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Saturday, July 31, 2004
Run-Hit Flounder pt. 2
Part 1? Here.
Last night I returned from three days of intense cross-training in the backwoods of the Deschutes National Forest. The regime consisted of grueling runs along the slopes of Mount Bachelor and rafting trips on the Hosmer Lake that would break most men in my weight class. I am now fully prepared for tomorrow's Run-Hit Wonder. One of those Gibson guitars is surely mine. You can bet on it.
OK, not really. I ran around for ten minutes before getting lost in the campground. The rafting consisted of apathetically drifting while drinking discount Rogue Hefeweizen and laughing at families in incredibly expensive kayaks.
That's not to say there weren't moments when I actually broke a sweat. My companions, their dogs and I had to fight a serious wind to get back up stream. As we struggled against the tide I had to urinate so bad I somehow gave myself a headache. Come on, that's the sort of gritty hell workout that would make even Rocky wince. After all, his training regime probably allowed for pee breaks.
Anyway, tomorrow morning I and 10,000 others will run the 10K through a maze of '80s bands. Well, they'll run and I'll probably walk. While chasing frogs in a mountain stream (yes, you read that right. Frogs. Mountain stream.), I cut the big toe on my left foot. Then, late yesterday, I was stung on the same foot by a yellow jacket. This entire thing has become the stuff of countless cheesy underdog movies. Will I overcome all this adversity and, through sheer will and the goodness in my heart, win this race tomorrow? Naw. Unlike the Bad News Bears, the Mighty Ducks and Charlie Sheen, the chances of me coming out on top are next to zero. Actually, to be frank, they're below zero.
If you're at the race and you see a runner walking, taking pictures of the crowd and chain-smoking, that's me. I may have to stop at the Matador for a mid-race vodka Red Bull. If I'm going to lose this thing, I may as well do so in the most obnoxious way possible.
Warm Springs fire
While driving back to Portland from eastern Oregon yesterday, I passed the wildfire at the Warm Springs Reservation. I snapped the shot below while stuck in a construction delay three miles away. People around me were getting out of their RVs to stare through binoculars. Helicopters passed overhead with packs of water hanging precariously from thin wires.
I'd be lying to say I wasn't doing the same, sans RV + binoculars. Was it wrong of us to gawk while attempting to make up for it by glumly shaking our heads? I'm not sure. The fire is 35% contained and nearby homes may soon be evacuated.
Team America trailer
'Tis up? 'Tis up!
If watching potty-mouthed, conservative puppets fight terrorism and Hollywood celebrities is your idea of a good time, just follow this link.
Unlike fellow blogger Flog, I don't typically remember my dreams. Judging by the one I'm about to relate, it's probably for the best.
The dream begins with me pushing my way through a crowd in a weird combination of a concert hall and a summer camp cafeteria. A Pink Floyd cover band is about to take the stage and, since I'm apparently friends with the bassist, I've got a backstage pass. As they begin the first song off The Wall, I notice a woman next to me, dressed entirely in black, with a sock in her mouth. I ask her what she's doing and she mumbles, "I'm trying to kill myself." When I tell her that this isn't going to do the trick, her boyfriend shows up. He's also attempting death by sock and refuses to listen to me. The girl suddenly becomes frustrated, jumps into a nearby aquarium and turns into a fish. The boyfriend spits out the sock and does the same but turns into Garfield (but with fins). He swallows her whole before languidly crawling back out. With his gut stuck on the edge of the tank, he tells me not to worry. They do this all the time.
Given the company backstage, I decide to leave and head for the foyer where a group of elderly people in '30s nightclub attire are gathered around Gizmo, the mogwai protagonist from Gremlins. He's in a tuxedo and dancing with a doll in a bridal gown. Seriously creeped out at this point, I head outside into a crowded bar/fish-packing district. Club hoppers mix with longshoremen gutting fish and tossing ice into the street. I look over my shoulder and notice that I'm being pursued by two men that look like Beavis and Butthead impersonators. Butthead is seriously overweight and chewing on a toothpick. Beavis is wearing a anarchist/punk shirt three sizes too small and looks like he's freaking out on methamphetamines.
I make it back but Butthead is waiting for me in the hall. I rush for the stairs and he laughs/shouts "Huh, huh, huh, there's no way you'll outrun a meth head." I make it to the roof, and, sure enough, Beavis is waiting with a switchblade. There's no way I can win this fight so I jump down a laundry chute/elevator shaft and wake up before I reach the bottom.
So what the bloody 'ell is that all about? That does it, no more pop-culture before bedtime.
Portland versus George Walker Bush - pt 1
It's no secret that, for most Portlanders, GW is like a swig of beer in a middle schooler's mouth (yucko). What's strange is the way that certain citizen's are registering their disgust. While most are content to slap a bumpersticker on their Subaru, others have are participating in much more bizarre behavior. Here's the first installment of a continuing series of looks at PDX'ers and what they're willing to do themselves, and their property, to unseat Bush.
While driving up SW Terwilliger yesterday, I spotted a man bouncing back and forth as if following Richard Simmons' steps in a Sweatin' to the Oldies video. With a mad grin on his face, he was frantically pointing at a John Kerry lawn sign as if his life depended on motorists taking note of it. I only got a quick glance at him but I think he was also blowing a whistle.
Perhaps he was trying to mix political activism with his regular exercise regime or maybe, in some sort of Twilight Zone-y twist, his life really did depend on people looking at his sign. If he becomes a regular fixture on Terwilliger, I'm hoping I can get a picture of him.
If I wasn't working today I might be at this right now. Or, more likely, I would be at this.
Admittedly, it's a tough choice. People launching themselves down Mt. Tabor on homemade soapbox racers or people in bizarre flying machines launching themselves into the Willamette? Oh well, at least I'll get to see the pictures when they start popping up later this evening.
I also won't make it to this...
...but, dammit, I'm not going to miss this (more info here). Martha had better be decked out in zombie gear too.
Tuesday, July 27, 2004
Adventures in Eavesdropping
Things overheard while sitting next to a middle-aged football player and his gal-pal at the Baghdad Pub (not verbatim).
GAL-PAL: "I want you to buy every last one of those lamps across the street."
GAL-PAL: "That girl in that apartment, why does she keep pacing back and forth? That tank top probably shows her nipples."
GAL-PAL: "What's he eating? It looks terrible."
FOOTBALL PLAYER: "Can we get another round and two slices of chocolate cake to go?"
GAL-PAL: "Do the McMenamin's guys have any 30-year old sons?"
BARTENDER: "Yeah, they do actually."
Feel free to draw your own conclusions.
More fun and games with Hilary Duff
I don't think I'll ever get tired of this thing. Recent recipetents of calls from "Electro Hilary," a quirky feature on the promotional site for A Cinderella Story:
- A wrong number from Kentucky.
- Vera Katz's office
- Jim Francesconi's office
Those two really need to patch things up. I wonder if these mysterious calls from Hilary will do the trick. Hmmm...
Unfortunately, it looks like Warner Brothers recently disabled the phone feature. There's still the email option but it just isn't the same. *sigh*
You don't really think you'll win, do you? Things change.
Bill Clinton's speech? Ted Kennedy's tirade against Bush? Ben Affleck on Larry King LIve discussing a possible step into the political arena? Sunday's Nazi rally? YAWN! The biggest story to come out of the convention, thus far, has not been reported by any news organization...or at least any news organization that I could track down. Here it is:
Despite a weather report predicting several days of thunderstorms, umbrellas are not allowed in or around the Fleet Center, including "The Free Speech Zone."
So what are the organizers afraid of? A dastardly plot by the Penguin to shoot protestors with his trademark umbrella gun? A terrorist packing an umbrella that converts into a whirling chainsaw? The possibility that a single anarchist demonstrator may avoid catching a cold?
This seems like the sort of thing Michael Moore would jump all over but he's been busy arguing with Bill O'Reily.
Gracias, AP, gracias.
The Deadest Place on Earth
My interest in theme parks exceeds even Japanese arcade games. The prior obsession comes from being raised in a household that regarded southern California as a sort of holy land, with Disneyland being the equivalent of the Temple Mount. While I've since renounced my "faith," I still keep tabs on Orange County’s countless parks through sites like Mouse Planet.
Possible the biggest piece of SoCal theme park news this year has been Disney efforts to give visitors something to do in their fledgling California Adventure (compared to a prison in an episode of The Simpsons last year) In May they opened The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, based on the attraction at their east-coast MGM Studios. Based on the old television show, riders are catapulted around an elevator shaft in an "abandoned" hotel as their assaulted by CGI ghosts and a Rod Serling impersonator. Etixland posted a lengthy write-up on the ride, with pics, that can be found here. If you're headed that way, you should also check out this.
