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Friday, April 30, 2004
At this point...
...I think we can all agree that this was a really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really,really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really,really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really bad idea.
I now have a new work schedule so Blog will be blogged on Mondays + Tuesdays and Fridays + Saturdays. I reiterate:
Also: I tried installing a few new headers on the sidebar. The grey ones just weren't cutting it. I'm not sure if these are an improvement or not.
Here is a fun link about truckers blocking freeway traffic in LA. Apparently they don't like the rising price of sweet mother gasoline.
Tuesday, April 27, 2004
Breakfast With Hunter
My introduction to Hunter S. Thompson came in the form of an out-of-context passage from one of his books. In it, a man was hanging half-way out of red cherry convertible on the Las Vegas strip. Being both extremely drunk and high, and covered in vomit, he suddenly decided to strike up a conversation with the people in the car across from him. "You wanna buy some heroin," he asked. His fellow motorists, off-duty cops attending a nearby convention, didn't think it was too funny.
OK, I'm not doing the thing justice so I'll stop right here. I've read plenty of so-called classics of 20th century literature and, as strange as this might sound, I think Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas deserves a spot alongside the collected works of Hemingway, Faulkner, Joyce and all the rest. In fact, I'd be willing to give it The Great Gatsby's spot. Thompson’s "death of the American dream" metaphor is far more hard-hitting and his novel doesn't consist of a bunch of dull, rich stiffs sitting around drinking gin for 300 pages. Now that I think of it, 95% of the literary cannon consists of books about dull, rich stiffs who sit around drinking gin but I digress.
When I heard that passage, I became a life-long Thompson fan. I've got a copy of Fear signed by Pat Boone (long story) and, unlike so few others, I actually bought a copy of his most recent work. Ok, time for an awkward segue: Breakfast With Hunter, a documentary about the author, is playing at the Clinton Street Theater this week.
One of Thompson's neighbor's apparently filmed the doc over a number of years. It mostly focuses on his efforts to get the ball rolling on a film production of Fear, which was finally released in 1998. The highlight of the Breakfast is a meeting between Alex Cox, his assistant and Thompson at Owl Farm, his Colorado homestead. Cox was initially attached to direct the film but later left due to "creative differences."
First off, to greet them, the author left a blow-up doll in a snow drift by the front gate. They weren't amused. Later, as the three of them sat around a kitchen table, the director started rattling off a series of odd ideas for the film. Among them was a proposal that it begin with the novel's "wave" passage. In it, a cartoon Johnny Depp would have ridden an ocean wave from Las Angeles to Vegas before crash-landing in the Circus Circus Casino. If you read the book or seen the movie, it's obvious that the idea is pretty bad. Cox's version of Fear would have incorporated animated segments like this with live action.
At one point during the discussion, the assistant suggests that Ralph Steadman's drawings were what made the book popular, not his prose. Up to this point, the author listened politely to their ideas. This is what finally sent him into a rage. Probably knowing that the author has chased others off his property with shotguns and cattle prods, the two politely excused themselves. Unsurprisingly, the were later removed from the project.
The rest of the film consists of Hunter following around Depp and Benecio del Toro on the set. Depp seems perpetually in awe of the author whereas del Toro seems genuinely afraid of him. With the exception of the confrontation with Cox, Breakfast feels like a slapped together series of home movies. Is it worth tracking down? No, not really. If it's information on the making of the film that you're looking for, the Criterion DVD release is the way to go.
Zounds what sounds
I should have outgrown Goodwill scrounging back in college. I can now proudly boast that I have enough urine-scented furniture and ironic concert t-shirts to last me a lifetime. Nevertheless, my insatiable appetite for cheap n' cheesy LPs keeps me coming back. During a recent trip to the location downtown, I found this:
Now I'll be honest. The only other song I've heard by Ernie is "Sixteen Tons." I imagine that most of his music is along those lines: bleak, baritone country songs. For a mere $2, how could I pass up a chance to hear someone with a voice deeper than Johnny Cash sing "Aloha Oe"?
Was the LP worth 8 quarters? Eh, hmmm, sure. It's 45-minutes of a man who sounds like Principle Skinner singing Hawaiian standards. At the very least, I've now filled the vacant Polynesian/western slot in my collection. I'm sure the regulars at that honky-tonk in the Blues Brothers would approve. Anyway, the real find was this:
That's right, an Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom collector's glass. If you blur your eyes just right, it looks like a Lilliputian archaeologist is trying to slice his way through the weeds in my backyard. The glass set me back a dollar. There was also a mysterious, almost translucent brown spot at the bottom covered in dust.
I've washed it five times and, while the spot and the accompanying aura of death is long gone, I'm still afraid to drink out of it. This thing could make me immortal...or turn me into a Nazi skeleton. I'm not willing to take that chance. It does make a nice conversation piece though.
Oh, that's where...
Monday, April 26, 2004
- Liquor? In grocery stores? In Portland? No way.
- I haven't read local author Anthony Swofford's Jarhead* because everyone tells me it's nothing more than a series of meandering, anti-climatic anecdotes. Regardless of these critiques, the book recieved a huge amount of great press and sold something like 100 billion copies. A film adaptation is now in the works with American Beauty helmer Sam Mendes (?!) set to direct. While spots of the Southwest will fill in for Iraq, the part of Swofford has yet to be cast.
- "Burger Skank," the Burnside Burger King mentioned in the previous post, closed forever last week. It will probably be replaced by a large, eye-soring stack of condomeniums. Boooooooooooo! Hiss!
* Should the titles of books be underlined? Italicized? Placed in quotations? What about movies? Publications and grammar books all contradict one another. Does anyone actually know the answers to these questions? Didn't think so.
Friday, April 23, 2004
El Grillo Report - La Venganza
It's been a long time since the last El Grillo report. If you're not familiar with the place, it's a Mexican restaurant located just off SW Broadway. But this isn't just any Mexican restaurant. It just so happens to share a common door with Mary's Club, everyone's favorite strip club (AKA Benito del Toro's home away from home).
