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Friday, December 31, 2004


Space Mountain

And so ends 2004.

Question: What does Space Mountain look like with the lights on?

Answer: Like a dusty warehouse. Click here for a video clip.

Merry New Years to all and to all a good night.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004


Dressed right for a street fight?

We were sitting near the window in Kelly's Olympian when they started throwing punches. In one corner, a man that looked like Rasheed Wallace but was dressed like a hipster. In the other, a kid in a black jacket. A colleague jumped into the fray as the two struggled to slam the each other's heads into the side of a Tri-Met bus. After receiving a punch to the chest, he joined the rest of us from the safety of the doorway, having fulfilled his obligation to play peacemaker.

Rather than call PPD or to break up the fight, we gawked from the sidelines. As one caught his breath, the other bounced around with his fists raised, waiting for round two. Denim Jacket Guy eventually fired back against these taunts with a bull charge that sent the two of them belly-flopping towards the pavement.

Further adding to the weirdness? According to QA, Anton Newcombe of the Bryan Jonestown Massacre was sitting at the bar during all of this. Sadly, he did not break up the fight with the awesome power of his right foot. Instead, a bus driver magically ended the hostilities by shouting for help into a walkie-talkie.

Afterwards, one headed up Washington. The other lingered at the scene and asked me for a cigarette before casually heading back inside, All things considered, the last Portland street fight I sat out was much better.


A five word review of Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events

The doorknob bit was cool.

Monday, December 27, 2004


PDXmas: Finale

Every year, my family makes a trek down Peacock Lane. For two weeks every December, horse-drawn carriages, heavy traffic and roughly 300 billion Xmas lights fill this block in SE Portland. One house, in particular, has been a favorite since as far back as I can remember. A plywood Grinch and his would-be reindeer pooch stand beside a storybook strewn with a passage from the Dr. Suess classic.

Sometime in the '90s, vandals snuck into the neighborhood in the middle of the night and beheaded the Grinch. If memory serves, various local news organizations picked up the story. Eventually, the head was returned. To cover up his "scar," a large bow now graces the Grinch's neck.

Peacock Lane's lights go on at 6 p.m. each night through Dec. 31, off at 11 PM, with the exception of New Year's Eve when they'll keep glowing until midnight.


Living section hat tip

The Living section of the Oregonian mentioned Welcome to Blog in its Christmas day cover story. The article covered various Portland holiday traditions and the shout-out appeared in a bit about the West Hill's martini glass display. Like me, the reporter couldn't track any information regarding the red slash that once appeared over the display to quell controversy fueled by MADD. The owner of the house didn't return his call.

Unfortunately, I couldn't track down a link to the article. If you've ever tried to circumnavigate Oregon Live's archives, you know the reason why.


Letters to Chevy: Volume 2.

What is this all about? Click here for an explanation.

Over the past week, emails and message board comments continued to trickle in regarding Chevy Chase's comments at a recent awards ceremony in DC. Here's another round of the best of the best, all verbatim.


"Fuck you, you liberal asshole! You haven't been funny in 25 years, the only reason you were funny then was because someon was writing your material. You the dumb fuck,not him. God Bless George W. Bush. 4 MORE YEARS"

-Posted by "K."

"Thank you Chevy, for speaking the truth. Bush IS a dumb fuck! He is a monkey who is told what to say by his corporate coffers, he stole the presidency for the second time with no paper trail blackboxes counted by Republicans, he pisses on the Consitution, pisses on our air, our water, outsources all our jobs, gives medals to people for the slaughter of 100,000 innocent Iraqi civilians, mostly women and children, and some people on here have the nerve to think these are the acts of a smart man??? WAKE UP AMERICA, YOU HAVE AN IDIOT PUPPET FOR A PRESIDENT!!!!"

- Posted by "Truth."

"What a total Moore-On that you are Mr. Chase. How about liberal communist, subversive who just so happens to live in America? I think that sums up you ! I think that description not only fits you, but also your fits your miserable friends that are constantly knocking God , country and the troops that are fighting a war on terror! A real American does not undermined his country and a president when at war . I think the Ultra Left has lost their ignorant and uninformed minds. You do not know much about politics nor matters of faith. Our President G. W. Bush is loved by America because he is not the fake , lying person that live and work in Hollywood where arrogance and lascivious is the every day fair. Our so called entertainers need a bath in more ways than one! Excuse me if I don't bother to absorb the filth produced by your creative distorted minds. I rather look at my beautiful family, my garden, lovable pets and God's creation. I do not waste my mind hearing or listening to self absorbed Hollywood types that pollute our lives. How's that about being concerned about the ecology? Funny is you without anymore hair left on your ageing almost bald head! God bless America, the president and our awesome troops. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!:) Can any good come out of Hollywood? A Jesus kind of a question!"

- Posted by "J."

"Hey Chevy... or should I say moron? You profane bellicose jackass, you're everything I find offensive about America... another "entitled" sack of crap with a kumbaya attitude. STUPID!!! And I once felt you worthy of recognition.... Stay outta my neighborhood you indolent bastard, or this 55 year old viet vet will send you packing with a discernible limp. Piss on you jackass, and I hope the accomodations in Hell are to your liking."

- Sent in by "Peace Tigger."

Saturday, December 25, 2004


PDXmas Begins

Friday, December 24, 2004


PDXmas and Robin

Display window. Spartacus Leathers. West Burnside. Very festive, no?

Wednesday, December 22, 2004


PDXmas Forever

This talking, animatronic giant can be found outside the Mervyn's in Washington Square. Every afternoon during the Christmas season, a mall employe sitting in the ticket booth behind one way gla...er, "Chester the Talking Bear" chats with shoppers. All things considered, I much prefer the old Frederick and Nelson's Cinnamon Bear. He handed out free cookies.

I've always imagined that a few of the mall's more rambunctious employee's sneak in the booth after closing to make Chester mutter obscenities, sing tracks off Appetite for Destruction, etc. Or at least that's what I wanted to do while I worked in the food court during my high school years. Unfortunately, someone always had the good sense to keep the door to the ticket booth locked.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004


PDXmas Returns

This glowing martini glass lights up the hills overlooking downtown Portland every year. Sometime in the '90s, the owner was confronted by Mothers Against Drunk Driving. The ensuing controversy somehow made the front page of the Oregonian. Eventually, everyone came to a compromise. After 10 PM, the owner plugs in a red slash (think the Ghostbuster's logo) that covers the glass and discourages drunks from taking to the road.

I was downtown the other night and didn't see the slash. Could it have anything to do with the large champaign bottle display that now graces a nearby home? Maybe it's been a bad influence.

Monday, December 20, 2004



Seeing that it's the Christmastime, things will slow down around here until after the New Year. This week I'll be posting random Christmastime tidbits from around Portland. First up, Alpenrose's Dairyville. It's Christmastime-elicious.

Here's a random Trivial Pursuit question for you: how many teats does a cow have?

