April 2011

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Another Portland Blog

Saturday, June 30, 2007



For some, it's June 21st. For others it's Rose Festival or the first Widmer Hefeweizen of the season on a restaurant's porch or a trip to the coast. But another event marks the beginning of summer in the NW for me: super obnoxious radio ads for Blackjack's Fireworks, the gunpowder-fueled wonderland up in Vancouver.

It's been raining off and on over the past few days here in Portland. I woke up early this morning for work (yes, I work on Saturdays now. Or, as some would have it, Caturdays.).

The sun was out, the birds were bleeping and there it was as I headed into work: an ad for Blackjack's, now Blackjack's Pyrotechnics in the "BIG, YELLOW BUILDING." An annual obligatory stop for Oregonians in search of illegal-down-here fireworks, Blackjack's is an institution, as Northwest as microbrews, Packy the elephant or strip clubs.


I'll be making my annual pilgrimage up there after work tonight.



Bottoms up

On a recent Monday I made my first trip to Oaks Bottom, the wildlife refuge on the outskirts of Oaks Park. I headed down through Sellwood Park and found myself looking across the wetlands at this:

At the time, I had no idea what that facility was or the story behind it. Despite or maybe because of the heron mural, it's a wee bit creepy. Naturally, I hiked over for a closer look down a dark hiking trail along the edge of the wetlands. Since it was a weekday, no one was else was on the trail. Just the scary bird mural and I, a 25-minute walk from the car without a soul around for at least 300 yards.

I’ve spent hours wandering through Forest Park but that edge of Oaks Bottom feels incredibly isolated, despite being a stone's throw from downtown. The lights were on inside the building but I didn’t see anyone moving around. It looked like Arkham Asylum or the set of a horror movie. If memory serves, it may have once been the set of a horror movie. Anyone out there remember Dr. Giggles (link)?

A quick Google search reveals that it's the Portland Memorial Funeral Home. It definitely looks the part.

I booked and continued up the trail past park benches covered in pro-GW graffiti until I came back around to the Springwater Corridor, a virtual freeway for bike traffic. I stuck close to the fence as I made my way back to Oaks Park.

The velocipede equivalent of the Authobahn? Something like that. Area bicycles definitely don't approve of the "no bike" rules pertaining to the hiking trails around the wetlands.

As for the wildlife refuge side of Oaks Bottom, I did finally see a blue heron flying overhead as I headed back to the car.

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It Came From My Cell Phone part 21

Yup, it's a cellphone picture of a cellphone.

A colleague in DC stood in line for over two hours yesterday to buy an iPhone and found himself in the middle of a shoot for a foreign documentary. After a few hours of playing with it, his only complaint was that the keyboard will take some getting used to. Meanwhile, out west I found myself wandering into an Apple Store to kill time before a screening of Ratatouille.

My verdict: the iPhone is super neat but talking into one isn't exactly comfortable. I tried a phone call and it felt like my face was pressed up against an iPod instead of a cellphone. Still, the interface looks fantastic and the various menus are easy and quick to navigate. The internet even moved along speedily, no doubt aided by the store's AirPorts. I could see buying one and never needing to look at the instruction book. It's that easy to use.

Further gripes from another user can found over here.

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Friday, June 29, 2007


Portland 2: The Other Side

Last Saturday night, right around midnight, I wandered back to my car on SW 3rd and found it blocked by a couple chaining their bicycles to a light post. They cleared a path and as I drove off I noticed that the entire block was filled with bikes. I looked over my shoulder and a roughly a hundred people were standing in an empty lot staring at something. I couldn't see what it was but, half a block down, a girl was setting something on fire.

It was a scene weird enough to send me spinning around the bock for a closer look. By that time she was struggling to get on a unicycle with a metal crown on her head her head, each point spitting out a 6-inch flame.

Pedalpalooza. Nude bike rides. Flaming crowns. Mysterious, late-night gatherings in empty downtown lots. For those of us who opt or are forced to ride around town in motor vehicles, Portland's bike subculture may as well be a mysterious, parallel world (or it is for me, at least). The closest thing Portland drivers have to a community is a collective disdain for Jiffy Lube and their endless quest to replace something called "rear differential fluid" every time we head to the nearest franchise for an oil change. Is there such a thing as this fluid and do we need it or is the whole thing a sham to con us out of another $39.99?

If only it were somewhat practical to drive our cars up to the zoo and race down the West Hills as fast as possible. That might fuel some communal spirit around here.

