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Sunday, October 31, 2004


This Pumpkin's Life (finale)

Saturday, October 30, 2004


This Pumpkin's Life (part 17)



OK, time for some Halloween links.

- A few nights back I carved the albino pumpkin featured in the ongoing photo series. In the words of a wise man: "them thing's is WEIRD." The top was difficult to pry off and the insides didn't quite look the guts of your everyday jack-o-lantern. Instead of orange strings the interior was filled with dark orange glop that looked like pumpkin pie mix. It was difficult to clean and the edges were tinted green. I wonder what sort of plant the designers had to crossbreed with normal pumpkins to create this thing. This article offers a few details and, while I haven't seen them, apparently blue, purple and red ones are now available. Currently, the mind behind these diverse pumpkins are working on a pink breed they hope to have out by Halloween 2005.

- On the bright side, I used one of those design kits to carve the albino pumpkin and the pale pallor made it easy to poke holes in. I was trying to carve a cat standing in front of a full moon but wound up with what looks more like a constipated bear.

The master carvers at Revenge of the Zombie Pumpkins are much better at this sort of thing than me. The site offers pictures of jack-o-lanterns emblazoned with the likes of Shaun of the Dead, Slimer, Chewbacca and...Ned Flanders.

- The webmaster of X Entertainment has made an annual tradition out of devoting an enormous 45 days to countdown featuring photo-clogged odes to cheesy Halloween specials, green Twinkies and a Freddy Krueger rock album. If you venture out of the area devoted to the holiday, you could get lost on the site forever. XE is a mega warehouse clogged with roughly five billion articles devoted to pop cultural artifacts. If you were born between 1974 and 1985, prepare to waste several hours of your valuable time.

- Return of the Jedi-era Star Wars masks? You can find them here.

- I really wish I had none about this place's existence about two weeks ago. Baron Von Goolo's Museum of Horrors is one of the four haunted houses at the yearly Scream at the Beach in Jantzen Beach. This year's museum features a haunted tiki room and a hallway filled with portraits of people in fezzes. Kooky.

- Vintage Halloween cards? Here. A huge archive devoted to costumes from the '70s and '80s? Here. The weird one featured above is apparently for kids that wanted to dress up as asteroids from the video game of the same name. Both links lead to pages on Retro Crush.

- Cary Sharp, a lawyer from Baton Rouge spent $37,000 to have his name permanently added to Disneyland's Haunted Mansion. It will be featured on a tombstone near the ghostly band and includes the epithet: "Jay- Doctor, Lawyer, Legal Clerk. Always Buried In His Work." For pictures from the rolling-out ceremony, held at the stroke of midnight last Thursday, click here.

- And finally, the most ghoulish link of them all. Really, you don't want to read this. If you do, you'll lose sleep. Lots of it.

OK, you've been warned.

The Nader campaign has rolled out a DVD of the presidential candidate arguing with Kerry and Bush dolls in a "virtual debate." The cringe-enducing description from his site:

"Using the actual questions from the Presidential debates, Ralph discusses his plans for pulling our troops out of Iraq, solutions for the energy crisis, helping the environment, using tax dollars sensibly, and giving all Americans a living wage. This DVD is a great way to introduce young people to real political issues."

If you're not already hiding under a pile of blankets, be sure to watch the two trailers, featured in Quicktime and Windows Media Player. In one, Ralph argues with a Bush doll dressed in military fatigues carrying a blood-covered tank. Again, he argues with a Bush doll dressed in military fatigues carrying a blood-covered tank. Somehow, against all logic and reason, This Isn't A Joke.

For years I've argued against the old cliche that reality is weirder than fiction. I will never do that again. Ever.

Bin Laden is alive and well on TV, the president used a wire in the debates, it's Devil's Night and Election Day is only a few days away. Bush is (probably) 72 hours away from another term in office. I can't be the only one out there that feels like the whole world is coming to an end.

PS: What, you can't possibly want more Halloween links. Fine, here's a link to the links from last year.


The Super Exciting Halloween Cake Adventure: Part Two of a Thriling, Two-Part Tale

In part one I decided to combine the two mini-cakes to make a regular sized dessert masterpiece. So how did things turn out? Let's find out.

According to the box, a toothpick would determine if the cakes could be taken out of the oven. If the toothpick, after being stuck in one of the cakes, came out creamy they would need to bake longer. If the toothpick saw it's shadow, uh, the recipe didn't have any tips on what do in that scenario. The cakes would no doubt explode.

24 minutes later, the toothpick came out cleaner than when it went in. After another 24 minutes they were ready for frosting. I tossed one on top of the other. Wa-la! A perfect match. They made a great couple.

Only 3/4 finished, this thing was already a rousing success. Yes, this fetal cake was worthy of the chicken plate challenge.

Ta-da! Meet the chicken plate (not the cock plate. Get your mind out of the gutter). I used to have two of these. The first one tragically broke under the weight of a million dirty dishes. For some reason, any food placed on this plate mysteriously slides off. Once a heaping portion of spaghetti flew off it and landed on a sand-colored carpet. The resulting stain cost me a portion of a cleaning deposit. Despite this, I can't bring myself to throw it out. It's not everyday you run into a chicken plate.

I removed the top cake and covered the bottom in chocolate frosting. It was time to do a trail run with the writing gel. I drew this stick figure with a question mark over his head. Did this Stick Man have any idea the grim fate that awaited him? Obviously not. He was about to be crushed under the weight of a dessert roughly 5,000 times his body weight.

I tossed the top one back on. Mwahahahahaha! Death by cake! What can I say, I baked this thing on a boring Thursday afternoon. Plus, it was a Halloween cake and what's a true Halloween cake without a body count of some sort? Better him than me.

It wasn't until I had the two of them covered in chocolate frosting that the one on the bottom began buckling under the weight. As a result, the entire cake slumped forward as if someone had sat on it. While it didn't slide off, the curse of the chicken plate had reared its ugly head once more.

So maybe my Halloween masterpiece didn't wind up being the best one ever baked. At the very least it tasted like cake, and, given my kitchen skills, this is fairly impressive. Still, I figured it was worth the following inscription. At the very least it had an edible ghost on the top.

No, I couldn't get a decent picture. The writing gel didn't show up well against the chocolate frosting background and no amount of Photoshop magic could really make it legible. The inscription?

"THIS CAKE KICKS ASS!" Those blobs along the edges are supposed to be, going clockwise from the top, a ghost, a bat and a pumpkin.

See, this is why I eat at Taco Bell twice a week.

I will never bake again.


Stupid questions regarding daylight savings time

At 2 AM, the clocks will roll back to 1. Does this mean the bars stay open an hour late tonight? Will this have any effect on my tolerance level?

