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Wednesday, June 30, 2004
The Passion of the Spidey
Spiderman 2 is *not* the best superhero movie ever made. The once, and still champion, is 1980's immortal geek classic Superman 2. Kneel before Zod!
But the last 45 minutes of Spidey come close, real close- closer than that car flying over Peter Parker's head in the cafe. Imagine the most perfect comic book ever brought to life with a billion dollars worth of special effects, full of every plot twist you wish a Hollywood director had the balls and know-how to put up on screen. A subway train is trashed, innocents are flung through lower Manhattan like rag dolls, the hands on a gigantic clock are used as missiles, lives change and even Kristen Dunst's nipples get a good deal of screentime. Without giving away too much, that should be a good approximation of the film's third act.
It's too bad the first two are such a dull slog. Raimi, maybe in an effort to achieve Ang Lee's failed goal with The Hulk, attempts to dramatize these comic book characters and haul them up to the level of Shakespearian tragedy. Instead of Pepsi and Macy Gray, the film is clogged with literary product placement for authors like T.S. Elliot and Oscar Wilde. At one point, Raimi even breaks out a can of Christ-imagery.
Yup, Christ-imagery in a Spiderman movie.
No matter how talented the cast and crew, can a comic movie every receive the sort of respect given to something like Citzen Kane or...Forrest Gump? Doubtful but Spiderman 2 tries its damnedest to swing onto the same pedestal. The cast struggles to make Oscar-caliber performances out of, well, cheesy comic book dialog. Shots of Spidey swooping through rush hour take a back seat to a huge batch of subplots. The movie stops just short of tossing a cross on Tobey Maguire's shoulders but burdens his character with just about every dillemia imaginable. Despite being able to do everything a spider can, he can't quite juggle school, taking photos for the Daily Bugle, an elderly aunt, problems with "emissions," his feelings for MJ, a pizza delivery gig and his night job. Being a wise-cracking superhero isn't as easy as it was back in good ol' 2002 when he just had a gernade-tossing billionare to deal with.
Spiderman 2 buckles under one personal crisis too many and even leaves a few of them unresolved. The film is too long by 20 minutes and a few moments don't make much sense (what's up with the cake scene?). Screentime devoted to Parker's everyday woes should have been used to flesh out his new enemy, the incredibly flippin' cool Dr. Octopus.
At the most, Doc. Ock. gets a grand total of 20 minutes on the screen. He goes from sane scientist to conflicted supervillian at the drop of a fusion experiment gone wrong. Making way for Parker's endless sighing, Ock takes a back seat and doesn't get a chance to raise hell with all those nasty metal tentacles until the film's finale.
It's too bad that Spiderman 2 suffers from the same identity crisis as its protagonist. Should it be a superhero flick or an everday, average tearjerker? The movie is a summer movie trapped in the body of an coming-of-age drama. Regardless, the initial wait in tedium line is well worth the blazing fast roller coaster waiting on the other end. As mentioned earlier, plot twists fly and lives change at the end of the film. This isn't your typical, episodic superhero potboiler. At the screening I attended, people in the audience were actually crying. Go ahead and name the last comic book movie that did that.
Daredevil doesn't count.
The first hour and twenty minutes: C. The last 45: A+.
OK, I was hoping to catch the movie at the Newberg Drive-In. I made a mistake and failed to note that it was actually playing at the Cameo Theater. I stood in line with a group of students from nearby George Fox University. Given all the Jesus hat tips in the film, maybe they were on a field trip [rimshot]. As we were all waiting for the box office to open, a car drove by with a guy's bare butt hanging out of an old Chrysler. Someone in the back seat screamed "SPIDERMAN! SPIDERMAN!" as they passed.
The Cameo is an ancient movie palace where the ushers still wander up and down the aisles during screenings with flashlights. After bitching about this endlessly prior to the start time, the freshman undergrad next to me broke out a canteen full of stolen rum. He didn't share.
Tuesday, June 29, 2004
Free Million-Dollar Idea # 2: Chairman Meow
It's time to dust off an old idea.This is the second installment of what is sure to become an exciting continuing series on "Welcome to Blog." Everyday as I'm driving to work, working and driving away from work random, entrepreneurial ideas pop into my head from out of nowhere. Some of them are good. Most of them are bad. All them could earn someone a million dollars or more.
Unfortunately, I don't have the capital or talent to pull off any of them so I'm giving them to you, absolutely free of charge. Go forth, make your fortunes and buy yourself a solid gold hammock or three. Just don't forget for served as the muse when all those 6-digit royalty checks start coming in.
Today's million dollar idea relates to the world of syndicated comics. I'm convinced that I've come up with an idea that would rake in more $$$ than a certain pasta loving feline. Since Get Fuzzy has strip-mined Garfield and no one seems to care, I think someone could get away with a third trip to the fat cat well.
The strip would be called Chairman Meow. The premise centers around the soul of Tse-tung Mao. Since his death in 1976, Mao has been steadily working his way up the reincarnation ladder. He's been a germ, a bug, a fish and now his spirit is trapped in the body of an obese housecat named Spunky.
Mao/Spunky is owned either by a A:) elderly grandmother or B:) an oblivious sorority girl or C:) Tony Blair. Despite being stuck in the body of a feline, Mao is still bent on spreading the word of communism. As he scribbles socialist manifestos, he struggles to avoid his fawning owner and his/her other pet, either a dog named Bodie (not Odie!) or a potbellied pig named Spammy.
The most marketable of three would probably be the sorority girl. I'm sure there's a huge market out there for a daily strip involving cartoon college girls and communist cats. Maybe Mao could live in a greek house and be frustrated over his fruitless attempts to coerce its residents into joining the cause. That, and their tendency to shriek at insanely high-pitched levels at all hours of the day.
What, you think this idea is lame? Come on, the premise would cater to middle-American cat lovers, families AND cynical 20-somethings. Spunky dolls, dressed in cute little military uniforms, would adorn every dorm room and office in the US. Well, if you don't jump on the idea someone else will. If you let this one pass you by, you'll just have to...wait for Free Million Dollar Idea # 3.
Monday, June 28, 2004
Update: anatomy of an internet rumor
Wednesday, June 16th: I attend a Chuck Palahniuk reading at the First Unitarian Church in downtown Portland. There, the author reveals that Fight Club may one day become a Broadway musical.
Thursday, June 17th: I write up a quick blurb and send it off to various movie rumor sites.
Friday, June 18th: Ain't It Cool News and CHUD both print the blurb.
Tuesday, June 22nd: Yahoo News and Playbill both pick up the story. Palahniuk confirms the news at a reading in Eugene. Tim Dreier, editor of the Oregon Commentator, is there. He clubs a stuffed seal doll. Palahniuk tells him to stop.
Friday, June 25th: A comic on Vh1's Best Week Ever makes a few quips about the proposed musical and suggests a few song titles. I haven't seen it but Nate, of Flirting With Coherence, has.
Where, oh where, will the rumor travel from here?
Spiderman! Spiderman! Spiderman!
Fahrenheit what? Spiderman 2 is t-minus 28 hours and 45 minutes away. Various theaters around town will be holding midnight screenings but the one I'll be heading to isn't owned by Regal.
In what should really become a trend for all major releases, the Newberg Drive-In, the only remaining one of its kind in the Portland area, will also be showing Spidey tomorrow night. What better way to ring in what Roger Ebert is calling "the best comic book movie of all time" than by watching it under the stars, in the middle of nowhere, with a bunch of liquored up small towners and their mosquito pals?
I will be bringing a banjo to play the theme from Deliverance. I'll also be bringing a tazer and a jug of whiskey with "XX" scribbled on the side.
Yes, that's a gross exaggeration. The Newberg Drive-In actually draws an amiable crowd of families and teens. Although, since this is a late night showing on a weeknight, I have no idea who will be rolling out for this. Maybe backwood zombie moonshiners are huge Spidey fans.
Speaking of "gross" and "exaggeration," here is a link to a series of naughty Spiderman comics (see above). They're not funny, they're fun-knee.
Thanks go out to Big Fat Blog and Boing Boing for the tip. I guess this mean I got sloppy internet thirds.
PS: On an entirely different topic, you can buy Ashton Kutcher's IM screen name here. The bidding is up to $51.00.
Make the homies say "what," make the girlies wanna scream
While at Mexicali Express today, I perchanced to look over at all the coloring contest submissions on the wall near the register. The picture was of a sailboat, and among the standard "I'm going to scribble everywhere BUT on the picture itself" entries, there was one that struck me as kinda-sorta odd. Not only had the artist managed to color within the lines but they also included characters from Aqua Teen Hunger Force.
Instead of water and waves, Meatwad was swimming alongside the boat in a sea of salsa. Inside, Shake was observing the scene and had this to say in a word bubble, "Rancid salsa is YUMMY!"
Aqua Teen Hunger Force could be the most deceptively subversive cartoon on television and it only airs after midnight. I'm sure this was done by a bored designer from the nearby Nike campus but what if some grade school aged kid is behind this? Maybe I should call Adult & Family Services.
Either way, the artist deserves first prize.
