April 2011

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Friday, September 30, 2005


Saving Private Kitty Lighter

On August 26th 2005 a lighter given to me as a gift was confiscated by authorities at the Portland International Airport. Unlike your typical throw-away Bic, this lighter was special. It was nearly one of a kind. It was covered in photos of adorable kittens.

The lighter wound up in a locker at a storage office near baggage claim. When I returned to town on Labor Day it was closed. I vowed to return but couldn't decide if it was worth the trek back. I left it up to "Welcome to Blog"'s readers to make the decision and they overwhelmingly voted "yes."

I didn't make it back to the airport until the 27th, over 24 hours after my receipt clearly stated the office would fling the lighter in the trash. Was it still there?

Did they toss it?

Is the kitten lighter now sitting in a landfill somewhere?

Have the gods of ridiculous Parisian souvenirs been forsaken?

The answer to most of these questions is...







I wanted to Photoshop the lighter into a field with cartoon animals frolicking around it but laziness prevailed. Here instead is a boring close-up of it sitting on a bookshelf.

Yup, this is what all the fuss was over.

So I drove all the way out to PDX on Tuesday morning, fought with the airport's annoying new parking computers and, worst of all, the lady behind the counter at the storage office made fun of me.

"Is this your kitty wid-der," she said in a tone usually reserved for drooling toddlers.

All I could do is blush in response, meekly take the lighter and slunk over to Panda Express. If there is ever a moment that would cause someone to rethink their life and engage in some serious soul-searching, this is probably it. To all sixteen of you that voted "yes" in the poll, I'd like thank you for this existential crisis.


The return of the 24 Hour Chruch of Elvis

Well, sort of.

Someone has ressurected the late-great church's website. It can be found here.

I visted the the place once in the mid '90s and propritess offered to wed a sibling and I for $5. We declined. Instead she married two punk kids and made them ride around the streets of downtown Portland on a bicycle covered in Barbie doll heads. Or something like that. The memory's kinda fuzzy.

If you've never heard of this beloved piece of Portland lore, Wikipedia offers a pretty good rundown. Nowadays, "Elvis" still plays Saturday Market and Voodoo Doughnut but I have no idea what happened to the lady that ran the place. According to rumor, she fled Portland after flinging a computer out one of the church's second-story windows.

Still, I wonder if she has anything to do with the "existential museum" over on NW 21st. It has a vending machine much like the ones that sat outside the Church of Elvis.




And now it's time for a BAVARIAN BLOWOUT!

A batch of Oktoberfest photos and videos has overtaken Welcome to Blog at this late hour. A few Sundays back I caught the tail-end of the Mount Angel Oktoberfest and took somewhere between a bungload and a %$@load of photos of random German weirdness. 30 made the final cut.

For a weekend every September, beer halls, strudel slingers, "Sound of Music"-style family bands and full-grown adults in lederhosen invade roughly ten square blocks of downtown Mt. Angel. The annual festival is one of the largest of its kind in the US and it's a big enough deal to draw authentic Germans. Or at least three of them. They're in a band that flies in every year to play in one of the biergartens.

The family and I have made the festival an on-and-off tradition since the mid-90s. All us range between 25% and 50% German and this is the closest we get to celebrating our Deutschland roots (short of the occassional trip to the Rheinlander). While I didn't get stinking drunk and spend the day staggering around in a pair of wooden shoes like in 2001, I did manage to get into two seperate arguments with a vendor selling Russian dolls.

Sometime later Shanna landed in the middle a beer stein holding contest. The steins weighed over 10 pounds a piece and each contestant had to hold it in an outstretched arm. It's harder than it sounds. She gave it her best shot but lost to a buff blonde chick that looked like she'd just stepped off the set of an inspirational Nike commercial. The blonde won a free fondue platter. Shanna returned the table and nursed her wounded ego with a pint of lager.

Photos of all this and more can be found here. Please also enjoy these Quicktime videos:

In this one Shanna does the "Chicken Dance." If she ever sees this she'll kill, disown and/or never speak to me again. It's probably for the best that she doesn't read this blog. The coast is clear. Click on the photo to start the clip.

