April 2011

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Thursday, August 25, 2005


Loathing and Loathing in Las Vegas

I'm flying to Las Vegas on Saturday.

Let me tell you a story about the last time I was in Las Vegas.

It was the summer of 2002. I had just quit a horrible summer job at a "hotel" in the dead center of Yellowstone National Park. For the first time in my life I had absolutely no place to be. No obligations, responsibilities and nothing better to do than roam the Mountain Standard Time Zone. It didn't help matters that I had a copy of On the Road and a grocery bag full of similar tomes sitting in the back seat.

At Twin Falls, Idaho I made a spur of the moment decision to turn south instead continuing west towards the green, green grass of home. My plan was to spend a day or two sucking up culture shock in Salt Lake City before cutting over to San Francisco. After I pulled into a gas station near Brigham Young I started talking to a worn-out hippie behind the cash register.

ME: "How much further to Las Vegas?"

HIPPIE: "The way my wife drives or I drive?"

ME: "Uh, the way you drive?"

HIPPIE: "With me behind the wheel, seven hours. With her, five."

It was 6 PM. I did the math and figured I be poolside at the Mirage by midnight.

At a quarter to twelve I was somewhere in Arizona. Nothing but black all around the car with white SUVS blazing past at 90 MPH. Then the engine curled up and died. No coughing. No sputtering. Instant vehicular death in an dark and empty desert. The speedometer spun over to "0" and I had just enough time to crashland on the shoulder.

I wandered through sagebrush and past no-doubt imagined rattlesnakes while trying to get a clear cell signal. An hour later a wild-eyed truck driver showed up. I debated whether or not to get in the cab with him or hitchhike into the next town. Vegas was 50-some odd miles away and he'd been rousted out of bed for this fare. His plan was to ditch the car and I in a nearby border town. After I told him that AAA was footing the bill, he agreed to drive me to Sin City.

Along the way he gave me a rundown on every whorehouse in the area. He was a 250 pound Vegas info dispenser. Buffets, shows, food and drink specials, how to pick out a slot machine and how sneak into pools without a keycard. He claimed to know the ins and outs of the entire city and painted Las Vegas as an X-rated wonderland- a Pleasure Island without the nasty, donkey metamorphosis hangovers. As the truck rose to crest of a pitch-black mountain chain, the other side of the desert was a rolling sea of puke yellow light. Somewhere inside the Luxor Hotel was spitting a spotlight a million miles into the night sky. Vegas looked completely alien, like a sci-fi city on the cover of a crappy paperback.

After taking a look at the engine, the driver dropped me off in the Circus Circus parking lot. He was convinced I'd merely run out of oil. All it would need is a few quarts of Pennzoil, provided it wasn't destroyed. The pump jockeys at the Bozeman Jiffy Lube had apparently forgotten to screw on a cap somewhere, thus causing the catastrophe in progress.

Final tab for the tow: $330. Thanks, AAA!

I stayed up all night, killing time in order to cheat Circus Circus out of the price of a quarter-night's worth of hotel room. Having spent the previous two months in the middle of nowhere, Vegas was like wandering out of the Middle Ages into Manhattan. I hadn't watched so much as a TV commercial in weeks. I remember stopping in the middle of a crosswalk near the McDonalds, a Seigfried and Roy video ad glowing on the horizon and a million neon lights all over the place. Standing there in a pair of dusty hiking boots, it was kind of like looking at the face of God and discovering he's a con-diety in an Hawaiian shirt and two dollar sunglasses.

That night I was chased out of Caesar's Palace by a security guard that looked exactly like Kumar Pallana (the Indian actor from all those Wes Anderson movies). The next few days dished out more of the same. I watched a shouting match break out in a lobby between two newlyweds and a drunk British tourist. He took off running as a bike cop chased him through the casino. Oil didn't solve the car's problems. The fuel pump was ruptured and I spent an entire day in a series of tow trucks. I ran up a $200 phone bill and $500 auto repair bill.

