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Wednesday, November 30, 2005
No snow! No snow! No Wammies, er, snow! And....
OK, maybe not just yet. The storm is scheduled to hit Portland around 4 AM. The city may be at a standstill in a little over 7 hours.
An inch of snow is capable of doing that around these parts. Or maybe it'll pass us by. Whatever. Just as long as it's all gone by the time I have to leave for work.
For more Portland area snow pics, click here.
This is what a can of Coke looks like in Tokyo.
Pretty exciting huh?
Ok, it's not at all interesting, I know. But how about this giant fish head?
Wow, that's cra-ra-zay, huh?
All right, still not amused? Then click here for a Flickr gallery of similar culinary oddities. Like plastic boxes of eyeballs, Mickey Mouse-shaped hamburgers and spice tables guarded by stuffed chupacabra.
Honestly, I have no idea what that thing is. It can't be a Bobcat. It looks too much like a dog. And don't wolves have long tails?
Aeon Flux? More like Aeon SUX! Heh.
Anybody else sick and tired of all those @##!@! commercials?
Yeah, me too. They've popped up during every single commercial break on "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report" for three solid weeks. I've seen that shot of Charlize Theron nearly getting impaled by the razor grass more times than I've changed my socks this year. And I usually change my socks at least once a week.
But that shouldn't stop you from reading this ME Russell cartoon strip on the movie's fantastic source material.
Coloring contest update
So the submissions are pouring in for Welcome to Blog's 2005 HOLIDAY COLORING CONTEST! With 42 hours to go until the deadline we've received a grand total of...
Sure, that may not seem like much but it's two more than we were expecting. The contest is already a rousing success. While we couldn't be happier, our emotional level could raise to ecstatic if we received a third one. Then we wouldn't have to figure out how to divvy up the three prizes among two contestants.
So if you're in the mood to color and/or enter to win a talking George Bush doll (and a festive, talking George Bush doll-sized Santa hat), click here or on the drawing of Santa cruising the internet for the details.
There's three fun ways to participate and it's not like you've got to be a Mickey-langalo or a Maya Angelo or even a Mayan to enter. You could just download one of the drawings, scribble over it with Microsoft Paint and send it back. Twenty seconds of effort could land you a prize worth $5 whole dollars.
$5. Whole. Dollars.
Anyway, if you need any further encouragement we've come up with this eye-catching, not at all confusing link to entry forms.
Not here. Or here. Or here. Up there.
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
A letter to Winter
We used to get along so well. Back in the day you'd come around one or twice a year. Usually around January or February to break up the monotony of those cloud-clogged, Xmas-less days here in Portland. You'd blow into town, shut things down for a while and I'd get two days off from school. Sure, we didn't see much of each other but that's the way we liked it, right baby? A quick fling and then we'd go our separate ways. We were so young. So, I don't know, free.
Things were going great until I got a job at a company that doesn't close its doors for something like a city-wide shut down due to three inches of snow. Around that time you turned into a complete pain. One November morning a few years back you showed up out of the clear blue, knocked out my power and reset my alarm clock. I woke up with twenty minutes to get to work. A few months later I spent an evening trapped at a Beaverton motel because of you.
Have you ever been to Beaverton? Sure, you've passed through but have you stayed for longer than an hour? It sucks out there! Nothing but car lots and Jack in the Boxes.
Jacks in the Boxes? Jacks in the Box? Whatever.
And who shows up again tonight with little warning? You, Winter. And this time you brought along something called "Freezing Fog." What sort of maniacal seasonal succubus could drudge up something like that? Only you, Winter. Have you no decency? Is there nary a drop of empathy in your frozen, black, teeny-tiny little heart?
I emerged from the office tonight at 10 to find a thick soup of evaporated moisture and a slick parking lot between me and my car. Driving home was flippin' hoot. While the streets weren't all that slick, I was still paranoid that I might take a curve too fast or hit a patch of black ice. I kept the speedometer at 5 MPH under the speed limit and all the other drivers laughed at me. I've never been so humiliated.
This is what my street looks like tonight. Sure, it doesn't look like much but that sign is covered in little ice droplets and the fog looks like something out of, well, "The Fog." And, no, not the good version. The new one that came out back in October.
And my mailbox was nearly frozen over and I had to fight to open it. And I slipped going the steps to my house. And there was a big wreck that shut down both the on-ramp and off-ramp to I-5 near Burlingame. And KATU says you'll be back again tomorrow morning and again tomorrow night with your new pal, Freezing Fog. Just in time for my evening commute. And there's no telling how many times you'll pop up in the coming months. And probably never on a weekend like a reasonable seasonal weather pattern.
Everybody says we should call it quits. Pack your stuff. I want you out of here. I don't know, go over to Freezing Fog's place. Or a motel.
You eat the continental breakfast and see how you like it!
PS: Don't give me that look. It's so over. Even more over than Duke Cunningham's political career.
This one goes out to...
