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Monday, January 31, 2005
The internet equivalent of refrigerator art
I managed to waste a good deal of time tonight toiling over a blank canvas. The result of my labors? Wa-la!
That thing in the upper right hand corner? It's supposed to be a knight riding a flying unicorn. Just go with it.
Think you can do better? To "see if you have the talent it takes to be a serious art student," check out artPad. It's a spiffy Flash site that offers a spruced-up version of Windows Paint. After you've painted your masterpiece, a push of button replays every brushstroke.
Click here to see what went into making mine. Or, if you would prefer, here's a link to 101 Hungarian TV ads dating back to the '80s.
Yeah, work has been slow tonight.
Sunday, January 30, 2005
Oregon lawmarkers repeal school speed-zone law
The most inane traffic law to ever hit the state of Oregon is about to be repealed. Hooray!
Now someone and/or something has to cover the $500,000 spent on all those new school signs. Maybe that's why the state legislature decided last week to legalize slot machines...
Thursday, January 27, 2005
In through the out door
While I was in Tokyo I took roughly 1 billion pictures of signs and advertisements featuring mangled English and other assorted wackiness. If only I had thought of this idea first.
This just in: food poisoning sucks
Last night I ate a TV dinner. It was a tasty TV dinner but nothing special. Twenty minutes after I pitched the empty container in the trash, I felt a mysterious rumbling in my gut.
I was at work, in the middle of a conversation with a customer, when it hit. No, not explosive diarrhea. Instead it was a sharp, stabbing pain like I had swallowed a knife that had somehow come to life and was trying to escape my stomach by jumping up and down on a pogo stick (also presumably swallowed, or maybe the knife had brought it along).
With only two hours left in my shift I was determined to make it through to the end. Why waste a perfectly good "Get Out of Work Free" card on intense abominable pain? When a coworker finally asked, "Why are you clutching your stomach? Are you in the middle of committing seppuku?" I decided to call it a night.
OK, so no one asked me if I was committing seppuku. But I was clutching my stomach and moaning like a dying cow, much to the indifference of my fellow coworkers.
So I went home and spent the next four hours quietly praying for death in front of the special edition version of Return of the King. As Frodo endures ten previously unseen minutes of excrutiating agony as he makes his way across the realm of Mordor, I couldn't help but think to myself, "Hey, that friggin' hobbit's got it easy. Sure he's crawling around on the edge of a volcano with no water and no shoes, burdened by the most evil piece of jewelery ever forged, but at least his tummy doesn't hurt."
Maybe I should have put on Aliens instead.
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
Take a walk on the overpriced side
I don't know what it is. I go to work. I comb my hair. I even floss. I'm a real, nice guy but, for some strange reason, I don't know many drag queens. In fact, I'm not even on speaking terms with a single drag queen. Not a one. Zilch in the drag queen department.
I can't remember how the idea came up. Was someone celebrating a birthday? Were we going to meet someone there? Did all those pitchers at the Goose Hollow have something to with it? Whatever the reason, on Friday night someone at the table suggested a trip to Darcelle XV was in order. It could have Sho, it might have Pete but it was probably Autumn.
Darcelle XV is a drag club located in the heart of Portland's Chinatown. I can't say I didn't have a few initial qualms. Why pay to see fake boobs when Mary's Club and the Magic Garden (both of which traffic in real mamaries) are within walking distance? Er, wait, *real* boobs? In a strip club? Nevermi...
...these questions weren't helping matters. I convinced myself that, if anything, a trip to Darcelle's might offer handy tips if I ever run for senate on a GOP ticket and find myself trapped in an apartment over a Miami Beach club with my rail-thin daughter and an over-the-hill drag queen.
Apparently, one Darcelle isn't enough for Portland, thus the apparent need for fourteen others. After a gin & gin at Hung Far Low we headed two blocks over and into a whole new world. Darcelle XV was filled to the brim and overflowing with what at least appeared to be frothing-at-the-mouth secretaries. They were soused and howling like she-wolves at a Prince impersonator that had just taken the stage. As he played air guitar the bouncer held up nearly a dozen fingers. $10 for drag queens? As a wise man once said, "Funk 'dat!"
Outside we got a look at the marquee: an dozen lit-up superstars in heavy makeup with fake eyelashes stretching over the heads. The Prince guy was on there and was the only one shooting for a level closer to androgyny than Dame Edna.
But wait, there's more semi-interesting anecdotes to recount!
We made a beeline over to the Magic Garden where a stripper was busy tossing further scurrility on the evening by taking her clothes off to Ween's "Mutilated Lips." If you've never been, MG is a strip club/hipster hangout with a pretty amazing jukebox. Instead of AC/DC and Queensryhce, the dancers strut around to a litany of random indie rock tracks. Later another girl rolled around the stage as Frank Black shrieked about a "Wave of Mutilation."
