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Monday, May 31, 2004
While the rest of you are drinking yourselves stupid and knawing on hotdogs (while solemnly and maturely reflecting on the sacrifices of our brave fighting men), I am stuck at work. Where there are no hotdogs.
And where there certainly isn't any beer.
No little American flags either.
That said, I killed most of the morning reading the now defunct Tard Blog. Yes, you read that right. The Tard Blog. It's incredibly offensive but I can't help myself. The exploits of Augusta, a germ-phobic kleptomaniac, is fascinating in a "I can't believe I'm actually watching Maury Povich exploit these people" sort of way.
I'm now halfway through the tiny archives of a blog called John Kerry is a Douchebag But I'm Voting for Him Anyway. The URL? http://johnkerryisadouchebagbutimvotingforhimanyway.com.
Saturday, May 29, 2004
Yeah, it's him
Come on, does this photo *really* require an explanation?
OK, fine. Yes, that's Dave Attell, of Comedy Central's "Insomniac," standing in front of a giant, pink wee-wee. But who is that next to him? It's one of Shanna's friends, Kat. She's studying abroad in Tokyo and ran into Dave at some sort of annual fertility festival. Since Shanna stubbornly refused to link to it on her blog, I've decided post it here because this is something that deserves a 10-25% BIGGER audience.
But enough about all that. What was Dave doing at a penis festival? Fine, he was probably there to film an episode but there are rumors that he, well, you know.
I've forgotten the details but apparently this annual shindig has slowly de-evolved from being something serious to something campy. Women hoping to get pregnant still pray in front of a large phallus but, nowadays, it's while men in drag run around munching on penis-shaped popsicles nearby. If you think you can handle more wacky festival pics, click here.
PS: I would be neglecting my duties as a blogger if I didn't offer a direct link to this one. Still, consider yourself warned. This could be the most disturbingly hilarious thing you see all day!
Reptile Attack! pt. 2
Finally, the oft-delayed conclusion to the nail-biting cliff-hanger. Click here for part one.
The air was still.
The ocean's waves had even stopped rolling.
This was a full-fledged, man vs. nature stand-off.
The snake made the first move, slithering a foot closer to the prize- a backpack with my keys in it. I surveyed the rocky terrain. There were no sticks within reach. What a lame way to die this would be. Done in by tiny reptile looking to make a home out of a Jansport bag.
The next five minutes flashed before my eyes. I would reach for the bag and the snake would dive at my throat with teeth blazing. The nearest Lifeflight helicopter would be located in either Tillamook or Astoria, 50-miles each in opposite directions. Already woozy from the 2-gallons of venom coursing through my bloodstream, I would frantically claw at the cell phone in my pocket. My fingers would never reach 9 let alone two 1's. The snake, triumphant, would do a victory lap around my corpse before gorging himself on a Cliff Bar in his new digs.
Not eager to prolong the battle, he threw down his trump card. This was no garden-variety gardener snake. It was a gardener snake with a single, tiny foot.
GOOD GOD! I WAS ENGAGED IN A BATTLE TO THE DEATH WITH A ONE-LEGGED SNAKE!
With no weapons at my disposal, alone, on a sunny mountain top, I was now doomed. I stood little chance against a normal, yet obviously extremely lethal, snake. He had kept his appendage hidden behind mountain brush. With a clawed foot (circled above) now at his disposal, he would completely disembowel me in seconds.
Chugging my fear like Cherry Coke, he once again came closer, now revealing three additional feet o' death. The snake wasn't a snake it all. It was some sort of hell spawn salamander/gecko thing.
Now dying from a snake bite is one thing but death-by-gecko is downright pathetic. There was no way I was going to be done in by some tiny, insurance-peddling punk. Summoning up a forgotten batch of courage, I leapt up and snatched the bag with a quick swing. Shocked at my sudden, cheetah-like reflexes, the snake/salamander/whatever fled behind the nearest rock.
Drunk on victory, I struggled to think of a snappy line from Predator. All that came to mind was, "this stuff will make you a goddamn sexual Tyrannosaurus" and that didn't really apply here. My enemy, already long gone, wouldn't have heard it anyway.
The moral of this story? Keep your enemies close but your iPod closer. No, wait, keep your iPod close but your enemies as far away as possible.
Friday, May 28, 2004
Corsets in hell
In the end, I couldn't resist the siren call of the corsets. On Tuesday night I diligently went to Dante's to see Rasputina.
If you've never been, the place is a inferno-themed bar/concert venue at the corner of 3rd and Burnside. As someone else once pointed out, "Dante's is like a devil girl sticker on the back of a Saturn." Indeed, it's hard to tell how seriously the place takes its cheeky din o' sin theme. The wall, the ceiling, the bar- everything's painted red and a black velvet painting of a nude woman and snake serves as the place's centerpiece. Then there's the price of drinks. In hell, I'm sure a watered-down martini would also run $8.
I don't want to come down too hard on Dante's. The decor is original, there's a neat firepit and they have a table-top Mrs. Pac-Man machine. The bar also supports all sorts of "out there" acts like Rasputina and Gogol Bordello and plays host to the occasional Suicide Girl cabaret night. Plus, Dante's draws a pretty gosh-darn interesting crowd.
Take the guy that walked in during Audio Learning Center's opening set. It was at least 80 degrees in the bar and he was wearing a fedora, a pinstripe suit and a thick, full length winter coat. His skin was incredibly pale and there was a cane in his right hand. I'm completely convinced that he must have been a real-deal vampire- ok, slim possibility he was a zombie or a combination of the two. Eeep! Regardless, no human being could handle that kind of heat.
Regardless of his unearthly appearance, the vampire guy was pretty popular and chatted with practically everyone there. Also in attendance: several shirtless, middle aged cowboys in red velvet vests, a hoard of goth chicks, one guy who looked exactly like KG from Tenacious D, another guy who looked exactly like Tim Meadows, an incredibly short girl in a Pugsly-style stripped shirt with a red mohawk and a woman who looked exactly like Miss Scarlet from Clue.