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A different kind of last call

I haven't seen this myself but, from what I’ve heard, a regular at the Oaks Bottom Public House has spent enough time there to land himself a theme song. As he heads out for the night, whoever is working behind the bar will flip a switch kicking the brewery's sound system over to the "that’s all folks!" song from the old Looney Tunes cartoons.

Did Norm from Cheers ever receive something like that? Or Bukowski at all the dives he hung around? I don’t think so. This leaves me to wonder, how much time do you have to spend at a local watering hole to earn that kind of honor?

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Thursday, June 28, 2007


I honked twice

I hope I was wrong about this. There's currently a giant-sized jersey hanging on the side of the Wells Fargo building downtown. Oden's flying over America in Paul Allen's private jet as we speak. He hits town tomorrow for a Pioneer Square rally at high noon.

And so the bad-old days of the JailBlazers are (finally? maybe?) drawing to a close. Z-Bo's even headed to the Knicks. Rip City once more? Here's hoping.



Finally, the truth, without all that "liberal bias"

A few gems from Conservapedia, the online encyclopedia for people convinced Wikipedia has too much of a liberal/anti-Christianity/anti-American bias:

  • An entry on John Kerry doesn't bother with a biography and cuts straight to controversies surrounding election financing during his 2004 presidential campaign. It doesn't offer much else. An entry on John Edwards essentially calls him a socialist in the first paragraph.

  • An entry on hippies offers a photo of "hippies in their colorful, native costume."

  • On breasts: "Clothing that fits tightly around the neck and de-emphasizes the separation and softness of the breasts is considered modest or conservative, clothing that does the opposite is considered 'daring.'" Good to know.

  • An entry on Sheryl Crow contains little information other than a rundown on her joke about toilet paper from a recent benefit concert.

  • An entry on Michael Moore starts off with this:

    Michael Moore (born April 23, 1954) is a left wing filmmaker who views on politics and America are best summed up by his quotes:[1]

    "Clinton was a pretty good president for a Republican."

    "I like America to some extent."

    Conservapedia: it's the "trustworthy encyclopedia." And it's also not a joke.

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  • Wednesday, June 27, 2007



    Like many people my age, I spent a good portion of middle school parked in front of a Nintendo or Stephen King's entire catalog. With a few exceptions, I'm sure I conquered everything he published between the early '70s and the early '90s during those three years. While I get the occasional itch, I've managed to stay on the wagon since sometime in high school.

    That's not to say I sneer at all of King's stuff these days. I'm still convinced that The Body (AKA Stand By Me) should be taught in every remedial Sophomore English class in the country. I've also been unable to avoid the movie adaptations. Not only have I sat through that incredibly cheesy remake of The Shining with the guy from Wings, I've seen the even cheesier version of Desperation that aired on ABC last year. While watching 1408 over the weekend, it finally dawned on me why no one can successfully adapt King's horror stories for the screen: the elements of his novels are way too over-the-top to be portrayed literally.

    In one scene in 1408, John Cusack opens up a minibar in his evil hotel room and finds himself arguing with an hallucination of Samuel L. Jackson, who plays the hotel's manager. On the page, (the movie shares little in common with the King's short story, according to Wikipedia, but stick with me here) it might work but actually looking at this hotel manager standing in a refrigerator as he laughs manically? The best special effect in the world can't make something like that work and it undermines everything else. No amount of ghost kids or nightmare scenarios in elderly care facilities can wash away the image. It's the same thing that doomed the '90s version of The Shining when the producers attempted to visualize Danny's invisible friend and a similar adaptation of The Langoliers. The thought of little round balls with sharp teeth eating the entire world is scary on paper but not so scary when slapped together with half-hearted CGI.

    That's not to say 1408 is a bad movie. Cusack does the best job an actor could while spending an hour of screentime fighting an evil hotel room. The film delves into real-life horrors likely to cause more sleepless nights than a family of axe-wielding hicks or any number of sadistic east European millionares. An earlier scene between Cusack and Jackson is probably the best I've seen in a film so far this summer.

    I'm trying to think of another film to that pits a single man against a single entity (ghost? demon? whatever?) in a battle royale to the death but nothing's springing to mind. I guess this means 1408 is like nothing else I've seen. That should count for something.

    Still, there's that scene with the refrigerator that keeps 1408 on a level below another King adaptation about an alcoholic author slowly losing his mind in a hotel. The hat trick Stanley Kubrick pulled with the first adaptation of The Shining was to keep things ambiguous and the stuff that couldn't work off camera. 1408's biggest flaw is its stubborn willingness to spell out everything. The ending, with a slight tweak, could have been fantastic and as classic as that creepy B&W image of Jack Nicholson at the New Year's party. Sadly, the producers decided to leave little room for interpretation.