But has Universal Studios come up with a better ride based on the undead? A few weeks later, their Hollywood theme park opened the doors to Revenge of the Mummy. This ride, which now fills a space once occupied by an ET attraction, is in-house roller coaster along the lines of Disney's Indiana Jones: Temple of the Forbidden Eye. After making the mistake of disrupting the mummy's tomb, riders are assaulted by robotic Egyptian zombies that fall from the ceiling, beetles that "attack" them (really droplets of water) and a chamber that bursts into flames.
Magic Mountain has yet to open an undead-based thrill ride but, as this Popular Mechanics article points out, do they really need to?
Monday, July 26, 2004
All-out weirdness assualt
If you don't have next several hours to kill you may not want to read this post.
The Card House is a blog devoted to things like Mexican supermarkets, hamster-related game shows and candy cigarettes. I wasted well over an hour there earlier this afternoon and still can't quite describe the it. Perhaps it's the kitsch-equivalent of Boing Boing. Regardless, it's not the sort of site you should turn your back on. It might bite.
Earlier today, the author posted a six-page article on Japanese arcade games that's well worth a look. Among those featured are mafia-themed games that test players typing skills and a blackjack game with a video croupier. Also included are several up-close pics of the drum game Scarlett Johansson stares at in mute wonder in Lost in Translation and an analysis of the cartoons on the side. The final game mentioned, pictured above, makes absolutely no sense and may involve sharp knives.
On the same topic, if you still haven't seen this prepare to become both shocked and appalled.
Here is also a link to collection of very strange GIFs. Among them, is the bizzaro world Arnold Schwarzenegger one you see above. The shot is from a series of commercials he did in the '90 for some sort of energy drink.
Really, why wasn't that ad run around the clock during the California recall?
You want to see the commercial, don't you? Of course you do. Just follow this link but be warned: if you aren't familiar with Japlander, prepare to lose the next two hours of your valuable time.
If you still have free time after all of that, there's always this.
Saturday, July 24, 2004
Run Hit Flounder - part 1
A week from tomorrow I will collapse somewhere in downtown Portland in a puddle of sweat, gasping for air like an asthmatic goldfish.
Or maybe not.
It could happen in the Pearl.
OK, so here's the deal. I registered for Nike's Run Hit Wonder a few weeks back and foolishly clicked on the 10k option. The run is roughly six miles, weak in comparison to your average marathon. However, for someone who hasn't even jogged further than a block since high school PE, this is going to an intense endurance test for both soul and soles.
With a little over three weeks to train, I bought a pair of Air Alvord II running shoes on sale and running shorts from Mitchell's. If you've never been in this Lloyd Center Goodwill/swap meet, I highly recommend it.
So far, the training for this run has not gone smoothly. If I spoke with someone who does this regularly, they'd no doubt criticize my choice of running shoes (Alvord's are meant for trails, not pavement) and my decision not to shave my entire body for the run (like swimmers. They do this, right?). The websites I've read on the subject suggested I should start at a quarter mile the first week and work my way up from there. To properly work up to six miles I would have needed to start sometime around last Valentine's Day.
So why am I doing this? Because it might yield a few interesting anecdotes and the whole thing sounds so ridiculously surreal. If you haven't heard, Tone Loc and Flock of Seagulls will perform on tiny stages along the route. What sort of crowd will turn out for Sunday morning concert/fun run? Will the musicians interact with the runners? Does Flock have more than one song in their catalog or will they play "(I Ran) So Faraway" over and over again? Will Loc break out a free verse rhyme about me when I fall over 200 yards from the starting line? I have to know the answers to these questions.
To be continued...
UPDATE: The run is sold out. Me + thousands of runners + early morning exercise + Mike Score = unmitigated disaster. I guess this makes me a masochist.
Dick is on the way
Does Dick Cheney have a nickname? It's a shame that "Very Tricky Dicky" hasn't caught on.
Anyway, the Vice President will roll into town Monday for a fundraiser at the airport Embassy Suites. I did a quick scan through various local media outlets and, so far, only the Mercury and the Portland Peaceful Response Coalition seem to care. Is the later organizing a protest? You betcha'.
Also: this is interesting....
...but this is somehow more interesting.
Revenge of the Sith?
The title of the next Star Wars film was revealed a few hours ago at the San Diego Comic Con. Revenge of the Sith isn't as surprising as the inexplicably cheesy Attack of the Clones and I kind of like it. Back in 1983, Revenge of the Jedi was eventually changed to Return of the Jedi after the initial title was deemed inappropriate ("Jedi don't seek revenge"). It's nice little nod to the original series, suggests that Episode 3 will be nastier than the others and may, but probably won't, make up for the last two.
Friday, July 23, 2004
Sonic Youth (Crystal Ballroom 7/15/04)
A week late and dollar short, here's a quick rundown on the show.
- While waiting to get in, there was a guy standing behind me that looked a lot like Isaac Brock. The doors opened late and he killed time by walking across the street to smoke a cigarette near a homeless man that looked like Ho Chi Minh in cowboy gear. It would have made a nice picture but there was no way I could covertly take one. I really need a spy camera.
- The first opening act sounded like a really depressed Mazzy Star after chugging a bottle of Nyquil. They played one song. It lasted 30 minutes.
- Le Tigre was originally scheduled to open but, unbeknownst to me and a dreadlock'ed girl nearby, they cancelled a month ago. Who did the organizers find to replace them? A no-name band consisting of a guitarist, a screeching singer and a guy working a turntable while wiggling cookie sheets (!!!). OK, they weren't cookie sheets. They were actually long tin strips attached to a silver coat rack. They banged on their instruments forever and occasionally the singer burped out a 30-second werewolf howl. The audience screamed back and threw cups. At one point, the cookie sheet guy pounded on the turn table with his fists. They played one song. It lasted 45 minutes.
- Sonic Youth has been around since the early '80s and most music snobs would argue that they're at least four records past their prime. Who cares what they think? The band's latest, Sonic Nurse, is one of their best and the song about Mariah Carey, regardless of the dated reference, is mighty fine.
- A one point, Thurston Moore asked the audience to strip and even threw beads. No one stripped and they all kept the beads. That ain't right.
- During a 10-minute feedback jam, Moore sex danced with his guitar. Later, he and the other guitarist performed a weird mating ritual with their "instruments" while Kim Gordon spun around in circles. Behind them sat a line of speaker/movie screens covered in images of nurse holding a syringe and what looked like alien fishing rods. Hooray for indie/post-punk/experimental/noise rock!
- The song played during the second encore? Teen Age Riot.
Le Tour de Tedium
Mirth and prattle,
Over all those men on bike saddles,
On and on it goes,
For a month or longer, who knows
Will Armstrong win again?
Better question: when does the NBA season begin?!!
Three hour rides up winding hills
An endless, real-life Triplets of Bellville
Yellow shirt, blue shirt, pink shirt, azure shirt
Someone falls down, eats dirt
Parisians swarm those skinny bikes,
For this we beat the Third Reich?
Now Americans watch this crap too
People falling off bikes, getting boo-boos.
"Lance! Lance! Lance!" they all swoon
Thank God this will be over soon
But watching that man with a single ball
Still beats major league baseball
Basically, it's hotter than a snake's ass in a wagon rut
Hopefully, that's an obscure enough reference. Other titles I seen today on various Oregon blogs include "It's feelin' hot, hot, hot" and "It's hot! Damn hot!"
So exactly how stifling, scorching and sizzling is it in Oregon right now? According to the clock on the auto body shop near my office, it was 103 at 3 PM, easily the highest temp in many a PDX summer. There's no telling how hot it is on the other side of my office's windows but the trees outside are drooping and lava monsters are chasing Tektronix temps around the parking lot. The temps are fighting back with .99 Safeway squirt guns. It isn't a pretty sight.
Since my place is a heat sponge magnet, it'll no doubt be 145,000 degrees in there when I get home tonight. I'll have to pick up a fire extinguisher (for when I burst into flames) and no less than 15 DQ Peanut Buster Parfaits on the way there. In short, hot sucks.
Because I cannot resist...
...here's a link to another eBay auction. This one is good, I promise. Better than the mechanical animal band? Maybe but I'll let you decide for yourself.
Tuesday, July 20, 2004
The Naked Cowboy
When I was in NYC last year, this guy was the first thing my eyes landed on when I emerged from the bus station. Apparently, the Naked Cowboy makes a killing playing the guitar in Times Square, year round, while partially nude. People pay upwards of $5 to have their picture taken with him and there's a comic "strip" out there along with a line of official Naked Cowboy merchandise. He's even a regular guest on the Howard Stern show.