Do TV stations repeat the same programming? Imagine you're watching a movie and it's seconds away from the exciting conclusions. Presumably, at 2 AM the movie will jump back an hour. Won't that be irritating?

If I get arrested at 1:59 and when the clocks roll back to 1 a minute later, will the police release me from custody since the dictates of time, space and the Farmer's Almanac state that the crime could never have happened?

If you were born on October 30th, this means you'll get to enjoy an extra hour of birthday fun. Do you really think this is fair?

Is daylight savings time the closest we'll ever get to time travel? If so, don't you think that's incredibly lame?


The Super Exciting Halloween Cake Adventure: Part One of a Thriling, Two-Part Tale

I was in Winco (!!!) a few weeks back hunting for pumpkins and pumpkin-related products when I spotted a display near the entrance: "Cake mix .98 cents." I was skeptical until I got a look at the ribbon near the Betty Crocker logo. Having never baked a cake, I took the .98 cent sign as a, well, sign and bought a box along with a container of frosting and something called "writing gel." This wasn't going to be just any cake, oh no. This little box would no doubt yield the greatest Halloween cake ever created by human hands.

Sometime later, I assembled all the necessary ingredients and got to work. Since I don't own baking stuff, I substituted a Terminator mug from Universal Studios. One Arnie skull seemed about the size of standard measuring cup. I tossed in eggs, water and the dry powered mix. What resulted was a weird, lumpy florescent yellow concoction that looked golden retriever vomit but somehow smelled like cake. Since the scent was in the ballpark, I had to be on the right track. Rather than "beat" the resulting glop I made due with a plastic spoon. Would the difference between stirring and beating really make that much of a difference?

Now it was time for a taste test. Everyone knows that cookie dough is great despite the warnings that the raw eggs contained within can cause salmonella and/or baby chicks to hatch in your stomach. Various ice cream companies apparently never got the memo on this and started sticking the stuff in their products as far back as the early '90s. If cookie dough earns the Ben and Jerry's seal of approval, surely cake glop is safe for human consumption.

I grabbed a spoon and took a sip. It tasted sort of like a lukewarm cake milkshake. Not bad, not bad at all. Why even bother to stick this stuff in the oven? It was great as is. Instead of grabbing a straw I decided to continue working my way down Betty Crocker's recipe. After all, what else was I going to do with the frosting and that tube of mysterious writing gel?

It wasn't until then that it dawned on me that I don't own any sort of a cake tins. For reasons unknown, I do own two pie pans. Where they came from, I have no idea. For all I know, these pans have somehow followed me over the years from various dorm rooms and dilapidated rental houses, waiting for just the right moment to make themselves known. Overlooking the requirements for depth and width, I dumped the glop into one of the tins.

It filled the tin all the way the top. Hooray! The pie pan was the perfect size. I tossed the pan in the oven and set a stopwatch for 24 minutes. After overcoming a few initial obstacles things were going great. I quickly came to the conclusion that baking is a piece of...something.

Three minutes later a thought occurred to me: while baking, bread rises. Bread is a carb. CAKE IS A...that's right...CARB!

I did the math. The cake glop was now doubt rising and slowly filling my oven with a sticky paste that have to be chiseled off the walls. I pulled myself away from a ROM copy of Zombie Nation and rushed into the kitchen. I had made it in time. The glop hadn't yet invaded the oven.

Rather than make another trip to the store for a proper cake tin, I improvised. This little experiment had already cost me $4 and I wasn't about to drop another $2 on it. I dumped half the glop into the second pie pan. Despite going slowly, 1/4 of it fell on the counter.

After using a spatula to move the spilled glop into one of the tins, I tossed them in the oven. I had concluded that instead of one cake I would have two mini cakes. But why sttle for that when I could simply stack one on the other for a regularly sized masterpiece?

Yes, it was a plan worthy of that one TV chef that was parodied on Futurama. It could not fail.

Or would it?

WHAT A CLIFF-HANGER! Stay tuned for part two of The Super Exciting Halloween Cake Adventure!

Friday, October 29, 2004


This Pumpkin's Life (part 16)


Halloween Portland style

The other night I spotted Death strolling down Hawthorne. Along with the sickle and hour glass, he was carrying a sign that said "Vote no on 35." Something I didn't know about the Grim Reaper: he's only 5' 4.

While stuck at an intersection this morning, I noticed an anthropomorphic salmon standing on the sidewalk. She was wearing a "vote yes on measure 34" sign around her neck and waving her arms to simulate swimming. The fish did this every time someone honked.

An Oompa Loompa I work with is a staunch Bush supporter.

I guess this is what happens when Election Day falls so close to Halloween.


The Grudge

A few months I ago I went to see Ju On: The Grudge, a Japanese horror film that made my heart want to leap out of my chest and find a new place to live. While mindless, it was relentless and bashed the audience with a non-stop assault of disturbing visuals, foreign homesteads and cheap scares. It was more of a theme park ride than a movie and I loved it.

When stateside audiences hear "The Grudge," they'll associate it with the new Sarah Michelle Gellar remake. While its essentially the same story retold with an American cast and even fits in what looks like the same Tokyo split-level used in Ju-On, it's watered down. The nonstop scares are nonexistent, the body count reduced and the overall freaky factor lowered several rungs. What we're left with is an easier to follow remake with better special effects that's ultimately a wash.

The makers should be praised for transporting the cast overseas and recasting the kid and mother from Ju-On. One of the problems with The Ring remake was that the setting was switched from Japan to the Pacific Northwest. The original's terrifying kabuki ghost replaced with...an angry little girl about as scary as Casper driving a go-cart made of gumdrops. The Grudge stays true to its roots but still goes easy on its audience.

Worse yet, some of the best bits from the original are long gone. The melting television reporter, ghostly cat gang and fantastic finale zoom-in shot that sent audiences for Ju On fleeing for the exits are missing. The bed attack, possibly the most pulse-pounding moment from the original, remains in tact but so it's so rushed and poorly paced that they should have left the scene on the cutting room floor.

The remake is a Diet Grudge that handles its audience with PG-13 kiddie gloves. While this is good for box office receipts, it doesn't make for a horror classic.

Ju-On: The Grudge: 9 out of 10 screeching ghost cats
The Grudge: 5 out of 10 screeching ghost cats.

