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Friday, April 28, 2006
It's primary season here in Portland and ballots are hitting mailboxes as we speak. The local press is abuzz with scandals but, as usual, Welcome to Blog has its mind elsewhere.
But, unwilling to step outside of the political arena entirely, here's a collection of photos from Washington DC. I visited our nation's capitol over Veterans Day weekend 2002. During my stay, I:
Yeah, it's a heck of a town.
Thursday, April 27, 2006
Attack of the Portland Earworms
A song that will stay in one's mind and will not leave no matter how much one will try. The most effective way to get rid of an earworm is to replace it with another.
-Definition from the Urban Dictionary.
For years the local wing of the Shane Compnay concluded each of their radio ads with a cloying rundown of their address and store hours. Many Portlanders I know who grew up here can still quote it verbatim. Recently, the diamond importer change their ads and replaced the age-old info barrage with a very annoying jingle. Their ads now end with a vocalist singing "he's dull but he's brrilllllllllllllliant! SHANE!"
It's only a few words long but it's like the old ads, the "Gilligan's Island" theme, Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" and any given Franz Ferdinand song all rolled into one. The jingle has been stuck in my head since yesterday and I've tried washing it out with everything from my iPod's shuffle feature to the "Magnum PI" theme.
Nothing's working so now I'm attempting to fight fire with fire. The only thing that will rid my mind of that infernal radio jingle is another local jingle of equal or greater infernal-ness. Here's what I've tried so far, all to no avail:
Curse you, Tom Shane. This is one local Portlander that won't be hitting your store anytime soon in search of diamonds imported directly from the source.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
The Portland Lumberjax's first season came to an end on Saturday night during a first round playoff game against the Arizona Sting. I wound up with a pair of tickets, compliments of my company, which somehow wound up with a few dozen seats in the 100-level. An associate and I, along with a coworker and his son, were the only ones that showed.
Why all the empty seats? Well, as far as I know, lacrosse is a game traditionally played by reluctant grade school students and teenage girls that couldn't make pre-varsity volleyball or softball. From an outsider's perspective, it's a hard sell. Nevertheless, more seats were filled during Saturday night's match-up than during the Blazers game I attended a few weeks back.
And those in attendance were loud. Autzen Stadium has a reputation for being one of the loudest stadiums in the NCAA but I've never left a Ducks game with my ears ringing. Free "balloon bangers," compliments of the US Army Reserve, were available at the Rose Garden's front entrance. The crowd spent most of the game banging them together while screaming. Adding to the decibel level, the Garden's PA system cranked out a nonstop barrage of metal classics during game play. Caught up in all the lacrosse fury on display, the kids sitting behind me hit me in the head with their balloons no less than a dozen times. Lousy %$%!@ brats.
Then there was the game itself. I played lacrosse a few times during gym in junior high but I don't remember having to wear football gear and being allowed to pound the living hell out of the opposing team. From what I remember, the game involved a lot of missed passes and all around frustration. Lacrosse requires players to somehow catch an object slightly larger than a golf ball in a net. Not only did the teams on Saturday night manage to catch passes 95% of the time, they did so while risking serious bodily injury. Early in the fourth quarter, one of the Sting players managed to corner a Lumberjax, slam him up against a wall, turn him upside down and essentially power slam him head first into the field.
For this flagrant foul the player earned himself a trip to the "Sin Bin" instead of a heavy fine and a multi-game suspension. If this were hockey, the Bin would be called just what it is, a plain, old penalty box. I've never been to an NHL game but I'm sure a penalty also involves the crowd screaming "TAKE A SEAT" while the opposing team's mascot dances around maniacally on the overhead monitor. If not, it should. The power slam earned the player a two minute time-out.
All told, it was like Dodgeball or Baseketball come to life. With minutes to go before the first quarter face-off, the Lumberjax's mascot rolled out to pump up the crowd on an SUV loaded with cheerleaders wielding chainsaws and axes. Standard fare for any given sports franchise, lumber equipment notwithstanding, but, c'mon, for professional indoor lacrosse? And with only the slightest bit of irony? Later during a time out the cheerleaders danced to the White Stripe's "Seven Nation Army" while waving nets.
To keep the adrenaline going, a commentator who looked like Dave Attell popped out in-between quarters to breathlessly interview players on the sidelines. One such example from after the first:
COMMENTATOR: HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE GAME SO FAR, MAN?!!
RANDOM PLAYER: Umm, if we stick to it and keep together as a team there's no way they can stop us.
COMMENTATOR: ALL RIGHT! WOOOOOOO!
After a late game comeback that even had me screaming like a diehard fan, the Lumberjax lost 11 - 14. Despite getting kicked out of the playoffs, the team won their division and, by all accounts, had a successful season. If the Blazers leave Portland will indoor lacrosse suffice as a replacement?