As for Rasputina, they came out on stage in full Victorian attire as a string version of "Someday My Prince Will Come" played over the PA. Along with their usual catalog of songs about cannibalism and Howard Hughes' late life quirks, they delved into covers of "Rock and Roll," "Barracuda," "Bad Moon Rising" and, most notably, "Baby Got Back." Between songs, lead-singer Melora Creager offered brief historical lessons and a story about throwing rocks at janitors while in grade school. Best of all was a brief rant about Fleetwood Mac's Stevie Nicks. The following isn't verbatim but it should suffice:
"Stevie Nicks once said that her only regret was that she never had a child. Do you know why, dear friends, she never had a child? This is because she spent her child-bearing years having roadies blow cocaine up her butt. Our roadies, alas, don't blow cocaine up our butts. It's not all bad. Because they don't blow cocaine up our butts we can have pretty things like babies and such."
I work for a mega-national corporation bent on world domination. I wear Gap clothing, buy Levi jeans and occasionally shop at Wal-Mart. Despite compromising my liberal principles on nearly every level when it comes to the pursuit of goods and services, I still refuse to support Starbucks.
While I have yet to firebomb any of their franchises, I still derive pleasure from headlines like this. So why would a consumer whore like myself draw the line at Starbucks? Well, that's exactly what this week's cover story in Willamette Week attempts to answer (you should click on the link, if only to get a look at the great cover photo).
Despite a convincing article, my anti-Bucks credo isn't likely to change. As the writer admits, part of the problem is that Starbucks rivals McDonalds in overwhelming prevalence. Downtown Portland is home to no less than 20 of its stores and that blank-eyed mermaid logo of theirs is on nearly every corner.
The article also alludes to a family-operated joint in Lake Oswego that was run out of business by Starbucks. The name of the place was the Coffee Nook. At one time, they had three stores around town, each of which was run out of business when the coffee empire set up shop nearby. Starbuck's leech-like expansion tactics seem like they're lifted verbatim from the Wal-Mart playbook.
Plus, why pay $4 for a double-tall, whipped steamed, caramel-flavored, soy mocha when you can get a stiff drink for the same price?
Tuesday, May 25, 2004
Waddles Coffeshop RIP
Waddles, the iconic coffeeshop in Jantzen Beach, has closed its doors forever. The infamous "Eat now" sign went dark on May 23rd.
Back in the '80s, my family made occassional trips up there for breakfast on Sunday mornings although I'm not sure why. The food was the sort of thing that could be found in an number of restaurants in Portland. Maybe it was the huge, glowing sign with the cute duck. Since the 1930s it has served as a sort of "Welcome to Portland" marker; a signal that a long, boring drive from Seattle or Olympia was soon to end.
Whatever the appeal, we weren't alone. During Waddles peak, there would often be lines out the door, all consisting of patrons from down south. The restaurant also made its own spice for sale at the register in tiny bottles. A few years back, my grandmother bought a crate of the stuff that will no doubt be handed down from generation to generation for a thousand years.
As a child, I remember seeing another sign near the parking lot for something called the Duck Pond. It wasn't until years later that I realized this was the name for the restaurant's lounge. For a full decade I assumed there was a pond somewhere on the premise where a family of happy malards lived.
According to a KOIN post from Sunday, the owner was driven out by high rent and increasing costs. There were also rumors for years that Krispie Kreme had its eyes on the restaurant. The rumors are now a reality. A new franchise for the donut empire will take over the spot in the near future. Booooo! Long live the duck!
"Sometimes I doubt your commitment to Sparkle Motion!"
If you didn't know already, the director's cut of Donnie Darko will be screening for the first time this Saturday at the Seattle International Film Festival. If I wasn't working this weekend and could actually get a ticket, I would seriously think about going.
So you still haven't seen, let alone heard of this little movie? You're not alone. I saw Donnie Darko on whim when it was first released in 2001. I tried explaining the plot to various freinds but could never convince anyone to see it. Now, two years later, it's gained a healthy cult following. Here's a quick plot synopsis:
Donnie's a trouble high school student living in the year 1988. After a jet plane engine mysteriously falls from the sky and crashes into his bedroom, he begins to receive visions of a 6-foot tall rabbit that tells him the world will end in exactly 28 days.
Yeah, it's a tough sell. The movie combines the sci-fi humor of Back to the Future with the mind-bending mumbo-jumbo theories of Pi. Patrick Swayze (!) co-stars as motivational speaker with a dark past and Drew Barrymore, who helped get the script financed, plays one of Donnie's teachers.
One of the problems with the original cut is that it was clearly held-back by its small budget. The story is wide in scope and the director, Richard Kelly, has often commented on how financial limitations and the initial running time affected the film's ending. Donnie Darko had a second life on DVD, and now the special edition will hopefully receive a wider release and earn this strange little film the larger audience it deserves. The new version of Donnie will hit the screens again on July 29th.
But this brings up another issue: why is OK for Kelly to tweak his film ala George Lucas, which has become a cinematic cardinal sin? For one, he isn't likely to insert annoying CGI critters all over the place that distract from the story. Secondly, Donnie Darko isn't a movie that's beloved by an entire generation. Well, at least not yet.
Lastly, here's a fun little bit about Smurfs from the movie. Yes, it's naughty. If you're under the age of 27 and have a delicate liver condition, no, you shouldn’t read it.
"First of all, Papa Smurf didn't create Smurfette. Gargamel did. She was sent in as Gargamel's evil spy with the intention of destroying the Smurf village, but the overwhelming goodness of the Smurf way of life transformed her. And as for the whole gang-bang scenario, it just couldn't happen. Smurfs are asexual. They don't even have reproductive organs under those little white pants. That's what's so illogical, you know, about being a Smurf."
Blog vs. Democracy
OK, the results are in from last week's vote. An astounding 14 (!) readers participated. The results? Blog took 79% of the vote, leaving Democracy with a paltry 21%.
I AM VICTORIOUS! TAKE THAT DEMOCRACY!
As per the stipulations of this little political contest, Democracy must now buy me a Hot Pocket and a Sierra Mist Shrek Slurpee from the 7-11 on SW Broadway near PSU. I'll be there tonight at 8:43 PM sharp. If Democracy is a no-show, I'll be heading down to small-claims court in the morning.
Operation Hide in Tent
BLEAH! WORK! BLEAAAH! YUCK! UGH! NOOOOOO! I DON'T WANT TO WORK TODAY! It's SUNNY and 80 outside! BLAARRRRRRRRRGH!
The tent isn't helping matters.
Ten feet from my cubicle there's a fully set up tent. It's one of the prizes in some sort of employee contest, the exact details of which are unknown to me. I would love nothing more than to spend the rest of my work day in the tent with a few back issues of the Mercury and one of the office TVs. If I could track down a powerstrip somewhere, I could push the vending machine over there too.