My fate wound up in the hands of an oil-soaked mechanic who may as well have been Mark Borchardt. I dragged a sixty pound trunk across a hundred-acre parking lot in boiling heat after he refused to let me use his phone and the teenaged valet at the steakhouse next door scoffed at my pathetic request for a cab. In the middle of this misery, a broke gambling addict begged me for money but apologized after I fired back with my own sob story.

The fabled Merry-Go-Round bar at Circus Circus was boarded up. I spent four days wandering through casinos that were all the same despite their billion-dollar facades- consisting of nothing more than a gambling floor, arcade area for the kiddies, a few restaurants and a touristy garnish like a water show or a fake Eiffel Tower haphazardly tossed on the side. Despite betting a mere dollar during the trip, I left that town a whole lot poorer and made the drive to LA in 110 degree heat with a lukewarm Mountain Dew and no air conditioning, expecting to crash and burn five miles from one of those yellow emergency call boxes.

The .99 cent margaritas were pretty great though.

Still, Las Vegas sucks. I hate it.

But I'm willing to give it another shot. Why not? What's the worst that could happen?

Oh, wait, Joe Pesci in Casino. Right, right.

Nevertheless I'm heading back there in a little under 36 hours. I'll be touring southern Nevada, Arizona and parts of California with a return trip scheduled for the 5th. This will probably be last post on this blog until sometime after Labor Day.

So, yeah, see y'all then.


Wednesday, August 24, 2005


Scenes From the Pow Wow Flickr set

A few Saturdays back I attended the Niseka Illahee Pow Wow in Siletz, OR. The night before I was at Goose Hollow when someone at the table asked, "Hey, you wanna get up at the crack of dawn to go to a pow wow tomorrow?" How could I refuse an invitation like that?

After brunch at the Chinook Winds Casino, we ascended into the hills and drove east. The pow wow grounds were surrounded by a mixture of tents and teepees, offering an apt metaphor for what was waiting a short hike away.

The event was a virtual melting pot of Native American culture and, how should I put this, "Appalachian" ethos. Pearly-white biker dudes and families clad in tank tops mixed in with natives in full tribal attire. While the majority of the later stuck with traditional duds, one dancer combined native gear with a red hip-hop tracksuit.

At one point both sides danced side-by-side to the sound of beating drums. Nearby stands sold NASCAR-style baseball caps emblazoned with eagles. Food carts cooked up "Navajo Tacos" and tribal "War on Terror" t-shirts were selling for $17. One stand even offered shirts with a native spin on those Calvin bootleg decals.

That's not to say this was a complete "I'd like to buy the world a Coke" fest. At one point, a woman gave a speech decrying the genocide her people had endured at the hands of Europeans. For the most part though it was a celebration of native culture with a dash of redneck spice tossed into the mix.

I brought along my camera. To get a look at a Flickr gallery of shots from the event, click here or on the link in the left column.


A second Goonies fest in Astoria

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention this event. On September 1st, as part of their "Rolling Roadshow Tour," the Alamo Drafthouse will screen "The Goonies" at Warren Field in Astoria. Corey Feldman will be there, in person, and every ticket comes with a Baby Ruth bar.

Normally this is the sort of thing I'd happily skip work for but I'm going to be on vacation elsewhere. So, please, go in my place. Enjoy. Bask in the warm glow of kitschy, north Oregon coast culture. Try it. You'll like it.

Anyway, here's their ad and a link to the tour's website:

If you're not already familiar with it, the roadshow is a ten stop movie tour that's taking organizers to various movie locations. Tonight they screened "Planet of the Apes" at Lake Powell. On the 3rd they'll blow up their inflatiable screen at Devil's Tower for "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." Other screenings on the list include "Repo Man" in LA, "The Last Picture Show" in Texas and "North By Northwest" at a cornfield in California.

Geek guru Harry Knowles is following the tour and blogging the event from the road. His updates can be found over at Ain't It Cool News, if you're curious.

Monday, August 22, 2005


Boxcars? Boxcars!

I spent some time up in Mount Tabor Park last Saturday. As I learned, there's a pretty good reason why it's called "Mount Tabor Park."