Of course not but I'd still trade the Lumberjax for a major league baseball franchise. Or at least until the MLB allows players to take their bats with them after infield hits to bash the first baseman.
Monday, April 24, 2006
The Candy House
"The Candy House," better known as Keana's Candyland, has confounded area motorists since lollypops began appearing on the front lawn in the '90s. This candy shop on SE Milwaukie is about as one of a kind as it gets and dedicated to the memory of the owner's deceased grandchild.
Every room is themed, the latest addition being a forested dinning room decorated with prop trees that were used in the filming of The Hunted. Fake pies, frosting and, Jesus paintings, not so strangely enough, fill a room on the ground floor. The bathroom upstairs is encompassed by a 360 degree undersea mural.
On the way back from a trip to Oregon City a while ago, I stopped in and purchased a bunch of gummi candy shaped like pizzas and smoking pipes. I took a few photos. Click here or on the walkway above for a Flickr gallery.
A candy shop decorated with cupcake chandeliers and props from a Benecio del Toro action thriller? The owners should start franchising.
Alas, poor Westgate. I knew it well.
As part of my daily commute, I drive past the Westgate Theater. It closed down a few months ago and the wrecking balls finally dug in last week. All that remains now is the marque and the theater's giant "CINEMAS" sign. It's curious that they didn't knock it down when they took out the rest of the building. Maybe someone is planning to use it as a location for a low-budget, World War 3 movie. From what I've heard, the city of Beaverton is planning to eventually replace the Westgate with a...
...road. What, instead of a strip mall? You stay classy, Beaverton.
I'll miss the Westgate. While the new megaplex up the street may offer stadium seating, it doesn't have purple decour, a disorienting layout or decades of memories. The place originally opened in the late '60s.. A brief retrospective over at Metroblogging Portland has drawn feedback from readers fondly recalling screenings of Star Wars at the Westgate that were still selling out a year after its original release. While that was before my time, the Westgate was were I saw such '90s cinematic "classics" as Hot Shots, Lethal Weapon 3, Eraser and The Cable Guy
Westgate, you will be missed.
Also: here's what Oregonian movie critic Shawn Levy had to say about the closure of Portland's last "gate" theater.
Friday, April 21, 2006
HOOKAHS! HOOKAHS! HOOKAHS!
While flipping through Willamette Week's recent "Cheap Eats" guide, I realized that I'd never eaten Lebanese food.
So on a recent Saturday my younger sibling and I headed over the Arabian Breeze on NE Broadway. It's a new-ish restaurant that specializes in Middle Eastern fare. We immediately headed to the bar upstairs, which is decked out in decor reminiscent of illustrations in any given copy of The Arabian Nights,. A ceramic camel lingers next to a fountain in the corner and neon lights run along the walls. It's all a bit cheesy but I'm pretty sure that's the point.
The waiter immediately brought out what appeared to be a droopy tortilla shell on a candle stick. I guess this is the Middle Eastern equivalent of nachos and it tasted sort of like a gordita shell. I've forgotten the name of this culinary treat but the Breeze's glossy menu included a complete rundown on the history behind it. The lamb dish I ordered was good too but....
...to be honest, what got us out there wasn't the food. Every Saturday and Sunday night the Arabian Breeze hosts belly dancers that sway to electronica imported from the Gulf region. Also on the menu, Turkish beers and....
While I'm told that hookah bars are prevalent on the east coast, I don't know of any here in Portland. This evening marked the first time I've ever rented an three foot tall water pipe. The tobacco menu contained flavors like apple, mint, strawberry and the like. My sibling was unwilling to partake and claims she has never, and will never, smoke so much as a cigarette. I decided on apple and didn't bother to remind her of the effects of second hand smoke.
To begin with, we were the only people in the place with a hookah. Soon later, a yuppie couple behind us put in an order. Eventually, a few other tables joined in and the bar began filling with flavored smoke. I've heard tell of "tobacco highs" but I didn't believe in them until now.
Over the course of about 45 minutes, I probably smoked the equivalent of half a pack of cigarettes. The "high," if it could be called that, was similar to a Red Bull buzz. Every once in a while, a member of the staff came by with a metal basket and replaced the embers at the top of the hookah. By the time we left, my voice had become raspy and I literally couldn't take another drag.
Nevertheless determined to smoke as much as possible, I instantly began coughing every time I attempted "one last toke." I was hoping if I cashed it that the staff might reward me with a free "I smoked the whole hookah!" t-shirt. Maybe I should have asked for a doggie bag for the remainder of the flavored tobacco. Perhaps a doggie hookah?
The pipe set me back $15 and probably took six months off my life. Nevertheless, I will return to the Arabian Breeze again. Belly dancers, water pipes, Turkish beer, sitar remixes and Arabic nachos? You can't find those at your friendly, neighborhood McMenamins.