Saturday, June 26, 2004
Music Editor for hire
The Portland Mercury is looking for a new music editor. I really want the job but there's just one little problem.
I ain't hip enough.
I don't stand a chance. If I wanted a shot at the job, I would need a musical montage involving both "Eye of the Tiger" and Le Tigre and the indie-rock equivalent of Burgess Meredith's character in Rocky.
First picture an elderly, angry guy with a Popeye squint and boxing gloves. Then add tattoos, safety-pin eyebrow piercing, vintage clothing, a cigarette and a perpetual sneer of pure, uncut condescension.
The montage would involve me listening to a huge stack of CDs by bands like Menomena, IMA Robot, Cool Nutz and Helio Sequence while punching a frozen slab of meat. In another shot, while doing jumping push-ups, Meredith would scream "YOU AIN'T NUTHIN' BUT A BUM" at the back of my head while I listen to everything Elliot Smith ever said into a microphone (including voice mail messages). Next I would forgo food of any kind to drop down to an appropriate 110 pounds before raiding the racks at Magpie for ironic '80s concert t-shirts.
Covered in Japanese kanji tats, I would stagger up the steps of Pioneer Courthouse square and victoriously raise my arms to the sky. Burgess would cast his bitter skepticism aside and give me a silent nod of approval. Later, after a brutal, 12-round interview, blood soaked and weary, I would get the gig.
If only life were more like inspirational Sylvester Stallone movies.
Bill Murray + Radiohead, Graham Norton and Billy Corgan's blog
OK, I absolutely must see The Life Aquatic but it won't be released until December. As Veruca Salt one so eloquently and solicitously put it, "But I want it NOW! I want it NOW!!"
Ain't It Cool News ran a more detailed review of the film and, if it didn't sound fantastic before, it sure does now. During the reportedly epic shot where the camera buzzes around Bill Murray's ship, Radiohead's "Everything In Its Right Place" serves as the soundtrack. In addition, the film has a stop-motion shark that eats a guy. And a Brazilian guy that plays David Bowie covers in Portuguese. And lots n' lots of surreal imagery. And Bill Murray. While it'll be another 6 months before The Life Aquatic is released, it's already safe to say This Is The Greatest Film Ever Made.
I caught a bit of Graham Norton's new show on Comedy Central last night. I can't remember where I saw an episode of his British talk show (probably BBC America). Anyway, on last night's show, his crew plopped a Real Doll on a barstool with a speaker in its stomach. Sandra Bernhard provided the voice and together they convinced a man to wait for the doll in the bathroom. Later, another guy accidentally pulled its wig off. Was it as funny as a skit on Tom Green's late great talk show. Maybe. Was the whole staged? Probably. Do I care if it was staged? No. Real dolls = funny.
Billy Corgan has a blog.
On it, he talks about God and his physic. He also bad mouths the members of his old band, The Smashing Pumpkins.
Here is the link.
Friday, June 25, 2004
Farenheit 92 - the temprature where an audience melts
This is long.
I spent the summer of 2000 working at the Plaid Pantry at the corner of SW 45th and Multnomah. I was still in college and seasonal jobs were in short supply. Despite being located in an upper-middle class neighborhood, the store provided a front row seat to a never-ending cavalcade of freaks and junkies. On one hot July night, I dealt with two crackheads dressed in fur coats. They were looking to make a pipe out of "baby roses"- tiny flowers that come packaged in clear plastic containers. When I told them that a cigar tube would work as a reasonable substitute, they cackled like witches and stared at me like I had just wet my pants. Another regular customer strolled in every night at midnight for a case of Foster's, always shirtless, proudly displaying an enormous Alien Queen tattoo that covered his entire torso.
Perhaps my favorite regular was a rail-thin man named "Ray." Ray was a born again Christian deeply in love with the Left Behind book series. He would occasionally wander in and give me Bible verses scribbled on notebook paper. One night, as a trio of preadolescents raided the candy aisle, he began talking about a pipeline that various powers-that-be were trying to finance in Afghanistan. Ray had been reading up on the subject and was convinced that this project would lead to a devastating attack on US soil followed by full-scale Armageddon. I've forgotten most of the details but Prince William was also involved. "He's the Anti-Christ, doncha' know," Ray told me. "He's going to take over the world by 2006."
You can probably see where this is going.
Four years later, Prince William has yet to sprout horns but that doesn't change the fact that Ray was batting 2 for 4 that night. When I watched the Twin Towers collapse on the morning of September 11th, I couldn't help but think back to this strange man's convenience store prophecies.
Last night, as I watched Michael Moore ramble about the partially completed Unocal pipeline and the project's connections to the Bush administration, I again thought of Ray. While Moore gets his news from the Washington Post instead of a Christian sci-fi paperbacks, I can't help but compare the two. How thick is the line separating Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 and this random Portlander's conspiracy theories?
Since Moore set his sights on the gun industry in Bowling for Columbine, he's been a whipping boy for everyone from Bill O'Reily to Matt Lauer. The chief criticism of his work is that it's all pure propaganda, rife with factual distortions and out-context video clips. As I've said elsewhere, given the lies the White House has spoon-feeding the public since 2000, so what? What's a few "factual oversights" and a little bit of "bad intelligence" among friends?
On a whim, I bought a ticket of the midnight showing of F 9/11 after the last showing of Coffee and Cigarettes. The theater was jam-packed with 20-somethings and middle-aged Boomers. Everyone was acting like kids hyped-up for a late-night showing of the next Spiderman movie instead of a poker-faced documentary about the evils of the Bush administration.
During ads for the army and Coca-Cola, many cheerfully fired barbs back at the screen. Then, during the preview for Before Sunset, the theater manager nervously tip-toed in and told us that the theater's air conditioning was broken. She warned us that the room could get extremely uncomfortable and offered refunds. I didn't see anyone budge. After all, for most of us, this was *the* movie event of the year.
Everyone quieted down as footage of GW on vacation rolled across the screen. Suddenly, a 40-ish man seated in front of me shouted back at a shot of the president zooming around his Texas ranch in a golf cart. "FUCK YOU," he roared with his hands cupped over his mouth like a jeering fan at a football game. "ASSHOLE! ASSHOLE!" Instead of telling him to shut up, a few people nearby giggled and joined in. For a brief moment, the film had become a "Five Minutes of Hate"- a liberal-themed twist on that chapter in Orwell's 1984.
As the temperature in the theater rose, so did the tone of the movie. F 9/11 lacks the cheeky, gadfly humor of Moore's other work. It's Dead Serious with only a few brief moments of comic relief. After Moore drudges through the business ties between the Bush family and various Saudi royals, he rolls into a few quick jabs at Halliburton, the Patriot Act and, yes, the pipeline. The film's final 45-minutes focuses on the War on Iraq and its impact on a patriotic family living in Moore's hometown of Flint, Michigan.
At this point, the temperature in the theater had become unbearable. People were taking off their shoes and fanning their faces with them. My bag of Snickers Poppers melted into a giant gooey glob. The woman seated next to me began pouring buckets of sweat and leaned her head on her husband's shoulder. It must have been at least in 90 in there.
What had started as a party had become a grim slog for this Friday morning crowd at the Fox Cinemas. This was an audience that was obviously big into politics and nothing that Moore had to offer was worth this misery. Patriot Act goons poking their noses into a club of small-fry activists? *Yawn* Army recruiters trolling poor urban areas for new recruits? They've been doing that since Vietnam. A brief segment of US soldiers ridiculing Iraqi prisoners? Been there, done that.
If F 9/11 had hit the screens a year ago, it would have been the incendiary film this crowd was clearly hoping for. Instead, they were treated to a plate of lukewarm, MSNBC leftovers. Moore has nothing to say that hasn't already been said and, in the wake of the recent scandals surrounding Abu Ghraib and Bush's military record, it's too gentle and altogether toothless. F 9/11 is a firecracker with a nuclear bomb warning on the side.
Part of the problem is that much of F 9/11 was put together almost a year ago. Film isn't the proper forum for something like this. Much of what appears here has been common knowledge for months and, primarily because the material is so dated, Moore treats each bit of information like it's top secret and being revealed for the first time ever. His movie is too little too late.
Nevertheless, if everyone south of the Bible Belt saw this movie in the same numbers they did for The Passion of the Christ, John Kerry could start comparing paint samples for the Lincoln bedroom. Unfortunately, the people that *should* see F 9/11 are the sort that will never go near it. A crowd of Midwesterners living on a Fox News drip feed might find the movie life changing but for a crowd sweat-soaked activists it was snooze fest chock full of stale news.
**SPOILER** The film's last scene follows a mother from Flint as she walks along Capitol Hill, mourning the death of her son, a Marine that died in Afghanistan. She gets into a brief altercation with a skeptical woman before starring angrily, with tears in her eyes, at a green barrier in front of the White House. It's a powerful (and, yes, incredibly manipulative) moment that is no doubt bringing tears to the eyes of many people across the country as I type this. F 9/11 ends with a clip of George Bush in front of a podium.
"There's an old Tennessee saying. Fool me once...shame on...you. Uhhh, fool me twice....ummm, we won't get fooled again."
