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Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Another market has been cornered
I recently added a Google Adsense banner to the sidebar here on the blog. Why? To see if anyone would actually click on the ads, enabling me to make tens of pennies a day off this thing. Another reason: the program attempts to match advertisements with the blog's content. When I published a post about urban chicken coops in March the banner was filled with poultry-related ads for over a week. A recent post about a baby shower resulted in numerous ads for tot accessories.
Yesterday, I noticed this "therapy for hipsters" ad for a local therapist. I wonder what inspired Google Adsense to cough up that one. I can only assume it was the "I wanna go hug Nixon in 1977 and maybe give him some hot cocoa" line from that Frost/Nixon review.
But, now that I think about it, my skinny jeans have left me with a pyschological "not so fresh feeling" lately. Maybe I should make an appointment with Dr. Guenther to discuss the problems that have been bogging down my hipster lifestyle. I'm definitely going through a rough patch. My brand new, limited-edition Chuck All-Stars squeak when I walk around in them and that last Girl Talk album just doesn't sound as good as it did when I first heard it at the Dunes. Also: the stylist at the Bishops on Alberta cut my hair too short so it'll be at least another couple of weeks before I can get my trademark bedhead look just right again.
Things that I thought were kitschy and hilarious just aren't very kitschy and hilarious anymore. And, dammit, I was the first person living west of 81st to start drinking Miller Hi-Life ironically. Now everybody does it.
Yet another use for your leftover Easter candy
I recently hosted a Thai cooking class/Blazers playoff party at my place. No one had the foresight to bring a proper Thai dessert but someone did bring the makings for a mostly non-traditional Christian holiday dish: Peep S'mores.
If I had been told about Peep S'mores as a kid I would probably have Type 15 diabetes right now. I had no idea S'mores could be improved upon but, fortunately, some brilliant entrepreneur came up with the concept at some point and was kind enough to notify the world via a series of fairly unsettling You Tube videos.
We didn't have a campfire on hand so we made do with a microwave which, all things considered, is preferable, given what happens to Peeps when exposed to the magic of dielectric heating. We also didn't have enough Hershy's bars, which meant a chocolate bunny had to be sacrificed. Sorry, $1.99 "Sunny Bunny."
So what do Peep S'mores taste like? I wish I had jotted down everyone's descriptions. I'm sure someone said "childhood obesity" but I'd have to go with "the most insanely sugary thing on the planet (overlooking Fruity Pebbles covered in Pixie Sticks)."
Labels: fun with food
Monday, April 27, 2009
Frost/Nixon at Portland Center Stage
Gather around children and I'll tell you about a period in American history when people actually considered Richard Nixon to be the most contemptuous president to ever inhabit the White House. I don't quite understand it myself. Could his mistakes compete with those of Warren G. Harding or James Buchanan? Say what you will about Watergate and Vietnam, at least Nixon's screw-ups didn't lead to the Civil War. Regardless, everyone still despised the guy. Now we're all living in the post-GW era where a single bungled war effort and spying on your political opponents seem like good ol' days worthy of a dozen Thomas Kincaid paintings.
While watching Frost/Nixon at Portland Center Stage I found myself wondering how many members of the mostly Boomer-aged audience still consider Nixon an irredeemable, sweat-spewing monster. The play's script offers plenty of context for the era and the man's misdeeds but it's ultimately more interested in presenting a portrait of his doomed efforts at a political comeback post-Watergate. Here Nixon is a fallen political warrior desperate to redeem himself and get back into the game. His hopes all rest on the shoulders of fading talk show host David Frost, who lured the ex-president into a series of televised interviews in 1977.
PCS' production doesn't quite capture the gravitas of Ron Howard's recent film adaptation but it does an excellent job of staging their battle of the wills. During breaks in the interviews, the cast darts to opposites sides of the stage to discuss strategy. The show opens with a backdrop of video monitors pounding out historical footage. During the interviews, they're used to pan in close on actor Bill Christ's Nixon as he finally crashes and burns. The pace is fast and the show breezes by in a mere hour and forty-five minutes.
Christ looks more like Tony Soprano than Richard Nixon but his portrayal nicely captures the ex-pres' crumbling spirit. The play's final scene is enough, but not quite enough, to make you feel sorry for Nixon. The dialog during this bit is great. "You have no idea how fortunate that makes you, liking people. Being liked. Having that facility. That lightness, that charm. I don't have it, I never did."