    On a related note: here's a photo of King's house in Maine. For some reason, I've always pictured a disarming farmhouse on a large piece of property up a long driveway. Still, it makes perfect sense for the world's most famous horror novelist to live in a place like that. I wonder if the spiderweb gates came with the house when he bought it. Now I wonder where H.P. Lovecraft spent all his time.

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    Portland hipsters: 10% assholes

    Somehow I missed this when it ran in the Mercury a few weeks ago:

    But the truth is, what rubs me the wrong way about this guy has nothing to do with his relative level of hipsterdom. The fact is, the guy is a self-absorbed narcissist who's overly vain about his wardrobe and hairstyle, and is generally unfriendly. As evidenced by sororities, law firms, sports teams, country clubs, sewing circles, and virtually every other social group the world over, this is by no means an exclusively hipster phenomenon. The fact remains that every demographic is composed of roughly 10 percent assholes. Buddhists, DJs, gourmet chefs, Freemasons, and ceramicists—all groups of humans are littered with pretentious twits. But intelligent, non-bigoted people generally refrain from decrying rock climbers, for instance, based on the shitty attitudes of a few. When we speak condescendingly of hipsters in reference to people like my video store clerk, the chances are that what we hate about them is that they're annoying little fucks. That they're a so-called "hipster" is entirely beside the point.

    Click here for the rest. The article further delves into what exactly a "hipster" is. This much I know after reading it: I am not a hipster. I don't wear enough vintage clothing and spend waaaaaay too much time on the westside to qualify, Converse high-tops or no Converse high-tops. Plus, I'm pretty sure there's an age cut-off

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    Tuesday, June 26, 2007


    A golfer's life for me

    A few months ago, I tried to arrange a field trip to play mini golf on a boring Sunday afternoon. There was a major hurdle standing in my way: Portland's mini-golf options are limited. I made a few calls. One place had shut down, another was too far away and a jaunt down to Bullwinkle's in Wilsonville seemed like more trouble than it was worth.

    During my search, I found this website. Glow-in-the-dark, blacklit mini-golf with a pirate-theme? Sure, it sounded great but would the concept ever come together?

    Low and behold, Glowing Green Blacklight Mini Golf is set to become a reality at, according to a post over on Metroblogging Portland, downtown on SW Taylor. I couldn't find a grand opening date but the place could open its doors in as little as a few weeks. Here's a link to their MySpace page.

    The place looks fantastic and will look even more fantastic if the owners ever opt to start selling beer ala Ground Kontrol. Now if we could only get an over-21 Chuck E. Cheese-style venue going around here, that would really be something. Who says swimming pools filled with plastic, neon balls should be just for the under 8 set?

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    Just what I needed...

    ......another reminder that I'll never be able to afford so much as a ramschackle in Multnomah County. Thanks Portland Tribune, the Urban Growth Boundary, an ongoing influx of people relocating to the region, an up-and-down local economy, politicians, bureaucrats, greedy landlords, condo developers, other socioeconomic factors beyond my understanding and anyone or anything else I've failed to mention.

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    Sunday, June 24, 2007


    Eat your heart out, Jones Soda

    Pepsi Cucumber hit the Japanese market recently but, for obvious reasons, will never be sold here in the states. Here's a video review of the new soda recorded by "QA," a colleague of mine currently living in Nagoya. Survey says....bleeeeeeech!

    And here's a list of all the Pepsi flavors that have been sold worldwide over the years. I'd like to get my hands on a bottle of Pepsi Ice Cream, currently only available in Russia.



    It's not the years, it's the mileage

    Yeah, it's real, or so I'm told. I still think they're going to pull this whole thing off. I once read that Speilberg and Lucas originally planned to make five Indiana Jones movies. This'll be number four. Maybe they'll aim for a fifth installment when Harrison Ford hits his mid 80s.

    More here.


    Saturday, June 23, 2007


    In the tiki, tiki, tiki franchise

    Tiki bars are a rare breed of drinking establishment. Portland is fortunate enough to have two excellent ones, the long-running Alibi Restaurant and Lounge (4024 N Interstate Ave) and new-comer Thatch (2733 NE Broadway St), which opened back in January. Once upon a time, the city once served as the home of no less than four tiki bars, one of which was a Trader Vic's next door to the Benson Hotel. It closed before long before I was old enough to drink and my parents never thought to take me down there for shish kabobs.