Later we flirted with the idea of breaking into the Shanghai Tunnels but no one had thought to bring along a flashlight. There's at least one unlocked access point in Old Town but I'm not saying where. Instead we headed to Voodoo Doughnut to get a look at the "sacred doughnut" that was the target of a band of thieves last week. It survived the ordeal but it currently has a huge hole was poked in the side.
They were out of bacon-covered maple bars so I ordered one covered in Captain Crunch. While waiting in line we watched one of the "fryers" married two hippies while dressed in a Fat Albert meets the X-Files mask. After a shared smoke and having their feet outlined on the floor with pink chalk, they were officially linked in holy donut matrimony. After "man and wife" they dashed out the door.
ALIEN PRIEST GUY: "HEY! GET BACK HERE! I DIDN'T TAKE YOUR PICTURE!"
HUSBAND: "FUCK YOU!
WIFE: "WE'RE GOING ON OUR HONEYMOON!"
Here's a picture from the ceremony:
All in all, it was a quirky little night worthy of a Portland infomericial or bizzaro world Bacardi ad. Or at least I think so. Another detail I failed to mention: the bar designed to look like an interstellar subway station.
Anyway, click here for Autumn's take on the evening or here for Sho's rundown.
Monday, January 24, 2005
Are We in Portland Yet?
America's highest grossing movie of the week was filmed in Portland.
Well, not really. Are We There Yet? follows the adventures of Ice Cube as he attempts to haul his girlfriend's bratty kids up Interstate 5 from PDX to Vancouver BC. But rugged wilderness and gorgeous scenery take the place of the freeway's real-life expanse of strip malls and housing developments.
Or so I'm told. I prefer Friday-era Cube to the new, family friendly Cube and I won't be seeing Are We There Yet? I let the good folks at the IMBD do my dirty work for me. Sure, enough, a Canuck highway stood in for I-5. Only a single scene, set at the Portland International Airport, was filmed here in town.
Hey, look! It's a poseur hoser! Or should that be hoser poseur?
This isn't the first time a Canadian locale has been caught on screen gallivanting around in the City of Roses' clothing. Tom Green's immortal classic Freddy Got Fingered used the same trick. Shot entirely in Vancouver, the film's epic, tear-jerking finale follows Green as he takes to the skies over the "Portland" skyline. But instead of the KOIN Tower and the Big Pink he passes over an endless series of McKenzie wannabes and glass-covered, ultra thin apartment complexes.
For years Hollywood has headed north to exploit exchange rates and cut costs. Considering that Portland reached its threshold for SoCal transplants, temporary or otherwise, in 1993, watching these productions jump over the Northwest isn't so bad...especially if Brain "The Flinstones in Viva Rock Vegas" Levant is sitting in the director's chair.
Sunday, January 23, 2005
Why I need to spend more time reading random Craig's List ads
Could it be? Is this the best Craig's List ad ever?
u want to be a star i have a tv show "prowrestling" only guys though i need talented women to join the show and i promise if ur good u will go on to bigger and better things talent scouts r always watching WWE is always watching smaller shows for there new blood so if u got what it takes - tough-pretty/hott- and want the chance to wrestle or just be a manager/valet get back to me dan the tv man 503 740 9781
Job location is pdx
Principals only. Recruiters, please don't contact this job poster.
Please, no phone calls about this job!
Please do not contact job poster about other services, products or commercial interests.
Reposting this message elsewhere is NOT OK.
Ooops. Sorry, Mr. Tv Man. In my defense, I'm just trying to get the word out there. Or something. Please don't hit me with a folding chair.
And the hat tip for this post goes to....Cory.
Brad & Jen
In recent years Matt Groening has used his "Life in Hell" strip to endlessly tweak varations of the exact same gag. Maybe the whole thing is a private joke between the Simpsons creator and newspaper publishers. Occasionally though, Groening tosses a bone to those still reading.
In this week's strip an out-of-panel narrator is all worked up over world events. In each he/she rolls out a recent catastrophe, none of them stirring a response from an indifferent rabbit. "Tsunami death toll!" "Quagmire in Iraq!" "North Korean nukes!" Toward the end, the narrator gets around to "Brad and Jen split!" In the final pannel, her jaw drops and she lets out a "Oh my God!"
"Life in Hell" isn't available online so there's no way to link to it. I guess that makes this whole post rather pointless.
Sorry I brought it up.
Thursday, January 20, 2005
Blowtorch + gas pump = bad idea
Today was Inauguration Day and how did between 2,000 and 5,000 citizens of the People's Republic of Portland celebrate? Was it by donning $30,0000 dresses and throwing a multi-million dollar, self-congratulatory gala, leaving city hall to pick up the tab? No, nothing like that. Instead they chained themselves to gas pumps at the Chevron on SW Columbia.
While the inauguration didn't draw the sort of crowds that clogged streets during 2003's free-for-alls, it at least sounded like a doozy. As is typical of these events, the Burnside Bridge was shut down, all be it briefly, by protesters blocking traffic. Same ol', same ol'.