Poor, ol' Mr. Nixon. Maybe all he needed was a hug. Where's my time machine? I wanna go hug Nixon in 1977 and maybe give him some hot cocoa!
I saw Frost/Nixon on opening night and I never worked up the gumption to pull aside someone from the crowd to ask them if they still hate Tricky Dick or if their thoughts have cooled in light of the Bush administration's numerous fumbles. I can only assume that, had I done this, they would have said something along the lines of "a villain is still a villain, regardless of their misdeeds or their fictionalized late-night cheeseburger chats with British talk show hosts."
So he's still a crook.
Friday, April 24, 2009
Why, yes, my lungs are indeed filled with goo
I haven't felt all that great over the course of the past few weeks. While the runny nose, lethargy and coughing fits have been super fantastic, I decided to finally go to the doctor this morning. Apparently, I have bronchitis, which would explain why I nearly coughed up a lung at the Powells on Hawthorne the other night. At the time, I figured it was my body's natural reaction to the discovery that someone came up with this idea for a book before I did:
So now I have an official excuse for not blogging this week. I'm on doctor's orders not to "overexert myself" and I think that includes keeping Another Portland Blog up to date. I'll be back in a few days to review PCS' production of Frost/Nixon and to post about the oh-so-important topic of leftover Easter candy. Until then....
....Yao Ming's eating habits are making my delicate Western sensibilities queasy.
Also: GO BLAZERS!
Friday, April 17, 2009
Earlier today the Oregonian ran a story about the spray-painted tributes which now cover the metal trusses on an addition currently under construction at Portland Shriners Hospital. One tribute is for Jarred Schaper, who recently died from complications stemming from pneumonia and Spinal Muscular Atrophy. He was nine years old.
Jarred was the son of my cousin Robert. I only had the opportunity to meet Jarred a few times but I'll always remember his smile. He loved Pixar movies, jokes and just being a kid. He was only given a few years to live but managed to hang on for much longer than that.
It's nice to know that this memorial will grace the hospital for many years to come.
Random Cell Phone Photo # 43
I predict in the near future that NW Portland's various walls, doors and newspaper boxes will be covered in the stenciled images of every, single pop culture icon from the '80s imaginable.
I'm sure Hulk Hogan's visage is down there someplace. Speaking of him, woah.
Labels: cell phone photos
Mocha vs. mocha
You may remember this NYT article from back in December about the Ladybug Organic Coffee Company in St. Johns. The shop made national news for its lengthy application form complete with essay questions. In a city where coffee is taken extremely seriously, Ladybug was quickly earning a reputation for being the staunchest shop in town.
But how do their mochas hold up against the ones found at Stumptown Coffee Roasters, the Portland-based chain with clout that stretches to two shops in Seattle and a new one which will reportedly open in Brooklyn later this year?
The Ladybug occupies a large space with plenty of seating, which has always been a problem for the cramped quarters of the average Stumptown. There's also a full menu with breakfast and lunch items in addition to baked goods.
Maybe the rigorous application process is the culprit or perhaps it's the company's commitment to quality but the Ladybug brews a damn fine cup o' mocha. The foam on mine was perfect and was the taste-equivalent of those "happy little clouds" Bob Ross once mass-produced on public television. The mocha was sweet and smooth but not too much of either.
Are Ladybug's mochas worth the long drive to St. Johns? Maybe not but I can't think of another shop in town cranking out anything on the same level. Ladybug's mochas are pure orgna-choco-coffee goodness. Another bonus: all that open space really cuts down on the BO/stale Miller Hi-Life smell wafting off of all the loitering hipsters.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Terry Porter porter
A few weeks ago, I admitted that this sign at the corner of 4th and Burnside had convinced me that someone somewhere was brewing a Blazer-themed beer. It turns out that I wasn't wrong after all. Even better, the brewer isn't a domestic powerhouse, it's the Hopworks Urban Brewery over on Powell Boulevard. Here's a description of their new Terry Porter porter:
In celebration of the Trailblazers making the playoffs (after 6 long years) we've dedicated our seasonal robust porter to one of their all-time great players, Terry Porter.