A. 2
B. 4
C. 6
D. 145,678

This one came up during a game a few months ago. Only two of us could answer the question*. Why? Probably because we both grew up in SW Portland and attended an elementary school two blocks from the Alpenrose Dairy. The highlight of a 3rd grade field trip was the opportunity to a milk a dairy cow. I distinctly recall a huge bovine trotting up onto a stainless steel girder and indifferently waiting as a line of 30 preadolescents yanked on her teets. All things considered, the trip to OMSI was much more enjoyable.

Despite being engulfed by the city over the course of the past 40 years, Alpenrose still lives on. Along with being a fully operational dairy, it's a sort of pastoral Disneyland. [INSERT BANAL NEVERLAND RANCH JOKE HERE]. During the summer months, its sprawling acreage plays host to BMX races, mincart derbies and an annual Little League world series. In the center of the property lies Dairyville, a psuedo-Frontireland that contains an ice cream parlor, a doll museum, a music box museum and an opera house with a 4,000 pipe organ.

During the holiday season, Dairyville receives a seasonal overlay. The opera house plays cartoons along with special showings of It's a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street. Antique cars and horse carriages carry visitors around the property. The highlight is Storybook Lane Housed inside a converted barn, the attraction leads visitors past pint-sized buildings and scenes from Mother Goose. In one, a wooden wolf "bangs" on the door of a tiny, snow-covered cottage. Typically the live piglets inside are asleep and completely oblivious. In another, baby chicks bop around in a futile attempt to reenact Chicken Little.

A trip to Dairyville was an annual tradition throughout childhood. Once a year, waited in line for an hour to speak with Santa Claus and watch the same Popeye cartoons and Laurel and Hardy shorts in the opera house. As a kid, it was always a welcome break from endless trips to the mall and dull pilgrimages to the Festival of Lights at the Grotto.

To have a look at one of the city's most unique and widely forgotten attractions, Dairyville will be open through the 23rd, 11 AM - 5 PM.

* It's B.

Saturday, December 18, 2004


Mouser-Size Me (Night # 4)

Continuing with theme, this one has been "borrowed" from a 2002 Nelly concert review.

Pint-size rapper Isaac Brock has tasted success twice so far. First with The Moon and Antarctica and now with the meteoric rise of his latest release, Good News for People Who Love Bad News. Both albums don't blaze any new trails, but Issaquah native Isaac was able to infuse a unique flair while showcasing his predatory sexual prowess mixed up with a edgy power funk groove. Take him out of the studio and put him on the road might turn into a risky venture. But the machine must move forward - for better or for worse.

Big on attitude, but lacking a presence of many of his contemporaries, Brock and Modest Mouse stutter-stepped onto the fog drenched stage. With ear to ear smile, backward baseball cap and trademark band-aid on his left cheek, Brock crunched the lyrics to "Paper Thin Walls." The rest of the band ably backed their leader with loosely scripted moves that relied upon the spontaneity of the music to inspire them. Brock seemed a bit stiff and rigid in his presentation, although he seems to genuinely enjoy performing in front of a large and lively audience. With some laid back humor, Modest Mouse ran through the hits until the high point of the evening came up on deck. "Float On" claimed its stake as the anthem of the last year. Brock's voice seemed to pick-up where his slickly produced albums left off. His rhythmic inflections swayed with every gyrating hip movement on stage. At the end, Modest Mouse only got better. Bursting with more energy and displaying a more genuine stage presence, they proved that you don't need too much swearing or a radical political message to get the message across.

Modest Mouse made the bounce in the music compliment the clever rhymes in their lyrics- a simple idea that is totally lost on a lot of hip-hop and rap artists clogging the minds and CD collections of millions of today's fans.

But seriously...


"Paper Thin Walls"
"Bury Me With It"
"Third Planet"
"Interstate 8"
"Doin' the Cockroach"
"Satin in a Coffin"
"The World at Large"
"One Chance"
"The View"
"Float On"
"Black Cadillacs"

Encore: "Out of Gas," "I Came as a Rat," and "The Ocean Breaths Salty"


- Woah, Brock's microphone isn't glowing tonight.
- "They added another show. We could be here every night until New Years. Christmas Eve is going to be damn depressing."
- Number of random high-fives from people I may or may not know: 2
- Number of times a random stranger stopped to brush something off my shoulder: 1
- After four straight nights of Modest Mouse, I don't want to hear their music for a month. I have officially overdosed on emo.


Click the Snuggle Bear float below to sing along with "Float On" (recorded during Thursday night's show). Be foreword, the quality of the video is probably not up to the Snuggle Bear's "snuggly soft" standards.

"Click on my snuggly-soft stocking," said the Snuggle Bear.

Night # 3? Here. Night # 2? Here. Night # 1? Here.


ALF has a talk show?

Apparently, ALF has a talk show.

Apparently, it debuted over a year ago.

Apparently, Drew Carrey, Tom Green, Ed McMahon and various cast members from the Sopranos have been guests.

Apparently, it's on Friday nights at 11 on TV Land.

News to me.


Straight Outta' Beaverton

As I turned off Canyon Road today, I noticed a 3-story mushroom cloud rising over the trees near my office. Having never seen a 3-story mushroom cloud, let alone one possibly cascading out of my workplace, I checked to make sure I hadn't fallen asleep at the wheel.

Nope, I was indeed awake but the weirdness continued. I passed by a flock of geese* that had gathered one of the Tektronix campus' many rolling lawns. They too were starring at the cloud, equally baffled.

I arrived at the office a few minutes later and discovered that it was neither on fire, nor had it just been bombed. The cloud was coming from the opposite side of the campus. Already running late, I had no time to investigate further. Throughout the morning I haven't heard any sirens and no one around here seems to know about the cloud. I headed outside a few minutes ago and it's long gone. Maybe the geese and I were hallucinating?

Oh, how I love working in Beaverton- land of sprawling mini malls, car lots and surreal dream imagery.

* Every November, several flocks of Canadian geese move to the campus to sit out the winter. They're indifferent to humans and spend their time munching on the lawn when they're not loafing, honking nonstop or pooping all over the sidewalks. Earlier today, one of them hissed at me as I took a walk during my coffee break. I didn't know geese could hiss.

In the spring, they block traffic on campus streets as they lead their baby goslings from the campus to a small marsh near the MAX stop. Despite and because of their cantankerous attitudes, the geese are one of things that make working in suburbia enjoyable.

Friday, December 17, 2004


Mouser-Size Me (Night # 3)

Going along with yesterday's theme, I cut and pasted the majority of this post from an unrelated concert review, in this case a Tom Jones one from 1995.

Say what you like about Isaac Brock, his Vegas history, or the size of the bulge he grabs during the biggest numbers at his shows. The fact is, this guy well into his "golden years" just keeps getting better. He puts more raw, ferocious, crowd-pleasing energy into one set than an army of Green Days.

From the moment he took the stage, the crowd was ecstatic, as I.B. boomed his way through a brilliant mix of 60's classics, new album songs, and his signature covers. "Satin in a Coffin," "Black Cadillacs," and more were all greeted with deafening cheers, as Isaac wiped the sweat from his brow with a grin. It was impossible to get away from all the I.B. Wannabe's who felt it their duty to "accompany" Mr. Brock on each and every song, but he drowned them all out, flashing an amused smile as wave upon wave of panties flew onto the stage.