However, according to Indy Media, which always makes up for a lack of legitimacy and adherences to grammar with fun, nitty-gritty details the major media players never report on, around 11:30 AM twenty others stormed into KATU. They were there to deliver a press statement that was promptly ripped up by a staff member in a show of disdain. After a brief confrontation, KATU employees attempted to eject the demonstrators from the building as police and news van from other affiliates rolled up.
But the highlight of the day came when another group invaded a downtown gas station. Around 7:30 PM this evening, two women chained themselves to a pump to protest the war in Iraq as a hundred others looked on. PPD quickly arrived on the scene and, take this next bit with a raised eyebrow covered in a grain of salt, apparently attempted to remove their locks with a blowtorch. Sometime later they decided a pair of bolt cutters might be the wiser choice.
Oh, how I love this city. Let me count the ways...
Thief learns lesson in do's and doughnuts
Quite possibly the greatest story to ever grace the cover of the Oregonian can be found...
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
My contribution to an already huge stack of similar lists
I don't typically pay to see "bad" films. You know, the sort of moving picture shows that critics save all their pithy adjectives for. Anacondas: The Search for the Blood Orchid? Didn't see it. Torque? Didn't see it. Anything starring a Mickey Mouse Club alum that claws her way out of lower-middle class oppression to "find their voice," ascend to the throne of a tiny European nation or win a singing competition, dancing competition, beauty competition and/or ride a zebra? Naw, I didn't see any of them either.
What did I see watch plenty of movies that should have been great but somehow jumped the tracks and crash landed in The World O' Suck. I can forgive the Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement for being what it is, a mindless bit of fluff for people that still eat crayons. Napoleon Dynamite on the other hand? Everyone involved should be forced to endure the film's scrotum-frying time traveling device.
Here's a list of the bottom ten movies I endured during the year 2000 and 4.
10. Troy: $183 million dollars down the drain to expose the pitfalls of "Fake and Bake" tanning lotion. The makeup artists on the set must have spent no less than three hours every morning rubbing down Brad Pitt to give his skin that oranger-than-a-pumpkin-covered-in-orange-juice gleam. Troy is 163 minutes of the dullest moments from '50s gladiator films intermingled with half-hearted, shaky-cam action sequences. When an arrow meets Achilles' heel, the scene is so anti-climatic it may as well have never happened.
9. Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence: Gorgeous animation aside it's the polar opposite of its predecessor. Watching Innocence is like riding a roller coaster through fog only to find you've moved barely an inch once you reach the end. If you ever find yourself writing a sequel for beloved anime masterpiece, save the endless philosophical ponderings and fifty-cent words for the nearest dorm room and be sure to jam in plenty of malfunctioning robot hookers. Wipe away the endless layers of pretense from Innocence and all you'll find is a pointless, contrived sequel unworthy of one of those Adult Swim imports that no one watches.
8. Van Helsing: Did this actually have the potential to be a good movie? If you ask Paidmovie McCritic, maybe not. As for me, I think a film that unearths the top three contenders in Universal's monster catalog for a battle royale could have been great. Instead, the company passed along the project to Stephen Sommers, a man who seems to have learned his craft from watching Playstation cut-scenes. A monster mash Bond ripoff full of lame CGI, lame monster designwork, lame plot, lame acting, lame weapons, lame everything.
7. Garfield: As long as I'm talking about movies that probably didn't have the slimmest shot at respectability, I may as well dive into this abortion. I watched Garfield overseas flight in a plane crammed with Japanese tourists. As the flight headed over the Pacific, this is what everyone seemed to be watching on Northwest Airline's newfangled, individualized monitors. Twenty minutes in, everyone was asleep, leaving a CGI Garfield to cough up hairballs in front of an entirely unconscious audience. I somehow made it through the whole thing, mostly because I couldn't sleep and the only other options were Troy, which I had already suffered through, and the Stepford Wives. Could Garfield have been a good movie? Maybe if it had been made in 1981 and had starred John Belushi in the title role. There, Garfield: The Movie had potential. It counts. It makes the list. Moving along....
6. Jersey Girl: All things considered, it's probably high-time I retracted that "these movies had the potential to be good" claim. Jersey Girl, an attempt by foul-mouthed Kevin Smith to cough-up a family friendly crowd pleaser was immediately doomed to failure. I snuck into it and somehow managed to make it all the way to the final shot- Ben Affleck dancing under a spotlight with his onscreen daughter. It's meant to be a tender moment but they're surrounded by lushes in a seedy sports bar. Oh, and this on the heels of the daughter's Sweeny Todd entry in a elementary school talent show. Jersey Girl film that attempted to cater to all audiences and appealed to absolutely nobody. Why isn't something like this at # 1? Because Smith cast George Carlin in a supporting role as a alcoholic street sweeper. Surely casting that inspired that has to count for something.