...all the "Arrested Development" fans that might be reading this blog. But they've probably already seen this.
If not, get clickin'.
Monday, November 28, 2005
Pat Morita was a mofo among mofos
Am I the only one that missed this sad news over the holiday weekend?
Movie-going was a very big deal for me as a kid because it provided an opportunity to embarrass my parents by acting like hell-spawn. I drove an audience nuts when I demanded my father translate Jabba's subtitles at a screening of "Return of the Jedi." During "Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend" I started screaming at the screen and running around the theater when the title character's mother was captured by a gang of greedy dino-pouchers. There really was no excuse for my behavior. It wasn't like I was having a war flashback or anything like that.
I'd learned to read and how to keep quiet in theaters by the time "Karate Kid 2" crane-kicked its way into theaters. I remember seeing the later at the long-gone Washington Square Cinemas and the place was packed. Maybe Ralph Macchio had a huge cult following in Portland at the time. Or maybe they were all there for Pat, who received an Oscar nomination for his role in part one.
The sequel was huge deal for my third grade colleagues and I. I'd probably spent the year prior imitating "Daniel-san'"s crane kick from the original in my parent's living room. But the kick was easily defeated by his nemesis in part two so I redirected my attention to begging them for one of those spin drums. I never did get one because they weren't the sort of thing that could be found at your local Portland Jafco. And because I was a little shit.
Anybody else remember Jafco? Or even BEST? Probably not.
Pat Morita taught a generation of young Americans how to wax a car, kick stuff, beat up teenagers in parking lots, catch flies with chopsticks, rescue hot chicks from monsoons, trick evil dojo senseis into breaking the windows of their own cars, mack on Uma Thurman, tolerate Hilary Swank, bowl with monks and make Halloween costumes out of bathroom fixtures.
Ok, which of those doesn't belong? First reader to name the out-of-place Pat Morita movie reference gets a nickel.
Mr. Miyagi is dead. Long live Mr. Miyagi!
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
A smoke-free Portland
I'm stuck at work on this Thanksgiving Eve and I've been killing time by arguing with anti-smokers over at "Portland's Future Awesome," a new local blog devoted to urban planning. The topic? Whether or not there should be a local ordinance that would ban smoking in Portland bars ala Eugene, NYC, etc. Here's a direct link to the bickering already in progress.
While I'm only an occasional smoker, I'm completely opposed to this hypothetical ordinance, even if the likelihood of it becoming a reality is high. Nevertheless, as a wise man once said, "the drinking bone is connected to the smoking bone" and there's plenty of people in this town that like to do both at the same time. I say owners should be the ones to decide to ban cigarettes in their establishments and, if enough customers vote with their dollars, they'll eventually make the switchover on their own. I never thought I'd be saying this but let the market decide.
Yet another reason why I love this town. It makes me feel like a rabid conservative on occasion.
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
The 2005 Welcome to Blog Holiday Coloring Contest!
Wake up the neighbors, get on the cell phone, send some faxes and type up a bulk email. Wake up the carrier pigeons, write a few text messages, dust off the telegraph, ring the bells in town square, get on the short-wave and fire up Blogger. Get the word out, IT'S TIME FOR A HOLIDAY COLORING CONTEST!
No, really. I'm serious. A real-deal coloring contest. No fooling.
While the night before the day before Thanksgiving may be an inappropriate time to declare a coloring contest, the deadline for submissions is a ways off. So if you get bored this weekend after stuffing yourself full of stuffing, turn off the football and break out the Crayolas.
Click here or on the drawing above for a rundown on prizes, details, rules, etc. Maybe a dozen or so contestants will enter but only three will win the not-so-fabulous prizes up for grabs!
Monday, November 21, 2005
CNN's coverage of "South Park"'s attack on Scientology can be found here.
Footage of "GW vs. Door" can be found here.
Thanks for the later, WWB.
Avian soccer hooligans
Last spring a building near my workplace was torn down to make way for an Astroturf soccer field. No one around the office seems to know the reason for this and I rarely, if ever see anyone using it. I suspect that the company that owns this business park (they prefer to call it a "campus"), in a fit of jealously, decided to imitate one of its corporate neighbors* and shell out a few hundred grand for the field.
Another weird quirk of the campus is its seasonal geese population. Every November around a hundred or more Canadian geese take up residence on the lawns and spend most of their time looking adorable and honking when they're not leaving green droppings all over the place. Come March, they block traffic as they lead their goslings across the main road for their daily dips in a nearby stream.
So the geese started showing up two weeks ago and there seems to more of them around than usual. Maybe it has something to do with global warming or maybe more of them decided to relocate this year due to all the press avian flu is getting up north in their homeland**. Either way, it's more than a little creepy. These damn birds are all over the place and none of them seem to have visas.
And they really seem to like the soccer field. I went for a walk on Friday and was surprised to find nearly eighty of them running around. Perhaps they'd just seen "Green Street Hooligans" and were trying to organize their own soccer riot. Or maybe they just enjoy the choosy feel of Astroturf under their little webbed feet. Whatever the reason, they're making a daily habit of it. They were out on the field again this afternoon.