She found the clip and threatened to destroy my credit rating, burn down my house, pour sugar in my gas tank and drink all the beer in my fridge (not necessarily in that order). The link now leads something else entirely.

Are you in the mood to watch a crowd of drunk farmers, senior citizens and Portland yuppies sway back and forth to German folk music? If so, you're in luck. Click on the pic.

Lastly, here's ME Russell's cartoon take on the annual fest.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


The return of the Valley Theatre

Beaverton's first "brew cinema" is in the works. Recently spotted on a marquee near SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway:



Hooray! Finally suburbanites will have a place to drink and watch second-run movies that isn't their family rooms and/or their DVD-equipped mini-vans.

To read about the previous incarnation of the Valley click here.


The Pumpkin

"Dr. Giggles," "The Hunted," "Body of Evidence" - Portland isn't known for its cinematic classics. The City of Roses has played host to more than its fair share of celluloid travesties. Here's another one to add to the stack.

While still stuck in high school a few friends and I filmed a full-length movie in and around the West Hills. It was mostly improvised, doesn't make much sense and had a budget of roughly $20.

"The Pumpkin" was originally concieved as a parody of "The Crow" and countless other cheesy revenge flicks. It's filled with offensive stereotypes, fake blood, terrible camcorder special effects and was probably the sort of thing that would have gotten us kicked out of school post-Columbine. The soundrack is pretty great though and it's at least as amusing as that "Raiders of the Lost Ark" tribute Multnomah Public Access still rolls out late at night when there's nothing else to air.

And now just in time for Halloween, and to help insure that all involved will never be able to run for public office, this would-be camcorder classic is finding its way onto the internet.

Starting last week Phooeyhoo began posting the film in installments on his blog. I think his plan is to roll out a new one every week through October. To my knowledge, no more than six people have managed to watch the entire thing.



All these years later I'm still shocked that we were able to con Jon into running around the (pre-condo) Pearl District in a Rambo/Punisher costume. It's a damn shame none of us ever coughed up the $50 dollars necessary to send a copy to the submission office at USC's film school. The inevitable rejection letter would have made a great memento.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


Bye, Doc

On Sunday night a group of us got together at the Matador to see off Dr. R., AKA "Echopraxia." He set sail for an undisclosed country full of koala bears and Paul Hogan* on Monday.

Tears were shed, awkward cheers were dealt (courtesy of yours truly) and shots of Wild Turkey were downed. Goodbye, you magnificent bastard.

Echopraxia, if you're on the other side of the world reading this, really, what's the deal with the water ? Does it go down the drain counterclockwise or what? Inquiring minds in the Northern Hampshire want to know.

* Take a look at that photo again. Yeah, that's what Paul Hogan looks like without the trademark hat or "that ain't a knife, this is a knife" knife. And now you know.


The kitten lighter hits it big

A delayed thanks goes out to the mind behind the Blogometer. Last week's post and poll concerning the kitten lighter made the "Lest We Forget" section of its Thursday edition, hopefully earning a quick glance from at least one of the various media bigshots, national bloggers and influential lawmakers that make up its readership.

If Wonkette followed the link, well, that would be downright swell.

As for the lighter, I headed out to the airport today to fetch it, a full 24 hours *after* a clearly stated 30 day maximum length of storage. Was it still out there? Are you on the edge of your seat, eyes wide, eager to hear the fate of that disposable lighter?

If so, check back on Friday. All will be revealed then.


Portland Communique RIP

This blog couldn't be any more different from the Portland Communique, the once and hopefully future king of all Stumptown blogs. Author Christopher "One True b!X" Frankonis officially pulled the plug over the weekend.

He was a pioneer in community journalism, a trailblazer in the field of professional blogging or whatever you want to call it. Even I, the author of a goofball blog that rarely delves into local politics, knew what b!X was doing was special and important. He set the bar for those who may follow.

And if he's out there reading this, for what it's worth, I've been rejected from Powell's roughly a dozen times over the years. Some sort of secret password or special handshake must be required to get hired at any location, even the one in Beaverton.


Nip and tuck

I moved a few things around in the sidebar. The photo links now have orange borders and the Google search box has been kicked off its former perch at the top. If any of you graphic designer-types think this was a bad move, or if I've violated some sort of feng shui internet rule, drop me a line in the comment area below.


