April 2011

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Monday, March 31, 2008


Random Cell Phone Photo # 31

This photo was taken way back in September of 2006. Can anyone out there tell me what local business currently or once served as the home of this toilet-seat emblazoned with the image of what I think is supposed to be Jerry Garcia? My memory is fuzzy.

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Weekend o' Disconcertion

These past few days have been strangely disconcerting for reasons I can't quite put my finger on. It's not just the weather but that's definitely played a factor. Consider the evidence:

  • From what I can tell, a million Sho Dozono and Sam Adams signs mysteriously popped up on just about every lawn in the city over the weekend. One yard I spotted even had two signs sitting side-by-side, one for each of the mayoral candidates.

  • A 30-minute hailstorm slammed my neighborhood late yesterday afternoon, botching an ill-conceived family jaunt to Tad's Chicken and Dumplings. When the car slid sideways while going up a hill we retreated back to O'Connors in Multnomah Village. Their sausage and chicken gumbo is pretty tasty.

  • While driving home tonight I encountered a gigantic Spirit Mountain Casino billboard advertising upcoming shows for Dana Carvey and Blues Traveler. While the glory days of both acts may be long gone, aren't all involved too young to go on the casino circuit? I thought you had to be over 60 to play a gig in a place like that. Blues Traveler may even have a few members of its original lineup still playing in the band. Smash Mouth is coming in April? OK, I guess the rules regarding these things have changed.

  • Or maybe my uneasy feelings all have to do with the fact that I saw one of this guy's ads on TV last night:

    Vern Fonk, the Seattle-based insurance agent, now has a location in Portland. Oh well, his ads (only click on that link if you're willing to lose 10 - 20 minutes of your valuable time) are a lot easier to take than those old short-term loan commercials with the dancing giraffe.

    On second thought, I'd go so far to say the one linked above has set the bar for all future locally-based advertising. Doc hitting Marty with the Delorian, that's downright inspired. Even Mr. Appliance never thought of that.


  • Sunday, March 30, 2008


    Probably the strangest museum in Portland...

    ...has closed its doors. At the very least the museum at Alpenrose Dairy is the weirdest one I've ever set foot in within city limits. Housed in a barn, the museum contained a turn-of-the-century hearse, dozens of creepy dolls, a giant music box and lots of milk-related memorabilia. It's all going up on an auction block soon. I'm glad I made it over there one last time a few years ago.

    I grew up within walking distance of Alpenrose and once a year my elementary school went on a field trip to the dairy. The highlight was always the museum. The lowlight was the milking room where, one by one, we all had to take turns tugging on a milk cow's teat.

    Awwwww, childhood memories.


    Friday, March 28, 2008


    Spring Break '08

    This is what my windshield looked like this morning.


    Thursday, March 27, 2008


    Presto chango

    Once upon a time I was a registered Socialist. Then I became an Independent. Earlier this week I transformed into a Democrat. Why? Because of this.

    Plus, I'm sure it will be fun to vote in a presidential primary for a change, especially one that might actually count for something

    If Hillary gets the nomination I'm definitely switching back.


    Wednesday, March 26, 2008


    Has Ararat closed down?

    That seems to be the case. I drove by everyone's favorite track suit-infested restaurant and lounge a few days ago and, from the street, it looks like the inside has been gutted. There's a chain link fence blocking the driveway.

    Oh, well. We'll always have the memories.



    Greek Cusina lost its liquor license

    Despite my love of giant octopus balloons, I've never eaten at Greek Cusina. I guess I'll hold off on giving the place a shot, especially now that it can no longer, er, serve shots.




    Last year I remember wandering around downtown on St. Patrick's Day in a t-shirt. The winter of 2008 doesn't seem like it will ever end. I just caught a glimpse of a Tri-Met bus rolling through falling snow on KGW. Earlier today, snowflakes were sticking to the sand at Seaside. Still, the temperature reached a downright balmy upper-50s on Saturday, decent enough weather to head down to the north end of Waterfront Park to take photos and get screamed at by homeless people.

    I ventured up to the Burnside Bridge to take the photo above. On the way back to 3rd Avenue, a guy standing outside of a shelter didn't like the looks of me, threatened to kick my ass and followed me for about half a block. That was fun. I'm not sure if this one was worth it.

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    Monday, March 24, 2008


    And now relatively wholesome Easter photos

    May they serve as a "unicorn chaser" (definition here) for the previous post. If you don't think the previous post was jarring enough to warrant a unicorn chaser, read this and then pursue the following:

    My family has forbidden me from posting images of them on the internet since the now infamous "Oktoberfest '06" incident. As you can tell, even the cat gets ticked when I break out a camera.



