April 2011

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Another Portland Blog

Tuesday, February 28, 2006


Touring the Mardi Gras war zone

Just got back from a brief tour of downtown. Couldn't stay long because I have to be up for a job interview tomorrow at the crack of dawn but here's a prediction: PPD is going to top last year's arrest numbers. I wouldn't put cash money on it but I have a sneaking suspicion they'll get past fifty. As I came back to the westside off the Burnside Bridge, police were responding to four separate incidents within a three block radius.

If I wake up tomorrow and see riot footage on NW Cable News, I may just cry in my Cheerios. I love civil disobedience. Ask anybody.


Fatter Than Usual Tuesday

A group of coworkers have decorated a portion of my office with Bourbon Street facades made out of construction paper. They're fairly elaborate and include cafe signs and cardboard verandas. They even built a metal light post and turned a series of cardboard HBO stand-ups into Mardi Gras revelers. Currently, the menacing expressions of Tony Soprano and his crew are being subverted by purple beads and face masks. The "Spy Kids" are decked out in party hats and sunglasses but they're hiding behind a table. All things considered, the display is pretty creepy and implies that these New Jersey mobsters are bent on placing the moppets' cardboard feet in one-dimensional cement shoes (possibly with blinking lights in the soles). I wonder if this is the theme my coworkers had in mind or if I'm just reading to much into it.

All in all, Mardi Gras seems like a bigger deal this year, for obvious reasons. CNN's coverage has been running around the clock in recent days and it's surreal to see college kids running around in tarps in an effort to pay tribute to the victims of last summer's hurricane and Anderson Cooper on a New Orleans parade float tossing beads. Dan Aykroyd was in the same parade and Steven Segal served as the celebrity monarch. Britney Spear's, who has also seen her celebrity ranks drop from A to B in recent years, is out shopping with Katrina victims.

Last week I fired up Travelocity just to see what a last minute, round-trip ticket to the Big Easy would run. The cheapest fare out of PDX was in the $700 range.

So with all eyes on Mardi Gras this year, what's going to happen in downtown Portland tonight? Around 50 people were arrested last year, including 14 minors for breaking curfew. Will tomorrow's edition of the Oregonian contain a photo of tear gas clouds outside the Lotus Cardroom? Only time will tell.


Thoughts that jumped into my head while sitting in the balcony and watching Neil Young: Heart of Gold at the Cinema 21 on Sunday night

  • "I'm the only person in this theater under the age of 50. Naw, wait. There's a hipster teenager who's brought a date with him. Damn, now I'm the one feeling old."

  • "So this movie was directed by the same guy responsible for the phenomenal concert film 'Silence of the Lambs.'"

  • "OK, Neil. You survived a brain aneurism, your father succumbed to dementia, you've confronted your own mortality and you've come to the realization that all things in this life are fleeting. Now will you please can the ten minute long song about an old cabin and play 'Down By the River'?"

  • "Emmylou Harris is 57? Overlooking the silver hair, she looks all of 30. And here I was thinking she was like Storm from the X-Men, young but prematurely grey. She must sleep in a Botox chamber."

  • "So you own one of Hank Williams' guitars and you're not an incredibly rich billionaire that would hang something like this in a back bedroom with a hundred old dusty guitars previously owned by musical geniuses. Hey, that's great. You brought it with you tonight to play some songs of your new album but not "Down By the River"? WTF?"

  • "We all love you, Neil, but the "intimate" three-minute-long extreme close-up shots of your mutton chops were, maybe, a bad idea. Didn't you talk to Demme about this before the concert?"

  • Ok, Neil. It's the encore and you're rushing through all your old standards. You've covered 'Heart of Gold,' 'Needle and the Damage Done,' and...'Old King.' Wait, 'Old King,' that lame track from Harvest Gold about the dog that fell off your truck?!! Where the bloody hell is 'Down By the River'?!!!

  • "'Is there a guitarist in the house,'? What if all your grunge rock buddies saw you throwing out a lame line like that?"

  • "Years ago you bought a ranch and went with the caretaker to a nearby lake. At one point he asked you how you could afford such a place in your early 20s. The conversation was the inspiration for 'Old Man.' Hmmmm....I have nothing snarky to say about this. That's a good bit of trivia."

  • "Ok, the show is over. You've recorded your 'I'm gonna die someday/'Time Out of Mind' album. For your next tour/concert film, would you please put on your flannel shirt, break out your Fender and play....

    ....'Cinnamon Girl'? Or something off Rust Never Sleeps? C'mon, all this adult contemporary nonsense is a bummer, man."

  • Monday, February 27, 2006


    Sin CIty, PDX style

    "There are three stories about Vincent Lee Wyatt that begin to separate him from your average Multnomah County repeat offender.

    The one about defecating in his pants toward the end of a resisting-arrest trial, which brought him a mistrial. Another about breaking into his lawyer's office at 3 a.m. to help himself to a bottle of Old Grand-Dad. And then the one about that same lawyer- who is quite close to Wyatt and one of the few people he seems to trust even a little- offering to buy him a one-way ticket to Alaska."

    And they call him a "lady's man." If you didn't read last Friday's cover story in the Portland Tribune, now is as a good a time as any.


    I am now officially a reality show reject (kind of)

    Last week I launched a failed attempt at becoming a contestant on "Ultimate Blogger 2". Yesterday morning I learned that I'd managed to bet out thousands of applicants to land a spot among the top 20 finalists.

    For the final stage of the selection process, the organizers asked me for a headshot and my strategy to win. The email was sent the day before but I didn't see it until an hour before the noon deadline on Sunday (!!!). The contest hadn't even begun but already the challenges were tough. I snapped a self portrait, scribbled a quick strategy and sent everything off.

    Around 12:30, a half hour past the deadline, Google sent me the email back. Blast! In the middle of a second attempt, one of the organizers called to ask if I was already calling it quits. They accepted my excuse and said they'd still consider my late submission.

    Then, last night while I was in the middle of doing my taxes, I opened up Gmail and discovered that I didn't make the final cut. I'm now officially a reality show reject or at least an internet reality show reject. No $1,000 in prizes for me. *sniff* Click here to see the 12 contestants that beat me and the 13th contestant that bought their way in via an eBay auction.

    Honestly, I think it was the headshot that killed my chances. In a desperate attempt to make it interesting, I put on a "Karate Kid" bandana, a pair of Elvis shades and took the picture in front of a French flag. Instead of looking quirky and interesting, I better resembled a particularly bad performance artist trying to stage a one man performance of Ralph Macchio's cinematic classic through interpretive dance. It should also be noted that even under normal circumstances I look like the love child of Tim Roth and a donkey. I really should have put on a black hoodie and gone with a three day old beard and an ironic expression.

    But I could have been the wacky, freak contestant. I could have been the Kramer to the rest of the contestants' Jerry, Elaine and George. A Gonzo to their rest of the Muppets. A [insert the name of a wacky, freak contestant from a popular reality show here] to their [insert the names of better adjusted contestants from a popular reality show here].

    The contest would have lasted a month and there's no telling where it would have led. For the inevitable "do something stupid and blog about it" challenge, I planned to spend a night in haunted room at the Heathman Hotel or, if that was too expensive and another haunted hotel room couldn't be found in time, a night at a rundown motel on SE 82nd.

    After all, isn't that what these things are all about? Putting yourself in grave personal danger? Oh, well There's probably still time to apply for the "Freaks and Geeks" edition of "Fear Factor" before the entire show gets cancelled.

    Friday, February 24, 2006


    BLEEEEECH! Week concludes

    Actually, it was only three days long. Maybe I should have dubbed this a "BLEEEEECH! Long Weekend in the Middle of the Week." Or something like that.

    So I'll now draw things to a close with the following anecdote from an evening many a moon ago. Up until a few years back, a friend's father owned a beach house in Manzanita, OR. It was a great little place built back in the '30s. It sat 50 yards from the sand, had a rickety fireplace and an area in the back dubbed the "Zimboli Room." It was littered with mementos from three decades worth of beach trips, an old bar and a foosball table. The place was a timeless get-away, a house caught somewhere between Norman Rockwell and a Jimmy Buffet song.