5. Alien Vs. Predator: If it weren't for the ticket stub and further proof all over the place, I would probably still believe I dreamt this thing. How hard is it to screw up a movie starring the two coolest movie monsters of the last 20 years? A Vs. P is an under-budgeted, PG-13 travesty that manages to squeeze in every tired action movie cliché from a Matrix swivel shot to the "Oh, god! That giant fireball is coming at us! Let's run in slow motion away from it!" As banal as sci-fi gets.
4. Primer: Math nerds loved it. Critics scratched their heads. No one else saw the bloody thing. Primer was made for $3,000 but it's a long ways from similar bargain-basements labors of love like El Mariachi. As exciting as 90 minutes of white-collar guys talking about metaphysics in garages and storage bins is I couldn't stay awake. To its credit, Primer is chock full of interesting concepts about time travel but it's trapped in the dullest framework imaginable. If I discover a way to travel through time, I'm going to hunt down a dinosaur and inadvertently change the scope of future world politics, not hang around in airport hotel rooms feeling sorry for myself. Pi it ain't.
3. Napoleon Dynamite: Three words: White. Minstrel. Show. There, I said it. Yes, everyone in the world went to a high school with someone like Napoleon. This is the onscreen equivalent of the assholes that used to viciously torment that kid, pushing that kid towards his first suicide attempt. Watch Napoleon stare blankly! Watch Napoleon hurt his crotch on a bicycle! Watch his downtrodden family subject themselves to endless dead-pan humiliation for your amusement! Making matters worse, unlike the films of Todd Solondz, which travel in similar waters, Napoleon Dynamite pulls its punches in the last act, settling for a cop-out happy ending. Plotless. Pointless. Humorless.
Except the bit where Napoleon breaks out his dance moves. That *was* funny. But nothing else! Nothing! Zilch! If you think I'm wrong about this one, track down Garden State. Watch it. Learn it. Love it.
2. Shrek 2: Pure evil and the embodiment of absolutely everything wrong with the medium of modern filmmaking. An endless string of already dated pop-culture references tied together with a threadbare plot. Shrek 2 is so incredibly witless that it managed to squeeze in a five-minute Ricky Martin parody. Painful to watch. Literally painful. Shrek 2 is the Anti-Funny.
1. The Passion of the Christ: Imagine a film about the life of Abraham Lincoln. Now imagine that it doesn't acknowledge a single one of historic accomplishments, instead focusing on the final hours of his life- complete with gory close-ups of his bullet wounds. Now toss out Honest Abe, stick in Jesus and you've got The Passion of the Christ, a hate-filled snuff film so inexplicably bad and misguided it defies all logic and reason.
In the final shot, Jesus rises from the grave looking like the Terminator as war drums pound over the soundtrack. Passion was the second highest grossing film of 2004. Millions flocked to it. People took their small children to the local multiplex to watch Jesus get flogged for twenty minutes straight. When it was released on DVD, Amazon offered group rates for churches. This is what passes for wholesome entertainment in America circa 2004? Is that "Marry a Canadian" website still around?
Monday, January 17, 2005
Lessons the ice storm taught me
- You may find yourself living in a shotgun shack. And you may find yourself in another part of the world. And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile. And you may ask yourself, how did I get here?
- You may also find yourself in a poorly-insulated house with no power, surrounded by a city covered in ice. Under those circumstances you may ask yourself, "Goddammit, why can't Lake Oswego go without power today?"
- Heading outside on a day like this is a terrible, terrible idea- an even worse idea that sitting around a drafty house with no heat.
- Never trust a Tri-Met driver dressed in shorts on the coldest day of the year. You'll find yourself traveling no less than 45 minutes out of your way and trapped in downtown Portland.
- The minute inclement weather hits, at least one section of MAX will stop running. No matter how many times the city of Portland confirms it will withstand whatever Mother Nature throws at it, and that they've learned their lesson after last winter's debacle, at least one section of the MAX will stop running.
- No matter what shoes you wear, no matter how slowly you walk, heading up a 30 degree sidewalk incline covered in ice is a terrible, terrible idea. You will slip. You will fall on your back like Joe Pesci in Home Alone. Meanwhile, the middle-aged woman carrying a sack of groceries will have no problem. The teenager wearing Nikes with no treads? He'll be jogging up the hill as you slide down it. There is no getting around this. This is an inevitability.
- Riding a sled with a box of kitty litter tucked between your legs after a family member gets his car stuck at the bottom of a street is a lot of fun. Realizing they've abandoned the vehicle to walk home through the neighbor's yard, missing your daring rescue altogether? Not so fun. Losing control of both the litter and the sled? Fun. Slamming into a patch of English ivy, somehow avoiding serious injury? Also fun.
[FYI: Using kitty litter for tire traction is one of those handy household tips you never hear about]
- Everyone hates ice storms. As for The Ice Storm, everyone hates that too...except for movie critics, Christina Ricci fetishists and creative writing majors.
- It's high time I bought a gas-powered generator. If the neighbors can't handle the noise or the exhaust fumes, that's their problem. On Saturday it took me three hours to get from my freezing cold house to my parent's place and their 28-inch television.