Thursday, April 20, 2006
I spent my undergraduate years at the University of Oregon. If you know anything about the campus and the surrounding region, you know today is a holiday. According to U of O lore, at least back then, the origins of every stoner's favorite day of the year have something to do with an alleged California police code for a marijuana bust. This is the story I've always thought of us as true until I was corrected a few days ago.
The real origin, according to Snopes via Wikipedia:
It's both more and less than people make it out to be. '420' began its sub-rosa linguistic career in 1971 as a bit of slang casually used by a group of high school kids at San Rafael High School in California. '420' (always pronounced "four-twenty," never "four hundred and twenty") came to be an accepted part of the argot within that group of about a dozen pot smokers, beginning as a reminder of the time they planned to meet to light up, 4:20 p.m. Keep in mind this wasn't a general call to all dope smokers everywhere to toke up at twenty past four every day; it was twelve kids who'd made a date to meet near a certain statue. It's thus incorrect to deem that '420' originated as a national or international dope-smoking time, even though the term began as a reference to a particular time of day.
And, as the naysayers always pointed out, 4/20 also marks the anniversary of the Columbine tragedy and Adolf Hitler's birthday.
But who else was born on this day? Carmen Electra, Crispin Glover, Jessica Lange and TV's Joey Lawrence. So smoke 'em if you've got 'em, if only to celebrate the birth of the man who played George McFly in the first Back to the Future.
Myself? I never touch the stuff (honest, Mom!) and will be spending the rest of the day sitting in my cubicle like the good little corporate drone I am.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
16 or so years ago...
Maybe one day Portland and the franchise will again see headlines (and cheesy t-shirts) like these instead of ones like this.
And, to be honest, I'd pay to see a sequel to Total Recall.
"Get your ass to the front office, Terry Porter."
"Porter...Porter...start the reactor..."
Jammin' 95.5 is emblematic of everything wrong with America!
Or so says Portland's premire blogger, Jack Bog. Apparently, he made the mistake of tuning into Jammin' 95.5 FM recently and was shocked by what he heard. A quick excerpt from his lengthy post about the station and the rap genre circa 2006:
If America ever really was the envy of the world, those days are coming to an end. You want proof? Check out Jammin' 95.
Strong words worthy of Bill O'Reilly. If this were the '60s, Professor Bogdanski might consider heading down to a local church to toss a copy of Rubber Soul on a pyre. The comments section at the bottom of the post are filled with comments from other Portland parents decrying the "filth" that the station airs. One parent claims it's one of the reasons he's making his child attend a private Christian school. Another parent recalls a recent conversation with her daughter about not using the word "pimp."
The echoing chorus was enough to convince me to jump into the fray and write a mini-tirade. With any luck this will lead to a spirited debate or, more likely, no will see it because it's currently 70 degrees outside and flippin' beautiful here in the City of Roses.
Still, this is the sort of nonsense every generation of parents have pulled since at least the '30s. They're more than willing to overlook the "shocking" aspects of pop culture during their own youth while lambasting their children's tastes in music, if not preventing them from listening to it altogether. The '60s had Jim Morrison moaning about wanting to kill his father and rape his mother in "The End." The '70s offered up Gene Simmon's blood-dripping tongue on the side of lunchboxes. The '80s had Madonna, parents in the '90s were ranting about Marilyn Manson. How many of the parents on Jack Bog's forum were rocking out to KISS in the '70s or Motley Crue's "Dr. Feelgood" in the '80s?
If I ever have kids I'll probably do the same thing but not for the same reasons. I'll lecture my kids for listening to lame music instead of albums with offensive lyrics. Sample conversation in the Welcome to Blog household in the year 2030:
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
An open break-up letter to the Oregonian's circulation department
It's over. O-v-e-r. Kaput. Finished.
But it's not my fault, honest. You know I dig you, baby.
I tried to keep it going, really I did, but my workload continues to increase. I can't get away with spreading the Metro section out across my desk like I once did. I've been "talked to" by my superiors and they don't think your continuing coverage of the Foxworth scandal and Emilie Boyles' endless foibles are helping to increase productivity around the office.
That's not to say we can't keep seeing each other. There's always your online edition, which I can still use to read Margie's columns in a shrunk-down browser window. As for the print edition, sorry. No can do.
I've heard the rumors that your circulation numbers are way down, especially when it comes to readers in my age demo. I know it'll hurt but you'll be able to get by without my $14 a month. Maybe you could stop including Parade in the Sunday edition or stop paying residuals to Francesco Marciuliano. Or you could always extend that hiring "freeze" of yours through the end of the decade.
If I land a better job some day, I'll renew my subscription, I swear. Just, please stop calling me. Your goons down in the circulation department have contacted me six times* in the last two days. Six! They never leave a message. I finally called them back tonight and was put on hold due to high call volume.