    Back in the day, Trader Vic’s was a driving force, bringing tiki culture to the masses with 25 restaurants worldwide and a collection of popular drinking manuals. The franchise has been in steady decline for a few decades but the current owners seem to be staging a resurgence. One of their new restaurants/lounges recently opened in Bellevue, just outside of Seattle. I made a pit stop there during a recent trip north.

    So how does this new version of Trader Vic's stand-up against the likes of Thatch and the Alibi? Not all that well. There's clearly a reverence for history at work up there. Just past the main doors, the Bellevue branch has a display case filled with decades of knickknacks. The drink menu in the lounge looks like a reprint of one from the 50s, complete with cheesy descriptions of each concoction and fairly offensive native stereotypes throughout. I'm surprised that topless Polynesians in hula skirts and grinning cartoon sailors on the menu's cover still fly with drinkers in the 21st century.

    While the restaurant itself is under-themed with white tablecloths and downright boring altogether, the lounge holds up better. The tikis themselves are all elaborate, including a six-foot tall one near the entrance. The walls are loaded with décor and the candles on each table were cool enough for me to briefly plot how to smuggle one out of there. When you're paying $12 to eat a cheeseburger and $9 for a Pina Colada, shouldn't the meal come with a complimentary tiki candle?

    Still, the bartenders didn’t skimp on the booze and that Pina Colada was probably the best I've ever encountered. Trader Vic's was supposedly the first place to bring Mai Tais to the states but I was disappointed with the one that was brought to the table after I finished my first drink. It was stronger than a Long Island Ice Tea and bland but maybe I've just been thrown off by years of improperly made, over-sweetened Mai Tais. Trader Vic's prides itself on coming up with the drink first and supposedly doing it up right. Is this what a Mai Tai is supposed to taste like?

    The food menu was spendy, in the $$ - $$$ range, and this new Trader Vic's seems bent on drawing the over 40, Lexus-driving crowd. While it's clear that the designers tried to update the tiki theme for the 21st century, this latest incarnation of the franchise looks and feels more like a classic tiki bar mashed into a Cheesecake Factory. Will I ever go back? Probably not, but mostly because I can't think of when I'll be back in Bellevue. The food and the restaurant are best avoided but, if you've got the cash, the lounge is worth an occasional escape from the Seattle area's perpetual clouds to the faux-tropics.



    iPhone home

    I was talking to a colleague last night about the iPhone and his plans to snag one when they hit stores on Friday. Over the past few weeks, he's gone back and forth on whether or not to go through with it. On one hand they're pricey, first generation and bound to be plagued by bugs. On the other, have you seen this?

    Just like the iPod, the iPhone seems like a giant leap forward in its field. I'd love to get my hands on one myself but I'm not about to pay upwards of $499 for a cell phone, even if it can do just about everything my laptop can with an interface straight out of Minority Report.

    As a fairly-fervent Apple fan, he's been following rumors surrounding the iPhone from the day it was announced. From what he told me, there’s already around a 100 of them currently in use in the states. Supposedly Steve Jobs personally approved the release of each one as part of an effort to test the network AT&T will be running them on. I’m not willing to separate fact from fiction but, at the very least, it looks like this guy is running around with one.



    Oregon Trail, the way it was meant to be played

    Someday I’m going to have try this and relive all those wasted hours spent in the computer lab back in 6th grade. They've even got a copy of Number Munchers. Alas, I didn’t see any copies of Odell Lake over there.



    The other Potter

    In case anyone was wondering, there are currently 1675 holds on 400 copies of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, all due to land in Multnomah County Libraries around town on July 21st. 400 copies! Total number of copies of Hamlet in the system? By my quick count, right around 100.

    Obviously I'm not J.K. Rowling's biggest fan. I still dig the jelly beans though.

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    Thursday, June 21, 2007


    Bridgetown vs. the 30-foot sailboat

    Last night I tried to meet up with a colleague for beer and dinner on the Eastside. What should have been a mildly annoying trip across town during rush hour turned into a 70-minute endurance test. The first delay hit on US-26 on the slope leading up to Sylvan, pretty typical for a weeknight. After a slow slog downtown, I ran into another bottleneck near the Bus Mall revamp. Ever find yourself hanging in an intersection after traffic abruptly halts? At 5:45 on a Wednesday night in the middle of downtown, it can land you on the receiving end of road rage. Last night, a lane of commuters slowly nudged their way into another lane to get around my car. A few years ago though, someone in a gigantic Ford responded to my bad luck by slamming on their accelerator, blasting through the intersection and slamming their brakes mere inches from impact with the side of my car. Then they spent the next few minutes laying waste to their truck's horn.