Thursday, January 13, 2005
Carnies + Twin Peaks = fantastic
...or least this was the case until the second season of Carnivale debuted on Sunday night. The first go round of this HBO drama was like Twin Peaks reborn in the Dustbowl. Much like David Lynch's late-great cult series, Carnivale is filled with weird imagery, weirder characters and a confusing cold war between the forces of good and evil. Many viewers praised the eerie plotlines and grim humor of season one while others were turned off by... the eerie plotlines and grim humor.
Making the show more of an acquired taste was the glacial pacing. Unlike Deadwood, which debuted around the same time in fall of 2003, the plot only inched forward as back stories and relationships were established. Aside from internal strife between the traveling band of troubadours and occasional supernatural shenanigans, nothing ever seemed to happen during the carnival's travels.
With all of that pesky character development out of the way, Carnivale's second season began with a bang, likely in an effort to snag new viewers and silence its detractors. More happens in the moments of the debut than the entirety of last season. The identity of the mysterious "manager" and the connection between Ben Hawkins and Brother Justin are all quickly revealed. The episode includes a devastating arson, a resurrected snake charmer, the fallout from a lesbian love trilogy, the prophetic spirit of dead Russian solider and an a-bomb explosion, all in the first five minutes.
The allure of Carnivale's last season is that it forced everyone to read between the lines. Now with just about all of its mysteries revealed, what's left for the hour-long beyond more carnie soap opera sideplots and the inevitable apocalyptic finale between Justin and Hawkins? If it's cheesy dream sequences straight out of a NIN video, such as the argument between the denomic preacher and a follower, I may tune out altogether. Here's hoping the show slams on the brakes this weekend, returning to steady pace of last season's uber-creepy "Babylon" episodes.
Tuesday, January 11, 2005
The best movies I watched in a movie theater over the course of the year 2000 and 4
Why 12? Why not 12, I say.
12. The Incredibles: This year's best computer animated ode to the works of Nietzsche that was adopted by the right. Plus, the scene where Elastigirl gets her butt stuck in the door is pretty friggin' cool.
11. The Dreamers: Student riots, trashed apartments, physiological warfare, heartbreaking analogies for the contradictions of '60s counterculture...and copious amounts of nudity. If Portland's annual international film festival included more films like this, I'd commit to its grueling five films a day schedule.
10. Shaun of the Dead: What would you do if you woke up one morning and found your neighborhood overrun by zombies? Would you round up your roommates systemically wipe out every last one of them? Or would you head down to the local pub to sit the whole thing out like the cast of this kickass British import? While the film comes close to falling apart in the final act like an undead Stephen Hawking left out in the sun, there's no denying that Shaun is a worthy successor to Spaced and one of the best films of its kind. Fried gold indeed.
9. House of Flying Daggers: Zhang Yimou's follow-up to Hero is superior in nearly every way and refrains from cringe-educing communist analogies. Probably the only ill-fated love story ever filmed with both an epic battle in a bamboo patch and a martial arts dance/bean flinging sequence.
8. The Motorcycle Diaries: A road movie a million leagues away from Euro Trip. It answer the pivotal question: What turns a bright young doctor into a revolutionary fated to die at the feet of a Bolivian firing squad? Motorcycles. And Coca Cola. Oh, and lepers too. Lots of lepers.
7. The Saddest Music in the World: Few saw this movie during its initial release. Fewer still will catch it on DVD. A cinematic fever dream set in a hyperactive amalgamation of a thousand forgotten movies from the silent era. Imagine the weirdest Kids in the Hall sketch never filmed and toss in cannibals, booze-filled prophetesses and a contest where contestants win a trip down a slide into a pool of beer. It even stars Kids alum Mark McKinney. As one of a kind as it gets.
6. Dig: Maybe it's the home field advantage but this is probably the best rock documentary I'll ever see. Two bands from the same town being their careers playing throwback '60s pop. One goes on to semi-fortune and fame. The other crashes and burns in a series of megalomaniacal drug binges that culminate in an assault on a heckler in a nearly empty dance hall.
5. Kinsey: Christian conservatives decried the film. Barely anyone outside of the art crowd actually saw the thing. Liam Neeson breaks out a great performance as the emotionally-detached insect researcher that somehow managed to jump-start the sexual revolution. "Nooo...whores, not horse, *whores*."
4. Garden State: Similiar to Napoleon Dynamite but actually good. A film populated with shiftless eccentrics that doesn't pander to its audience and treats its characters with a bit of dignity. The best coming of age drama I've seen involving a hamster cemetery and a t-shirts made of wallpaper.
3. Kill Bill: Volume 2: When it was released in April, I tore into the movie for what it wasn't: a vicious, no-holds-barred action film like its predecessor. Then I saw it again. Instead of ending with a bang, the much criticized final conflict with the title character results in a mere conversation. Would the original showdown on the beach have been better? Maybe but I'll still trade it for Uma's slow, somber walk down a hallway towards a hellish battle of wills.