There you go. High call volume. You don't need me. Bungloads of new subscribers are probably begging to have John Canzano's latest anti-Darius Miles tirade delievered to their door three times a week.
Are we cool? I've been flipping through your grey pages since way back. I just gotta lay low for a while. Why not read the print edition during my off hours or during a break? Uh...er...ummm....my cell phone is ringing again. Gotta go!
* Seriously, six times since yesterday morning and at the same times each day. The first one comes in at 10:30 AM, the second at 2:30 PM and the last one at 8 PM. The "cold shoulder" technique isn't working. I wonder how long this will continue.
Also: I considered writing this as a parody of Foxworth's emails but then thought better of it. This blog is, after all, rated a mere PG-13.
Beaverton is a wha...?
"Zwischenstadt" and "offers a polyglot paradise of experiences" according to the Oregonian's Matthew Stadler.
Click here to read his article about the Portland suburb.
Speaking as someone who reluctantly spends a good deal of time in Beaverton, I humbly disagree. Or at least I did until I took a look around during my commute home tonight. It does contain an occasional bit of commercial multiculturalism amidst all the car lots and big box retailers. There's Uwajimaya, Jin Wah, a few Dutch shops, a smorgasbord of Mexican restaurants and there's the slim possibility that someone from a foreign nation may have once consumed a Budweiser in Ichabod's sports bar. But enough to warrant Stadler's Zwischenstadt stamp?
Uh, sure. You hear that condo developers? Beaverton is up and coming! There may even be a martini bar wedged somewhere between the Red Robin and Chili's on Canyon Road. So, please, set your sights on its rolling expanses of bleak strip malls. Unlike Portland proper, Beaverton could use a few dozen condo towers to stir up its endless waves of Burger Kings and red lights that stretch all the way from Jesuit High School to the horizon.
(Hattip: K Mikey M)
Monday, April 17, 2006
Easter questions answered...
It's been a while since I've celebrated Easter beyond half-heartedly dying eggs and leaving them in a relative's refrigerator. I went over to the folks' house over the weekend and the whole family spent Sunday acting like full-blown Christians (the non-practicing variation that celebrate religious holidays with candy while ignoring the unpleasant obligation to attend an early-morning church service). Some questions that have dogged me about the holiday were finally answered but still others remain a mystery....
A: Nope. Upon closer inspection you'll notice that his feet don't actually go through a hole in the bottom of the box. In fact, 30% of his cardboard home is filled with air instead of bland-choco bunny goodness. "Too Tall" is the candy, basketball-dribbling, hare equivalent of Spud Webb or Damon "Mighty Mouse" Stoudamire.
They go all Yogi the Bear on yo' Easter-ic baskets.
A: Another unanswered question. We ran out of bunnies after nine.
A: He gets wicked pissed and leaves you a nasty, obscenity-filled note before hiding all of your "pwe-cious eggs." To read the unsettling note he left at my parent's place, click the image above. It discredits a substantial amount of previously assumed Easter Bunny lore (keeping himself out of sight, hiding eggs for fun, not spite, sticking with sobriety, having legible handwriting, etc.)
Friday, April 14, 2006
Here's a round-up of Easter-related items on this Good Friday:
I have no idea how long chocolate crosses have been on store shelves. I discovered them for the first time last Monday while hunting for Peeps at Fred Meyer (I prefer the traditional chicken ones to the newer, pink bunny kind). They had two different variations: a cheaper, smaller cross and the one I purchased, which is larger and comes with a stand so it can be used as a table centerpiece.
So now the obvious question: isn't eating the symbol of one's religion considered blasphemy? Sacrilege? Heresy? Insolence? Heretical doctrine? Something? Or, in this case, sacre-licious?
I haven't eaten it yet and, while it's officially sanctioned by Palmer Candy Co., I'm afraid doing so will result in a guaranteed, one-way ticket to hell. Or maybe the Easter Bunny, Santa Clause, God, Jesus, the talking bush and possibly Jonah's whale will all show up on my doorstep to kick my ass. Not that I believe in any of that...
* FYI: In 1998 I attended a service at a church in Eugene and was "saved" by MC Hammer himself. This happened back in the days when he was touring the country as a preacher. My status as a Born Again Christian lasted all of 45 minutes.
Thursday, April 13, 2006
Impending mortality query of the year
At what point do birthdays go from being enjoyable ways to celebrate the acquirement of additional rights to dreary reminders of the fact that you haven't recorded a gold record, written a bestselling novel, climbed up a building using oversized suction-cups or figured our what an "IRA" is?
I think the answer is obvious. It's 22, right?
UPDATE: As WWB points out in the comments section below, at 35 Americans are given the right to run for the presidency. So is that birthday the benchmark? Well, at 55 senior discounts start to kick in. I guess the real question here should be at what point does the "dreary reminder" aspect begin to outweigh the additional benefits?