    Why I can't show my face around the Fred Meyers in Burlingame anymore

    One of the great things about living in Portland is the wide array of outdoor activities one can engage in. This is a place where it's possible to go skiing on Mt. Hood in the morning, hike through a rainforest in the mid-afternoon and walk along a picturesque coastline at dusk. The possibilities are endless.

    As such, if you live here you may one day find yourself pointing a bolt action rifle at a chocolate bunny in a forest outside of Manning.

    Let me explain.

    I have friends who own guns. Having grown up within the uber-liberal enclaves of Portland I still find this incredibly weird. Once upon a time, I was a proponent of strict gun control. Then one day I went skeet shooting. What can I say, a strong, albeit naive, political argument buckled and collapsed immediately after I managed to hit my first clay pigeon. I'll never own a gun, my friends aren't hunters and none of us are members of the NRA. Amazing as it might sound, even a liberal wuss like me enjoys the opportunity to work on my shotgun skills. After all, there's no telling when a zombie and/or a zombie pirate uprising could break out. We've all seen those Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Zombie pirates are mean bastards.

    A few weeks ago, I found myself heading out to the country for target practice and, afterwards, a St Patrick's Day celebration/film festival. I was debating the merits of canned Guinness versus bottled when I realized I wouldn't have time to pick up clay pigeons. The chances that anyone else would have thought to buy them was unlikely. The clock was ticking so I tried to think fast. What could I find in the aisles of Fred Meyers that could work as targets but also become a tasty snack if the whole thing was rained out?

    The choice was obvious. Discount Easter candy.

    And so off I headed to the checkout with a shopping cart full of beer, chocolate bunnies and marshmallow Peeps. Behind the counter, a gruff clerk who looked like a certain character from Deadwood, looked over my purchases with a scowl on his unshaven mug.

    "You got some little ones at home," he asked as I fumbled with the debit card machine.

    These are the last words a young man wants to hear in the year 2008 in a crowded grocery store when he's buying large quantities of chocolate bunnies and alcohol. How could I possibly answer a question like that? I stuttered and stammered. I was so rushed I hadn't stop to consider that buying all of this might be considered a little unusual or even alarming to someone not full aware of what was going on. Then I said the following:

    "They're for a party. Of sorts."

    Oh. Dear. God. I'd tried to come up with a safe answer but had completely blown it. A party? Of sorts. At best, the clerk and everyone within earshot was now convinced I was a pervert with a twisted bunny/beer sexual fetish or, at worst, a child-predator with hang-ups that would make Michael Jackson blush.

    Without another word, the clerk bagged my groceries and handed me my receipt. A Lewis and Clark undergrad behind me shot me a glare that could pierce steel. I rushed out of the store filled with a level of shame that samurais must have once felt before committing sepuku.

    Most people would try to forget a story like this but I'm not most people. I told everyone later on that day what had happened at the checkout stand. "They're for a party. Of sorts" is now an in-joke I'll be hearing for who knows how long. And now here it is on the internet for your enjoyment.

    Let this be a lesson to you all: if your shopping basket is full of stuff that can paint you as a probable felon, head to the automated check-out. I should have learned this valuable life lesson years ago. A while back, a colleague told me a story about the time he found himself in a Rite Aid buying doggy biscuits, wine and a box of condoms.

    All things considered, if I was a chocolate bunny I guess I'd rather head to the giant Easter basket in the sky after getting hit with buckshot instead of being slowly consumed by a small child. The trip to Fred Meyers had been humiliating but I guess it was worth it to see what a "Honey Bunny" looks like when viewed through a rifle scope. FYI: when a bullet from a bolt action rifle hits the ear of a chocolate bunny, it can apparently blast out the back-end of its box. Also, Peeps vaporize when hit by a shotgun shell. And now you know. More also: apparently I'm not the first person on the internet to dream up unique ways to dispose of Easter candy.

    Urban Growth Boundary, I thank for helping make this all possible. I think I'll go put one of those "I [heart] Oregon" stickers in my car's back window now.

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    Saturday, March 22, 2008


    Behold, my bun!

    I was born on both a Good Friday and a Friday the 13th. As a kid, my mother always told me that the former somehow counteracted the later. I was raised by two half-hearted Methodists who weren't big on regular church attendance. It wasn't until years later that I learned that Good Friday was the day that Jesus Christ was, well, brutally nailed to a cross until he bled to death.