Thursday, September 22, 2005


Tokyo arcade craziness

It's been over three months since the last installment of Welcome to Blog's ongoing Tokyo photo series. I'll probably still be posting shots from the trip as Jeb Bush rolls into his third term.

If you didn't think you'd be spending part of your Friday looking at arm wrestling video games, panda robots and screaming Pokemon machines, well, there's still a chance to make that presumption a reality.


Or, if you're the mood for all that, go for it.


A whole new gaming sensation

Have you seen the controller for Nintendo's next generation console? The system is tentatively titled the Nintendo Revolution. The controller, which is comes in two pieces, does a fairly good job of living up to the title.

Check out this demo ad and, if you're a geek and you haven't already seen it, get ready to pick your jaw up off the carpet. The controller has a motion detector allowing it to serve as everything from a ping pong paddle to a samurai sword.

I can't see myself ever bouncing around my living room while fighting on-screen ninjas. Since when have exercise and video games gone hand in hand (Dance Dance Revolution doesn't count)?

Innovation or insanity? Both? Have a look and decide for yourself.


Bill Maher's advice to GW

From Maher's closing monologue on a recent installment of HBO's "Real Time."

Herbert Hoover was a shitty president but even he never conceded an entire metropolis to rising water and snakes. On your watch we've lost almost all of our allies, the surplus, four airliners, two trade centers, part of the Pentagon and the city of New Orleans. Maybe you're just not lucky. I'm not saying that you don't love this country but I'm just wondering how much worse it would be if you were on the other side. Yes, God does speak to you and what he's saying to you is "take a hint."

Now it's time to do what you've always done best: lose interest and walk away. Like you did with your military service and the oil company and the baseball team. It's time...time to move on and try the next fantasy job. How about cowboy or spaceman?

Well, I thought it was poignant.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


A semi-tragic anecdote involving kittens, fire and airport security

If a title like that doesn't get you readin', nothing will.

A few weeks ago I was stopped while passing through airport security at PDX. An item in my carry-on immediately brought a long line of irritated passengers to a halt. The cause for alarm?

A cigarette lighter covered in photos of kittens.

A friend brought this bizarre knickknack back from France after discovering it for sale at a gas station outside Reims. I'd left it in my bag after a previous trip and forgotten all about it until airport security intervened. After scanning me with a metal-sniffing wand and examining every last inch of my carry-on for bomb making materials, they let me go under one condition: the lighter had to be confiscated.

Parisian kitty lighters are pretty rare in this part of the world so I wasn't going to let it go without at least a twenty second argument. Over the past few months the lighter has proved to be a great conversation piece, mainly because one of the felines looks terrified, implying that it's meant to light more than just cigarettes on fire.

Yeah, I know. Animal cruelty is never, ever funny but, in this context, isn't it at least mildly amusing?

After one guard misunderstood my rambling explanation, she concocted a story about how the lighter was a sentimental gift from my "fiancee." Satisfied, her colleagues allowed me to keep it under the condition that I would leave it in Portland.

I decided to pay $5 to drop it off at a storage shop near baggage claim. When I got back into town on Labor Day the place was closed.

The lighter is still out there so I have a decision to make. Is a disposable lighter, no matter how odd and one of a kind, really worth a drive back to the airport?

I'm looking for advice so it's time for another ridiculous poll. Feel free to do my thinking for me. What would you do?

 The Kitten Poll 

Should I go back to the airport to get the lighter?

Uh, yeah. It's a lighter. Covered in kittens.
Uh, no. It's a disposable lighter. Fuggedaboutit.
See if it's there the next time you go to the airport (likely sometime in 2006).
Con someone else into picking it up for you
Use the $ you would have spent on gas to get out there on rum instead


Give a Hoot(ers)

Back in May I wrote a review of the Beaverton Hooters. Sometime later, a Hooters girl complained about it. Now a second employee named Liza has written in to set the record straight on everybody's favorite family-friendly T&A franchise:

Along with Adirenne i too am a hooter girl, but not at beaverton. Most people like coming to hooters instead of strip clubs because we're friendly, self respecting, and really work to make it a different, fun enviroment from, lets say, the Olive Garden.

