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Sunday, December 25, 2005
Most. Awkward. Moment. Ever.
And, despite the fit, Santa still brought her a My Little Pony castle that year.
For more photos of kids screaming at old St. Nick, click here.
Here's wishing all your Christmas dreams come true tomorrow and all that jazz.
Saturday, December 24, 2005
Christmas Eve Blogging Blow-Out
I meant to space this stuff out over the past week but I got a late start and now, with only eight hours to go until their expiration date, I'll have to bomb through it all. Links, tirades about Xmas movies, photos! They all must go!
Yes, Virginia, it's a Christmas Eve blowout!
FIRST UP: RANDOM LINKS:
SECOND UP: A QUICK RUN THROUGH WELCOME TO BLOG'S TOP TWO XMAS MOVIES OF ALL TIME
# 2. Gremlins
A movie that's too unbelievably good for it's, uh, own good. A pure pop masterpiece that can go from comedic to horrific to weird to tragic all in the space of thirty seconds. Take, por ejemplo, the sequence where Phoebe Cates describes the death of her father while Gizmo mutters in the backpack, mere moments before they take on a movie theater filled with slimy puppets watching "Snow White and the SEven Dwarfs" for some inexplicable reason. Gotta say that the scene in the bar, where the Gremlins get drunk, is just lame. Shrek-style, pointless pop cultural references galore. It's everyone favorite scene from the movie but I say it's lame, lame, lame.
#1. Die Hard (duh)
Because Bruce Willis has to spend the whole movie fighting terrorists with no shoes on his feet. .
Because the movie's most misguided emotional crescendo is when a Twinkie-gobbling street cop learns to love shooting people again.
Because it has the greatest bit of dialog from any movie ever. You know the line. Alan Rickman is delivering a speech when the elevator doors open. Inside is one of his evil terrorist minions with a Santa hat on his head and a festive taunt written on his shirt. With a sneer Rickman says, "Now I have a machine goon. Ho. Ho. Ho."
Because every great Christmas movie should incorporate skyscrapers and terrorists.
THIRD UP: THE REST OF THE RANDOM PD-XMAS PHOTOS:
This window painting can found in the Pearl District at what appears to be a retirement center. Pretty inappropriate, wouldn't you say?
My family always knew this street as "Candy Cane Lane," the not-quite as beloved younger brother of Peacock Lane. Sadly, this neighbor tradition is soon to go the way of the dodo. I hope the residents of this house continue to put out this kooky Santa display every year.
We stumbled upon this place last year. A large house near SE 50th and Belmont drenched in a million Christmas decorations. It must have cost the owners thousands and, from the street, it looks like the inside of the house if fully decked out too. I would suggest a trip up there, ASAP. There's a for sale sign out front.
So that's it. Happy birthday, baby Jesus and merry ChristmaKwanaukaHanukah Portland, Oregon.
Friday, December 23, 2005
Random PDXmas photos # 5
And here's the prerequisite Santaland tribute.
You will be missed, Santaland.
Portland's only monorail is soon to R.I.P.
Now that you're soon to be gone, Santaland, where will Portlanders fill their annual need for creepy animatronic dolls and anthropomorphic panda bear holiday displays?
P.S. Stay away from whiskey and eggnog. It'll knock you flat. Just a word of advice.
Thursday, December 22, 2005
If there was ever an embodiment of what Portland used to be before the Pearl District changed this city forever (for the worse, says me), "Elvis" is probably it. He's the guy that performs covers in Saturday Market and can occassionally be found performing music in Voodoo Doughnut. He received a cover story in the Metro section today.
Read all about him here.
Random PDXmas photos # 4
I headed over to the Clinton Street Theater on Monday night to catch the documentary about Hunter S. Thompson's funeral pire/monument. As I rounded a corner I noticed the marquee. The words "It's a Wonderful Life" were where "When I Die" should have been. Then I noticed that the street in front of the theater had been shut down for a film production. So that explained the large light panels and security guys with the Secret Service-style ear pieces.
The production in progress was for an independently produced thriller called "Spiral." The Portland Tribune ran a feature on the film in its Friday edition. The director, Joel David Moore, is a Benson High alumnus and apparently played a character in "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story."
With a few minutes to kill I stood on the sidewalk and watched as three camermen in rain gear dragged a dolly down Clinton Street. The scene being filmed involved a gal and a guy in a Santa hat walking down the block and into a bar. Here's a pretty terrible photo I took from across the street:
I was impressed by the scale of production. There were dozens of people involved in the filming and there were even trailers parked around the block for the cast...
...but maybe not enough security around to keep the locals away from the catering table. As I was heading back to my car a couple walking their dog was digging into the production's supply of pudding cups.
Here's a synopsis of the film compliments of the IMDB:
"A reclusive telemarketer (Joel David Moore), whose dysfunctional friendship with his boss (Zachary Levi) is alleviated when a whimsical co-worker (Tamblyn) enters his life. But as he begins to sketch his new friend's portrait, disturbing feelings from his past threaten to lead him down a path of destruction."
Welcome to Blog's Top Four Xmas Movies - Number Three: Scrooged
There's roughly 300 million film versions of Charles Dicken's "A Christmas Carol." "Scrooged" is probably the only one where the main character turns into an even bigger jerk after a visit from the Ghost of Christmas Future.