Because it's located on a friggin' mountain. Or, as the locals prefer, an "extent volcano." Despite living in Portland off and on for decades this was only my second trip to the park. I had long forgotten how hilly it was until I parked at the bottom and began my ascent.

The park has to be the city's weirdest. Large reservoirs with what look like castle outposts litter the landscape. A basketball court sits next to a cliff and long winding roads lead to the crest. In short, it's the perfect place for a adult soapbox derby. Since 2001, racers have buzzed down the park's slopes on a Saturday every August, risking their lives and limbs, along with the audience's.

After hiking up to the starting line and getting a look at the carts, I headed down the race course. Along the way there were rows of hay bales, set up to presumably prevent boxcars from sliding down the park's jagged slopes. At one point, a tell-tale bale was crushed up against a tree.

I met up with "Cup of Noodles" somewhere in the middle of the course. Nearly every adult around us was chugging PBR tallboys, which I always figured was a serious "no-no" in a public park. Maybe boxcar races are excluded from Portland's public drinking laws. Or, more likely, the organizers had some sort of permit. Whatever the case, I should have brought along beer but wasn't willing to hike back up the concessions to buy any. Hey, it was like 90 million degrees up there. You would have done the same.

At two o'clock a final series of races began with a parade. Deadpan roller skaters and a black-clad marching band stoically marched from the top to the finish line.

Despite being prompted to get off the course by organizers with bullhorns, many attendees opted to keep walking until nearly the last second before the boxcars buzzed down the volcano. Most of them looked like this.

Sleek, streamlined and made of metal- a far cry from the rickety, wooden boxcars I was expecting. They moved like thunderbolts slathered in Crisco. Ok, maybe not that fast but definitely fast.

Another team raced down in a boxcar shaped like an old roadster:

A third team rigged up a sauna:

Then there was this ZZ Top boxcar:

My personal favorite. The rider was armed with a water cannon:

And, finally, the crowd fav:

A boxcar shaped like a boner operated by two guys dressed up like superheroes. It didn't quite make it to the bottom and had to be pushed across the finish line. After the race, one of them offered a passing fratboy the opportunity to down a Pabst's out of a hose extending from the head. He agreed, dropped to his knees and started chugging as his girlfriend watched and families wandered by. It really is a shame that Norman Rockwell isn't still around to immortalize these sort of pastoral moments.

Don't you wish you had gone? Well, even if you missed out you can still catch a piece of all the wholesome, all-American action. Here's two short video clips from Saturday's final races:

Video clip # 1

Video clip # 2

I wonder if Portland is the only city in the world that hosts annual boxcar derbies involving both volcanoes and giant phalluses.


Friday, August 19, 2005


Under a Newberg skyline

The 99 West Drive In has received a good amount of press in the past few weeks. The Mercury ran a short article on its problems with local businesses and light pollution. Willamette Week ran a blurb about the place in their "Best of Portland" issue. Earlier today, the Oregonian's "A&E" section devoted a four-page spread to drive-ins along with a great ME Russell cartoon devoted to the 99 W.

It's nice to see the place is finally scoring some respect, even if it will draw even larger crowds to its already sold-out weekend showings. I bemoaned the lack of drive-ins in Portland after the Beaverton Drive-In kicked the bucket in the mid-90s. I didn't discover the 99 W until about five years ago. Unforunately, I only make it out there about once a year.

Not only is it the last of its kind near Portland, the owners have clearly invested a lot of love in the place. The snack bar serves a wide array of candy and, best of all, nachos. Ancient trailers run before and during intermission, extolling the joys of church (see the photo above. No, above that one.) and decrying public displays of affection. The 99 W is one of those places that's amazing to see still standing, in such great shape, being run by people who know exactly what they're doing. It's much like the Alibi in North Portland, an ancient, wonderful relic, immaculately preserved.

Now if only they would stop showing so many $!@#$!@! family movies. We had to sit through Madagascar before Batman Begins started.


Jarhead and Thumbsucker

Two trailers for Portland-related films have debuted online in the past week. Not sure if any of this is news or not.

The film adaptation of Persian Gulf vet Anthony Swofford's "Jarhead" is slated for release in November. For a while Swofford was an "adjunt" professor over at Lewis and Clark. Here's a link to the trailer.