There's just one thing stopping me: management. They're sticklers for the whole "we're paying you to work, not to hide in a tent and watch episodes of Deadwood" thing. I've spent the better part of the morning creating a dummy of myself out of Kleenex, staples and Xerox paper. Things aren't going well. So far, it looks like really pale circus seal. I fear I may soon have to get back to work and abandon Operation Hide in Tent. Bleah.
Monday, May 24, 2004
Portland has a new theme song
It looks like the spot occupied for years by the Trailblazer's "Rip City Rap" will soon be overtaken by "Portland, Oregon," a song on the new Loretta Lynn/Jack White collaboration Van Lear Rose. So how is it? Eh, not bad, not bad at all. But is it a fitting tribute to Stumptown?
The song begins with an 90-second blues intro before rolling into a power-chord driven duet. As Flog pointed out in his review, "Portland, Oregon" sounds like a typical neo-country song but the 40 year age difference between the two adds a creepy twist. There doesn't seem to be a real connection between the city and the song though. Some might be quick to point to former mayor Goldschmidt's "affair" but the lyrics, about two lovers and their search for gin, don't suggest this booze-soaked fling is anything more than it seems. Plus, the sexes are flipped.
I haven't found an interview that explains the origin but its twangy-tone would be better suited for Birmingham, Alabama or just about any municipality south of the Bible Belt. Lynn is from Kentucky and White hails from Detroit. So why Portland? Am I missing some bit of local lore?
At what age is it no longer socially acceptable to watch cartoons? Much like video games, the cut-off seems to be ever expanding. Regardless of where that line is I'm not likely to stop anytime soon.
My attention span may be short but it's still not short enough for most of what's out there. Everything on Cartoon Network makes the cut but more popular fare like Spongebob Squarepants, The Fairly Oddparents and Yu-Gi-Ohh are like freshly sharpened cat claws on a 19th-century chalkboard. While I know Spongebob has fans that can legally buy cigarettes, I'd be surprised to hear that anyone over the age of 9 has gotten through an entire episode of Yu-Gi-Oh.
I'm a late comer to the Invader ZIM cult. The show was kicked-off Nickelodeon in 2002 for obvious reasons. Compared to its good-natured cartoon colleagues, ZIM was depraved and unholy. The show combined the sugar-high urgency of something like the Powerpuff Girls with the depraved humor of Ren and Stimpy. It was a children's show no child should be allowed to watch. In short, Invader ZIM was flippin' brilliant.
Centered around an warrior alien (ZIM) disguised as a school kid, the show made no qualms about violence or surreal imagery. In one episode, ZIM sends a toy piggy back in time to kill his arch-nemesis, Dib, a classmate eager to expose his secret identity. The toy manages only to injure him. Dib, now burdened with a breathing machine since early childhood, attempts revenge. As ZIM fights back with more time-traveling piggies, Dib becomes increasingly and more gruesomely meek. Unfortunately for ZIM, he accidentally replaces his own brain with the last toy.
OK, my synopsis isn't doing the show much justice. Since its cancellation, ZIM episodes have only been available online. It's a shame that the show was never rescued by Cartoon Network for its late night Adult Swim block. ZIM deserved a wider audience and it may yet get it. Through the miracle of DVD technology, a first batch of episodes will be released on disc May 26th. Who? Ray!
Sunday, May 23, 2004
Through a long series of events, earlier today I accidentally deleted the template for Welcome to Blog. After a billion hours of rediting one of the providing templates that Blogger offers, I think everything is back to the way it was. If you notice that anything is different or array please let me know in the comments area.
Saturday, May 22, 2004
As you can see, this blog is 36% evil according to something called the Gematriculator. Damn, I knew that post about Jim Francesconi was going to get me in trouble.
At least I'm doing better than Rush Limbaugh. His site? 95% evil.
Chamber music for the masses
I've been following Rasputina since they made an appearance on Conan a long while back. My attempts to pass along their music to friends and family have been met with a series of shrugs and "whatever"s. I guess some people just can't handle punk/electronica/chamber music.
Is the band an acquired taste? I guess so. The current lineup consists of two women that dress in corsets and play cellos. On drums, the third member is a guy that looks like a young Rip Van Winkle. The band has created its own genre/playpen to run amok in. Rasputina's songs drift from quiet, melancholy string melodies to thrashing techno.
And then there's the lyrics: songs about bizarre historical events and fictional Bjork + PJ Harvey double-dates. Take "Rats," which tells the story of an incident in the 17th century when the Pope attempted to offset a famine by allowing Catholics to eat rats. A sample line: "We thank the Pope for this wish/on Friday we'll all call rats fish."
A staple of their albums has been the inclusion of spoken word history lessons among the songs. In one, lead singer Melora Creager (who played with Nirvana during their MTV Unplugged set) tells a story about how early American settlers used holy water enemas to fight sinners and suspected witches. Another addresses the mentality and logistics of the Donner party's feast of famine. If this all sounds incredibly macabre, well, it is. But it's also incredibly funny. Each song is drenched in a healthy doss of humor and irony to counterbalance the grim subject matter.
Unfortunately, their albums have been hit or miss. Rasputina's debut, Thanks for the Ether, is a unique masterpiece. Sometime after its release, the band hooked up with Marilyn Manson (never a positive influence) who remixed a few of the songs on an EP. Their follow-up, How We Quit the Forest, was, simply put a messy imitation of his bile-spewing electonica. The band has been in recovery ever since. Rasputina toned things again for their third release, Cabin Fever and it was return to form. Now for #4, Frustration Plantation, the band is shifting its lyrics to focus entirely on the provincial South.
Rasputina is playing Dante's on Tuesday but I don't think I'm brave enough to go. What's the target audience for this sort of thing? Goths? Chamber maids? Either way, I'm not willing to dye my hair black or dress up like Lestat the vampire to slip in among them. If I owned a spy cam, I guess I could watch the show from a safe distance. To the spy store!
Also a quick note about April March. I've also tried passing her discs off but there have been few takers. If everyone's new favorite band Rilo Kiley were fronted by a former Pee Wee's Playhouse cartoonist that sings songs in English and French, it would something like March. Her music is incredibly accessible and deviates from Kiley-style anthems to '60s European pop. It's strange that she never hit it big on the indie rock scene. At least the Dust Brothers enjoy her stuff.