The geese won't be going anywhere until April. I hope they learn how to play soccer by then. That would be fantastic, wouldn't it? And infinitely preferable to a flu outbreak.
* I tried but failed to make a reference to today's SNAFU out at the airport. Sorry.
** I could be at ground central for an outbreak but no one else around here seems to be concerned.
Friday, November 18, 2005
Harry Potter and the Metropolis WITH NO LATE NIGHT COPY SHOPS
I needed to send a fax tonight after work. I got off at 10 PM. I decided to hit the bar beforehand so I could engage in conversations like this:
"So answer me this. Harry Potter's, like, 19 in this movie, right? You read the book. He finally does the deed, right??"
"No! He's only 15 in this one."
"So he doesn't...?"
"This is a children's book."
"The movie is something like three hours long. You're telling me there's no sex in it? All those kid actors have got to be in their twenties by now. Titanic ran over three hours and it at least had boobs on the screeen for five seconds."
"Movie. Based. On. A. Bestselling. Children's. Book."
"They're calling this thing 'The Chamber of Fire.' That isn't a lame porno pun? Or a cautionary STD service announcement for the kids?
"'Goblet of Fire.'"
"Goblet. So he gets drunk for the first time?"
"No. The characters go to a ball and eat heart-shaped cookies."
"No booze? No boobs? Heart cookies? Lame. This movie isn't going to make a dime. Not one stinking dime."
Was I worried about getting to Kinkos before it closed? No. BECAUSE ALL KINKOS ARE SUPPOSED TO BE OPEN 24 HOURS A DAY.
Maybe this has changed since FedEx entered the picture and the two companies partnered. I drove out of my way to get to the location on NW 23rd only to find a 8 AM to 11 PM sign on the door. Then to the tune of techno bongos on "The Chill Show," I rushed over to the Kinko's on 5th Avenue. Not only was it closed but the lights were off.
%$#!@!@, Portland. There was a day when I could a send fax at any hour of the day. 3 AM on Christmas Eve? No problem. But now you can't handle a quarter after twelve on a Thursday night? Sheesh.
And you want gallivant around with your fancy-schmancy condo towers and Oaks Park fashion spreads in Portland Monthly? Nope. Sorry. No dice. You don't deserve either until you bring back the 24/7 copy shops. Even Eugene has one. Eugene. Right there on 13th Avenue near the U of O campus. At least there was the last time I checked (UPDATE: "Vague" reports that the Eugene location now closes early too. Must be the FedEx merger. But I'd still rather blame Radcliffe.]
If FedEd Kinkos isn't willing to fill this nitch, someone else should. There's absolutely no reason why I shouldn't be able to send a fax in the middle of the night in a "world class" city like Portland.
Danny Radcliffe, this all your fault.
Thursday, November 17, 2005
The most important blog post ever written
These three faces don't turn up in Portland supermarkets all that often. In fact, I only see them once a year, usually around Halloween. Once November comes around they disappear like a cartoon spokesghost after the check clears. Hmm, what a peculiarly apt metaphor. Coincidence?
So while most of Portland is already blanketed in Xmas decor and the radio has been cranking out 24-7 Xmas songs on K-LITE, I'm going to devote an entire post to breakfast cereals with undead pitchmen. I haven't tried any of these since I was a kid, mostly because nowadays they only show up on local store shelves during Halloween season. These three boxes have been sitting around my house since October and I just recently got around to trying them. Sorry if I've offended you, Santa, but I'm writing a review regardless of the date on the calendar.
Where these three cereals as good as I remember them? Let's find out.
Joseph vs. John
At the end of last night's episode of "South Park," Stan dares a crowd of Scientologists to sue him. An obvious taunt from Parker/Stone to the overly-litiguous church, right?
But did you notice that all the names in credits were replaced with "John Smith"?
I mistook "John" for "Joseph." Now that would been a great gag.
While less funny, it's still a smart move on their part.
More thoughts on the episode can be found here.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Zombie vs. shark, etc.
I caught three movies over the weekend. Maybe I should have seen three highly-praised films like "Good Night and Good Luck," "Capote" or "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang." I hear good things about that last one. All the cool kids are calling it the new "Big Lewbowski." Further encouragement to see it can be found here.
But why pay to watch something respectable that will add another fold to my brain when I could:
1. Watch a movie where a zombie fights a shark?
2. Watch another movie about a talking chicken in 3-D?
3. Watch a third movie where Jon Stamos saves "the city" from a dastardly plot orchestrated by Gene Simmons and an army of Mad Max extras?
Case rested? Not quite. Let me further explain myself in a series of mini-reviews.