Also, some people would rather go to a resteraunt where they can eat, relax, look at pretty girls and not have them shove their hoo ha's in your face while trying to scheme a dance from you. Bottem line, we're friendly, happy, outgoing girls, and although we do have people, like yourself, who don't like us, we also have a huge fan base who loves us.

So maybe you just got a not so good hooter girl or the cooks were having a bad day, it happens, but don't black list a place you've only been to once, especially when there is an entirely other location in the same area. I hate the KFC on 50th and Powell, but that doesn't stop me from going to the one on Sandy instead. Give it another shot, order a different entree if you didn't like the one you ordered before, go to a different location, but don't be a hater, please! :)"

Here's my response, written in Dr. Suess verse, because, well, you know:

I'll never go back to the Beaverton Hooters

I will not go back there in a motorboat
I will not go back there with a coyote

I will never again eat its chicken wings
That taste just like wooden siding

Yep, the atmosphere is bland at the Olive Garden
But their food is good so they get a pardon

I'll never order another beer from Hooters' two beer beer menu
Or gaze upon those t-shirts that aren't even see-thru

I'll never go back with a dollar in my hand
A dollar that belongs in a legitimate stripper's g-string band

I hate the Beaverton Hooters....

...Ok, I couldn't come up with a final line. If you have any suggestions feel free to toss them in the feedback area below.

While I'm on the subject, here, compliments of Phil Stanford, is an update on the Hooters destined to replace the historic Waddle's coffeeshop in Jantzen Beach.

Construction on the new I-5 Hooters - at the foot of the bridge where Waddles used to be - is bouncing along just fine, thank you very much. Mark Bruun of Lorentz Bruun Construction says the restaurant with the winking hootie owl for a logo should be up and running in about four months.

I say there's still time to bring back the duck with the bib.

Monday, September 19, 2005


Corpse brides and roadside rabbits in high definition

The inaugural "high def" issue of the Oregonian hit stands on Sunday with two fairly great stories its new "O!" section.

The first covers Laika Entertainment, once Will Vinton Studios before Phil Knight dug his tentacles into it. As sad as the animator's boot was from his namesake, Knight's crew is really doing wonders with the place. They've got two features in development and have brought the co-directors of "The Nightmare Before Christmas" and "The Corpse Bride" into their fold. AND they let the employees bring their dogs to work (the studio is named after the first pooch in space).

The new studio also shares little in common with its predecessor and, as the article points out, little of Vinton's spirit remains. Laika's productions, while incorporating stop motion with CGI, don't seem to have much to do with Claymation. The studio(s) probably needed a lot of fixing up, new equipment, new animators, new staff, etc. So why did Knight stage a takeover when he could have just started a new studio from scratch? How much of the original staff remained? Did he really save that much cash by evicting Vinton? Maybe the shoe giant just liked the location.

Meanwhile Margie Boule laments the loss of local advertising landmarks like Zim's rooftop globe. There's still a few of them out there, like "Harvey," the giant rabbit statue that stands guard over a nautical shop in Aloha. And why aren't new "eyesores" replacing the old ones? Among the reasons given are uptight corporations and stodgy planning bureaus.

As for the recent remodel of the Oregonian, survey says....

....LAME! And where's the desperately needed overhaul of Oregon Live, people?

Friday, September 16, 2005


Some late night ranting about gentrification accompanied by photos of toys

Last week the Oregonian ran a story on Oregon City's attempts to draw "the young and talented," who they hope will help jumpstart their fledgling economy. This got me to thinking about what Portland's stock of creative whipper-snappers have done within its borders over the past few decades.

The rejuvenation (or gentrification if you prefer) of neighborhoods like Alberta, Hawthorne, Belmont, Nob Hill, etc. can be credited at least partially to the city's post-grad artists, entrepreneurs, hipsters, etc. There seems to be a pretty obvious pattern of progression at work in each case.

20-somethings in search of cheap rent are drawn to an area down on its luck. After a few years of watching their bikes get stolen, hip restaurants, clubs and coffee shops follow their lead. What was once twenty blocks of urban blight is suddenly a burgeoning cultural center, drawing money and attention in the process. Eventually, yuppies, investors and developers get wind of the whole thing and swallow up all the real estate they sink their meat hooks into. Any lingering long-term residents, who haven't already been scared away increasing property taxes hit the road. All the hip coffee shops and have their rents jacked up and are replaced by art, leather furniture galleries and Whole Food franchises. Meanwhile, in another neighborhood a new generation of post-grads is hard at work on repeating the process.