With its location in the heart of downtown, it's within a stone's throw of the Benson, Burger Skank, a billion office buildings and the bar district down on 1st. Given this, El Grillo probably draws the most diverse clientele of any restaurant in the city. It's not uncommon to eat find yourself eating a burrito alongside businessmen, hipsters, strippers and mute drifters panhandling for swigs of beer.
But all that might change. A few weeks ago, I was shocked (shocked!) to discover that El Grillo was closed for remodeling. I made a trip last week and the place is a shadow of its former self. Gone is the cool, ancient art mural with the grasshopper in the boat. It's been replaced with a line of lifeless framed artwork. The chipped, white counter has mutated into a spotless lake of deep blue tile. All in all, the place now looks like any number of downtown bistros. "The dank" is gone and, along with it, much of El Grillo's charm. Some might call this an improvement. Others, like myself, call it gentrification (booo!).
The menu, on the other hand, remains unchanged. They still serve tongue.
Thursday, April 22, 2004
Links! Links! Links!
Here they come! Rapid fire!
- Since Indiana Jones IV is a long shot at this point, Steven Speilberg has moved on to a remake of War of the Worlds with Tom Cruise set to star. Just released today: he's also working on a film about the hostage situation at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Boooo, George Lucas, booooo!
- Naughty Nintendo hacks? Naked Punch-Out? Wilfred Brimley Donkey Kong complete with malicious, floating bowls of oats? Free and ripe for the plucking? No! Get out! I don't believe it!
- The Watchmen, which many consider to be the bestest-est graphic novel ever, is going into production with Darren "Heroin is Baaaad" Aronfosky set to direct. Don't hold your breath. His last two projects, The Fountain and Batman: Year One, never got off the ground.
- Hulk Hogan meets the Cheerios bee? Wuzzles? Mike Tyson selling video games? Invisible GI Joes? It's a treasure trove of '80s commercials.
- Boondocks makes the cut but Get Fuzzy gets off easy? Lame!
- "The End" DOES NOT belong on a list of the worst 50 pop songs of all time. And surely Blender can do better than "We Built This City" for the #1 slot.
Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes you win AND lose
First email (from Flog):
"Pixies, 09-04-04 Bend, OR - Les Schwab Amphitheatre
Pixies + Les Schwab = yippy."
FINALLY, victory was within my grasp. While I'd missed out on tickets to the Pixies' shows at the McDonald Theatre both of which sold out in 10 minutes flat there was no way I would miss this. Tickets when on sale at 9 AM last Saturday. I digently clawed my way of bed at 8:59 and signed on to Ticketmaster. $42 and ten seconds later...Sucess. Was. Mine.
Second email (from Sho of Wazeth fame TM):
"Did you know the Pixies are playing the Bumbershoot Festival in September? "
ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGH! If I'd only known, I could have seen the band, for a mere $15, in the middle of a kooky arts festival in the heart of lovely downtown Seattle. Instead, I'll now be driving five hours to the dusty yuppie playground that is Bend, Oregon.
CURSE YOU, PIXIES! You're more vexsome than leprechuans and you're even more rotten than those rotten Smurfs!
Hooray for demotivation!
On the third floor of this building, near my cubicle, there's a HBO promotional stand-up of Larry David. It's been there for about three weeks. I pass this thing four times a day and its the first thing that greets me when I get to work. Cardboard Larry has his hands on his hips and he's wearing an expression of pure and utter condescension. Next to him, in huge white letters, are the words "Curb Your Enthusiasm." All that's missing is a thought bubble with the words: "This is what you're doing with your life? HA!" I'm completely convinced this stand-up has already cost the company over $150,000 in lost productivity.
I'm considering using a nearby jet printer to make Larry a paper sombrero, Elvis sunglasses and a tall, cool mai-tai. What's holding back this potential waste of over $2.00 worth of office supplies is his sneer. I can't think of way to cover it up. On the other hand, maybe I need to review my goal. A cardboard Larry decked in Caribbean gear would be even more pompous. A Cold War-era military uniform and a monocle might be more appropriate.
Yes, these are the sort of thoughts that bop around your head when you're stuck at work and the sun is shining.
Wednesday, April 21, 2004
Django's record store RIP
I was downtown on Thursday, meandering towards Ground Kontrol, when I discovered Django's empty and vacant. Admittedly, I hadn't shopped there in years but it still came as a shock. This was the store where I cut my teeth on hundreds on $8 CDS. And now it's gone f-o-r-e-v-e-r.
Back in the day, it was one of the few west side stores in Portland that sold used music. After being weaned on a steady diet of mall outlets like Sam Goody, Django's was like a blast of stale, hash-scented air. Dozens of pine bins offered thousands of cheap CDs and records. The walls were covered in hundreds on vintage posters stamped with images ranging from obscure spaghetti westerns to the Sonic Youth. Django's was a virtual paradise for a greasy teenager seeking refuge from Z100 rancorous soundscapes.
Then, sometime in the mid '90s, Everyday Music opened on Burnside offering an even larger bounty of used music. Django's clientele fled up the street and it was eventually sold to a larger "independent" conglomerate of record stores. After the trade, the interior was remodeled and its worn, garage sale ambience was traded for a slick white walls and a smaller stock. In short, it looked and felt like a Tower Records.
Was Django's killed off by all those nasty P2P music traders out there? Maybe but perhaps it's for the best. The new Django's was practically a parody of its former self. Still, this little record store deserves at least an 8-gun salute.
The original ending of Kill Bill
Pete asked so here's how the whole thing played out in Tarantino's original draft. This version of the script first appeared on the internet about 18 months ago and it's an easy find. It's not much different than what appeared on screen but at least they actually went outside to duke it out a bit. If you'd like a gander at the rest of the 222 page original script, it can be found here.
EXT. THE BEACH - MORNING
As the blue waves of the Gulf of Mexico crash on the beach,
The Bride in her bridal gown, and Bill, his tuxedo jacket
off, face each other in a combat stance.
Breeze blowing her blonde hair, holding her Hanzo sword in
stares across the sand to the figure of the Bride, his
student, facing him at sunrise with a weapon he taught her to
use. This is where all who teach combat artistry may end up.