Or maybe "jerk" isn't the right word. After watching a prophetic vision of his long lost love turning into a stone cold bitch and briefly experiencing what it's like to be cremated alive, Bill Murray's Francis Xavier Cross instantaneously mutates into, well, the most obnoxious jackass in the history of the world. A kind and benevolent obnoxious jackass but an obnoxious jackass nonetheless.
I watch this movie every year and after Murray falls out of the elevator, assaults Bobcat Goldthwait with a raspberry to the belly and spends the next ten minutes guilt-tripping everyone in sight, I want to reach into my TV screen, slap him and say "Hey, your heart's in the right place, pal but could you take it down a thousand notches?"
"Scrooged" should have ended with Murray promoting Goldthwait, giving everyone raises and encouraging his secretary’s son give up his vow of silence before wandering off into the streets of Manhattan arm in arm with Karen Allen. Instead the audience is forced to listen to him address the camera with an over-long and overly sincere monolog worthy of a "Save the Children" ad. There's a time and a place for this sort of thing and it isn't at the tail end of a black comedy.
I've always wondered what happens to Murray's character after the credits roll. Would he eventually calm down and find a comfortable balance between Evil Corporate Television Executive and Unbearably Cheerful Philanthropist? Or, after the shock of witnessing his own death, would he become mentally stuck in Christmas Cheer Mode and drive everyone around him nuts with an endless series of badgering suggestions to take to streets "find someone who's having a hard making their dream happen, give them and blanket and say 'HERE!'"
Maybe the character's overwhelming generosity and good will would turn his entire staff into mini-Scrooges themselves, forcing the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future to work overtime the following year, turning them too into bitter wretches. With the ghosts out of commission and slumped on their sofas in front of "Caroline in the City" reruns and unavailable to deliver their annual holiday guilt trips to the first world's most powerful curmudgeons, the planet's charities would be driven out of business, filling the streets everywhere with the disadvantaged and creating to a worldwide economic collapse on Christmas morning.
There might be a sellable screenplay somewhere in that mini-tirade. If you're in a position to do something with it, by all means, have at it.
With the exception of the last ten minutes, "Scrooged" is a pretty damn good riff on the holiday classic. Murray is great as a TV exec that thinks nothing of promoting a Christmas special with horrifying images of people dying in freeway shoot-outs. The entire sequence with a cab-driving Ghost of Christmas Past is fantastic and watching Murray come to terms with the fact that his memories of childhood have become blurred with sitcoms is both hilarious and gut-wrenching at the same time. And the line "you left Claire for Frisbee the dog?!!" actually brings an annual tear to me eye, bucko.
I've seen "Scrooged" every December since it was released and I still can't figure out the answers to the following questions:
As long as TNT continues to air it nearly everyday during the month of December, these questions will continue to dog me for many a holiday season to come.
Random Christmas-related link of the day
Put on your jacket and grab your messenger bag. Then set the sound on your work computer to maximum. Stretch a bit, get in a runner's stance, click on the link below and run as fast as you can out of the office.
Because this link is sure to drive everyone within twenty feet your computer absolutely crazy in ten seconds flat.
It may as well be the human equivalent of a dog whistle. Behold, the awesome might of Chewbacca's singing voice!
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Random PDXmas photos # 3
Have you ever made a trip to Alpenrose Dairy? It's a theme park/fully-functioning dairy/velodrome/midget car racing track/doll museum/etc in SW Portland.
And that's the thing about this town. You can live within walking distance of a place like Alpenrose and never realize how truly odd it is to have something like it sitting in your backyard. I grew up near Gabriel Park, within a half mile what may as well be a down-to-earth version of Willy Wonka's chocolate factory.
It was only during a trip there a few weekends back that I realized how incredibly weird the dairy is. The campus contains a Christmas-themed Storybook Lane filled with live animals and flocked trees, which seemed so normal to me when I was 7, a 600 seat opera house and a doll museum littered with unapologetically racist playthings from the turn of century. I brought along a camera on the trip. Click here or on the photo above to have a look at the dairy's oddities.
Obviously something this unique can't last forever. For years I've been listening to rumors that the family may sell the property to a housing development. Alpenrose Dairy still seems to be going strong but with the way the city is headed, and given the area's prepetually rising property values, I wouldn't be surprised if a "for sale" sign pops up soon.
If you enjoy Portland lore and all-out weirdness, I suggest a trip, ASAP. Alpenrose's annual Christmas festivities continue through Friday but Dairyville is sure to open again come springtime.
From Tuesday's edition of the Portland Tribune:
"This was SantaCon. For the 10th year, anyone and everyone who cared to join in the wearing of cheap Santa suits could partake of more than 12 hours of raunchy revelry.
Here's a link to the story
While all this was happening I was stuck in a waiting room at Les Schwab waiting for a tire to be fixed. And I'm completely forgot about the event. I've been meaning to attend SantaCon for three years now. The photo opps at Mary's Club alone would have been worth the trip. Sure, the place doesn't allow cameras but I'm typing hypothetically here.
For those us who like to live vicariously through the internet, there's tons of photos and footage of the event over here. To cut straight to one video, which includes footage of the coed Santas tossing a man in a tree outfit around Waterfront Park, dancing drunkenly in Pioneer Square and launching cakes into the Willamette, click here.
Someone I went to high school with also posted this footage of the mob chanting "SANTA NEEDS A DRINK!" Hi, Rob.