All right, enough of that. The original intent here was to simply run some photos of a strange thrift store I ran into during my last visit to Oregon City.

It's probably safe to assume that this place is owned and operated by the city's planning bureau as part of an effort to attract nostalgia-lovin' creative types that just so happen to fall into the 25-34 demographic. Shrewd move. The place seemed to have everything. Vintage Star Wars toys. Gremlin lunch-boxes. Star Trek III Taco Bell glasses. TMNT action figures. ROB robots. Long-lost '80s boardgames like "Mr. Game Show" and that weird Pac-Man board game where players use a plastic version of the title character to gobble up white marbles. There were enough knicknacks in there to fill hundreds of hipster apartments with conversation pieces.

In short, the place was a mecca. It's enough to make me wish I was talented or at least upwardly mobile enough to warrent a move to the eastside.

As the dreams of Oregon City's city council come true, I look forward to reading future stories about its historic storefronts being torn down to make way for condominiums.

Anyway, you can blame Sho for this post. He passed along the article.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005



Over the years I've been harassed by the police. I've had my property confiscated by the police and I've been tear gassed (twice) by the police. I was once dragged out of Wilson High School by two policemen moments before I was going to head on stage in a police uniform during a dress rehersal. I've watched friends go to jail over misunderstandings and for the smallest of infractions. Petty traffic offenses and parking tickets have cost me over $850 in the last year alone. It should be pretty obvious that I feel more scorn than admiration every every time a squad car passes me by.

I respect police officers for their willingness to work in what must be the most stressful career field out there, Regardless, over the years they've become glorified revenue collectors for their municipalities. Can I back that statement up with a fact? Nope.

Still, I'm convinced that the boys in blue are more interested in making easy money by pulling over people like me for "California stops" than going after real criminals. To twist around an old cliche: there's never a cop around when you need one but there's sure to a black & white nearby when you're in the middle of doing something stupid.

But all this apprehension took a sharp 180 about twelve hours ago.

At 11 AM this morning a man arrived on my parents doorstep pretending to be a pollster. My sister and their senile springer spaniel guard dog were upstairs. He rang the door numerous times. She headed down to investigate and opted not to open the door. He left.

Five minutes later he returned, opened the mail slot and peered around. Then he broke out a screwdriver and tried to pry open the locks. My sister called 911, and in a moment of rage-filled panic, punched the door and shouted "WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING?" The springer spaniel, meanwhile, was napping peacefully on the couch upstairs.

The would-be thief turned tail and disappeared into the park across the street. Within minutes three PPD squad cars were parked out front. I made it over there in time to watch a German Shepherd in a yellow vest sniff around the property before chasing after a scent in the park. After stopping for a potty break on a nearby bush, it dragged one of Portland's finest over to the parking lot. The wannabe thief had presumably taken off in car. This same guy may be responsible for a series of break-ins elsewhere in the neighborhood.

The thief busted open the lock on the doorknob. There's no telling what would have happened if my sister had been asleep upstairs or listening to her iPod. One officer claimed he would have taken off the second he discovered someone in the house but all the cop dramas and Le Tigre songs I've absorbed over the years suggest otherwise.

Will this guy make another attempt at robbing my parents? Doubtful. Still the event will keep us all paranoid in the weeks to come. I'm already worried about the vulnerability of my own residence. Will security lights and that Brink's sticker on the front door really scare away Portland's meth-crazed sociopaths bent on stealing my worthless Macintosh and $8 Darth Tater?

Everyone's safe but unsound and our peace of mind has been officially shot to hell. And this isn't the first time we've gone through this sort of thing. Last year someone attempted to break into her Eugene triplex before he headed across the street and broke into a neighbor's house while they were sleeping. Years back, a burglar attempted to pry open a basement window at my parent's place before he headed next door, tried the same trick on a sliding glass door and was promptly tackled by the home-owner. My car has been stolen twice and I'm still angry about the bike tire that was stolen outside of my dorm six years ago.