    So during a holiday weekend a few years back, we were all lounging around the fire in the middle of the night. We'd grown bored with foosball and were sitting on top of a cache of booze and decades worth of accumulated condiments in the cupboards. Some of their labels were faded, with expatriation dates running back to the mid '80s. Naturally we gravitated towards dangerous experiments in mixology.

    A drink was created in the wee hours of that night. A terrible drink that would make the spines of most good-natured Americans run cold. A drink with an aroma so wretched it could kill a man. A drink that looked like vomit and probably tasted just the same.

    Not that I would know. Even today, my soul is too fragile and my tolerance for alcohol too weak to face a drink like this. It's since become a legend. You may have heard whispers about it in the dark corners of your neighborhood haunt. Or maybe your favorite bartender once told you about it during a quiet night around closing, his voice low and trembling despite the empty room and all the chairs upside down on the tables.

    We called it the "Boiling Moon." To my knowledge, only one has been made to date. Now my memory is fuzzy and I'm sure the parties involved would all disagree on the recipe but it went a little something like this....


    1 oz. ketchup
    1 oz. mustard
    2 oz. Worcestershire Sauce
    1 oz. lemon juice
    4 oz. hot tea
    1 raw egg
    2 teaspoons salt
    1 teaspoon pepper
    1 teaspoon spaghetti sauce seasoning
    1 shot Jägermeister
    1 shot vodka
    1 shot rum

    Served straight-up

    At least one of us tasted it and another may have been able to drink the entire thing. To be honest, I was really quite drunk at the time. The man who consumed the contents of that glass did live but he has a gut like a goat's that could be made of solid steel.

    Now, gentle reader, I have revealed one version of the recipe to you. As you can tell, the Boiling Moon is a dangerous weapon and not to be taken, er, in this case, drank lightly. We all made a promise that night to never reveal the recipe but it's a secret I can no longer live with.

    May God have mercy on me.


    UPDATE: Kenny, who was also there that night, clears things up with his version of the Boiling Moon. He actually had the foresight to write down the recipe. Now from what I recall, hot tea and a raw egg were vital ingredients- that they were the inspiration for the name, since an egg floating in hot tea would look like a "boiling moon." Or something like that. Anyway, here's his more authoritative version of the recipe, which is still pretty disgusting:

    soy sauce
    Worcestershire Sauce
    lemon juice
    a splash of leftover caper juice

    Thursday, February 23, 2006


    Nissan Watch: Day 18

    So I was prepared to come home tonight and take a few pictures of the damage that was done to the Nissan over the weekend. But you know what? That Margie Boule? She gets results. Based on the evidence at hand, I think she may even have Oprah-like powers.

    A few hours after her column about my vehicular conundrum hit the streets, she passed along an email from an officer involved with the PPD's Neighborhood Response Team. I sent him my address at 4:30 PM this afternoon and I received a voice mail around 6:30 PM. By 7 PM he had the Nissan on its way to wherever abandoned cars go when they've worn out their welcome in people's bushes. The officer even saw to it that all the broken glass was swept up.

    Excellent work but it's a shame that it took a tens of thousands of copies (no idea wha the O's circulation numbers are these days) of a newspaper column to get the job done. But who am I to complain? I've got that muddy spot on my hill back and I don't have a Nissan sitting in my living room right now.

    Still, I'm feeling a little down. Despite the threat of it rolling down the hill and through a wall, I sort of miss the car. It was always there when I got home from work, kind of like a reliable dog. A 2,000 pound steel dog with a broken windshield and a torn-up driver's side seat. I guess you just don't know what you've got until it's gone.

    All I have to remember it by is the photos and a few muddy tire tracks. Here's a shot of its old spot on the hill. It's still warm....*sob* And I told myself I wouldn't cry.

    And all those unanswered questions remain just that, unanswered. Who is Jesus Rodriguez-Luna? Is he still living in Hillsboro? Did he have to leave the country suddenly? Was his Nissan stolen? If so, why didn't he report it? The car was in pretty good shape before vandals discovered it last Saturday. If it wasn't stolen, why did he ditch it in front of my house? Did he get involved with one of those car title loan outfits? And how did it wind up in my bushes a week later? Did my neighbor break in, drop it into neutral and push it into the bushes? He is the kind of guy that would do that sort of thing.

    But seriously, thanks a million Ms. Boule. If you hadn't intervened wielding the awesome might of the mainstream media, the car would likely still be there come Rose Festival. Or worse yet, in my living room.

    And with that, this surreal little saga finally draws to a close....

    ...or does it? Given my luck, the Nissan will be back there tomorrow morning ala "The Cat Came Back."


    Happy b-day, Mr. Falk

    Mr. Falk, a colleague of mine, is celebrating his 25th birthday tonight. As I type these words he's reportedly running around Kelly's Olympian with several pairs of women's undergarments on his head.

    And I remember when he was just a fresh-faced high school junior getting expelled for publishing underground newspapers and shortly thereafter becoming a free speech martyr on the front page of the Oregonian's Metro Section.

    They grow up so fast, don't they?

    As for the undergarments and the head and all that, keep your eyes on My Space. I'm sure there will be photos.


    BLEEEEECH! Week continues...

    Keeping with the running theme, I have two more disgusting cocktails to pass along. The first comes compliments of "Zerlesen." Apparently, this one is a favorite of PJ O'Rourke.


    2 oz. Chicken Bouillon (Cold)
    2 oz. Beef Bouillon (Cold)
    1/2 oz. Lemon Juice (Fresh)
    Tabasco Sauce (To taste)
    Worcestershire Sauce (To taste)
    Pepper (To taste)
    Celery Salt (To taste)

    Wait...huh? No booze? I checked three different recipes and they were all non-alcoholic. Since when is O'Rourke a teetotaler? OK, fine, he merely mentioned this drink in one of his books but who knows? He could be chugging four of these with lunch everyday.


    2 3/4 cups tomato juice
    4 ounces pepper vodka
    1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
    1 tablespoon freshly grated horseradish, or prepared horseradish, drained
    1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
    1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
    Pinch salt
    Pinch freshly ground black pepper
    2 dozen small-sized shucked oysters

    (serves six)

    I've never done an oyster shooter. I won't do one in a boat. I won't do one on a goat. I won't do one in the Caspian Sea. I won't do one in a field of...peas. OK, I got nothing.

    While I'm sure there's far more disgusting drinks out there, I can't name one. Oysters? In a drink? WHY?!! If you're going to go that far, why not toss in a sardine, a tentacle and a little bit of seaweed that has sat on a beach for a few weeks, just for good measure?

    All I have to say is BLEEEEECH!

    Coincidentally, the Portland Not-Quite-Daily rolled out a series of odd drink recipes in a post yesterday. Click here to read all about Green Russians, Whiskey Dews and something called the Bloody Lawnmower.


    Welcome Margie Boule readers!

    I'm not expecting a heavy increase in traffic since the Oregonian ran a lengthy direct link. But since today's Margie Boule column is the most exposure this crazy little blog will ever likely receive, I've rolled out the welcome mat (see above). It's the best Google's image search had to offer. On the other hand, maybe I should have gone with the one covered in cartoon ponies or another emblazoned with the words "COME BACK WITH A WARRANT!"

    Anyway, will any curious readers track down this blog? We shall see. If this is your first time in these parts, here's a quick tour, complete with unnecessary bullet points:

  • Click here for a rundown and the history of Welcome to Blog. As you can tell, it specializes in goofy photos and, as a result, may take a while downloading. You may also have been hit with a pop-up ad after heading over here. Sorry about that. I'm working on it. I hate pop-up ads more than Indiana Jones hates Nazis.

  • If you're in search of further information and photos about the abandoned Nissan that belongs to Mr. Rodriguez-Luna, click here for the original post that drew Ms. Boule to this ongoing "saga." I also ran a brief update on it last week. Later this evening, I'll run photos of the car's current condition and I may finally summon up the courage to search the glove box. Stay tuned.