Thursday, October 28, 2004


This Pumpkin's Life (part 15)

Wednesday, October 27, 2004


Me Vs. The Toilets of Tomorrow

Some tales of the macabre involve chainsaw-wielding psychopaths and ghosts with nothing better to do than annoy the hell out of the hell out of the living. Then there are the horror stores that reside in reality. A dead car battery in an empty parking lot. Spilling coffee on your pants at the beginning of an 10-hour shift. Finding out that you've just bought tickets for Bob Saget instead of Bob Seager.

Actually, both of those scenarios in the last one are pretty scary, despite what that cop on the Simpsons has to say on the subject.

Since this is the week leading up to Halloween, I was hoping to post a story about the spirits that roam the Shanghai Tunnels. Unfortunately, the plans for a tour fell through and I won't be able to get down there until next week. Instead, here is another story that bound to fill your heart with terror. What happens when someone finds themselves stuck in an everyday nightmare involving a pair of futuristic public restrooms? Click here to find out in Welcome to Blog's 47th feature, Me Vs. The Toilets of Tomorrow.


Woah, look at that!

This is what the moon looks like outside my window right now.

Wait, the Red Sox did what? Naaaawwwww...


This Pumpkin's Life (part 14)


Billy Corgan at Powell's on Hawthorne

So I drove across town for the Billy Corgan poetry reading last nig...

...Ok, I'll stop right there. Yeah, I drove out of my way to watch Billy Corgan read poetry.

Why? Because prior to the release of Adore (bleah), I was an unapologetic Smashing Pumpkins fan. I went to see the band at the Rose Garden back in '97, I have a bootleg of the show and, yes, I even bought the Aeroplane Flies High box set back in the day. While I've sort of come to my senses over the years, I'm still convinced Siamese Dream is one of the top five best recordings of the 1990s.

Yeah, well, all your favorite bands suck too.

Plus, I wanted a copy of America: The Book and figured watching Corgan read poetry would be, well, funny. For anyone that's given his lyrics a second thought, they're about as horribly earnest as earnest gets ("I used to be a little boooooy" "Despite all my rage I'm just a rat in a cage"). Would anyone at Powell's take him seriously? After all, this is a rock star that once sincerely compared himself to Job. Or would everyone suffer through it in order to get their worn copies of Pisces Iscariot signed?

I was stuck at work at until 8 and showed up an hour. Corgan was signing a copy for a kid in army jacket. From there, he headed into the coffee shop. So how is the alterna rock god carrying on these days?

He's still shaving his head and he's grown a shaggy beard. He was also dressed in a green rain gear and an old stocking cap. All in all, he looked like he had just stepped of a fishing boat in rural Alaska.

As I was heading to the humor section, I made eye contact with him as he waited for his coffee. Years ago, in an interview, Ice T once confessed that a Michael Jackson concert, despite it all, can make the hardest rapper "scream like a bitch." So, yeah, despite it all I wanted to run over to Corgan and start gushing- asking a million stupid question about the conflicts during the Siamese Dreams sessions and if D'arcy is still on the crack pipe. Instead, I kept walking.

They were sold out of copies of John Stewart's book. As I was leaving, Corgan was sitting in the shop, talking to a small group of fans. If I hadn't known better, I would have assumed he was just a random guy talking to a group of friends. Seven years ago, this same man was standing in front of a sold out crowd of 15,000 two miles away and was reported to one of the biggest assholes in the industry. This is either a parable for why you should never turn a successful band into a goth synth act or a great example how to humbly enjoy the dying embers of fame. Take your pick.

As I headed out, I overheard one of the employees say, "It went well. We only had to kick out two drunks."

Tuesday, October 26, 2004


This Pumpkin's Life (part 13)


How I voted

It's a little late to start running political endorsements. So why post these? Because, however anti-intellectual it may be, this blog partially focuses on politics. Plus, there's always the chance it will spark a huge, nasty debate in the feedback area. I could write a lengthy explanation on why I voted the way I did but I'll let you draw your own conclusions. Without further ado, here is how I voted.

US PRESIDENT/VICE PRESIDENT: (write in) Christopher Reeve's ghost/Pepe the Dancing Mule*
STATE TREASURER: Randall Edwards

MEASURE 26-57 - 26-63: Yes
MEASURE 26-64: Yes

So what does my voting record say about me? I like trees, marijuana and gay marriage but I don't care much for the presidential candidates or taxes. This either makes me a libertarian or a rampant, reckless hedonist. You know all those "independent voters" you've been hearing about in recent weeks? I'm one of them.

* Am I joking? Maybe, maybe not. I'll never tell.


I am not Superman

The role of Clark Kent/Kal-El has been cast in Superman Returns, set for release in 2006. James Caviezel was rumored to have won the part but, according to this and various movie sites, Brandon will play the last son of Krypton.

No, not me. Brandon Routh, a relative unknown that got his start on One Life to Live and MTV's Undressed. While this seems random, a certain previous Superman also paid his dues on a soap opera. Christopher Reeve was a recurring character on a series called Love of Life before taking the cape.

Here's a picture of Routh, dressed as Clark Kent at a costume party. Does he look the part?

And as long as I'm posting pictures of celebrities in remakes, here's a long-distance shot of Johnny Depp dressed as Willy Wonka in the Tim Burton adaptation due out in October 2005. It appeared yesterday in the Sun ("UK's Biggest Selling Newspaper!").

Monday, October 25, 2004


Miss Teen Oregon 2003 is all grown up

Hey, remember her? If not, this is a picture of Brook Roberts, Miss Teen Oregon 2004 and the recent subject of a Welcome to Blog caption contest. So do you remember? Great, now forget about her. Let's focus instead on Miss Teen Oregon 2003. Her name is Kari Ann Peniche and, after conquering the world of Oregon pageantry in summer of 2003, she went on to become Miss Teen USA.

So why was Peniche recently stripped of her crown? Because the Portland native is currently appearing stark raving nude in the November issue of Playboy magazine. While her reign ended before the issue hit the stands, pageant officials were insistent and she apparently missed out on the final few weeks of her term on the throne. Making things even more confusing, she turned 20 months ago, which, if logic serves, means she shouldn't have been ruling in the first place.

Peniche's rise and fall as overlord over stateside teen pageantry is a sad one but enough about that. While purusing a copy of the November issue in search of the Oliver Stone review (honest!), my eyes just so happened on the former teen queen's pictorial. Check out these fun Peniche factoids:

- She was the only girl on her high school's all-mens soccer team. Kari was also a member of the cheerleading squad.

- She volunteers with Alzheimer's patients in her spare time and claims, "they have better stories than we do."

- Kari played a cheerleader in the direct-to-video Species 3 and recently finished shooting a role opposite Burt Reynolds and Ray Romano in Grilled, set for release in January. The movie has something to do with meat salesmen. That's right, meat salesmen.