Ok, I'm sold. The Blazers are heading to the playoffs for the first time in six years and I need to celebrate. I could use a gallon or five but I'm assuming it's only currently available in pints at the brewery.
A post over at Monitor Mix covers the not-so-unusual phenomenon of using music as a weapon to annoy parents, significant others, office mates, etc. I can think of no other place where this is more common than in college dormitories. Reading the post conjured up some reverse-nostalgia for the hard time I spent in the Soviet-style dorms at the University of Oregon.
During my sophomore year I lived next door to a guy who was completely obsessed with the Grateful Dead. After learning that he absolutely despised the Beastie Boys, I fought back against the tide of his endless live bootlegs with "Professor Booty." He eventually moved out and was replaced by a gent who couldn't get enough of Madonna's "Ray of Light." Precisely at the stroke of 10 AM he would play the song at top volume after returning from a morning class. This served as my alarm clock for the duration of that entire term.
I tracked down a copy of The Immaculate Collection in the hopes that if I fired back with a few of Madonna's older singles it might encourage him to at least try one of her other hits. "Papa Don't Preach" didn't do the trick and neither did "Material Girl" or "Like a Prayer." All of these years later I still wonder why he was so infatuated with that random pop song and if he ever ditched this peculiar morning ritual.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
"The woman — who is about six feet tall and was dressed in a full bunny costume..."
Last Saturday night at about 2:30 a.m., a pedicab operator was allegedly run down by a man driving a late-model Mercedes while riding east on NW Davis Street in downtown Portland...
And so Portland moves yet another step closer to an inevitable full-scale street riot waged between motorists and bicyclists. I'm betting on whichever side shows up with the most bunny costumes and brass knuckles.
A birthday gift from Interstate 5
Yesterday was my birthday so I broke out a box of time-off and spent the day in Seattle with my younger sister (the only person I knew with both TO to burn and willing to partake in a fairly spontaneous weekday road trip to the Emerald City). On our way back to town I-5 took time out of its busy schedule to give me a gift.
Or, more specifically, somewhere north of Tacoma a flying chunk of asphalt collided with the right side of my windshield, creating a fairly impressive, bullet hole-style crack. Now I admit that I'm almost completely ignorant when it comes to all things automotive (you're supposed to change the windshield wiper fluid ever 3,000 miles and the oil at least once a decade, right?). People I consider knowledgeable when it comes to these things tell me that cracks like this need to be fixed, ASAP, to avoid the entire windshield from breaking like an ice-covered lake in every single movie ever made featuring an ice-covered lake. Here's the "before" photo I hastily took while stuck in traffic tonight:
While the resident know-it-alls in at least one internet forum claimed I had little to worry about, I rushed over to the nearest Jiffy Lube after work. I knew from the experiences of others to set my expectations low but that this would be the quickest, cheapest fix. Recently, a colleague wound up with a dime-sized crack in a windshield which a Jiffy Lube attendant was able to reduce to the size of a grain of rice.
Thirty minutes and $30 later, my crack now looks like the web of a spider living in a high rent district. Should I have expected something better? According to the paperwork I signed beforehand, maybe not. Based on the angle and size of the crack there was a serious chance that the repair wouldn't reduce its girth in the slightest. The goal here is to prevent the crack from spreading, not necessarily reduce its size. Here's the "after" shot:
So the good news is that the crack is supposedly stabilized and guaranteed not to grow for at least a year. The bad news: it's still there and looks fairly menacing.
In hindsight, maybe I should have bagged the Seattle day trip to stay home with the leftovers of my Indiana Jones ice cream cake. I'm sure that the resident baker at the Garden Home Dairy Queen didn't intend for the tumbling boulder to serve as a metaphor for my own mortality, nor my faith in quick-fix automotive repair.
Labels: epic fail
Friday, April 10, 2009
The trough on the elk fountain near Chapman Square is still used by PPD to water their horses. Why does this surprise me? Probably because it's 2009 and I guess I've always assumed that police horses are now fueled by futuristic Gatorade compartments tucked under their saddles.
I saw these officers while I was driving through downtown last week. I broke out my iPhone and, in an amazing display of Fast and Furious-style maneuvering, I managed to capture this photo.