And here's a link to Thumbsucker's trailer, which co-stars Keanu Reeves. He plays a psychiatrist (heh). Anyway, it was filmed in Beaverton.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


Where the identity theives roam

Every weekday I drive past the Greenwood Inn, the former center of middle class opulence located near the 217. The Greenwood closed last December and has been boarded up ever since.

During my commute I used to daydream about entering the poorly secured building and wandering around ala the good folks at "Lost Destinations." What can I say, I'm weird, I dig kitschy relics of the past and an abandoned hotel sounds a like a great place for peculiar photo opps.

Is all the furniture and artwork still in the rooms? Does it look like the abandoned hotel on the "Tower of Terror" ride at California Adventure? Are there bellhop ghosts? These are the things I wonder about while on driving towards eight-hours of drudgery in the suburbs.

But the Greenwood is also a great spot to meet methheads and identity thieves. The owners apparently left behind a hoard of financial information which various ne'er-do-wells have been digging through. Here's a link to an Oregonian article on the hotel's more recent guests.

It's probably for the best that I never headed out there on my lunch break.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


BOP stuff

I had a hand in six listings featured in WW's annual "Best of Portland" issue. Can you guess which ones? Here's a hint: they involve alcohol, movies and local tourist attractions.

The first person to correctly guess all six gets a quarter. If no one pulls it off I get to keep the quarter. If no one bothers to take a crack at it I still get to keep the quarter, which I will most likely use to buy a pack of Juicy Fruit or a round of "Street Fighter 2" at Ground Kontrol.

OK, go for it...if you dare.

Thursday, August 11, 2005


The White Stripes' All-Ages Hellride

OK, it's time for me to play rock critic again.

Through a series of not-so interesting events I wound up in the second row of last night's White Stripes concert at the Keller Auditorium. This is the second time I've seen the band. The last time they swung through Portland I was sitting the second to last row in the uppermost balcony of the Keller.

Pretty kooky? Sure. Even kookier was the crowd up front. Mixed in among the teens and 20-somethings was a gaggle of what at least looked like Portland's elite. Was that commissioner Sam Adams sitting next to me or just some random guy who looked like him? What was the deal with the Wall Street broker-ish father who spent the whole time staring at the crowd rather than the stage? And the story behind the rock star couple that brought along their two daughters and dressed them in matching White Stripes uniforms? Along with candy-cane colored dresses they had lollypop earrings. The younger daughter, maybe 6, looked absolutely terrified the entire time.

And not without good reason. Creepy tapestries depicting a bleached jungle flanked the stage. A 3-story backdrop had a bleeding-heart apple surrounded by photos of screeching peacocks. Statues of religious icons and cult heroes stood on the band's vintage amps next to bone-white palms. Seashell lights on the edge spat pale light at the black floor. In short, it looked like Eden redecorated by Lucifer's interior designer.

Then out pops Jack White dressed up like a vengeful 18th century undertaker. There's a faded top hat on his head and a long black coat draping down to his feet; a row of badges and ancient military awards dangling from his hip. The White Stripes cut into "Get Behind Me Satan" with White tearing into his ancient guitar and wailing like a lovesick demon. Over at the drum kit Meg is already working her "why do good girls like bad boys" shtick.

Not a scene for impressionable tots but there they are, front row center. The younger daughter is bug-eyed, her old sister is nodding her head like an experienced, unimpressed hipster and their parents are doing a waltz behind them. The Sam Adams look-alike spends the entire time ignoring everything and staring blankly at White. No emotion. By the end of the night a college girl will jump in front of him and bounce around like a top. All she'll receive in return is a polite nod, sending her storming back to her seat.

The White Stripes' live sets are blistering. As little time as possible is spent dinking around between songs which instead bleed into one another through feedback and improvised guitar solos. White was in full-throttle, jilted lover mode and stormed around the stage spitting and screaming like the human embodiment of sexual frustration. His head looks like it's about to explode three songs in as he performed Meg's "Passive Manipulation."