Welcome to Blog's Top Four Xmas Movies - Number 4: Santa Claus: The Movie
I'm not saying that this countdown contains the best holiday movies of all time, just the ones I wind up watching every year. While none of these are worthy of "It's a Wonderful Life," "A Miracle on 34th Street" or "Home Alone 2: Lost in New York," I wind up sitting through each of these for reasons I can't even begin to explain. Maybe my '80s upbringing is to blame but my favorite Christmas flicks are fraught with violence, product placement, unneccessary boob shots and puppets.
Number four on the list is "Santa Claus: The Movie," a mostly-forgotten box office dud from 1985 staring Dudley Moore, John Lithgow and the guy that played the Big Lewbowski in "Barton Fink," er, some other movie by the Cohen Brothres. That's right, once upon a time the actor that coined the phrase "the bums lost" once played the title role in a "film biography" of the beloved holiday icon.
"SC: TM" probably deserves it's place in the $3 bin at Target but I'm still surprised it didn't make it's $50 million budget back. The film isn't outright terrible, the poster (below) was neat and the set designs and special effects were great for the era. Also: at one point Burgess Meredith shows up in a cameo as the overlord of Santa's legion of elf slaves. Unfortunately, at no point does he start screaming "'YER A BUM, CHRIS KRINGLE!"
Here's a synopsis and feel free to tell me if this isn't worth a Netflix rental.
The movie opens with a pre-Santa Claus and his wife returning home after delivering toys to a few tykes in northern Scandinavian neighborhood. Along the way they get caught in a storm and their two reindeer collapse from exhaustion. On the brink of death, a gang of elves mysteriously arrives on the scene and hauls them to safety.
Once inside their homestead, which looks like a gigantic cuckoo clock, the elves immediately start prattling on about how Claus is part of a centuries-old prophecy, is destined to force them into slave labor, blah, blah, blah. Maybe it's the hypothermia but Claus agrees.
From there the movie uses "Superman"-style bluescreen effects to follow Santa through the centuries and, in probably the movie's best scene, he gets pissed after hearing himself portrayed as a jolly fat man in "The Night Before Christmas." After his favorite elf, played by Moore, ruins his reputation after a failed attempt to industrialize their North Pole workshop, Santa takes on a greedy capitalist bent on driving him out of business and creating an all-new holiday devoted to rampant consumerism in March.
The movie's second half is chock full of moments that will yield unintentional laughs and features probably the two worst child actors and most obnoxious examples of product placement in the history of Hollywood. In one scene, a not-at-all lovable starving orphan stares longingly at patrons in a McDonald's before having his life saved by a sandwich can of New Coke. And Lithgow is even more annoying than usual as Santa's Wall Street nemesis. "We'll call it CHRISTMAS 2!" indeed.
Also: the film attempts to explain the whys and hows regarding the reindeers' ability to fly. "SC: TM"'s theory? Ground up stardust. The elves open a hatch in their workshop every year on night they call "Seasons Greetings." The stardust falls from the sky, they grind it up and then stick it in the reindeers' oats on Christmas Eve. In a truly terrifying sequence, the reindeer begin shaking and glowing as if they're being electrocuted before they take off into the night sky. While the film goes with stardust, everybody knows how Santa really gets his reindeer to fly:
Meth. Lots and lots of meth. Sprinkled with just a pinch of crack cocaine and a wee bit of Kentucky bourbon.
I first saw "Santa Claus: The Movie" as a child and it probably led to me realizing the truth about Santa Claus. In the movie, which was sold as the "true story," Santa only delivers wooden toys, which didn't explain the Millennium Falcon I received on Christmas Day '85. I remember wondering if an elf up in the North Pole laboriously built each and every plastic piece of the playset and the box. My parents probably had a ball trying to explain that one. While the evidence was sitting right in front of me it would be another year before I figured it all out. I also had several tie-in "SC: TM" Happy Meal containers stting on my bookshelf for a month after the movie was released. I blame all the glue I was eating at the time. I was hooked on the stuff. Even now, years later, walking through the office department at Fred Meyer's can conjure up cravings.
Despite destroying part of my childhood, and the grating "It's Christmas All Over the World" theme song, I'll stand by the movie for it's excellent first half and two scenes later on: the "super-duper looper" sequence where the Big Lewbo...er, Santa rescues Dudley Moore by performing an inexplicably stupid and unnecessary maneuver in his sleigh and the sight of John Lithgow dying a slow and painful death in the vacuum of space.
Watching John Lithgow dying a slow and painful death in the vacuum of space- it's what timeless Christmas memories are made of.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Random PDXmas photo(s) # 2
Which one doesn't belong?
Monday, December 19, 2005
Random PDXmas Photo(s) # 1
From the PIR's Winter Wonderland (aka "The Largest Holiday Light Show West of the Mississippi").
Hmmm...one of these seems out of place.
Maybe the dragon was just passing through on his way to an atheist's yard display.
Friday, December 16, 2005
The War on Festivus
During Festivus 2004, ten men, two shotguns and two Dollar Tree shopping bags full of Christmas knickknacks entered a forest outside of Estacada.
Only the ten men and the two shotguns returned.
The men, among them a musician, a journalist, a law student, a doctor, a teacher from Japan and a soldier, really should have been above this sort of thing.