The clip practically shouts, "VOTE FOR JOHN F. KERRY!" I may have trampled all over Moore's movie but don't be mistaken, there's no love lost between me and this administration. If Bush is re-elected in November, the next four years will make the 1960s look like the 1990s.
There, I've made my prophesy. I just hope I'm much worse at this than Ray.
Queue Neil Young's "Rockin' in the Free World."
Thursday, June 24, 2004
Deck the halls with high-powered explosives
'Tis the season to blow stuff up. Here in Portland, firework stands have been popping up like dandelions in every Fred Meyer parking lot in the city. But with local regulations that have outlawed even sparklers, their products can barely satisfy even the most easily amused. I wouldn't be surprised if even Pop-Its, the most banal of banal fireworks, have been locally banned.
So where can we get our yearly pyrotechnic fix? There's the always reliable Blackjack's, a short hop and skip over the Columbia River. They sell everything that should be legal in Oregon- sparklers, mortars and roman candles. But for those who like to run a 75% risk of losing a limb on the 4th, Blackjack's selection is strictly ho-hum. If you're looking to wow your neighborhood with the Independence Day-equivalent of a Michael Bay movie, a trip to the nearest reservation is in order.
Last year, Flog and I journeyed up the 101 along the Olympic Peninsula, a hour or so outside of Seattle. Every year, a line of RVs and make-shift stands sell incredibly intimidating WMAs (Weapons of Mass Amusement), most of which are spendy. One particularly sinister looking device, the size of a manhole cover, looked like it was capable of illuminating the night sky for a hundred miles. The price tag for the 2-minutes of entertainment it had to offer? A mere $250.
Sadly M-80s, once a Fourth of July standard, are becoming increasingly hard to find. What a difference a few years can make. Back in 2001, a certain "Army of One" currently stationed in Germany, rolled out of Washington with what can only be described as a disposable rocket launcher. It contained 10 M-80s-powered shells and came with a lengthy list of legal warnings on the side. I distinctly remember #5: "This thing can take out a tank battalion. For God's sake, point it away from your face."
I doubt I'll be making a similar trip next week. I dropped over a $100 last year and the results were stricly ho-hum. I profiled the cache and took a few pictures for that "Coco Colado's Guide to World's Lamest Fire-No-Works" article. Instead of listening to dealers' recommendations, I only bought the fireworks that looked neat. Big mistake. On the other hand, one of them, a firework shaped like Osama Bin Laden with skulls for eyes, is still sitting on my bookshelf. It's a great conversation piece.
Tuesday, June 22, 2004
The Semiotics of Hutt Sex: Rape Allegories in the Star Wars Universe
"Make no mistake, as emperor, Palpatine is a dictator--but a relatively benign one, like Pinochet. It's a dictatorship people can do business with. They collect taxes and patrol the skies. They try to stop organized crime (in the form of the smuggling rings run by the Hutts). The Empire has virtually no effect on the daily life of the average, law-abiding citizen."
This from a Weekly Standard article that was published back in 2002. Wait, the Empire was good? Luke, Chewie and all the rest = bad? The author makes a decent argument but, aside from a few well-directed barbs against the ineffectiveness of the Galactic Senate, his completely unable to defend their brutality. Or all that pesky Nazi symbolism. Or Darth Vadar's tendency to choke everyone that comes within ten feet of his helmet.
But enough about all that. On to more important matters. Did Jaba the Hutt boink Princess Leia? Consider the evidence:
In Return the Jedi, Hutt forces Leia into bondage and tries to shove his icky slug tongue down her throat (this was a family movie?!!). As C3P0 turns away, unable to watch, Hutt licks her face and says, "In time you'll learn to appreciate me." The camera cuts away.
If I could con my way into graduate school, I'd no doubt write my English thesis on this oh-so important topic. Given the subject matter others in my field of study have been tackling, and with enough neo-feminist, five-hundred syllable buzz words, I'd easily score at least a B+. Ahhhh, academia. I love it so.
This debate has no doubt raged on in other forums but I just encountered it here, at IMDB's. Personally, I don't think Jabba got past first base. The two parties are different species so it was probably technically impossible. If he had made a move, given his weight problem, he would have crushed Leia and her industrial strength metal bikini. Furthermore, consider the intergalactic mobster's mindset. With Han Solo encased in carbonite as a trophy and his "passion" for feeding women to his pets, Hutt was an asexual sadist. Perhaps the root of his anger directed towards women and space studs like Han was due to an inferiority complex or impotency brought on by extreme obesity. I should have digressed a paragraph ago but I guess it's too late. The digressing begins...now.
Chicken hermaphrodites? Ronald Reagan penis donuts? Hutt sex? That Dave Attell picture? What kind of blog is this?!!! Now consider this:
I think this picture speaks *two* thousand words. Princess don't belong in the men's lavatory! Luke is smiling and peeking over at Han. Han looks angry. What the bloody hell is going on here?
If you really want an explination and a look at an incredibly rare bit of Star Wars lore, click here. If you think it's best left up to imagination then, well, I don't want to hear about it.
[Insert Big Lewbowski reference here]
I discovered this car on 12th Avenue last week. I'm not well versed in the American cars of yesteryear but I do believe this is a Pontiac.
It's not as neat as Extremo's Aztec temple mega-mobile but take note of all those miniature golden statues. I wish I knew where the owner got his/her hands on enough bowling trophies to cover the hood. My car's numerous rust spots could use a few. Either that or a few hundred of those cheesy bullet hole stickers.
The roof of the car had been removed, turning it into a makeshift convertible. If the owner had been around I would have offered them a trade, my vehicle for theirs. They would have no doubt laughed and/or maced me.
PS: I'm seriously thinking about covering my car in bullet hole stickers. This site sells sheets of six for $2.50. While it would be cheaper than a new paintjob, I'm afraid of what my neighbors would think. They'd likely set the poor thing on fire before chasing it out of town with pitchforks.
Sometimes thousands of people *can* make a difference
All it took was national headlines, sagging ratings, five years, numerous complaints from listeners and perhaps the most inappropriate radio bit ever for KNRK to switch it's format back to the one it debuted with in 1995. The new rock alternative is back to being just that. Well, given all the random mid-90s hits they been rolling out in the last few weeks, perhaps "the *old* rock alternative" would be more appropriate.
Either way, Portland now has one less radio station with Linkin Park in heavy rotation. On the other hand, its probably only a matter of time before the station drifts too far the other way and drifts into the Buzz's sunny format. David Matthews? Dido? Yikes!
Monday, June 21, 2004
Lame Office Meeting Doodle Fun Thing # 3
It's a candy bar munching on a business man. Gary Larson, eat your insanely rich heart out.
And on this blog there were some chickens...
Can I get an "eee-i-eee-i-oh"?
Last night, I dreamt that I bought a small house in a rural area outside of McMinnville. An empty, blue chicken coup was sitting in the front yard. Intrigued, I decided it was time to get myself a few pets. I headed across the street to consult with a neighbor, who also had a flock in his front yard. He didn't understand what was asking, assumed that I was trying to steal his birds and was quickly chased off the property.
After looking up chickens in the Yellow Pages, I drove out to a sort of Poultry Petco. Inside, an enormous, Costco-size store offered everything from elaborate coups that resembled Victorian homes to 100 different breeds of chickens all waiting to be adopted. I bought a rooster and several hens, each of whom were transported home in cat carriers. Later, the rooster escaped and, as I was chasing him down the street, I woke up.
Overlooking a Freudian analysis of the dream, I got to thinking. How difficult would be to set up a chicken coup in my real front yard? Presuming that the city of Portland allows chickens to be kept as pets, I would have to track down a breeder. A search in a Yellow Pages yielded few options. Alas, there is no Poultry Petco in town. The nearest place to buy a chicken may well be the Burns Feed Store. They run around .80 cents.
Believe it or not, there are websites devoted entirely to this subject. The logistics of chicken care are a nightmare. Chickens are messy, "foul" creatures and cleaning up after them is a pain. They're also a magnet for predators. Raccoons are big fans and even skunks love to much on eggs. If I wanted to breed, I have to get a rooster and put him in a small crate every night to prevent him from crowing every morning at the break-a break-a dawn.
From there, I'd have to worry about pests, breaking up peck fights and incubating eggs.
I now know more about chickens then I ever wanted to (stupid subconscious). Here are few more fun facts:
- If you want to wash a chicken, it's best to use Dawn dish soap. It's gentle and removes the grease that tends to accumulate on feathers. Others recommend baby shampoo.
- A healthy hen can live from 5-10 years on an average, and can produce eggs for the better part of those years.
- It's rare but there are chicken hermaphrodites out there.
- Chickens occasionally eat their own poop. They cannot be housebroken.
- The easiest way to catch a chicken is to wait till it's roosting for the night. Then you pick it up, holding it gently but firmly like a football.
- Chicken mating usually lasts ten seconds from start finish.
- If you want to make a chickenwich, it's best not to choke your future meal. Choke...chicken...heh. A hatchet works best and, yes, their bodies do run around afterwards. For more info, there's a great story in the Mercury archives about this. Beware! You may go vegan after reading it.
- In some areas it is illegal to transport a chicken across state lines.