It may be time to invest in a very large dog, a very large gun or a very large dog that knows how to operate a very large gun.

At least one good thing came out of this miserable little incident: my faith in local law enforcement has been rejuvenated. I wish I had gotten the names of the officers who investigated and that German Shepherd so I could thank them here. Cops are now A-OK in my book.

Or least most cops. I'm still not too keen on the traffic variety.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


It came from Roseburg

The whole "Flying Spaghetti Monster" thing started in Roseburg?

Will wonders never cease?

Last Saturday's Oregonian includes an article on how it all began. Here's the link.


A night with the Zoobombers

I recently wrote a retrospective on the Zoobombers and spent an evening with the mini-bike gang last month. Before I headed downtown that night I had a few reservations, among them:

1. I hadn't been on a bicycle in over four years.

2. I hadn't ridden down a very large hill on a bike in over ten years.

3. As with most sports (extreme or otherwise) and activities that involve any level of physical exertion, I suck at bike riding.

I met up with a few members at their usual rendezvous point on Burnside. If you're not familiar with the Zoobombers, they're a loose assemblage of speed demons that all go by codenames and enjoy blazing down the West Hills on Sunday nights, usually astride modified kiddie bikes. Their weekly runs began three years ago and almost immediately resulted in headbutting between them, Tri-Met, local residents and PPD. Over time, they hammered out their differences and the Zoobombers now freely roam the hills with little intervention from The Man.

After making the rounds I asked to borrow a loaner "pile bike" since the gears on mountain bike back home are shot. Overlooking an array of boy's bikes, a Zoobomber dragged out this one out of the pile:

Yup. A tiny, bright pink girl's bike. Another newbie that arrived just before me had been given a testosterone-fueled bike modified with growling "Hulk Hands."

A regular had an even smaller and more effeminate ride so I bit the bullet and went with the flow. I jumped on the bike and followed them over to the nearest MAX stop with my knees up to my elbows. It should also be noted that I was wearing a bright orange NASCAR helmet with racing stripes, the cheapest one I could find at GI Joe's.

I missed the train while trying to get a ticket machine to accept a wadded-up dollar bill. Now the only rider left at the stop, I tried to look nonchalant as possible among a scattered gathering of Sunday night commuters and downtown's usual array of methheads, crackheads, crazies, etc. Soon enough, other riders showed up, among them a pair of transplanted Californians in tiny Hustler t-shirts. One of the regulars was taking them on their first ever Zoobomb.

At one stop on the ride up a group of Japanese exchange students piled on. Immediately entranced by these girls and their, um, bikes, they couldn't stop staring. Unwilling to disappoint, the Californians wandered over and started chatting. One student begged for a picture. He smiled as his friend fumbled with a camera, completely oblivious to what was about to happen. Right before the shutter snapped, one turned to him and surprised him with a sloppy kiss. After thanking them a million times, the students jumped off at the last stop before the train headed up the hill.

At the Washington Park station I found myself riding on the elevator with a teenager and a dreadlocked guy in a black trenchcoat. In a basket on his bike was a doll wrapped in chains with "ZOOBOMB!" written on its diaper. Attached to the handlebars was a boombox cranking out surf tunes. As the doors opened, they disappeared, leaving me to navigate the park's pitch black hills.

Within a minute I was lost and close to kicking the story to the curb. The night was obviously going to end with either serious injury, further humiliation or both. As I turned back, I heard "Surfin' Safari" coming up the hill.

Not quite willing to throw in the towel, I followed the rasta-goth to a meadow filled with roughly a hundred Zoobombers. Many of them were eager to show off their scars, anecdotes and bikes. One led me to what he called an "Assacre," a modified scooter with a hidden compartment in the base. The rider sits on the bottom of the contraption with their butt roughly two inches from the pavement. A poorly maneuvered turn would inevitably result in an awkward trip to an emergency ward, thus the name. Another "double decker" bike featured two bike frames welded together.

One member told me a story about the time he foiled a mugging while dressed in a salmon costume. Another threw out an anecdote about the time he flew over his handlebars and skidded, on his head, a few feet down Jefferson Street before finally coming to a bloody halt. Later that night several of the Zoobombers were planning to go on a "Hellbomb" down US 26. They tried to coax me into going along, guaranteeing that the run would make me piss my pants. Ride a kiddie bike down a freeway? A hard opportunity to pass up.