2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: Everybody's favorite of the year. Great script. Great acting. And it somehow made Jim Carrey tolerable.
1. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou: Bill Murray vs. pirates in a battle to the death. Overlooking the problems with the frantic last act, it wins on a pure default. "I'm going to fight it, but I'll let it live. What about my dynamite?"
In the next few days: a list of all the movies that made me want to vomit all over the place.
Sunday, January 09, 2005
SW Portland = Nazi free
On Saturday around 350 protestors hit Gabriel Park to fight a neo-Nazi menace that threatened to clog area driveways and yards with hate literature. Up the street at the Multnomah Center, a crowd of around a 1,000 people turned out for a second rally featuring speeches by mayor Tom Potter and County Commissioner Serena Cruz.
Expecting a conflict, a heavy police presence was on hand but no riots ensued. No one dressed like Indiana Jones whipped anyone. Not a single Jake and/or Elwood impersonator jumped a Nazi mobile in an old squad car. Despite, or more likely due to, two weeks worth of press coverage, the Tualatin Valley Skins didn't show.
Diversity/community spirit/the forces of good/etc.: 1.
Neo-Nazis/forces of evil/etc: 0.
For Indy Media's coverage of the event, including pictures, click here.
UPDATES: Here, here and here.
Saturday, January 08, 2005
The clouds briefly broke in Blazerland last night
I haven't sat down to watch the Blazers in over a year. Last night, I inadvertently switched over FSN and caught the last five minutes of a home game against the Heat. Despite a late game rally orchestrated by Damon Stoudamire, the team quickly succumbed to Hack-Proof Shaq and half-heartedly careened towards their third straight loss.
Same ol', same ol' but what made the game notable was Ha Seung-Jin. The Blazers signed the 7-3 center back in December and his appearance on the court marked the first time a Korean player has played in an NBA. As he entered, Shaq headed for the bench. He laughed off the crowd's heckling and his teammates' jokes, unwilling to take part in league history.
In a season mired with sub-mediocre efforts, injuries and levels of depravity that make the franchise's past antics look like a church bake sale, it was a rare moment of respectability. According to the Oregonian's coverage of the game, Maurice Cheeks doesn't expect Ha will receive further playing time this season. He'll probably be placed back on the injured list once the Blazers sign a new power forward. I guess that rules out the possibility for an in-house parody ad co-starring Verne Troyer and a Powerbook.
Friday, January 07, 2005
Waiting for Lucas
Is he trying to achieve enlightenment? Set a world record? Or simply provide late night talk show hosts with easy monologue material? Whatever the reason, a guy named Jeff Tweiten set up camp outside of Seattle's Cinerama on New Years Day. He'll be spending the next five months in a tent waiting for the release of Revenge of the Sith.
Tweiten, who spent 3 and a half months in line for that last Star Wars movie, started a blog last week. Various news outlets picked up the story earlier this week, driving up feedback in the comments area. So far he's been called everything from "fag" to "a mad hatter bodhisattva." Here's the link.
I'm a big fan of the Cinerama and it's usually where I spend Thanksgiving night during my family's annual holiday trip up north. With its humongous, curved screen and starlit ceiling I can think of no place better to be disappointed by Lucas' next debacle.
Portland could really use its own Cinerama- a gigantic movie palace with a state of the art sound system. I guess the closest equivalent is the Baghdad. It's a shame all it shows is second-run movies and 12-week runs of literal cult films.
Wednesday, January 05, 2005
All new fun thing
It's not necessarily fun and not everyone is going to agree it's fun but here it is, Welcome to Blog's 51st feature.
"Welcome to Commie Town" covers Seattle's Freemont neighborhood, a strange land filled with coffee shops, self-consuming fry guys and really tall Soviet artifacts. For regular readers of the site, this is an old hat. Most of the material included appeared on the blog back in late November. For you, I've included bonus photos and a few paragraphs on the Freemont Troll. It's sort of like a greatest hits album but...without the hits.
I guarantee that Fark has absolutely no troll or weird art district links today. C'mon, it's worth a click.
Tuesday, January 04, 2005
Indy, Jake, Elwood - get to SW Portland. Stat.
Every once and a while a story comes along that causes me to drop my jaw and spew High Life all over a copy of Willamette Week. So what caused this latest waste of perfectly good Milwaukee suds?
This Saturday, a group of white supremacists will descend on Gabriel Park (across the street from the house I grew up in) for what they're calling a "flyer outreach contest." After a get-together in the park, they'll head into the surrounding neighborhoods to blanket lawns and driveways with hate literature. Judges will waiting on the sidelines with police scanners. The team that generates the most complaints will win a goodie bag filled with DVDs, white-power songs and a 17-inch tall swastika.
A skinhead rally in middle of SW Portland? In this day and age in kind, tolerant, SW Portland? Wha...?