Mullet or not a mullet?
I thought it was all over- that everyone in the world had finally figured it out. That the fad was over and the jokes were no longer considered funny. I played my part in educating the public, setting them straight, getting the word out., etc.
But then along comes Tuesday's "Edge" column in the Oregonian's Living section. It questions the legitimacy of a statement made by Peter Hartlaub of the San Francisco Chronicle. He claims that Tom Hanks' hairdo in the upcoming film adaptation of The Da Vinci Code is a mullet.
I hold an associates degree in mullets from the University of Oregon and, after giving Hank's receding hairline a look, I can confirm the obvious:
NOT A MULLET!
NOT A MULLET:
Still confused? Here's the official definition, straight from Webster's New World Dictionary (ok, not really but just go with it):
Mullet: "Business in the front, party in the back." The mullet is a haircut that is short over the top of the head and long in the back. Traditionally, those sporting "the do," will grow their hair out before having the top and sides of their head heavily trimmed, leaving what appears to be a traditional buzzcut accompanied by shoulder-length hair on the back of the head. Not to be confused with a "rattail."
Speaking as someone who would rather go to a dentist than have one of those completely indifferent Suicide Girls at Bishop's come near my head with a pair of sheers, I've been accused, on a occasion, of sporting a "semi-mullet." Quite frankly, I'm tired of it. The persecution and ridicule of mislabeled mullets has gone on for far, far too long. Only through education can we bring an end to this terrible chapter in American history.
And, for the record, my haircut is a "mop," thank you kindly. It's the preferred haircut of penniless poets, the homeless, Scooby Snack addicted cartoon characters, the members of most pop-punk throwback bands, world-weary alcoholics and resides at least two ballparks over from the mullet.
Are we finally clear on this? If not, here are a few handy-dandy pointers. You may want to take notes for future reference and keep them in your wallet the next time you come across what could be, but probably isn't, a mullet.
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
This doesn't count as blasphemy
A follow-up from last week's post about that South Park's two-parter.
If only the execs at Comedy Central had come to the same conclusion as the president of Fox (in the episode). And if only we lived in a world where religious extremists would respond to certain European editorial cartoons with cartoons of GW pooping all over the place instead of riots and Molotov cocktails.
I think I'll go strum an acoustic guitar now while somberly reflecting on all the world's problems.
UPDATE: Woah, Casa Bonita actually exists?
ALSO: Clearer screenshots from last night's episode can be found over at Plus Ultra.
Vicarious world travel
I spent Spring Break literally tied to a cubicle in Beaverton but I know a few people that not only managed to make it out of the the I-5 corridor but out of the state entirely. They traveled to distant, exotic destinations like...
...San Francisco. While the City o' Wine and Cheese Bars may only be 2.5 inches from northern Oregon on a National Geographic map, it's a world away from the town that beavers neither built or currently reside in. Sho spent a few days down there and returned to tell the tale. He also brought this with him:
When I hit a button in the base the air in my living room is magically filled with the merry tune that greets Link every time he uncovers a hidden passageway in the NES classic. It's exactly what my living room has been missing...that and a rug to tie it all together.
Shanna spent two weeks roaming the Japanese countryside with her boy-pal. She returned to Oregon with a Year of the Dog prayer card and a sushi sucker. I haven't tried it yet but I expect that it will taste exactly like salmon.
Interesting side note: the two of them visited the atomic bomb museum in Hiroshima. On their way out two locals stopped them. They asked her how the museum made her feel. "Um, sad," she replied, no doubt debating whether she should say they were from Toronto or Vancouver.
In an unexpected turn of events, they asked if she had "accepted Jesus Christ into her heart." Two words: Japanese. Mormons.
Finally, Pete recebtky returned from a month-long tour of Thailand and Cambodia where he danced to Guns n' Roses covers and hung around with live tigers. He brought with him this souvenir from Bangkok, a bootleg copy of Sin City.
There's a surprising lack of English typos on the cover and it's even letterboxed. The disc came with a glossy cover in a clear, plastic bag.
For more artifacts from far-flung locals, click here or here.
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
The Jasmine Tree still stands
A few weeks ago Willamette Week hinted that the Jasmine Tree would close this month and The Daily Vanguard painted an equally gloomy picture in a story back in February. But according to Tai, who was working behind the bar on Saturday night, rumors of the ancient tiki bar/Chinese restaurant's impending death are greatly exagerated.
Worse yet, the attention has driven away business and Tai suspects much of the Jasmine Tree's clientele is convinced they've already closed their doors. According to her, the bar in its current location will shut down once the city begins to break ground on the Bus Mall revamp but that could be several months away. The exact date of the bar's final day remains up in the air.