According to his website, the name is copyrighted and he's been arrested over 40 times for stunts around the world. And to think I thought the Naked Cowboy was just a kooky mofo that runs around in his undies for pocket change. He's actually a kooky mofo that runs around in his undies for thousands of dollars a day.
The Battle for Cannon Beach - Finale
Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here. Part 3? Here.
Was this really a class war? Was I, as usual, blowing things out of proportion? Did anyone really care about the seagulls on top of Haystack Rock? Did it matter?
As day turned to dusk, my family and a thousand others are lingering around campfires like revolutionaries in war paint outside a tea boat. Behind nearly every drift log and fold-up beach chair there's a stack of fireworks. Our eyes scan for beach patrol trucks and we're laughing. There's no way Cannon Beach's police department, which employs, maybe, a dozen people, will be able to crack down on all of us. When the sun finally dipped below the edge of the Pacific, the beach will be filled with the "whoosh!" of blazing mortars and the patriot screeching of countless Whistling Petes.
"Captain America" is a middle-aged super-patriot with a passion for low-budget pyrotechnics that dwarfs my own. Every year he digs a trench lined with tiny American flags with his teenage sons. Tonight he's wearing a bald eagle tank top and slamming canned Budweisers with his brood. Since he always drops well over a grand on rockets, their beer-soaked display is an annual highlight. Five years ago, one of his kids almost set the Tolovana Inn on fire when a Saturn Missile launcher fell over, sending fifty missiles into a second-story screen door. A year later he almost killed Shanna with a defective bottle rocket. If every visitor to the beach were like him, I would sympathize with the locals and their efforts to turn the town into a north coast Malibu.
The Captain is usually a subject of scorn for everyone that makes the mistake of setting up camp within range of the Captain America family trench. Tonight, he has the potential to make up for years of sloppy hijinks. He will no doubt be our shinning star- a George Washington for Cannon Beach's firework guerillas. With a case of American suds powering through his veins, he will not hesitate to defy the local ordinance to defend his God given right to fill the night sky with florescent flames.
As it gets darker the mood gets tenser. It feels like Hoth in the moments before the Empire show up on that frozen plain. The police roll down to the sand off a boat access point. At their disposal are two trucks and a dune buggy. The three vehicles break up. The crowd jeers at this tiny battallion. Already gone is the warm vibe and good ol' fashioned fun of past Independence Day celebrations. We're all criminals. This is a tinder box standoff waiting for a single spark to turn this into a full scale war.
A purple mortar goes up. Several hundred people cheer. The first shot has been fired. A truck does a 180 turn in the sand and bombs down the shore to ticket the culprit. Another family lights sparklers. Neon comets fly in every direction. Captain America joins the fray and lights off a series of mortars. The war is underway.
The sun is gone and the scene quickly becomes a seaside Wack-A-Mole game. Third graders become pint-sized revolutionaries and sneak down to the shoreline to light out off cardboard bombs. The dune buggy pauses a hundred yards away from three tots with sparklers. The cop atop thinks about it but keeps going. It's too early yet to bust preschoolers.
Earlier that day, Shanna and I weighed our liberal dogma and nagging environmental ethos against our insatiable need to blow shit up. We're over half mile from both of the beach's bird sanctuaries. As usual, we will clean up our mess. If any birds have their feathers ruffled tonight, it won't be by our hands. Our parents have given their grown children their full approval. Even they, upstanding citizens, are itching to fight the powers that be.
After watching several families have their 4th of July stashes confiscated, Shanna's forehead is so hot you could fry a dozen Cadbury eggs on it. This is a girl that once lectured me, in tears, after I bowled a pumpkin down a hill on a long-gone junior high Halloween. Now she's roasting marshmallows and quoting Mel Gibson's "FREEDOM!" speech from Braveheart. She's gone from being someone who throws away voter ballots to die-hard freedom fighter in the space of four short hours. All it took was the possibility of a Fourth of July without fireworks.
We sneak up into a beach access point between two $500k homesteads. We're testing the waters. According to the fine print on the ordinance, we're not allowed to shoot off anything on the sand. We're on grass. We light off a mortar and assume there's nothing anyone can do about it.
A woman's head pops out of a house. We figure we're in for a lecture but throws out a flurry of questions instead. They too have a cache of fireworks. We offer them our interpretation of the ordinance and two minutes later, her son and I are shouting "FIRE IN THE HOLE!" as we run away from loaded cardboard cannons. Soon, we are joined by a man and his daughter. He laughs like a mad scientist as a purple fireball explodes overhead. "He's a fireman," she giggles.
With a professional firefighter on our side, a man who should despise these dangerous toys, our actions are now 100% justified. We are all stout-hearted patriots and the cops, madly to trying to keep a lid on the celebration, are heartless commie Benedict Arnold fascists with zero tolerance for all American fun. We mock their dune buggy and futile attempts to stop us. We are winning. They are scum.
Shanna and I return to the beach fire where our parents are rolling their eyes and muttering at this Orwellian scene. At least a dozen families are shaking their heads as their fireworks are tossed into the back of one the trucks. The woman and her son have been nabbed. He hands over a grocery bag full of roman candles.
Enough with this half-hearted dilly-dallying. Morale is sinking up and down the coastline. It's time to hit these cops with the strongest, most obnoxious firework in our arsenal. Our next move will be to light off a $30 display called "The Hot Tub." It will be a bold, blatant stand against this small town police force and the property owners no doubt watching the scene from behind the second floor windows of their McMansions.
200 yards down the shore, the dune buggy cop is sitting behind a dune, waiting for someone to do something stupid. A quarter mile away, someone does and he zooms off. We have 2 minutes, tops.
With our backs lowered, we run down towards the waterline and I hum the Mission Impossible theme song. Let's see what these bastards think of this. The fuse won't light and we're losing time. One of the trucks is coming our way. It goes and a round of green fireballs blaze up into the sky. Good God, did they see us? We duck and weaving past families on our way back to "base camp." This is all tremendous fun. We're striking a blow for freedom. Our nation's forefather's are no doubt smiling down on us from Heaven. We are blessed. We cannot lose.
But we've made a huge error. Neither of us have taken notice of a dark figure in a red raincoat, lingering at water's edge. The truck arrives and pauses a football field away. The plan had been to return to the fire, wait ten minutes, and go back for the empty Hot Tub shell. A cop hops out and grabs it.
No one says a word. My parents, who have never, ever received anything more than a speeding ticket in their whole lives, are absolutely terrified. Being the stupid idiot that I am, I taunt the cops with the flash bulb of my digital camera, convinced they're after another family. A small man in a black uniform wanders up with a 1,000 watt flashlight. Without thinking, I jump up to greet him.
"You can hand over the fireworks or we can start talking about penalties. The fines start at $500 and go all the way up to $3,000."
I'm not about to hand them over. He asks for my ID but my wallet is in the room. I'm fully prepared to make this man's job as difficult as possible. My father rises and decides to save me from a stiff fine and a possible night in jail. The red jacket cop/spy has joined us. "They're under the beach blanket," he spits with a vicious grin.
And I was really looking forward to lighting off the one shaped like a choo-choo train.
We're lectured. The cop doesn't ask if we're locals. He immediately cuts to "Didn't your hotel tell you about the ordinance?!!" My father lies. "We hand delivered stacks of warnings to every place in town." Another one interrogates my mother. He tells her that he's a Vietnam veteran and that he hates having to do this. We are all criminals. The little cop goes off on a five-minute tirade about seagulls and local hotel managers throwing away the warnings to prevent guests from checking out early.
The four of us nod politely and offer the cops a spattering of "Uh-huhs." Satisfied, they take off without breaking out a fine book.
But they’ve cast a gloom over the evening. Beach fires up and down the shore are going out. Our brave stand against the forces of evil and neo-facist opression has lasted a grand total of 45 minutes. These five cops have conquered the spirits of thousands. Families with beach chairs trudge, scowling, back to their rooms.
Somewhere in the fray, Captain America's fireworks must have been nabbed. I pass their camp and his brood is slumped in plastic lawn chairs, glumly staring at a blue cooler.
We discuss heading up the coast to Seaside, where there's likely to be a Dionysian pyro ogry in full effect. But the holiday is already ruined. We toss sand on the fire and wander upstairs to watch the Twilight Zone marathon. Somewhere, Ben Franklin and Teddy Roosevelt, John Wayne and Ronald Reagan are shaking their dead, proud heads.
Several thousand family traditions were probably ruined that night. There’s no telling how much an incident like this might cost Cannon Beach’s economy. Next year, the unthinkable may happen. There may actually be a "vacancy" sign in a hotel window on the 4th.
Joking aside, Cannon Beach's transformation from family getaway to playground for millionaires is nearing completion. As the community continues to crack down on short term house rentals and as the price of hotel rooms continue to inch above the $200 mark, middle-class tourists will have to head elsewhere. On one hand, the birds that reside on Haystack Rock won't have their sleep interrupted by mortar shells next year. On the other side, they may soon be priced out of their nests.