And take their later rendition of "I Think I Smell a Rat." Jack heads over to a mike facing Meg. Staring her straight in the eye he bites his teeth and sings "I think I smell..." She holds his gaze before breaking away from this "Stare Down" and rolls her eyes down to her drums. He let's out a kamikaze "...RAT" and looks like he's about to tear the set apart.

Are these pathos fake? Hey, at least these two were once married. If it this all an act it's still a neat one. Meg spends the hour and a half set singing along and acting simultaneously coy and terrified. It's a blues-rock soap opera at the gates of an imitation hell.

For the encore Jack takes a seat at a piano for "I'm Lonely (But I Ain't That Lonely Yet)." Meg steps away from the drums and sets in the middle of the stage, on the floor with her knees in her arms. The stage is bathed in red light. Jack's in a white spotlight and his back is to her. For years everyone from critics to Lindsey Lohan in Freaky Friday have pleaded with him to ditch her and get a real band- that she's holding him back. What these naysayers don't realize though is that, like most movies, it ain't the special effects that matter, it's the script. If it ever happens, and maybe it'll be soon, this is a moment that perfectly sums up the band to date.

The White Stripes end the night with their typical closer: a cover of Leadbelly's "Boil Weavil." The crowd sings along, clapping all the way. There's no telling what the long dead folk singer would make of this scene but at least it's earnest...or seemingly so. Meg and Jack, hand in hand take a bow and end the night with a tossed guitar pick. Neither of the two sisters catches it. Instead another "not yet of voting age" strumpet steps in and snags it. The hellfire stage, the underaged groupies, the strange crowd, if you were to take Neil Goldschmidt, lock him in a lead box and toss him in the middle of Death Valley, I wonder if this is what his hallucinations would look like.

And so ends probably the most unsettling live show I've ever seen. And this is coming from someone who's seen Matchbox 20 in concert.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


But it has Burt Reynolds, Willie Nelson AND a Basset Hound

So this was supposed to be a 400 word review of the new Dukes of Hazzard movie. Unfortunately, Blogger was undergoing "routine maintenance" during the six o'clock hour earlier tonight and my post was deleted when I hit "publish." Here instead is a short review and a series of Dukes-related links.

It's hard to hate a movie that features Willie Nelson tossing jars of flaming moonshine at squad cars. The makers didn't go the post-modern route, stayed true to the original series and, with the exception of a tremendously misguided sequence in Atlanta, this is a future late night hipster classic. It's so bad it's gone back to good only to head back to bad only to grazes good again before making another pit stop at bad and finally landing a few feet within the Good County line.


  • Meet the "General Camry." Now that you've seen it, you can read all about its orgins here.

  • Little Lost Robot interviewed his Dukes-lovin' brother about the new movie. It's funny. Here it is.

  • Ben "Cooter" Jones made a stink about the movie a few weeks back. If you haven't already read his press statement, here it is. It's located over on his official "Cooter" website.

  • Steven Colbert interviewed "Cooter" on an episode of "The Daily Show" last week. Here's a video link. It's not just funny, it's also "fun-knee."

  • Tuesday, August 09, 2005


    Portland's new shooting gallery

    After my plans fell through on Sunday I wound up over at the Laurelhurst Theater. Around midnight I headed downtown in search of Coco Puff-covered sweets but Voodoo Doughnut is apparently closed on Monday mornings. As I was headed up 3rd Avenue I noticed there were a lot of people on the streets. Isn't Sunday typically the quietest night of the week? Nevertheless, Vue had a long line out front.

    An hour later automatic gunfire erupted a block away from the club. Over forty shots were fired. One man is dead and a teenager was wounded.

    This is the closest I've come to being in the middle of a gang shooting but I don't think it's going to score me any street cred. Not to make light of a tragedy but I'm not the sort of person that indulges in soul-searching or a stint on the soap box after something like this. Plus, I was sixty minutes and block removed from the incident. I don't have the right do either.

    This is the fifth shooting in the area since May. A cousin of mine was in H2O the night bullets flew past its front doors. I doubt she's going to give up on going downtown and I know I know I won't but maybe it's time to invest in a Kevlar t-shirt.