But that didn't stop them.
Hey, some guys celebrate their last day of bachelor freedom with booze and strippers, others celebrate with shotguns before moving on to the booze and strippers. Yes, that sounds ominous but I couldn't think of a better way to phrase this as a joke. Work with me here.
Click here or on the photo above for the chilling tale/Flickr gallery.
Literally chilling. It was below freezing out there. Brrrrrr.
Cross-ing the line
And that's probably the worst pun anyone's thought up regarding this bit of local controversal that was nipped in the bud yesterday.
Oh, poo. I was looking forward to spending part of Monday downtown watching the debate come to a head in Pioneer Courthouse Square. In one corner, Lars Larson, his Christmas cross and ten tons of smugness. In the other, dozens of frothing
mad IndyMedia-ers and a "Holiday tree." The "War on Christmas" could have become just that if Lars Larson's bosses hadn't a intervened.
I'm a non-practicing Methodist so I'm divided on the subject. I can understand why some communities dub their public displays "holiday trees" and why stores like WalMart now supposedly now greet customers with "happy holidays" instead of "merry Christmas." On the other hand, as Phil Stanford points out in his column today regarding the tree in Pioneer Square:
"The way I see it, if it looks like a Christmas tree, lights up like a Christmas tree and the local business associations use it to encourage people to come downtown and shop like crazy for Christmas presents — well, it probably is a Christmas tree."
Still, I wonder if Larson (who doen't seem to realize that a cross is more indicative of Easter than Christmas), Bill O'Reily all those "Jesus is the Reason for the Season" advocates have Christmas trees in their houses or deck their halls with Santa Claus decorations. Their argument is as contradictory and muddled as the holiday itself. The traditions they're defending have little to do with their religion. As everybody knows, over the centuries the true meaning of the holiday has become so incredibly muddled with Christian, Druid, Germanic and who knows what other European traditions that no one even remembers how to properly celebrate the birth of Christ. Can Christmas even be considered a religious holiday at this point (with the exception of tykes that believe in Santa)?
So I present a simple solution that might put an end to the hostilities: if you're seriously upset that the clerks at Eddie Bauer no longer say "Merry Christmas" when you buy a pair of overpriced wool socks, you have to stick by your actual beliefs. No tree in your house, no lights hanging in the bushes, no stockings, no eggnog, no K-103 or Carpenter CDs, no Peacock Lane, no monorail rides at Meier and Frank, no Santa cookies and, no, you don't get to watch "Scrooged" on TNT. 99% of all Christmas traditions have their roots in anything but Jesus' birthday. You folks can celebrate with a wooden manger and gifts (of gold and spices, nothing else and certainly not done up in Peanuts wrapping paper).
If you truly want to celebrate an untarnished Christian holiday this is the route to take. Meanwhile, myself and all the other heathens will be getting drunk in front of our Christmas trees, regardless of what a few beuracrats want to call the one sitting downtown. As for the nervous "holiday" greeters at Walmart and other stores, consider the fact that they don't say jack squat on Rosh Hashanah or Ramadan.
Thursday, December 15, 2005
UPDATE: Kong was 3 for 6 from the top the Empire State Building this time around.
Final score: Evil slug monsters: 1. Andy "Gollum" Serkis: 0.
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
The Jubitz Center for Modern and Contemporary Art in Twenty Minutes Flat
A few Saturdays ago my sister Shanna and I made plans to hit the Hesse exhibit and the new Jubitz Center for Modern and Contemporary Art at the Portland Art Museum. Then I slept in until noon and after several delays and a late lunch at the Skyline Cafe, we didn't get down there until around 4 PM. This presented a problem: we only had an hour until closing to absorb the artistic wealth of the house of Hesse anda renovated Masonry temple full of modern art. WIth the holidays coming up and knowing full well it would be a good long while before either of us got another shot at this, we shelled at the $13 bucks a head (after the Starbucks card discount) and got to work.
So a little over a week later, how much knowledge of 18th century German and modern art (factual and distorted) have I retained after blasting through the Portland Art's museum's two buildings? Let's find out. Here's what I can tell you about the Hesse family's private collection, unveiled for the first time ever at the Portland Art Museum:
With all the little old ladies and bored children to get around, we only had twenty-five minutes left for all the modern art next door in the Jubitz Center. The museum was mostly empty, clearing an easy path for our late afternoon art binge. With 5.5 floors ahead of us we'd have to conquer each one in five minutes flat. No problem.
LOWER LEVEL: We were in and out of here in nothing flat. Nothing down there but more dishes and a few scattered sculptures. A quick glance and we were already running ahead of schedule.
1ST FLOOR: As we headed upstairs I was suddenly reminded of the old "Kung Fu" game for the NES. We had five floors to clear and even the museum's concrete stairs oddly recalled those tread upon by the game's nameless karate hero. While there weren't any snakes in jars or bald giants to vanquish, the art would have to do. This floor contained more sculptures (yawn) and various impression and post-impressionism pieces. I have no idea what either of those terms mean and can't recall a single bit of art on this floor.