Eventually, it came time to Zoobomb and everyone jumped on their bikes and blazed down to the starting line on a nearby street. I took a few photos as they headed off, only to later realize I didn't know the route down. Within minutes I was lost again with the occasional car buzzing by along the hills' blind curves. I was no doubt going to die of something up there, be it embarrassment or otherwise.

If I hadn't been lost, in the dark, on a tiny girl's bike, this might have been fun. The bike handled fairly well, despite the size and the brakes worked great. All in all, things weren't going so bad. I would be last rider to cross the finish line but at least I hadn't broken anything. Yet. Then as I buzzed by four yuppies heading back to their cars near the Sacajawea Fountain, my bike light hit the pavement. I pulled over and wandered back up the hill for its various pieces as they stopped to stare. The broken light would later set me back $30.

Wildly off course, I wound back to the rendezvous MAX stop by the Goose Hollow. It should have taken me less than five minutes to make it down there. Instead it took over twenty. I figured the other riders were already heading up for the second run so I decided to kill time at the Goose Hollow Tavern with a PBR. Two minutes later they were back down, already lining up for the next train and I'd barely touched the beer. I started chugging as one pulled up and it was gone by the time I made it across the street. The next MAX wouldn't be by for another twenty minutes.

The time was easy to kill. Someone had mysteriously abandoned a big-screen TV at stop. Within a few minutes, a white Tri-Met pickup appeared on the scene. The driver hopped out and scratched his head. I tried to help him move it but the thing must have weighed a few hundred pounds. Exhausted at the end of his workday he considered leaving it for someone else to deal with. "It'll be gone by morning," he reasoned. Before he could jump back in, two Zoobombers rolled up and offered to help.

He drove off with the TV in the back and one told me I had already missed the freeway run (not that I was cut out for it) and a "pile-up caused by two new girls that didn't know what they were doing." By the time I made it up the hill the Zoobombers would be heading down on their third run. I decided to call it a night.

After a near collision with an opening car door, I made it back to Burnside and left the bike next to the pile. While I'd missed out on a suicide run down Us-26 the night taught me all sorts of fantastic life lessons worthy of a "Chicken Soup for the Soul" book or at least an episode of "Inspector Gadget."

OK, not really. The night only taught me one thing: that I ain't cut out for riding tiny bikes down a very large hill. Any future attempts at extreme sports will be conducted via an Xbox.

Friday, September 09, 2005


The girl likes to potty all the time, potty all the time...

And now it's time for an anti-climatic anecdote.

A few Friday nights back I was sitting at the Taco Bell drive-thru on West Burnside. It was around 1 AM and the taxi ahead of me had just pulled up to the speaker box. In the rearview mirror I could see the cabbie rubbing his temples and looking like he was enduring the worst migraine in the history of migraines. Piled inside with him were four identical blondes, each drunk and dressed to the nines- all giggling and clapping their hands. While this scenario may have once been a dream fare, in reality it was proving to be an endless nightmare.

Then one of them popped out of the cab. Stumbling atop high heels, she wandered over to the front door and started banging, howling for someone to let her inside. The rest of blondes looked on, ignoring the box's pleas for their order and an explanation that main restaurant closed at 10, no exceptions.

POTTY GIRL (still undaunted): "Let me in! I have to go pee! Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaad! *hiccup*"

After a few minutes of this one of her friends came up with a solution.

OTHER BLONDE: "Just go behind the dumpster."

A line of vehicles was growing, leading out the parking lot and down Burnside. As over a dozen sets of eyes watched this scene unfold, she headed over to the rusty dumpster and considered her options.

POTTY GIRL: "I can't go here! All these people are watching me!"

OTHER BLONDE: "Then get back in. You can go to bathroom later.

POTTY GIRL: "But I have to go noooooooooooooooooow!"

After wandering around the parking lot in search for a hidden toilet, she headed for the garage at Fred Meyer. Meanwhile, the group in a Jeep Cherokee behind me was getting seriously irked. Inside were four brunettes, probably returning home after a stint at Dixie's Tavern, all dressed in wife beaters and matching brimmed hats.