The whole saga can be found, with larger photos and in its entirety, in the feature archives of Welcome to Blog.
Welcome to Blog's next contest
Given the success of the C2 contest (almost a half dozen people participated!), Welcome to Blog will be doing another one of these things. It was originally scheduled for this week but the prize is being shipped in from Jersey and won't be here until Friday at the earliest. The whole thing has been postponed until it arrives and I can post pictures. So, yeah, stay tuned.
Monday, July 19, 2004
If I had $16K burning a hole in my pocket last week....
...I would have been strongly tempted to buy this. I could have bolted it down to the top of my car and become the proud new owner of Portland's Greatest Ice Cream Truck/Vehicle Ever.
This mechanical band will supposedly play anything. Anything? Like that one novelty song about dead puppies? Or NWA's "I Ain't the One"? Or Prince's "Darling Nikki"?
Maybe I should have bought it. With the band at my disposal I could have easily earned back that cash in a single day selling Choco Tacos on Hawthorne.
Or I would have been arrested and the band would have been confisicated, forever doomed to play for Portland's finest at countless drunken cop BBQs. Either way, it would have made for some great photo opps.
Attack of the Republican puppets!
Question: What is Team America: World Police?
Answer: A new movie directed by Trey Parker and Matt Stone starring an all marionette cast.
All. Marionette. Cast.
Pundits, wonks and the like have all been wondering when conservatives will dish out a cinematic response to Fahrenheit 9/11. Thus far, Michael Moore Hates America has been getting all the press. It looks like the prime candidate to open a can of warhawk whoop-ass on American liberals... while earning its makers a ton of cash at the box office. But is Team America better suited to become the Great White Hope for Bush-worshiping cinemaphiles?
Parker and Stone have made no bones about their right-wing leanings. In recent years, their hit show South Park has advocated the Iraqi war, anti-gay polices in the Boy Scouts, and the banning of steam cell research. From afar, Team America looks like a goofy, empty-headed parody of old '60s children's programs like Thunderbirds.
A columnist from Ain't It Cool News recently visited the set of the film and came away with a different impression. His story, posted last week, suggests that the film will become the Parker/Stone's most conservative work yet.
The premise follows a group of superhero crime fighters stationed in Mount Rushmore as they fight terrorists and liberal Hollywood celebrities. When the film's main antagonist, Kim Jong II, attempts to sell weapons of mass destruction to a terrorist group, Team America swoops into action only to be daunted by Tinsel Town organization run by marionette versions of Alec Baldwin, Susan Sarandon, Sean Penn, and a permanently mustard-stained Michael Moore. As Parker explained to AICN, "They’re not bad. They’re just really, really stupid and misguided."
Team America won't be a musical but will include a few original numbers. One decidedly un-PC tune, sung by Kim Jong, is titled "I'm 'Ronery." The theme for the team is an Aerosmith-style power ballad called "Team America! Fuck Yeah!" The song will play during a graphic puppet sex scene.
Puppet sex? Cheesy Asian stereotypes? Despite this, Stone explained the film will play it mostly straight. "We figured out pretty quickly that the more straight you play it, the funnier everything gets," Stone said. "Watching puppets discuss life and death issues is just funny. Period."
Team America has already caused a brief upheaval on the Paramount set. During a screening of a rough cut, an executive screamed, "Oh god, they fucked us" during the first few minutes. The opening shot, of an obviously fake Eiffel Tower and a pair of crude puppets, led him to believe that duo had delivered an un-releasable film. But it's a gag. The camera pans out from a street artist's puppet show to an elaborate miniature set of Paris about to be destroyed by a suitcase bomb.
The film is set to open on October 15th but could be delayed because of the duo's commitment to Comedy Central. The next season of South Park is set to debut on October 27th. If it does make the release date, could this crazy little puppet movie actually have any impact on the November election?
Considering the ongoing controversy surrounding F 9/11 and Time cover stories claiming it will definitely have an effect, why is it so hard to surmise Team America couldn't do the same? Subversive comedies as far back as Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator have worked as propaganda. As strange as it might sound, even Donald Duck cartoons were used to boost morale among troops in World War 2. South Park is insanely popular among the college crowd and DVD sets of the series have sold well into the millions. If the same crowd turns out in droves for Team America, why couldn't it be a factor?
I want a chicken pot pie tattoo
Here is a quick rundown on the people I encountered over the weekend.
- American 20-somethings bum around Europe but what do young Europeans bum around? I didn't know the answer until I met one of Olly's friends on Friday night. The answer? They bum around the US. Apparently, Amtrak offers the American-equivalent of Euro passes.
- On Friday night, a woman tried to sneak a baby into Holocene. It's a nightclub on the eastside filled with tea lights. The two were turned away at the door. As we were leaving, she was lingering by one of the windows and slow dancing with the kid. Inside, some sort of Kraftwerk tribute band was playing. He looked confused. Thanks go out to Autumn. The baby totally made the trip worth it.
- On Saturday I met a baker covered in tattoos. On his left leg there was a full-color pot pie with a Buck Roger's ray gun looming over it. The gun's blasts had caused a screaming chicken to be "born" out of the pie like a chick emerging from an egg. I wanted to ask him if this was his own idea or if he saw the sketch on a wall in a tattoo parlor. I also wanted to take a picture of it. I didn't have the courage to do either.
He and another baker talked about staying up all night since they had to be at work at 4:30 AM. This made we wonder: has every donut I've ever consumed been baked by drunk insomniacs? JJ has more on all this over at his blog.
- Another fella', a cook, had recently been involved in a kitchen fire, during which his right arm was badly scorched. Earlier that day, his gauze cast had been removed. The arm, from the elbow to the wrist, was bright red and looked sort of like a pork chop. 'Twas gnarly, 'twas.
- At the same place there was a local actor that looked a lot like Walter Peck, the evil EPA officer that tries to bankrupt the Ghostbusters. He is one of five actors currently competing to become Oregon's Captain Morgan. If he lands the gig, he'll do bar promos around the state and hand out rum in a $2,000 Captain Hook-style costume. Along with him will be a gaggle of "Morganettes," all dressed in skimpy pirate outfits. One of the first promos will supposedly involve a 40-foot yacht covered in Captain Morgan banners that will set sail down the Willamette. Yes, this is the coolest job ever. Even Duffman would be jealous.
He did his Captain Morgan impresonation and, being the bastard that I am, I criticized it. He presented a straight Pirates of the Caribbean brogue but Morgan is more a suave pirate- not the sort of buccaneer that drops "arrrr, maties." The actor looked at me like I was insane. I probably deserved this. Nevertheless, he spent the next few minutes practicing various accents.
Saturday, July 17, 2004
The Battle for Cannon Beach pt. 3 - The Class War on the Shore
Part one is here. Part 2 is here.
WHY ARE FIREWORKS PROHIBITED ON THE OCEAN SHORE OF CANNON BEACH?
And it goes on there. With all due respect to the seagulls I cheerfully threw bread to as a child (they rarely ate it), this is absurd. The sanctuaries in question are located on the crests of two large monoliths, Haystack Rock and another further down the shoreline. The nesting areas on these rocks are well over ten stories from the sand and not even a bazooka could reach them. Seagulls, puffins and the like don't typically fly around at night. In regards to the "loud explosions, etc," the wildlife that lingers on shores besides this boom town has endured far worse than a few hours of bottle rockets once a year. They've been battered by harsh Pacific storms, seen a good portion of their habitat replaced by million dollar homes, have choked on countless pieces of trash washed ashore from far-flung locales and have endured years of smog, off-leash dogs, oily run-off rainwater bogs and driftwood logs.
Three hours of patriotism should seem pretty weak in comparison.
This new ordinance immediately struck me as fishy. Tourists have been shooting off fireworks on the shores of Cannon Beach for decades. Was there something more behind this than a few well-meaning citizens and their concern for their fine-feathered neighbors?
Who was behind the fireworks ordinance? Could it have been the teenagers that volunteer at the edge of Haystack Rock and try to keep visitors from playing with the starfish? Or the "locals" that shell out 6-figures for beach cottages? A Cannon Beach Gazette story, published on July 1st, points to city officials and "wildlife lovers."
In recent years, battle lines have been drawn in the town between residents and the tourists and knickknack shops on Hemlock Ave, the city’s main drag, that rely on their out-of-town dollars. Last April, a cover story in the Gazette focused on an ongoing debate over a ban on short-term rental properties. Tired of tourists storming their neighborhoods, a group of locals were seeking to stretch the placidity they enjoy during the off-season to the summer months. Understandable, but what they've failed to acknowledge is:
A: For almost a hundred years Cannon Beach has served as an oceanside getaway for tourists from as far away as Tokyo.