After the band blazed through the "Bukowski," Isaac belted out "Dramamine" with the appropriate karate punching action on the word "Dramamine." As the crowd began to disperse, a guy in his 50's remarked, "Seeing him up there on stage like that gives me new hope. My life is just beginning." Uh yeah pal, sure. Anyway, Isaac also expressed his surprise at seeing so many young people turn out for the show.

I guess there's something to say for a man who's been putting 100% into entertaining people for four decades. Some may say he's not "alternative enough" or perhaps his new album is a little too hip for his older fans - the fact is that Isaac Brock and Modest Mouse can win you over on the strength of their concerts alone. It's not hard to imagine throngs of screaming women tossing hotel room keys onto the stage...they're still doing it. And Isaac is still flashing that grin.


"Black Cadillacs"
"Neverending Math Equation"
"The Good Times are Killing Me"
"Float On"
"Satin in a Coffin"
"Out of Gas"
"Paper Thin Walls"
"Bury Me With It"
"Ocean Breaths Salty"
"The View"
"Cowboy Dan"

Encore: "Baby Blue Sedan," "The World at Large," and "3rd Planet"


- Watching the crowd shout "I consider it my only art of fucking people over" is great. Watching them go from teary-eyed and lighter-waving to kicking their feet in an angry hoedown in the space of three cords is even better.

- Why is Brock's microphone glowing red?

- "It smells like burning plastic in here. What is that? Ohhhh...." I get it! You're talking about marijuana, right?

- No one in this crowd can keep a beat but they sure do know how to throw their clothing around.

- Number of random hugs from people I may or may not know: 1.


Click on the weird mini-cello below for an absolutely terrible Quicktime clip of "Trailer Trash" from night # 2.

"CLICK ME," said the mini-cello, with a sparkle in its...strings?

Night # 2? Here. Night # 1? Here.


Letters to Chevy

On Wednesday night, Chevy Chase went on a potty-mouthed tirade against the president while hosting a charity event at the Kennedy Center. He lambasted Bush with comments like "he's a dumbfuck" and lamented that the democrats couldn't "beat him with a bore like Kerry."

The Drudge Report, Fox News and conservative columnist from around the country spent their Thursday morning raking him across the coals but perhaps what's most shocking about Chase's statements is their lack of wit. "Dumb fuck"? Weak. Even if he was improvising on the spot, he should have come up with something, well, funny. After all, isn't this the guy that *made* the institution that is Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update?

So, with no where else to turn, where did conservatives from across the nation head to vent their frustrations online?

My poor, widdle Chevy Chase website.

Currently, I host one of the last remaining Chevy fansites on the internet. It's the only site listed in Yahoo's category for the actor and it's the most recently update (June, which should speak volumes about Chase's career as of late). After a tip from Armed Prophet, I checked the site's neglected Hotmail account and message board and found them both jam packed with angry emails from Vietnam Vets, Marines serving overseas and a slew of GW lovin' midwesterners. In their coverage of Chevy's tirade, even Volokh Conspiracy linked to the site.

So would you like to see a few of them? Of course you would. Here are four of my favorite, all verbatim, so for once you can't blame me for all the errors:


Your stupid Christmas movie used to be a staple of our family at Christmas. We would watch it every Christmas and just laugh and laugh. No more. Your amature attacks on our popularly elected President and Commander in Chief during a time of World war against Islamic extremists who would gladly give their lives to blow up you and your extended family, given the chance, have proved to me you are simply a moronic asshole. By the way, do you have an MBA degree? Your Christmas movie VHS went out in the trash today. Hopefully your career will follow. Merry Christmas Dirtbag."

-Sent by "A Former Fan"

"Fuck chevy chase, he is an ass...He has no right talking shit about the President. I'd like to kick chevy ass"

-Sent by "G"

"Chevy Chase is the biggest asshole that ever lived. LOL He's a @#%$! loser, but I LOVE what he did. It only rallies the Republicans to get out and VOTE. Liberal outbursts are GREAT for Republicans. Keep up the good work and civil disobedience. It's the only thing that gets good Americans angry enough to VOTE.This was almost as great as the Republicans picking New York City for their convention. Where else would they get so many liberal jerks engaging in civil disobedience in front of all those cameras? THAT was great political strategy. It personally made me run out and vote Republican. Thanks again!"

-Sent by "Joe Conservative"

"What a Geek to call the president names and show us all what lack of respect he has for America. A Marine's girl serving in Iraq wants to tell Chase to go to Iraq and say that! Tell the old man to blank ... blank... blank....! You think being ugly crude is totally cool? We think you are a treasonous and also a Neo communist!"

-Sent by "Pretty, Proud USA"

OK, that's probably enough for one day.

Thursday, December 16, 2004


Mouser-Size Me (Night #2)

Night # 1 can be found here.

My mother, of all people, nicely summed up the club show experience. After years of periodic concerts in arenas and theaters, my parents attended the John Fogerty show at the Roseland earlier this month. Surrounded by drunken 50-somethings all reliving the '60s, she spent most of the evening clinging to a wall in the balcony. A few days later, she recounted the experience. Here's a rough recreation:

"We fought to keep our spots. I was afraid to go to the bar or the bathroom for over two hours, fearing your dad would get into a fist fight over it. Everyone was plastered and acting like rednecks, endlessly hooting and yelling "YEEEE HA!" The opening act was so tired of being heckled she stormed off stage. Finally, a couple stood up and we asked if we could take their seats. We sat down and then the people beside us started shouting, claiming they were theirs. Behind us, someone else was arguing because some guy's drunk mistress was taking up multiple seats. We've been wanting to see Fogerty for years but he was taking forever to get on stage and these assholes were driving us crazy. $60 bucks a piece for this? The three security guards around didn't care what was going on. We were about to walk out but Fogerty finally came out of stage. He played 'Bad Moon Rising,' 'Proud Mary' and all of Creedence Clearwater's hits. Suddenly, all the hours of misery leading up to this were worth it."

Tuesday night's Modest Mouse show had the same sort of crowd, albeit a generation younger. Get a thousand people of any age group together, pump them full of alcohol and live music and they'll behave like they're the only ones in the room. Part of the problem is that the average club show is overcrowded, making dancing, let alone slipping through the masses to hit the bar or the bathroom, practically impossible. If you fight your way to the front, you can look forward to holding your bowels for hours and getting elbowed a million times. Stand in the back and you'll contend with people that could care less about the band and are more interested in shouting over the music.

All right, enough with the editorial. Tuesday's show was pretty much like Monday's. Modest Mouse played roughly the same set and barreled through it with little attention given to the audience. Banter has never been the band's strong suit. "Float On" sounded great and I tried to capture it on my cell phone but it came out as a garbled blob when I played it back. The initial set closed with "Jesus Christ Was an Only Child." With several hundred fans bouncing on the Ballroom's floating dance floor, it shook like a faultline.

As you can tell, I'm only on night two and I've already run out of things to talk about. What else? Hmmm...well, the stage lights were really neat. Hmm...I know, I'll just cut, paste and fill in the blanks from random a Pixies concert review. That should do the trick.

