Too much news

One of the many problems with the Internet, which seems more and more to me to be exacerbated television, is that the information comes all in a rush, commingled in such a way that nothing is more important than anything else, which isn't the way real life really works, where some things are super-important and other things are all but meaningless.

For example, on the way to checking one of my e-mail sites, one of those headline-news pages popped up. I don't remember if it was Hotmail or AOL, two of the places where I get my mail, but I do remember the lead photo was one of those waist-to-neck shots of some gargantuan American man or woman, the photo subject too fat for gender identification, and a headline: Soon we'll all be overweight.

Beside the photo were three other stories, one of which was, 21 best places to get steak in your town.

The irony of placement brought me a smile before I noticed Pinhead's name next to a quote about his latest selection for the Supreme Court: "She was the best person I could find," the Pinhead said in defense of his latest judicial selection, a woman some conservatives are calling "too liberal." By that they probably mean she is against burning witches and homosexuals at the stake - positions that, along with Creationism as science, God everywhere but in the corporate boardroom and no abortions for anyone, even rape victims - are now seen as faith-based politics instead of reactionary bigotry.

But I'm sure a poll or two will sort it all out. Whatever 51 percent of my fellow Americans think is true must be so.

* In sad local news, famed Seattle-based playwright August Wilson died Sunday before last. He was only 60, but cancer is not a respecter of persons or actuarial tables. Upon returning to Seattle from Hawaii three years ago, I worked for a while in a customer service position with the Seattle Rep. One of the bennies of the job, which was also occasionally one of the tortures, was that I was expected to see each play the Rep staged.

Much that is put on the boards at the Rep is calculatedly chosen to appeal to the suburban mindset that has crept inside the city limits in the past decade or so: safe better than sorry.

Gilbert and Sullivan, Rodgers and Hart, Shakespeare "updated" and obscure French stuff from the distant past. "Oh, I just love Molière set in 1940s Boston" can sound pretty racy if said in some overpriced Kirkland, or Queen Anne, eatery after a matinee.

But August Wilson's plays didn't pander to current local theatergoing tastes, and even when I didn't like the play, I enjoyed the effort to say something new and fresh.

Nobody really knows what will or will not last in the higher arts. But I'd be willing to hazard a guess that at least some of Wilson's plays will still be performed in the middle of the 21st century. He didn't know me from Adam, but I saw him ambling around my Lower Queen Anne stomps at least once a month. I always greeted him as Mr. Wilson, and I always got a reply. I liked knowing a real writer was around, sharing space with the once-a-week poets and the origami "artists" I see a little more often than I'd personally prefer.

 * In a few weeks I'll be heading back to Cincinnati for my near-annual visit to see my mother, who will be 87 years young this Nov. 5.

To say that I am astounded that this lively woman who has been around from Day One of the Wilken saga is nearing 90, would be to understate the case.

The Mom was still driving until about a month ago when she was sidelined - probably to the relief of thousands of driving Cincinnatians - because of some eye problems her doctors say may or may not clear up.

"I look like a damn pirate," she told me the other day, when I asked how she was feeling. "They're making me wear an eyepatch."

While I'm on the road, I'll send my weekly dispatches from Montana, North Dakota, Illinois, Indiana and the other points east I'll be traversing by train.

I love Amtrak and lately always fear my next ride will be my last. Pinhead keeps trying to get rid of Amtrak since there's no sneak money in it for his corporate buddies. The idea that train travel is essential to a modern civilization - ask Japan or France for starters - is lost on our fearless leader, whose sense of history starts with Jesus 2,000 years ago and seems to skip from Golgotha to last Tuesday, with stops for the momentous day he quit cocaine and then 9/11.

I for one love the feel of the rails below me, which is something a few of my readers, at least, would probably like to see: your scribe riding out of town on a rail.

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