  • As you can tell, this place is a far cry from Jack Bog, Blue Oregon and the like. While they're the best of the best in Oregon's corner of the Blogosphere, I'd like to think this is the state's most self-indulgent blog. If you've made it this far, you may also enjoy the post below about Forest Park's mysterious "Stone House." If you're a fan of hometown literary hero Chuck Palahniuk, you may enjoy this recent post about a remake of "Fight Club" that will be released later this year in India.

  • If photos of Japanese arcade machines are more your style, click here. Welcome to Blog contains over three billion photos. To dive further down the rabbit hole and a look at shots covering everything for last summer's Goonies reunion in Astoria to Disneyland's talking trash can "Push," click here for the archives.

  • It's after one in the morning and I have to be up for work in the morning. I read the column a few minutes ago. As much as I hate the sound of my own voice, it comes through much worse in print (as you can no doubt tell). A million thanks go out to Ms. Boule for writing about the Nissan. i just wish the story was more interesting.

    If you have any questions, comments or reservations, feel free to drop them in comments area below or send me an email at the address above.

    With all this reckless, half-witted, late night, self-deprecating, self-promotion out of the way, I'm going to bed.

    Wednesday, February 22, 2006


    Welcome to BLEEEEEECH! Week and meet two "Drinks of the Puke-ture"

    With all due respect to the "Drink of the Future," I think I've found two "Cocktails of the Here and Now" that top even it's gut-wrenching "marshmallow matrix." Check out the recipes for these two hangover intensifiers, compliments of the Cocktails Calendar, which I picked up for half-price at Powell's a few weeks ago:

    Bullshot: vodka, beef bullion, Tabasco sauce, salt, and pepper over ice.

    Michelada: beer, lemon, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, Tabasco sauce, salt, and pepper over ice.

    Speaking as someone who still gags when my lips touch a Bloody Mary, all I can say is BLEEEEEECH! These are "Drinks of the Puke-ture."

    Oh, so you think my tastes simply aren't refined? To that I say, PFFFFFFT! Tomato juice and celery? That ain't a drink, it's gazpacho and no one eats gazpacho. You know why? Because gazpacho flippin' sucks.

    As you can tell, it isn't Nice Week around these parts. In fact, I think I'm going to declare the rest of this week BLEEEEECH! Week. Click back here for another disgusting drink recipe tomorrow folks!


    Update on the pop-ups

    I've removed Google Ads from the blog and I'm hoping this will prevent future pop-up adverts. Please let me know in the comments area below if you see anymore of them.

    If this doesn't do the trick, honestly, I'm stumped. I have no idea what else could be causing them. According to my server's not-at-all helpful help page, it can't be coming from their side.

    If anyone else out there can shine a light on this, I'd be grateful. Thanks.


    In search of the Stone House (part 2)

    Click here for part 1 of this not-even-slightly thrilling saga.

    Based on its ominous name and the vague rumors I'd heard all those years back, I was expecting to find the house in a dark corner of Forest Park. Tucked away at the end on a poorly maintained trail. I figured I'd somehow wind up lost in the park and wander in circles for hours before it appeared in front of me as if by magic. Inside a bubbling cauldron would no doubt be waiting. According to the map, it would take around 45 minutes to get up to the Stone House.

    To be honest, it only took around 30.

    The Stone House actually sits on a small hill overlooking a stream on a trail that, on that Sunday, was overloaded with families, panting pooches slow-moving day hikers in spotless Nikes. If it hadn't been for the slow moving group that insisted of walking two abreast up the trail, I could have made it up there in 15 minutes. Still, even in broad daylight and beside a packed trail the place is fairly freaky. Have a look:

    C'mon, isn't that the stuff of nightmares? Just imagine what it looks like after dark. Think I'm overselling the Stone House? Just wait until you read this next paragraph.

    According to Portland Parks and Recreation, the house's lease was never in the hands of a kiddie-chomping witch or a depraved recluse. According to Portland Parks and Recreation it was once a...bathroom. Here's the rundown from their website:

    This structure was built in the mid-1930s by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) as a public restroom. The infamous Columbus Day storm on October 12, 1962, took out the water line. Because the structure had been heavily vandalized over the years, the decision was made to gut the building rather than embark on costly repairs. It remains as a favorite spot to rest along the trail.

    I didn't bother to do any research on the Stone House before embarking, preferring to see it first without the back-story and drunk on my naive presumptions. I'd come all this way for a mold-covered, glorified Port-a-Potty.

    None of the bathroom fixtures remain and all that's left of the second floor is a ceiling-less husk covered in moss. Based on the evidence at hand, I assumed the place was easily a century old and may have been built by a freeloading hermit or bored future benefactor in the days before the city acquired all those acres.

    But despite the clear February afternoon, the place was still disconcerting. Faded red paint covered spots on a wall on the second floor. A small doorway downstairs led to a dark room covered in graffiti and broken glass. At some point, someone had apparently used it as a bedroom. This place could be the local hobo equivalent of a youth hostel.

    The oddest detail was a bent safety bar on the second floor.

    Who or what did this? Your guess is as good as mine. My money is on "sledgehammer."

    Also nearby was this note under a rock:

    As a public service, I've transcribed it here:

    "2/11/05 5:30 PM

    I found a diary here. Email me: [address deleted to prevent spam for attacking this kind soul's email account. Click on the pic for a closer look].

    I live near here. I won't read anything. It seems to have been lost."

    Missing diaries? Graffiti? Abandoned bed sheets? Sure, the Stone House isn't worthy of a Grimm's fairy tale but it's still at least slightly creepy. Not nearly as creepy as the still operational bathrooms in the Park Blocks but give it some credit.

    After hiking up the trail a ways, I returned to the stone house as the sun began to dip below the horizon. By then, all the families and dogs had vacated the park. On that quite Sunday evening, as I took the picture you see above, I could have sworn I heard someone whispering in the dark room on the first floor. The voice crackled and sounded like it was over a hundred years old. It was a woman's voice and it said....

    ...."Scientology is the bridge across that chasm, from a lower to a much higher level of existence – a brighter happier world. Won't you please accept this free pamphlet?"


    OK, maybe not but at least I tried.

    Here's to the Stone House. May the it perplex hikers and their dogs for many years to come. Long live the Stone House!

    Tuesday, February 21, 2006



    I recently changed a setting on my Google Ads account that may be causing pop up advertisements to appear on this blog. It only seems to happen on my Mac at home though. If you've been attacked by them after clicking over here, please drop me a line in the comments area below. It may be time to do away with the ads altogether. It's one thing for the Hotel Lucia to be advertising here but I should probably draw the line at animated "American Idol" propaganda.

    Even obscure, self-aggrandizing Portland bloggers that post too many blurry, slow-downloadin' photos and can't be bothered to fix their XML feed have to have standards.

    UPDATE (Wednesday 4 PM): I tweaked another setting on Google Ads. Pop-ups and graphic ads (bottom of the column beneath the links) should no longer appear on this blog. I've tested it in both IM and Firefox and I haven't seen any on my end. Yet. If you see either, please let me know in the comments. Merci.


    In search of the Stone House (part 1)

    I've heard rumors about the Stone House for a while now. Nothing too exciting- just that there's an ancient house made of rocks sitting in the middle of Forest Park*. As an impressionable PPS student, I may at one point have been told on an elementary school playground that the house leads to a parallel dimension or that satanists like to hang out there and teach cats how to smoke cigarettes. You know, the sort of BS that older kids make up on the spot to freak out those with ages still in the single digits. Despite these half-remembered rumors from grade school, I never bothered to seek the place out until an idle Sunday a few weeks ago.

    Using a map from an old issue of Portland Monthly, I set out from Macleay Park along a trail that led past all sorts of pretty scenery like this:

    And this:

    And, uh, this:

    I've lived in Portland most of my life but I've set foot in Forest Park a grand total of three times. I know, I know. If you're at all shocked by this statement, you're obviously not a local. Natural beauty? Meh. It's like growing up in Vegas. When you've spent your entire life around fake volcanoes, white tigers and pirate ships that sink every hour on the hour, they become as easy to ignore as your average strip mall. I was hanging around with squirrels in Tyron Creek State Park when you were but a glimmer in your father's eye as he complained about the lack of bike lanes in Los Angeles County.