Facing a Frankenstein monster of their own creation. He
removes his Hanzo sword from its sheath with GREAT FLOURISH.
The two combatants...quite far from each other...they intend
to charge/attack...stand in showdown stance.
The VENGEANCE THEME EXPLODES ON THE SOUNDTRACK.
She takes her combat stance. But what she doesn't do is
remove her sword from its wood sheath. The fist of her left
hand is wrapped around the wood sheath's center. Her right
empty hand, raises and makes a beckoning gesture to Bill.
Then with a face completely devoid of emotion, says in
THE BRIDE (JAPANESE)
She's facing him, sword in sheath, hand far from handle, in a
standing still position, not moving a muscle of blinking an
eye, staring her laser beams in Bill's direction waiting for
He stands in a combat position, sword raises in a combat
grip, to charge her.
That's my girl.
He screams a samurai scream...and charges her...
She stands motionless...
Watching him coming...
We go back and forth, close, wide, low.
Using only her left arm, with the sheathed Hanzo sword in its
grip, she blocks all of his blows, right arm unmoving down at
her side...sort of like Pai Mei did to her earlier...his
sword and her sheath lock together...they're close to each
other, she brings up her right arm, sticks out two fingers,
and hits Bill on ten different pressure points on his body.
Then hits him straight on in the heart with her palm. His
body jolts, like he's just had a heart attack...he coughs up
a little blood...he looks at her.
Their faces are very close...
The face of the cold ice woman Ninja, melts away before our
eyes, and the face of Beatrix Kiddo is filled once again with
He taught you the ten point palm
exploding heart technique?
Of course he did.
Why didn't you tell me?
She doesn't have an answer.
She looks at him apologetically;
I don't know...Because...I'm
He smiles at her duplicitly, and says with blood on his lips;
No. You're not a bad person. You're
a terrific person. You're my
favorite person. But every once in
awhile...you can be a real cunt.
They smile at each other.
Bill turns his back to her...
And walks five steps in the opposite direction...with each
step his heart swells, on the fifth...
It BURSTS...WE HEAR A SOUND, like of a tire blowout...
He falls to the beach...dead.
The Bride walks over to his body.
She unsheaths her Hanzo sword.
Blood lies in a pool, by Bill's mouth.
She dips the tip of the blade in the blood, leaving the
tiniest of crimson smudges.
She then removes the Bill handkerchief, and wipes Bill's
blood from off the blade onto the white cloth.
She lets the Bill handkerchief drop onto his body.
The Jingi sword Hattori Hanzo created, just for her, for this
purpose, has come to the end of its journey.
Beatrix, in a moment of enormous generosity, allows herself,
one final tear, shed for her corrupter, her enemy, the father
of her child,...her MAN. The tear is for her as well. For
she's very aware she will never ever be completely any other
EX CU The Hanzo BLADE slowly sliding into the wood sheath.
EX CU the single teardrop, sliding down her cheek.
The blade disappears inside the sheath.
The teardrop falls of her chin.
Her journey, her revenge, her victory, her unfinished
business, is completed.
The Bride exits the beach.
COME ON! Isn't that SOOOOOOOO much better than the movie version?
Tuesday, April 20, 2004
A honkin' huge, open letter to Quentin Tarantino
[HEY YOU! The following post blows the ending of Kill Bill Volume 2 and examines, in detail, several key moments from the film. If you haven't seen it, YOU NO READ!]
Dear Mr. Tarantino,
I've seen a lot of bad movies in my time but they don't bug me nearly as much as those that are capable of being great but completely drop the ball. So you decide to follow up a balls-out, brilliant action film with a tedious chick flick? I just have one word for you:
The problems with Kill Bill Volume 2 are numerous. Let's get started.
Ah, 4/20. The only day of the year when we can all employ a contrived excuse for smoking copious amounts of pot while simultaneously ruminating the Columbine tragedy and celebrating the birthdays of Adolf Hitler, Carmen Electra, Crispen Glover, Jessica Lange and TV's Joey Lawrence. It really is the most wonderful time of the year!
Monday, April 19, 2004
The Strokes (The Roseland - 4/15/04)
Portland City Bouncers
(to the tune of New York City Cops)
Playin' with my camera so mechanized
You're at the bottom, filled with spite
Studied all the rules didn't want no part
You caught me filming right at the start
Even though it was for only 30 seconds
It was...kinda strange
You sent your goons
To say it was time to go now
But nabbin' me ain't easy
When you've got to get through
When you've got to get though
Throngs of hipsters movin' so slow
And I can't stop thinkin'
Portland City bouncers
Portland City bouncers
Portland City bouncers
They ain't too niiiiiiiice
Fine, these bouncers had a job to do and I was blatantly breaking the rules. Nevertheless, I wasn't filming the Strokes performance for distribution on the iny-net. I was mindlessly playing with my camera to see what a live performance would sound like later. Despite sitting in the balcony, an eagle-eyed bouncer spotted me, made a "that jackass is filming this" gesture to one of his coworkers and sent him upstairs. I put the camera away and, after being daunted by a clogged standing room only corridor, his muscle-bound crony went back downstairs.
During the course of the show, Eagle-Eye spent the rest of show shooting nasty looks my way while singing along with the band. I wasn't the only one subjected to his wrath. "Queen Autumn," seated nearby, was given a stern lecture for something equally small-time.
In his efforts to make everyone upstairs behave themselves, Eage-Eye overlooked the countless pushing-and-shoving kids downstairs with their digital cameras held high and the waves of misdemeanor smoke drifting out of their throng. Watching him howl out the lyrics to "New York City Cops," without the slightest hint of irony, was the highlight of the show.
As for the Strokes, they came close to rawking but...only managed to rock. Despite the quality of their music, I, like so many others, can't get over the fact that the band's background. If the Velvet Underground, one of the band's obvious influences, was a house band for Andy Warhol, the Strokes would be a perfect fit for Calvin Kline's crashpad of decadence.
Barely pausing between songs, Cassanova and the rest blasted through their catalog in a fantastic but all too short/too expensive set. Afterwards, one member kicked over the drums as a signal to the crowd that there wasn't the slightest chance they'd be back for encore. Maybe they were eager to get back to all that Guinness at the Oditorium. Or maybe the Strokes are the star-fucking posuers everyone claims they are.