SECOND FLOOR: Minimalism. Giant canvases with lines and dots. Intricate wooden displays. A piece made out of cardboard that looked like it took five minutes to put together. I was once swayed by a passage in Kurt Vonnegut's "Breakfast of Champion"'s that attempts to defend modern art. In it, a gallery full of art lovers lambast an artist that has a painted a single line on a canvas, Someone pipes up and says his eight year old could whip the same thing together with minimal (*ha*) effort. Backed into a corner, the artist eloquently explains the toil that went into that line. Hey, I read the book in high school and I bought it at the time. After six minutes on the second floor of the Jubitz Center I've reverted back to my original stance on the subject: minimalist art blows goats.
SECOND FLOOR MEZZANINE: Photographs. Hey, look, it's that shot of the hippie sticking the flowers in National Guard's guns that was in Life Magazine. And that one of the exhausted woman living in the Dust Bowl...that was in Life Magazine. Whatever happened to that mag? It's opening section devoted to full-page photographs was always great. I miss "Just Once More." Bring back Life!
THIRD FLOOR: By this time I was getting woozy and we only had ten minutes left. A gallery guard (or are they called "attendants") was already on her heals warning us that we only had five minutes. FIVE MINUTES?!!! We hadn't taken into consideration that the staff would want to allow time for visitors to actually exit the museum by 5 PM. To make matters worse, we'd finally found some art worth looking at- dozens of pop art displays right up my alley. One portrait contained a nightmarish, anti-consumerism collage full of corporate logos. While it's fine and dandy to decry McDonalds, HOW DARE THE ARTIST include a can of Miller Hi-LIfe, the greatest beer in the history of the world! I wanted to jot down his name so I could write him or his heirs a nasty letter but there was no time for that. The art started spinning and I was on the ground.
ME: "Go on without me. I'll never make it. There's so much more art to...appreciate (cough).
SHANNA: "Get off the ground. People are staring."
ME: "I'll only slow you down. Go on. Leave me."
SHANNA: "You suck."
ME: Give me the map. You head for the fifth floor. I'll appreciate as many of the ones down here as I can before they storm the stairs."
SHANNA: "You're making this up. This didn't happen. You put this part in here because you know no one's going to read this whole stupid blog post about an art museum. You're just screwing around at this point."
ME: "You're right. I'll get up off the floor now. Let us never speak of this again."
In another room sat a display seemingly sliced out of an old motel. There was even a vacancy sign in the facade's window. I can't say I've ever seen anything like it. This floor also contained a TV covered in paint. The piece is probably ripe with themes and metaphors my little brain just can't process.
FOURTH FLOOR: Last one. Honestly, these last two floors have blended together in my mind. Maybe the motel thing was at the top. Really the only other piece I remember is an orange neon sign sitting over the stairwell that said something seemingly witty like "WHY ARE YOU LOOKING UP HERE" or "I LANDED A $100,000 ART GRANT AND THIS IS WHAT I DID WITH IT." The guards were on our heals again and politely began ordering us to vacate but we still had 30 seconds and one room left. A quick buzz through the last wing and I raised my arms in a "V."
We'd done it! While we didn't appreciate a single bit of it, we'd conquered the Jubitz Center for Modern and Contemporary Art in right around twenty minutes flat. BOO YAH! IN YOUR FACE, JOHN E. BUCHANAN!!! If I'm ever in San Francisco I plan on getting in and out of FAMSF in half that, SUCKA!
We even had time left to hit the gift shop and look at the persian rug mousepads and Monet coasters. While the two of us had succeeded in our mission, the afternoon would have probably been better spent camped out in front of college football.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
The deadly bite of caffeine
If I drank 77 cups of coffee it would put me in an early grave.
274 cans of Dr. Pepper would be like a shot in the heart.
140 Red Bulls and I'd bite the dust.
Exactly how much of your favorite caffeinated beverage would kill you? Click here to find out via the "death by caffeine" caculator over at Energy Fiend. The link is sure to put you in the Christmas spirit.
Monday, December 12, 2005
What Would Steve Irwin Do? (or) The Most Disgusting Blog Post You'll Read All Day
An opportunity like this one doesn't come along every day:
"I picked up a kangaroo scrotum on accident. They have kangaroo scrotum bottle openers so if you want one, send 30 bucks and I'll get one for you."
Colleague "AD," who is currently on holiday in Australia, made this offer to no one in particular via a recent My Space post. I'm seriously thinking of taking her up on the offer. Before you become overwhelmd with disgust and vow never to read this blog again, consider the animal parts that went into making the shoes on your feet and the contents of your lunch.
While $30 is a bit much, it would make one hell of a conversation piece. My house is slowly becoming a Ripley's museum and the kangaroo bottle opener could compliment the tourist map of Iraq, communist cigarette case, Richard M. Nixon LIbrary mousepad, French kitten lighter, bootleg Bart Simpson doll from Russia. Japanese Xmas candy, stuffed Mogwai and the untold amounts of other weird nicknacks I've got lying around here.
Or the bottle opener might make a great Xmas gift for my mom. I haven't decided.
And there's the nagging concious to consider. While kangaroos are supposedly considered the equivalent of cows Down Under, I don't know if I my aching liberal Portland heart could handle living with a bottle opener made out of Roo's boy parts. If the local PETA contingency found out about it, I might wind up with a hundred protestors camped out on my lawn.
On the other hand, by the time I actually make a decision AD will likely be back in the states. What say you all? Should I wire her 30 bucks?
And speaking of Roo and the rest of the Hundred Acre Wood gang, prepare to have a little more of your childhood destroyed before you click here.