    Wow, this blogger really doesn't like horses

    Don't click here if you like horses.

    Don't click here if you're indifferent to horses.

    Don't click here if you merely dislike horses.

    But feel free to click here if you HATE horses. And, while you're at it, you may as well click here to read the author's foul-mouthed review of "Seabiscuit."

    A colleague describes I Hate Horses as "the greatest blog in the history of blogs." Or something like that. Whatever his exact wording, he's wrong. The top slot belongs to Boing Boing. I Hate Horses is just going to have to settle for # 2.

    Monday, August 08, 2005


    Of Strippers and Streetcars

    Click here if you've ever wondered what the homeowners along Highway 43 think about a proposed extension of the Portland Streetcar through their backyards.

    Click here if you've ever wondered what I look like in a gold bra with a stranger's legs wrapped around my head (BEFORE YOU CLICK, A WARNING: It ain't a pretty sight. In fact, I guarantee that looking at that photo will result in no less than five nightmares and/or three incredibly unpleasant daydreams).

    Not everyone agrees that "stripparaoke" is a brilliant idea that should sweep bars across the nation. Here's "PortlandMediaSucks'" thoughts on the subject.


    The Titanic Firework part 2

    Click here for part 1 of the saga.

    So the Titanic firework did its thing and filled a good portion of Arch Cape with smoke. A good time was had by all but there was one little problem. A spark from one of the internal explosives had ignited the frame itself. Through its paper mache windows we could see tiny flames engulfing the lower decks.

    Arch Cape had allowed us a sanctuary from Cannon Beach's militant, anti-fireworks patrols. We weren't about to return the favor by trashing the beach with this tiny, nautical effigy. On the other hand, there's no way we could toss this thing in the trunk, let alone in the trash can up in the parking lot.

    There was only one thing to do: SINK THE TITANIC!


    Unwilling to run the risk of setting myself aflame, I convinced Shanna to do it. Sucker. Click here to watch an epic recreation of the tragic events of April 14th, 1912 or on the photo below.

    We didn't let it sail off into "infamy." I tried to get Shanna to fetch the boat. She refused, tossed out two words beginning with the letters "f" and "y" and headed for the car. Now I could have let it float off to the Philippines (or more likely Garibaldi) but I ran after it. What can I say? I was still feeling bad about not recycling a chocolate milk jug earlier in the day. Plus, all these years later, I'm still suffering the after-effects of being brainwashed by my eco-conscious "LA Arts" teacher.

    Thanks a lot, Miss Day. Because of you I got my jeans wet.

    The soggy vessel was properly disposed of a few minutes later but I didn't recycle it. That soggy bastard was tossed in the trash.

    Thursday, August 04, 2005


    Wunderland and the Avalon Theater

    In the '80s and early '90s video arcades could be found all over Portland. On Beaverton Hillsdale Highway there was the Videocade, a mini-mall mecca lorded over by an elderly guy that looked like he was trapped in a gulag. Games People Play, where for a $5 admittance fee you could play unlimited games, was located in a strip mall over by Clackamas Town Center. But the 16-bit granddaddy of them all was Electric Castle Wunderland, a multi-location arcade chain where a game of "Final Fight" or a round of skee ball cost a mere nickel.

    While newer games cost up to twenty cents a pop at the Washington Square location, it housed all the hottest games of the era. At one time a four-player "Simpsons" machine could be found wedged between "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game" and its sequel, "Turtles in Time," making this arcade just about the coolest place in the world for nerdy West-siders that grew up during Bush Senior's administration.

    But even better was the Avalon Theater, the location over on SE Belmont. Not only did it contain an arcade but a movie theater too. A trip to the Avalon was an occasional treat and the few times I went there as a kid it was during birthday parties. I have a vague memory of seeing a "Summer School" and "Howard the Duck" double-feature there in the summer of 1986.

    When I moved back to Portland from Wyoming in 2002, Shanna and I made a trip out to the Avalon, my first trip in over a decade. The place was roughly the same as I had remembered it. Big game room in an huge old theater, little one near the lobby. Several small theaters sat across from the prize counter. We paid $2 to watch "Attack of the Clones" and I went home with a candy necklace and a plastic glider, my winnings from ten games of skee ball.