    I figured I was in the clear once I made it to Naito Parkway but, nope, the Hawthorne Bridge was up. Hundreds of cars and bicyclists, were all delayed on a sun-soaked summer evening by...a single sailboat with a tall mast. I moved back into the middle lane and hoped to beat the boat to the Morrison. No such luck, that bridge was also raised. I tried for the Steel Bridge but the barrier had already dropped. The boat had managed to shut down all passage from downtown to the Eastside for a good fifteen minutes at the height of rush hour. As it passed under the Steel, two people were standing on its deck, taking in the city they had managed to shut down so they could slowly saunter up the Willamette. I couldn't make out their faces from the bridge's onramp but I’m sure they were smiling wickedly.

    Across the river, I ran into one last delay: a few dozen geriatrics outside the Convention Center, all crossing the street and completely indifferent to the little, neon hand advising them to stay on the sidewalk and wait for the light to change. 25 minutes late, I arrived at my colleague's office, now the epitome of a super-pissed commuter. A while back someone asked me why I don't live on the Eastside, considering that it's home to everything that makes Portland so Portland-y. I guess this reason is as good as any.



    I'd pay to see a film version of A Confederacy of Dunces...

    ...but maybe not one starring Will Ferrell and Drew Barrymore (Jack Black would be a shoe-in for the role of Ignatius). A recent article in Premiere goes over why the film adaptation will probably never make it off the ground, along with 19 other films that are doomed despite the big money and big stars attached to them. A good read? I think so.



    In the national spotlight again

    Whenever Portland makes national news, it always seems to be for things like this. On the other hand, the New York Times runs the occasional write-up in its Travel section praising the city's livability and willingness to take the time to a move historic home a few blocks. Plus, the Blazers draft pick slot is nothing to sneer at (unless Oden's health problems turn him into Sam Bowie: The Sequel).

    Still, it leaves me to wonder: what's the first thing that comes to mind when someone in, say, Brooklyn thinks of Portland, Oregon? Is it a mental image of a utopistic Ewok village populated by streetcar-riding citizens who never leave their condos without a pair of Birkenstocks? Or do they picture a backwoods burg filled with flag-burning anarchists and intolerant bus drivers- a place where Tonya Harding is still lauded as icon.

    Or maybe they still think we live in log cabins and hunt for beaver pelts when we're not chopping down old growth trees with rusty axes.


    Wednesday, June 20, 2007


    Don't stop? Please stop

    I'm willing to give Hillary Clinton's campaign points for trying. At least this parody of the Sopranos finale is 10 – 12% more clever and timely than the tired Apple attack ad an Obama supporter flooded the internet with a few months ago. But what campaign song did her minions finally settle on?

    Celine Dion's "You and I."

    Maybe she should have taken a tip from a certain New Jersey kingpin and gone with something by Journey. Or any other song ever composed in the history of human civilization.



    Best of Portland

    It's time again for Willamette Week's annual "Best of Portland" poll.

    The White Stag sign earned my vote for "Best Local Landmark" and the Horse Brass for "Best Bar" but I got tripped up on "Best Facial." For the record, I selected "other" and went with "A Bar of Irish Spring Purchased at the Downtown Safeway."



    Two nights in Seattle

    ...but not a single one in Portland. The White Stripes, still my favorite live band, won't be playing at the Keller during their summer tour, instead opting for a two stand at the Paramount Theater in Seattle. Ah, well. I did get to see them do two songs on Late Night last week. During "Icky Thump," Jack White played a synth and his guitar at the same time. Ain’t that somethin'?


    Tuesday, June 19, 2007


    And the dog as Chewbacca

    Say what you will about Family Guy but I still think there's enough decent jokes in any given episode to make it worth watching. The show will return with new episodes in November. First up, an hour long parody of the first Star Wars movie.

    A good chunk of clips from the upcoming season premiere were shown at this year's Star Wars Celebration in Los Angles a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, they've all been yanked off You Tube, save for a short bit of the trailer. Which character plays which Star Wars character should be obvious but Meg's short cameo is pretty gosh darn killer. I won't blow the joke here. Is it worth waiting five months for? If you have any memory of this post come November, feel free to come back and tell me.



    Building a better Welcome to Blog?

    I guess this is a State of the Blog Address.