Two counter-demonstrations are in the works and a page on the Portland IMC is loaded with tactics. One poster plans to blast the rallies with hip-hop while BBQ'ing. Others hope to block access to the park and turn the "ghost skins'" leaflets into origami.
Give the number of demonstrators planning to attend, the heavy police presence that will no doubt be on hand and the chance for snow showers this weekend, this has the potential to be really interesting, especially if everyone brings sleds. Despite being a fan of local street protests (see the sidebar), I'm sad to say I won't be able to attend either of the counter rallies. I'm sure it's one of those cases if I were to go, the skinheads won't show. If I don't, a full blown riot will break out in Multnomah Village after a demonstrator, dressed as Indiana Jones, attempts to bullwhip a goose-stepper.
This could be the most surreal Portland protest ever, one ripe with innumerable photo opps, and I'm going to miss it.
Every year the Oregonian re-evaluates the content of its comics page(s). After requesting feedback from readers, the editors inevitably kick out a few bland, inoffensive strips in order to replace them with all new bland, inoffensive strips. On the proposed chopping block this time around are Sylvia, Judge Parker, Peanuts and...Cathy.
The decision to axe the first three make sense. Peanuts creator Charles Schultz passed away five years ago, Judge Parker is so long in the tooth it's hitting the floor and Sylvia, as even the editors point out, nobody likes Sylvia. Sylvia just plain sucks.
That's not to say Cathy hasn't worn out her welcome but at least her strip is relatively new. It debuted in '76, making it practically an infant in the land o' daily comics. With insufferable, older than dirt strips like Blondie, Hagar the Horrible and Hi and Lois still taking up valuable real estate with their repetitious gags, Cathy's slot and her water sprinkler-esque sweat pores should be secure until they're given the boot.
I'm not about to stage a hunger strike outside of the Oregonian's offices in defense of a comic strip I never read, especially one that will inevitably be replaced by another starring a sweat-soaked office worker, wacky Garfield knock-off or slightly dysfunctional but not too slightly dysfunctional family. In fact, I'm just as shocked as you are that I even wrote a post defending Cathy.
Is it too late to ask that the Oregonian finally start running the Boondocks? I thought so. This post should have ended before it began.
Monday, January 03, 2005
Over the weekend this site posted a series of spoiler-filled images that, more or less, gave away key moments from the next Star Wars movie. They've since been pulled and the site disappeared yesterday (UPDATE: As of 4:56 PST it's back up). While they're no doubt easily available on message boards all around the internet, the most interesting image had nothing to do with Episode III.
The first thing that greeted visitors at the top of the site is/was a candid, PG-rated photograph of Chewbacca groping Princess Leia. Presumably taken behind-the-scenes during the filming for The Empire Strikes Back (maybe Belushi was on the set that day), it would make a great Xmas card. But since Xmas is long gone, maybe a great Valentine's Day or St. Patrick's Day card.
To get a glimpse at some tepid Wookie on princess action, click here.
Thar' be ghosts in them thar' Shanghai Tunnels
Back in November I took the Shanghai Tunnels tour and had planned on writing a feature on them. Unfortunately, prior to descending down a wooden staircase into a basement filled with abandoned opium dens and torture chambers, I signed a form stating that I would not publish photos or stories from the tunnels in print or on the internet*.
By scribbling the paragraph above and by posting January’s photo of the month, a shot of the tunnels' haunted cigar store enthusiast, I guess I've already made myself susceptible to legal action. If anyone from the Cascades Geographical Society happens upon this I hope they consider it a promotion. While a ticket for the tour runs $15, it's well worth the price to spend an hour getting freaked out in Portland's seamy underbelly. I'd post a link to the society's website but it's no longer up and running.
So while I won't tell the story behind the photos** above or about the "ghost pee" incident, I will toss out this widely circulated anecdote.
But before that, let me give you a little background. If you've never heard of the Shanghai Tunnels, here's a quick rundown on their grim history. They're a series of underground corridors that lead from the city's Chinatown district down to the Willamette River. At the turn-of-the-century, kidnappers used the tunnels, along with a series of trap doors in area bars, to "shanghai" patrons and force them into indentured servitude aboard vessels setting sail for the far east. They're littered with holding cells, opium dens and tiny closets used to break the spirits of women forced into prostitution. Reported to be among the ten most haunted sites in the country, the tunnels are supposedly overflowing with spirits that appear out of nowhere and tug on visitor's hair and jackets.
Among the most notorious of shanghairs was a man named Joseph Bunkle Kelly. According to local lore, one night, two sailors came upon an open door leading to the cellar of The Snug Harbor, a bar that once sat near the Morrison Bridge. Downstairs they found a cache of what they thought were whiskey barrels. With no one around, they began drinking to their hearts' content. As they became more inebriated, they announced their find to passersby and eventually 33 others were chugging the free hooch.