Sure, it all sounds like a beer commercial gone awry but I swear I'm not making this up.

One of the brunettes jumped out of the jeep, stomped past my car and stood with her arms folded, evidentially hoping her rough and tough cowgirl stance would get things moving. It didn't work. Another one joined her. Still nothing. By this time the line was no doubt stretching all the way down to Powell's Bookstore.

Not eager to engage in a Taco Bell brawl, the blondes vainly yelled for their friend to return but she had disappeared into the depths of the parking garage. At any second the cowgirls were going to unleash a wave of pure estrogen fury on the cab. Their colleagues were fumbling around in the jeep, possibly looking for a tire iron or a Club to bust some peroxide-soaked heads. The cabbie was leaning against the driver's side window, his eyes buried in a furry hand. He may have been crying. While he was sure to get a $80 fare out of this, there was no way these harpies was going to tip him, let alone loan him two extra strength Tylenol.

And then...

...the blonde returned from the parking garage, looking refreshed. Satisfied but still seriously pissed the cowgirls called off their attack. After watching the taxi's contents struggle to order to the tune of car horns, the cabbie finally shifted into "drive."

Estimated time of the delay: 10 minutes, probably longer.

As I pulled up to the window the taco jockey looked jaded and bored. "Well, that was interesting," he said, handing me a Grilled Stuft Burrito. This sort of thing must happen 10 times a night down there.


More South Park on the horizon

Hooray! At least three more years of animated lewdness is in the works. From the Hollywood Reporter:

Comedy Central has inked a deal with the creators of "South Park" to bring back the long-running animated series for three additional seasons, the network announced Thursday. Executive producers and co-creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker will write, direct and edit 42 more episodes of "Park." Currently in its ninth season, "Park" will stay put through 2008, producing 14 episodes each year over the next three years. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it is expected to be one of basic cable's biggest producer paydays with revenues from "South" DVDs and merchandise thrown in. The series is also about to enter syndication later this month.

It'll be a challenge for Parker and Stone to top the finale of last season's Paris Hilton episode (which may or may not the series' "most outrageous" moment) but, with three years ahead of them, surely they'll think of something.

The new season starts October 19th.

Thursday, September 08, 2005


Harry Knowles' take on the Oregon coast

I couldn't make it out to coast for Alamo Drafthouse's screening of the Goonies last week but Harry Knowles, of Ain't It Cool News fame, was there. Apparently, he and his family drove from Medford up I-5 and over to Astoria. Here's his take on the World's Largest Spruce Tree:

"Then we spotted a sign saying, 'World’s Largest Spruce Tree.' You have to cross this one lane rickety bridge over a river that was...interesting. Then you enter the forest canopy. This is awesome. In here you can see that all of the Christmas trees have their branches covered with green moss. Really gorgeous. The tree is enormous. Being from Austin, I'm a tree freak – and seeing a Christmas tree that's 56 ft around and 200 – some odd feet tall...well, biggest and oldest Christmas tree ever. That's cool."

My first trip to the tree was probably while I was still in the womb so it's weird to see an out-of-towner's take on the coast. Knowles refers to Haystack Rock and the Needles as "the three rocks."

For his rundown on the event along with photos click here.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


I've been out of town for a while...

...and fairly isolated from newspapers, the internet, cable news, etc. What did I miss?


So, apparently, all that was once good and great about this country curled up and died in New Orleans while I was gone.


I've spent a good portion of the last few days catching up on all of the madness, finger pointing, heart-breaking imagery and the utter incompetence of just about nearly everyone involved in a position of authority.

I don't have much of anything to add to the debate over this swirling nightmare so I'll just keep my mouth shut and go back to cranking out the regularly scheduled slew of ridiculous Portland anecdotes and sub-mediocre photos of kitsch.

Well, eventually but not before I spend a few hours hiding underneath a pile of blankets. If a huge earthquake or a storm of the century ever hits Oregon it's now obvious that we're all completely and, let's be honest with ourselves, utterly screwed.

I'll also throw this out here: I had considered traveling to the Big Easy before a lack of $ nixed the idea. If everything had come together I would have flown down there on August 27th.




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