What do Ice Cube, Tron and a gun weilding rabbit all have in common?
It's Saturday and that means I'm stuck at 'ze office. Fortunately, the internet is here to ease me through my weekend workday. Here's how I've been ticking away the moments that make up a dull day.
Oregon once banned Ice Cube? Yup! After the release of Death Certificate in 1991, an album depicting Cube standing next to Uncle Sam's corpse in a morgue, a statewide ban prevented record stores from displaying his image in sales displays. Learn more about this and other famous incidents of music censorship over at tabootunes.com. Their Gallery of the Forbidden is a great, if not entirely comprehensive, read.
Heinrich Hoffmann, a doctor working at an insane asylum in the mid 19th century, decided to write and illustrate a book called The Struwwelpeter. It's been scaring the hell out of youngsters ever since. While not nearly as popular as the Grimm Brother's equally disturbing menagerie, these cautionary tales are a kick in the pants. In one story, a thumb-sucking kid is attached by a scissor-wielding tailor when he refuses to give up his habit. In another, a rabbit steals a hunter’s gun and kills him in front of his wife. The illustrations and a translation of the text can be found here.
The Tron Man's website really is the visual equivalent of a Lemon Warhead. Yes, there's a million things on the internet far more distrubing but...well, have a look for yourself. Apparently, he recently made an appearance on the Jimmy Kimmel show. If his site doesn't send you into an epileptic fit, there's always this, which doesn't need an explanation.
Finally, there's this mystery link! What could it be? Click and find out.
Friday, May 21, 2004
Andy Kaufman: dead comedic legend or bored blogger?
Is Kaufman dead? Alive? Either way, he should make up his mind. Just when the whole world was convinced Kaufman wasn't going to pull a Lazarus move after his 20-year absence, this turns up (gracias, WWB).
Yes, it's probably phony but what if isn't? What if Kaufman really is making public appearances at Vegas brothels? What if he really does plan on touring the country's Starbucks? This all certainly sounds like the sort thing he would pull if he rose from the dead.
If Kaufman does suddenly pop up on Letterman to prove he's still alive, it'll be the greatest publicity stunt/piece of performance art ever. Even if that blog is a fake, I'm sure the comedian would approve. After all, Kaufman made a living screwing with people's heads.
On a completely separate note, I've spent a good part of the afternoon watching Kindergarten Cop on the office TV. I vaguely remember seeing it when I was kid and had completely forgotten about the movie's darker moments. The first 20 minutes is humorless and mean before the film awkwardly takes Arnie from the mean streets of LA to an Astoria grade school.
Throughout the rest of Cop's running time, it cuts back and forth from cutesy kid humor to gritty witness protection mayhem. In short, I think this may be the only film production that ever attempted to combine a goofy kids movie with a gritty cop drama.
The ferret, however, was quite good.
In my book, a certain Spielberg production starring a certain hobbit holds the title for best Astoria movie ever. BTW, the proposed sequel is now dead in the water.
At this point it's safe to assume that George Lucas has gone completely bonkers. Take a look at this picture. What you're looking at is re-edit of one of the final shots of Return of the Jedi and it's among the changes being made to a DVD set of the trilogy set for release in September. Yes, that's Hayden.
Ugh. I'll spare you a fanboy rant but if you know anything about these movies the appearance of a young Anakin sitting alongside an elderly Yoda and Obi Wan is not only illogical but it just ain't right.
Someone, please, restrain this man and/or take away his digital paintbox!
Thursday, May 20, 2004
Tuesday's Busse/primaries post drew a huge amount of feedback...or at least a huge amount of feedback for this site. Over three (!) people chimed in with their thoughts on the subject. So do I deserve a smack upside the head for voting twice and subsequently "hurting democracy"? Or was it OK since my sister gave me the go ahead?
Yup, it's time for a poll. Get yer' votin' fingers ready.
To make things more interesting, I'll publicly apologize to democracy if more readers vote "yeah" than "naw." If "naw" wins, however, democracy has to buy me a Hot Pocket and gallon-sized Shrek Slurpee from the 7-11 on Broadway.
I have no idea why Blogger feels need to put all this white space around the poll.
Tuesday, May 18, 2004
Fun and games with the democratic process
So I broke down and voted for Phil Busse. Twice.
What? Twice? Yep.
My younger sister lives in Eugene but she's still registered to vote in Multnomah County. She's a busy college girl and, between school and her Friends DVD box sets she doesn't have much time for PDX politics. Thus, I adopted her ballot and voted for Busse.
And Dennis Kucinich.
Hee. Hee. Hee.
So why Busse? While the results aren't in yet, it's pretty safe to assume we'll see a run-off between Potter and Franesconi in November. And "Busse" is pretty close to "Busey." And you can never go wrong with Gary Busey. Plus, his 100 days/100 ideas campaign was pretty sharp. And, wait, there's more.
OK, time for some online diary-style fun. In January 2002, when I was fresh out of college and struggling to find work in this burg, I accepted a job delivering papers for the Portland Mercury. I figured the gig would somehow, inevitably, lead to a work writing or doing layout for the paper. After a frustrating afternoon spent wandering along McCloughlin in search of their distribution center, I angirly drove back across the river to quit.
After dropping off a pair of magnetic car decals at The Mercury's old office on NW 23rd, I came home to a message from Busse. He called to ask what was wrong and why I had stormed off in a huff. Busse seemed genuinely concerned as I vented about the local job market. He asked me to come back, I said no and he wished me well. Maybe he and his colleagues were sitting on stack of undelivered issues and wanted me to deliver them before properly firing my worthless ass. Or maybe Busse actually (gasp!) cared about some kid too stupid to realize he had a foot in the door.
I hadn't thought the whole thing out before I agreed to work there. A day too late I realized that delivering papers would been a tremendous strain of my already tired vehicle. There was also "no chance" it would have lead to regular writing work. I forgot about the whole thing until two weeks ago when I ran into Justin Sanders, their assistant editor, at a Death Cab for Cutie show. How did he get his start in Portland media?
As a Mercury paperboy.
Let this be a lesson to you all.
Here's to you, Busse. Good luck tonight.
[insert cheesy '80s movie quote here]
According to this, Arnold Schwarzenegger's press agent is already booking gigs for 2006. This doesn't reflect too kindly on his performance as governor now does it? I haven't been keeping up on California since last fall's recall. How are things going down there? They've been quiet. Too quiet. Someone should probably check on them. The whole state may have fallen in the pool!