B: The income their neighbors draw from renting their homes helps to pay the community's astronomical property taxes.
From an outsider's perspective, the birds seemed like only the latest attempt by local property owners to chase away riff-raff; riff-raff that brings with it millions of dollars to their community annually. Are the citizens behind the rental property proposal and the anti-fireworks ordinance the sort that make their living rolling Haystack Bread at the Cannon Beach Bakery or selling rock candy at Bruce's Candy Kitchen? Doubtful. Since the town's strict regulations on property development prevent high-density residential dwellings from being built within city limits, many of Cannon Beach's wage slaves no doubt commute in from nearby Seaside every morning.
Over the past two decades, the Cannon Beach has gradually shifted away from its low-key roots. In the 1970s, Hemlock was lined with bead and seashell shops. In recent years, these business have been steadily replaced by high-priced art galleries and clothing boutiques. Residential properties that once sold in low 5-figures in the mid-'80s now go for ten times that. Devoted community groups and strict regulations stop high-rise developments and corporations like Starbucks from setting up shop in Cannon Beach, preserving the city's charm. While this has prevented the city from being overrun with the tourist trap trappings that dominate it neighborhood to the north, "Sludgeside," it has caused what was once a laid-back beach town to slowly turn into an overgrown country club.
When a century-old grocery store was set to be demolished last fall, the oldest building in Cannon Beach, only few residents pushed to have it protected under a historic structure stip. It's since been replaced with a garish boutique strip mall. With firework ordinances and other strict regulations intended to chase away tourism, Cannon Beach may one day become the Oregon-equivalent of Malibu. Some might say it already is.
For someone like myself, who can't afford a million dollar home, detests tacky, $10,000 wolf sculptures and has been coming to Cannon Beach while I was still the womb, the community's slow, 180 turn comes across as an example of gentrification at its most wicked. Using an enviornmentalism as a weapon to chase away what property owners perserve to be undeseriables is revolting. Any day now, these same residents will be clamoring to block public access points to the shore.
There's an excellent Sunday Oregonian story in this ongoing power struggle, or at least an excellent thesis paper, but I obviously don't have the connections or time to pour over newspaper archives to make either happen. Cannon Beach is only one of countless examples of the gentrification parade that's been stomping all over the northern part of the state in recent years.
Next time: The conclusions to this long slog. What ensues when you mix five cops with several thousand irrittable Fourth of July revlers? Wackiness, of course.
Friday, July 16, 2004
Random Observation Time!
- At 1 in the morning, with all the tables pushed into a corner, Powell's Coffee Room looks really, really tiny.
- In Spanish, I, Robot becomes Yo, Robot.
- Portland has a sports memorabilia museum?
- I Love the '90s? Isn't it a little...early to be wistfully reminiscing Y2K and Jay + Silent Bob?
- At one point did tour buses come equipped with tinted, one-way windows?
- Houses can become infested with carpenter ants and cockroaches but never, ever adorable bunnies. Why is that?
- A remake of The Ten Commandments probably isn't a good idea.
- Neither is this.
- Or this.
This has been the first....and probably last installment of Random Observation Time.
One fansite to ruin them all
This week's WW cover story goes to show that hobbits aren't very good accountants. Focusing on a group of Lord of the Ring devotees, it delves into the dark, sweaty underbelly of fandom. It's a great read- in a sad, sci-fi Maury Povich sort of way. The twist ending threw me for a loop but it should be obvious from the pictures.
They made the evil Witch King Gothmog spend the night in a cramped LA apartment?
[trying to be nice, trying to suppress laughter]
[failing to be nice, failing to suppress laughter]
Sorry...that's funny. HA! HA! HA!
Wednesday, July 14, 2004
The 2004 Guide to Fire-No-Works
Something like this probably requires an explanation. I'm not sure one would do any good though.
If you like goofy fireworks and jokes about pirates, click here. The link will lead to Welcome to Blog's 42nd feature, which just so happens to be chock full of wacky photos and information about some of strangest fireworks on the market.
But if you're just not into that sort thing, click here instead.
This is all the Decembrists' fault.
Tuesday, July 13, 2004
It's not too late to sleep like [you're crazy], Mattress World!
In case you're wondering, here's a picture of this year's Miss Oregon. The winner, Brook Roberts (AKA Miss Douglas County), is a student at Southern Oregon State. Roberts performed "All That Jazz" in the talent section of the pageant, held Saturday night in Seaside. In September, she'll go on to compete for a shot at becoming Miss America.
So why have I posted something so seemingly bland? Because, as Little Lost Robot has pointed out on his blog, she may be the spawn of Beelzebub. Take a look at this picture and queue the theme song from The Exocist.
That expression is downright unholy.
The possibilities for that pic are endless. If I knew anything about video editing and animation, I'd put together a little South Park-esque cartoon staring Miss Oregon. Here's a possible plotline:
Miss Oregon is shopping at Nordstrom when another patron, a blonde no less, gets the last pair of size 2 Gucci pumps. The nerve! She flies to a rage and uses her dark powers to fill the store with molten lava before cruising down Broadway in a hot pink convertible for strawberry martinis at El Gaucho.
Editing a floating, pea soup-spitting Miss Oregon into a Mattress World commercial would also be neat.
Come on, there's got to be someone out there willing to devote 100+ hours to this video project.
Da' Bulls, da' Bears, da' Capitol Hill
"I'm getting excited about it. I'm just thinking about it"
-Coach Ditka on the possibility of a Senate Bid.
As you've no doubt heard by now, Mike Ditka, the golden calf of many a Chris Farley SNL sketch, may run for US Senate. According to a CNN segment earlier this morning, one of the hurdles in his way is...
[insert tired, misogynistic joke here ]
She's quoted as saying she'll divorce him if he decides to run. Of course, didn't Maria threaten Arnold with the same when he was still mulling a shot at Gray Davis' job? Weak...
Tom Selleck is the only recent celebrity that has seriously pondered a stab at politics without jumping on full-throttle (ok, AP, prove that statement wrong). If Ditka's talking about it, and if there's even websites out there supporting him, he'll no doubt do it.
With Ditka now involved, the senate race in Illinois is beginning to make last year's Davis recall look more boring than a trip to Jiffy Lube. Last month, Republican nominee Jack Ryan dropped out after his wife, Star Trek's Jeri Ryan, ditched his S & M craving ass. All this race is missing is a porn star and Gary Coleman.
Reagan, Ventura, Schwarzenegger and now Ditka. Given the pattern, and the increasing number of washed-up celebs jumping into politics, Joey Harrington will no doubt be landing in the governor's mansion around 2030.
All new fun thing
Like most blogs, this one is a huge mess. In an effort to make Welcome to Blog easier to use, I've added a handy-dandy Google search feature to the menu.
Should it be moved further down? Maybe. Anyway, try this sucker out. It's fun, free and easy. A search on the word "poop" yields no less than 7 hits.
Thanks go out to AP, who thought of this idea first.
Now you're playing with power
I want this.
The link leads to a flash card burner that works with Game Boy Advance. Using a program like Pocket NES, I could upload over a gig worth of classic games onto a single card.
I have no problem with taking and even distributing ROM files for the NES since they haven't been on the market for over ten years. But with one of these at my disposal, what few moral qualms I have regarding internet piracy would immediately dissipate. Others have figured out a way to use the cards to upload games from every system built before '92, in addition to movies and pirated GBA games.
While I'm completely sold on uploading every NES ROM on the internet onto one of these things there's just one little problem:
flash card burners runs upwards of $95 and the cards themselves can run twice as much. Funk 'dat. I like my piracy cheap and easy. ARRR!
Monday, July 12, 2004
Tim does not compromise
The winner of last week's C2 essay contest is...TIM! Yeaaaaaaaaah! Woo hoo! Hooray! Etc! Here's his vile, disgusting submission, which will no doubt burn your eyes and make hair grow on your palms:
"First, I shall place one can into a plain white coozie. I will then take this can out for dinner and dancing at McGrath’s Fish House here in Eugene, followed by a late evening of watching Bond movies and sipping each other lovingly by the fire. A second (and possibly third and fourth) can I shall chill in my refrigerator for no less than 48 hours, then I will take them out, place them into my mini-cooler, and drive to the home of this girl I’m trying to sleep with. After softening up her inhibitions with one can of sweet cola-flavored social lubricant, we will engage in the sort of sex-acts that get one banned from the aquarium while we shower each other in Coke’s newest concoction.