So if you enjoy Portland's fading retro-bar scene you still have time to pay your respects. While the Jasmine Tree can't rise to the level of its North Portland tiki rival, the kitsch heaven that is the Alibi Restaurant and Lounge, it does offer plenty of cold Tsingtao and decor worthy of an episode of "Hawaii Five-O." Or a '70s porn flick. Or a Vegas motel lounge that time forgot. The Jasmine Tree also has these on display over the booths:
The number of cannibalistic tiki gods in the Jasmine Tree? One, possibly more (I'm not sure what that second one is supposed to be doing). The number in McFadden's? A big, fat 0.
These cell phone snapshots don't even begin to do these two justice. To fully appreciate them, stop in for a drink before the Jasmine Tree really does kick the bucket.
As City Hall crumbles
There are far more important things that I should be blogging about. The Derrick Foxworth scandal, for example. The Clean Money mess, the perpetual OHSU tram imbroglio or, perhaps, yesterday's big immigration protest. But all that has already been covered by every other blog and media organization in town. Here instead are:
Friday, April 07, 2006
Push, the talking trash can - take 2
I unearthed another old video and added it to my You Tube account. This one was shot in Disneyland last summer. It's not worthy of an Oregonian blurb, not that the last one was, but I'm curious to see how many "views" it will accumulate. I unloaded the video earlier this afternoon and so far a whopping 27 people have watched it.
If you're curious, click on the play button above.
To learn more about Push, Tomorrowland's resident talking, dancing trash can, click here for an article all about him. A while back I received a nice email from Jon, one of the Disneyland employees that operates Push. Here's what he had to say:
I just caught your story http://laurabush.info/push.html, and as someone that's very close with PUSH. I just wanted to thank you.
What have YOU done for a corporate-owned chain of theme parks bent on world domination lately?
Thursday, April 06, 2006
Does this count as blasphemy? (part 2 of 2)
Everyone must be tired of Trey Parker and Matt Stone attempts to insult every aspect of modern culture. There's a strange lack of chatter* devoted to Wednesday's episode of South Park on the internet but it could be there most daring yet. This is the only thing that turned up after a search on Google News but their shiny, new Peabody award is getting a lot of attention.
In last night's episode Parker/Stone took on the controversy over those Danish cartoons of Mohammed, their critics, Comedy Central's head office and, uh, Family Guy.
I didn't know where they were going with this until the show's final moments. It's the first of two parts and next week the duo plan to animate Mohammed, no doubt doing something offensive, and pin the whole thing on Family Guy.
Attempting to have Jihad declared on your rivals is pretty gutsy but this wouldn't be the first time the prophet has appeared in an episode of the cartoon satire. Mohammed popped-up as a member of a Super Friends-esque cult fighting team back in 2001.
And here's a lovely image of their depiction of the prophet:
Tune in next week to see if Parker/Stone go through with their plan or if, as they put it, "Comedy Central wusses out and yanks the episode" ala a recent installment that went after Scientology. Could a basic cable show stir up another hornet's nest of controversy and riots overseas?
I wouldn't bet on it but it's nice to see Parker/Stone willing to risk death threats from Islamic groups for what amounts to a stupid joke and attempt to drag Seth MacFarlane's show into it. Interesting sidenote: in 2001, MacFarlane came close to flying on one of the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center.
Well, good for them. You stay classy, South Park.
Also: I probably shouldn't have included that image of Mohammed above but I've got nothing to worry about, right? There's no way that religious fanatics would ever come across this random Portland blog on the edges of cyberspace. Naw, that could never happen.
C'mon, click on that link. The preceding paragraph doesn't make sense otherwise.
Anyway, here's Plus Ultra's take on last night's episode, complete with highlights.
*: WWB called me on this statement. A quick search on Technorati turns up no less than 1700 posts about last night's episode. What a fool I've been.
UPDATE: Earlier today I received an email from Tracy, an editor over at Plus Ultra. She mentioned that KATU ran shots of the controversial Danish cartoons during a recent segment about the blog. Read all about it here.
Does this count as blasphemy? (part 1 of 2)
Submissions for the Portland Mercury's Easter Coloring Contest were due today. There was nothing in the rules about using Photoshop so I decided to sorta hack it. Here's what I came up with:
It may not make a whole lot of sense but it's not everyday that you come across an image of the San Diego Chicken dressed up as the Grim Reaper. The theme here is "the War on Easter." If anyone has the right to take on the holiday, it's all those hard working chickens out there. That lousy Easter Bunny has been hogging the credit for far too long. Maybe they should unionize. Or stage a coup.
Yeah, I know, I know. I've got too much time on my hands.
There's no less than a dozen famous chickens in there. Can you spot them all? Click the photo to see the high-rez version.