Every once in a while a bizzare Haloscan message appears in my account. I have no idea where it came from or which blog post it's referencing. It could be a response to a random post from back in 2003. I have no idea but here they are- obscenity-laden enigmas, free of charge. Like this one, compliments of "Judgmental Christian Jesus."
"GO SCREW YOURSELF YOU DAMN LIBERAL!
I wish I knew why you so quick with the insults, JCJ, but Haloscan doesn't offer a direct link to the post that got your Aslan Underoos all in a bunch. Thanks for taking the time to write in though. Your comments are a mystery that will dog me for the next two and a half minutes.
Friday, December 09, 2005
The chicken feet incident
For years my old grade school pal "Phooeyhoo" has taunted me with tales of strange (for me) Vietnamese dishes. One culinary oddity always stood out among the rest: chicken feet. Unlike similar dishes, chicken feet is called just that. No fancy name like Foie Gras or escargot. Just chicken feet.
Since he first mentioned them I wondered how anybody could eat something like that. Is there even the slightest bit of meat on hen toes?
The answer to this mystery was finally resolved when he invited me out for dim sum at Jin Wah, a restaurant in Beaverton. He put in a special order and the waitress returned with a side order of chicken feet in curry sauce. They looked sort of like buffalo wings and didn't taste too bad. The only problems were the numerous tiny bones and the fact that they did indeed look like chicken feet.
In search of a culinary adventure a few Sundays back, I hauled my sister Shanna out to Jin Wah. After a few orders of tea leaf pork wraps and lemon hum bao the time came to put in an order for a round of chicken feet. The waitress looked at me incredulously and encouraged me to order something else. "Nope, we'd really like some chicken feet," I persisted.
A few minutes later she returned but not with a tiny side-order. Instead she brought a platter of fifty pale, steaming feet and a bowl for dipping. These weren't the innocent looking appetizers I'd encountered last time. These things looked like something out of friggin' "Dune."
The photo above is of raw chicken feet so they didn't look quite this freaky. Still, the platter in front of us was pretty close. Up close, you can see the little holes where the feathers have been plucked out.
Shanna immediately refused let them anywhere near her mouth and timidly stared at a single foot on her plate for the remainder of the meal. Out $8.50 and unwilling to let all these feet go completely to waste, I dug in. They tasted nothing like the ones I had encountered during my last visit. They were chewy, slippery and almost impossible to bite into. Once I finally managed to bite off a chunk, they tasted, strangely enough, like udon noodles.
"Not bad," I declared, reaching for another one. Occasionally a staff member would walk by and shake their heads. I'm sure there were plenty of jokes going around the kitchen about the people that had ordered chicken feet. I looked around the room. No one else had a plate of platter o' feet on their table. Obviously this was a dish only ordered by Anglo-Saxon schmucks like me.
The waitress wandered back with the check.
ME: "So do a lot of customers order these?"
WAITRESS: "Oh, sure. I occasionally get them as take out and eat them as snacks. Like nachos. They're very popular overseas."
Maybe she was telling the truth but I still suspected she was holding back a laugh.
Now one question remained: what to do with all these leftover chicken feet?
The choice was obvious: get a to-go box and take them over to Mom and Dad's house. This culinary practical joke needed at least two more victims.
The feet were waiting in the fridge as our parents returned from a trip to Washington Square. The second my father entered through the back door he was yelling, "WHAT IS THAT? IT SMELLS LIKE ROTTING CABBAGE IN HERE!" After being around the feet for over an hour, Shanna and I had become immune to their scent.
He looked in the fridge, spotted the feet and immediately knew who was behind this. This isn't the first time his children have brought home unwanted culinary treats as presents. We're sort of like cats that way. He knew where to find us- in front of the GameCube. "I don't care what they are, get them out of here," he said before storming off to putter in the garage.
My mother was more willing to play along. She watched as I took a foot out of the box and ate one as she cringed. Her open-mindedness evaporated around the time I offered the family dog one. "I don't care where take them. Outside. Now." The pooch followed me all the way downstairs, sniffing wildly, and up to the front door. At least someone around the house had some guts.
How does someone dispose of 45 lukewarm chicken feet at 4 o'clock on a Sunday afternoon? I wasn't going to take them home and let them infect my place with their odor until trash day came. Fortunately, my folks live across the street from a public park.
I snuck over, trying to look as nonchalant as possible as two city employees were running around nearby with leaf blowers. If they caught me this would count as illegal dumping. Fortunately, they didn't notice the guy standing over by the dumpster with a few dozen chicken feet in his possession. I lifted the lid and tossed the feet in, now feeling like a character in an Edgar Allen Poe story.
Satisfied, I headed back home to find my parents opening every window in the house to get rid of the smell. Fortunately, they had yet to discover that the smell had infected their Camry, which we had borrowed to head out to the restaurant.
They've probably removed me from their will over this.
So that's the chicken feet story. Cute, right? Maybe it brought a smile to your face or at least a slight smirk. But this tale comes with a chilling postscript!
A few nights later I was sitting at my computer around one in the morning, editing some photos from Tokyo when a tiny knock came at the door. It was almost inaudible over the TV and I thought my mind was playing tricks on me. Then a second knock.
I reached for the phone and dialed 9 and 1. Who could be at the door at that hour? "Who is it," I said with a stutter.