The remaining cans shall be taken out into the desert, high above the valley floor, and put out of their misery with the aid of my buddy John’s antique Mauser, provided we can find ammo for it. In want of ammo for the Mauser, we will resort to a .22 semi-automatic rifle and a baseball bat. Take that Dr. Atkins, you fat fuck, take that."
With any luck, winning this contest will turn Tim away from a life of lurid sex and violent debaurchy. Perhaps it will serve as a religious awaking for him. Maybe Tim will turn to the good Lord for guidance and convert to the Mormon faith by Friday. It's OK to cry, Tim. Everybody hurts sometimes.
Either that, or he'll blow up the cans in some sort of sick desert ritual. Whatever.
Runner up: Juanathan for his essay on turning Coke cans into hook hands. Wow, that rhymes. So what does he win for his efforts? Not a damn thing. Congrats, Juanatahn!
Tim, to accept your prize, 11 cans of C2, send me an email at the address above. I'll have them on the next plane to wherever you are, stat.
Thanks to everyone who participated. There will be another contest next week but I can't think of a prize. You should do this for me. Be a pal and fire off your suggestions in the comments area below.
Campaign ads + Pink Martini
"Announcer: Last year, Senator McGovern suggested regulating marijuana along the same lines as alcohol, which means legalizing it. Now he's against legalizing it, and says he always has been. Last January, Senator McGovern suggested a welfare plan that would give a thousand dollar bill to every man, woman and child in the country. Now he says maybe the thousand dollar figure isn't right."
And it goes on like that. This is from a 1972 campaign commercial sponsored by "Democrats for Nixon." I just discovered the site for The Living Room Candidate exhibit a few minutes ago. If my company computer had speakers, I'd be torturing the rest the office with 50+ year old ads for Ike.
The site, sponsored by The American Museum of Moving Images, at least looks compressive. It contains a dozen or more ads for each presidential election from 1952 through 2004. If you really miss Rose Perot's '96 spots, look no further.
Also: Concerts for Kerry will be hitting the Crystal Ballroom tomorrow night. Local legends Pink Martini are the headliners and 100% of the proceeds will go to the campaign. If you're feeling all democrat-y, click here for further info.
Blog encounters another late-night bike mob
Imagine you're sitting in a booth at the Goose Hollow Tavern on Jefferson. It's around midnight and your mind is giving way to the effects of multiple pictures of Henry's as a British gent is telling you why one of your favorite movies of all time is a load of crap. The place is shutting down for the night and its patrons are slowly trickling out. Then, out of nowhere, a hundred people on bicycles roll up to the bar.
These "pink elephant riders" only seem to show up when I'm about to drink, drinking or drunk. During Rose Fest last month, I encountered a mob of all-nude bikers during a late night stroll down to the Shanghai. I'd consider giving up the bottle but, fortunately, other people see them too. Plus, I've got photographic evidence to back up my claims.
As the mob lingered in the middle of Jefferson Street like a flock of starlings, I ran out to investigate. A man with a grey mustache enigmatically told me they were looking for geese and turned away with a laugh. "Are you Zoobomber," I asked his back. "Only some of us," he shot back.
I stood there staring at them stupidly, wondering if another question would yield a Chesire Cat-like answer. Eventually, someone else came clean. They were on what he called a "midnight madness" ride. They apparently do this all the time. On Friday they were on a late-night scavenger hunt. One of the clues was "Bud Clark. Geese." So that explained it. He gave me their listserv address and...I immediately forgot it.
If you aren't familiar with the Zoobombers, they're a local group that rides tiny bicycles at a million MPH through Washington Park. Over the past year, they've butted heads with police and Tri-Met officials in their quest for speed. Last September, their bikes were siezed by PPD and, more recently in an attempt to discourage them, Tri-Met considered closing the MAX line early on Sunday nights to put an end to their weekly rides. Despite it all, the Bombers have prevailed and their stack of bikes still rests comfortably on that bike rack outside of Rocco's.
And they all left as quickly as they arrived. Oddly enough, later that night I wound up lost in Washington Park.
Saturday, July 10, 2004
I am a very special homeboy in the middle of a very special mystery
Last night, while driving through Beaverton traffic, I got this "message" from Hilary Duff:
"Here's a fairy tale story staring the HOTTEST new celebrity around, you. You see, once upon a time there was a very special homeboy named Brandon, who lived in the enchanting, magical mystical land called Oregon. He wore only the finest clothes like Major Flirt mini-skirts and spent most of the time doing really adventurous things, like inventing TOTALLY brilliant new ways to skip class. Cleary, something missing until, magically, he met the love of his life, a homeboy named Booty-licious B, who fell in love with his TOTALLY irresistible half man/half boy peach fuzz and they lived happily ever after."
At the end of the message, Hilary does a quick ad for her new movie, A Cinderella Story, and offers a URL that explains everything. At the official Warner Brothers site, there's a feature that allows visitors to send freaky personalized Hilary messages (click on the phone).
OK, which one of you is responsible for this? If your goal was to see if I would post something about this, OF COURSE I would post something about this.
Time to play Sherlock.
"Booty-licious B" is an obvious red herring and that tells me nothing. Who have I given my phone number to recently? I included it in the Mercury app but I'm sure Stephen Humphrey, who no doubt has an enemies list longer than the Nile, has better things to do than send Electro Hilary after a blogger peon like me. The message was sent yesterday morning at 10:30. Flog wouldn't be awake at that hour. This leaves three suspects:
As of now, suspect #1 is WWB. With a heart full of vengence, I tried to arrange a similar Electro Hilary attack but (fortunately for him) I lost interest. He would have heard that message while drunk and riding a DC subway later tonight. If he's not the culprit, it would likely scare the hell out of him. Either way, I win.
Anyway, you three have until noon Monday to bring the perpetrator forward. If not, all of you will receive late night messages from Electro Hilary, who will prattle on, at length, about your "TOTALLY fresh stylin'!" Mwahahahahahhahha!
The ides of July
During a routine phone call at work earlier today, a woman, out of the clear blue, cryptically told me "Go straight home tonight" before hanging up. To make things all the more spine-chilling, she said this very cheerfully.
While I don't want to go straight home after work, what if she's some sort of real-deal soothsayer? I'd take my chances but I *have* eaten two Taco Bell Grilled Stuft Burritos in the last 24 hours. Maybe I shouldn't take my chances.
Follow-up: anti-Kerry bumperstickers spotted around Portland
Zero. Zip. Not a single one.
What sort of town do you think this is? Sheesh!
I did a little Yahoo research and the number of Democratic bumpersticker results dwarf the number of Republican. 22,400 matches vs. 6,220. Has incumbency made conservative sticker makers lazy? One site, The Right Stuff, offered up these:
Kerry, Kerry...quite contrary
Make France happy! Vote Kerry in '04!
Make Al Qaeda happy! Vote Kerry in '04!
Osama begs you: "Vote Kerry!"
Meh. I think these are pretty weak in comparison to the Bush counterparts posted a few days back but, speaking as a no-goodcommiepinkoflagburninggaymarriage
advocatingSaddamfan, I guess I'm biased. Decide for yourselves which side has the better stickers.
I will give them this though, the Kerry flip-flops are inspired.
From Willamette Week...
Donors are needed at the OHSU Sperm Bank
Healthy, 20-39 year old individuals of all ethnic origins are encouraged to inquire.
One year university level education, non-smoker, able to participate for at least one year. Compensation provided.
Please call our recorded message 503-418-3780 for further information.
That scene in Jackass: The Movie was probably the final nail in the coffin for ironic trips to sperm banks. Just about every "edgy" publication in the world has sent a staff member (groan) off to report on them. Still, there's one reason why I'm thinking of calling that number:
Well, money. What? Did you think I would throw out a more clever reason like having a huge number of potential kidney donors out there in case I need spare parts someday?
With my Nosferatu-esque looks, a gung-ho nurse would no doubt try to stab me with a chair leg ala Buffy when I showed for the first appointment. I've always wondered about that aspect of the business. How do they explain to certain potential donors that they're too fugly to be hired? I'm sure there's some sort of time-tested procedure.
Nope, I don't think my ego can handle that sort of rejection. But that shouldn't stop the rest of you from dialing the number.
Friday, July 09, 2004
Here come the weiner dogs!!!
The 2004 Weiner Dog Summer Nationals began tonight at the Multnomah Greyhound Park. They'll continue through the weekend. Why aren't you there?
OK, fine, you would have to go to a dog park where people bet their social security checks on races but we're talking about wiener dogs here. Weiner dogs.
You know, like hot dogs and stuff*.
JJ Joe Jr. was at PGE Park a few nights back and apparently the organizers staged a publicity race in the outfield. The dogs ran in different directions, none of them towards the finish line.
This is the second post I've written today that mentions Dachshunds. I've only written two posts today. Hmmm...
* Your mind is filthy. Go wash it out.