- Fun Kari quote: "I am definitely a tomboy, but I am forever a girl. I was always into rock climbing, biking and other outdoor activities but I did pageants and cheerleading too. I can put on high heels and a dress when I need to." Playboy adds to this: "or slip out of them." Accompanying this quote? A picture of Kari wearing...only high heels.

The issue also contains a brief bit on Joe Perry's new clothing line. Quote? "Rock and roll sets you free and clothes help send that message." Good to know.

Kari will be signing copies tomorrow afternoon at Rich's Cigar Shop downtown. For more info, click here.


This Pumpkin's Life (part 12)


Sweet mother heroin? Naw, sweet mother video games

What is it with this generation? Our parents were able to put away with their GI Joes and Hula Hoops when they came of age. What is with the kids today and all these god-fer-saken' vidy-er games?

While I'm not as addicted as some gamers, I still can't shake the habit. Why can't I get this horrible, pixilated monkey off my back? Because of games like Knights of the Old Republic.

For most, this contribution to the Star Wars universe is an old hat. It was released over two years ago, making it positively ancient by industry standards, and anyone that cares has already beaten and moved on. I came late to the Xbox party and didn't bring one home until last December. I've been playing Knights of the Old Republic, off and on, ever since.

KOTOR follows the adventures of a Jedi in training as he (or she) bounces around the universe in a vain attempt to thwart a Darth Vader knock-off that looks like Patrick Stewart after an unfortunate run-in with a riding lawn mower. The games appeal lies in its central gimmick: your given the choice between following the whims of either the light or dark side of the Force.

For the most part, I minded my p and qs as my character, self-dubbed Mofo Skywalker, traveled from planet to planet. I exposed a plot to enslave a village of wookies on Chewbacca's home planet and killed the head of a Sith academy rather than help him run the place.

But when I reached the games pivotal moment where Mofo was forced to choose between dueling with his turncoat gal-pal Bastilla or joining her in an insurrection to rule the galaxy, I went with the later. Who am I to turn down a perfectly good galaxy?

My in-game pals all tried to talk me out of it and, sadly, our friendship ended in a vicious fight to the death. I left my Obi-Won-esque mentor for dead on a planet ruled by slug people, alongside another Jedi that was some sort of cat/girl/alien/thing.

I even tricked the Republic to aiding our efforts and convinced my Wookie co-pilot to go along with the plot. Unfortunately, he changed his mind as we stormed the gates of the bad guy's space station and I had to put him to sleep with a thermal detonator.

So, after spending a positively stupid amount of time on this thing (the game's save screen snidely tells you how much time you've played), how did everything turn out? Well, I'm proud to say that my evil sci-fi girlfriend and I now rule the galaxy with a pair of iron fists. KOTOR's final video showed Mofo and Bastilla standing over a crowd of cheering bad guys as the Imperial March played in the background.

So my first decree as co-ruler of infinite amount of universes? No more ocean dumpage and legalized marijuana. And I've got my people working on the tube technology as we speak.

Yes, that was a Tenacious D reference. Sorry. In other video game news, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is due out tomorrow. By this time Wednesday I'll be living vicariously through the life of an imaginary South Central street thug.


This Pumpkin's Life (part 11)

This should have been posted yesterday. All apologies.

Saturday, October 23, 2004


This Pumpkin's Life (part 10)


Restaurant review: Doug Fir Lounge

Normally, I don't care about whatever local club is driving the citizens of Portland's nightlife wild. In the case of the Doug Fir Lounge, I had to get a look. Created by one of the former owners of La Luna, the interior allegedly resembles a space-aged log cabin. A combination bar/club/restaurant, the Doug Fir is open "21 hours a day" and recently played host to a spur-of-the-moment Sleater Kinney show.

I made a trip over there on Wednesday night, not knowing what to expect. How do ironic hotspots work exactly? Would there be a cover charge? Bouncers that would turn me away once they got a look at my cargo pants? Would the glares of the Doug Fir's scensters prevent me from crossing the threshold? I meant them and their silky smooth hair enhanced with a variety of kiwi-based products no harm. All I wanted to do was get a peak at the architecture and a quick bite to eat.

The Doug Fir sits adjacent to the Jupiter Hotel, itself a Mecca of snobbery and hipster obsessiveness over low-rent culture. Only in a place like Portland could a diner and an old motel (not hotel) be suddenly deemed the city's premiere nightspot of the moment.

It was dark and pouring rain as I caught sight of a sign that said "parking, turn right." Instead of pointing towards a lot or a garage, the sign lead to a common space between the two businesses. Was this some sort of cruel booby-trap for the uninitiated? I eked forward before finally realizing that I was essentially driving on a sidewalk. To make matters worse, two guys dressed entirely in black outside one room (along with half the restaurant) sneered as I slowly pulled forward/backed up/pulled forward. After a few dozen seconds of mortification, I ducked onto Burnside.

In retrospect, I really should have backed into one of the Jupiter's large flower displays as I made my escape. Afterwards, I crept back across the river and washed away the embarrassment at the Blue Moon Tavern with a pint of wheat beer and a plate of high pasta.

I guess I'll never be cool enough to navigate, let alone feel comfortable, in a place like that. Nevertheless, abject humiliation isn't enough to keep me away. I will not rest until I enjoy a pint of Pabst "Haven't They Lost Interest In This Crappy Beer Yet" Blue Ribbon in the Doug Fir's wooden belly.

Rating for the moment: 0 out of 10 smugly-named cocktails.


Jarhead casting

I'm running so far behind on my reading list it's pathetic. I just cracked open Jarhead, local author Anthony Swofford's autobiography on his days as a Gulf War marine. Anyone with the slightest bit of interest in the book read it over a year ago when he was making the rounds on various talk shows. Apparently, this thing is quite a sensation. I finally decided to pick up a copy after watching the friend of a Safeway clerk quote passages as he bagged my groceries. Everyone in the world has read this thing but me.

With any luck, I'll have it finished by the time the movie adaptation is released. Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey McGuire both reportedly vied for the lead role but, according to this, Donnie Darko himself has snagged it. Jake Gyllenhaal will star with Jamie Fox set to play Sgt. Siek. The theatrical release date has been set for September 30th, 2005.

On a related/unrelated note: This essay, published on Roger Ebert's site last week, claims that the almost impenetrable sci-fi flick was all about incest.

Friday, October 22, 2004


This Pumpkin's Life (part 9)


The top 6 things I learned while watching DiG!

Here's a list of the top five things I learned while watching DiG!, the new rock documentary on the rivalry between the Dandy Warhols and the Brian Jonestown Massacre.