    So, as I'm sure many have wondered before me, why do Christians call a day like this "good"? I've since assumed it's because it gave them something to rally around. The crucifixion is the cornerstone of their religion. No Jesus on a cross = no reason to get together on Sundays or dye hard-boiled eggs once a year. But according to the internet, the "good" may be a slight variation on "God" or that "good" may have once also meant "holy." At least two other cultures have a better way of putting it. In Arabic, the day is referred to as "Sad Friday." In Germany it's "Lamentation Friday."

    People in Hong Kong and Canada typically get the day off but Good Friday always seems to pass with little recognition in the US, with the exception of the stock market shutting down for a long weekend. How do American Christians typically commemorate the day? Wikipedia claims it's with a trip to church and, strangely enough, with hot crossed buns. So that's what the song I was forced to learn on a recorder in third grade was all about. Silly me, I thought it was all about quality baked goods sold at a low, low price.

    So yesterday I found myself celebrating Good Friday for the first time. Instead of going to church, I wound up at Helen Bernard's Bakery in NE Portland (I had a birthday cake to pick up). They just so happened to have hot crossed buns for sale and I just so happened to buy one. Here's a cell phone photo of my bun:

    It was pretty tasty, despite the raisins.

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    Friday, March 21, 2008


    I have a sudden hankering to climb onto the roof of City Hall

    I had no idea it this was so easy.

    Back in sixth grade a group of students at my west Portland middle school walked out of class to protest the first Gulf War. Instead of storming City Hall, the protesters only made it a few blocks and mostly hung around a grocery store parking lot posing for local news crews. They made it onto the cover of the Oregonian the next day. Instead of joining them I stayed in math class and continued doodling Garfield in my notebook, if memory serves.

    Obviously, yesterday's protest was a lot more interesting than the one my fellow classmates engaged in way back when. I guess they just make kids tougher these days. Or maybe it's all the Ritalin.


    Thursday, March 20, 2008


    The sort of "real-time news" headline I'd like to see more often on oregonlive.com

    Grandmother to robbery suspect: "Just give it up. You haven't got a chance."

    Click here to read the rest.

    Wednesday, March 19, 2008


    Feelin' Swayze

    I thought the "Andre the Giant Has a Posse" thing started, maybe, in the late '90s. Now Wikipedia tells me the infamous "street art campaign" began way back in 1986. Over the past few years, numerous rip-offs and homages have popped up around Portland and the world. I spotted this one featuring Patrick Swayze outside the sushi-go-round on NW 23rd last Sunday. There's also a t-shirt currently on Threadless to go with it.

    Like any casual fan of his '80s and early '90s ouvere I'm pulling for the guy as he battles his way through cancer. As either a showing of support or a reason to get together, a few friends and I gathered for a Swayze Film Festival over the weekend. We only managed to get 1/3 of the way through Dirty Dancing (that thing has not aged well) but I'm happy to report that Red Dawn, Road House and Point Break were all well received. I'm convinced that last one is at least the 42nd best movie of all time and the 3rd best partially filmed in Oregon. Point Break's climatic "50 year storm" scene wasn't shot in Australia. Wheeler and Ecola State Park filled in for the land down under.

    Lay off the cigarettes, will 'ya, Mr. Swayze? Those things won't help you put cancer in Baby's old spot in the corner. Get healthy, man. Some of us are still holding out for a Point Break sequel.

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    Tuesday, March 18, 2008


    Raptor cam

    A family of sparrows have set up shop in a small space over my living room window and they won't stop pooping all over the place. Like these raptors, they've made an annual tradition out of it. I guess I could try to charge them rent but I'm pretty sure my landlord has written a "no sublet" stipulation into my lease.



    Boxing Day

    One of Portland's new "bike boxes" popped up on SE Hawthorne yesterday. My first thought isn't, "Hey, is that hyphen really necessary?" but "man, I'd be really embarrassed to use one of these things if I rode my bike more often."

    Will the boxes save lives? No doubt. Will they force drivers to acknowledge the existence of bicyclists? Absolutely. Would I use them? Maybe not.

    I guess this makes me the sort of moron that would rather risk severe personal endangerment than draw attention to myself or, to be completely honest, feel like a dork. The boxes urge bicyclists to slip out of the bike lane and sit in a bright green box in front of cars while waiting for lights to change at some of Portland's most dangerous intersections. I know at least four people who have been hit by cars while riding their bikes but I'd still be reluctant to use one. Of those four, one sustained major injuries, one broke an arm and the other two wound up with bumps and bruises.

    I'll be curious to see how many of the bike commuters in my neighborhood will make use of the box that's slated to be installed at an intersection a few blocks from my house. Another thought: will these boxes aggravate drivers during rush hour as they have to wait for a bicyclist to peddle out of their way and back into the bike lane? Here's hoping the boxes don't led to a slew of road rage incidents.