California as a wayward toddler? No, that metaphor doesn't work at all.
Anyway, Schwartzy is probably just keeping his options open. If you're more a fan of his movies than his politics, like me, you might want to root for another power crisis. Terminator 4, I am Legend and King Conan are all on the line here. Let someone incapable of carrying $100 million movie productions take over Sacramento.
There's also something else to ponder. If this story from the San Francisco Gate is to be believed, Arnie's new budget proposal would leave the state with a multibillion dollar deficit right around (you guessed it!) 2006. Is this all a coincidence? Or a stunning display of Austrian political maneuvering?
In other entertainment news....
Shrek 3? SHREK 4?!!! NOOOOOOOOO!!!
Pirates of the Caribbean 2 & 3? Filmed back-to-back? With Keith Richards? Meh.
Monday, May 17, 2004
The Saddest Music in the World
[beginning of plug for arthouse movie]
Right now, there's a strange little movie playing at Cinema 21. It's called The Saddest Music in the World and, yes, I think you should see it. The film stars Mark McKinney from The Kids in the Hall and Isabella Rossellini. A pair of prosthesis' filled with beer serve as a major plot point. If you're the sort of person that moans and groans about a lack of creativity in cinema, now is your chance to make up for lost time. For a full review, click here.
[end of plug for arthouse movie]
Andy Kaufman? Still dead
Before he died of cancer on May 17th 1984, Andy Kaufman said he would return in twenty years if the whole thing was a gag. With the anniversary impending, Bob Zemuda, the comedian's former publicist and co-conspirator, organized a celebration at LA's House of Blues. He gave the reappearance 12-1 odds and reportedly placed advertisements about the event in publications around the country. Sadly, Andy was a no-show at last night's gala. Maybe he never got the message?
Strangely enough, and despite the fact Andy Dick was there, no one involved took the opportunity to dress up as Andy and scare the attendees. Given the late comedian's brand of humor, wouldn't he have wanted it that way?
Curse those little monsters! !
I come to you today not to rant and rave about the poly-tics of the day like so many other Bloggers. I have something far more important to discuss. It is a subject that affects us all. The matter of which I am speaking, dear readers, is birds. Yes, birds. Flora and fauna, tweeters, hooters...call them what you will. How I despise them.
I don't know when these foul rats of the air began their attack on the fair citizens of Portland. Perhaps it was a far back as the summer of '03. The fact of the matter is this: this city is plagued by what I what I will now forevermore refer to, with great loathing, as "dive bombing birds."
I do love my motorcar and I love to drive around this municipality. So you can understand my distress over these creatures newly-adopted habit of flying past my windshield at top speed for no apparent reason. I imagine them sitting on their perches, waiting patiently for a vehicle to pass by, thinking to themselves, "Fiddly-dee. Oh, what fun it will be to give the next motorist quite a scare."
On a recent trip to my favorite five and dime, no less than three starlings darted out of the thicket to bomb past my vehicle, causing my heart to flutter and several near accidents. What could be their rationale? If their goal is to simply cross the road, why do they wait until the absolute last second? Why must the fly no less than three feet off the ground?
I can only conclude that these birds are either:
A: Enthusiast of what the new generation calls "extreme sports."
What I would like to propose is the installation of
Plexiglas walls to line every street in Multnomah County. This would most certainly stop these rotten little creatures and their efforts to make me crash my motorcar.
What's that you say? My idea is preposterous?! HRUMPH! Well, I dare say, dear readers, so is this community's incredibly bizarre fixation on attracting a major league baseball franchise. If City Hall can conjure up $340 million dollars, despite its ongoing financial woes, for what is most certainly the most preposterous of preposterous ideas, surely (surely!) they can spare a few million to stop the bird menace.
Saturday, May 15, 2004
If I was eight years old and had a few thousand dollars burning a hole in my pocket, this is how I would spend it. The link leads to an Ebay auction for an "authentic" Ghostbusters proton pack. This would have been the coolest thing in the world for me circa 1987 or so.
The designer spent over a year on it. Along with 35 lb. pack covered in lights and various doo-dads, he’s included a detailed jumpsuit and a specially designed walky-talky with audio excerpts from the movie. Right now, with three days remaining, the current bid is hovering around the $2K mark.
Friday, May 14, 2004
Fun and games with a Francesconi mailer
I don't dislike Jim Francesconi because of his wishy-washy stance on gay marriage. Or that he's running the most expensive campaign PDX mayoral history. Or the controversies surrounding his campaign contributions, his vote against the anti-Iraq war resolution and his questionable use of downtown law firm. Or that he spent $70K on campaign materials printed out of state. Or his ties to the Portland Business Alliance.
I don't like Francesconi because he looks like Frankenstein.
Hey, if you're looking for thoughtful pollitical commentary, you should be over at the Portland Communique, not here. The Frankenstein/Francesconi connection was further confirmed by a political pamphlet I received in the mail last week. Let's take a look, shall we?
"Grrr! Me am Francesconi! Me like girl. Me have picture of me staring at girl's breasts in mailer! Growl!"
All you need to do is draw a straight line from his eyes to that lady's bosom. Am I reading too much into this? Look at the lewd smirk. I can't believe someone on his campaign staff actually thought this pic would help rake in votes.
"Grrrr! Me am Francesconi! Me talk issues with everyday people like you. Me wave hands to convey important point!"
All in all, this is an atypical political pic. The candidate is talking with "normal people" about various, obviously important issues. All and all, it's pretty bland. But take a look at the guy in the green shirt. He seems to be thinking "Good God, could this guy get anymore pompous?" Either that or he has to take a gigantic dump. Again, couldn't they have done better?
"Rawrarararar! Me am Francesconi! Me am down with the kids. Me wear blue jeans and sweatshirt! Me listens to rock and/or roll music and play with magic bouncy ball, just like you!"
OK, first off, the picture suggest that Francesconi likes to hang around the local YMCA and play b-ball with youngsters. Overlooking the obvious, cheap Goldschmidt comparisons who goes to the gym in jeans? And, really, what's with the creepy expression? Jim looks like he's about to take a bite out of that kid's neck. Supporting public schools is one of his platforms but this pic seems to indicate he rather eat children than help them get an education.