    So, yeah, a grand total of three times and during each visit I've encountered at least one discarded piece of clothing. How did that sock get there? Did a hiker decide to ditch their socks and commune with nature by going au natural but only from the ankles down? Was the sock used as a white flag to stop a squirrel gang war?

    During my last visit it was a bra, which is both disconcerting and funny at the same time. Allow me to explain. The bra probably wound up there after two hikers started feeling frisky. Or it could quite possibly be, well, click here.

    When you plop a gigantic forest in the middle of a major metropolitan city, it's bound to earn a Janus-faced reputation. For some Forest Park is a wonderful place to spend hours biking, letting your dog bounce around in the streams (which is against the rules) and, uh, boinking like bunnies. For others it's as creepy as a backdrop from the darkest of the Grimm Brother's Fairy Tales- a literal Black Forest where serial killers ditch bodies, hermits force their children to grow up under tarps and...satanists teach felines how to suck down Marlboros.

    For me, the place has always held a eerie mystique that dates back to those days on the playground. After finally discovering the Stone House, my reservations about the place remain firmly in place.

    So what did I find there? What secrets lie beyond the mysterious n' mossy stone entrance you see above? Was it anything like the "Blair Witch Project" or "Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown"? Maybe. You'll have to wait for the answers in part two of this rambling blog series.

    I'll post it tomorrow. In the meantime, please enjoy this footnote. You may remember it from the first paragraph.

    * During a long-ago recess at Hayhurst Elementary in SW Portland, a fifth grader claimed that this is how satanists spend the majority of their free time. I believed him but I was 8 at the time, gimmie a break. On the other hand, maybe this *is* what they do when they're not trying to organize a run at the Minnestota governor's mansion. To be honest, I've never met one.

    Monday, February 20, 2006


    Indoor heat is...good?

    Yes, Virginia, indeed it is.

    I live in a cottage built in the '30s without the slightest bit of weathering and not a stitch of insulation. If a shotgun shack mated with a quaint beach cabin, this is what their little wooden boy would look like. My furnace broke down last Monday and, of course, what happened last week? The %#!@#! temperature dropped down into the $@#!! 20s.

    Probably the worst moment was when I got home late on Friday night and discovered it was 47 degrees in my living room. If it weren't for my Columbia Sportswear jacket and the copy of "The Life Aquatic" that arrived via Netflix, I would have probably spent the rest of the night in one of the last remaining sleaze-pit motels on Barbur Boulevard.

    Which would have made for a blog post a lot more interesting than this one, but, hey, a freezing cold homestead is still better than spending a night in a room wedged between a meth cooker and a Mayor Quimby-esque fling. I've had a lot of sleepless nights in my life but never one caused by a lack of caulk.

    So Steve Zissou and the jacket, in addition to a $5 bottle of wine, a nearly-worthless $20 space heater and a recently unearthed copy of Sim City 3000, got me through that foul evening. I stayed up until dawn listening to Bill Murray deadpan as I shivered and built New York City from scratch on my PC. Since you no doubt spent the holiday weekend comfortably lounging around your warm, energy efficient abode, I'm now officially 5 - 10 % more hardcore than you. I don't care if you served in 'Nam. I once spent a sleep-deprived President's Day weekend in a house with no operable furnace.

    But a miracle happened today: a repairman finally showed up and I have heat once more. Blessed heat. Heat milked from the udders of the Heavenly Cow of Warmth Herself- no pasteurization process required. A guy told me one time, "Don't let yourself get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner." You know what I have to say to that guy now? You can run away from the heat all you want, pal, I'm staying put.

    To celebrate, I've donned a pair of Elvis shades and I'm sipping a Mai Tai from a plastic bamboo cup. Les Baxter is cranked up to 10 on the hi-fi and the the meter on my thermostat is reading a downright balmy 87 degrees. If it were feasibly possible to set it up, I'd run down to the root cellar for the hammock.

    This evening will add at least 60 bucks to my heating bill but it's worth it. In fact, I may have to open the window here pretty soon. It's getting damn hot in here.


    The Libertarians are coming! The Libertarians are...

    While the Republicans won't be staging a national convention in Portland anytime soon, apparently the Libertarians will be holding theirs in town this summer. Their convention for the midterm elections will be held at the downtown Hilton on July 1st and 2nd. To learn more about this "exciting event," click here.

    I have to be honest. When I clicked on the hotels link over at the event's website I was expecting to see the Red Lion Hotel in Hillsboro or a roadhouse in Estacada. This could get reeeeeeeal interesting, especially if the Libertarians stick closely to their "free expression" mantra and bring along a weekend's supply worth of hookers, booze and explosives. The event will be like "Caddyshack" as directed by Hunter S. Thompson.

    I kid...I kid.

    (Thanks, b!x)

    Thursday, February 16, 2006


    How cold is it in Portland right now? (UPDATED on Friday afternoon with even more obnoxious one-liners)

    The city is about to belly-flop into a mean cold streak. It could dip down into the teens this weekend. Temperatures that low are almost unheard of around these parts. Record low temps may send local thermometers down into the low 20s tonight.

    And my furnace is still broken. As I type these words, I'm sitting in my living room in a winter coat. My space heater can't quite get the temperature in here above 58 F.

    I wish I were joking.

    Nobody said home rental-ship would be easy. Supposedly a repairman will be out here tomorrow morning.

    So how cold is it in Portland right now?

  • It's so cold that downtown transients can't wash their undies in the Benson Bubblers. They're frozen solid.

  • It's so cold that the Portland Tribune is considering moving their headquarters again. This time from Clackamas to Tijuana.

  • It's so cold that Jake Gyllenhaal and a gang of rag-tag protagonists are trapped inside the Central Library.

  • It's so cold that the dancers at Mary's Club are only stripping down to long underwear and thermal pasties.

  • It's so cold that the only thing more frosty than the wind chill factor is the Blazers' win/loss record.

  • It's so cold that local meth heads are lighting up their pipes just to keep warm.

  • It's so cold that Portland Mercury editor Wm. Steven Humphrey finally invested in not just one toupee but two (sorry, Humpy. Not that you'll ever see these words...).

  • It's so cold that it's a "three dog night." Or, as Neil Goldschmidt might say, it's a "three teeny-bopper night."

  • It's so cold that crazed, axe-wielding patriarchs don't have to drive up to Timberline Lodge to chase their families around.

  • It's so cold that former mayor Vera Katz's face has turned white, finally completing her transformation into the Joker (click here if you don't believe me).

  • It's so cold that the animals at the Washington Park Zoo are killing their furry neighbors just so they can crawl inside their corpses Han Solo-style. And you thought Packy the elephant smelled bad...on the outside.

  • It's so cold that the Republican Party has already ruled out holding their convention in Portland come 2008. Reason why? "Cause it gets this cold again, Vice President Cheney's tiny, frozen heart would have to be thawed out with a hairdryer.

  • It's so cold that local leprechaun mountain climbers are trying to reach the top of Ha Seung-Jin.

  • It's so cold that suburbanites in Beaverton are finally tearing the price tags off their Columbia Sportswear jackets and overpriced REI gloves.

  • It's so cold that the nipples of voluptuous KPDX spokeswoman/local media mogul Daria O'Neil have been classified as dangerous weapons by the Department of Homeland Security.

  • It's so cold that the good folks at Voodoo Doughnut have invented a new doughnut for shivering patrons: maple bars filled with hot buttered rum.

    And from the home office in Burlingame, the number one way to convey how cold it is in Portland...

  • Latest crisis to hit the doomed OHSU tram project? Abominable Snowman attack!


    Nissan Watch: Day 11

    Day 3

    Day 11

    I seriously think it's sliding (and apparently streching and getting blurrier. Thanks, Photoshop!). I considered attempting to enter the car through the driver's side door to retrieve any registration info that might be in the glove box. I'm afraid that the slightest bit of movement will send it toppling down the hill though. Picture that scene in "Jurassic Park" where the kids are climbing down the tree as their jeep precariously hangs overhead and you should get a good idea of the potential danger factor. BTW: the door on the passenger side is locked.