So to spite the band and Eagle Eye, I've decided to post what I filmed below. Click here to get a look at my ill-gotten, low-quality bounty. Take that, you bullies! HA! Vengence is mine!
Friday, April 16, 2004
New Blog article!
Was the Organ Grinder Pizza Parlor a heaven full of warm/fuzzy childhood memories or a hellish wasteland overflowing with homicidal monkeys and evil soccer dads? With the aid of a dozen photos and cartoon recreations along with customer restrospectives, Blog's latest feature careens down memory lane to get a look at the dark side of this late-great Portland pizzeria. Click here for more.
Wednesday, April 14, 2004
And for a moment it felt really good
Eat a bowl, Kobe.
Good for you. With your magical 3-point touch you won the Pacific Division title. Who cares? You and your miserable, Satan-affiliated ball club will lose in the first round.
Eat a bowl, Kobe.
Spotted on highway 101
It's been there forever. An abandoned gas station on the way to the coast, covered in weeds. In the window is a red sign with the words "BOTTLES FILLED."
What bottles? And what were they putting in them? I'm scared.
The Mouse That Bored (Crystal Ballroom, 4/16)
OK, one last Modest Mouse-related post. After this, I promise to never mention them again.
You've probably heard the stories. No, not the one about Issac Brock allegedly raping and pillaging his way through Seattle, nor the one about his jaw being broken by teenagers in Chicago. I'm talking about Modest Mouse weak live performances and their lead singer's tendency to show up drunk and stupid.
To his credit, Brock didn't seem the least bit tipsy on Friday night during his band's show at the Crystal Ballroom.
Part of the problem was the bowl of Kix, the beef jerky and four beers in my stomach as I headed up Burnside. In a rush to get downtown to the Goose Hollow before the show, I had didn't have time to ingest the proper fats and carbs to keep me going through a three + hour show.
The most self-indulgent opening act in the world was flogging the audience when I arrived. I didn't catch their name but the band consisted of a drum machine, a guitarist and a rotund guy with a moustache. The crowd tossed cups and food at them as they roared into their last song. As the machine blurped and as the guitar wailed, the fat man screamed "you're on my list" over and over again for ten minutes. At one point, he offered the microphone to girl in the front row. "You're on *my* list" she howled back. He fired back with "no, you're on *my* list." They went back and forth for like this for what seemed like three hundred billion hours.
Already feeling sea sick on the Ballroom's bouncing dance floor, I sought out a Red Bull to silence my stomach's demands for anything with the slightest bit of nutritional value. This did not work. With nothing better to do, I began firing text messages at various #'s on my cell phone. One reads:
"The mouse! I can see the mouse! Why did it have to be so high? Holy God fuck!"
Standing at the edge of the room, I was five feet from Isaac Brock as he finally strolled out at 11:15. I remember thinking, "Does he meet the height requirement for legal midget status" as he headed to the stage in mesh trucker's hat.
From the very beginning, the band was marred by technical difficulties. Sudden blasts of feedback interrupted songs. At times, the music completely overpowered the vocals.
The band's crew seemed like a group of high school kids trying put on a concert at a yearly talent show. The lights were poorly timed to the music and a nearby fog machine spat out clouds at random, inopportune moments. At one point, Brock requested the house lights go up so he could "see what the fuck he was doing."
Despite all this, the crowd didn't seemed to mind and went ape every time the band rolled into a track off Lonesome Crowded West or The Moon and Antarctica. For "Wild Packs of Family Dogs," the band took several minutes to set up a cello and other instruments, bringing the show to a screeching halt. Afterwards, they spent several minutes after the song returning to their original spots.
Towards the end initial set, my stomach was staging a violent revolt. It felt like it wanted to bounce out of my belly button and crawl to the Taco Bell up the street. To make matters worse, a hipster wouldn't stop babbling at me about the time he watched the band play a warehouse in '97. Modest Mouse, the hipster, the whole thing felt like it was trying to bore into my skull. Then, suddenly, as the band began "Doin' the Cockroach," all these nasty storm clouds dissipated. The hipster shut his mouth, the technical glitches disappeared and my stomach was feeling better. I could even hear Brock's voice. It was as if I was magically transported through space and time to a better concert.
The band left the stage and we all did the obligatory "where's the encore" thing. They returned and all seemed well in the world...
...until someone in front tore a hat off someone else's head and tossed it at Brock. "Who threw it," he demanded. Someone raised a hand. "You're a fucking prick for doing that." He threw it back but the hat missed the mark.
As the band cut into a song the hat made its way back to the stage and Brock seemed pissed. They rushed through three quick songs and stormed off. "Is that all," the hipster asked as they headed downstairs. "The show's over," a guitarist spat back. There wasn't a single encore "Orange Julius" and "Cowboy Dan" was no where in sight. Laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaame!
The crowd stood around in a daze for a few minutes. Was this all the hat guy's fault? Or is a paltry 75 minute show with a 15 minute intermission all Modest Mouse typically dishes out? At an LA concert, they did a "Wind Beneath My Wings" cover, dammit. How kooky would that have been?
But I didn't have time for these questions. If I didn't get tacos stat, I was going to melt on the dance floor.
Calls for John #3
Today is two for one day
"John ,this is Dylan. I wanted to get my shit, man. So, yeah, giive me a call, man. I left my home phone number, I think. 235-XXXX."
"Johnny? Ramrod! Ramrod. Johnny Ramrod. Ramroooooooooooooooooooooood."
That second one really creeped me out. What could it possibly mean?
Tuesday, April 13, 2004
I just got back from Sushiland. The first time I went to this cafe in Beaverton, I thought I was being led into a pet store by mistake. A large, neon sign on the outside reads MARINEPOLIS in huge letters and sushiland in tiny letters.
I've since visited several sushi joints around town but this is the only one with a conveyor belt. Diners sit around a large, circular bar with chefs in the middle. As they toss around large knifes and play with flame throwers, tiny, color-coded plates make the rounds. A green plate costs $1 and pink runs a cool $1.50. There's also the mysterious $2.50 purple plates but they're few and far between.