Well, that was fun. If you haven't already, get out there and vote in the primaries. There's still time. Ballots are due by May 18th. Vote for Potter! Vote for Busse! Shucks, vote for the clown if you have to. Just don't vote for
Will they ever hit puberty and become Beastie Men?
It's been six years since Hello Nasty and the Beastie Boys are finally releasing a new album. It's called To the 5 Burroughs, it'll hit store shelves on June 15th and...it probably won't be all that great.
Amazon recently posted the track listings. "Hey, Fuck You" looks promising but "A Open Letter to NYC" reeks of MCA-style political grandstanding. Why do I get the feeling it's going to be a schmaltzy, 7-minute long spoken word track laid over a funkified remix of Buddhist chants?
I caught the video for the first single, "Ch-Check It Out" on MTV 2 over the weekend. The track itself was fairly simple and dull; the Beasties typical rap-slinging over a repetitive, thunderous beat. It's not nearly as nifty as "So What'cha Want" and lacks the uber-catchy meat hooks of "Intergalactic."
The video itself seemed altogether half-hearted and really is just more of the same. The Beasties, dressed in various outfits, chase one another around NYC ala "Sabotage." In its defense, there is a nice shot of a hovercraft exploding at the end. And, as I've always said, if there's anything better than a hovercraft, it's an exploding hovercraft.
On Wednesday morning, Marconi and "Tiny," the hosts of a local Portland radio show made a few meanspirited jokes about Nick Berg's tragic death in Iraq. Over sound bites of his screams, the two laughed and spliced in cheesy musical accompaniment.
After several listeners called 94.7 FM to complain, they were fired on Thursday morning. Apologies from the station's GM have been running during commercial breaks and Marconi posted his own over at suckycentral.com. The question must be begged: is the Marconi Show the latest victim in the ongoing Janet Jackson backlash or did the hosts have it coming? Would they still have been kicked off the air had Janet worn a Timberlake-proof outfit?
Either way, the two deserved some sort of punishment. Kicking them off the air is probably too harsh and comes across as pure, Grade-F pandering. Wouldn't it have been better to subject them to the slings and arrows of the public? From a purely business stand-point, the ensuing controversy would have likely boosted KNRK's ratings.
Or did the station's management make the right move? It's one thing to obsess over boobs and get kicked off the airala Tampa's Bubba the Love Sponge. Making callous remarks about a national tragedy before the body's buried and getting canned for it is quite another. The line has to go somewhere.
Regardless of their thoughtlessness, *I* think Marconi and his "suckies" should still be getting air time. As offensive as the show may have been, at least it was better than the tepid morning drivel pouring out of Rosie and Z100. The go-to answer of censorship critics has always been "just change the channel."
But the Marconi Show is gone and it's never coming back. Where are Gustav and Daria, the once hosts of "Portland's best radio show," these days? Is Jayn still looking for work? Turn those lemons into lemonade, KNRK, and set right the controversial programming changes you made back in October. Daria's Entertainment Report was the only reason why I ever tuned in to your crappy alt-rock station.
Tuesday, May 11, 2004
Death Cab for Cutie (Crystal Ballroom - Cinco de Mayo)
Death Cab for Cutie's music seems like it was tailor-made for something like The OC.
There, I said it.
I guess that's why their music has appeared on episodes of Fox's teeny bopper drama. Death Cab, despite possessing the best name for a band ever, makes bittersweet music for angst-ridden teens that aren't really all that angst-ridden. The music is bittersweet, fluffy and ultimately as forgettable as lemon-flavored cotton candy.
The bands debut album, We Have the Facts and We're Voting Yes, was a step in the right direction. Their follow-ups, however, have proven bland and inoffensive; the sort of stuff that's probably being played in heavy rotation on soft rock stations around the country. And the singer sounds like he still hasn't hit puberty.
So why did I pay to see the band play live at the Crystal? A bunch of other people were going and I was curious to see how a band like Death Cab would integrate the holiday into their set.
Sadly, Death Cab did not come out on stage wearing sombreros and firing pistolas widely in the air. Instead they put on a strong, hour+ set consisting mostly of tracks off of The Photo Album and Transatlanticism. And, for some strange reason, they played Bjork's "All is Full of Love" during the encore.
Also: Ben Kweller opened. I don't know much of anything about him but I guess he's been a "recording artist" since he was in his mid-teens. His music is much like Death Cab's and, only a few days later, I can't recall a single line or cord from his set.
Actually, lemme take that back. During a bit of downtime during his set he played "Happy! Happy! Joy! Joy!" - the Ren and Stimpy theme song. This makes him a-ok in my book.
Monday, May 10, 2004
some of them are difficult
if you can figure out the one with the mouse and the gun
you're...uh, something that rhymes with "difficult"
An honest mistake
Two confused foreign tourists arrive in Everret, Washington.
They're trying to get to Milaukie.
They hail a cab.
The cab driver takes them to the Portland suburb.
Whoops! They're actually trying to get to Milwauke, Wisconsin.
Wackiness? It a breaks a little bit of the ol' ultra-ensuing.
RIP Jim Spagg
Portland mayorial candidate and public access icon Jim Spagg sadly passed away over the weekend. I remember catching his notorious program for the first time in the mid-'90s. At the time I was probably searching the public access spectrum for The Chess Show, a call-in game show hosted by married couple that dressed in Halloween outfits and gave out cheesy prizes for checkmates.
Instead, my eyes fell on a cherubic man speaking gibberish and dancing around naked with a microphone in his hand. Behind him, a blue screen was lit up with choppy camcorder footage of a nude beach. Much like The Chess Show, Jim Spagg's 30-minute program had a call-in format. I distinctly remember him arguing with one outraged viewer. Spagg remained calm and tried to explain his beliefs regarding nudity. The man refused to listen and launched into a barage of obscenities. Instead of moving on to the next caller, Spagg decided to bounce around the stage while singing "you've got to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative." Eventually, the guy hung up.
I can't say I was ever a fan of Spagg's "work" but it was nice to know he was out there. His show was MCTV staple for nearly decade and it was impossible to miss it while channel surfing after 10 PM. Given this, Spagg was despised by just about every cable subscriber in Multnomah County. Despite thousands of complaints, Spagg's show ran until he was suspended for defecating on the air in 2003. He returned shortly thereafter and was quickly given the boot for "copyright infringement."