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
Here's to you Mole Man...and PDX's next to last tiki bar
Phil Stanford concluded his column on Friday with a tribute to Portland bartender George Galik. George once poured drinks in the Temple Room at Hung Far Low's former location in Chinatown. He served me my first legal (*ahem*) drink in Portland after I turned 21. I knew him as the "Mole Man," because, to be honest, he resembled the character from The Simpsons. He spoke with a gruff, gravely voice and always demanded "doo IDS, doo" the few times I was lucky enough to catch him behind the bar. George didn't skip on the booze and was probably serving the night Humphrey Bogart supposedly strolled in there decades ago.
Here's what Stanford had to say:
Friends of legendary Chinatown bartender George Galik will assemble this evening at the Seven Stars Restaurant to remember his gruff but endearing ways...A Hungarian refugee who arrived in P-town in the '50s, Galik worked in such fabled venues as the Hoyt Hotel's Barbary Coast and Roaring 20s, Hung Far Low and, most recently, Suzie Wong's, where he worked a full shift Friday night before heading off to the crash that ended his life...He didn't like to recommend drinks to customers who couldn't make up their own minds for themselves, and he didn't do much to encourage over-the-bar camaraderie...When customers, noticing his thick Hungarian accent, asked him where he was from, he replied "Hillsboro." And as he once told a Rickashaw Charlie's patron who he thought was getting too chummy, "I'm not your friend, I'm your bartender." R.I.P., George.
Thanks for making this city more interesting and keeping it liquored up, George.
I regret to say I never once set foot in the Jasmine Tree. I always meant to but never managed to make it down there. A beloved tiki bar among PSU students and regulars, it was one of the last two remaining bars of its kind in the city. The Jasmine reportedly shut its doors forever last night. According to Willamette Week, the bar closed to make way for an extension of the MAX line through the bus mall.
Boooo, progress, boooo!
UPDATE: Or I might be wrong. For the immediate future, the Jasmine Tree's fate may or may not still be up in the air. I read WW's blurb again and it's pretty vague. I may have to put on my drinking shoes and launch a further investigation.
The Strokes at the Roseland again, 4/2/06
The Strokes are one of those bands determined to remain a guilty pleasure. They're not the slightest bit original but they deliver something that many of us haven't seen in a long time: straight-forward rock- just five guys with a bunch of guitars, a drum kit and a hell of lot of greasy hair. No keyboards, no drum machines, no samples, no studio trickery...just guitar solos and songs about girls, drugs, fame and various clashes with authority.
Or at least as straight-forward as rock gets in the 21st century. The Strokes' influences range from Buddy Holly to the Velvet Underground and the Ramones to any number of New Wave acts. Amidst a bleak industry full of Blink 182 clones and rap-rockers, they emerged on the scene in 2001 to "save rock and roll" as all those magazines put it. Now, five years after their debut Is This It, even lead singer Julian Casablancas admits he's "got nothing to say." He repeats this line several times on "Ask Me Anything," a track off their latest album.
But no one in the Roseland on Sunday night was in search of Radiohead-style introspection or grandiose statements about the human condition. I was invited to the show by a friend from out of town and, after surveying the crowd, he grumbled "no one under 23 should be allowed into rock shows." Behind us a woman who looked like an ad exec had brought along her pre-adolescent moppet. Most of the crowd near the stage was comprised of the too-young-to-drink set as their older brethren hid out in the balcony.
We got hung up in a bar and didn't arrive until after Eagles of Death Metal's opening set, which meant we were stuck on the floor. Maybe Casablancas was back stage trying to get his bed-head hair and sneer just right as he downed a mountain or cocaine but the band took their lily-sweet time getting out on the stage. That didn't stop a pair of teens nearby from rounding the bases in front of the crowd. Here's hoping they brought along a few morning after pills.
Despite the live softcore, "all ages show" meant all ages and those in attendence ranged from "approaching middle school" to "approaching social security." Given the band's influences, it makes perfect sense. Many of the older folks haven't seen a band like this since, maybe, the Ramones and there's no denying that the opening riffs of "Last Nite" were lifted from Tom Petty's "American Girl."
While I'm trying to play snooty Pitchfork music critic here, once the band started hitting familiar songs from their debut album I was bouncing around and screwing up the band's lyrics just like the guy in the Czechoslovakian football pullover (?) next to me. The Strokes played a "blistering" 75-minute set, brought along a very pretty neon-light display and kindly played half the tracks off Is This It. They only brought the lights down once for a self-indulgent slow number before drifting back to their, uh, standards. Can a band that's been around for only five years have standards?
They returned for an encore that included "New York City Cops." Sadly, there wasn't a bouncer around to sing along like the last time the Strokes played the Roseland.
To quote the most overused line in the history of recorded music, "it's only rock n' roll but I like it." As cheesy and unoriginal as the Strokes may be, I'd rather listen to them than any number of indie artists bent on examining every single nuance of their latest failed romance.
