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Another Portland Blog

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Or do my eyes deceive me?

I took Friday off from work for an eye exam. As expected, my doctor broke out a bottle of dilating drops. If you've never had the pleasure, they make a patient extremely sensitive to light for anywhere between a half hour to several hours after the exam. A sunny day is unbearable without a pair of dark sunglasses. Indoors, any object even slightly illuminated develops a glowing halo.

In short, it's probably the closest you can get to an acid trip, sans the introspection, without bitch-slapping any brain cells. With a few hours to kill downtown and my pupils as big as Oreos, I decided to freak out as many people as possible.

My first stop was Macy's, where I went search of a department that could replace the battery in my Fossil watch. Completely out of place among the little old ladies that typically hang around there on a Friday morning, I received a quick, sharp "can I help you?" from a clerk working on the fourth floor. When I told her I was looking for the watch shop, she told me it had closed down two years ago. Strange, I had a battery replaced there last fall. With a disdainful smirk that said "you're on drugs AND incredibly stupid, aren't you?" she suggested I try Nordstroms or Pioneer Place. I wasn't willing to argue the point. I wonder if Macy's had her shipped out from the NYC location after they bought out Meier and Frank.

My next stop was the Gap, where a reflective display featuring a dozen or so tiny Audrey Hepburns was pitching the chains' "skinny pants." Under the effects of the eye drops, it was mesmerizing. Within five seconds, a clerk came over. "Er, is there anything I can help you with?" The lesson I learned during this trip to the Gap is that if anything is more disarming than someone with freakishly enlarged pupils, it's someone with freakishly enlarged pupils that calmly asks a few banal questions about t-shirts before heading for the dressing rooms. When people suspect you're on something, I guess they expect you to act the part. If only I had brought along a cigar holder and a lawyer.

The effects still hadn't worn off by the time I wandered into Chinatown. The games in Ground Kontrol caused me to squint but I still managed to lead a glowing Guile all the way to the barrel-smashing bonus level of Street Fighter 2. Maybe it was the drops but the characters in Ms. Pac Man all looked like race cars. Have a look for yourself. I took a photo of the screen:

Yup, those are definitely race cars. I wonder who's been messing around with the games down there. I also took a photo of the Hung Far Low sign to later confirm that it recently received a fresh coat of paint.

So I guess the property owner decided to keep it up despite the restaurant's move to east Portland last year. Here's hoping that the building forever bears this iconic sign, if only to incite giggling in future generations of middle-schoolers on field trips to the Chinese Gardens.

I also became briefly convinced that a big-screen adaptation of Masters of the Universe was a few weeks from release after seeing this poster next to a row of advertisements for The Crane Wife. That skull looks a lot like Skeletor's ugly mug. Then I looked at the fine print. It was merely an ad for a hip-hop band. Weak. I'm still holding out for a sequel to the Dolph Lundgren version.

The effects of the drops had mostly worn off by the time I left Powell's and wandered past the Armory. I don't know if the overhaul was worth the millions spent and all the spilt ink but it looked fantastic under the lingering effects of whatever the doctor had poured in my eyes. Now I just wonder exactly how much of my tax dollars went into that fancy new paint job.

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