    Another thing I just noticed this morning: the sun roof was left slightly open. In addition to a good amount of rain, there might some enterprising critters living in there at this point. The vehicle may currently be playing host to a few dozen spiders, a family of squirrels, a feral cat and a pair of raccoon newlyweds.

    I called the police a few days ago. Amazingly, the vehicle hasn't been reported stolen. It belongs to someone in Hillsboro but they wouldn't provide me with contact info. There's a mystery here but I don't know where to go from here.

    If you're coming into the mini-mystery already in progress, click here to get caught up to speed.


    This is one town that won't be painted red in 2008

    Mayor Potter nixed that idea quick. From kgw.com:

    The mayor's spokesman John Doussard said the Portland Oregon Visitors Association believes the city would not be eligible because the Oregon Convention Center -- despite its recent expansion -- does not meet the GOP's minimum requirements.

    "No, we're probably not going to move forward on this," he said. "Our convention facility, and in many ways our city is too small for what they want."

    The RNC is requiring at least 22,000 hotel rooms and suites, and a convention facility capable of seating 20,500 people with convention floor space big enough for 5,500 delegates and alternates, according to a news release on the Republican National Committee's Web site. RNC spokesman Aaron McLear said the requirements are "pretty strict."

    "Portland is looking at this and seeing if they meet the requirement," he said.

    Brian McCartin, POVA's executive vice president of sales and marketing, said in order to come up with the 1 million square feet of space needed they'd have to use the Rose Garden and convention center. Like the mayor's office, he's skeptical if the city can make it work.

    "It would be the largest convention we've ever had in Portland," he said. "I know we've clearly we've done a lot to establish ourselves as a meeting destination. We're not an Orlando or Chicago, but we're a good second tier city."

    But what about the DNC? Is there still time to get in on that?

    (hatip: b!x)

    Wednesday, February 15, 2006


    The PIFF? Pffffffffffffft!

    I've been meaning to write another rant about the Portland International Film Festival. About how it's yearly line-up only seems to appeal to the stodgiest of movie fans. About how for every "Lady Vengeance" there's at least a dozen dreary docu-dramas about "one family's struggle to battle alcoholism, existential melancholy and bad posture." About how 95% of the lineup would put the average filmgoer to sleep by the end of the opening credits.

    But the Mercury's Erik Henriksen beat me to it. Here's a link to what he had to say about the festival in last week's issue.


    Portland on a list to host the 2008 RNC?

    This is really the sort of thing that belongs over on Jack Bog but I just received this news in my inbox from a contact in DC. Somehow Portland wound up on a list of 31 potential cities to host the 2008 Republican National Convention. I'm not making this up.

    It's gotta be a last minute gag by someone in the party and there's no way the convention would come to town in a million years. After all, this is the city that Ronald Reagan and Bush Sr. once fondly referred to as "Little Beirut." Anyway, here's the RNC press release that was passed along to me this morning.

    CONTACT: Aaron McLear

    Wednesday, February 15, 2006

    RNC Invites Cities To Host

    2008 Republican National Convention

    WASHINGTON - In beginning the process of selecting a host city for the 2008 Republican National Convention, the Republican National Committee (RNC) yesterday presented request for proposals to 31 cities. The request includes an outline of the specifications for hosting the convention and a request for preliminary information that will assist the RNC Site Selection Committee in evaluating each interested city.

    Cities that received 2008 request for proposals are:

    Anaheim, Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Kansas City, Memphis, Miami, Minneapolis, Nashville, New Orleans, New York, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Portland, Sacramento, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, and Tampa.

    "We are excited to begin the process of selecting a city to host our 2008 convention," RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman said.

    "We have had a lot of interest from a variety of cities across the country and look forward to finding a city that will help us showcase our positive agenda for America," added RNC Co-Chairman and Site Selection Committee Chair Jo Ann Davidson.

    Cities were informed that the RNC Site Selection Committee will hold individual meetings in Washington, D.C. with representatives from all interested cities to discuss convention criteria, logistics and the site selection process. Cities that did not receive a request for proposal but would like to be considered can contact the RNC.

    The Site Selection Committee will decide on a list of finalist cities by mid-summer of 2006. The Committee plans to visit only those finalist cities during the late-summer and expects to make a final selection on the Host City no later than February 1, 2007.

    The RNC will select dates for the convention in the coming weeks.

    I poked around a bit and it looks like no one else locally has reported on this yet. Hooray! I've scooped Portland media at large!

    You heard it here first, folks.

    UPDATE: Nope, wait. Looks like the The Business Journal of Portland beat me by an hour and medfordnews.com was on it by 11:30. Nothing on Oregon Live as of 2:15 though. They're running breaking news on Sebastian Telfair, who was apparently caught on the Blazers' team plane with a loaded gun. Huh?!!


    Dave Chappelle in Seattle

    I found out about the AWOL superstar comedian's surprise show at the Paramount Theater at 11:30 this morning when I got to work, 90 minutes after tickets went on sale.

    I checked Ticketmaster at 11:32 this morning. It came as no surprise that all of the theater's 2807 seats were all sold out. According to Metroblogging Seattle, the tickets were gone by 10:15.

    I checked Craigslist at 11:34. Tickets are already selling over there for upwards of $100 a piece.

    From what I can tell, the show was announced to the public only a few hours ago. All of this happened in the space of, maybe, four hours.


    UPDATE: Actually, the Seattle PI reported on the show last night. Nevertheless, I stick by the "sheesh."

    Tuesday, February 14, 2006


    It's the most blunder-ful time of the year

    So maybe you're not having the best Valentine's Day. Maybe your significant other gave you a box of chocolate instead of that Shane Company pendant you've had your eyes on. Or maybe they took you out to Red Lobster when you really wanted to hit the Cheesecake Factory. Or maybe they greeted you at the door in an old bathrobe instead of the Pick of the Month from the Victoria's Secret catalog. Or maybe you'll be spending the evening alone in front of "War of the Roses."

    Well, cry me a river, bucko. I'll see your "bottomless pit of loneliness" and raise you a growing laundry list o' malaise. While you may be hunkering down to sit out the holiday with a carton of Ben and Jerry's, I'm in the market for a bunker I can spend the rest of February hiding in.

    For me, Valentine's Day is always the worst 24 hours of the year but not for all the usual reasons. It's always a dark nexus when everything goes wrong. It's around the time my car breaks down or gets stolen, I get the flu, the power goes out, I get slammed with a thousand deadlines or some combination of all of the above. But this year takes the cake. Or, in this case, the box of inedible candy hearts. If you think you've got it bad, have a look at what I'm contending with:

  • The "cottage" I'm renting is infested with carpenter ants. They're everywhere- on my towels, my couch, my box of Coco Puffs, etc. Ever find an ant on your shoulder as you're trying to read a copy of Rolling Stone? I have. The place is starting to look like Joe's Apartment but with pushy mutes instead of wisecracking roaches. These humorless buggers wouldn't know a punchline from a punchbowl.

  • The furnace broke down again last night and the temperature will be dropping into the low 30s every night this week. There's a chance of snow on Friday. I made do with a space heater and didn't get any sleep. The temperature in my living room this morning was 55 degrees. If that doesn't sound so bad, try it sometime.

  • The number of problems with the cottage increases on a nearly daily basis. In addition to the ants and the unreliable furnace, the basement floods every time it rains. Several long cracks in the bedroom walls and ceiling suggest that its foundation may also slowly be crumbling. Some night in the near future I'll probably come home and discover that the place has finally collapsed and/or spontaneously combusted.

  • The Nissan is still parked in my bushes.

  • I'll be spending the day and most of the evening at work dealing with irritable old people, cranky lonely-hearts and middle-aged coworkers gushing over who's hubby got them the biggest flower display or the most adorable Vermont Teddy Bear.

  • Instead of encountering any of these scenarios, I'll be coming home to a freezing house and 3,000 ants that have no doubt relocated to the living room because the draft in the basement cuts right through their exoskeletons.

  • But things could worse. At least that Frontline/Oregonian expose on the meth epidemic airs tonight. Really, who schedules something like this for Valentine's Day night? Programming geniuses, that's who.

