Midday Scan: Smith Tower sold; Cougs find out Leach wants work; senior year blues in Tacoma

A historic gem is sold at auction. Across the state, a threat to the Dawgs and their fans could be brewing. For high school seniors in Tacoma, the threat to a way of life is here: school on a Saturday. 

The Smith Tower in downtown Seattle. (Chuck Taylor)

The Smith Tower in downtown Seattle. (Chuck Taylor) None

Mike Leach, right, was introduced as Washington State University's football coach in December 2011.

Mike Leach, right, was introduced as Washington State University's football coach in December 2011. Courtesy of Washington State University

Want the tallest (and coolest) building on the West Coast pre-1962? Sorry, you just missed your chance, This morning the Smith Tower was sold at auction for $36.7 million, to the holder of the loan that had been foreclosed on. It's usually the case in Washington that the holder of the loan winds up with the high bid at a foreclosure auction, according to a Seattle Times report

The tower is a historic gem, built in 1914 by the typewriter magnate L.C. Smith,  and is the tireless subject of Argosy Cruises tours (upon which this intern worked). Unfortunately, it hasn't done too well recently, especially after its two major occupants, including Disney, bailed on the building, leaving it 70 percent vacant, Northwest Cable News said in an advance report. What happens to it, its occupants, and the beautiful Chinese room on the 35th floor — which includes the ornate, marriage-inducing magic chair gifted by Chinese Empress Cixi — is all in the hands of the auction winner, it would appear. 

Here's hoping the future plans continue to sustain the building as is. Long live Smith Tower!

Shiver me timbers! Mike "The Pirate" Leach is up to his devious work again, making a good team out of a really, really stinky one. Spokesman Review sports writer John Blanchette was at the Cougars' practice on Thursday and had good news to report, at least, for Coug fans (but probably not Husky boosters): Leach was kicking his players' butts into shape. According to cornerback Daniel Simmons, "the tempo was ridiculous," leaving him and the others all sorts of tired and wiped out. It's a sure sign that the Cougs are going to be a whole different beast — or cat? — in the coming years.

"What do you know? Sometimes plain old work is the way a renaissance gets started," Blanchette writes. "And the Cougars worked — the actual by-gum practicing coming in at a shade under three hours on a crisp day that saw patches of snow rimming Rogers Field."

In the battle to look normal, powerful presidential hopefuls have it hard. There is a difficult balance to strike, between being a credible, smart human being, and being relatable in a Joe Schmoe kind of way. On one hand, you can't be too smart as to alienate the common folk, but on the other, you can't be too Schmoey, because nobody wants a president that lounges around all day watching football and eating nachos.

It's at least one battle that President Barack Obama seems to excel at, New York Times writer Mark Leibovich reports, as the incumbent trounces his main contender, Mitt Romney, by eating hot dogs, watching basketball, and listening to some good ol' Blues and R&B. Not to mention his suave Al Green recital. Romney, meanwhile, commits gaffe after gaffe: making slips about his billionaire life, putting his dog on the roof of his car (poor Seamus), liking trees that are "Just the right height," and awkwardly praising grits — y'all. As Crosscut's Knute Berger points out, even when Romney gets associated with something like the Etch-a-Sketch that ought to scream Everyman, it doesn't turn out well for him.

How important is relatability? According to David Axelrod, while he believes Obama won't win the election just by liking basketball, it's important for a candidate to have accessibility. However, according to Romney's long-time media advisor, Kevin Madden, Romney “is not running to be buddy in chief.”

Edgar Allan Poe forgot the worst bell of all in his poem "The Bells." The school bell. Loud, tinny, constant, headache-inducing, soul-sucking school bell. Before believed only to ring five times a week, high school seniors in Tacoma Public Schools will be suffering these tyrannical sound-makers on Saturday, too, in the near future. Sweet, safe Saturday, which before was trusted upon to provide sleep and morning cartoons.

This is not a permanent situation, but rather a measure to make up for lost school days due to the ice storm back in January, according to News Tribune writer Debbie Cafazzo. In the words of senior Sheila Daligdag, who works Saturdays at her family's business, "It's just messed up."


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