    I originally started a blog, like many people do, as a way to fill empty gaps of time while at work. In the years since that day way back in October of 2003 (four years, waaaa....?), things have changed. Not in the ways I'd like, obviously. I'm still stuck in the same workplace, albeit now with a different job title that has left me with less free time while on the clock than in the past. It's become increasingly difficult to draft posts about kittens trapped on freeways and others that consist of nothing more than fuzzy cell phone photos of area pizza joints. I know, I know but what would you rather have me doing? Farting around the forums over at Something Awful?

    There was a time when Welcome to Blog was updated three times a day, Monday - Friday. Since then, the posts have gotten longer and the blog, which has always teetered somewhere between being a blog about Portland and a collection of personal anecdotes, drifted towards the later.

    So this blog is at another crossroads. Based on the hits it's getting, there seems to be enough people out there still reading this thing to keep it going. But in what direction?

    In order to keep Welcome to Blog fresh, I'm going to try to adopt the tactics I used when I started it. I can't promise three posts a day but I'm hoping that, by keeping things brief, more posts will be, well, posted. These posts may be more along the lines of "hey, I think this link to a story about people drinking absinthe stuck on a crappy cruise ship is cool" but at least that means more content.

    As always, if you've got any advice on what you'd like to see and what you'd like to see less of around here, drop me a line at welcometoblog@gmail.com or in the comments section below. I don't write a blog for money (directly) and Welcome to Blog has always been fueled by feedback. Most comments = more incentive to keep this blog updated and somewhat interesting.

    With that out of the way, here's a link to story about Pepsi's latest attempt to conquer an untapped market, this time with cucumber-flavored soda. Hey, I'd drink that stuff. Once.



    Freeway the kitten

    A few weeks ago, a kitten found itself on the upper deck of the Fremont Bridge.


    I wouldn't bring this up if the story didn't have a happy ending. A motorist with a heart of fried gold stopped traffic and risked her life to save the feline's. At the time the story appeared in the Oregonian a few weeks ago, the kitten's prognosis was looking good.

    This leaves me to wonder, how did the kitten, now dubbed "Freeway" by the staff at the Dove Lewis Animal Hospital, wind up there in the first place? Sure, he could have been tossed out a car window by the world's cruelest pet owner but what if Freeway just so happens to be the world's most badass kitten? Maybe he was egged on by all the other kittens or maybe he knew exactly what he was doing. At the time of his discovery, Freeway was seen "scooting" across the highway.

    Somewhere, this kitten could very be putting together a video submission for the inevitable third entry in the Jackass movie series. Long live Freeway!


    Saturday, June 16, 2007


    It Came From My Cell Phone part 20

    Taken in the Raleigh Hills location of Hot Lips Pizza.

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    Thursday, June 14, 2007



    What is this? I'll give you three guesses:

    A: A tongue hotdog

    B. A tongue hotdog

    C. A tongue hotdog

    D. All of the above.

    Got the answer yet? I found this on the menu at Rocket, a snazz-drenched new restaurant on East Burnside, which feels like it blasted off from a corner in the cold, gray heart of the Pearl District before crash landing on top of the Chesterfield Building.

    I'll be blunt. Everything on the menu is priced $2 -$10 over what it's worth. While the staff was friendly, the restaurant they work in isn't. $7 bought me a hotdog on a plate, nothing more, nothing less. The ballyhooed deck, which offers a great view of downtown and the 1190 KEX billboard atop Hippo Hardware, is all concrete and as cold as ice. Definitely not the sort of place you would want to loiter atop, especially on a windy day. As I headed outside, a gust sent two menus flying off a table and down to the street below.

    From Burnside the entrance is unmarked. I found the place by marching up five flights of stairs. Any mention of "Rocket" is nowhere to be found at street level or even on the windows or main door. That aside, the main dinning area and bar is beautifully designed, in a Target commercial dreamscape sort of way. If the interior of the Space Needle had been quickly laid out on a napkin by Hugh Hefner circa 1965, this is what it might look like. Plush booths, smooth surfaces, big windows. On the hi-fi trickling down from the ceiling? Space rock ranging from the Who to the Smashing Pumpkins to the Arcade Fire. The SP song I caught? "Rocket." Clever? Eh, not really.

    I guess the prices keep the riffraff away. Despite being a card-carrying member of the riffraff set, I shelled out an extra $7 for a small salad and, yeah, it was everything a $7 small salad should be. Just enough dressing, a decent portion with breadcrumbs. Unfortunately, the tongue itself tasted liike a cross between shredded beef and overcooked pork. Also on the menu: $10 burgers and Miller Hi-Life.