MINI-REVIEW # 1: "Zombie"
The other 90 minutes of this film could have been anything. One continuous shot of mold growing in an Outback Steakhouse kitchen or an elderly woman knitting. But because "Zombie" contains a scene where a topless photographer is saved from a shark attack by a zombie that just so happens to wandering by in an underwater lagoon, I had to see it eventually. Last weekend's Grindhouse Film Festival at the Hollywood Theater finally presented the opportunity so, obviously, I took it.
The rest of "Zombie" is a by-the-numbers zombie film that doesn't hold a candle to anything George Romero did with the genre but it's worth a look for "zombie vs. shark" and the probably the most unintentionally hilarious final shot in cinema history. I won't say wins the fight but the big fishie does tear off his opponent's arm.
MINI-REVIEW # 2: "Chicken Little" in 3-D
Revolting confession time: for reasons even I can't explain, I've seen every single full-length animated feature put out by Disney (direct-to-video doesn't count). This list includes "Home on the Range," which is one of the worst movies I've ever sat through and "Victory Through Airpower," a little seen propaganda feature the studio put out during WW2. I was determined to put an end to this run by deliberately not seeing "Chicken Little." Not in a theater, not on DVD, not on TV, not while stuck on a plane, never. But then I read an article about the company "revolutionizing" 3-D and, with nothing better to do on a Sunday night, I took a sibling to see it.
We had to pay an extra $1.50 for two pairs of official "Chicken Little" glasses and, while the movie isn't going to knock Miyazaki off an full-length animated pedestal, it wasn't all that bad. It's passable, inoffensive, instantly forgettable cinematic sugar for tots and their parents and, unlike Dreamworks' string of computer-animated crapulence, this didn't contain a lame pop culture reference every 2.5 seconds. "Chicken Little" is roughly 1/4 as good as "Lilo and Stich" but 1000% better than "Madagascar" (saw it at the 99 West while waiting for "Batman Begins" to start. Gimme a break). As for the 3-D, they're really on to something here. When it's being pumped out of a digital projector, 3-D isn't hard on the eyes and lacked the jitter of every other movie I've seen in this format.
MINI-REVIEW #3: "Never Too Young to Die"
By now every single human being on the planet has read David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest. As you already know, the centerpiece of the novel is a movie so incredibly mesmerizing that it forces viewers into a bliss-filled catatonic state. While the author never completely reveals the subject matter of the film (some theorize it's a looped-shot of the inside of the womb), I'm convinced the author was inspired by this long forgotten slice of '80s cheese. Yes, Virginia, there is a movie where Jon Stamos defeats a supervillian (played by Gene Simmons) with the awesome power of gymnastics. This isn't to say it's the best thing ever (ok, maybe it is) but the movie is completely mesmerizing.
"Never Too Young to Die" isn't available on DVD but can be found on eBay or, if you're in the Portland area, Movie Madness. If you track down a copy and wind up in a waking coma, you can blame "Flog" for recommending it to me and "Lionel Bifida for recommending it to him. This thing is sort of like the video from 'The Ring," but without anything bad resulting (I think). Hey, if you've read this entire review, I've successfully passed this Stamos curse on to you. You've got seven days to track down a copy or...yeah, nothing at all will happen to you. On the other hand, you may wake up with an Uncle Jesse-style haircut in a week. If this happens, I apologize in advance. Sorry.
Oh, it should also be noted that Simmons plays a she-male supervillian. Really.
For a complete synopsis with photos, click here.
BONUS REVIEW: George Carlin's "Life is Worth Losing"
Carlin has been butting his head against the borders of comedy for, what, 50 years now? In each of his numerous HBO comedy specials, audiences laughed at his "7 Dirty Words" bit, his gags about finally giving up Catholicism to worship Joe Pesci, abortion, 9/11 and *gasp* even rape. But in his most recent special, the audience stuck mostly to nervous chuckles. In the last decade, Carlin's humor has come to define dark comedy but, perhaps with no other taboo subject left to conquer, he's moved on to suicide. Sheesh, maybe he shouldn't have kicked the wine and pain-killers. This new special is more de-motivational nihilism from an bitter old crank than 90 minutes of brilliant stand-up from a comedy legend. While the bit about extremely overweight people having sex is gangbusters, after watching this I'll be depressed until March. Or at least until I track down another copy of "Never Too Young to Die."
Last Saturday marked the 35th anniversary of...
...a day that will live in infamy (at least in Oregon). For a complete rundown, with links to the video, the original KATU story, the Dave Berry article, etc., click here.
What am I alluding to? The exploding whale. Obviously.
Thanks, Blue Oregon.
Monday, November 14, 2005
My first eBay auction
So I set out to create the stupidest eBay auction in history. In hindsight, this isn't nearly as good as "fart in a jar" or "human soul," but, hey, I tried.
And will Disney's lawyers come after me? That would be interesting. I don't know if this counts as stolen or not.
Click here for more info.
Her name is K-Lo and she dances on the sand
On the heels of Friday's Wonkette linkage, a mysterious post appeared in the comments board for the "Jarhead" review. The author left behind a "K-Lo" moniker. Could it be the work of Kathryn Jean Lopez, the editor of the National Review's online edition? You be the judge. The post and my response can be found here.