#1: If your band has a clutch gig at the Viper that could lead to a major label contract, don't start a brawl on stage.

#2. If you're going to get caught with marijuana while on tour, it had better be in France instead of Georgia.

#3. Dropping $400,000 on a tongue-in-cheek video about heroin complete with dancers dressed in syringe costumes is never a good idea.

#4. When a singer invites you up to the stage because he wants to kick you in the head, don't go.

#5. When your friends hit it big, don't write a nasty song about them and follow it up with a care package filled with shotgun shells wrapped in pretty pink paper (with their names on them).

#6. Never join a band fronted by a junkie with a messiah-complex.

The film did well at Sundance, is receiving great reviews and some are calling it the best rock doc ever made. Is it really that good? If it isn't, it's damn close, despite the hometown advantage. DiG! follows the two bands, unknown amongst mainstream audiences but popular in Europe and legendary here in Portland, through six years of various pitfalls and triumphs. The Dandys, with their hardworking ethos ride a major-label gravy train to mild success and their own arts complex while Massacre crashes and burns against the jagged cliffs of the music industry.

The chief difference between these two bands? It's not the music itself, which is rooted heavily in '60s-era pop on both sides. The Dandy's are fronted by the relatively clear-headed Courtney Taylor who spends the majority of the doc on the phone with employees at Columbia and obsessing over music videos. Massacre, on the other hand, is headed up by Anton Newcombe, a brat prince convinced his band will conquer the world. As he babbles on camera about revolution, there isn't a hint of irony in his voice. As one interviewee describes him, "he's like one of those guys that wanders out of the desert and claims he's just spoken with God."

As the Dandy's shake hands and play festivals overseas, their colleagues inject heroin and throw punches at one another. At one point while on tour in Detroit, Massacre's manager abrubtly quits and wanders off into the night.

DiG! is filled with intimate moments, morbidly funny scenes and the downfall of the talented but troubled Newcombe is genuinely touching. Maybe the Chicago Tribune's Allison Benedikt put it: "After watching your [Anton's] tantrums, abuse and addiction in DIG! I went straight to the record store to buy [his] music. And that's something."

The film debuted on only a handful of screens around the country. With any luck, word will spread fast. You know a film like this is special when someone like me breaks out a phrase like "genuinely touching." The only criticism I can lob at DiG! is that, even at 115 minutes, it's too short and the editing is too frantic at times.

9.5 out of 10

POINTLESS ANECDOTE: I first heard about the Dandy Warhol's in 1997 after reading an article in the Oregonian. It included a bit about Taylor's penchant for stripping on stage. Knowing nothing about the band, I assumed Courtney was actually back-up singer Zia McCabe. I didn't discover the truth until a show at La Luna a few nights later. Zia kept her clothes on, Taylor didn't and this is how I discovered that "Courtney" is one of those names that swings both ways.


Election Day? Are you out there? Over? Do you copy?

Across the nation, thousands of blogs are ruminating on every last possible detail of the 2004 presidential election. They're obsessing over documents, debating allegations of voter fraud in Florida while giggling like Hillary Duff over Schwarzenegger's upcoming stump speech(es) in Ohio. And why am I not joining in the fray? Because I'm tired of hearing about it all. Isn't this $#@!$!@! election over with yet?

Given the fact that the two candidates are neck and neck, this thing could be dragged out well past November 2nd if the outcome is close. Who will come out on top? Who cares. Why not let Kerry and Bush share the White House?

A ridiculous notion? You may not think so when lawyers from both sides are still quibbling over the results come February.


Defending Caulfield

Armed Prophet passed along this link to a recent Washington Post article penned by Jonathan Yardley. In it, the columnist attracts the merits of The Catcher in the Rye, perpetual staple of sophomore English classes around the country. For many, myself included, JD Salinger's 1951 novel is a volatile little trade paperback. It's fueled and extinguished the flames of adolescent angst for decades, still sells 250,000 copies per year, inadvertently lead to the death of John Lennon and left a perpetual dent in the side of American literature.

For Yardley to write the classic off as a "maladroit" is inexcusable. In the column, he shines a light on Salinger's awkward prose as an example of why Catcher should no longer be taught in schools. Considering that it's narrated by a bitter, 17-year old dropout, what does he expect? The writing comes across as a reaction to the sort of works that dominated classrooms in the early part of the century: stale poetry and tedious parlor dramas written by 19th century authors like Austin and Tolstoy. If Yardley really Salinger's writing is "execrable" and a "poor attempt at teen speak," apparently he's never picked up a copy of Huckleberry Finn.

The columnist argues that there's no way that students in public schools can relate to Caulfield's upperclass troubles, as if they could sympathize with Chaucer's leering pilgrims, Orwell's farmyard parables, Achebe's tribal councils or (one more) Faulkner's brooding, southern-fried dynasties. If the columnist dislikes "cheap sentimentality," he should have another look at Boo Radley's daring rescue in the high-school standard To Kill a Mockingbird or just about any stanza in Romeo and Juliet. Each will no doubt have him puking buckets. As for the passage Yardley sets his sights on, the record scene is ripe with metaphors ranging from the ol' "loss of innocence" all the way to "the emotional attachment we place on objects." To his credit, at least he didn't go after the bit about the ducks in Central Park.

For me at least, Salinger made high-school English a little less insufferable. Based on its continued sales numbers and the numerous books that have been written on Salinger's idosyncries, Catcher in the Rye will continued to be universally beloved for many years to come.

Thursday, October 21, 2004


This Pumpkin's Life (part 8)


Blog vs. the volcano, call girls, toilets of the future, same ol', same ol'

Most of the emails this blog receives are boring beyond words. Every once and while though, something interesting sneaks in amidst all those scam inquiries from African monarchs. Last week, I received an email from a call girl living in NYC. "Alexa" writes A New York Call Girls Confessions (no apostrophe) and, for those still mourning the loss of Belle de Jour, get ready to dry those teary eyes. Suggested reading? This post about a job interview arranged by a madam with possible ties to the Russian mafia and another on a client named "Mr. Miyagi" (warning: nudity).

Alexa wrote in about the speeding ticket I received in Washington. Her advice? Ignore the fine and keep the speedometer firmly planted on 60 MPH.

I put this advice to the test today and did something I thought I may never do again: cross the Columbia River. My moratorium on the state of Washington lasted all of a month.

I still haven't paid the ticket, so every time I passed a cop my heart leapt into my throat. What was I doing up there? Taking pictures of cheesy motorcycle murals, eerie house pets and a certain volcano with a perpetually upset tummy. I tried to resist the siren's call of Mt. St. Helens but it really was just a matter of time. The photos will be posted next week, a full three weeks after everyone officially lost interest on the subject. The next feature up to bat? An entire article devoted to Seattle's new public toilets. It should be up on the site sometime Saturday.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004


This Pumpkin's Life (part 7)


Puppets! Puppets! Puppets!