Chicken hermaphrodites? Yup, it's official. Not only is this the most random post to ever pop up on Welcome to Blog, it may also be the weirdest. Hooray!
Saturday, June 19, 2004
I am Jack's gossipy fanbase
As promised, here's a long, meandering post about Wednesday's Chuck Palahniuk reading.
I'm somewhat ashamed to say I'm a fan of this literary hometown hero. While "voice" is entirely original and his work has appealed to people who usually shun bookstores, there's no escaping the fact that a lot of what he's written is muddled thematically, overblown and often times absurdly over the top. While I stand by Fight Club and like to think of it as one of the most important novels written in the last 10 years, I can't help but slap the rest of his catalog with a resounding "eh."
Despite a slow first act, Survivor was still a kick in the pants and the little notice Fugitives and Refugees is an interesting history lesson about Portland's seedier side. As for the rest, well, it's just not very good. The best analogy I can come up with is that Palahniuk is the Kevin Smith of the literary circuit. His first release was astounding (yes, I think Clerks was astounding. Tbbbt!) and everything since has been a pale comparison. His work is always entertaining and highly readable but I always find myself thinking, "Jesus Christ, enough with the grim Google search trivia."
Regardless of these reservations, I attended the reading at the First Unitarian Church. The last time I saw Palahniuk in person was three weeks before the movie version of Fight Club was released in theaters. A handful of roughly 20 people, all middle-aged Hillsdale book club types, showed up. Most of them laughed nervously and stared at their shoes as the author cut loose with several gritty anecdotes about working as a volunteer nurse's assistant for AIDs patients.
Five years later, the man is an institution and beloved by a fanbase he's affectionately dubbed "The Cult." The Palahniuk brand has now stretched to video games, documentaries, sold-out writing workshops, and, yes, a possible musical. On Wednesday night, Palahniuk drew a crowd of hundreds and packed nearly every seat at the First Unitarian Church on 12th. Most well-established authors on tour are lucky to fill the tiny area set aside on the fourth floor of Powell's Books. When Hillary Clinton was in town a few years back, she hit the downtown Borders. The only other author that I can think of that's managed to pack the rafters of a church was Dave Eggers in 2002.
Instead of Baby Boomers, the crowd consisted almost entirely of 20-somethings and Suicide Girls. It was a muggy, 90 degree night and the place had no air conditioning. Palahniuk rolled through a few, quick anecdotes before reading a chapter from his next major release, Haunted. Beforehand, he asked that no one reveal the plot on the internet so I'll just say it the story involved an overworked, underappreciated county secretary and her "friendships" with a ravaged CPR doll and an apartment full of neglected stuffed animals. The chapter was 19 pages long and was nasty enough to make the fans in attendance shift uncomfortably in their seats. As he said himself beforehand, the selection was "like a trip up the devil's asshole." All around, that's a dead-on analogy. This is probably the bleakest piece of writing I've ever encountered.
Afterwards, Palahniuk sliced through the awkwardness by asking if a certain fan was there. She waved her hands and he cracked opened a black garbage bag filled with Beanie Babies. A tiny little frenzy ensued as random attendees waved their arms frantically to score one of the stuffed animals. Another bag was filled with gigantic, florescent flowers. He bought 70 of them from a southeast novelty shop, half of which he claimed are still at his beach house. Everyone who asked a question was rewarded with a flower.
During the Q&A, the author revealed his thoughts on the Fight Club video game, which many fans have criticized, given the anti-capitalist source material. His response was apologetic but he stated, honestly that he doesn't even watch TV, doesn't keep up on these things and its awfully tempting to a sign on the dotted line for an easy paycheck. Given the type of despondent literature he writes, is there really any excusing this?
Later, he broke the news that I shot off to various movie sites. He and David Fincher, the director of the film adaptation, have discussed the possibilities of Fight Club: The Musical. Fincher is supposedly ecstatic about the idea and wants to involved. Palahniuk quoted him as saying, "Can you imagine people in New Jersey paying $120 to drive to the city and watch a musical about anarchy?"
Yeah, it's probably not the best premise for that sort thing. On the other hand, was Phantom of the Opera?
Afterwards, I waited in line for 45 minutes to have him sign a gift for Father's Day- a copy of Fugitives and Refuges. The Powell's employee working as a sort of bouncer jotted his name down on a yellow Post-It-Note and then, surprisingly, slapped a " property of prison library" stamp on several pages.
As I handed the author the book, I said it was a gift. He responded accordingly by writing, "Enjoy life on the outside! Stay clean! Chuck Palahniuk." Next the stamp he jotted "Caught you!"
That "stay clean" line worries me. Will ol' Dad get the gag?
I'll be putting it in a Care Bears gift bag along with a Father's Day card I found in the Spanish section of Hallmark.
A happy Father's Day to all and to all a good night!
PS: I was sitting in the nose-bleed, thus the blurry picture.
Where's the love for Little Beruit, Willy?
During his book tour, former president William Jefferson Clinton will not be visiting Portland. He will, however, be making a stop at the Costco in Issaquah, Washington on June 30th.
Who knows what old political favor he's paying off by stopping there. Why not Spokane or Yakima, or, shucks, even Vancouver? Until a Google search a few minutes ago, I didn't even know where Issaquah was located. Apparently, it's a Seattle suburb. In short, the former president is snubbing Portland to hang out in the Washington equivalent of Tigard.
After a 2 PM signing at the Costco, the Clinton will cruise over to south Seattle for another one at 8 PM. With their fancy-schamncy new library and self-cleaning public toilets, it's no surprise that he would snub PDX for the Emerald City. But, come on, Issaquah?!!
Since Clinton is no doubt cruising around the country in his own personal space-aged bachelor pad jet, he could easily hit Powell's around noon, fly up the 1-5 corridor and make it with time to spare.
Bah, who cares. I didn't want to read his fuddy ol' memoirs anyway. *sniff*
Friday, June 18, 2004
More (up)Chuck at Ain't It Cool News
I may have started what some might call a "shit storm" by breaking the news about the Fight Club musical and a few other things Palahniuk said at his reading on Wednesday night. I wonder if any major media outlets will pick this up.
Earlier today, Ain't It Cool News ran my submission. I consider this a sort of honor since I've been a fan of the site since I found it waaaaaay back in 1997. Click here to see.
At some point, I'll write a big, long thing about all of this but I spent the majority of my shift babbling about Choco Tacos instead. If you follow the link and check out the "talkback" area at the bottom, you'll find posts by readers of the site, which are definitely worth a look.
At first, they discuss the merits of the video game version of Fight Club and which video game consul is better, Playstation or Xbox. Eventually, they make a few cracks about how gay the book is and how incredibly gay the musical will be before arguing who among them is, yep, more gay. Here's my favorite post so far:
"Seriously though, this musical should be tough, hip and modern-day cool -- sort of like that other homo-fest gangster musical Westside Story. 'When you're a Jack, you're a Jack, you're a Jack...' Oh yeah, great stuff. Not!"
How far will my gossiping go? I guess this is what it's like to watch a rumor, in real time, slide from birth through the guts of the media and beyond. I'm not sure how many hits CHUD draws but I remember reading somewhere that Ain't it Cool News can get four million a day. If Howard Stern is talking about the musical on Monday morning, I can die a happy blogger.
So, yeah, several million people may have read about my Father's Day gift. I guess I have to give it to him after all.
I fear the wrath of a man named Hardy
Earlier today at work, I had to deal with an extremely upset (and probably insane) man. "Crazy Guy" ended the conversation by calling me an idiot and saying that he was going to report me personally to the Attorney General of Oregon.
Well, this is certainly a first.
Apparently, the Attorney General is a man named Hardy Meyers. Fearing what guns Hardy will no break out in his relentless, Inspector Javert-esque pursuit of legal vengeance (*snicker*), I visited his department's website.
Aside from influencing state judicial controversies and being the target of the occasional Rajneesh bioterrorism/assassination plots, it seems that the AG serves as an all-purpose rant magnet for angry Oregonians. At the site, visitors can fill out official complaint forms against government agencies and businesses. The one that Crazy Guy is no doubt spent the better part of the day working on is located here.
I doubt Hardy will ever see it, but I may become a statistic. According to this, my industry received 242 complaints in the state of Oregon last year. When they update the list for 2004, my name may appear at the bottom alongside motorcycle sales companies and consumer credit agencies.
Beware! I am a public menace! Grrrrr!
Behold the wonder that is the Choco Taco!
It's roughly five hundred billion degrees in Portland right now. And what better way to ring in the delayed arrival of the season then by gorging on Choco Tacos?
Earlier today, I ate at Mexicali Express, a fast food joint out in Beaverton. They have an entire freezer devoted to the delectable ice cream treats; practically a shrine. If you've never dug into a Choco Taco, you're really missing out on what could be the greatest mass-produced desert EVER.
Drumsticks? M&M sandwich cookies? Puhleaze...
I had time to kill during my lunch break so, in the name of science, I decided to dissect one. Unfortunately, I didn't have a camera with me.
So what makes a Choco Taco tick? The shell itself is made of the same sugary bread substance that make up ice cream cones. Along the top, nuts and a hard chocolate "exoskeleton" take the place of the lettuce and tomatoes that you might find in more traditional tacos.
