I lived on my own for ten years between marriages, raising my two kids and dating, but swearing I didn't want to get married again. That changed when I met D, who is funny, kind, has a great job and kids I love like crazy. They are a little younger than mine, and have some special needs. He left his town—over an hour away—and moved in less than a year later, and we got married a year or so after that. We'd always been "monogamish," and he's always pushed my boundaries a bit and opened me up to new things. But...

A few times he's pushed the boundaries too far: he has cheated on me by establishing "secret" relationships with friends and lying repeatedly. The most recent time was last fall, as we were in the middle of a crisis and custody fight for his kids. To save our marriage I proposed trying to be poly, since that is basically what he was going to be doing anyway, but at least I'd know about it. He promised to be completely honest, and has been as far as I know. He currently has a girlfriend and I've begun seeing someone.

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Low-THC Weed in Italy Is Disrupting Pharmaceutical Sales

Mercury Staff
While many of you are sadly pouring out a 40 for your favorite fallen fictional Throne Game character, perhaps I can bring some light into your day with some good news about the benefits of cannabis, at least until someone releases "Jon Snowpocalypse Kush," a strain which is beautiful, yet after smoking it, you find you truly know nothing.

Earlier this year, I wrote about hemp flower being sold in Italy. While the THC limit on this Italian "bud" is subterranean low—0.2% percent, and no, that's not a typo—it's found some grateful Italian customers who are seeking to relieve various maladies, and who also really enjoy lato oscuro della luna.

Marijuana Moment reports on a new study from people with GoT accents—researchers from the University of York in the UK—who have determined that this workaround and very limited form of "cannabis" legalization has a surprising impact on the sales of prescriptions drugs.

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Climate Change Is Here. So Why Don't More People Give a Shit?

Feeling thirsty all of a sudden?
Feeling thirsty all of a sudden? NGELO D'AMICO/GETTY IMAGES

During the last round of debates in 2016, presidential hopefuls spent a whopping 5 minutes and 27 seconds talking about climate change. That’s less than they discussed the national debt.

You'd think people, especially politicians, would be more interested in the single most pressing issue of our time—one that touches everything from public health to the economy to immigration to trade to the food we eat and the water we drink and the air we breathe. But no. Even a few notable exceptions, it's just not an issue that gets all that much play in either politics or the media compared to everything—and I do mean everything—else. As Lisa Hymas pointed out recently in Grist, ABC’s World News Tonight, their flagship news program, spent more time covering the latest royal birth this month than they did climate change in all of 2018.

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Q Ball: An Unheard Sports Story About the Basketball Team at One of America’s Most Well-Known Prisons

For some San Quentin inmates, basketball is everything.
For some San Quentin inmates, basketball is everything.

With Tucker Carlson’s rep, you’d think a film from Fox would want to demonize black and brown inmates, but this documentary from Michael Tolajian (Bluegrass Kingdom: The Gospel of Kentucky Basketball) does just the opposite. The San Quentin Warriors, an all-inmate team in one of America’s most well-known prisons, are united by a desire to have a winning season. But the basketball games, while as exciting as any March Madness match, are the least compelling part of the movie, which uses the sport more as a vehicle to explore the journey these inmates have been on since arriving at San Quentin.

Your last chance to see Q Ball at the 45th Seattle International Film Festival happens this afternoon at SIFF Cinema Uptown. Further details here. Check out The Stranger's complete SIFF guide here. Q-Ball will premiere on Fox Sports 1 (FS1) on May 29.

Renowned Seattle DJ Marco Collins Could Use Some Help Battling Cancer

Our man is in a (pearl) jam.
Our man is in a (pearl) jam. Marco Collins's GoFundMe

Marco Collins—who became one of the major catalysts of Seattle's rise as a musical power in the '90s while working as a DJ and music director at KNDD (The End) 107.7 FM—is currently in the midst of fighting Stage 2C Seminoma Testicular cancer, which had metastasized to his abdominal aorta and kidneys. The intense chemotherapy treatments will prevent him from working over the next several months, and though Collins has health insurance, thanks to Obamacare, it's insufficient to enable him to afford basic necessities during his period of treatment and recovery. So, his friends Anne Dederer and Michelle Quisenberry have launched a GoFundMe campaign, with a goal of $15,000; it's about halfway there as I type. You can contribute here.