A trip to Sushiland is always an adventure. The plates aren't labeled so its hard to tell what's what. From a distance and underneath a foggy, plastic cover, the cooked items all look the same. By the time it gets close enough to distinguish their true identity, there's only a scant second or so to snatch it off the conveyor. You're also competing with everyone else. It's not uncommon to waste 30 seconds watching one of a plates like a hawk only to have it snatched by the customer next to you.
As much as I love these bars there's one little problem: I don't like sushi. Fortunately, Sushiland also offers miso soup, fried bean rolls, green tea ice cream and, best of all, EEL! Qeue the Ween song:
"I can not repeal
the words of the golden eel"
When I took my seat at Sushiland today, a mechanical cartoon advertisement on the conveyor belt cheerfully informed me that today was eel day. "ALL EEL! $1!" While this may sound revolting, eel is one my top three favorite meats (behind buffalo and whatever hot dogs are). It tastes like a strange combination of tuna and chicken. Brushed with teriyaki sauce and on a tiny bed of rice, these things are edible heaven.
I took a chance on a plate of mysterious fried balls covered in chocolate sauce for desert. The outside tasted like a warm donut but the inside was filled with cold vanilla custard. How can something be both hot and cold at the same time? Whatever these things are called, they're a whole new taste sensation.
More Portland restaurants should incorporate these conveyor belts. If there was an Italian place in town with one, I'd eat there every night.
Everyone else is doing it...
...so I may as well chime in with a few scattered thoughts on Modest Mouse's new album.
- What's the deal with the title? Good News for People Who Love Bad News? Is the "good news" actually good news or bad news? Are we to assume that the good news is actually bad news since its intended audience is people who love bad news? Or is this real-deal, uncut, 100% pure good news that sure to piss off all the fans of bad news out there? If this is the case, wouldn't this alleged good news be both good AND bad?
- The album would make a perfect soundtrack for a wolverine slumber party held in a dream house built by Barbie and leased to Jethro Tull (yes, I'm very proud of this sentence). Despite its '80s synth sound and allusions to new wave bubblegum, Issac Brock's brand of backwoods philosophical musings sound the same as what's appeared on the band's previous albums. One minute, the album is lollygagging through slap-happy popland and the next Brock is howling about logs like a certain Bone Machine.
- The first single, "Float On" has been getting steady airplay in Portland. It seems tailor-made for Clear Channel. The first time I heard it, completely out of context, I thought it was a parody of late '80s REM. It kicks off with a nice U2 riff and offers a memorable, singable chorus. With that said, what the hell is this song all about? Given Modest Mouse's last album, I thought it a vapid little pop song dripping with bitter, unrelenting sarcasm; a fox in chicken's clothing. Now that I've given the lyrics a quick look over, I'm beginning to think I've given it too much credit. This really is just a vapid pop song, isn't it?
Still, there's the chorus as the song fades out. The lead singer sounds like he's rolling his eyes as he sings "we'll all float on."
- The album, right around 45 minutes in length, still feels overlong. There's too much filler, it isn't the least bit cohesive and the last three tracks drag on forever. Modest Mouse seems bent of appealing to the kids and this is long way from Lonesome Crowded West. If the intent here was to produce a radio-friendly album with subversive lyrics, the album fails after track 7 or so.
Good News is easily the band's messiest and doesn't hold a candle to the last two. There's nothing on here worthy of "Teeth Like God's Shoeshine" or "3rd Planet." Sometimes de-evolution works but Good News is closer to Liz Phair s/t than it is to Born in the USA. Maybe my standards are too high but this gets a C+ from me.
Calls for John #2
"Hey, John. This is Petessio. Uhhhhh, I'm just calling you back. Dinner. Tonight. Vicky's. After PIR. It's at Malagra or..Malaga? It's a new restaurant on NE Fremont and, uhhh, about 38th or 42nd, something like that. It's going to be on the right...well, left hand side as you're going out. And, ummm, don't know much more about it than that. I know the owners are the same owners than own Lazlo's over in NW so I guess the way to find out would be to call Lazlo's or call up Malaga. Or maybe we'll just see you at the place. Caio."
Monday, April 12, 2004
Oodles of noodles
Weird Al's parents are dead! The cause: firewood! Nooooooooo! Ban it! Quick!
A Suicide Girl? Crucifying herself? On Good Friday? Partially covered in Powerpuff Girl tattoos? It's the most sacriligeous thing ever! As for the link, a password is involved.
Armed Prophet and I both approve of this travelogue. The part about capsule hotels is particularly neat.
Speaking of Tokyo, it's a little less weird now that this has been outlawed.
Finally, here's a link to everything you could ever possibly want to know about Disnyland's Haunted Mansion. This page, about a statue that once scared visitors, is really quite pleasent.
Calls for John #1
Once upon a time, I hated cell phones. Then one day I Saw the Light. Why pay $20 for a land line? Standard phones don't allow you to make a call from the backyard, let alone while blocking traffic at a crosswalk. For a few dollars more than boring land line, I can rest assured, should the mood strike, I can place an order for a Rascal (walking is for suckers) while waist-deep in the ocean. These cell phone thingies truly are wonderful...thingies. If you don't like my driving while I'm struggling to change a CD while simultaneously ordering Chinese food that's your problem.
There's just one little thing. My phone number once belonged to a guy named John. When I turned my phone on for the first time, it immediately began ringing. I refused to answer it, fearing some pill-popping prophet would be calling. I later checked the voice mail. A little girl's voice was on the other end, asking questions about a bicycle.
A few surreal weeks later, I was quickly becoming John's answering service. Everyday I would get calls from his daughter, his ex-wife, various girlfriends, creditors and foul-mouthed business associates. After months of this, I finally decided to fight back. I put together a voice mail message of a man with a heavy accent struggling with English while a Nelly song blared in the background. Certainly this strange message would finally convince John's pals that they had the wrong number.
No dice. Despite the message, even more calls were coming in. I've never met this guy but I probably know more about him than his own mother. John is a bicycle and marathon enthusiast and he may or may not have two girlfriends. As the weather improved, I was now getting three calls a day from people asking him to volunteer for charity runs.