Carefully slicing along the edge of shell, I opened the taco and examined its innards. Instead of the complex circulatory system typically found in Drumsticks or brown cow ice cream, I found something else entirely. Inside, in place of ground beef or chicken, I was shocked to discover...vanilla ice cream. That's it. Just vanilla ice cream.
Despite its unsophisticated insides, the Choco Taco is brilliant in its simplicity. The desert is also extremely illusive. When was the last time you saw one for sale? They can be tough to find and their territory seems to consists of only locally-owned Mexican fast food restaurants. As their homestead continues to be threatened by the ever-expanding Taco Bell franchise, the Choco Taco may one day vanish from Portland entirely.
Mexicali Express is one of the last local refuges for the Choco Taco. Write your congressman. Start a organization called the Choco Taco Wildlife Fund. The fate of these noble pre-packaged deserts rests in your hands.
PS: I'm apparently not the first person to outline the insides of Choco Tacos, although the author of the following doesn't hold them in the same regard as myself. Click here for more info.
Thursday, June 17, 2004
Does this mean I'm a Broadway gossip hound?
A "scoop" I submitted last night has been posted over at CHUD. Hooray!
I attended the Chuck Palahniuk reading downtown on Wednesday night. During the Q & A, the author announced that Fight Club may be adapted into a Broadway musical. I fired off
the news to various movie websites and CHUD ran it earlier today. The whole thing can be found here.
More to come...
Tuesday, June 15, 2004
A rite of passage in the heart of Rose Festival
And now a meandering, self-indulgent tale that will no doubt warm your hearts and bring a tear to your eyes. Shanna, my undergrad-aged sister, has been dating a guy named "William" for a while now. He turned 21 over Memorial Day weekend. For some strange reason, they didn't immediately hit every single drinking establishment in and around U of O to celebrate. Instead, he remained bar celibate until last Saturday when he could get up here to dive into Portland's plethora of booze holes.
So where do you take a bar virgin from a small Oregon burg that's never set foot in so much as a Red Robin lounge before? Into the heart of the city during Rose Festival for a dose of maximum culture shock.
10:45 PM - The kitsch-drenched paradise that is North Interstate's Alibi Tiki Lounge seems like an ideal first stop. Will's first drink in bar, ever, is a Mai-Tai with cute little yellow umbrella. He's slightly amused by the place but not impressed. Portland's bar scene will have to double the culture wattage.
As we wait for the bill, a mysterious, middle-aged man in a suit plops down at the table next to us. He looks like a balding Agent Cooper and chain-smokes as he stares. I accidentally leave an $8 tip that's quickly whisked away by the waiter. Outside, another mysterious man with a cigarette case lingers on the sidewalk near our vehicle. Two words come to mind: "white slavery."
11:30 PM - We park near the park blocks and hike up to a yuppie Chinese restaurant next to the new Henry's Tavern. There's a gigantic fortune kitty attached to the wall but not a single Asian person in the place. Their Hot and Sour soup is full of mushroom and is quite tasty. Will claims one of the beers tasted like apples. It does not taste like apples.
11:50 PM - We somehow find ourselves in a crowd of bar-hoppers all dressed in mini-skirts. Leering frat-types lean out of the windows of early-90s SUVS covered in dents and blast their approval at them/us. The mini-skirts keep walking and stare straight ahead.
12:00 AM - Somewhere near 4th and Oak they suddenly pour out in a gigantic wave: what seems like hundreds of nude people on tiny, tiny bicycles. Most are men and all of them are wearing florescent helmets and knee pads. They shout and honk bike horns. One drunk guy "asses out" in the middle of the intersection and struggles to hop back on. He's completely nonchalant and acts like riding nude down a downtown street is the most tedious activity in the world. I check the screen on my digital camera. The pictures are blurry and it's hard to tell if the figures in it or dressed or not. See above.
Shanna is delighted. Will sighs solemnly. I want to grab the cuffs of his Columbia Sportswear jacket and shout, "ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?"
12:15 AM - The Shanghai is loud, smoky and crowded. Our table is covered in wet rings, empty gin glasses and a yellow box of American Spirits. We order gin and tonics and wind up with gin and gins. Ozzy rolls out of overhead speakers as hipsters look as disinterested as possible.
12:45 AM - What do you get when you try to enter the City Grill near closing? A pointless but super fun elevator ride. We climb in and our ears pop all the way up to the 30th floor. The box stops and we hear the sounds of laughter and jazz leaking through the doors. Then we go back down. We ride a second time before it dawns on us that the place closes early.
We head for Dante's. Maybe a fire pit and that black-velvet painting of Eve is more Will's style. As we pass the Chevron, two men almost fall out of an ancient Ford while making kissy-faces at Shanna. "I think they like you," I say. She kicks me.
1:30 AM - William's boredom has reached catastrophic heights. I'm running out of time. I may have to comandeer a parade float or destroy a Corvette. We're at the Veritable Quandary and Will looks like he's about to slip into a ennui coma. "Midnight Vultures" is cranked somewhere between 10 and 11. A guy in a suit smokes an endless cigarette and macks on a blond-haired woman. He's got a major case of diarrhea of the mouth and she nods a million times.
2:30 AM - Closing time. I drag them back to 2nd Avenue. I've got one last chance to find something to make Will's night memorable. Downtown Portland has become a Navy-sponsored Pirates of the Carribean. Throngs of drunks pour out of century-old doors and the streets clog with Rose Fest sailors. One has his arms wrapped around two girls in sparkly dresses. He turns to another and shouts "I'M TAKIN' 'EM BOTH HOME, MOTHERFUCKER!" A Gap model bumps into me and starts making strange cat noises. His attention quickly drifts from me to Will. This is sure to make his expression change from 100% boredom to at least 92% boredom, 8% terror. The model raises the pitch of the cat noises and tries to hug him. Will quickens his pace to get away from him. Somehow, he still looks like he's stuck in the waiting room of a Jiffy Lube.
At Voodoo Donut, a guy makes bets with the staff that no one in the room can eat 10 donuts in an hour. No one believes him but is unwilling to take the bet. I mention that it's supposedly impossible to down a gallon of milk in an hour. The guy claims he's done this but even he can't handle to awesome power of ten donuts. I buy a glazed donut the size of a toilet seat and Shanna goes with a Coco Puff donut.
2:35 AM - We join the exodus. The sailor/pirates are making their way to downtown apartments with their "booty." A sailor piggy-backs a girl about to pass out. He has taken the district's shanghai theme a little too far and wears the expression of a marauding Viking. Someone babbles my name a dozen times. I turn around and see a face I haven't seen since middle school. He's wearing a reggae hat and a goatee. I ask him his name, he tells me and he waits next to an open cab door for a response. I can't think of anything so I raise my thumb and say, "You're [deleted]? Really? That's all I got to say, man."
2:40 AM - Back in the car I get glaze all over myself. Sailors, drunks, ambulances and cop cars fly around us in all directions. Will yawns. I begin to suspect he leads a double-life as a spy, a millionare playboy or a combination of the two. Or maybe I'm just easily amused.
Mission not accomplished.
How did we all miss this?
While the press has devoted billions of words and hours of programming to the bedroom going-ons of Michael Jackson and Kobe Bryant, it completely overlooked this. From Fark:
Ex-Mormon and his Playboy model girlfriend kill five people to bring about the Second Coming. Caught before he could send Brazilian orphans to assassinate church leaders. It gets weirder.
Just follow the link. Charlie Manson, eat your heart out.
Wait, not literally! [rimshot]
Monday, June 14, 2004
Have you ever wondered what sort of people hang around Waterfront Village on a Tuesday night during a virtual monsoon? OK, maybe you haven't. That night I had an hour to kill before the last showing of Harry Potter at the Broadway. With nothing better to do, I decided to find out.
I wandered up to the ticket counter around 9:45. The bored teen working the gate said they were closing early and let me in for free. Woo! Hoo! I had a fifteen minutes to soak up the sights, sounds and smells of Rose Festival.
The park was awash in a bog of mud and, no more than three steps in, my Converses had gone from black to brown. With the exception of the staff and scattered cops in yellow jackets, I pretty much had the place to myself. As I wandered around, exhausted barkers stared at me with thesort of expression usually reserved for prisoners on a Depression-era chain gang. Only a few bothered with the usual shtick. Despite the weather, one working a goldfish stand was still stuck in maximum carnie mode. "HEY THERE, JOHN WAYNE! LET'S SEE YA' TAKE A CRACK! ARE YA' A DEADEYE?"
I didn't get a good look but I'm pretty sure he was running a game where participants try to toss a ping pong ball into bowls. Fearing I'd actually win and get stuck with a fish in a movie theater, I refused to make eye contact. Nevertheless, would the Duke's excellent marksmanship have helped him score a goldfish? This guy seemed to think so.
Nearby, empty neon rides shook like dogs trying to shake off wet. I made my way to the Ferris Wheel but the operator's expression muttered, "Don't even think about it." I hiked back to the Graviton, a space saucer that hurls riders around so fast they stick to the inside walls. It was on its last spin of the night. Further down, the 20-foot tall Zipper looked deadly in the rain. Other than the, the only things still open were the Village's funhouses.
