It’s true that I worked with David Schmader for years at The Stranger, and it’s true that I’m proud to call him my friend. But there is a part of my brain — the part that tingles when it comes across a sufficiently beautiful sentence — that is still in awe of his writing ability. If you haven’t read his now-defunct Last Days column or seen his live Showgirls performance, you might think it’s hyperbole when I say that Schmader is the single funniest man I’ve ever met. But it’s true. And he’s not just funny because he blurts out observations that will strip the paint off walls with their truth—though he does that, too.
Schmader is funny because he’s a great writer who knows how to coax the maximum effect out of a sentence. Consider this line from his final Last Days column: “How many stories of babies being microwaved can readers withstand before being driven to sterilize themselves and throw away their microwaves?” Now bask in the fact that 99.7 percent of all professional writers would have stopped that sentence immediately after “sterilize themselves,” without thinking to add the gorgeous excess of throwing away the microwave at the end? It’s the perfect pratfall on which to finish a sentence that begins with a truly horrific image. Jokes like this don’t just happen automatically; they’re work, and Schmader is a master crafter of those microwave-tossing moments.
Happily, we now have an entire book of Schmader’s to keep in our homes. Weed: The User’s Guide is an encyclopedia of marijuana history, use, and culture for those questions you’re afraid to ask at your friendly neighborhood pot shop. (Is dabbing the same as hot knives? And, uh, while we’re at it, what the hell is hot knives?) Schmader says he intended to make the book a classy, useful everyday guide — more like one of those fancy leatherbound guides to scotch than the pun-festooned High Times-style romps you’ll find in the alternative culture section of your local bookstore. He succeeded. The book is hilarious and entertaining and thoroughly Schmader-y.
You now have multiple opportunities to see Schmader read from Weed: The User’s Guide onstage. On 4/20, he’s collaborating with the film collage geniuses at Collide-O-Scope to present some of the trippiest moments in movie history at the Egyptian Theater with special guests and gift giveaways. On Friday the 22nd, he’ll be presenting a big launch party for his book at Town Hall Seattle with guests including Dan Savage, KEXP DJ Riz, cartoonist Ellen Forney, poet Sarah Galvin, and former Seattle City Council member Nick Licata, with music from special guest Spekulation. And then on May 1st at Hugo House, Schmader’s presenting a a night of autobiographical readings to an audience that he hopes will show up (responsibly) high. That’s an impressive and diverse slate of public events taking place in a compact amount of time. Obviously, you should go to all three.
The Egyptian, 805 E Pine St,, 324-9996, http://www.siff.net/. $4.20. All ages. 7 p.m.
This reading from Which Side Are You On?: Seven Social Responsibility Debates in American Librarianship, 1990-2015 gives an insiders' view into how the American Library Association Council "tackles issues ranging from racism to government surveillance and climate change." University Book Store, 4326 University Way N.E., 634-3400, http://www2.bookstore.washington.edu/. Free. All ages. 7 p.m.
Books and coffee are still for sale at Couth Buzzard Books, but as you can see in the picture to the left, the big gas explosion in Greenwood last month knocked their front windows out. Tonight, they’re throwing a Beat-themed fundraising reading party to pay for damages with Seattle writers and musicians including David Fewster, Barbara Dunn, Larry Crist, and Madeline Berman. Couth Buzzard Books, 8310 Greenwood Ave N., http://buonobuzzard.com. Donation. All ages. 7:30 p.m.
Tasmanian-born Seattle cartoonist Simon Hanselmann’s new book, Megg & Mogg In Amsterdam and Other Stories, is a comic about a witch and her cat who travel to Amsterdam to forget about their terrible lives. Originally published in Vice, these gorgeous-yet-repulsive comics are an absolute delight. Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery, 925 E. Pike St., 658-0110, http://fantagraphics.com/flog/bookstore. Free. All ages. 6 p.m.
The Seattle Public Library has been killing it lately with an array of free writing classes at their neighborhood branches. The latest is a workshop on how to write dialogue, hosted by Seattle novelist Nancy Rawles. Whether you’re working on fiction, screenplays, or poems, Rawles can help you tighten that shit up. Seattle Public Library, Columbia Branch, 4721 Rainier Ave S., 386-1908, http://spl.org. Free. All ages. 3 p.m.
Progressive journalist Hedges comes to Seattle often, and every time he brings with him a brand-new project. His latest, Wages of Rebellion, is a collection of columns offering “an overview of historical revolts and revolutions,” in an attempt to examine what, exactly, it would take for a rebellion to break out in America. Campion Ballroom at Seattle University, 914 E Jefferson Street, 634-3400, http://ubookstore.com. $5. All ages. 7:30 p.m.
Hawthorne Books is one of Portland’s great literary treasures—a publisher of beautiful books of quality literature. Today, they’re presenting two of their best authors (Sallie Tisdale and Seattle’s own Megan Kruse) at a reading/conversation. Maybe someone in the audience could convince the Hawthorne crew to move to Seattle? That’d be sweet. Hugo House, 1634 11th Ave, 322-7030, http://hugohouse.org. Free. All ages. 7 p.m.