The Battle for Cannon Beach Part 2: On the Parade Route
Part 1 is here.
For a holiday weekend the Sunset Highway is unusually dead. This is a typically sign that storm clouds are hanging over the coast or that something else nasty is waiting on the other side of the Coastal Mountain range. It's July 4th, 12:30 PM. I ignore these suspicions and cheerfully assume that anyone who's heading west this weekend is already there.
My assumptions are always wrong.
As you cascade down from the range on US-26, about fifteen miles from the 101 turn-off, there is an old restaurant called Oney's. Outside, there's a tall, plywood lumberjack. I don't know how this family tradition started but every time we pass Oney's cheerful face everyone shouts "OH-NAAAAAAAYS!!" I've seen this sign at least once every summer for my entire lifetime. I have never eaten there.
Shanna manages a quick, tiny "onay" before going back to her GBA. If she's psyched for this Big Fun Super-Duper Family Weekend she's hiding it well. It's only now that I realize that we've been mispronouncing the name of the restaurant all this time. It's probably "Oh-knees."
We descend into Cannon Beach. Legend has it that an undead logger, wrapped in bloody gauze, roams this stretch of highway. Locals call him the Bandage Man and, with the use of his magical goul powers, he likes to jump in trunk beds and backseats. In an open convertible we're a prime target for a ghost attack. We get into town without incident. Maybe he took the afternoon off.
Thousands of people are sitting on the sidewalks and we don't know why. Some of their faces are covered in star-spangled face paint and they all have sacks of candy. Two minutes later, our front bumper is a foot from the back end of a rubber raft. Two teenage lifeguards are throwing breath mints at the heads of spectators. Up ahead, the siren of an ambulance delights the crowd. Jesus Jumping Christ on Trampoline Pogo Stick! We are now in a big ol' 4th of July parade.
And There Is No Escape.
Most of them are convinced that we're the big finale. 1st graders scream for bite-size Butterfingers but we have only a single mint, tossed into the backseat by one of the lifeguards. Small-towners cheer us and mock our laziness. The cars up ahead are decked out in glitter and American flags. Their drivers are cheerful, waving clowns. They even have Dachshunds in cute little hot dog outfits. We have no Dachshunds. We have nothing. We are decadent hippies, Michael Moore enthusiasts, suspected communists - lowlifes to be ridiculed. A woman in a comical Uncle Sam hat shakes her head at me.
To hell with all these shinny, happy nationalists. I want to fire back with flashbulbs, a Super Soaker, shucks, even the candy they're pinning for. My arm searches blindly in the back seat for something, anything. If only we had known in advance! I would have 6 grocery bags of goodies to launch at these howling jingoists. Condoms! Bottle rockets! Fried chicken! Plutonium! Motor oil! Maxim! Balloon animals! Tiny plastic bottles of rum! Industrial-strength Depends Undergarments! In my 5 MPH daydream I am a Super Patriot teaching these people the true meaning of Independence Day.
There is the $114 cache of fireworks but they deserve any of it. They've hurt my feelings.
Worse yet, everyone has digital camcorders. Slowly we are becoming the final scene in dozens of cherished family memories. What I wouldn't give for a single, inappropriate thing to toss. Or the gall to put on the emergency brake, stand on the seat and drop my pants. With Shanna screaming bloody murder at my bare butt, we would be the top story on every affiliate on the west coast. "Strange, donkey-like 20-something moons crowd at small town parade. More at 11."
Out of contempt, or possibly pity, they start throwing candy at us. Most of it bounces off the doors. Where is that shiftless Bandage Man when you need him?
"Shanna, we're under heavy fire and these people want our blood," I declare. "The least you can do is get off the car, go to the trunk and get the camera."
Shanna has lowered herself all the way down her seat with her eyes just above the top of the door. She stares at the laughing, mocking crowd like it's a boring Midwest landscape but she's not taking any chances.
A small blonde-headed kid jumps in front of us. I slam on the brakes. He rushes back but the car has crushed whatever he was going for. The boy shoots me a blast of disdain. Many of these kids, most of them overweight, have a fraction of the candy that their smaller, quicker counterparts are now totting like trophies. I toss one, slumped in a lawn chair, a sympathy mint. He glares back.
I implore Shanna to do something- to wave, or least make eye contact. She calls her boyfriend instead. At one point, with it held high, the crowd shouts and blows kazoos at his voice mail. "You're car is great," a drunk man shouts. "I love the phone effect." Judging by his voice he must have started drinking at dawn.
Then she does something foolish. Now making an effort, she's halfway in the backseat, searching the floorboards for candy to give all the sad little fat kids in the crowd. What Shanna has failed to remember is that she's wearing a pair of tiny Gap shorts. I gasp and struggle for breath. For me, la butt-a de mi hermana is like sunshine on Dracula. I struggle to speak but I feel like I'm melting. The camcorders have turned away from the lifeguard girls to her Made in Oregon booty, now proudly, boldly, bravely held high in the air like Lady Liberty's torch.
"Why? You don't need this candy."
How many wives have slapped their husband's faces in the past few days for using their 16x Circuit City lenses to zoom in?
After a 30 minute delay, the lifeguards roll down a side street and we are free. We wind through hairpin turns and into the Tolovana parking lot. At the front desk there is a stack of white paper. At the top there are three clipart fireworks with a slash over them. Close by are the following words:
To be continued...
As mentioned above, I couldn't get to my camera. WIth the exception of the shot of the sign, the rest of these have been "borrowed" from cannonbeach.net. I am bad.
Thursday, July 08, 2004
Lame Office Meeting Doodle Fun Thing # 4
Anti-Bush bumperstickers spotted around Portland
Let's Kerry Bush out of the White House
Save the environment, plant a Bush back in Texas
Anyone but Bush!
Bush = miserable failure
Fire the Liar! Vote Democrat in 2004!
The letter "W" with a slash across it ala the Ghostbusters logo
"Dick" and "Bush" belong under the sheets, not in the White House
OK, I made that last one up.
Blah, blah, blah, all the live long day
If you've ever wondered what I look like, grab a copy of the most recent Willamette Week and turn to page 27.
Or just click on this link.
That big-nosed, scowling man-donkey mutant is me.
I'd like to act all cool about the article and say that it's no big deal but I'm completely incapable of this. Instead, like I always do, I'm going to ramble on for a thousand words or so.
I received an email about the article two weeks ago from WW staffer Taylor Clark with a list of questions. I answered them and later received another email from Tom Oliver, one of the mag's photographers. A phone call later, I had just over two hours to prepare for a "photo shoot."
Since I look like the sort of creature that hangs out at the same bar frequented by Sasquatch and the Loc Ness monster, I hate having my picture taken and the thought of having my face appear in WW was unfathomable. Oliver said he was looking to make the pictures "as interesting as possible" and wanted to meet me at my workplace. Since tromping into a crowded call center wasn't an option, I suggested somewhere else.
I wanted to say that we should meet up at City Hall where he could pics of me hitting golf balls off the top of my car but didn't have the gumption. Instead, we agreed to meet downtown at Jake's Crawfish House. I grabbed every goofy thing I could find- a Gizmo doll, a Karate Kid bandana, Bryan's tourist map of Iraq, a suit, a bag of Japanese Christmas candy and an ancient laptop were all tossed into an old canvas knapsack.
The whole thing took around 45-minutes and Oliver fired off a hundred or so shots of me doing things like blowing smoke at the camera and making other pathetic stabs at looking cool. Later, I tossed on the suit and pretended to type on the laptop. Gizmo donned the bandana and I placed a tiny Jagermiester shot glass and a florescent party straw next him. Sadly, the shot of me shaking me head in disdain at the sloppy, drunken mogwai wasn't the one that made the cut. I'm sure the rest of the photos have long since been deleted but I would have loved to have that one for the archives.
In the email, Clark said that the article was going to be "a small compendium of local blogs." Oliver suggested it might be larger. Until I received a call early yesterday morning, I figured the entire thing would be a tiny, half paged blurb wedged between "Winners & Losers" and their feature story of the week. Instead, the compendium *was* the feature story.
As K5M has pointed out, "Blah, Blah Blog" is sure to stir up controversy in the local blogging community, especially given the cartoon they put on the cover. The intro uses words like "suck" and "mostly awful" to describe those that didn't make the cut. I can't say I agree with the statements, since there's plenty of blogs out there that deserved to be on the list more than this one.
The exposure is nice but I doubt it will lead to an increase in readership or anything like that. Like this post, everything I write is too long-winded and self-indulgent to draw much of a crowd. Still, it didn't stop me from doing a victory drive across my neighbor's lawn after I got a look at the blurb. Thanks, Willy Week!