    There, now don't you feel better? If not, here's a link to a gallery of vintage "Return of the Jedi" valentines cards like the one above.

    UPDATE: My landlord just called me at work. An exterminator will be out tomorrow morning and he's about to put in a call to a furnace repairman. It's a Valentine's Day miracle!

    UPDATE 2:

    Context? Over here.

    Monday, February 13, 2006


    Fight Club - the Bollywood remix

    For everyone that reads Willamette Week this is already old news. Apparently, a production company in India has produced what looks like a remake FIght Club. There's even a website with trailers and another with links to music videos..

    So I looked around a bit and made a checklist. Based on the evidence at hand, is this Bollywood production a rip-off of the film adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk's novel or does it just coincidentally shares the same name?

  • Dust Brothers-esque soundtrack? Check

  • Premise that follows a group of young men that spend their evenings beating the crud out of one another? Check.

  • Gritty promo photos of cast members covered in bruises and band-aids? Check.

  • Annoyingly quotable rules that dictate the club? Check.

  • Self-concious, post modern, nihilistic, first-person narration? Pending but probably a check.

  • Homoeroticism....

    ...? Check, check and more check. This is a still from the movie. Yes, really.

  • Looks like Palahniuk should contact his lawyer, that is if he isn't getting residuals from this.

    According to the IMDB, It'll be released in India sometime later this year. Still no sign of "Fight Club: The Musical" though.


    Not funny, vengeance will be mine, etc.

    If you've been reading this blog for a while you already know that its author has problems with the law. That both he and his 1984 Toyota mini-van are public menaces and the bane of traffic cops and meter maids in two states. In the past sixteen months, he's been pulled over five times, has been slammed with three speeding tickets and has received more parking tickets than you will see in a lifetime.

    All right, enough with the third-person narrative.

    It's become such a problem that I automatically assume my wallet is about to get $275 lighter every time I see red and blue flashing lights in my rearview mirror. I went out to eat Sunday dinner with the parents at Tad's Chicken and Dumplings last night. As we were driving out of Troutdale, three squad cars appeared behind the car. The first thing that sprung to mind was not "Ok, gotta pull over." Instead it was "what did I do this time? I swear I flipped the turn signal at least 100 feet from that last right turn."

    It's with good reason that I get paranoid everytime I get behind the wheel or even get within sight of my vehicle. There's no telling when a parking ticket will wind up under a windshield whipper.

    Still, while I was spending a lazy weekend in Eugene recently, the last thing I expected to get hit with while I was still half-asleep in a duplex infested with hippies was this:


    You can imagine the obscenities that filled that mellow duplex seconds later. The last time I spent a night in Eugene, this happened. After another five minutes of shaking my fist at the sky, I actually opened the envelope and found this:

    It was all a practical joke orchestrated by that no good "Flog.", nearby east Eugene resident, Achewood devotee and (soon to be) Attorney at Law.

    Obviously I must have my revenge.

    No, I didn't learn a damn thing from "Munich."

    My revenge must be out-of-the-clear blue when he least suspects it.

    It must cause him to expel no less than five variations on the "f-word" but no more than seven variations of the "s-word.

    If you have any suggestions, fire 'em off to welcometoblog@gmail.com. Don't bother jotting them down in the comments section of the site. That's the first place that cunning bastard will look. Sure, this blog post will probably do the trick and keep him on his toes for a while but I've gotta at least make a half-hearted stab at vengeance.

    I hear it's a dish best served cold but I'm thinking lukewarm might be more appropriate.

    Friday, February 10, 2006


    Everything Sucks!

    This just in: everything sucks.

    Robert Ivans, a representative from the American Institute of Sucktitude announced today that "everything sucks." In a six month examination that focused on everything from the climate of national politics to culture and spending habits, the group determined that the United States' overall condition matches levels not seen since the early 1970s.

    "Right now I'd say the US is about where it was in 1970 or 1971," said Ivans. "We were still stuck in Vietnam, Nixon was at the height of his power and it's the year Hendrix, Joplin and Morrison all died. Those years most certainly sucked."

    The AIS uses a meter, outlined below, similar to DEFCON or the national threat level to rate the nation's current state of "all around suckiness." The institute has determined that the US is currently at level two.

    Level 0 - Willy J. Clinton's first term

    Level 1 - Ronald Reagan's first term.

    Level 2 - Richard Nixon's first term

    Level 3 - The Depression

    Level 4 - The Civil War

    Level 5 - The fall of Rome

    Level 6 - The Bubonic Plague

    "As a nation we're still pretty low," Ivan's admitted. "But that doesn't change the fact that everything still sucks."

    The AIS pointed to evidence ranging from the ongoing conflict in Iraq, continued fallout from Hurricane Katrina, violent protests over Danish editorial cartoons, the Justice Department's subpoena of Google, that global network of secret prisons, the administration's unapologetic use of illegal wiretaps, numerous political scandals that never seem to knock Cheney and Bush out of office, a proposed federal budget that will slash funding for just about everything in order to pave way for continued tax cuts for the rich and the mere existence of Kelly Clarkson's "Since You've Been Gone."

    "If you hear even two seconds of that infernal song it'll get stuck in your head for a week," said Ivans. "It's pure evil. At least music during the Nixon-era was tolerable and emblematic of the times."

    "Oh, and did you hear about those speed radars that may soon be installed in reflective road markers," Ivans added. "I read about those in the January issue of 'Wired.' It's like we're living in an oppressive Orwellian dystopia or 'Aeon Flux' but without all the hot revolutionaries running around in skintight leather."

    The institute claimed the Bush administration is to blame for the majority of the nation's problems and its forecasts for the rest of the decade were dire. "If the president has gotten away with this much and still hasn't been impeached, he won't be going anywhere before 2008," said Institute president Ty Lookwell. "The Midterm elections? Puhleaze. Myself, I plan on spending the next three years hiding under my desk with the entire run of 'Growing Pains' on DVD."

    "I'd move to Canada but I heard they just elected a conservative Prime Minister," Lookwell added. "This is a decade I'd just like to sleep through. Wake me up when 2010 gets here."

    The two agreed that things aren't all bad. "Did you read those articles about the forest that was discovered in Indonesia," Ivans said. "The tree kangaroo they found is flippin' sweet."

    But Ivans' optimism was short lived. "Ah, wait. Some development group will probably come around and tear out all the trees soon. And we still have forces in Afghanistan, don't we? And gas prices are going up again. And the Xbox 360 stinks. And 'Arrested Development' is still cancelled. Arrrrgh! Everything sucks!"

    Lookwell concluded the AIS' press conference with an option that may deviate America's increasing suckiness level.

    "We might jump down a level if they legalized pot or something," Lookwell said.

    -The Associated Press

    To read the AIS' last report, click here.


    A collection of links followed by a photo of a very drunk Harrison Ford in honor of Firewall's theatrical release

    Thursday, February 09, 2006



    Maybe I should have posted this on telephone poles around the neighborhood.



    MAKE: Nissan

    YEAR: Late '80s, early '90s.


    CONDITION: One piece.

    DETAILS: Sticker of a barking dog and hippie-ish natural landscape in the side window. Tassles and a toy chihuahua hanging from the rear view mirror.

    LOCATION: My bushes.

    THE LOCATION OF MY BUSHES: On a small, muddy hillside overlooking my house.

    HOW LONG IT'S BEEN IN MY BUSHES: Since last Saturday or so.

    HOW IT GOT THERE: That's what I would like to know.


    WHERE IT MIGHT WIND UP IF I EVER GET AROUND TO CALLING PPD: Most likely at a police auction.



    Let's see if this does the trick. The second the rains return the car is bound to roll down the hill. It may just be my eyes playing tricks but it's slid six inches since last Wednesday.


    The Goonies sequel...dead in the water

    For years there have been rumors floating around that Stephen Spielberg, Richard Donner and the cast of the original "Goonies" all wanted to come back to come back and make a sequel. Gossip floating around on sites like Ain't It Cool News suggested that the premise would involve a hunt for Native American loop in the Rockies or a trip back to those pirate caves in Astoria with the now grown Goonies' kids in tow.