I'll be honest, I'm not a reader of conservative political magazines. Just take a look around here if you doubt it. So until this morning I'd never heard of Lopez. Still, it's fun to assume that someone so far removed from Portland could find this blog, get upset over something written on it and get all snarky. My contacts in DC tell me it's either Lopez or a dead-on parody. From the post:
"Since you have no understanding of mental illness, drug addiction, or movies, I found you tiresome and trite. Thank God I live 3000 miles away from your stereotyping and cliched person."
Thanks, K-Lo. I can't imagine you'll be back to read any of this but, really, thanks for making my day. Everytime an obscure Portland blogger is insulted by a nationally-syndicated columnist/NRO editor, an angel smokes crystal meth.
But not crack. That would just be absurd, wouldn't it?
Friday, November 11, 2005
The "Jarhead" review/anecdote earned itself a post on Wonkette earlier today. Hooray!
A sincere thanks goes out to guest-blogger Eric Pfeiffer. It's been a dream of mine since I was a small child to one day land on Ana Marie Cox's filthy little blog for filthy little political junkies. Last year, I submitted a photo of a peculiar Voodoo Doughnut tribute to a certain recently deceased president, assuming it would earn this blog an instantaneous link. I thought wrong.
But all this begs the question: why was it worthy of a post on Wonkette? Aren't bomb threats a common occurrence in a place like Washington DC? Plus, I've always assumed that the average movie-going experience in the Beltway would be like the "Snow White" scene in "Gremlins."
Thug 4 Life
I've been pulled over by traffic cops five times since July of 2004. This afternoon marks the latest incident.
Prior to July of 2004? Twice.
I guess this officially makes me a public menace.
Maybe I was asking for it, given that just yesterday I was bragging about scoring a rebate check for a traffic ticket in Eugene. Still, what is going on here? I will admit that I deserved two of these for speeding. The others musts amount to profiling. No if's, and's or but's. When do police officers pull over drivers for a California stops? Or for going through yellow lights (which isn't even against the law)? Only when they think a possible bust has jumped in their laps. What other explanation is there? Aside from mere bad luck? My driving skills can't be to blame. They're top notch! Ask anybody.
Earlier this week I was ranting about how my vehicle, an old import covered in bumperstickers (I know, I know), is a magnet for traffic cops and meter maids. This incident proves it, bar none. Earlier today I was pulled over for the none-crime of driving through a parking lot in order to access a side street and avoid a traffic jam. Since when is that a moving violation? I even signaled. Twice!
The officer let me go without a ticket but I was late to work as a result. Anyone out there willing to trade a cop magnet for an easy-to-miss sedan?
Thursday, November 10, 2005
Me vs. the Eugene Municipal Court (part 2)
This arrived in my mailbox last week.
A $50 refund check came with it.
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Me vs. the Eugene Municipal Court (part 1)
There's nothing worse than a loud knock at the door on a Sunday morning. It's worse when you're extremely hungover and almost completely incapable of speech, let alone getting out of bed. And it's even worse than that when your visitor is a police officer.
Fortunately, I was staying at the house of few friends in Eugene and one of them dealt with the situation. Unfortunately, his solution was to peep through a window, ignore the cop entirely and wander back to bed. Not that I can blame him. I would have done the same thing. Since the cop hadn't arrived with a crew, riot gear and a battering ram, whatever he was there for could obviously wait until after we had we had all recovered from the gargantuan "El Dorado" margaritas we'd consumed the night before.
I finally came to life a few hours later. Eager to greet me was a parking ticket.
A $50 parking ticket.
For my legally parked vehicle.
A vehicle legally parked in a quiet neighborhood that the Eugene Police Department rarely patrols.
For months now I'm gripped to anyone that will listen about how my "ride," an ancient Toyota van covered in bumper stickers, is a magnet for traffic cops, meter maids and other autocrats. In the last year alone I've received numerous parking tickets and moving violations despite my positively amazing skills as a driver.
Do you know what it's like to be pulled over for going 10 MPH above the speed limit after you've been nearly blasted off I-5 by a driver maxing out his speedometer? I do. I blame the methamphetamine epidemic for this recent waive of fines and harassment. After all, look at this thing:
Doesn't this van look like something a dealer with $100,000 worth of crank packed in the tires would drive? If you disagree, it's probably because you can't see the rust spots on the roof, the damaged bumper, the torn insulation around the windows and the family of mice that have been living in the glove box since July. For what it's worth, each officer that's pulled me over has seemed genuinely surprised to find a clean-cut, conservative-looking goofball behind the wheel instead of a jittery methhead.
And unlike all those other tickets, I positively, 100%...ok, 95% didn't deserve this one. This ticket was a travesty, an outrage, a, dare I say it, COMPLETE MISCARRIAGE OF JUSTICE! I even had evidence backing me up. See for yourself.