The meat of the 28-song set comes in a flash. "3rd Planet," "Control Freak" and "Bury Me," fall in a rapid succession, barely leaving the audience time to take them in. The band's sound is impeccable, as if they've spent the last decade touring together in a van and not, as is the case, staying home getting older and fatter.

Modest Mouse's ability to mix and match the setlist and their willingness to dig deep into their catalog speaks volumes to their talent as musicians. Of course it also speaks to the rabid appetite of the long suffering fans who have demanded this reunion.

Anyway, here's a blurred picture of Brock.

Click on the mysterious exit sign dragon below to watch a Quicktime clip. Why, with this you could "do the cockroach" right from your very own home! Thanks to the limitations of my digital camera and the Crystal Ballroom's "floating" dance floor, it could be the worst concert footage ever captured on a media card. Hooray!


Encore songs: "Blame It On the Teetons" and "Trailer Trash"
Amount of beer spilled on my hoodie: 0!
Amount of women in the crowd that looked like the computer geek from that old Undergrads cartoon: 1.
Amoung of audience members that jumped in front of camera before screaming "HA!" and ducking back into the crowd: 2
Total number of spotted boyfriends who looked a girlfiend: 154
Total number of trucker hats in the ballroom: Infinity + infinity.

Night # 3? Tomorrow! Chevy Chase hate mail? Lots of Chevy Chase hate mail? Also tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 14, 2004


I missed it again this year

Santacon came and went and I didn't even notice. Every year, hundreds of Portlanders dress up in Santa Claus suits in order to wreck havoc on the city's core. In the past, they've gone on rampages through Lloyd Center department stores while clashing heads with PPD. While the annual fest seems to have calmed down in recent years but hundreds upon hundreds of drunken Santas would have made for great photo opps.

Here's M.E. Russell's cartoon take on the preparations. For photos from the event(s), just follow the link above.


The only soda that tastes like pine needles

I tracked down Pepsi's latest concoction, Holiday Spice, at the Garden Home Thriftway. After seeing all those "elves struggling to drive a big rig" ads, I had to try a bottle. I've kept an eye out for it over the past month but no one in the Portland area seems to have the stuff on their shelves. This probably has to do with the fact that Holiday Spice tastes like a chemical used to make tulips live longer.

More specifically, Holiday Spice tastes like watered-down Pepsi sprinkled with pine needles or at least that's what I think. I subjected two others to the stuff and their interpretations were all over the map. One said it was just like Cherry Cola while the other claimed the taste was closer to Vanilla Coke.

The limited edition soda is almost as versatile as the company's long defunct Josta, which was compared to everything from RC to carbonated coffee. I tracked down Holiday Spices' chemical makeup online and apparently the secret ingredient is cinnamon and ginger. Pepsi + cinnamon + ginger + red dye 50 = soda that tastes like it's been used to marinate a Christmas tree. Who knew?

The official website offers recipes for Holiday Spice cookies, yams and brine. Soda-soaked yams might make an interesting conversation piece but I think I'll pass.


Mouser-Size Me (Night # 1)

It's 1 AM and I'm leaning next to an Oregonian box in the Pearl District. I should have been in bed an hour ago but there's a piece of toilet paper stuck in my right ear. Before I head home, I'm determined to pry it out with the plastic tooth pic from my Swiss Army Knife. My hearing took a serious blow at a show last spring and now, like a wuss, I insist on protecting my ears everytime I get near an amplifier. Making due with TP earplugs is about to result in permanent damage to my left ear drum.

Or not. The one-ply plug pops out and I'm on my way after a mere 10 seconds of intensive surgery. How anti-climatic.

After a long series of banal events, I wound up with tickets to Modest Mouse's entire 4-night stint at the Crystal Ballroom.
I saw the band back in April but their performance was marred by sound problems, an irritable audience and faulty, poorly timed smoke machines. Why pay to see a band that's notorious for its lackluster live shows? I'm a glutton for punishment and I still had a hankering to hear "Cowboy Dan" played live. Plus, I planned on selling the other three tickets.

Unlike last time, Monday's show was spot on and nary a stolen hat popped up to distract lead singer Isaac Brock. Modest Mouse opened with "3rd Sun" and rolled through nearly on song Good News for People Who Love Bad News, throwing in the occasional dust-covered college radio hit.

Three songs in I was already planning on coming downtown for the other shows. Maybe I could turn this into the emo rock equivalent of Supersize Me. But what would the rules be? No bathing for four days? No smiling, only frowning and slight head bobbing? Drop 30 pounds and gain 3,000 Sub Pop records in 3 days? Before I could settle on a list, Gustav from 94.7 jumped on the stage and announced plans for a fifth show on Friday. Another $18 to accomplish a pointless, self-imposed challenge? Screw that. So much for the endurance test.

The Ballroom was packed with undergrads back for winter break. As Modest Mouse came on, I was wedged between a trash can, a wooden railing and four kids decked out in trucker paraphernalia and stuffed full of ecstasy. They spent the entire time sloppily giving each other piggy back rides. As I ducked flying plastic cups, one of which hit me in the crotch, I took note of all the gas station jackets and Buddy Holly glasses in the audience. Isn't this look ever going to go out of style?

Towards the end of the set, someone with a face obscured by dreadlocks asked if I would watch their murky microbrew. I agreed and, before I knew it, three other cups were being babysat by my dangling feet. As Brock howled through a 15-minute "Cowboy Dan," the E Kids' dancing became increasingly erratic, forcing everyone around them to provide a wide berth. On the verge of collapsing, one of them, looking like a sea sick Soleil Moon Frye, headed over to railing and took a seat. Somehow over the music, I heard a vague gagging noise. I glanced over and Pukey Brewster was staring at my neck "Holy, shit. She's going to vomit all over my hoodie," I thought. Then her gaze slouched down towards the beer. "Holy, shit. She's going to puke all over the beer and those freeloading bastards are going to blame me for doing nothing to stop her."

Somewhere between exhaling the contents of her guts and falling over the side, one of her friends arrived on the scene and they began hugging like sex-starved Care Bears dressed in teamster duds. This drew the attention of the others and suddenly I was sitting adjacent to a John Deer-endorsed love-a-thon.

Hooray for emo rock!

Brock after beating the hell out of "Cowboy Dan": "Come back tomorrow. We'll do better."


Encore songs: Uh, I forget.
Amount of beer spilled on my hoodie: 8 onces (estimate).
Number of on-leave Marines that spent the whole time staring at the stage and scowling: 1
Total number of nearby audience members that dance like they were extremely constipated: 3
Total number of ironic t-shirts in the ballroom: Infinity + 2
Total number of mesh trucker hats in the ballroom: Infinity + 3.
Total number of beers successfully protected from Pukey Girl: 3
Reward for protecting those 3 beers from Pukey: A single, muttered "thank you."


A late fee by any other name...

...is still a late fee. In an attempt to keep up with its competitors and alleviate a net loss of 1.42 billion in last quarter revenue alone, Blockbuster Video has announced that it's eliminating late fees entirely this January.

Well, sort of. If a customer keeps a movie past seven days, they'll be charged for it. Let's say you rent a copy of Abba: The Movie and hang onto it for over a week. Since it's out of print, a $35+ fee will appear on your account. Even if you return Rainbow Brite, the store will slap you with a restocking fee.