    The story goes that the only thing holding the production back was getting the suits to toss $40 million or so at the project. Sure, "The Goonies" is a cinematic classic worthy of "Citizen Kane" and it's easily the best film ever made in Oregon but to a studio risking big bucks on the sequel to an '80s kiddie flick, it doesn't look like a sure thing. In a recent interview with IGN, director Donner mentioned the likelyhood of the sequel ever getting made. Here's what he had to say:

    DONNER: We tried. No, I don't think so. We tried really hard. Steven and I, we pitched a couple of things to them and, quite honestly, they weren't right. And we put it aside. If I could ever find a really good handle on a screenplay for it, I'd go pitch it again, because talking about [something] I'd want to see… It's extraordinary. But it's got to be right, or don't do it, because I couldn't believe that movie. It's done to generations of kids what it's done.

    You know, I still stay in touch with these kids. Chunk's a lawyer and he's great. Cory, he's doing great. He went through some s***, but he's really pulled himself out and he's clean and married and has a baby and he's the happiest kid. They're all good, they're all great. I love that movie. That's probably my favorite process of filmmaking in my life. I've fallen in love with all those kids. I was lucky because I never had kids. I never wanted kids. I wanted dogs. If I could come up with a really great concept, I would take it to Steven. And if it was really right, he'd know it too. Maybe one day Chris Columbus will write it for us and we'll get back to the old group.

    "Goonies 2" can't get made but a sequel to "Basic Instinct" staring a 3,000 year old Sharon Stone can?

    Booo! Burn Hollywood, burn!

    Wednesday, February 08, 2006


    "The Spice Beast" made it into Gridskipper's weekly photo contest

    If you haven't noticed I like takin' pictures. Unfortunately, I'm not much of a photographer and my lack of shutterbug skills aren't helped by my camera: a beat up 3.2 Megapixel Canon. I'd like to think the subject matter I hunt down (foreign toilets, weird arcade machines, Bavarian kitsch, etc.) makes up for my lack of know-how.

    Uh, I'll let you be the judge.

    Undaunted, I've been tossing snapshots from Welcome to Blog into the photo pool over at Gridskipper every few weeks for past several months. They earned little notice until last month. I made the mistake of not logging into Flickr or checking the travel blog for two weeks and, of course, one of my submissions was picked for their weekly contest. I didn't find about all this until earlier today.

    On January 25th my photo of the "Spice Beast" (see above. Adorable, ain't he?), went up against the work of four other far more skilled photographers. I never got a chance to link to the contest from this blog in an attempt to drum up support for ol' Spicy.

    So he came in dead last with 2.4% of the vote but it's nice to be nominated. Gridskipper's author deemed two other shots worthy of competition but went with the lesser of three selected (I think). Dammit, "Vladimir Lenin Loves Tacos" would have been a shoe-in for at least third place in the weekly poll. To see the shot that went on to win Gridskipper's photo of the month for January, click here.

    But enough about all that. If you haven't already seen the sleazy-as-all-get-out trailer for a certain movie that shouldn't have been made, here's a direct link. All things considered, I wouldn't suggest you click on it. I spent an hour tonight washing my eyeballs. Has Hollywood no shame?

    UPDATE: Oh, wait, wrong link. Here you go. Don't say I didn't warn you.


    The beaver wins!

    If Portland were to hold its own annual Small Rodent Predicts the Weather Day, which animal would make the best master of ceremonies? In a poll conducted last week, the readers of Welcome to Blog were given the task of determining a suitable candidate. Their decision?

    Narrowly beating out front runner Courtney Taylor-Taylor by a single vote, they've decided a beaver should be the one that pops out of a hole every February.

    Huh...huh...I said "beaver," "hole" and "pop."

    So to all the beavers out there, congratulations. You've been given the honor of acting as the MC in a hypothetical civic event that will never, ever take place. That's not to say you haven't won anything. I've cobbled together a Photoshoped image of one of your furry friends hosting this conceptual ceremony in Pioneer Courthouse Square. It's Welcome to Blog's photo of the month for February.

    The expressions of all involved is meant to suggest that this rodent has indeed seen his shadow and the region is in for another six weeks of rain....followed by another six weeks of rain and another six weeks after that. I suppose it could be open to interpretation though.


    The Black Hole

    Over the past decade I've driven between Portland and Eugene so many times I feel like I know every last inch of it. For most travelers this section of I-5 is a long, dull slog, especially after sun goes down. Sights like Fry's and Enchanted Forest break up the monotony heading south but, once past that paper mill in Albany, there's nothing to look at but lonely brown hills and grass seed farms. For years I've referred to this seemingly endless expanse as "The Black Hole."

    Once daylight disappears, this 44 mile stretch of the Willamette Valley is the absolute pits, especially when you're dead tired at the tail end of a weekend. Ot's almost impossible to make out the landscape surrounding the interstate after Eugene's lights fade away. Could be the Mojave, could be rural Kansas or New Jersey during a blackout. All there is to look at along this passage is the occassional farmhouse porchlight, other drivers and nothingness.

    I found myself heading into the Black Hole at midnight on Super Bowl Sunday, exhausted and in absolutely no condition to deal with its tedious desolation. This isn't the first time I've found myself in this situation but, given my driving record as of late, it's the first time I haven't been able to fight the tedium by putting the hammer down. While there was no one but a few stubborn truckers on I-5 that night, I couldn't employ the tactic I usually reserve for this scenario: equal parts Guns N' Roses' "Appetite for Destruction" and the awesome might of my vehicle's 10-horsepower engine.

    Instead I had to keep the odometer hovering within a few millimeters of 65 MPH as semis and the occasionally import passed me by. I made it to a rest stop 15 miles outside of Eugene and seriously considered spending the night at the Best Western in Harrisburg, if only to say I once spent a night in Harrisburg. I could have even spent part of the following morning sending out postcards. I wonder if any stores there actually sell them.

    After taking a hard look at my bloodshot eyes in piece of metal covered with graffiti (when did rest stop do away with mirrors made of actual glass?), I headed back to the car. Then, there in a cubby hole below the radio I discovered it: an old can of Red Bull. There's no telling how long it had been there. The top was covered in dust, dog hair and dried up drops of Taco Bell soda.

    Manna from Heaven! Sweet nectar of the Gods! Red Bull, blessed Red Bull!

    I brushed off the top and downed the can like Popeye before a brawl. Instead of utilizing "Appetite for Destruction," I opted to roll my iPod's screen over to "Tenacious D." More respectable bands just don't cut it in situations like this. When you're dead tired and high on caffeine, only '80s metal or tongue-in-check acoustic metal will cut it.

    The moon came out behind a row of clouds and lit up the Black Hole's plains, many of them flooded by recent rains. The light glinted off the murky water and, while it may have been the Red Bull talking, the lonely interstate looked quite 'purty.

    I don't know what they put in that energy drink but it certainly seemed to give my vehicle wings despite my determination to drive the speed limit the entire way. By the time I hit Portland, I felt like continuing on towards Seattle for the sheer hell of it. In fact, I could have easily made it to the Canadian border and back to town in time for work.

    Instead, I headed home and promptly passed out. This is why I don't drink coffee. With a low caffeine tolerance, a single Red Bull seems like an entire bottle of "Trucker's Little Helper."

    Tuesday, February 07, 2006


    Tokyo Prayer Card Week strikes back

    Here's one last photo that didn't quite get posted last week. This one is a prayer for all the world's hamsters. How can you not dig that? The author that put this one together must be a genius. Click the photo below for a closer look.

    And with that, Tokyo Prayer Card Week, AKA the least popular multi-part series in the history of Welcome to Blog, finally draws to a belated close. Click here for a collection of similiar photos.

    Monday, February 06, 2006


    Super Monday

    I'm busy trying to figure out how my heating bill climbed to $123 last month (thanks, NW Natural) and how a abandoned car wound up in my bushes while I was out of town over the weekend. I suspect the Seahawks' loss has something to do with the later. I got back into Portland at 2 AM last night and there it was, perhaps an inadvertent present from a Lewis and Clark undergrad with poor driving skills. My neighborhood is infested with those buggers.