    As of a few weeks ago, Rocket was a restaurant stuck in flux and seemingly desperate to appeal to two different groups: yuppies and hipsters. The drink menu and many of the entrees are bound to chase away the former and the gentrified prices are sure to keep away the later. The Doug Fir this ain't.

    PS: Yes, the title of this post is a reference to a Def Leppard song

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    Wednesday, June 13, 2007


    Dachshund + rain swept beach = interesting

    I spent the weekend in a three bedroom beach house with fifteen people and three dogs.

    It rained the entire time but we didn't let that get us down. We had ample amounts of booze on hand, a foosball table at our disposal and a copy of Arnold Schwarzenegger's immortal 1985 classic, Commando.

    If you've never seen Commando, get thee to a video store. It's easily the best of Arnold's cheeseball '80s films. No, not Total Recall, Predator or anything of that caliber. I'm taking about movies like Conan the Destroyer, Raw Deal and that movie he costarred in with the fatter, unfunnier member of the Belushi brothers. Commando is no less than 50 million times better than all of those movies combined. Do they have any combination of the following? Alyssa Milano, an out-of-place calypso soundtrack, a unintentionally fey henchman or any scenes where Arnold takes out two guys with flung buzzsaws and/or his kidnap victim turned co-conspirator busts him out of police custody by firing a rocket launcher at the vehicle he's sitting in?


    Anyway, this post is supposed to be about dachshunds and what happens when you take them to the beach on rainy, cold afternoons. On Saturday, as storm clouds engulfed the northern Oregon coast and the temperature dived into the mid-50s and while everyone else was hiding out at the Moe's in Cannon Beach, someone came up with a great idea: let's go swimming. In the ocean.

    So we hit the sand with the dogs in tow. Three of us covered ourselves in Columbia Sportswear, two others went in swim trunks. Between us: no less than five undergraduate degrees, a doctorate, a law degree and absolutely no wetsuits. With all of that higher education lodged in our skulls, someone should have had the common sense to talk the participants out of an activity practically guaranteed to result in hypothermia. Unfortunately, Common Sense isn't a major offered at any university that springs to mind.

    They lasted 45 minutes out there among the waves and seaweed. Two of the dogs concerned themselves with the chasing of sticks and seagulls, barely noticing the weather. Lil' Egon wasn't so lucky. This was his first trip to a coastline and, with good reason, the year-old Daschund hated it.

    After running away from the waterline, he did what he could to avoid the sand entirely, at times standing on three legs. Back in the car, he gave us all a look of pure disdain and fury. That morning, he had woken up everyone at a too-early hour by running around in circles while barking and jumping on the heads of people camped out on the floor.

    An example of precog-puppy revenge? Probably. Egon would also make a later attempt to steal my sandwich back at the house. He failed but continued to throw down his Ultimate Stare O' Guilt (see below) anytime any humans made the mistake of making eye contact with him throughout the rest of the weekend.

    I'm glad to report that we didn't spend the rest of the afternoon at any area hospitals. A blazing hot shower off-set any hypothermia and they were back out there again on Sunday. Regardless of the weather, sneaker waves, logs, jellyfish, Jaws etc., some people just can't resist the siren call of wave jumping.

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    Thursday, June 07, 2007


    The last temptation of Tony

    Sorry for the skimpy amount of posts around here these past few days. For those keeping track of these things, I may have to skip out on this week's edition of Random Links. In case I'm not back in front of a computer until Monday, I wanted to drop a few words about the last episode, ever, of The Sopranos. It airs this Sunday.

    Not to give anything away from last week's plot-heavy installment but I think it's pretty obvious where Tony is going to find himself after the credits roll. Here's my guess. In the off chance I'm right about this, consider yourself warned for possible spoilers and stop reading this post right now.

    At the end of his rope and with his support system of family, "family," assorted mistresses and Dr. Melfi eradicated, Tony will flip. He'll go into protective custody, Carmela will refuse to follow and he'll assume the identity of "Kevin Finnerty," as prophesied by his coma-fueled delusions from last season.

    Anyone want to put money on this?



    Paul and Babe(s)

    If you'd like some context for the photo above, click here.

    There's also this place sitting across the street from ol' Paul. I tried but failed to get a camera angle that would make it look like the lumberjack was heading over to Dancin' Bare for a hearty helpin' of a variety of babe that has nothing to do with oversized oxes.

    Two symbols of Portland culture, one from its past and one from its present, all sharing spots at the same intersection. If Stumptown has a heart, it may very well be over in the Kent neighborhood.