Blockbuster has been criticized heavily over the years for its ruthless return polices. I stopped frequenting my neighborhood outlet after being charged $6 for a late game. My former roommate nearly had his credit rating destroyed after he refused to shell out $10 in late fees at a location in Eugene.

Under its current policy, Blockbuster could look forward to an additional $250 - $300 million in revenue next year. Not that it matters much. This new policy of coaxing renters into buying movies will possibly lead to even higher profits...until everyone winds up with one too many overpriced DVDs and switches to Netflix.

Saturday, December 11, 2004


I am not keeping Portland weird

I'm someone who once subscribed to the local bumpersticker philosophy: "Keep Portland Weird." I try to support small businesses as much as possible. But, after a year of putting it off, I finally cast aside another nagging consumer qualm and signed up for Netflix.

I was once a devotee of Movie Madness, the video store on SE Belmont chock full of Hollywood props and obscure titles. The place is everything a local business should be: unique, cool and, as those bumperstickers put it, weird. So why the switch? From where I'm currently living, it takes around 25 minutes to drive over there and, while their selection can't be beat, the system used to organize their movies is mind boggling. MM is always packed to gills and asking an employee for help is rarely an option.

Mom and Pop video stores, especially ones that have the Marvin's bloody head from Pulp Fiction on display, are few and far between. The only one that springs to mind on the west side is Impulse Video, a tiny operation in Hillsdale that offers only mainstream films. I'm sure there's a term for this sort of thing but the only one I've retained from high school economics is "supply and demand." Does that apply here? I'm not sure. I received a C+ in that class.

So, rather than go an hour out of my way to snag DVDs only to have to do the same three days later to return them, I now rent all my movies online.

Netflix doesn't offer everything that Movie Madness does but its selection is ten times more eclectic than your average Blockbuster. I was able to track down the sequel to Lady Snowblood, Love Me If You Dare and the entire run of Freaks and Geeks. So far, there have only been a few films I want that it doesn't offer and the $17.99 per month price tag is tough to beat.

My only real complaint is the amount of time it takes to send and receive. If I send a movie back on Friday it typically takes until the following Wednesday for a new one to arrive. One thing Netflix will never be able to master is the instant gratification of a local video store (provided what you want isn't already rented). This isn't a problem that a westside Movie Madness location couldn't solve.

But, having compromised with Netflix, it's probably only a matter of time before I scoff at whatever's showing at Cinema 21 in favor of the latest Reese Witherspoon rom-com at a Regal theater or turn my back on El Grillo for Taco Bell. Or start wearing Nike shoes and khakis. Wait a sec....

...I'M WEARING NIKES AND DOCKERS RIGHT NOW! ACK! It's already begun! I am a consumer whore!


Disney goes to war

The strangest years of the Walt Disney Corporation have finally been dragged into the light. Nowadays it's a little known fact that the Mouse House all but closed its doors during World War 2 in order to produce tons of propaganda and informational shorts. In 1943, the company even released Victory Through Airpower, a full-length feature that reportedly helped convince FDR to finally commit to a full strategic air campaign against Germany.

In an effort to suppress what would no doubt be considered outdated and even racist material, the company tossed everything from the war era into its vaults, where, for the most part, they remained for 60 years. In mid 2004, Disney dusted off these once pariahs for a new DVD set, On the Front Lines, perhaps in an effort to explain the shorts, which have been surrounded by rumors since the war ended. Copies of shorts like Der Fuehrer’s Face, which won an Oscar in 1943 but quickly disappeared after the war for its depiction of Donald Duck as a Nazi, have been popping up in underground film festivals for decades.

Rather than entertain, the set is orchestrated as an educational release. Leonard Maltin introduces each short and places them in a historical context. While everything included here is neither as overtly racist as the Warner Brothers cartoons released during the same period ("Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips," etc.), the set i still filled with the sort of weirdness the company might have been wise to leave locked up.

In one short starring the Seven Dwarfs, Dopey is encourage by an off-screen narrator to slaughter a mosquito in order to curb stateside malaria outbreaks. "Kill 'em good and dead, Dopey!" Because the dwarfs put up screens over their windows and eliminate standing water on their property, they remain healthy while their counterparts at a family farm die off one by one.

In Victory Through Airpower, included on disc 2, a bald eagle tears apart an octopus symbolizing Japan. In another, Donald Duck is divided between wasting his paycheck or investing in War Bonds. His id is split into two- an angel and a zoot-suit wearing duck with a swastika necktie. Subtle. In Education for Death, Hitler is depicted as a knight infatuated with an extremely obese and extremely daft embodiment of Germany as a budding Nazi becomes brainwashed in a fascistic classroom.

Mickey Mouse only pops up in one of these, clad in a uniform and in a framed picture at Minnie's place. While most of the rest of Disney stock characters make appearances, Donald stars in most of the shorts, possibly since he's closer to the quintessential "everyman" than bland, innocent Mickey.

Perhaps the most disturbing cartoon included in the set follows Donald as he enters boot camp. He quickly submits to the rigors of training and his cruel drill instructor, played by Pete, the bully that tormented Mickey in Steamboat Willy. On the edge of sanity, Donald pulls a gun and puts it to his head while laughing hysterically (see the montage above). Even Maltin is hard pressed to explain why the Disney animators would use this material to encourage draftees and boost morale overseas.

While it's not quite worth a purchase, On the Front Lines is worth a look if you're eager to see the companies icons behaving out of character and trapped in nightmarish war scenarios. If you're willing to brave your way past a few obscene banner ads, you can view a portion of Der Fuhrer's Face on this site.

Friday, December 10, 2004


Sean Astin at the Baghdad

Sean Astin, AKA Mikey, AKA Rudy AKA Frodo's life partner, made an appearance at the Baghdad Theater last night. He was there to promote his new autobiography on Lord of the Rings and a childhood spent in Hollywood.

Due to scheduling conflicts, he only spoke for ten minutes, three of which were spent singing "Can't Help Falling in Love" for reasons that probably have a lot to do with jetlag. Astin told the audience he's been bouncing back and forth between the US and New Zealand over the past few weeks, perpetually caught between filming a mini-series and finishing up a book tour. Before heading to the lobby to sign copies, he answered a few questions.

#1. Does George W. Bush have the One Ring?

He ducked this one.

#2. What was your favorite scene from the films?

When the elves head into Helm's Deep.

#3. What's up with Goonies 2?

He didn't know but confirmed he'll show up if it ever goes into production.

I've been holding out for a sequel to the Goonies since rumors started popping up on the internet back in 1999. At this point, Fletch Won and Indiana Jones IV probably have a better chance at hitting the big screen. Nevertheless, I'll keep an online candle burning. The Wizard of Oz got a sequel but it took 46 years, making the Guinness Book of World records for longest span of time between an original film and its sequel. Will Goonies 2 beat it?

Who knows? Anyway, here's a incredibly blurred picture from last night's event. This is either a shot of Astin or one of those quirky McMenamins murals. I can't tell either.