During the mid-90s, the show as so notorious that my company devised an official Jim Spagg policy. I just looked it up and, in honor of his passing, here it is:
Public Access Channel 11 Complaints
"The Portland College public access people who have been getting calls from customers, referred to them by our staff, about complaints on the Jim Spaggs show. As you may be aware, this is the character that runs around the stage naked. This show typically airs on Thursday night at 10pm.
We have been sending customer complaints to the wrong place. This show is aired by the Portland Public Access which is operated by Multnomah Cable Regulatory Commission (503-823-5385). They send the signal to all the franchises like Washington county and Clark county. There is nothing we as a company can do to prevent this program, the government says it is a constitutional right for this program to air as a freedom of speech.
However, if you get customers complaining, have the customer call their local cable commission to voice their complaint. I am sure they will pass this on to the Multnomah Cable Commission who has given Spaggs permission to air this program at 10 pm every week. "
If Heaven has a public access station, I'm sure he's already pissing off a good number of angels. Mr. Spagg, you will be missed. Your show, however, will not.
Friday, May 07, 2004
Calls from beyond the realm of reality
My "career" grants my coworkers and I access to some of Portland's most unique denizens. The first came from a guy convinced that his three televisions are filled with demonic snakes. Even when they're turned off, these chatty critters whisper his name...for no apparent reason. George Bush is also involved in this conspiracy and the man said he was going to report the company, the snakes and GW to the FCC. Those snakes had better start looking for a lawyer. I wonder if he'll lend them his copy of the Yellow Pages.
The second one went a little something like this:
ME: How can I help you?
CUSTOMER: What would happen if you got in a rocketship and just started heading through space?
ME: (thinking this was an analogy of somehow relating to our service) Uh, I don't know. If you believe certain theories that we may be living in a circular universe, you would end up back where you started.
CUSTOMER: Naw, if you kept going, like through the middle of Jupiter. Really flying straight through space.
ME: Uh, I guess you would keep going forever.
CUSTOMER: OK, thanks a lot, man. Bye.
I really should start recording these. These audio clips would make great sound bites for a space rock album. Maybe that's what this guy was up to. Maybe his album will be called Dark Side of the Customer Service Industry.
Speaking of space rock, Queen Autumn recently returned for the Coachella music fest with footage of Beck's booty. She posted it on her blog and it can't be found here.
Photo of the month
They're supposed to be "raining." Get it? Portland? Rain?
These somewhat obnoxious markers have been popping up all over town recently. They sit o then top of street signs in certain districts as a symbol of neighborhood pride and as a sort of marker that tells tourists they're somewhere "important."
Strangely enough, Hawthorne and Belmont, both "trendy" PDX districts, don't have them yet but I felt the need to add them in anyway. I'm sure there's plenty of markers and districts that I overlooked in the making of this lil' image. Alberta and St. Johns totally got snubbed. Sorry.
Even stranger: they're all over Beaverton. My neighborhood, West Slope even has one. When people think of iconic Portland districts, is a three-block radius of car dealerships, honky-tonks and doggy day cares among those that immediately spring to mind? Nope. Where's the love for Belmont, folks?
So, yeah, please don't steal this idea and use your superior Photoshop skills to make a killing on t-shirts. If you do, I want a cut of the profits. Pretty please?
Friends finale (finally!)
About ten years ago I sat down to watch a new sitcom called Friends. I got through about five minutes and I've spent the last decade ridiculing it at every available opportunity. Since then, it's become a gargantuan, pop-culture monster that everyone (but me) seems to love more life itself.
So I decided to give it one last shot before it went off the air. Surely there was something I was missing here. This thing drew in tens of millions of viewers every week. Surely it could dish out at least one tiny bit of redeeming value. All I was looking for was a single witty line or plot tread.
Nope. The finale for Friends is probably the most jaw-droopingly banal thing I've ever forced myself to sit through. I guess I'm not amongst the target audience for the show. From the fans I've talked to, the show is considered a guilty pleasure; the female equivalent of "good trash," something akin to Predator or South Park. I've always taken their word for this. Until now.
Sorry, Friends is more like a Steven Segal movie or WWE; something so gut-wrenchlingly uncreative and vile it should come with fifteen Surgeon General's warnings. It's a pop-culture pack of Pal Mals. I sat through an hour of what should have been a hilarious, brilliant send-off for a beloved sitcom. Instead what I found was tripe riddled with the most obvious of cliches and the lamest of lame one-liners. We're talking sub-Carrot Top level humor here.
The finale centered around David Schwimmer's character struggling to get to an airport to stop Jennifer Aniston from flying off to Paris. Meanwhile, Matthew Perry and Courtney Cox loaf around an apartment gushing over their newborn twins. Dave doesn't make it in time but Jenny comes running back to him at the end. Awwww, no, wait...GAG!
This is the sort of BS that's been a staple for sitcom finales since time began. It's baffling that Friends' staff of overpaid writers made absolutely no attempt to do anything even slightly different from what was expected. The whole yawn-enducing thing went languidly from A to B.
But at least it's over. Finally ove...oh, wait. God, no. I forgot about syndication! Friends is going to live forever. Nooooooooooooo!
Oregon: Yahoo's new source for embarrasing news stories
Bob Packwood, Tonya Harding, the Jail Blazers, Tre Arrow, Ward Weaver the Portland Seven and now this and this.
The only time this state gets attention from the national press it's for something kooky and/or crazy. What sort of mental image comes to mind when someone in say NYC thinks of Oregon? Once upon a time it may have been an atypical lumberjack. Now I imagine it's an serial-killing, ice-skating lumberjack that hates capitalism, lusts after teenage girls and always forgets to take the tinfoil off their pot when going through airport security. At this point, the state's PR image has got to worse than even Arkansas' and Florida's. OK, maybe not Florida's....
Thursday, May 06, 2004
In defense of The Ladykillers
OK, really, what's the problem? Quotable dialog? Check. Vivid, surreal imagery? Check. Mean-spirited stereotypes? Check. So, really, why is The Ladykillers now considered the Coen Brother's worst movie?
There's a simple formula for their filmography: choose a American locale and ridicule it. The Brothers have gone after just about every region in the US: the Midwest (Fargo), California (The Big Lebowski), the east coast (The Hudsucker Proxy, Intolerable Cruelty, etc.). They already conquered the south in Oh Brother Where Art Thou and others so the cliches employed in The Ladykillers, which takes place in Mississippi, shouldn't be a problem. This is just another film in a long line that employs archetypes for comedic effect.