The main thing that sets Five Guys Burgers and Fries apart from its competitors is simple: they encourage their customers to choose what goes on top of their patty. As someone who has picked pickles off fast food burgers since preschool, I consider this a stroke of genius. Sure, you can request to have it "your way" at Burger King but it's always a hassle and you're guaranteed no less than two eye rolls from the cashier.
The Five Guys in Beaverton, the first of two locations of the popular Virginia-based franchise to set up shop in the metro area, has a menu over the front counter with several toppings to pick from. Supposedly, there's no less than 250,000 different ways to order a Five Guys burger. When I stopped in for lunch a while back there was a line nearly out the door. A small army of teenagers frantically cranked out orders as quickly as possible to keep up with the throngs of suburbanites piling into the place.
East Coast colleagues have told me that Five Guys' burgers are the best that can be found in a stateside fast food joint. The line led past a row of rave reviews from publications around the country, trumpeting Five Guys' insistence on only using Idaho potatoes in their fries and never freezing their beef patties. A reader board informed me that this particular day's potatoes had come from a town I forgot to commit to memory. There was also a barrel filled with complimentary peanuts and, yeah, Five Guys is one of those places where you can toss the shells on the floor. Or at least that's what everyone was doing while I was there.
After a long wait, one of the teens behind the counter handed me a paper bag filled with greasy goodness. How did my burger and fries stack up against those found at In-N-Out, Burgerville and Dick's Drive-In? The fries were fresh and topped all the others I've gobbled down in other fast food restaurants. The burger was juicy and cooked just right but, ultimately, I don't think it can compete against the ones at In-N-Out in terms of "value." One of the drawbacks of Five Guys is the prices, which are definitely higher than what you'll find at the popular California burger chain.
While what I had was tasty, I think I'll remain a Burgerville devotee, especially now that the chain is considering the addition of beer and wine to its menu. Or at least until In-N-Out starts opening franchises in Portland.
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
An APB Special Investigation: the Secret World of Baby Showers
If you're male you may have heard of them. Your wife, a former girlfriend, your sister, your kid's preschool teacher, Malin Akerman and even your grandmother have all no doubt participated in them.
What are they? What happens during them? What exactly is a "white wine spritzer" and why are they consumed during these peculiar, typically "gals-only" events? I was recently invited to a rare co-ed baby shower at an undisclosed location outside of Portland and I decided to investigate the unusual customs and rituals involved. Here's a glimpse into a world rarely seen by men in America.
This particular baby shower was attended by a few dozen women ranging in age from their 20s to their 60s. Despite the open invitation, only five other males dared participate. Upon arrival and after placing a gift on a dinning room table I was immediately asked if I would like a white wine spritzer. Unfamiliar with the appropriate decorum of this proposal but eager to avoid offending anyone, I decided not to request a Jack and Coke instead and accepted the offer.
The spritzer was, indeed, tasty and went rather well with the all-grain chips and low-fat dip served, both of which I was assured would not "go straight to my hips." After being allowed to mingle for an hour as further guests arrived, everyone was called into the kitchen for a series of games.
If you are a sensitive male, you may wish to avoid looking at the grainy, spy-cam images below. You may find them disturbing.
The first game consisted of everyone attempting to determine the width of the expectant mother's stomach with rolls of yellow ribbon. Each participant cut a piece of ribbon and handed it to the hostess, who stretched each one around her belly. The two closest guessers won DVDs. During the game, the women in attendance all began hooting, hollering and consuming copious amounts of white wine (no doubt to encourage further hooting and/or hollering). I cannot tell you why this happened. Perhaps yellow ribbon has an effect on females at baby showers similar to that of NCAA tournaments and domestic beer on their male counterparts.
After the ribbon was put away, the second game began. A variation on Scattergories, the participants were asked to come up with as many words as possible beginning with the letter c in a series of baby-related categories. I came in third place, earning myself neither a copy of Labyrinth or The Princess Bride.
Next came the presents. After the expectant mother opened each one, the attendees began making coo-ing like utterances of admiration, not unlike certain western finches during nesting rituals. Each gift was passed around the room for further inspection. Clothing, "onesies" in particular, were the recipients of the greatest amount of reverence and discussion. My gift, two Walter the Farting Dog childrens books, didn't earn much reverence and nary a coo but were instead the subject of much heated scrutiny.