It's that time of year again

No, not Chrisma-kwan-haun-zikah, it's time for the second annual Portland Mercury Online Charity Gift Auction. Among the items an activities up for grabs is the original Fight Club manuscript, the opportunity to design the front cover of an issue and spend an afternoon with editor Wm. Steven Humphrey.

The first two are up to well over $300 but the last one is sitting at a measly $36. Presuming this figure holds (it won't), I could actually swing it. If I somehow won the auction, I would get to choose between skeet shooting, boxing or playing golf with him.

Now does my interest in this particular auction have anything to do with being turned down for this? Naw, I just want to beat someone important at golf (honest!). Why not go shooting or jump in the ring with Humphrey? The last time I went fired a gun I wound up with this and he no doubt fights like a feral pitbull.

Or maybe I should focus my efforts on getting former mayoral candidate Phil Busse to clean my toilet. That one is currently hovering around the $20 mark.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004


First rule of Fight Club: The Video Game. Don't even go near it.

A year ago, I wrote about a proposed Fight Club video game and jokingly suggested it would be in every Target store in the country by Christmas '04. Christmas '04 is here and...it's in every Target store in the country.

Or at least the Hollywood Video on Barbur. Same difference.

So local cult demigod Chuck Palahniuk's first video game offshoot is, unsurprisingly, absolutely terrible. While the author has probably long since justified the decision with the aid of nihilism, post-irony and the promise of an easy paycheck, most of the blame falls on the shoulders of the design group at Vivendi Universal or the exec that no doubt forced them to rush through a title in time for the holiday season. If you were travel back through time and ask three cavemen to create a game using only a box of Crayolas and a 8 volt battery, they could come up with something better than this. A bag of ladybugs could come up with something more enjoyable. Even grass could do better.

Fight Club opens with a title sequence following various characters from the novel/movie/possibly one day musical as they vandalize an office high-rise, leaving behind a flaming smiley face in the facade. It's the only glimpse the player gets at anything remotely interesting. Had the designers used Grand Theft Auto as a stylebook instead of a Mortal Combat knock-off, this might have been worth a look.

Instead, past the title screen lies a poorly-developed fighting game that should have gone straight to the two dollar bin behind the five dollar bin. The premise centers around Raymond, a despondent yuppie, as he strikes out in search of Tyler Durden. Instead of playing anarchist and destroying corporate art displays, he takes on various characters from the movie like Angel Face, Bob and...various extras. The game probably deserves credit for being the first in the history of the industry to incorporate a character with testicular cancer and allowing its audience to jump kick him, not that it matters. Jump kicking cancer patients in this game is theoretical at best. Its sticky controls and vicious difficulty setting prevent any level of strategy aside from mindlessly pushing buttons in a vain attempt to land a single uppercut.

The backgrounds are nicely detailed but its fighters look all look like bootleg Ken dolls in a .99 cent store (with the execption of Bob, who looks like an over-the-hill Ken attached to double-D manboobs). Fight Club's cut sequences consist of a series of cheap-o still frames, a far cry from the full-animations that now accompany almost all games. Aside from the logo and the Dust Brother's soundtrack, it shares little in common with its predecessors.

Despite Fight Club's high difficulty level, the "story" mode can be finished in 30 minutes flat with a single combo move. With the push of a few buttons, the character can grab his opponents and break their arms as the game cuts to a grisly x-ray image of bones snapping, making all oponents as harmless as fuzzy kittens. In the game's finale, Raymond finally tracks down Durden, only to realize he's a megalomaniacal schizophrenic. After beating him to a pulp, the last cut-scene concludes like the film, with the headquarters various credit card companies falling like Jenga towers, But in an inexplicable change of heart, it's Raymond that pulls the bombs' trigger, not Durden.

The only saving grace is Fred Durst, who appears as an unlockable character. As he strolls out prior to fights, his onscreen counterpart gleefully points off screen before striking a hilarious fighter's stance worthy of junior-high judo club. While Fight Club may wind in an updated edition of this, a video game that allows you to repeatedly smash the Limp Biskit singer's appendages deserves at least a little credit.

Fight Club: The Video Game: 2 smashed copies of Durst's cover of "Behind Blue Eyes" out of 10.


Mouse clicks make the baby Jesus cry

This may be a parody but that doesn't mean it isn't creepy.

Now this? This is funny.


And I learned a valuble life leason too

Portland Monthly is a magazine that popped up a year ago beside checkstands in Zupan's, Market of Choice and other hoity-toity grocery stores. I'd always written it off as a localized Vogue or a lame New Yorker imitation, allowing my periodical prejudices to push me away from what it had to offer.

I was sitting around the laundromat last week when my eyes fell on the November issue. Having forgotten to bring along a book and faced with a choice between PM and the June edition of Modern Bride, I started flipping through its pages.

My suspicions were immediately confirmed. The magazine was filled with Vogue-esque articles on dinner parties and fashion dos and don'ts. Eleven pages alone were filled with models lounging around in the latest Saks Fifth Avenue offerings. But what was this? A feature on how Willy Week reporter Nigel Jaquiss went about yanking the skeletons out of Neil Goldschmidt's closet? A two-page article on the Mallory Hotel sale? An article on the leper colony that once sat where the Oregon Zoo currently resides?

Somewhere amidst all the fluff were sharply-written articles with snazzy layout worthy a glossy national weekly. While I have no interest in the "Pret a Portland" column, which points readers towards businesses that sell $12 bars of soap and pink t-shirts for dogs, a feature on Las Vegas' de-evolution into its seedy days of yore was a great read.

So I came away with a different point of view and learned a valuble life leason worthy of the Berenstein Bears. If Portland Monthly ever ditches the content typically found in banal hotel guides, I might even subscribe. As it is now, I'll only flip through it in Rich's Cigar Store. Or steal it from the laundromat.

Monday, December 06, 2004


Why I hate the Pierce County District Court

Frequent readers of this blog probably saw this coming from a mile a way. Last summer, I received two speeding tickets within weeks of each other. I paid one and, after considering the legal advice of friends, readers and a call girl 3,000 miles away, I ignored the other for over a month. After all, what could Washington do to me, a resident of Oregon, aside from taking away my driving privileges in *that* state? Nevertheless, right around Halloween, a full five weeks after I was pulled over, I broke down and broke out my checkbook.

Why? Because I became convinced that "forgetting" about this whole thing would come back to bite me on the ass. So what happens when you take your time paying a Washington traffic ticket? You receive a letter like this:

Dear customer,

Please read this notice carefully because it contains information on your driving privileges.

Driver and Motor Vehicle Services has received notice form the court named below that you did not appear in court in response to one or more traffic violations. Oregon law requires DMW to take action to suspend your driving privileges when this occurs. As a result, your Oregon driving privileges and your right to apply for driving privileges are suspended beginning at 12:01 AM (one minute after midnight) on the morning of January 5, 2005.

For those reading this that have never has the pleasure of dealing with a highway cop, the typical traffic ticket orders you to pay the fine, pay the fine with a not guilty plea or appear in court, usually at 8 AM on an inconvenient weekday. I had neglected to do any and all of these.