    I've got to be honest here, I can't see many bicyclists using these things and I fear that too many drivers will mess with (i.e. flip off, yell, blast past) those that do.


    Monday, March 17, 2008


    Important pie-related update

    The Irish Shepard's Pie turned out well. It's a St. Patrick's Day miracle!

    The green-dyed ale, uh, that's another story. 12 drops of dye a pint is about 9 drops too many. I may have green teeth for the rest of my life, as may any future children and/or grandchildren. That must have been industrial-strength food dye that we found in the pantry.

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    The St. Patrick's Day massacre

    I write these words from my parents' kitchen.

    I'm covered from head to toe in Bisquick, mashed potatoes and hamburger meat. Moments ago, I discovered a small carrot in my shoe. I'm beaten and bruised but my enemy is fairing far worse than I. It's currently 15 minutes into a 35 minute ride in a 350 degree oven.


    I'm supposed to be enjoying a laid-back St. Patrick's Day this evening. That went out the window when my sister suggsted that we can a simple chicken meal and try something more elaborate. Of course, she left me do the cooking while she went out shopping for dessert with her boyfriend.

    At one point, I was boiling potatoes, browning meat, mixing a biscuit topping and dancing an improvised jig to the Dropkick Murphys at the same time. Needless to say, this level of intense culinary multi-tasking created the Irish Shepard Pie equivalent of Frankenstein. And not the Boris Karloff version. I'm talking about the Robert de Niro one. The recipe produced too much pie for my mother's largest casserole dish, which led me to frantically try scooping out hamburger mix to make room for the biscuit mix. The stuff went everywhere. When the pie finally went in the oven the thing looked like something out of H.P. Lovecraft's nightmares.

    In 17 minutes we'll know if it was all worth the effort. HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY, er, NIGHT!

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    Thursday, March 13, 2008


    Random Cell Phone Photo # 30

    A shadow on the wall at the Crystal Ballroom.

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    There was a "I Love Mr. T" art show in town?

    And I missed it. Aw, nuts.



    Dispatches from the office

    I attempted to blog from work today via email. This is how the post turned out:

    Once upon a time, the vast majority of my blog posts were composed at
    my office. Then I switched departments and my workload increased.
    Another setback: Blogger is now blocked by web-filtering. When I try
    to visit the site on my office computer I receive a smug corporate
    messages telling me I've tried to access a "personal website" and that
    I'm a very bad person with a crooked spine, no soul, etc, etc.

    But I've recently discovered a sneaky little work-around. Apparently,
    I can publish posts not only at blogger.com but also via email. Aside
    from a quick test the other night, this is my first attempt. The
    biggest drawback is that I can't re-edit posts once I hit "send" in
    Gmail. So if you notice more typos than usual on the blog, you now
    know the reason why.

    I can't promise this will increase the number of weekly posts about
    Craig T. Nelson and/or dog poop around here but it can't hurt. Here

    I guess I still have some bugs to work out.

    Tuesday, March 11, 2008


    Craig T. Nelson is awesome

    All things considered, I suspect that everything found here is true. After all, has Chuck Norris ever coughed up a "vomit creature" (link)?

    Yeah, I'm feeling pretty uninspired tonight. That dog poop post took a lot of me. It's going to take a while for the ol' muse to catch up after that one.


    Monday, March 10, 2008


    Now I feel old

    The Big Lebowski turned ten years old last week. It was released in US theaters on March 6th, 1998. I remember seeing it in a now closed multiplex in Eugene. Besides myself, there were only four other people in the theater and this was on opening night. Who knew then that this sort of thing would be going down in Chicago ten years later?



    The pitfalls of responsible pet ownership

    I now return from an unexpected two-week hiatus with a story about poop.

    Dog poop.

    I don't own a dog. I don't own a cat. I don't own so much as a goldfish or a potted plant. I'm not into the whole "pet thing," mostly due to an incident involving a suicidal turtle I had back in high school (a story for another time).

    I have no problem with other people's pets...provided they don't start barking within a square mile of my house between the hours of 2 AM and noon. If a domesticated animal is unable or unwilling to wake me up in the middle of the night, bite my extremities or urinate on my carpet, couch or on my laundry, I'm totally cool with it.

    Now then, meet Zoe...

    Zoe was adopted by my parents last fall. Don't ask me what she is. I don't know. My parents don't know. And Zoe isn't telling. The previous owner described her as a "shiba inu mix." Personally, I suspect there are more dogs in her than the Humane Society. Simply put, she's a "Zoe."