Team America: propaganda or harmless fun? The debate rages on in Welcome to Blog's feedback forums. Click here to join in...or to watch from a safe distance.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004


This Pumpkin's Life (part 6)


Coming soon: Welcome to Blog TV?

Written on an ironic poster in a Tigard office building:

If we ignore our customers, maybe they'll go away.

I spent eight hours today in a training seminar MC'd by various high-ranking members of my company's local market. Along with a series of "inspiring" personal stories and an endless series of pie charts, vice presidents from various divisions explained how they're aiding _____ quest to take over the world (a joke? Maybe, maybe not.). My ears perked up and I put down my copy of John Lethem's Fortress of Solitude when the VP of advertising took the podium.

Apparently, running a commercial on Portland-area cable can run anywhere from $5 all the way up to $35,000, depending on what hour they're run and on how many channels. When the VP opened up the floor for Q & A, I immediately fired away with a flurry of stupid questions.

Q: Really? $5?

A: Yes, $5 if they want to run an ad, one time, on one channel, after midnight.

Q: So, do you get inquires for joke spots?

A: Yes, we get all sorts of weird calls from people that just want to be on TV in order to show off to friends and family. They usually lose interest when they realize how much work is involved. To produce a professional-quality, 30-second commercial requires an investment of at least $1500, if they want us to produce the ad through our in-house agency.

Q: But what if they don't?

A: Well, they could do it themselves but the sound and video quality would probably be sub-par.

Immediately, a plan began forming. A ready-to-air ad is just a rented digital camcorder, an afternoon and a pirated copy of Adobe Premiere away. If _____ is willing to run a late-night commercial for a local barbershop that consists entirely of a logo and ancient camcorder footage of a kid cutting his own hair, surely they'd run one for Welcome to Blog.

Am I serious about doing this? Right now, yes. Twenty minutes from now, maybe. I'm sure that, while the company is legally obliged by the FCC to run ads that don't contain offensive content, the staff in marketing would do everything they can to discourage my efforts to get an unwatchable commercial aired on Portland television. Is this something worth a considerable time investment along with a lot of begging and pleading? I'll have to think about it.

Monday, October 18, 2004


This Pumpkin's Life (part 5)


Well, this was e-nev-itab-re. Inevitable? E-nev-itab-re!

You're not going to like this. You should just stop reading right now. Really. Turn around, go do something else. Take a walk. Drink a beer. Really.

OK, you've been warned. I've been following the production on this movie for four months and now, finally, a review.

Team America is fantasy snuff film for conservatives. It's right-wing propoganda that makes anything credited to Michael Moore seem like a textbook in comparision. To spite myself, I laughed at this movie. Hard. To the point of hurting my jaw, which still aches two days later.

There's so much to praise here: the Parisian set design, the cheesy special effects and overall brilliant concept. Trey Parker and Matt Stone are masters at smart crude humor and their skills are in full effect here. It's a shame they felt the need to drag national politics into it.

Team America is at its best when its focused on lambasting director Michael Bay and the conventions of the action genre- the best set pieces in the film make fun of montages ("We're Gonna Need a Montage! Even Rocky had a montage!"), archetypes and stilted dialog. There's more than enough fodder in Bay's catalog of big-budget messes to fill 90 minutes. But, perhaps foolishly, the duo also set their sites on the War on Terror.

With so much to potentially lampoon why did Parker/Stone cowardly go after celebrities? Where's the GW Bush puppet? Or a Hilary Clinton puppet? Worse yet, the film implies that the activism of Hollywood stars like Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn is not only detrimental to US efforts overseas but paramount to terrorism.

What is the message of this movie? If you're not with us, you're against us and you deserve torn apart by panthers. Team America doesn't leave much room for subtly. Liberal fans of South Park and Parker/Stone could offer a spin on this, claiming that the film is poking fun at the overreaction of conservative pundits to celebrity political commentary. With the final 20 minutes devoted to long, cruel shots of celebs like Janeanne Garofalo being shot in the face and Samuel L. Jackson having his half his head torn off, this isn't a legitimate interpretation. In its last act, Team America becomes an all-puppet snuff film. No amount of gags about the team's "FUCK YEAH!" theme song and trigger-happy destruction of Paris can drag the bulk back to the middle. Make no mistake, this movie swings hard to the right.

South Park has done the same thing in over-the-top episodes featuring the likes of Christopher Reeve sucking on stem cells but at least it occasionally goes after the other side. The playing field is widely skewed in Team America. If the film wanted to play fair, conservative celebs like James Woods and Toby Keith would have also received a brutal comeuppance.

The stars featured in the film all came out against the Iraqi war, not the War on Terror and their activism is ridiculed without the slightest bit of context. If you were to track down George Clooney and ask what he thinks of Kim Jong Il, the film's antagonist, he would probably say "Well, at least he has weapons of mass destruction." Would Sean Penn really oppose a war against a war in Korea, let alone support Jung's nuclear program? Doubtful. Did any of these stars speak out against the US military efforts in Afghanistan? Not to my knowledge. Go ahead and correct me if I'm wrong. If I'm right, their puppet counterparts are being tried and hung for crimes they didn't commit.

The film's worst moment involves Michael Moore. The faux-documentarian is ripe for parody! Mock his films and the alleged lies contained within them! Mock him for using cheap tricks to attack Republicans! Mock him for being a self-serving windbag or for being a ruthless, uncompromising hypocrite! But don't mock him for something he isn't. Michael Moore may be many things but he isn't a terrorist and he certainly isn't a suicide bomber.

If you're going to roast someone like Moore you can't make him so ridiculously over-the-top that he resembles himself in name only. There has to be a least a toe grounded in reality and Team America presents a country more fantastical than anything in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Why does the scene involving Hans Blix works? Because it actually parodies the UN inspector instead of some wildly off-the-mark, bizzaro world version. Why does Team America's lampooning of action movies work? Because it actually attacks the conventions of action movies.

Does Helen Hunt deserve to ripped to shreds on screen because, in one or two interviews, she spoke out against a controversial war that has sharply divided the whole country? No (but Mad About You is another subject entirely). For me, celebrity activism is annoying but it doesn't deserves this amount of vicious, uncompromising ridicule.

The film's attempt at a saving grace is a crude analogy, which comes across as an apology for the blood-soaked finale. According to the stars of Team America, there are only three people in this world: "dicks, pussies and assholes." If "pussy" celebrities are misguided but well intentioned, why devote the final moments of the film to brutally killing them on screen, especially when you let a dictator like Kim off easy?