Yet, for so many critics, it was a problem. The Brothers' films are almost always universally praised but this one received tepid, in many cases, outright hostile reivews. The cast is comprised of the duos usual brand oddball stereotypes. Like so many of their other characters, Tom Hanks' Professor G.H. Dorr is a stereotype. He's a smooth talking southern gentlemen. Much like the Dude, who, at first glimpse, was a lame hippie archetype, Door is overloaded with unusual quirks. While he's a cliche, he's a cliche that just so happens to be a riverboat casino robber with an unhealthy passion for Edgar Allen Poe and white suits.
Hanks' colleagues-in-arms include a demolitions expert with irritable bowel syndrome, a chain-smoking Vietcong general and a gangsta' janitor with wandering eyes...and that's where I think most viewers hit a wall with this movie. If The Ladykillers was set, like the original, in England with an entirely white cast, it would have opened to rave reviews. Because the Coens inside moved to the south and filled a good portion of the script with African American archetypes it fell flat with both audiences and critics.
Now I'm not going near a discussion of race in cinema (fine, too late) but I think it's safe to say The Ladykillers was the victim of an unfair double standard. When the Coens employ every weapon at their disposal to mercilessly ridicule yokels living in Minnesota, they're rewarded with a huge box office take and Oscar noms. Vietnam vets, hippies, Italian mobsters, bikers, drooling hicks, Hispanic child molesters, middle-eastern dictators and German nihilists are all safe ground but the second they set their sights on an elderly black grandmother, all bets are off.
At the very least, The Ladykillers is an equal opportunity offender. I may be forgetting a few but the film also goes after southern whites, the mentally challenged, Asians and (gasp!) the Swiss. The movie is a melting pot comedy and the racially diverse crowd I saw it with laughed, in the words The Stranger, "to beat the band." So, really, what's the problem? The Ladykillers is not the Coens' best movie but it's still a million times better than their toothless Introlerable Cruelty. And Pickles the cat kicked ass.
Tuesday, May 04, 2004
...to all the tech gurus who may (or probably not) be reading this. I'm looking for an easy way to record Realplayer broadcasts. The antenna on my vehicle broke off a while back and, for some strange reason, this would cost over $200 to replace. Rather than drop that, I'd much rather xfer BBC and KWVA mp3s to my iPod. But there's one little problem. I don't know how.
A Google search turned up little more than jumping jack squat. I could drop $25 on a program capable of doing this but $25? Lame! There's got to be an easier (ie f-r-e-e) way to go about it.
So, uh, please? Purty please?
Monday, May 03, 2004
Star Wars, nothin' but Star Wars
Saturday, May 01, 2004
Reptile attack - part 1
Heading west from Portland, over many hills and through many forests, standing tall aside the Pacific, lies Nehakanie Mountain. It may be shorter than its cousins in the Cascade range but what Nehakanie lacks in snow, it more than makes up for in purty scenery and hiking ops.
It also has snakes. Dum! Dum! Dum!
Once or twice a year, I make a sojourn down Highway 101 for an afternoon hike. For someone who has never excercised in his life, the ascent up Nehakanie is just strenuous enough to make me feel like I'm conquering the Matterhorn. Bannana slugs, wild hares, occassional deer and elk and the rare coyote all call the mountain home and keep humans on their toes.
After a seemingly endless string of 20 degree inclines, the trail gives way gentle path through pine trees. A quick jaunt up a rocky incline at the end leads to the peak, where a view of Manzanita and Haystack Rock awaits. On a clear day, you can see all the way down the coast to Garibaldi.
Given all this freak weather (80? In April? In Portland what 'ze fuck?), I headed to Nehakanie a few Saturdays back. The trail was packed with the typical assortment of hippies, yuppie broods...and snakes.
Lots of snakes.
I'm not an expert on these cold-blooded, apple-advocating critters but they're not an uncommon sight on the mountain. They usually keep to themselves and can be heard slithering around in the brush near the trail. On this Saturday, they were all over the place. At one point, while heading up, I stepped off the trail to make way for a line of fraternity brothers and their girlfriends. One of them neglected to notice the scaly-loafer under her feet and immediately freaked out. She leapt one way, and the snake leapt the other...right on top of feet. Yes, wackiness ensued.
Reptile attack? Not quite.
At the top, I took a seat one a rock oddly shaped like a beanbag chair. I broke out the usual Cliff Bar feast, took the usual boring pictures, strolled to the other side to get a look at Cannon Beach, etc. I noticed it when I was getting ready to leave: a completely stationary snake, about ten feet away. "Wow, isn't this a cute little photo op," I thought, reaching for my digital camera.
The snake was a perfect model. Maybe it had a subscription to Cosmo or something. It raised its read and remained completely still as I clicked the shutter a few thousand times. "OK, now give me sad," I said to the snake, utilizing a few dozen fashion photographer cliches. "Now where's happy? Gimmie happy. You're elated. Estatic You've just scored a bag of primo, Grade-A bugs."
After about three minutes of photo fun, I finally grew bored and decided it was time to get going. Between the two of us was my open backpack. Suddenly it dawned on me. This snake had been eyeing it the whole time. I began to wonder. How many poisonous lizards call Oswald State Park home? Elle Driver's speech began running through my head. "The Black Mamba Snake can deliver 55 billion milligrams of venom in a single bite."
The fashion shoot had just mutated into a Jurassic Park-themed stand-off. If my keys and iPod hadn't been in the backpack, I would have probably let the lizard have it. There was no way I was going to battle to the death over a sweatshirt and $20 worth of...whatever backpacks are made out of. Failure wasn't an option. I had two options: get off the mountain with the backpack or stay up there forever.
Meanwhile, the snake sat perfectly still with eyes that seemed to say, "Bring it on, you warm-blooded bitch."
To be continued...
Sometimes, when you're stuck at work on a Saturday night, ya' get a hankerin' to write haikus. Since I'd rather be in a certain bar in Multnomah Village right now than chained to this desk, here's what my muse came up with:
Renner's Bar and Grill
Drunks and hipster tourists
Falling off tall stools
Oh, what has become of you?
Broken? Stolen? What?
Temptress Jello shot
Tasty and so sweet you are
Not so the next day
Scribbled with green ink
Standing room only
The frantic bartender sighs
Drink, drink, drink, drink, drink
Drink, drink, drink, drink, drink, drink, drink
Drink, drink...uh oh