No yellow curb. No blocked driveway. The tires were two inches from the curb and there wasn't a single fire hydrant from that spot to the horizon.
OK, there was a "No Parking" sign but it was over a hundred feet away and couldn't possibly apply to where I parked. Right?
What could I do about this though? The court date on the ticket was set for 8 AM on a weekday. Driving back to Eugene would have cost me roughly the price of the fine. I did the only thing I could: I entered a written plea with the ticket and sent along a self-addressed, stamped envelope and the photos you see here. The small print told me I would receive a reply within a few weeks.
So did the Eugene Municipal Court hear my impassioned plea for justice? Did they right this terrible wrong? Did they rejuvenate my faith in the system?
You'll have to wait for the answer tomorrow in part two of this incredibly exciting tale that has no doubt put you on the edge of your seat. Go ahead, check your butt right now. It's on the edge of your seat, isn't it?
TO BE CONTINUED! TOMORROW!
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Watching Jarhead with a crackhead
I went to the last screening of "Jarhead" at the Lloyd Cinemas on Saturday. I learned a valuable lesson that night: watching war movies with a veteran experiencing flashbacks is a lot of fun.
Actually, no it isn't. Among other things, it's scary and irritating. I have no idea if the guy talking back to the screen was a traumatized vet, high on crack, or starring in a sketch for an upcoming "Jackass"-spinoff. Here's a rundown on what happened. I'll let you decide but, be forewarned, there's spoilers below. And for the sake of clarity, from here on out he'll be referred to as "Max Cady," after the movie-ruining sociopath Robert DeNiro portrayed in "Cape Fear."
As for the film itself, the reviews have been mixed but those who criticize it for being "boring" or "shallow" have completely missed the point. While the ad campaign may paint "Jarhead" as another "Platoon" or "Apocalypse Now," this isn't a full-fledged war movie. It's two hours of soldiers slowly buckling under the weight of extreme heat, boredom, stress, their destroyed personal lives and a dire lack of alcohol. "Jarhead" isn't a film that future Marines are going to cheer ala a scene in the first act but one that may keep them from signing up in the first place. And it has a trippy sequence in a burning oil field.
I read the book and, while the film adaptation leaves out a lot, I think it remains true to the source material. While "Jarhead" may not have earned the approval of the vet/crackhead/performance artist sitting up front, I'd have to say I dug it.
Still, maybe I should have seen "Saw II" instead
Random Haloscan weirdness
Every once and a while a random response appears in my Haloscan account for a long-forgotten blog post. The service doesn't have a link to the post itself but I can typically figure out what they're related to based on the subject matter. I have no idea what this one is about:
"I watched Dateline on the matter of preverse behavior on Chat rooms. This is the most disgusting behaviour from men I have ever read about. I have no young children who might be in danger but if I can help in any way please let me know. These SEX OFFENDERS must be stopped."
Thanks, "R.L. Woodfell." You're probably a spam-bot littering the expanses of the Blogosphere with your mass-produced outage. On the other hand, maybe you wildly misinterpreted something I wrote waaaaaaay back in 2003. Whatever the case may be, I'm too lazy to sort all this out.
Monday, November 07, 2005
Paul McCartney at the Rose Garden - 11/04/05
There's an old line: you're either a Beatles fan or an Elvis fan. I prefer another version: you're either a Beatles fan or a Rolling Stones fan. I fall into the later category.
The Beatles recorded some of the greatest pop music ever recorded but, as good as those songs were and are, the Beatles' lyrics sucked. There's no getting around it. The first half of the band's existence was dominated by banal love songs with words that would have been at home in the mouths of any of their one-hit wonder predecessors. The later half was chock full of children's songs. For every "Day in the LIfe" there are a dozen "Bungalow Bill"s or "Octopus Garden"s. What's is "Mr Kite" really about? Not heroin or anything else. Lennon just scribbled the lyrics after being inspired by an old circus poster he found in an antiques store. Over the years, every member of the band went on record expressing their puzzlement over fans searching for inner meaning in their mostly innocent pop tunes.
I spent Friday with a 17,000 people that would probably still argue that "Henry the Horse" was really a metaphor for heroin and that "I buried Paul" was something beyond a lame prank. I'll never understand what once was described as "Beatlemania" but, on the other hand, I didn't live through it. I'll never understand the relevance of four British kids that had slightly longer hair than all the other rock bands in 1964 and played their songs slightly faster and how they conquered the world, changed pop music forever, etc. I was born 15 years too late for all that.
I don't know how pumped up the audience was to watch Paul McCartney on Friday night but his concert organizers were set to roll out a full-fledged religious experience. Before the show started, the stage was obscured by a glowing orange curtain as five monitors around the stage displayed McCartney's self-portraits. An orchestral soundtrack pounded the gathering audience and sounded like it was cut and pasted from Braveheart. It was as Jesus Christ was about to come out on stage and slam-dance in front of a full orchaestra.