Team America's last act is widely confused, way too malicious and drags an otherwise great comedy into a political gutter. It's a film with a foundation laid in a action film romp that, half-way through, tries to comment on real world politics with all the wit of a 3rd grader scribbling "My teacher sux! She should die!" in crayon after being glared at for not paying attention in social studies. At the very least, Parker/Stone should have been unapologetic.

That said, I still laughed my ass off at Sean Penn being torn apart by housecats. Why? Because watching a puppet being torn apart by adorable felines is funny. It's only when you begin to pick apart Team America does the nasty, misguided intentions behind its mindless mayhem become apparent. As Cartmen might say, "it's kickass," provided you don't think too much about what you're watching.

For the cats and the bulk of the film, which isn't political, Team America deserves an 8.2 out of 10.

Sunday, October 17, 2004


This Pumpkin's Life (part 4)

Saturday, October 16, 2004


Off to Eugene

In a few minutes I'll be moseying on down the 1-5 corridor. Before I go, I wanted to dish out another helping of reckless self-promotion.

Here's another photo of a certain senator that would really like to be the next VP of *your* United States of America. For more candid shots like this, check out Welcome to Blog's latest feature, John Edwards: Man of a Million Faces.

Also: a question. Overlooking the quality of these photos (I took them with my old Canon digital camera), are they too big? Should I crop them down a bit?


This Pumpkin's Life (part 3)


The Brown Bunny

This now notorious film directed/producer/edited/written by Vincent Gallo finished a one week run in Portland back on Thursday. Why did I go? For the same reason I imagine everyone else did: morbid curiosity and Buffalo 66.

By now everyone reading this knows about "the scene," Gallo's fight with Roger Ebert and the subsequent re-edit. Despite shaving a good portion of film from the one that debuted at Cannes, Brown Bunny is still almost unwatchable.

That's not to say there's a good short film in there amidst all the endless tracking shots of America's freeways and neighborhood streets. Gallo essentially plays the same character he did in Buffalo 66, a downtrodden, lovesick loner. After losing a motorcycle race, the film follows him as he travels cross-country back to California to make amends with his ex-girlfriend. Along the way, he visits her parents and a series of mysterious women all named after flowers.

The hour of film leading up to the finale is tedious and, with a several cuts, could have easily been reduced to 15 minutes. The Brown Bunny's saving grace is not the moment that will ultimately be remembered for. When "the scene" arrives it's brutal and probably deserves to be categorized amongst the most earnestly bleak images ever captured on film. In its own way, it's harder to watch than anything in The Passion of the Christ. What follows though is a heartrending twist ending that throws a new light on everything that came before.

Can I recommend something like The Brown Bunny? No way. Can I say I liked it? Not at all. Can I say it deserves respect and maybe even better reviews? Sure.

Afterwards, I headed out with the crowd onto 23rd. Three PSU undergrads, around 19, were examining the poster. Knowing nothing about The Brown Bunny, they asked someone next to me if they should buy tickets for the next screening. The response? About 10 headshakes from 10 different people.

Friday, October 15, 2004


John Edwards: Man of a Million Faces

OK, so it's more like a dozen, two dozen tops.

So I attended the John Edwards rally in Pioneer Courthouse Square on Wednesday and came away with a memory card clogged with a 100 photos. Rather than let them rot on my hard drive, I've decided to post them on the internet. That's right, it's time for Welcome to Blog's 46th feature!

Yeah, I stayed at work late on a Friday night to put this together. For three pages chock full of fun and laughs that will no doubt bring a tear to your eye, click here or on Edwards' oh-so-pinch-ible cheeks in the photo above. If you find that these pages are not full of what you consider "fun and laughs," I promise you your money back, guaranteed.

If this article proves popular enough (or unpopular enough), I have enough extra shots lying around for a part 2.


This Pumpkin's Life (part 2)

Flog Photoshoped part 1 earlier this afternoon and he's already getting Spanish fan mail. Check it out.


Things that make you go wha...?

Moore's Pre-Election TV Special Nixed

FCC won't block doc

For another perspective on this subject, click here.

Thursday, October 14, 2004


This Pumpkin's Life (part 1)

And so begins a silent, all-photo Halloween tale that sure to warm your hearts and send shivers up your spines. A new shot will be posted each day leading up to the finale on the 31st.

OK, so this thing is off to a rip-roaring start. The pumpkin* is just sitting there. But what sort of magical, life-changing journey is it about to embark upon? You'll have to check back each day to find out.

* OK, so I found this albino pumpkin at a local Zupan's. I wonder what sort of process goes into making a "ghost pumpkin." This is the first year I've seen them for sale in Portland. If this thing starts singing and/or making requests for Steve Martin to stop by I'm carving it two weeks early.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004


What is Dick made of?

I'm sure half of America has seen these pictures by now. So why am I posting a link? Because I just found out about them and, seeing that my sense of humor is still stuck at the sixth-grade level, I think they're hilarious. For additional naughty mosaics of Bush, Ashcroft and Rumsfeld and an explanation, click here.



The good folks at Haloscan provide Welcome to Blog with its feedback links. If you click the link at the bottom of each post you'll be directed to an area where you can leave your thoughts, opinions, notions, diatribes and harangues. But with every allegedly free internet service there comes a price. Usually it's spam, spyware or ads. In the case of Haloscan, these ads can be arcane, relevant to the topic at hand or perhaps even physic. Posts on Futurama yield ads for Futurama and anti-Bush posts yield ads for political sites. Consider this one, which I just found, strangely enough, in the feedback area for the traffic ticket post:

Liberal Blog Needs Your Help!
Republican trolls have laid siege to my peaceful liberal blog. Help!

Tim? WWB? Are either of you plotting an insurrection? Should I beware the ides of Haloscan?


Yes, another long post about traffic cops

So the votes are in from Saturday's poll and the verdict? Have a look:

You cheap moron! Pay the fine! (12) 40%
Washington? Who cares? Tear up the ticket. (5) 17%
Jessica Simpson (2) 7%
Paris Hilton (2) 7%
Tom Skerritt (9) 30%
None of the above (0) 0%

Since I left it up to Welcome to Blog's readership I guess I'll be mailing off a check to the state of Washington in the near future. Plus, I'll have to have another look at Tom Skeritt's film catalog. He's really that great? I've only seen him in Maid to Order and Alien.

With that out of the way, I've got another traffic cop anecdote to roll out. Now that the nights are growing colder and we're officially out of Oktoberfest season and on the path to Halloween, this little horror story is all the more appropriate...despite the fact that it takes place in April.