Later that night, Kelly arrived at the scene. He checked the pulse of one freeloader and then took a closer look at what he had been drinking. The barrels didn't belong to the bar upstairs but instead the funeral parlor next door. Instead of whiskey, the crowd had been sucking down embalming fluid.
Undaunted, Kelly and his colleagues sold their corpses. They even charged an inflated price because, after all, it obviously took a hell of lot of effort to get these guys "dead drunk."
For more info click here for a recent CNN article on the tunnels.
* Despite the fact that photos and articles on the subject are widely avaiable online.
** The cigar store indian picture was taken by me. The baby carriage shot was ruthlessly pilfered from the CNN article.
Saturday, January 01, 2005
It's the most blunder-ful time of the year
My first memory of the year 2005:
It's 12:01 and fireworks are going off over Pioneer Courthouse Square. On Morrison, a chain link fence and three PPD officers are blocking access, presumably because the square is filled to capacity. A man in a wheelchair, maybe a war vet, is screaming and shaking his fist. He's wearing a black beret, his legs are covered in a red quilt and he's mighty angry that he'll be spending these first of 2005 next to Meier and Frank's. The cops are ignoring him and barely take notice when someone nearby pulls out a firecracker. It explodes. They don't even flinch.
The plan had been to see The Life Aquatic and then duck over to Washington Street. I figured the movie would end around 11:30, allowing ample time to make an appearance at a party and do the whole New Years thing. Instead, the credits started rolling around 11:55, putting me on this street corner instead.
The guy had no shortage of insults tucked up his sleeves and unloaded them on the police. I stood and watched for a few minutes before heading off. People in dresses and suits were mingling outside the door of the party and I was dressed in jeans. So much for that idea.
Now in a lousy mood, I headed off to Voodoo Doughnut to drown my sorrows in deep fried pastries (hey, all the bars were packed). As they are every year, the streets of downtown Portland were overflowing with revelers and teens laying on their horns while shouting at everything moving. Instead of joining in, I decided, like the cops, to ignore the whole thing.
Two blocks later, a drunk guy appeared out of nowhere and shouted "HAPPY NEW YEARS!" at the back of my head. Perturbed that I only responded with a slight nod instead of equally booze-soaked good cheer, he followed me. He attempted a second shot. "Hey, HAPPY NEW YEARS! What the fuck?!! HAPPY NEW YEARS!" The conversation that followed:
ME: "Oh, sorry. Is it New Years?"
HIM: "Naw, it's St. Patrick's Day. All these people screaming are just screwin' with you."
ME: "Hey, I'm from Australia. I'm stuck here on a 12 hour layover, trying to get back home. I came down here on the light rail to kill time."
HIM: "No shit?"
ME: "Yeah, this is pretty weird. Over there, we celebrate New Years on February 1st. You Yanks do it on January 1st? Incredible!"
HIM: "Woah, really?"
ME: "Yeah. See these shoes I'm wearing? They're made out of geunine kangaroo leather."
HIM: "Oh, those are tight. Hey, you wanna sell me them? I'll give you 200 dollars."
ME: "I would but then I'd have to head back to the airport barefoot."
HIM: "I'll give you my shoes AND the 200 bucks. You a size 11?"
OK, that didn't happen, mostly because I knew I wouldn't be able to pull off a convincing Paul Hogan impersonation. Plus, even the drunk wouldn't fall for the shoe scam. My Converse high tops are definitely not made out of kangaroos. Instead, his second "HAPPY NEW YEARS" was deflected by a crowd coming up the sidewalk.
I made it inside the doughnut shop without further incident. "Elvis" was singing Perry Como songs with an old karaoke machine. He dedicated one to two women in line. I bought a glazed with Captain Crunchberries on the top. I headed back to the car along 2nd Avenue, avoiding the crowd screaming their lungs a few blocks away.
Around 3 AM, this message from a colleague popped up on my cell phone:
"Got drunk. Took a spill. Fuck 2005!"
I agree but, at least locally, this year is getting off to a better start than 2004.
Ze blurb and more
Through the power of Nexis, WWB has unearthed the Oregonian Living section blurb/hat tip/whatever. Here it is:
"We don't get many white Christmases hereabouts, but there are plenty of signs that the holidays are upon us.
Though many of the sights are traditional, they're not unchanging. Will the big lighted martini glass in the hills above Southwest Broadway appear as it first did, a Playboy-era exhortation to par-tay! -- or will it be modified with a red diagonal slash to become an incandescent invitation to holiday moderation?
(An Internet blog, http://laurabush.info/, says both, actually: that the red slash lights up at 10 p.m. The sign's current owner didn't return a telephone call to his office, so we can neither confirm nor deny, only wonder.)"
Throughout the holiday season I've been (sort of) keeping tabs on the martini sign and the prohibitive slash hadn't made an appearance. I was heading home on night around 10 and the glass wasn't obscured. At 11:45 on another night, still no slash. Then, early this morning, I finally spotted it. Apparently, the owner doesn't plug it in until well after 12.
Another uber-important local mystery has been solved. Hooray!