    What's different about the Avalon these days is the amount of bizarre Japanese imports in the main arcade. Along with a few "Dance Dance Revolution" machines and the guitar game featured in "Lost in Translation," there's another that involves bubble cannons and random aquatic animals. Assaulting pixilated manta rays while an old guy screams at you in Japanese is pretty cathartic.

    The nearby "Panic Park" is one of the weirdest arcade games I've ever seen. In the two player mode you smash your controller against your opponent's, thus interfering with their on-screen counterpart as you compete in a series of wacky events. In one, the characters struggle to carry nuclear bombs across a soccer field.

    There's also a great boxing game that requires players to punch a series of moving rubber targets. On a trip to the theater a few months back I was dismayed to find that its boxing gloves had been replaced by a pair of gardening gloves.

    Sadly, the Avalon is probably not long for this world. It's seriously fraying at the edges and, given the continued gentrification of Belmont, the theater is taking up valuable real estate. Plus, over the years the number of Wunderlands in the Willamette Valley have dwindled from a dozen to a meager four, most likely due to the increased sophistication of home gaming consoles. There's no way a weird bubble game can compete with the likes of "Halo 2" or "GTA: San Andreas."

    Much like drive-ins and malt shops, video arcades like this are a relic. I wouldn't place money on it but I'm willing to bet there's no other place on earth like the Avalon Theater. This one of those Portland landmarks the "Keep Portland Weird" folks go nuts over. In other words, savor the Avalon while it lasts. By the end of the decade there'll be a banal, multi-use condo unit in its place with a Pottery Barn on the ground floor. That I am willing to bet on.

    Wednesday, August 03, 2005


    The Titanic Firework part 1

    While wandering the aisles at Blackjack's last year I discovered what could be the most offensive fireworks display ever forged by human hands. While "Titanic" doesn't dive to the same level of the "Exploding Terrorist Heads" set, I think it deserves the top spot for shamelessly exploiting a national tragedy. Sure, the actual Titanic sunk nearly a hundred years ago but isn't a exploding cardboard tribute just a wee bit, well, crass?

    Obviously I had to buy it, given my healthy, all-American appreciation for both tacky fireworks and misplaced patriotism. This firework is the most ill-advised patriotic hattip I've seen since either the 9/11 shotglass I found in a NYC tourist shop in 2003 or those coins supposedly forged out of silver found at Ground Zero. "Titanic" served me well as a living room conversation piece until I finally decided to light its fuse this past Independence Day.

    And now, for your viewing pleasure, here's a video of the display, presented in Quicktime. The images contained within are so incredibly exciting that I've split it into two segments. Click here or on the photo below to watch part one of this thrilling saga.

    Eat your heart out, James Cameron.

    Check back on Friday for the thrilling conclusion!

    Tuesday, August 02, 2005


    A History of Disneyland Accidents: March 1990 to March 2005

    A train on the "California Screamin'" roller coaster at the Disneyland resort crashed on Saturday, injuring 18 people. In recent years accidents like this have become increasingly commonplace in the Happiest Kingdom of Earth. Oddly enough, a day before the accident the OC Register ran a complete rundown on fifteen years worth of mouse-sponsored incidents. Here's the link. You'll need a username and password so here they are, compliments of bugmenot.com

    USERNAME: bugmenot
    PASSWORD: 123456

    Yeah, I know. If cutting and pasting is too much trouble here's one of the "highlights," ya' lazy bum:

    Feb. 15, 1993: Two children receive scratches and bruises when a chandelier at Goofy's Bounce House in Toontown comes loose and falls on them.

    While I'm posting weird and fairly macabre links I may as well throw this one out there. It leads to a collection of strange international signs. I haven't gone through the whole thing but, so far, the photo below is my favorite. Based on the art alone can you guess what country it was found in?


    New email address

    I decided to kick the blog's old email address to curb. I'm pretty happy with my new seat on the Gmail bandwagon. Welcome to Blog can now be contacted at:






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