I haven't been to a carnival like this since, well, the last time I did this in the mid-'90s. Apparently, 21st century funhouses offer a variety of themes that stretch beyond haunted real-estate. One was devoted to Hollywood. Another, called "American Rock," had a gigantic picture of Britney Spears on the side. Inside, large speakers spat out the Offspring next to a pink disco ball.
Back among the games of chance, I checked out one that offers mirrors as prizes. Back in the day, it would have been a haven for hair metal knock-offs. Motley Crue and KISS no longer make the cut. The one on the Waterfront only offered mirrors stamped with images of Eminem and Nelly.
Having never gone to a movie with gigantic stuffed animal, I broke out two bucks. I tried at a hand at a strange little game involving quarters and rainbows painted on a table. The goal was to toss the coins and land them on one of rainbows' colors. Had I gotten one in the red, my date to Harry Potter would have been a two-foot tall Powerpuff Girl. Sadly, most of my quarters rolled across the table and into a net on the other side.
As I headed out, I noticed a carnie pouring over a leather notebook full of financial papers. He starred at it intensely as one of his colleagues yelled at him from the stand next door. Frustrated, he began throwing softballs at the guy's footlocker desk. Maybe out of spite or something else, the carnie refused to look up. Near the exit, another sat on a stool in rain with his head between his legs.
"Are you OK," a voice asked.
"I don't know," he moaned.
"Really, are you OK?"
"I don't know."
Was he drunk? Was he about to have a heart attack? Was there something foul coursing through his veins? I didn't hang around to find out. Instead, I wandered over to the Veritable Quandary for gin, the only mood-setting drink I could think of appropriate for a movie starring teenage British wizards. As I plopped my wet ass on a stool, a businessman gave me a quick look. My mud-splattered sneakers and soaked sweatshirt convinced him to quickly down a glass of white wine in two gulps. He was out the door before the bartender could come over and roll his eyes.
UPDATE: For more bittersweet carnival related fun, click here to read XE's exhaustive write-up of a parking lot carnival on Staten Island. He scored himself a goldfish and a life-size Spiderman doll.
It's bad enough watching Seattle galavant around with its new, fancy-schmancy downtown library. Now they have these.
Not only has the Emerald City beat Portland in the
Wait, now that I think of it, some of us do live in trees. *ahem*
Seattle rolled out their fleet of high-tech public toilets over the weekend. Armed with elevator-style doors, floors that wash themselves after 50 uses and a freindly voice that reminds users they have 15-minutes to go wa-wa or doo-doo, they're actually getting mixed reviews.
According to the Seattle Times, the potties are clogged with...no, not TP but glitches.Users complain that the door on one stall doesn't always close. In Pioneer Square's, the green light that indicates it's safe to enter came on while the it was still occupied. When a passer-by pushed the button, it revealed a man releaving himself. Several men, tired of long waits at the one near Pike Place Market, took turns urinating on its exterior walls.
Will Seattle's super-potties overcome these initial growing pains? I can't speak for the rest of Portland but who cares? A malfunctioning toilet in a pinch is still better than no toilet at all. Pedestrains downtown would likely agree. Currently, (that I know of) there's only a handful of public restrooms available to those of us who make the mistake of not "going before we go." The ones at Pioneer Square require tokens. The Central Library's have limited hours. The toilets in the Park Blocks always seem to be locked. This leaves two real options: the overcrowded, always smelly bathrooms near the food court at Pioneer Square or the overcrowded, always smelly bathrooms at Powell's Books. If you're hanging around on Broadway, there's a six block or more hike to either and neither is self-cleaning.
I have a dream. I have a dream that everyone in Portland will one day live in a city where they will not be judged by their ability to con clerks into using private restrooms but by the content of their bowels. And if Portland is to be a great city, this must become true. So let public toilets ring.
Pee free at last. Pee free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are pee-free at last!
UPDATE: Sho recently visited the library and took pictures. This one belongs on the cover of a space rock album.
Sunday, June 13, 2004
A night with the Guardian Angels and a month with the PTCU
You may want to have a look at this article. It appeared in last week's Willamette Week.
A Rogue of the Week column written by the same guy has stirred up an ongoing debate in its "Story Forum". When Jack Bogdanski mentioned it few Thursdays back on his blog the same thing happened in one of his forums.
Why have I brought this up? No reason, really. I just thought you might like to know.
A night with the Guardian Angels and a month with the PTCU
You may want to have a look at this article. It appeared in last week's Willamette Week.
A Rogue of the Week column written by the same guy has stirred up an ongoing debate in its "Story Forum". When Jack Bogdanski mentioned it few Thursdays back on his blog the same thing happened in one of his forums.
Why have I brought this up? No reason, really. I just thought you might like to know.
Friday, June 11, 2004
On this national day of mourning...
...I present to you, ladies and the gentlemen, the Ronald Reagan Memorial Penis Donut.
It's Rose Festival time here in Portland and the streets downtown are clogged with drunken sailors and...chicks trolling for drunken sailors. The Navy ships arrived on Wednesday. Last night, I fought my way through hoards of seamen and PSU coeds to get to the penis donut.
Ok, stop for second. Look at the previous sentence carefully. I guarantee this is the only time it's appeared, anywhere, in print.
That said, I parked in front of a yellow fire hydrant. 3rd Avenue looked like a Navy-hosted Mardi Gras as I made my way over to Voodoo Donut. You can imagine the awkwardness when I asked the girl behind the counter, "Can I have the Ronald Reagan penis donut, please" in front of a line of other patrons. "Enjoy your cock and balls," she cheerfully said, as if the phrase was as banal and common as "thank you."
Somehow it seemed appropriate to pose the donut with Gizmo. Doesn't he look sad? Poor little mogwai. He's an emotional, patriotic train wreck.
Now I've got this thing in the fridge and I'm not sure what to do with it. I think I may leave it on my neighbor's doorstep. If there was ever a US Olympic Scowling Team, he'd be a shoe-in. Just think what thoughts would roll around his head when he got a look at that thing.
And now a quick PDX history lesson, compliments of Chuck Palahniuk's Fugitives and Refugees. Keep reading. You'll like this. I promise. At the very least, it will explain the "Little Beruit" reference above.
"Those were the good old days, when Ronald Reagan and George Bush (the elder) dreaded coming here so much they called Portland "Little Beruit." A presidential whistle-stop meant anarchists would gather along SW Broadway, outside the president's suite at the Hilton Hotel. They'd eat mashed potatoes, regular white ones, or potatoes dyed red or blue with food coloring. Then, when the motorcade arrived, they drank Syrup of Ipecac and puked big Red, White and Blue barf puddles all over the hotel.
Okay, okay, what nobody knew is stomach acid makes blue food coloring turn green. So it looked like a protest against Italy. It's the thought that counts.
Sigh. The only trouble with the fringe is, it does tend to unravel."
Here's to you, Ronnie. I know you're up there in Heaven, shaking your pompadour at all us sinners. To you I cheerfully "extend" this commemorative penis donut. Cheers!
The Taco Bell Incident
It's 1 in the morning and it's raining.
You're stuck in a line of vehicles, all waiting to go through the drive through at the Taco Bell on west Burnside.
Two gentlemen approach your door and tap on the window. One looks like a young Tom Waits and he's wearing a sagging fisherman's hat. There's a worn Cherry Poppin' Daddies patch on his jacket. The other is grinning like a dehydrated raver beneath the hood of a bright yellow sweatshirt. They're drenched to the bone.
What do you do?
A. Stare straight ahead and wait for them to throw something.
B. Flee and look for another place that's still open. These two are either trying to hijack the car or poke you with a rusty syringe.
C. Unroll the window and see what they want.
Knowing that this Taco Bell closes the doors to its dining area at 10 PM, I went with option C. Drive-throughs don't typically allow patrons on foot to order. Obviously these two guys were two club hoppers, drunk off their asses, looking to score a few cheap gorditas.
They didn't say please. The Waits guy shoved a $10 bill in my hand and sputtered their order into the microphone. Then he calmly walked around the car towards the passenger side seat.
"JESUS," I thought. "It's a carjack. I'm totally FUCKED. He'll get the car, my wallet AND my burritos!" It's dark and rainy. I can't see what he's doing.
Then I realized, with three vehicles in front of me and a concrete barrier to the side, they wouldn't get far. Waits kept walking and waited patiently with his friend on the sidewalk. I rolled up to the window and the bloodshot-eyed lady handed me a big bag full of Taco Bell goodness. I divided their change and my order before my moving forward. My burrito exploded open as I tossed it on the side seat. This wasn't going well.
With caution still tugging at the logic center of my brain, I lowered the window just a tiny bit, barely enough to shove out the cash and two # 5s. They muttered a quick "thanks" and headed west.
At the intersection of 23rd and Burnside I realized that their nachos were still sitting my lap. "Dammit," I muttered. I'd just screwed two hungry, rain-soaked fools out of their food.