And then the lights went down and, after a DJ in lizard makeup (?!) remixed various Beatles tunes ala DJ Danger Mouse, the monitors rolled out a McCartney retrospective. A ten minute ride through screaming b & w teenagers, florescent pepper jackets and...Wings.
Then who strolled out stage? Not Jesus but a kindly British gent who, despite the fact he's been doing this for over 40 years, still seemed earnestly in awe of his own fame. Unlike many other "veteran rockers," he was more than happy to set aside his new material and give the crowd exactly what it wanted: a legend playing all the songs that put him up on his pedestal. "Sgt. Peppers," "Let it Be," "Yesterday," "The Long and Winding Road," "Eleanor Rigby," "Back in the USSR," "Blackbird," "Hey Jude," etc.
While he stuck with the songs that weighed more heavy on the McCartney side of the "Lennon/McCartney" collaborations, I was still surprised that 2/3s of the set came from the old days. Giving your audience exactly what it wants still comes across as somehow patronizing. It was weird watching how eager McCartney was to please the crowd- at one point even running around the stage with an oversized American flag before signing autographs. What would John have thought of this all this?
It's hard to be humble when you're playing a piano in front a hundred LED screen with your face plastered on it but McCartney at least made an effort. Between songs he dished-out self-effacing jokes and made a crack about the audience heading out to the lobby as he started one of his newer songs. He told anecdotes about meeting fans in Mexican restaurants and the origins of the first song the Beatles recorded.
And the old fart played for damn near three hours.
The curmudgeon in me would love to decry the overpriced tickets, the ego-fueled production, the cheesy pyrotechnics during "Live and Let Die," the fact that the tour was sponsored by Lexus, the drummer's pathetic "are you ready to rock?" declaration before a series of slow songs but, I'll admit, watching McCartney perform "Blackbird" live was nothing short of amazing. Despite being too close to 64, he still sounds great. I'm sure Charles Manson would agree if he had been in the Rose Garden on Friday.
Plus, it's hard to argue with a crowd of thousands crying and singing the words to "Hey Jude" before an encore consisting of "Yesterday," "Get Back," "Helter Skelter" and "Let it Be." And it's even tougher to argue with a second encore consisting of "Sgt. Pepper" and "The End."
I would have raised my kitty lighter if I had thought to bring it along.
Friday, November 04, 2005
I was hoping to have this mini-gallery of Japanese bathrooms ready in time for Halloween. While they're not poop-your-pants scary in a Texas Chainsaw sort of way, they are sort of pee-your-pants scary in a Baron Von Goolo sort of way.
Instead, consider this a belated celebration of the one-year anniversary of GW Bush's re-election. Toilets? Where the country is heading? Aw, forget it.
Click here or on the photo of the "toilet art" above to view the gallery.
No more "mahalo"
Tonight was Adam Carolla's last episode of Loveline.
I knew he was taking over Howard Stern's spot in the LA market in January but had no idea he was leaving his late-night launching pad this early. His whiny voice has blared out of my car's stereo speakers for over ten years. It's been a part of many a commute home from summer gigs, trips to the library and my current, mind-numbing job.
The show will live on and Dr. Drew isn't going anywhere but, without Carolla, the new Loveline probably won't be worth tuning in for. His rants and quips are what made the show.
The last two callers of the night were Andy Dick and Jimmy Kimmel. Dick called in to talk about colon-cleansers and Kimmel presented one last "Germany or Florida."
Without Carolla around to make fun of sex-crazed teenagers, I guess I'll have to turn my radio off indefinitely.
Thursday, November 03, 2005
But will the shoe rentals run $25?
The good news: Grand Central Bowling will live on.
The bad news: it will be scaled down to twelve lanes and its building will be partially converted into offices and storefronts. Today's Oregonian rolls out an article and this quote from one of the new owners:
"'It's not where you're going to have bowling leagues,' Plew said. 'It's more where you go with a group of friends -- the birthday party where you wanted to go have some drinks and food and bowl. Have a great time and not be around a lot of teenagers running around and playing video games. It's a different model.'"
Grand Central will rise from its ashes in winter or early spring of 2007 and it looks like the owners are shooting for the bowling equivalent of the Doug Fir Lounge. While it's nice to see the place will score a second life, here's hoping they leave the "let's go bowling" sign alone.
Grand Central will rise from its ashes in the winter or early spring of 2007.
The Rolling Stones at the Rose Garden - (11/1/05)
A friend of mine has a theory about the song "Angie." He aruges that it's a raunchy ode to a certain sex act that's still illegal in some parts of the country. I'm not convinced but, if you'd like, consider Mick Jagger's cockney pronuncation of "our souls." Over the years fans of the band have speculated it's either an innocent ballad Keith Richards wrote for his daughter or that it refers to a love triangle between David Bowie, his then wife and Jagger (which of the Stones' frontman slept with remains a mystery. It was probably both of them.).