Collins was the first radio jock to air Nirvana's paradigm-shifting hit "Smells Like Teen Spirit," and he helped to significantly raise profiles for alt-rock acts such as Beck, Harvey Danger, Weezer, Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, and Garbage. In addition, he's championed several more obscure groups, enabling them to advance in the industry via his Young and the Restless program. For his efforts, Collins is featured in an exhibit in Cleveland's Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and has even had a documentary made about his turbulent life, The Glamour & the Squalor, which premiered at SIFF in 2015. He currently works at KEXP.

Big Love: The Rhino Care of Kifaru Is Both Touching and Sad

The worlds last male white rhino and one of his caretakers
The world's last male white rhino and one of his caretakers

Ever wonder what it’s like to work as a rhino caretaker? Kifaru (which means rhinoceros in Swahili) is a doc that follows the rangers who care for the only three northern white rhinos left in the world: Sudan, his daughter Najin, and his granddaughter Fatu. They all live together in a protected reserve in Kenya. People outside the reserve are very poor, and a rhino horn is worth a lot of money. Because of poachers, the rhinos can’t live free, they must be behind fences and guarded 24/7. Kifaru is an uplifting story about people caring for animals and working for their well-being, but it’s also a sad story about how humans are driving other species into extinction. One of the caretakers asks: “How did we get to this point? Why do we fight and plunder the world until there is nothing left?”

Kifaru screens tonight, tomorrow afternoon and Mon., June 3, at the 45th Seattle International Film Festival. Further details here. Check out The Stranger's complete SIFF guide here.

When You Get Too High at the Movies

Chase Burns stumbling stoned to the bathroom during a movie.
Chase Burns stumbling stoned to the bathroom during a movie. COURTESY OF CHASE BURNS

Werner Herzog's 2016 movie about the internet, Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World, isn't a horror film, but watch it after ingesting 100 milligrams of pot butter the exact shade of a matcha latte and you might be convinced otherwise. Or at least that's what happened to me.

Some experiences are enhanced by weed. Doing chores, running errands, taking walks, going to work, and spending time with one's family all fall into this category. Going to the movies definitely falls into this category, but weed can also evoke rather... atypical responses to film. Lo and Behold was transformed from a typical Herzog production into something dark, confusing, and beyond the bounds of the typical imagination.

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In Meeting Gorbachev, Werner Herzog Talks with the Former Soviet Leader, and Also Discusses How to Kill Slugs

Two great minds
Two great minds A&E Networks

"Mikhail Sergeyevich, please allow me to explain myself," says Werner Herzog. "I am a German, and the first German that you probably met wanted to kill you." So begins Herzog's affecting documentary about Mikhail Gorbachev, built chiefly around three conversations with the former leader of the Soviet Union—a once-titanic figure who, at age 87, Herzog now describes as "a deeply lonesome man."

Particularly given America's current relations with Russia, Meeting Gorbachev feels disarmingly affectionate—"Everything about Gorbachev was genuine," Herzog reflects—but the director never loses his usual clear-eyed gaze. ("Here, his home village as it looks today," Herzog narrates over drone footage of a dour rural town. "It is hard to imagine that from such a god-forsaken place in the middle of nowhere, one of the greatest leaders of the 20th century emerged.") Meeting Gorbachev also offers plenty of historical context, examining events that shaped not only the Soviet Union, but the world: Chernobyl, nuclear disarmament, perestroika and glasnost, an attempted coup, the dissolution of the U.S.S.R. (Since this is a Herzog film, there's also a sequence in which the director tells viewers how to kill garden slugs with open jars of beer. "This would attract the slugs, lovers of beer," Herzog says, "and if you were lucky, you might trap quite a number of them, up to 70 or 80.")

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Today at Noon, There's a Stop Abortion Bans Day of Action Rally


Today at noon at Seattle City Hall, NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, Northwest Abortion Access Fund, Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii, and Seattle Indivisible are organizing a #StopTheBans rally for abortion rights.

Speakers will include Attorney General Bob Ferguson, Councilmember Lorena González, and Mayor Jenny Durkan.

See all the details here.