Maybe I should have turned around but I figured they were already cursing me down some impossible to find side street. I went home, watched The Family Guy and ate their chips. Consider this nacho IOU to Portland's hipster kingdom.
An open letter to KNRK
Over the past few weeks, local rock stalewart KNRK has been soliciting opinions from listeners on which direction to take the station. Emails and calls have been pouring in. Here's what I passed along to their program director, Mark Hamilton.
I remember the first time I tuned into your station would have been sometime in 1994 or 1995. I read something in the Oregonian about an "alternative" station that was going on the air the following Friday. At the time, this was a HUGE deal, given the paltry offerings on Portland's FM dial.
The station was everything my 15-year old self hoped it would be. The DJs were friendly and cool and they played all the songs I my pimple-covered heart was longing for. Some of these bands I'm embarrassed to rattle off here: The Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Veruca Salt, Rage Against the Machine, The Breeders, Radiohead and others. I can thank KNRK for helping me turn away from the pop-slop offerings being dished out by Z100. Without KNRK, I may never have been introduced to the likes of Beck, Bjork, the Beastie Boys and many other bands and artists that don't start with the letter "B."
Maybe it was the music that changed...wait, yup it was the music that changed. Sometime in the mid-to-late nineties the alternative scene mutated into modern rock and KNRK's format changed with it. Gone were the bands I loved and what I was left with was the likes of Blink 182, countless Blink 182 clones, Linkin Park and (*shudder*) Limp Bizkit. By 1999, it was almost impossible to differentiate between KUFO's cock rock assault and you guys. KNRK was even playing "Enter Sandman" on an hourly basis.
Regardless, there's no excuse for this. Many of the bands above were still making the rounds and selling huge amounts of records. If memory serves, KNRK played tracks off the immensely popular "Kid A" for about a week before cutting back to endless replays of Kid Rock's "Cowboy" (AKA the worst song ever recorded).
KNRK's attempts to emulate and conquer KUFO have led to all sorts of misguided tactics. In an ill-advised move that alienated a lot of your listeners, the station canned perennial favorites Daria and Gustav to make way for Marconi, fresh off his ratings-coup over "The Dogfaced Boy." After this, I, like many others, stopped listening to your station.
If you want to expand (and win back) your audience, here's what I suggest:
- Unlock the vault. Break out all those songs from the mid-90s and toss them into the mix. Everything from Radiohead to random one-hits like Green Jelly's "Three Little Pigs" and Nada Surf's "Popular." I can't think of a station in Portland that caters to those looking for a trip down '90s alternative lane.
- INDIE ROCK! INDIE ROCK! INDIE ROCK! Again, KPSU is the only station in town that plays anything off the smaller labels and their signal is impossible to pick up outside of downtown.
- More punk music would nice. Toss in more early stuff by the likes of the Clash and, shucks, why not the Dead Kennedys? With the exception of a few scattered shows on KPSU and KBOO, punk gets no airplay in this town.
- If at all possible, bring back Gustav, Daria and Jayne. This would be a nice PR move.
- Be what you claim. If you're going to be an alternative station be an alternative station. That means no more Linkin Park, System of a Down or any other bands appear over WWE promos.
There's a huge market out there just waiting for you to pander to them. Portland is town chock full of music snobs. Draw them away from their mp3 collections by playing what they like.
The number of articles that have appeared in the music press bemoaning the state of commercial radio is infinite. The backlash against cooperate radio and Clear Channel doldrums has to start somewhere. If I'm not mistaken, KNRK is owned by Entercom. That doesn't mean it absolutely has to suck. It's time for a change. Just like Captain Planet says, "the power is yours."
Wednesday, June 09, 2004
Ronald Reagan? The actor?!
Here's a few random and mostly inappropriate thoughts on the evening following Ronald Regan's state funeral.
- First consider the riderless horse with the backwards boots. Given Reagan's two-decade-long bout with Alzheimer's, was this really a good idea? As explained on CNN, the intention here was for the "spirit" of the Great Communicator to look back at the capital and the throngs of mourners one last time as his casket was carried to the Capital Building. A symbolic, senile president riding the wrong way during his own funeral? Critics of Regan's presidency are going to have a field day with this for years to come.
- After the procession, a series of F-16s blazed over DC. I called AP during this who was there, live, on Constitution Avenue. As they passed, the sonic booms blasted in through his cell phone while I was watching the scene on the tele. It was a strange little moment and I can't think of a snotty remark for it. Is this nagging patriotism tugging at my heartstrings? Maaaaaybe. *sob*
- If I was a club DJ, I would put together a mix with audio clips from Back to the Future. Over cheesy house beats, Doc Brown would shout, "Ronald Regan? The ACTOR?!!!" over and over again. "Who's the Secretary of State? JERRY LEWIS?!!" I wonder how people would react to this. Would they be offended and start tossing things at my turn tables? Or would they appreciate it as a unique, kitschy tribute to the Gipper...and then start throwing things at my turn tables?
- Reagan doesn't have too many fans out here on the Left Coast, or in Portland at least. On Saturday night I made a trip to Voodoo Donut. If you're not familiar with the place, it's a donut shop on 3rd Avenue that caters to bar hoppers. Among the many strange and wonderful things on their menu, they offer a donut shaped like a penis. Appropriately enough, it's filled with white custard. The donut has apparently been a hit with customers and it will appear in the August issue of Playboy (side note: Falk, a friend, has a mother in the journalism biz. She wrote the piece.).
Anyway, in honor of Regan's passing, each dick donut on Saturday was stamped with "Ronnie Raygun," written in frosting. Another apt metaphor? Blog reports, you decide.
Voodoo Donut really deserves its own separate post. A few weeks back, an elderly man offered me heroin outside the place. Until I get around to writing it, here's a picture.
Their signature donut is in the middle. It's filled with strawberry jam. The other two are covered in cereal. Are they a part of a nutritious breakfast? Can they ward off a hangover born out of a night of overpriced drinks at that Barracuda place? Blog reports.....ah, you know the rest. How did a post about Regan's funeral dissolve into a blurb about heroin and penis-shaped donuts? What can I say, these things happen.
Tuesday, June 08, 2004
Lame Office Meeting Doodle Fun Thing #2
I was hoping to squeeze in a post about an incident that happened at the Burnside Taco Bell on Saturday. I guess that'll have to wait since my shift is about to end. Instead, here's another incoherent comic.
It's a puppy! Walking a dog dish! If I was a better artist and knew how to cater to grandmothers and had connections in the t-shirt industry and was someone else entirely, this little cartoon would no doubt be in every tacky gift shop on the Oregon coast. That thing in his mouth is supposed to be a leash but it looks more like a hose or a one-eyed snake.
One-eyed snake? That's not funny!
Bill Murray vs. pirates
I was pretty eager to see Wes Anderson's next movie, The Life Aquatic. Then I read this. Now I'm hopping and down and wishing for a time machine that will transport me to December 1st 2004, the film's release date. In it, Bill Murray plays a pot-smoking host of a nature program. One day, a gigantic shark kills a member of his crew. He vows revenge, figuring that a pursuit of the shark will result in a career comeback.
The reviews at Ain't It Cool News aren't specific but at one point Murray fights pirates. Another scene offers an elaborate interior shot of his boat, sliced down the middle, to reveal multiple rooms filled with elaborate doo-dads. Claymation sea life is also somehow involved.
Anderson knocked the cinematic ball out of the park with The Royal Tenenbaums, the only watchable film in existence staring Gweeneth Paltrow. Bill Murray vs. pirates? How can anyone go wrong with a premise like that?
THAT's a library?!!!
If you haven't seen pictures of Seattle's new central library, now is as good a time as any. What's with that town and incredibly weird architecture? The EMP's building, built to look like a smashed guitar, resembles a sci-fi octopus turned inside out. The library looks like either the inside of a Wired magazine or the telepathic fever dreams of Thom Yorke, Wayne Coyne and Stanley Kubrick's ghost. Here's a few links to the best of the bunch. Prepare to have your mind blown.
Plastic neon reception room
Mechanical checkout conveyor belt (what *is* that thing?)
Yellow neon elevator
Crazy wooden letter floor
Wow, the future is now!
I consider the gauntlet thrown down. If Portland needs yet another reason to can the baseball idea, it's this. PDX's central library is what, 100 years old? That's positively ancient in building years! It's high time we implode the sucker and replace it with something even more elaborate than SEA-TAC's space-aged biblioteca. Might I suggest hologram card catalogs, android librarians and virtual-reality water slides?
Monday, June 07, 2004
Now that's what I call liberal propoganda!
If you're hard-pressed for ideas on how to cater to the youth vote, look no further than EmoGame's latest effort. The Anti-Bush Game is easily the most detailed and creative Flash game I've ever played. Someone must have spent an enormous amount of time putting this thing together.
The goofy, foul-mouthed, rated M premise follows Hulk Hogan, Mr. T and "Fatass He-Man," all with special attack moves, as they infiltrate the White House to stop the Bush Administration's new weapon, Voltron. Along the way, they run into various liberal gurus like Michael Moore and (yep) Howard Stern. Each dishes out a political rant before joining in on the action.