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
What, block traffic downtown?
A blurry camera-phone shot of PGE's massive three-page spread in yesterday's Oregonian, celebrating its return as a publicly-traded company instead of a metamorphosis into a publicly-owned utility. The banner reads: "WE DON'T DO THIS EVERYDAY."
Well, why not? Or is that time better spent rubbing Erik Sten's nose in it elsewhere?
The Blazers' darkest hour
17 years ago the walls of my bedroom were covered in Blazers propaganda. A "Clyde the Glide" poster was hung with loving care over my desk. A 7 foot-tall image of Buck Williams reached from floor to ceiling and my closet doors were adorned with clip-out mini-posters from the Oregonian of each member of the starting lineup. During the entirety of 1989 I wore only two t-shirts to school: one featuring Bart Simpson and another with a shot of the front page of The Oregonian after the Blazers won the Western Conference Championship. That day's edition also included a sidebar mentioning a review of "Total Recall" in the A&E section. The Blazers AND Arnold Schwarzenegger on the same shirt? Fashion didn't get much cooler than that in the fifth grade.
Back in those days people shelled out big bucks (ok, $80 or so) for "Blazervision," a season-long PPV package that delivered untelevised away games and home games guaranteed to sell out. Banners echoing "RIP CITY!" could be found hanging off office buildings downtown and warehouses lining I-84. Z100 was running either "Rip City Rhapsody " or "Bust a Bucket," two unbelievably cheesy songs performed by members of the team, every half hour.
I would turn down the volume on games broadcasted on KGW in order to listen to Bill Schonely's play-by-play radio coverage on 1190 KEX. There was always a half second delay on the TV broadcast, which meant Schonely would reveal wether or not a basket was good while the ball was still sailing through the air. It was like he was predicting the future and his trademark "RIP CITY!" usually matched up perfectly with the rock hitting the net.
Those days are long gone. Over a decade of run-ins with the law, wasted potential, indifference and outright hostility from the players, PR disasters. Paul Allen's inexplicable fixation with Darius Miles and the occasional pitbull match have a way of doing that. That's not to say the good ol' days were perfect. I'm probably one of the few people in town that even vaguely recall an unfortunate incident that went down in Utah. Sometime in the early '90s various team members were caught (supposedly) trying to pick up underaged girls in a Salt Lake City shopping mall. The term "Jail Blazers" harkens back to at least the Drexler-era.
Flash forward to 2006. I never win anything but somehow landed two tickets to Saturday's home game against the Utah Jazz. I can only assume that this was because no one else entered the contest in question. Has the franchise really sunk this low? There was a time when I would have been parked and inside the Rose Garden 45 minutes before the opening tip. On Saturday night, a colleague and I decided to drag our heels at a restaurant over on NE Broadway instead of making it in time for the "Star Spangled Banner." Or halftime for that matter.
By the time we got to the Rose Garden, the Jazz had a double-digit lead and Blazer fans were marching out of the stadium with their heads hung low. This was only half-way through the third quarter. The Jazz weren't playing all that well but our Portland Trailblazers looked downright pathetic. Easy turnovers, half-hearted jump shots- nothing but malaise and lethargy on the court. A fan to our right spend most of the fourth quarter with his head in his hands. A family behind us, with an entire row to themselves, struggled to keep their kids occupied. They looked like they were attending a particularly dull church sermon instead of an NBA basketball game.
When the Blazers did score, all they earned for their efforts were polite golf claps. The team's lone dunk during the fourth quarter didn't garner much more enthusiasm. This was a crowd so dejected and demoralized by the franchises' endless foibles that the only thing that got them out of their seats was the possibility of free t-shirts. Once the cheerleaders and their air-cannons were off the court, they fell back into their semi-comas. The only real cheers came when the team's mascot, Blaze, strolled out to perform aerobatic dunks during a timeout. You know your franchise is in trouble when the team is getting shown up by a guy with a trampoline and a cat costume.
And where were the free Chalupas? Or does the staff at the Rose Garden only break out those coupons if the home team scores over a 100 points?
Halfway through the fourth, the stadium was half empty. Within seconds of the final buzzer, it was nearly vacant. Twenty-four hours later, the team would suffer one the franchise's worst losses, a 39-point blowout against the nearly as pitiful SuperSonics. Coach Nate McMillan later remarked to the Oregonian, "the thing is, it could get worse."
Are you sure about that? According to Jon Canzano's Weblog, a recent in-house promotion offered free tickets to the team's remaining home games in exchange for used Verizon telephone books. A few years ago these same tickets would sell for upwards of $50. They can't even give them away.
Monday, April 03, 2006
Incredibly early Simpsons teaser trailer
You've already seen this, right?
If not, direct your mouse two centimeters or so above this sentence and click away.