    All in all, she's a pretty great pooch. Sure, she's no Snoopy but, hey, who is? Zoe can fetch, shake, stay...

    ...and create the most intimidating doggy turds I've ever laid my eyes on.

    I've been around dogs all my life. I grew up with a husky named Pokey and later a springer spaniel named Jenny. None of them could create fecal matter larger than that your average full-grown American adult. Zoe, weighing in at a mere 60 pounds, is quite capable though.

    I discovered this when I made the mistake of agreeing to go on a walk with her and my mother during a recent trip to my parents' house. During the return trip I noticed that Zoe was slowing down and sniffing everything in sight, a pretty clear sign that a dog is about to cut loose. We were only two blocks from the house though. Surely Zoe could exhibit enough self control to wait until we made it to the yard. The family's previous dogs had always had the common courtesy to do so. Jenny never once took a dump on all the walks I'd taken her on back in the day. Ok, maybe once or twice but still...

    Before I knew what was going on, Zoe was crapping all over a stranger's lawn. It was as if she had been saving up for a week. What came out of this dog might be normal for a Saint Bernard or a small horse but not a pooch of her size and stature. What lay before for us amounted to at least a full pound's worth of stinky doggy turds all the color of mustard.

    Worse yet, we'd only thought to bring along one tiny poo bag that had already been used. I've since learned that, under normal circumstances, one bag can be reused as necessary. It requires the dog owner to empty the bag and pick up each...

    ...oh, God. I think I just threw up in my mouth a little. Can you believe that the average responsible dog owner will actually pick up their pet's poop with nothing between it and their bare hand than a slim piece of plastic? And then they carry it around with them for miles? A lot of dogs eat poop, making their poop digested poop! We're talking about recycled feces here! Ewwww!

    My mom wasn't about to stand around next to the world's biggest canine-produced bowel movement. She volunteered to the return to the house for reinforcements, leaving me to stand guard on the sidewalk with Zoe until she returned. Five minutes felt like five hours. In that time, a small dog across the street with one of those satellite dish protective collars wandered out of a garage and tried to start a turf war. Strutting back and forth, it snarled and yelped, protecting its property like an angry fuzzy troll.

    The dog's overzealousness quickly caught the attention of a German Shepard who's lawn Zoe had just besmirched. It lept against a window, barking madly at the satellite-dish pooch. A full-blown border dispute had broken out with myself, Zoe and the turds caught in the middle. Sure, we started it but there's no way we could play diplomats, let alone make a hasty retreat. Instead, we were stuck there. Any second now, the shepard's owner was bound to come to the window and notice the turds. We were headed for full-blown humiliation but Zoe took all this in stride, calmly ignoring all the barking and sniffing the gentle spring air with nary a care in the world.

    It's impossible to look casual under these circumstances. Of course, it was also an unusually busy evening for pedestrians. Everyone in the neighborhood was out wandering the streets absorbing as much fresh air and spring-like weather as possible. Then it happened

    Along came a guy, somewhere in his sixties. One of those grandfatherly-types that wears tiny glasses, a wool cap and generally tries to look as much like a Welsh sheepherder as possible. He saw Zoe and before I could warn him, he side-stepped the pooch and wandered right into her butt's gift to the world.

    He kept walking, somehow not noticing what he had just done to at least one of his leather shoes. What could I do? Chase down and say, "Pardon me, good sir. I just so happened to notice that you stepped in this dog's feces. Is she mine? Goodness gracious no. She belongs to my mother. Both her and said feces have been left in my care while...oh, nevermind. I'd lend you a towel but, much like back-up poo bags, I didn't think to bring one."

    I've never believed in the retaliatory forces of karma but it should go without saying that I was assigned the task of picking up each one of Zoe's doodies. The heat off of them still haunts my palms. I know it's a tired cliche but I've gotta break out a "the horror" here.

    I suppose there's something to be learned here. As someone I know put it: "there is a lesson in life to be learned from every experience - this one being: take more poo bags. Or maybe, be better prepared to manage the shit that comes your way."

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    Saturday, March 01, 2008


    Due to recent events...

    Sorry for the lack of posts. It's been an unbelievably bad week and I'm not sure when I'll be back to regular blogging. In the meantime, here's a few random links:

  • Carrie Brownstein's blog over on NPR? 'Tis good, 'tis. I recommend her recent post on basement shows, fire safety and what point it's no longer appropriate to attend such things.

  • Save Paul Bunyan! Let him stay put!

  • A Uwajimaya in Chinatown? Sure, why not?

  • While their playoff dreams may never become a reality, it's nice to know the Blazers are still capable of pissing off Kobe.





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