I learned to ignore the messages and hung up whenever the words "Is Jon there?" A year later, he still hadn't given out his new number...or so it seemed. Was this a "firewall" number given out to ex-wives, out-of-wedlock brats, coworkers and others he was trying to avoid? Was my phone a garbage dump for people he was trying to toss out? In a last ditch effort to put an end to this, I changed the message for a second time. It now goes a little something like this:
[In a scary hellspawn voice] You have reached the voice mail of BRAN-DON! If you leave a message at the sound of the tone you will most assuredly fill his weak little heart with joy. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH...[sound of coughing and hacking]
Simply put, this is the most annoying voice mail message in the history of annoying voice mail messages. Since only friends and immediate family members have the number, I didn't have to worry about an employer or distant relatives calling me...until yesterday.
I woke up on Easter Sunday with no less than 7 voice mail messages, all recorded between 8:45 and 9:00 PST. The first was from my elderly grandmother who lives in Georgia. The rest were from various aunts and uncles. One aunt, with an accent that sounds like Scarlet O'Hara's, had this to say "What's the matter with him? He sounds like Dracula, laughin' like that."
That does it. This Jon guy and his huge social circle have cost me a good deal of my monthly minutes and now they've alienated me from half of my family, putting a risk who knows how many future birthday checks and Xmas cards. My grandmother is now likely harboring a mental image of a grandson with a pentagram carved in his forehead.
Now I'm the sort of sociopath willing to put forth the effort of stealing John's identity or destroying his credit rating. Instead, I've decided to share with the world a few transcribed messages I've been saving for just such an occasion. I now declare this week Calls for John Week. Every day through Friday Blog will offer up a wayward message. Feel free to mock and/or pick them apart as you see fit.
Today's call is from John-boy's boss.
"Nice message, John. God! Um, this is your employer. (laughs) Here is your assignment, should you chose to accept it. Um, I need to come up with a name for these fender brackets that we have designed and have made in Taiwan. Something along the lines of full wood but, since they're not made out of full wood, we cannot use that. Something with a full little connotation, an inside jokes, but basically what I'd like is something descriptive as possible. It's for a split fender. We could incorporate something like that into the name. Descriptive, but something with a fun, little twist to it. Put your mind to it and, if you can, give me a call. No hurry. We'll see you later."
Friday, April 09, 2004
The Pink Floyd Australlian Show
In 1993 I was immersed in a world with borders not stretching beyond 100.3 on an FM dial. Portland's Z-100 was my only source for music and my budding CD collection reflected it. At the time I owned about 10 CDs and at least two of them were penned by Janet Jackson. Mr. Big and Bryan Adams also held prime spots on my Coca Cola CD shelf.
Then a kid named Dustin Marx made an off hand comment in algebra class about something called Dark Side of the Moon. He didn't offer any details but advised that I go looking for it in my parent's CD library. Later that night, with materials for Project REACH laid out on a dining room table, I obliged.
What the fuck was this? It was out-of-context culture shock; the music equivalent of being suddenly thrown off a sterile pink yacht into the icy waters of the Arctic Ocean. Soundscapes littered with ticking clocks, elephants and British people babbling about death? For someone living on a diet of Waking Up the Neighbors it was silver bullet fired at my pop-clogged heart.
Dark Side led to Wish You Were Here and The Wall. The gateway drug that was Pink Floyd led down a winding road to the likes of Led Zeppelin, the Beatles and the Doors. In a few short months, I went from jumping up and down on my bed to "What's Going On?" to shooting up Jefferson Airplane. My new favorite word was "deep."
Others I knew had older siblings around to gently steer them from the trappings of early '90s pop slop. One kid was drinking Public Enemy at the tender age of 11. If someone had intervened earlier, I wouldn't have had to later "kill" that copy of that Celine Dion's Beauty and the Beast monstrosity in my parent's microwave.
So at 14 my greatest heart's desire was to see Pink Floyd live. This was a band that not only played music on stage but Styrofoam walls, played eerie cartoons and set adrift gigantic, inflatable pigs. Years later, I'm still waiting.
Since a reunion tour isn't likely at this point, I broke down and went to see The Pink Floyd Australian Show at the Keller last Friday. This is probably the closest I'll ever get to the band that was my ticket to the Candyland of "good" music.
What sort of crowd shows up for something like this? It should be obvious. Pot-gut, long-haul fans sipping Widmere and greasy teenagers in Atom Heart cow paraphernalia. Someone in front of me was wearing a shirt for a ZZ Top cover band. A kid to my right looked like Judd Nelson but was mysteriously dressed like Ducky from Pretty in Pink. A hefty biker chick to his left was chugging overpriced wine from a plastic cup. Prior to the lights dimming, smoke machines were going full blast, filling the auditorium with large, odorless cloud.
Musically, the band was spot on. "David Gilmour" had the same vocal stylings as his real-life counterpart. His cohort, however, sounded more like one of the Doobie Brothers than Roger Waters. The multimillion dollar light display behind them explained but didn't justify the $30 ticket price.
I guess this was a sort of "remake" of the Pulse tour. A ring of lights displayed videos as the band tore through every song on Dark Side. During "On the Run," a CGI kangaroo rode through a hallway before exploding; a hat tip to the original tour. CNN footage of George Bush and John Ashcroft during "Brain Damage" drew prerequisite heckling from the crowd.
So far, so good. Exploding kangaroos. A pretty light display. After a break, and an unpleasant encounter between two inebriated kids and a hulk-sized security guard, the band began "Shine On You Crazy Diamond." Halfway through, the biker chick placed her hands beneath her mouth and made for the bathroom. With her exit, the show took a turn for the worse. A cut off of the band's forgettable Division Bell and lackluster Final Cut followed.
After twenty minutes of endless wanking and solos, the band rewarded our patience with two cuts off The Wall. As they played "Another Brick pt 2," the light display began stacking brick behind the band. A 15-minute "Comfortably Numb" spectacle served as the encore, complete with a three ton mirror ball. One fan, the spitting image of Adam Sandler, broke out a Cigirello-sized joint.