The letter hit my mailbox before the check had time to clear. Apparently, the Oregon DMV and the Pierce County District Court are in cahoots. Not only was a I well on my way to losing my Washington driving privileges, I would soon be forced to buy a bus pass in my home state. To make matters worse, the letter indicated I would need to pay an additional $52 fine for not appearing in court.

Eventually, the check cleared and I called the Oregon DMV. With the fine paid, I no longer had to worry about losing my license. But what about that other $52? Surely, I could get away without paying that.

Wrong! Last Wednesday, another stern letter arrived. This one warned me that if I didn't dish out the extra cash, a second $57 fine and another moratorium on my license would go into immediate effect. I had a mere six days to get another check up to Tacoma. Worse yet, this latest notice didn't include a mailing address.

This sort of nonsense may be legal but that doesn't make it right. No other organization imposes these sort of penalties on past due payments. A $57 fine for a late payment on a $52 fine? Either Pierce County is hard for cash or it has contracted out sectors of its traffic court to Paulie Walnuts.

After running around the internet, I tracked down a number for the PCDC in hopes I could pay it quickly over the phone. It lead to an automated system that spat out a series of random phone numbers. After trying three of them, I finally spoke with a human being who told me to call the original number and dial 0. I followed her instructions and was...put on hold for ten minutes before being disconnected. I tried again, another ten minutes passed and I was disconnected. It was the sort of phone system that makes those belonging to other services and public entities look like a preschool cakewalk in comparison.

With the clock ticking, I went looking for the original letter. I had thoughtfully not thrown it out. The mad dash through rain-soaked Portland traffic to make it to a post office in time for the 5 PM pick-up was pure misery.

With both the fines, both karmic and literal, paid in full, surely, this nightmare has come to an end. Or more, likely, I'll receive another letter will arrive next week and the process will endlessly repeat for several years. Fines on top of fines on top of fines and the sort of strong arm tactics that would make a mafia extortionist proud.

Saturday, December 04, 2004


Commie Week #6

Like all good things, Commie Week must come to an end. This last one hails not from Seattle's Fremont district or the comic section of Powell's Bookstore but Sweet Mother Russia herself. Take a peek, if you will, at an authentic communist cigarette case.

OK, maybe it's not authentic and maybe it's not communist but it did come from Russia. "Eatyourdamnpeas," whose comments you may have read in W2B's feedback boards, made a twelve week trek through the former USSR over the summer. I asked him to bring me back one of these and, sure enough, he did. And what did I bring him back from Japan? Not a damn thing but I did buy him a few drinks in exchange his efforts.

Peas also tossed in ten Russian cigarettes. Unlike the more western death sticks that litter the continent-size nation, these are made up almost entirely of empty, cylindrical tubes. The brown part at the tip is not a filter, it's the tobacco, composing only a scant 20% of the total cigarette.

Packs of these run .25 cents. To smoke them, you have to fold the tube twice, creating a pseudo-filter that prevents flaming balls o' cancer from entering your lungs, not that it matters much. The tobacco is incredibly low grade and the smoke feels like broken shards of glass. If ever there was an argument for the free market, this is it.

I took the case with me to Eugene a few months back and offered the cigarettes to "Flog" and a few friends. After we lighted up, they were immediately disgusted by them. I'm pretty sure I was the only one that managed to get an entire cigarette. Sometime later, Flog claimed they caused him to "see weird colors" in the bathroom. Maybe that isn't tobacco in there.

The cigarettes themselves may be interrogation devices meant for the lungs of US spies. The case itself is also potentially deadly. On the side is a button that deceptively looks like a trigger to access the cigarettes inside. Instead, it's a high-powered lighter. On my first attempt to open the case, I nearly lit my right hand on fire.

A booby-trapped cigarette case loaded with hallucinogenic cigarettes. For obvious reasons, this is the best present I've recieved since the mogwai I was given last Xmas. Apparently, I'm supposed to keep him away from sunlight and water but, really, something must have been lost in the translation. I've never heard such stupid rules for a pet.


December's photo of the month

Hey, remember Osama Bin Laden? Whatever happened to that guy?

OK, so December's photo of the month is pretty lame but I was short on ideas and wanted to do something with a Christmas theme. I may change it around a bit to make it look like "Osama" was caught on camera while wandering through Pioneer Courthouse Square. Originally, he had a word bubble that was a riff on Verizon's "Chrisma-hanu-kwan-zikah" campaign, which, all things considered, made the whole concept even more like a Jay Leno segment.

OK, time for two pointless anecdotes.

While taking multiple pictures from different angles, a guy with two Chihuahuas stopped to watch. Each was wearing an Xmas doggy sweater. Two women walked over and he explained. The sweaters weren't just for show. The breed, because they're so small and practically bald, get cold when the air temperature dips below 60. You learn something new everyday, I guess.

Then a bald guy wandered up. I was drawing a crowd so I decided to wrap things up. As I was tossing the camera and Osama in my bag, he turned away from his cell phone conversation to shout "OGHA BAGA BOO!" I guess his mock Arabic was meant to draw big laughs but it sent everyone scattering. I nodded politely and made my escape but he followed me halfway across the square. He spat out another "OGHA BAG BOO!" before turning back and laughing hysterically.

I can only assume that he was some sort of performance artist and thought a: I was trespassing on his turf or b: was putting together an christmas card for Portland's anti-terrorist task force. The next time I do a public "photo shoot," I'm bringing along mace.


Mo' pumpkins, mo' problems

The holiday season officially began over a week ago but that's not going to stop me from running another All Hallows Eve-related post. I forgot to link to this a few weeks back when it was still relevant. Is it worth a look? You decide. A pumpkin artist back east decided to make a political contest out of three rotting pumpkins, one carved like Kerry, another like Bush and a third like Nader. Who won? Have a look and prepare to be disappointed. The results are inconclusive.

A reader sent along these photos of pumpkins-on-fire taken in 2002. They're ten times more Halloween-y and easily outdo those I posted a few weeks back. Apparently, he kicked things up a notch by using gasoline. Another picture is labeled "last shot before the police showed up" but this one is my favorite.

Friday, December 03, 2004


Commie Week #5

I'm all out of Fremont-related material. Sure, I'm overlooking the biggest and baddest landmark in the area, the Fremont troll, but goat-eating bridge dwellers don't really fit into the Marxist category*.

Now does this mean Commie Week has come to an end already? Of course not. Next on the list is Red Son, a graphic novel released earlier this year that asks the question: What would have happened if Kal El's spaceship landed in the Ukraine instead of Kansas?

The answer? Nothing but trouble.

Superman quickly becomes Stalin's secret weapon in the Cold War and together the two whip the country into shape. America can't keep up in the Superhero Race and quickly succumbs to a second Great Depression. With capitalism on the verge of collapse, the Man of Steel takes the reigns and turns the USSR into a communist utopia.

Wonder Woman, the Green Lantern and Batman all receive East European makeovers. The later becomes a resistance vigilante and, along with President Lex Luthor, attempts to topple Superman. Red Son follows Commie Kal El's rise to power and subsequent 50 year reign over most of the world.

Red Son is compilation of five comics and, while all the geeks took issues with the historical liberties (real and otherwise), it's the best one of these things I've read since the Dark Knight Returns. It's as bombastic and over-the-top as the DNR or the Watchmen and just as entertaining. Of course, I'm speaking as someone that purchases graphic novels on the average of once a year. Red Son brings the grand total up to five. I guess this makes me a nerd.