As the crowd at the Rose Garden last night swayed back and forth under a million purple lights, I thought about asking the Baby Boomer couple in front of me as they slowed danced to "Angie." What did they think the song was really about? I decided not to bug them and also refrained from offering a penny for their thoughts on "Brown Sugar."
The Rolling Stones have a slot in my top three bands of all time. Despite the fact they've sold out more than any band has or ever will. Despite the fact I was born around the time they lost their last little bit of relevance. Despite the fact they look like the undead. The fact that "Brown Sugar" still receives airplay and that it's served as a soundtrack to a TV commercial, despite some of the most shocking lyrics in rock history, washes away a lot of memories of tongue-logo credit cards and daytime soap opera/Monday Night Football promos.
And like a lemming to the sea I showed up at the absolute last minute at the Rose Garden and wasted a positively stupid amount of money to get inside. For what it's worth, the price was much lower than the one on the ticket but it was still too damn much. Don't bother making fun of me. The enormous biker grandma I sat near has already done it for you. Still, I paid $65 less to be there than she did and I didn't have to sit through Motley Crüe's set.
To begin with the Stones played it safe and started the show with their arena standards "Start Me Up" and "It's Only Rock and Roll." Where was "Gimmie Shelter" or "Paint It Black," both songs ripe for dusting off given the current political climate and the fact that they brought along Lisa Fischer, a soul-singer with a set of lungs that could shatter the windows of a skyscraper? Who knows. The Stones also didn't bother to roll out "Sweet Neo Con," a new song which made Drudge Report headlines in August. The audience instead was led on a long tour through "Honkey Tonk Woman," "Miss You" and a Ray Charles tribute/cover.
But I had foolishly come looking for the Rolling Stones pre-Exile on Main Street and wound up with, for the most part, the Rolling Stones post-Some Girls. That's not to say it wasn't a great for what it was. Jagger can still move like a coked-up teenager and his voice stills sounds like it did in the '70s. Even at 62 he had more energy in his old bones than a million navel-gazing indie rockers. Just once I'd like to see a club guitarist pull off a off-hand move like Keith Richards did on Tuesday night. During "Slipping Away" he tossed a lit cigarette on the stage and picked it up after a guitar solo, declaring, "I can't just waste it." Do they even let guitarists smoke in clubs anymore?
I spent the show wedged between the biker grandma's family and a woman who looked like a junior-high librarian. She giggled like a Catholic school teenager at Richard's cigarette trick and tried to dance her way through "Satisfaction," vainly struggling to keep up with the gigantic CGI models on the stage's monitors as they slithered around various world monuments. She collapsed back in her seat about halfway through next to her husband, who came in a suit and spent the entire time sitting in his seat still as a rock. I thought the lady was going to have a stroke as she rose again to whip her head around to "Sympathy for the Devil." She made it 2/3s of the way through that one but was up again for "Brown Sugar" and "Jumping Jack Flash."
What made the price of the ticket worthwhile was the first song of the Stones' encore: "You Can't Always Get What You Want." Talk about your bittersweet scenes. The band dragged the song past the ten minute mark and by the end Jagger was running around the stage and waiving his arms like a televangelist. At the moment, I can't think of a better metaphor for their generation. 17,000 ex-Northwest hippies and their kids, each who paid upwards of $80 bucks to be there, dancing on the long-cold grave of a cultural revolution, completely oblivious to the words being spat out of all of those speakers.
But I guess that's what that song's all about. At least these people gave revolution a shot and, to their credit, they pulled off a sexual one. If you can't change the world, why not settle for cherry-red soda and overpriced concert tickets instead?
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Halloween at the Horse Brass
What better night to try something like a "scotch egg" for the first time than on Halloween?
Or maybe Thanksgiving or Guy Fawkes Day would be more appropriate?
If you're not already familiar, they're hard boiled eggs wrapped in sausage and deep-fried like a doughnut. The final product is roughly the size of a baseball and you can find them on the menu at the Horse Brass Pub on SE Belmont.
I was stuck at work until fairly late night and wound up celebrating Halloween with a sibling over a dinner consisting of the egg, bangers and mash, chocolate beer, a Green King ale and a pastie. Apparently, in Britain pasties are flattened pot pies, not the things that, well, you already know. Learn something new every day. Anyway, my sibling's thoughts on the egg: "too salty."
The few times I've been there the bar has attracted an eclectic crowd. Last night it was full of chain-smoking Irish guys, old hippies, waiters on their way home and a chain-smoking skeleton that looked like he just got off work from a haunted house and/or just got done kicking the crap out of Ralph Macchio.
Since it was a rainy, miserable Halloween, I figured we wouldn't see anything interesting during a prerequisite buzz down 2nd Avenue. Instead, we spotted;
And then we went back to our parents' place to watch the "Fat Albert Halloween Special" on a twenty-year old videotape. I added at least a half-dozen fun-size Butterfingers to the British food in my stomach but, strangely enough, didn't wind up downing any Pepto later. Sill, it was probably the best that I hadn't ordered the steak and kidney pie.