Yes, this was all pure, self-indulgent cheese for all involved. For Floyd fans born 20 years too late though it made perfect sense, as did singing "Wish You Were Here" with 5,000 others.
Bond + Tarantino = :D
Quentin Tarantino has a few great projects up his sleeve after Kill Bill: Volume 2 has come and gone. There's the perpetually in-development war movie, Inglorious Bastards and now there's these rumblings:
First up: A possible Kill Bill anime. From chud.com:
"Yeah, I’ve been thinking about revisiting the story in a couple of ways," said the director. "I’ve been thinking about doing it as an anime feature that would tell the entire origin of Bill." Another possibility, Tarantino said, would be a life story of Nikki, the young girl whose mother was killed by the Bride in Vol 1."
Second up: A proposed remake of Casino Royale. If made, it would Peirce Brosnan's last Bond Film. More from Tarantino via CHUD:
"Wouldn't it be great to have a James Bond movie that didn't cost $115 million and only cost $40 million or something like that?" he asks. "You know it's going to make its money back, and we [would] all do good. Maybe we win the critics this time, then you're back in business the way you were before."
"They've got this gigantic franchise, they can't do anything wrong with it. Pierce Brosnan's only going to do one more movie for them, if that, so if he stayed on to do one more with me, let's just this one year go my way and do it a little differently. I won't do anything that will ruin the series."
Well, I think it's a great idea. Is it likely to happen? Not a chance. Every Bond film up to this point has carried a PG-13 or lower rating. Tarantino probably hasn't even seen a single PG-13 film. Apparently, the folks that hold the rights to Bond aren't too keen on the idea. They prefer to keep their banal franchise stirred, not shaken.
UPDATE: Now there's a Kill Bill 3.
Thursday, April 08, 2004
In search of "Guts" pt. 2
Part one is here.
[WARNING: This blog post is rated "NC-50." If you read the following and you're under the age of 50, you'll turn into a one-eyed mutant orphan or a mysterious crab physician.]
Really, if you read the following you're going to regret it. Turn back now. Don't let curiosity get the better of you. This could be one of the most horrible things you'll read all day.
After 45 minutes of effort, I finally had a copy of "Guts" in my hands. I'd heard about the story back in November or so. Attendees at book signings for author Chuck Palahniuk were walking out and even fainting while hearing this story read aloud. Was this all a publicity stunt or was "Guts" really that nasty? Could a piece of writing have an immediate, physical effect on someone? What was in this thing? Would I faint?
In the contents of the March issue of Playboy, this description is given: "Author Chuck Palahniuk brings you a story that makes his best known work, Fight Club, look like Bambi." A bold statement indeed. Not believing the hype, I flipped to page 48.
Yes, it's that bad. I didn't faint but, good god, this is the single most disgusting and unpleasant thing I've ever read. Palahniuk is one sick little monkey. With that said, let me tell you all about it!
"Guts" begins with a simple request. Hold your breath for the duration of the story. Go ahead. Do this now. I'll spare you Palahniuk's wordplay so you (probably) won't faint.
From there, the narrator delves into a French phrase that means something along the lines of "the comeback at the bottom of the stairs." It's the ultimate remark or action you think of in hindsight, a minute or hour after it's too late. From there he delves into stories he's heard about bizarre masturbation habits and ensuing disasters. Then he relates his own.
What follows could probably make even Dan Savage puke. Hey, I never said Blog was a family-friendly. OK, if you absolutely must know what happens, highlight the inviso-text below.
As a teen, the narrator was a big fan of something called pearl diving (look it up). When his parents weren't around, he would run out to the pool in the backyard and spend hours at the bottom, occasionally coming up for air. One day, he discovered the cleaning valve on the edge. After having a little fun with it, his bum-bum became stuck to it. Quickly losing air, he struggled to make his way to the surface but couldn't move because of the hundreds pounds of pressure working against him. Terrified, he struggled and found his insides quickly becoming his outsides. With that, he had a nightmarish choice to make. Bite through his own lower intestines or die. He lives, leaving his father with a lot explaining to do when the pool guy shows up the next day.
I think I just lost 97% of my readership. Yippie! So was it all a publicity stunt or could people really faint while reading something like this? Blog reports, you decide.
Seeing is believing
Two words: eyeball jewlery.
One more word: eeeeeeeeeeeeeewwwwwwwwwwwwwww!
Wednesday, April 07, 2004
In search of "Guts"
[WARNING: This blog post is rated "R." If you read the following and you're under the age of 17, you'll grow hair on your palms, your spine will go crooked and your brain will turn into corn syrup.]
While I'm on the topic of boobs, I may as well relate this wee suburban adventure. A few weeks ago, I attempted to track down an actual, physical, tangible, print edition copy of Playboy magazine.
This is harder than it might seem. 99% of American porn consumers have evidentially made the jump online. Few are still willing to contend with the thought of their mailman seeing a magazine wrapped in black plastic, let alone walking into a store for one. A little iny-net research reveals that Penthouse is on the verge of bankruptcy and even Playboy, the grand daddy of them all, is having a hard time staying afloat. Skin mags are now as obsolete as Betamax.
Now I wasn't looking for a March issue of Playboy to see all the pretty pictures (honest!). I was actually looking for something that would do far more damage to my spine: "Guts." It's a short story by everybody's favorite sick and twisted local novelist. The story earned a nasty little reputation for causing people to faint during Chuck Palahniuk's last US book tour (more on that later).
I figured a quick trip to 7-11 would get me my story. I waited until late on a weeknight to avoid any patronizing looks from other convenience store patrons. The one closest to my house was vacant. I wandered around the store and looked in all the obvious places. If this place was selling Playboys, they must have had them locked in the safe.
Having already spent five minutes perusing the aisles of this 7-11, I was clearly freaking out the clerk, especially with my sneaky attempts to get a glimpse at what lied behind the counter. Out a weird sense of both guilt and embarrassment, I bought a can of Red Bull and quickly made my escape.