    Tuesday, June 05, 2007


    Down by the river

    Like moths to an overpriced, carnie-filled flame, a colleague and I found ourselves at the Washington Mutal Waterfront Village/Fun Center on Friday night. This year's version deviates a bit from its predecessors. For example, the army, through some sort of sponsorship, has managed to set up a large kiosk right at the front entrance near the old McCall's Restaurant. There's nothing that says "100th anniversary of a family-friendly civic festival" like a military-sponsored, digital "Kill a Varmit" shooting gallery complete with comical sound effects.

    No, really, the game is called "Kill a Varmit." Now that's what I call propaganda.

    Meanwhile, as in past years, the Marines are still stuck on the other side of the gate with a small tent and their two-story drill sergeant balloon. Maybe they'll have to step up their efforts with a Baghdad-themed paintball course next year. Or perhaps Humvee bumpercars? Or a "Toss a Ring Around a Bottle, Get a Lucrative $2.4 Billion Rebuild Contract" game. I could keep going but the jokes would just get lamer.

    Further in, we found more of the same. Same old Ferris Wheel, same old skee ball gallery, same old crowd of bickering families and bored teenagers. Why did we go? For the fireworks and the return of the "Interceptor" (AKA the Lady Washington), one of the ships used in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie.

    When we arrived, its crew was hard at work staging a "battle sail" with another ship, and possibly also several smaller boats manned by drunk yuppies, near the Hawthorne Bridge. This year's Fun Center also offers a pirate-themed sideshow featuring exotic birds- exotic birds that refused to return to their trailer afterwards. As their frustrated keeper, dressed in full buccaneer regalia, tried to get two of them down from a tree, an unattended parrot started biting a woman's arm. Now that this bird has a taste for human flesh, dare we trust him?

    There was also this mannequin near the bird show. I'm not sure if he's supposed to be a pirate or a roadie for the latest incarnation of T-Rex.

    And, returning from last year and who knows how many years before that, a Bourbon Street funhouse. You know, for kids.

    A large crowd was already holding their spots two hours before the fireworks finally filled the sky over the poo-filled waters of the Willamette. A brief swelling of civic pride engulfed my little, black heart...that is until I looked over my shoulder and spotted a bored Johnny Depp impersonator reading a magazine and eating a slice of pizza on the "Meet Jack Sparrow" stage. You can't please everybody, I guess.

    But enough about the 100th Rose Festival, what about the 75th one?


    Saturday, June 02, 2007


    It Came From My Cell Phone part 19

    Ok, so this wasn't taken with my cell phone but I still think it's worthy of this endless W2B photo series. If you're ever in the Tacoma area and find yourself hungry for "antique sandwiches," look no further than the Antique Sandwich Co. They're located in Rusthon.

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    Random Links: Red Letter Day Edition

    It's been a red letter day over at my homestead. The cooler is gone and a pair of queen yellowjackets that have spent the last week terrorizing my gutters with their endless nest-making have been tracked down and eradicated. The first with an old can of Raid, the second by the awesome might of a Birkenstock after making the mistake of landing on the porch. With the threat of hundreds of yellowjackets taking over my yard eradicated for the time being, it's Miller/Random Link Time.

  • I wasn't at the Sasquatch Festival this year but plenty of those that were filmed some of the performances. Sure, their footage is herky-jerky but I guess it beats a five hour drive and $70+ per day tickets.

  • Now that they've learned to swim, what will be their next move? World domination or relocating to Ohio so they can have ponderous discussions with small children? WARNING: the totally awesome tiger pics included in that link may be entirely too totally awesome for the majority of this blog's readers.

  • Speaking of tigers, R.I.P. old Hungry Tiger building.

  • Does Portland need any more red light cameras or the $245 traffic tickets they crank out? No, no it doesn't. Getting pulled over by a real, live cop is one thing, getting hassled by Big Brother is another.

  • The city's latest version of the sit/lie ordinance won't impact street musicians like that guy with the white tuxedo and Goofy hat that plays outside of Powells on the weekends. But what if the city's homeless population gets its hands of a whole lot of kazoos?

  • Coney Island's Astroland amusement park may soon close its doors and auction off all of its rides. The Wonder Wheel, featured in the opening credits of The Warriors, would look great in my backyard. The only thing standing between me and making this dream a reality: oh, about $10 million bucks or so.

  • Finally, what's creepier, this clip from a weird '70s horror movie, this Japanese ad for beer suitable for kids or the following Paul McCartney video co-starring Natalie Portman as a ghost hellbent on trashing his house and stealing his mandolin?





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