The first level takes place at the White House during a "Corporate Lobbyist Golf Tournament." From there, players descend into the mansion's nightmarish catacombs where Bush's minions (portrayed as pitchfork-totting pigs) blow through trillions of tax dollars. A secret chamber leads to Enron's headquarters before the game segways to a struggling middle-American town and a Willy Wonka chocolate factory that employs underpaid Oompah Loompahs. My favorite level features a gigantic Barbera Bush that fires GW clones from between her legs (see pic). No, I am not making this up.
The lectures are tedious at times but it's hard to argue with a video game that allows you to fight Paris Hilton in a machine-gun-equipped pink Cadillac and Michael Powell's gigantic boob robot. What would a conservative think of this incredibly surreal game? Given the level where players combat a Tom Ridge robot that flings duct tape, I get the feeling they wouldn't become instantaneous fans. Another level involves a mutant Dick Cheney with a pulsating red heart. And there's also Stay-Puff Marshmallow Man that, well, play the damn thing and see for yourself.
It's no secret which way my politics swing so I'll give the game an "H" rating for "HEE-LARIOUS!" If you're a Bush fan (*snicker*), and hate the Michael Moore, you'll most definitely enjoy this.
Lame Office Meeting Doodle Fun Thing #1
Every once and a while, my corporate superiors hunt me down and tell me I'm late for a meeting of some sort. They have to tear me away from the internet and it's never a pretty scene. Imagine a cat climbing the curtains while possessed by the soul of a heroin-deprived Mark Renton and you get the jist.
Yes, I'm very proud of that analogy. Anyway, while at these meetings I have to entertain myself for two, sometimes even three hours, while someone important prattles endlessly. With only a pen and notepad at my disposal, I curb my internet-pangs by drawing incoherent comic strips. And now it's time to share them with the world.
Sometimes they make sense. Usually they don't. With that said, here is the first installment of Lame Office Meeting Doodle Fun Thing.
It's a barber! And he's about to cut a rocket ship's hair!
HA! HA! HA!
Whew! Wasn't a that a kick in the pants? Well, I thought it was funny, or at least I thought it was funny at the time. Stay tuned for strip #2. It may be posted tomorrow. It may be posted next year. When it comes to Lame Office Meeting Doodle Fun Thing(s), you never know when or where they'll pop up.
Saturday, June 05, 2004
'Tis that time of the year again
What's in a name? That which we call a Rose
By any other name would smell as foul
It invades the town with a bag o' woes
Blocking the Parkway to unleash its bowels
A stomach full o' speed n' carnival rides
Draws ships; destroyers n' Man of Wars
The sensible citizen runs n' hides
From a city ravaged by sailors n' whores
Two weeks o' Laffy Taffy-flavored vomit
Two weeks o' fast gunfire no one explains
Two tons o' professional strength Comet
Could not wash away these neon stains
June nights of decadence, brawls and pillage
These the pangs o' Waterfront Village
For more lovely sonnets inspired by Portland's annual Rose Festival, click here
There is another...and another and another and another and ano...
OK, so I was wrong about the whole Portland theme song thing. The city has served as a muse for several recording artists, as this Willamette Week article points out. I can't believe I overlooked the Dead Kennedy's "Night of the Living Rednecks."
Yep, even 25 years later, a lot of people go to bed around here at 10:30 at night.
A late night freak show jubilee
Hey, remember this guy? Maybe it isn't actually Dave Attell because, as KGW reported last night, THERE'S A DAVE ATTEL IMPOSTER ON THE LOOSE!
On Thursday night, a bar on 2nd Avenue received a call from a man claiming to be a producer affiliated with Comedy's Central's "Insomniac." He said Dave was swinging through town and wanted to film a segment. Later that evening, a fat, cheerful, unshaven bald man showed up with a camera crew and proceeded to run up a several hundred dollar tab. When they left without paying, the staff realized it was all a sham.
They didn't call the cops and don't plan on pressing charges. Could they all be suffering from a case of Schnapps-flaovred Stockholm Syndrome?
Lock your doors! Hide your hooch! And, if you're a local bartender, don't serve any fat, cheerful, unshaven bald men until this phony is brought to justice! There's no telling when or where he might strike again!
Friday, June 04, 2004
Larry David: sitcom star, curmudgeon, defender of justice
Could this be the world's most perfect alibi?
I hate moving
Number of 40-ounce LiveWire Slurpee's consumed during move: 3
Number of broken dishes: 4
Number of large boxes full of wires and assorted junk spilled in the middle of the street: 1
Number of obscenities screamed after said box broke open: 45
Number of trips up and down a flight of rickety wooden stairs during move: 122
Number of Karate Kid-style bandanas worn during move: 1
Number of near car accidents involving Asian motorists while wearing said Karate Kid-style bandana in a 7-11 parking lot: 1
Number of large spaghetti sauce stains in the carpet at the old place that will destroy all chances of the cleaning deposit being returned: 1
Number of carpenter ants found swimming in the toilet during my final night at the old place: 2
Number of days until the ants completely destroy that rhamshackle: 25
Number of nights my calculator spent in the driveway: 2
Number of items that will be found missing or broken as I unpack: 50
Tuesday, June 01, 2004
You are all insane
A giant green ogre with a trillion dollars worth of advertising backing him up?
Scary-looking computer animation that makes every character look like a hellspawn Barbie doll?
Kinda funny but not really.
An endless string of incredibly lame and obvious movie parodies that even Mad TV would balk at?
Not at all funny.
Never been funny, never will be funny.
Eddie Murphy singing "Livin' La Vida Loca"?
The exact opposite of funny. The Anti-Funny.
Even the cat was lame.
So why is everyone so infatuated with Shrek 2? The movie is an incredibly weak parody of the already incredibly weak Meet the Parents. I can understand the Wal-Mart crowd going bonkers over this tripe but that doesn't excuse the critics from pouring their accolades all over it.
But the movie does answer this question: What would Shrek look like if he was magically transformed into a human?
The answer? Arvydas Sabonis. Exactly like Arvydas Sabonis.
On a more warm and fuzzy note, this comes out today. Yippie!
Joe's Apartment? Meet Blog's House.
ACK! My place is full of carpenter ants!
The first one arrived in my living room about a month ago. "Hmmm, a spy," I thought, before promptly squishing him. Crisis adverted. I had just stopped a full-scale invasion. The spy's superiors would never get the message about the cache of sugary-cereal in my kitchen. I had nothing to worry about.
Everything I know about ants I learned in college. During my senior year at the University of Oregon, my roommates and I fought an epic 9-month long war against an infestation of sugar ants. After trying various traps and other methods, we stepped our efforts once they figured out how to infiltrate the fridge. "Operation Ant Apocalypse" involved several cans of Raid and absolutely no mercy. The spraying did not end at the doorstep. We pushed the ants across the threshold and pursued them on their own turf. Rocks were uplifted. Lemon-scented death rained down on ant hills. The fence was white-washed with Raid. We may have increased the level of carcinogens in our bodies ten-fold but OAA was a rousing success.
Foolishly, I didn't consider the size of the spy. He was much bigger than any sugar ant. Any homeowner will tell you that once you spot a carpenter ant indoors you're already infested. Within days, I was killing anywhere between three and a dozen of the spy's colleagues. I had ants crawling around on my desk, ants on the TV screen and ants in my keyboard. Perhaps, worst of all, was the night I found two ants humping on the bathroom floor. I promptly flushed their bumping bug booties down the toilet.
Unlike most people, I have a high threshold for houses that should be condemmed. The pipes at my place spew rust-fleck water that isn't fit for human consumption. The kitchen is horribly outdated with appliances dating back to the Truman administration. The deck is rotted and somehow, mysteriously, the shower can spontaneously grow a layer of mildew seconds after being cleaned. Worst, of all the door leading from the deck to the bedroom isn't properly insulated. Because of this, I found a pair of slugs trekking across the carpet one evening last summer. How they managed to squeeze through a series of millimeter-sized holes I'll never understand.
But I put up with it all because the price was right and the place was close to work. The final straw was the Indiana Jones ant.
One night, while sitting on the couch, I suddenly felt an ant crawling around on my neck. I brushed the adventurous brat away but, somehow, it managed to get in my hair. I jumped up and began frantically clawing at the back of my head. The ant, undaunted, continued on his way across my skull. Finally, after what seemed like hours of frustration, I finally pried the sucker out using my fingers like tweezers. When I opened my thumb and forefinger I found half a carcass and a whole lotta' bug glop.
I'm still convinced the metasoma is in there somewhere.
"Operation Ant Apocalypse 2" was a miserable failure. My landlord's attempts to eradicate the infestation has proved equally fruitless. An article in the home improvement issue of the Mercury finally convinced me to start looking for another place. In one article, a woman remodeling a bathroom removed a tile wall only to find a rickety hole full of several thousand angry ants.
Tonight will hopefully be my last one in this house. Tomorrow morning, I will be moving to a place that, for the time being at least, is not full of several million unwelcome houseguests. I fear that the evening may turn into a ant-version of the last act of Poltergeist. Thankfully, I don't own a clown doll. Un-thankfully, I do own a promotional duck plush. When squeezed, it shouts "AFLAC!" This may be the last word I ever hear.