    The car was still there when I got home from work tonight. If it is indeed abandoned and remains in the bushes for a certain period of time, do I get to keep it? And all the Ani DiFranco CDs on the front seat? I've got soaring energy costs to deal with here and that car and the CDs together have to be worth at least $400.

    Back tomorrow with more of the same.

    Thursday, February 02, 2006


    A Groundhog for the Left Coast?

    Punxsutawney Phil popped out of his hole today and saw his shadow. La-de-frickin'-da. That rodent is unqualified and ill-suited for forecasting the weather nationwide. And he's gotten too big for his furry britches, if you ask me.

    There, I said it.

    While this lousy rodent's annual weather predictions may apply to the East Coast, they don't mean jack squat for those of us that reside out west. Last year, this self-proclaimed "weatherman" didn't accurately predict what the month of February had in store for Oregon, that's for sure. While Phil saw his shadow, suggesting we were in for six more weeks of winter, the weather out here was downright balmy. Shucks, it even got up into the 70s at one point. I was down at Cannon Beach during the first week in March and it felt like the Fourth of July.

    Is this a face you can trust? Would you buy a used car from this groundhog? Of course not.

    I'd like to see Phil's degree in meteorology. If he even has one, he probably bought it off the internet for $29.95. That furball probably hasn't even taken a correspondence course in the field. If pressed, I'm sure Phil couldn't tell you the difference between a cumulous cloud and a chemtrail.

    While I'm the sort of blogger that likes to spread unsubstantiated gossip, this photo proves years of rumors. Punxsutawney Phil is a member of the New England Separatist Movement.

    I for one am tired of being misled by this rodent's half-baked forecasts. This is why the West Coast needs its own groundhog. And what better place to hold the annual event than right here in Portland. This is a town that loves nonsensical civic events (the Rose Festival, for example). The locals would go nuts over something like this and our groundhog would no doubt be able to predict the weather with at least 10 - 15% better accuracy.

    Our groundhog wouldn't even need to be a small reddish brown North American marmot. It could be anything. A woodchuck maybe. Or a kitten. Or a particularly adorable panda. Or a wise-cracking puppet. And we could hold the annual event on February 1st to get a jump on those East Coast know-it-all know-nothings.

    After careful contemplation, I've come up with three potential master of ceremonies that are all regionally appropriate. Feel free to consider the advantages and disadvantages of each and vote for your favorite below. If City Hall has bail-out cash for the OHSU tram, surely it can throw down a few grand to make this happen.

    Potential West Coast Groundhog # 1

    A Beaver

    Forecasting Method: If the beaver pops out of its hole and floods someone's backyard (like what happened to that lady on the news last week), spring is right around the corner. If it opts instead to stare blankly at the assembled crowd, we're in for six more weeks of winter.

    Advantages: Beavers are the West Coast equivalent of groundhogs and everyone loves to make jokes about those charming little bastards. "Beaver Believer" t-shirts would sell like hotcakes.

    Disadvantage: Logistical nightmare. May require more than one beaver to build a dam capable of flooding a backyard. Frat boys might flood the event with NSFW t-shirts.

    Potential West Coast Groundhog # 2

    A slug

    Forecasting Method: If the slug oozes out of its hole and promptly drowns itself in a plate filled with beer, we're for another month and a fortnight of rain. If it opts instead to tediously wander around in circles, it's time to head to JC Penny's for a new swimsuit.

    Advantages: Local PETA contingency probably wouldn't raise a fuss over an exploited garden slug. Full Sail or McMenamins could sponsor the event and pony up the cash for the neccessary public permits.

    Disadvantages Slugs move too damn slow.

    Potential West Coast Groundhog # 3

    Courtney Taylor-Taylor

    Method of predicting the weather: If Taylor-Taylor pops out the Odditorium muttering about having to do another %@#$#! interview with Willamette Week, winter will never end. If he heads outside and starts belly-aching about the Portland Mercury, the local temperature will actually rise above 60 degrees the following Spring Break.

    Advantages: Would probably accept the gig for a sandwich bag of cocaine, a carton of Virginia Slims and a few back issues of Vice. Anton Newcombe might show up to disrupt things by kicking people in the head.

    Disadvantages: Might start taking off his clothes or coming up with excuses why the Dandy Warhol's latest album has only sold thirty copies in the states. Hates Portland and meteorology too, no doubt. Probably wouldn't let Zia tag along.

    OK, before I start camping out in front of City Hall with a "Bring an Annual Weather-Related Event to Portland" sign, which one of these three candidates is best suited to become the West Coast's Groundhog?

    UPDATE: It's Wednesday morning and the poll is now closed. Any further votes will not be counted but the poll below has been left up because, well, why not?

    Official Welcome to Blog Groundhog Poll
    Which of the following might make a suitable groundhog for the West Coast?

    The results will be revealed sometime next week, y'all.


    Tokyo Prayer Card Week is...still going for some reason

    It's official. Tokyo Prayer Card Week is one of the least popular, if not the least popular multi-part series in the history of "Welcome to Blog." Nevertheless, it's already Thursday so I may as well see it through to the end. I'll buzz through these next two new prayer cards quickly in order to move onto something more interesting....

    ...like Chewbacca's tasteless blog.

    Still, as you'll soon agree, he's better at this sort of thing than 99% of the Blogosphere. That's not to say I approve of his revisionist history of 9/11 (he seems to think the Twin Towers were brought down by the Death Star). But as C3-PO once put it, "He's only a wookie. Cut him some slack, holmes."


    Knew something was up

    It's been one of those days.

    Ever since I opened my baby greens this morning, I knew something was up. Everything today has seemed a little...off. It's been the sort of Thursday where you know something dumb and weird is going to happen- the sort of day where the president goes on television, live, to say he was serious about working towards kicking the nation's gas addiction and/or announces he has Hepatitis C. And that he somehow caught it from a golf club.

    The sort of day where you walk outside and discover your neighbor drove his car through a wall the night before and it's now parked in his living room. Or a gang of feral cats engaged in a turf war in the middle of your yard.

    The sort of day where you simply can't wake up, wander around in a daze most of the morning despite the two cans of Red Bull you've consumed, only to later realize you're coming down with yet another $!#$!@! cold.

    The sort of day where you're driving to work and a guy in an ancient suburban blocks traffic on an overpass in order to run across the street and retrieve a rusty muffler*.

    The sort of day where someone has left one of the TVs in the office (which is filled with conservative, middle-aged women) on Showtime and t's airing a documentary about the history of feminism and also, apparently, breast feeding. The doc contains plenty of nudity but no one seems to care enough to get up and change it back to the Regis and Kelly**.

    The sort of day where Jodie Sweetin goes Good Morning America to announce she's a recovering meth head. Yes, Stephanie Tanner, the hottest of the former Full House daughters (Candace Cameron and the Olsen twins? Bleeeeck!). Check out this passage, from an E! Online article:

    After a particularly bad three-day bender, which reportedly resulted in an intervention staged by her former Full House costars, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, John Stamos and Bob Saget, Sweetin checked herself into Promises rehab facility for six weeks of intensive therapy.

    Clean and sober since March of last year, Sweetin now admits she was "living a total double life."

    "I was married to a police officer--we are going through a divorce right now--he had no idea," she said.

    If anyone from that show was going to go public with meth addiction, I would have bet on the twins or Saget. Did you see him on Late Night last week? That guy's friggin' nuts.

    * This actually happened. In Beaverton, of course. As for the neighbors car or cat gangs, this hasn't happened yet but the day is still young.

    ** This also happened.

    Wednesday, February 01, 2006


    Tokyo Prayer Card Week keeps on truckin'

    Another photo from the Meiji Shrine, which apparently attracts a good number of Americans. The scribe behind this card hails all the way from Portland, "Or-e-gone." I think they have the "Will-eh-met" River up there. From what I've heard, that city's filled with nothing but hippies, hip stuff, hipsters in hip-huggers and possibly even a few hypnotists.

    Meh, I got nuthin'. I'll try harder tomorrow. Click here for Tuesday's photo, here for Monday's and here for a Flickr gallery filled with more of the same.




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