The Battle for Cannon Beach - part 1 of 4
Like all epics, good and otherwise, what I'm about to present is going to take its sweet time getting to the point. Cannon Beach, and all the stupidity that went down there on the night of July 4th 2004, won't even be mentioned until part three. So, if you would like to skip over the first two installments, feel free.
Independence Day overtook Halloween as my favorite holiday around the time I realized that most of the fireworks illegal in the state of Oregon could easily be purchased across the Columbia River. While even those cheesy snake tabs are strictly forbidden in places like New York City, mortars and $150 extravaganzas can found in countless retailers in Vancouver, Washington in the weeks leading up to the 4th.
This year, due to poor planning and head-butting among various family members, I was set to spend the 4th watching Fort Vancouver's annual fireworks display on TV. In a last ditch effort to celebrate our forefather's stand against taxes on their tea, I sent off a series of emails to my sister, currently a student at the University of Oregon. Having been schooled in the art of guilt trips by my mother, one of the world's finest, I unleashed a flurry of electronic pouting and moral obligation allegations.
A few short hours later, she caved. In the morning we would meet at our parents house to hijack their cherry red convertible, perpetually locked in the garage like a veal calf. From there, we would join up with them at the Tolovana Inn in Cannon Beach. This was to be a brief ode to the family trips from our childhood- a big ol' happy get-together that would no doubt be torn asunder by bickering...like all those family trips from our childhood.
There was just one little problem. No one had thought to pick-up so much as a sparkler. Hitting the beach without a full cache of illegal explosives would be like going to an orgy without genitals. Every year on the 4th for decades, that stretch of coastline becomes a cacophony of multi-colored explosions; a patriotic, G-rated melee reminiscent of the bridge scene in Apocalypse Now.
With barely an hour to go before Vancouver's stands closed, I headed for the border. Crossing over the Columbia was like entering a strip mall war zone. Someone on a boat near the bridge was sending mortars into the sky, as if to mock those watching across the way in Jantzen Beach.
Vancouver loves fireworks and treats Independence Day like Christmas, Easter and Yom Kippur all rolled into one. Fort Vancouver is overtaken by 70,000 revelers during the holiday, all there to enjoy what is sold as the biggest fireworks display west of the Mississippi. The neighboring state to south loses millions of dollars in revenue each year due to its strict regulations.
As I rushed north, someone on the edges of I-5 fired a series of red mortar shells over traffic. If they were attempting to hit the cars rushing past, they were missing badly. Each flaming ball sailed over the freeway and into the concrete embankment on the other side. Further-up, two jocks merrily urinated against the side on an ancient gray Ford with Oregon plates. They were no doubt rolling towards the same place as me: Blackjack's Fireworks, which claims to offer the world's biggest selection of festive explosives.
The night sky was lit up with blasts of phosphorus but the 4th was still two hours away. The following night in Vancouver would likely yield enough neighborhood firework displays to light up the city brighter than ten suns. I passed various smaller stands as I fumbled my way towards Blackjack's and its 2-for-1 and irresistible 3-for-1 specials. Later, after my vehicle was ditched in the brown field surrounding the pyrotechnic-loving pirate's store, I took my place in a line no shorter than two blocks.
Nearby, a beareded man was selling green Hulk ice cream bars as the locals clogged the land with pops and bangs. Up on the doorway at the front, a red sign screamed "FIREWORKS" with a string of white tracking lights surrounding it. Thirty minutes later, inside, the place was a feeding frenzy. My fellow patriots were tossing ridiculous amounts of rockets and roman candles into their black shopping carts. Children ran in circles, howling like excited chickens in no less than four different languages. Up near the store's ten separate cash registers, a teenager shrieked, "WE'RE CLOSING IN 15 MINUTES. NOTHING WILL BE SOLD AFTER 10:59. THIS IS STATE LAW!"
This did not improve the situation. Fat mothers muttered "Excuse me" as they pushed past and struggled to understand the difference between yellow tagged items and red ones. I too was completely baffled by Blackjack's pricing system and just started grabbing. We were all acting like frightened customers in a Florida Safeway, madly searching for the last AAs an hour before the tornado of the century hits.
My budget for this trip was $50 but, given the circumstances, I was completely incapable of resisting impulse purchases. I tossed in a $30 firework called "The Hot Tub" because the cartoon on the front was cheesy. An 18-inch long recreation of the Titanic with flaming smokestacks joined Ninja mortars and a cardboard goose that shoots fireball eggs out its florescent derriere.
At the register, a guy with jagged teeth like a wolf that's been punched in the jaw a thousand times handed me a debit receipt to sign. The amount at the top? $114.79. Whoops. For spending over a $100, I scored another six mortars for free. Later, I struggled to haul a cardboard box with "CRACKLING ARTILLERY SHELLS" stamped in huge letters on the side.
Closing in on midnight, I still hadn't eaten. I stoped at a place called Fat Dave's. The Fat Dave Special ran $7.50 and the waitress brought me three plates with hashbrowns, country fried steak, scrambled eggs, four pieces of toast and a stack of pancakes the size of my head. I was the only person in the place not capable of joining the AARP and the only male not wearing a hat.
Eventually, a loud family wandered in. It was the daughter's 10th birthday and she scored a plate of b-day fries. The son snidely asked the waitress, wearing a pink sweatshirt with a kitten on it, if they sold fifths of Jack Daniels. She told him no. "That's too bad," he shot back. A total pro, she broke out a sharp verbal slap. "We only sell Jack in gallons." There was Celine Dion and Kenny Rogers on the jukebox. A glass window over a booth had the word "FUN!" written in blood red in the middle of a puke green circle. The family talked about the old Dr. Katz cartoon show.
The chances of being fined for transporting illegal fireworks into Oregon is the same as that for being stopped for jaywalking. Nevertheless, the trip across the border always comes with an obligatory Mission: Impossible twinge. I kept the needle firmly planted on 55 all the way down I-5 into downtown and I'm passed every ten seconds.
Near the bridge, a dark figure leaned out of a speeding window and sent a blue comet to space. Across the river, Oregon was dead and black. No fireworks. No bangs. This may as well have been an omen.
To be continued...
OK, there's a lot of superfluous detail in there and anyone else could toss out this entire story in three hundred words. Nevertheless, I couldn't tell it without mentioning the family and that eerie stain glassed window. If you're ever hungry in Vancouver, Washington and looking for an anecdote, you could do worse than Fat Dave's.
Maybe "worse" isn't the right word.
Wednesday, July 07, 2004
Kingdom of Fear
I finished Hunter S. Thompson's latest a few days ago. I found a copy of it for $10.00 on a close out table at Powell's. This thing is a long way from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
To say that Thompson's work has faltered over the last couple of decades would be understatement. In recent years, the journalist's main gig has been writing a little read, randomly published sports column for ESPN's Page 2. What has appeared in other publications like Rolling Stone, such as an article titled Fear and Loathing at the Taco Stand has been a bizarre mishmash of a tiny bit of truth and a whole lot of wild lies. Some might say this is exactly what his uber-weird brand of gonzo journalism is all about but most of the old stuff was somewhat grounded in reality.
Kingdom of Fear, published in late 2003, was billed as an autobiography but it's more of a compendium of old memories and previously published articles. It opens with 30 pages of apocalyptic ramblings on the state of the US in the wake of 9/11 before jumping into a chapter about the time when a Thompson, as a kid, was allegedly questioned by FBI agents after tipping over a mailbox in front of a bus. The rest bops from anecdote to anecdote such as the authors stint as the night manager of a porn house in San Francisco and a late-night encounter with a fan that almost lead to several felony convictions.
I can't say the book is worth reading from cover to cover but, at the very least, it's worth cracking open for two bits in particular. In one, Hunter takes on a cougar that somehow managed to crawl in the backseat of his Cadillac. In a more recent anecdote, the journalist duck authorities after a midnight raid on Jack Nicholson's house outside of Aspen. An excerpt, not for the faint of heart:
"I drove the Jeep all the way up to the front door and left the motor running as I fetched the bleeding elk heart out of the backseat and carried it up to the house. I rang the doorbell a few times before I gave up and left the heart...propped against the door in a way that would cause it to tumble into the house whenever the door was opened. It seemed like the right thing to do in light of the rudeness I had experienced, and panic was setting in. On my way back to the truck I made sure the gun was clear by cranking off the rest of the clip straight up in the air... I was sure I'd seen somebody watching me from inside the darkened kitchen window, which angered me even further, because I felt I was being snubbed."
I'm not sure if either is more fiction than fact but both are sort of thing that might be incredibly fun to read aloud in a stuck elevator (yup, joke). Thompson has a new book set to be released in August along with a film version of The Rum Diary supposedly scheduled to begin filming later this year in San Juan. Benecio del Toro is set to direct.