The hostess immediately began a quiet, tense discussion with the expectant mother and the older women in the room. Despite causing what is most assuredly a serious breech of etiquette (male-centric potty humor + baby showers = not good), I was allowed to stay for cake but I was denied further access to the wine.
The shower lasted around four hours and concluded with the expectant mother hugging attendees as they departed. All in all, it was a lot like Sex and the City: The Movie but without sex, cities, or, really, anything that was actually in Sex and the City: The Movie. Not that I've ever seen it (*ahem*).
Labels: special investigations
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
All Summer in a (Weekend)
Was the winter of 2009 particularly gloomy in Portland? Well, I think it was rather typical weather wise. Lots of clouds, a few days of sun here and there, followed by more clouds. Ok, fine, there was that whole "snowpocalypse" incident back in December but, hey, that made the holidays a lot more interesting.
When news arrived that the temperature was set to climb into the 70s this past weekend it was as if a citywide holiday had been declared. Locals suddenly started acting like those kids in All Summer in a Day. I was in Pioneer Square on Friday afternoon when Stephanie Stricklen popped out of KGW's "Studio on the Square" to ask random passersby how they would be spending the weekend. I confessed that I had to work on Sunday, which left me feeling like that girl who gets stuffed into the broom closet in the Bradbury short story we all had to read in the 8th grade. Eh, at least my response made it on the air that night. I must confess that my nose doesn't look so great in "stunning HD."
Yeah, I DVR'd it.
After spending the past few days in a stuffy office I was determined to enjoy the weather this evening before "the gloom" returns for another 6 - 11 weeks. Of course, by the time I was off the clock the clouds were already rolling in. Calls were made, plans were nixed but I still went downtown to see how the cherry blossoms in Waterfront Park are doing....
And in case you're wondering what the mannequins in the display window of Naked City on Hawthorne are up to....
That's right. I just made an awkward transition from a few innocent photos of cherry blossoms to, uh, this.
Ok, let's see. We've got a werewolf double-fisting tall boys beside a bikini girl who looks like the Baroness from GI Joe and it's raining pills all around them. I wonder if this is what Russell Brand sees every time he closes his eyes.
Ahhhh, spring in the Rose City....
Labels: the weather
Friday, April 03, 2009
You know whosa great, now defunct NW band named after a highway in Olympia? That thar Sleater-Kinney. And you know whatsa great song by Sleater-Kinney? That thar "Modern Girl." But, dang nabbit, the distortion durin' the last 30 seconds ruins the whole durn thing. I went and paid a whole .99 cents to buy a bona fide copy off iTunes, thinkin' the one I got off Mininova was all banged up but it was all banged up too. Tarnation!
But the YouTubes, they got a great music vider version without all the noise at the end and it's real purty. I think you should listen to it. Just click the button thing up thar and let the waves of pure pop angst and existentialist ennui seep right into yer noggin'.
Thursday, April 02, 2009
What would a Blazers Beer taste like?
For a month after I first laid eyes on these two signs downtown I was convinced that someone here locally was brewing a Blazers-themed beer. Then it dawned on me: these weren't two ads, it was just one.
Screw you, Budweiser. How dare you toy with my emotions.
Anyway, the question at hand remains: if there were a Blazers Beer what type of beer would a Blazers Beer be? A lager? A stout? A full-bodied amber ale with a light yet robust head? Regardless, it would no doubt taste like victory.
Bring on the playoffs.
Also: for what it's worth, there is at least one Blazers Beer Pong Table somewhere out there.
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
Frank and Ruth
Forest Park is rife with tales of crime, tragedy and other assorted weirdness. There's at least three variations on the legend surrounding the "witch house" alone and, over the years, the park has played host to murderers, transients, drug addicts, pervs and even a large marijuana growing operation.
Perhaps the oddest and most memorable story to come out of there occurred back in 2004 when off-trail runners discovered Frank and Ruth, a father and daughter living in a makeshift Forest Park homestead stocked with encyclopedias. They'd been residing there for four years and Ruth seemed well cared-for, educated and relatively normal, despite everything. After attempts were made to usher the family back into society, the two vanished, leaving behind a $6,5000 relief fund comprised of donations from around the country. No one, in Portland media at least, has heard from them since.
Local author and educator Peter Rock recently published a fictionalized take on their years in Forest Park titled My Abandonment. It's currently on my must-read list. You can learn more about it here.