* Or am I wrong?


Darth Vadar: Evil Lord. Master of the Darkside. Sell-Out.

You may have caught the TV ads Target ran last week for its "biggest sale of the year." It featured the likes of Darth Vader, Ice T, Heidi Klum, Cheech Marin and "Woman With Cat" all making wake-up calls to muster its legions of shoppers. Having never received a call from Vice Ruler of the Galaxy, I signed up for the time I usually rise on the weekends.

At 2 PM, sure enough, the phone rang. But instead of James Earl Jone's voice growling at me to get over to the nearest purveyor of $10 DVDs and walking Elmo dolls, I was rustled out of bed by some Imperial lackey.

"LORD VADER COMMANDS YOU TO GET OVER TO TARGET FOR IT'S MASSIVE TWO DAY SALE. A shuttle will be waiting for you in the parking lot."

Apparently, they couldn't get Jones to phone in a quick promo but I'm sure he received a few bucks in residuals. Vader's iconic breathing was in the background of the recording, making the call sound like a lewd corporate-sponsored crank. What, they couldn't get Hamill?

Worst. Holiday Promotion. Uh, you know the rest.

Thursday, December 02, 2004


Commie Week #4

BEHOLD! The Fremont Rocket. Where, oh, where, did it come from?

OK, let me tell you.

In 1991, the Fremont Business Association decided the neighborhood needed another iconic landmark to add to its growing collection (see Commie Week #1 and #2 below). One morning, a local news cast reported that a Cold War-era rocket, used to decorate a surplus store in Bell Town was about to be dismantled. The FBA swept in and saved it from the scrap heap.

A few years and several thousand "can't get it up" jokes would pass before the organizers would find a way to erect the rocket. In the spring of 1994, specialists were called in to rebuild the cone and add florescent lights and a smoke machine to the thrusters. After a crest was added with the neighborhood's credo, "De Libertas Quirkas," it finally found a home on the side of a local business.

There are plans to turn the 53' high monument into an FM radio transmitter. If this ever happens, the locals will no doubt use it to fill Seattle's airwaves with all sorts of communist propoganda.

After taking these pictures, I wandered into a magazine shop and asked the clerk if there was anything else Marxist to track down. Her response?

"Ummm, I'm not big into communism."

Another random factoid about Fremont: It's where the Red Hook Brewery was founded in 1982.



According to KBOO News, this afternoon a handful of demonstrators stormed into the downtown Victoria's Secret. So were they there to try on a few things or to draw attention to the rampant publishing of the company's biweekly catalog? Hmmm...which could it be?

The protest ten minutes before security pushed them out. From there, they headed over to Lloyd Center but didn't make it past the front doors. Since some were dressed in sci-fi costumes and lingerie they probably weren't hard to miss. I went looking for pictures on Portland Indy Media but nothing has been posted.

The demonstrator's demands? That Victoria's Secret reduce its annual press run and begin using 50% recycled paper. Every year, the company publishes 24 editions and 390 million copies. For obvious reasons, their catalogs are among the most popular and widespread in the world. A quote from one of the protesters:

"They print millions of these things and they just get thrown away."

Well, probably less so than the Pottery Barn catalog or the Gap catalog or the Home Depot catalog or, well, a lot of company's catalogs. You see, the average Victoria's Secret one contains dozens of pictures of half-naked, oh, nevermind.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004


Commie Week #3

From leninade.communist:

"'Leninade is a soda pop that truly captures the spirit of the Russian Revolution! It's Red, it's Bubbly, and it goes well with Vodka!'

- Former Communist Party Official; now a used car salesman in Tampa."


"It's a taste worth standing in line for!"

This advertisement was attached to a bulletin board outside a Fremont coffee shop. I went inside to get a bottle but they didn't have any. Frustrated and thirsty, I headed down the street to the Red
Apple Market. Not a single bottle of Leninade was sitting on its shelves. "Weird," I thought to myself. "What kinda commie-lovin' neighborhood is this?"

I look around in other various businesses but eventually wound up Leninade-less. Then it hit me. This is a socialist soda. Having this product available and meeting my consumer demand would be downright capitalistic, right?

I truly was in a strange land.

NEXT TIME: The Fremont neighborhood's Cold War rocket. Until then, here is a happy little GIF of Lenin that I stole from the Leninade site.


Random Portland moment

I live near Lewis and Clark College, overlooking one of the streets that leads from Portland to Lake Oswego. Boones Ferry is frequented by all sorts of high-priced vehicles but one on Monday morning caught my eye. I was heading to work as a bright yellow H2 slowly drifted towards Riverdale High School. In the front seat was a driver in a grey suit, tie, sunglasses, cap and even white gloves.

I didn't notice if it turned into Riverdale's parking lot. Nevertheless, there's a good chance that in the backseat was a teenager being chauffeured to class in a friggin' Hummer.


I don't know what to say about this so I'm going to mangle a Dead Kennedy's lyric instead:

"And I thought, so this is Oregon, huh? [Liberal, perpetually bicycling, Cliff Bar munching] Oregon?"


Commie week #2

Ok, this should have been posted yesterday but Blogger decided to have a conniption fit last night. The dictates of Marxism don't extend the blogosphere, apparently. All apologies to Tuesday.

Near the left bank of Lake Washington is a light rail stop where these clay commuters are waiting for a ride that never comes. Sculptor Richard Beyer created these pieces of interactive artwork in 1979. Over the years, the Interurban Sculpture(s) have celebrated local weddings, bon voyages, popular causes, the Huskies, demonstrations, etc. When I was there, the statues were drawing attention to pitfalls of electronic voting. A few months ago, they were drapped in Abu Ghraib-style hoods and attached to electric wires.

Beside one of the statutes is a dog with a human face. Somehow, I missed it and failed to get a picture. For a look, click here. According to Seattle lore, Beyer was upset that the contract for the sculpture required him to pay extra for eco-friendly materials. The man responsible, Arman Napoleon Stepanian, was the unofficial mayor of the Fremont neighborhood at the time and was a big proponent of recycling. Out for revenge, Beyer stuck his face on the pooch instead of one of the stationary rail riders.

So what does all this have to do with communism, besides the fact the sculpture resides a few blocks from Lenin? Activist statues? Liberal politics? Interactive art displays? Recycling?! Questioning the Bush administration?!!!! Well, that's about as red as red gets, silly! If you have to ask, go back to China!


Update on features

For those keeping tabs, the features section of the site hasn't been updated since mid-November. It had become a weekly, well, feature but with the holiday season at hand and with another project* eating up all of my free time, new installments will be postponed until sometime after the new year.

Starting sometime around MLK Day, I hope to post articles on Tokyo Disneyland, the Seattle Underground, Bigfoot, the Santa Monica Pier, etc. So if you dig, enjoy, glance at, look forward to, peruse, read, skim or peruse these things, please stay tuned.

* This project may or may not have something to do with creating a hamster robot that strings Xmas lights. Don't even think about it, bub. I've already submitted the patent.




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