"Brock. Brock," came a tiny voice.
"What," I asked.
I live near Lewis and Clark. Figuring some pre-law punks were screwing with me, I went to the kitchen and grabbed the fire extinguisher.
I threw open the door, in an attack-ready stance and there they were.
45 ROTTING CHICKEN FEET!
Tiny little bones jutting out of their sides. Covered in dirt and tiny bits of other people's trash. One of them had part of a Taco Bell wrapper stuck it.
45 ROTTING CHICKEN FEET!
They swarmed. I was no match for them.
I woke up on the lawn the next morning, covered in cuts, bruises and dumpster trash. Glued to my head was a message written on a pink Post-It Note.
"That's what you get for wasting perfectly good food, arsehole!"
Now at some point this whole thing drifted from the realm of fact to fiction. Can you figure it out?
[hint, look for the helpful dotted line]
Thursday, December 08, 2005
And the winners of the 2005 Welcome to Blog Holiday Coloring Contest are...
1st Prize: "Santa Net" by Tim
25 years ago
A television here at the office was left on CNN most of the afternoon. Every-time I glanced up John Lennon's face was on it. Lennon singing on stage with the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show. Lennon lying around in bed with Yoko during their Bed-In peace protest. Thousands of people gathered outside the Dakota following his death 25 years ago tonight.
While I rag on the Beatles these days they were the Greatest Thing Ever when I was 15. Maybe I was looking for that old familiar feeling when I was in New York a few years back. The Dakota and the Strawberry Fields Memorial were among the first places a friend and I visited. When we wandered up Central Park West a few scattered fans were sitting on the benches around the "Imagine" mosaic. Someone was playing a guitar and generally everyone there looked incredibly depressed.
Across the street I was surprised that there wasn't a plaque or anything hinting at what had happened there. We found the unmarked, arched entrance to the Dakota and an iron gate. No mourners, roses or anything like that.
It was one of those experiences where it should have probably been profound than it was. Instead all I remember thinking is, "Yep, this is where John Lennon died and Roman Polanski filmed 'Rosemary's Baby' upstairs" Maybe we should have read the words to "Working Class Hero" or something. I didn't feel a damn thing standing on the spot where the greatest rock musician of the 20th century died. After a quick stare at the sidewalk we wandered back across the street. The carousel featured prominently in "Catcher in the Rye" received a similar moment of indifference.
But the outdoor patio at the Tavern on the Green, that was really something. We spent the better part of the evening drinking near the spot where Rick Moranis was attacked by the devil dog in "Ghostbusters." The staff immediately began shunning us and we fought back by daring to smoke cigarettes. One of the bartenders, perhaps out of pity or just boredom, kept us supplied with booze. A man who looked a lot like Richard Gere showed up but quickly left when a conference of business people showed up to dance awkwardly to jazz standards.
Hey, sorry, I'm being honest here. If you want a more traditional reflection of the life and times of Lennon, click here.
I expected a $100+ bill when I wandered up to the bar one last time. The bartender passed over a $50 tab instead. "Welcome to New York City," he said with a sneer usually reserved for a daughter's boyfriend or a witless pooch that has just piddled on a carpet for the millionth time. A chill went down my spine and I finally got a dose of the bittersweet malaise I'd been looking for up the street.
Wrong flavor though.
Instant karma, I guess. Knock you right on the head.
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Internet by proxy
Reason number 45,671 on the list of reasons why I hate working for a soul-sucking Fortune 500 company is the restraints they place on internet access. While I'm grateful to be working out of the rain in a position where I have a Firefox logo on my desktop, the restrictions placed on the one thing that keeps me sane during my workday are becoming increasingly patronizing.
Every few months another of my favorite on-the-clock timekillers falls victim to the company's web filtering. The latest on the list is Urban Dictionary. Other blocked favs include the South Park production blog, Fark and Sploid. Any site that contains too many uses of the words "video" and "games" is also restricted. Strangely enough, Blogger has yet to be banned. Knock on wood.
The official line on these restrictions is to prevent viruses from getting into the network, to prevent offensive content from reaching innocent eyes and to, of course, increase productivity. As of yet, no rules have gone into place stopping my coworkers from bringing in Game Boys, mini DVD players and trashy romance novels. So the internet junkies among us are being unfairly prosecuted while the rest are allowed to indulge themselves because their questionable activities can't be monitored by software.
My shiftless heart swelled nearly three sizes when "Cup O' Noodles" passed along a link to a few proxy sites. Supposedly proxies.com and the like offer a way to bypass corporate net nannies, granting dead-end drones like me access to sites that dare to contain words you still can't say on television.
Unfortunately, the corporate autocrats here are at least fifty steps ahead of me. Every proxy site I've managed to track down is blocked. Curses!
I can just see those network guys downstairs. Laughing it up as they ogle Suicide Girls and download illegal music onto company machines, their wallets swelling as they make twice what us chumps up on the fourth floor pull in.
It just isn't fair. *sniff*
If you're reading this net guys, cut us a break, will ya'? Oh, what, the joke about the Suicide Girls? Aw, come on. It was just a gag. You can't seriously be upset about that. Ok, fine, fine. You work very hard for your money. I take it back.
Aw, don't be like that. No, get away from there. You don't need to restrict my access to this blog. Even if I was asking for it.