Two cans of Red Bull and one tin of 3-D Doritos later, I still didn't have the magazine. 7-11 has apparently phased their adult entertainment products. I was going to have to double my efforts. If I wanted "Guts," I was going to have to make the ultimate sacrifice: setting foot inside a Fantasy Adult Video.
Further perpetuation of the myth that boobs descended from nocturnal birds
Yippie! It's Blog's most esoteric subject title ever!
I now live within a five minute drive of a
[insert prerquisite "Big Lewbowski" quote here]
Tuesday, April 06, 2004
It's been ten years?
I remember the day that news of Kurt Cobain's death hit the airwaves. I was never the biggest Nirvana fan but, like everyone else of a certain age, I diligently owned "In Utero" and "Nevermind." Nevertheless, I stayed glued to MTV for hours watching pale faced fans hold candles and weep.
While Courtney was hard at work bringing a new definition to the term "burnout," Kurt's corpse turned ten years (c)old yesterday. As it usually does, curiosity got the better of me and I wound up at the Clinton St. Theater for their honorary screening of the documentary "Live! Tonight! Sold out!"
I didn't really know what to expect going in. Would people show up dressed in black? Would they cry and read poems? When I arrived, a row of dollar Jesus candles were lined up in the breezeway. The atmosphere was appropriately wake-like. People were dressed in Nirvana shirts. One girl wore a black veil. In the lobby, candles were everywhere and another row of Jesus sat on top of the soda machine.
Once the movie started, the mood changed. One viewer started laughing like the Joker at anything even slightly funny, causing two other viewers to storm out in a huff. While his heckling didn't start a fist fight, it did break the crowd's somber spirit. A few others started sarcastically chanting "Kurt. Kurt" and suddenly the whole thing had become a parody of itself.
The documentary focused mostly on Kurt's antics on overseas talk shows. During one performance in Britain, he sings "Smells Like Teen Spirit" like Elvis Costello while fellow band members toss around their instruments over dubbed music. In another, the band tears into "Rape Me" after telling a show's producers they'll be playing a different song. Later, the host cheekily announces "Nirvana, they're also available for Bar Mitzvahs and children's birthday parties."
Strangely enough, there was no widespread event held yesterday in Seattle. According to the Times, only 30 people showed for a vigil at the park near Cobain's old homestead. This strikes me as strange. Wasn't this guy a generational icon?
The bitter sting of DEFEAT!
From Wire Reports:
"Director Gus Van Sant is moving production of his latest film from Portland to New York. The movie, titled "Last Days" is a look at the Northwest's grunge music scene in the mid 1990s, with Michael Pitt starring as the lead singer of a Nirvana-like band."
BOOOOO! There go my dreams of being an extra in a Hollywood production. All I wanted was to be immortalized for all time on celluloid. Was that asking for so much, Gus, especially after I paid to see "Elephant" AND "Gerry"?
Overlooking my crushed hopes and the fact that Van Sant brutally stomped on my dreams with his ice cold jack boots, this is still a terrible decision. A film focused on the NW film scene by an NW director moved to NYC on the heels of a high-profile casting call in SE Portland? Talk about bad form. Gus, you just lost your NW cred. for a second time, bucko.
I didn't make it to the second round of Project Greenlight. BOOOOO!
I'm not surprised but losing to screenplays like "The Good, the Bad and the Living Dead" and "My So Called Dysfunctiona Family" stings like a bee dipped in gasoline. On the other hand, the two scripts I gave glowing reviews didn't make the cut either.
If my lil' script had advanced, I'd probably be heaping praise on the contest. Since I lost, I obviously have no other recourse than to take lambaste it. The problem with Project Greenlight is that contestants review each other's scripts in the first stage. It's like allowing participants in a beauty contest to rate each other's cheekbones. An obvious strategy in both instances would be to trash as many other participants as possible while hoping they cut you a break. In short, PG is the online equivalent of a feeding frenzy.
Worse yet, any reviewer is going to have a hard time taking context and merit into consideration, especially given the partial circumstances. People tend to like what they like. One of the scripts I read was basically Blink 182 fan fiction. In it, a trio of 8th graders run around SoCal expressing their love for "the best band in the whole wide world!" For what it was, the script was good but I still had a hard time giving what I consider tripe a decent review.
I guess I can take comfort in the assumption that those that reviewed my script must have felt it was a threat to their own chances. PG's review forms allow a space for feedback which goes back to the author. The most common criticism my script received is "not much happens." I guess my reviewers never saw a little film called "Lost in Translation," which recently won an Oscar for you know what. Hrumph!
I played fair with other's screenplays while my little baby was torn apart by dingoes. I'm not sure if I want to participate in next year's contest, especially given the new registration fee. If I do, to quote Beavis, "the streets will flow with the [pages] of the nonbelievers!"
Monday, April 05, 2004
The thrill of VICTORY!
In March of 2003 my vehicle was stolen out of NW Portland. It turned up a few days later filled with coffee stains, Jack in the Box receipts and a girl's bicycle. After shelling out over $100 for a towing fee, I also had to contend with the three parking tickets left under one of the windshield wipers.
Now I wasn't the driver that forgot to plug the meter. Why should I have been held accountable for someone else's crimes? Had the thief gone on a GTA-flavored rampage, what then?
I "contested" the tickets by sending along a stern letter with the fees. I never heard anything back until last week. On Wednesday, I found a City of Portland envelope stuffed with three checks in my mailbox. Now I've got $48 in my hot little hand. At this point, it may as well be free money.
Woo-hoo! The system works!
P2P blog war?
Maybe. Maybe not. Click here.
Thursday, April 01, 2004
There was no Blogging today...
...BUT the links in the table to your left now work. And there's a new photo of the month. Be careful though. I have no idea what that thing is. It was sitting in the middle of Rockefeller Center and people were sitting on it. If you stare too long, it may take over your body like that painting in Ghostbusters 2.
Also: Phooeyhoo posted an exhaustive review of a peculiar video game on his site yesterday. It's called Princess Maker 2 and there's really no reason why it shouldn't have been released stateside. Actually, on second thought, there's about 50,000 reasons. Check out the review here. There's also a link to a site where it can be downloaded.
There is no Blog. There is only VIGO!