It's a random Thursday night in the year 2000. Eugene, Oregon is still shaking off the rainy, mildew-encrusted days of winter and I've just finished watching High Fidelity at the Cinemark 17. I have no desire to go home to the warm embrace of my ENG. 320 text books and decide to procrastinate on the empty streets of this quiet hippie burg.

I take a wrong turn and suddenly I'm on my way to Coburg, a town 8 miles outside of Eugene city limits. "Hey, I've never been to Coburg," I decide and continue on my way. I have 45 minutes to kill time until Conan comes on.

I roll into Coburg's main drag. It's an empty street filled with provincial tool stops and gas stations. Somehow I'm disappointed. This mini-road trip has proved to be a bust. I do a quick scan of Coburg. I'm the only person out here still awake. I pull a quick u-turn, blast past a stop sign and head back to the highway.

After sunset, the long, straight stretch of highway between these two communities is pitch black. On a moonless night it's impossible to make out anything beyond the scope of your headlights. I notice a car behind me. The driver has the parking lights on but nothing else. How they've managed to get this far down the road with no illumination is beyond me. Whoever is behind that wheel, they know this road well.

They pick up speed and suddenly the car is riding my rear bumper, literally four feet from impact. Scenes from a million suspense films fill my head. I pick up speed, hoping to pacify the driver and I'm going 10 miles over the limit. The car accelerates, keeping pace. I throw my foot down on the accelerator and now I'm going 80. I inch over, allowing the car to pass but it doesn't budge. If I slow down, I'm dead. My mind flashes to the final scene of Easy Rider. A local, riding a four-day meth roller-coaster, is about to break out a shotgun and turn my vehicle into a ball of flames.

I've now reached the apex my odometer's abilities. 85 MPH. There is no escape. I signal and slow down to pull over. Again, the car doesn't pass. It follows me to the shoulder.

Holy Mary mother of God, I'm about to die.

The spotlight goes up on the back of my head. It's too dark out here to make out the antennas on this unmarked squad car. Instead of a deranged hick, a highway cop strolls up with a huge smile on his face. His eyes are like saucers, as if he's about to greet a friend he hasn't seen in years. His expression is absolutely terrifying in the pitch black night. He shines a three-foot long flashlight in my face. His skin is a leathery orange, he's skinny as a rail and his teeth are yellow.

COP: "Hello there!"

ME: "Uh, hi."

COP: "I clocked you coming into town going 12 miles over the limit. I also saw you pull that illegal u-turn and run a stop sign. You were going 86 for a while there."

This is the stuff of nightmares.

ME: "Yeah, you scared me pretty bad. All I could see was this strange car riding my bumper. I couldn't tell who you were and tried to let you pass. I figured you were going to run me off the road.

COP: "I'm going to have to call this one in."

He wanders back and sits in the squad car for what seems like forever. Aside from it, I haven't seen a single car or human being since I left Eugene. We're the only people around for miles. Outside of Coburg no one can hear you scream
"ENTRAPMENT!" I'll be lucky to get out of here with $700 in traffic fines.

Dan Aykroyd found himself in a similar situation that eventually became the basis for Nothing But Trouble, a terrible movie that probably no one in America has seen but me. He encountered a demented traffic cop on a desolate highway one night in the '70s and was dragged into a town where a judge was waiting, at 3 AM, in a tiny courthouse.

The cop returns. I'm a dead worm on a rusty hook.

COP: "OK, I've decided to let you out of this one with warning. The next time you visit us out here in Coburg, drive a little slower. Got it?"

ME: "Yes, sir. Thank you, sir."

And then he was gone.

This is why I will never, ever go back to Coburg.


Warning, there be lame pot jokes ahead

Oh hey, it's Dizmo, Welcome to Blog's official mascot. And what's that he's got there? Why, it's HEMP WAFFLES!

Yes, a product called "Lifestream Hemp Plus Toaster Waffles" actually exists. I found a pack of these at the Market of Choice in Burlingame. The package proudly boasts that they contain no eggs or dairy products and includes a quick rundown on the history of hemp seeds:

"Hemp seeds are now used in a wide variety of foods due to their nutritional content and rich, nutty taste."

A rich, nutty taste is all well and good but the real question on everyone's minds is: do these things get you high? And the obvious answer...

Nope. Regardless, a product like hemp waffles contains a weird allure, the vague sense that they should be illegal in every state but Nevada. Keeping them in the freezer made me feel like I was getting away with something. I still get the same mild rush every time I take a six pack up to a grocery store counter.

So how are the waffles? Despite lacking what should be necessary ingredients in a not-at-all-goood-for-you breakfast treat, they're pretty decent. They somehow taste exactly like Ego whole-grain waffles but with the addition of tiny flavorless seeds that easily get stuck between teeth.

Enjoy them with your next bowl...

...of Kellog's Frosted Flakes. As Tony the Tiger is overeager to remind everyone, "They're GRRRReat!"

Monday, October 11, 2004


The new Ground Kontrol

Why is Ground Kontrol is one of my favorite places in town? Because it's an arcade filled with old arcade machines. Lots of old arcade machines.

On Thursday they reopened at their new location in Old Town. The new Ground Kontrol is larger, has a pinball lounge in an upstairs loft, a long, a vintage bar (no booze though), the occassional live DJ and, best of all, bathrooms, which the original lacked. NW 5th is a perfect spot for a retro arcade, given that its mere steps from Backspace and Just Be Toys, there's just one problem: it's adjacent to the bus mall. While that stretch is becoming more gentrified with each passing day, it's still a magnet for shifty types that apparently prey on those searching for an '80s nostalgia fix.

A few months back, I had an unpleasant encounter with two guys that seemed intent on stealing my tote bag. As I rounded a counter onto 5th, one approached and tried to strike up a conversation. Rather than answer, I looked over my shoulder to find the other quickly coming up behind me. We made eye contact and he stepped back. Without another word, they both turned and ducked around the corner.

A bag grab gone array? A poorly executed crack pitch? An attempt to kidnap and sell me into white slavery (the Shanghai Tunnels are within close proximity)? Or am I just being paranoid? This incident happened during the day yet I've been in Backspace after dark when it's been overrun by kids not yet in middle school. The area is currently stuck in a flux between a seedy past and an overpriced future.

Is the bus mall crowd enough to keep me from heading down there on a regular basis? Maybe. Regardless of my patronage, I'm sure the new Ground Kontrol will be a hit. It's within close proximity to the row of bars on 1st and it stays open late. Plus, did I mention it has bathrooms?




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