You guys are geeks, right? You probably dig all those "Matrix," "Aeon Flux," anti-"machine" movies. You probably just exited out of the PC edition of "Path of Neo" to go through the list of sites accessed this week. Don't you see? You're just like Agent Smith, Trevor Goodchild and Big Brother all rolled into one.
You're working for the man, man! Take the red pill and use your powers for the forces of good. Don't worry. Your manager will never find out. We all know they can't even open IE, let alone keep tabs on something like this. It'll be our secret.
Free. Your. Mind.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Bringing things up to code
While the new mantra/description of this blog (see above) may include a guarantee that something new will pop up here every Monday through Friday, I'm already falling down on the job. Rather than come up with any new content tonight I've brought other areas of Welcome to Blog up to speed.
The archives and photo of the month page have both been updated after having been neglected for over three months. There's even a new section on the about page that attempts (and fails) to explain the weird name of this blog.
While these areas are now up to date, the design on this blog remains regrettably stuck in the year 1998. To prove it, here's an annoying animated GIF. Remember them?
Monday, December 05, 2005
Coloring contest - phase 2
So it all comes down to this.
Four entries enter, three entries leave.
Only three can win and only one will take home the festive talking George Bush doll you see here.
And now y'all will decide which of the four entires in WELCOME TO BLOG's 2005 HOLIDAY COLORING CONTEST won't make it. Which among them simply doesn't cut the mustard? Which among them is one Froot Loop shy of a full bowl? And which one is all Preparation and no H?
Click here to view the entries. Once you've carefully considered all four, vote for your favorite below. Feel free to vote as many times as the poll will allow. After all, what's a HOLIDAY COLORING CONTEST without cheating, fraud, backstabbing, etc?
The poll closes at midnight PST this Wednesday, December 7th. The winner will be announced on Thursday. Not only will they gain the ability to terrorize their pets with GW, their drawing will take the place of the cop shot above and become Welcome to Blog's Photo of the Month for December.
Let the battle for coloring supremacy begin!
UPDATE: The poll is now closed. The results will be revealed tomorrow evening.
Friday, December 02, 2005
I don't have anything...
...to blog about today so please enjoy this video clip of Willard Scott kissing the disembodied head of ALF.
And if you really need context to enjoy it, click here.
Also: if you considered entering the coloring contest (see link above) but were delayed on a transcontinental flight or something like that, the deadline has been pushed back to this Sunday at midnight.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
Beware the evil that lurks in them thar West Hills!
Last Friday I was heading home from the Horse Brass, doing my typical post-bar thing. Head up Burnside, spend twenty minutes waiting for a burrito at Taco Bell, watch a few drunken PSU business majors scream at each other and finally set sail for home via SW Vista. The drive over the hill and the descent down to Beaverton-Hillsdale is usually pretty boring, especially since this long stretch has become a speed trap a recent years. So it's 10 minutes of tedious winding curves and empty streets.
But as I reached the crest at the intersection of Dosch and Patton, a black Lexus SUV was waiting. The headlights were off and it looked like it had been waiting there for a while.
For someone to come along in the dead of night.
Waiting for a schmuck.
A schmuck like me.
I pulled up to the stop sign, knowing I was in for trouble and their headlights went up. The driver made a quick right turn. The next thing I knew, a white object the size of a football was flying at my head. It popped and suddenly a gallon of mysterious goo began dripping down the passenger-side of the windshield.
So I sat there for a minute, thinking to myself, "What a bunch of assholes. Why didn't they wait for someone to drive by in a nice, freshly waxed car?" That's what I would have done but maybe they'd been sitting there for a half hour and finally grew tired of waiting. Who knows. The least they could have done is taken a tip from Stavros Niarchos and hand offered me a hundred bucks.
So that was all well and good. I was the butt of some dumb rich kid's prank just like Jello Biafra all those years ago in this same general area. I figured the glop would wash away in the rain overnight and that would be that. No such luck. By morning the goo was drying into a hard shell. Without a graden hose at my disposal, I drove down to my friendly, neighborhood car wash. Five bucks and a quick spin through would surely get this mess out of my life.
Or so I thought.
Three blocks later, more goo began dripping down the windshield. Where had it been? Why hadn't the car wash's mechanical doohikies exorcised it for all time? Was this glop super-intelligent? Did it hide in a crack over the glass or vanish to another universe and back again?
Too lazy and too cheap to drive back to the car-wash, I resigned myself to being the owner of a car covered in mysterious glop quite capable of teleportation. There's no way I would ever bid rid of it but maybe it would grow a mouth and tell me the secrets of the universe. Or at least attract squirrels that would lick the glop off for good.
But instead of all that this week's pounding rainstorms have all but washed it away. Now only question remains. What was this #$%@#! stuff?
I initially thought it was a water balloon full of leftover Thanksgiving mashed potatoes but the substance was far too runny. I know what you're thinking but it wasn't that either. Whatever this glop was, it had chives in it and unless these pranksters were truly twisted, the source had to be something food-related. It finally dawned on me a day or so later. My car had been hit with a...
So if you head up into the West Hills after a night of bar-hopping this holiday season, be forewarned. That SUV full of brats may still be up there.
Waiting at that stop sign.
Waiting for you...
...with a bucket full of gravy-filled water balloons...
...or pureed turkey...
...or mashed-up pumpkin pie...
...and souls chock full of fatty, leftover evil.