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Monday, February 28, 2005
Another trip to the Pod
I headed down to the Pod again. This time fate led me to the vegan cart.
I decided to go with the strangest thing on the menu but, since they were all out of haggis, I ordered the "tofu buffalo wings". They came with a side of carrots and ranch dressing. Instead of sticking these in a side container, the cook mixed all three in a paper soup bowl. After handing me a fork, he sent me on my way.
Sometime later, on a nearby park bench, I stared at the rancid looking contents. "I must have pissed him off," I remember saying to a colleague, who ordered a grilled cheese sandwich. "There's no way people actually eat this."
Rather than toss away the $5 concoction, I gave it a try. Somehow, against all logic, it wasn't bad. The tofu buffalo wings tasted sort of like spicy tatter tots. The ranch dressing muted the sauce's kick and the carrot's, uhhh, icky, healthy carrot-y taste.
In fact, I was so impressed I would order the dish again.
But not anytime soon.
Hard Times and Rammstein on CNW 14
Have you checked out channel 14 lately? What was once a clearing house for infomercials and Blazer replays is slowly morphing into a breeding ground for weird local programming. Mixed in among creepy live feeds of the Lars Larson Show and local wrestling events is Hard Times, a self-proclaimed "Home of the Best Rock Videos on Television." If memory serves, the show was once a staple of KPDX's late night programming.
In its new home, Hard Times rolls out a steady stream of hard rock videos on Saturday and Sunday nights. Last night I caught a fairly hilarious Rammstein video for "Amerika."
I don't know much about Rammstein beyond that "DU HAST!" song and their tendency to set themselves on fire during live shows. Nevertheless, I never took them for the type to delve into broad political commentary. In the video, the band, dressed in space suits, stomps around the moon while chanting "We all live in Amerika! Coca Cola! Wonderbra!" While the Rammstein performs zero gravity guitar solos and struggles to set up an American flag, the camera cuts away to shots of various foreign locales embracing US culture. In one, a motley Santa Claus reads to Swahili children. In another, a middle eastern man lights up a cigarette from a pack of Lucky Strikes.
A tongue-in-cheek German metal song with shout-outs to Mickey Mouse and the White House may not be your cup of tea but it's definitely going on my iPod. After Rammstein finished mock-praising the US, Hard Times cut to a live video for Korn's cover of "Another Brick in the Wall part 2." I sat through the entire thing just to be sure. Yes, indeed, Korn's cover of the Pink Floyd song officially takes the title of Worst Cover Song Ever. The previous champ? Fred Durst's rendition of "Behind Blue Eyes."
Thanks, CNW 14!
Sunday, February 27, 2005
I was 7 for 9 on the categories I tackled last year. I predicted wrong on Best Foreign Language Film and Best Supporting Actress (Renée Zellweger scoring an Oscar for playing a rough n' tough cowgirl? Whatever.).
I think I can go all the way for tonight's Academy Awards. Here are my predictions:
BEST PICTURE: The Aviator
BEST DIRECTOR: Martin Scorsese
BEST ACTOR: Jamie Foxx
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Morgan Freeman
BEST ACTRESS: Annette Bening
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Cate Blanchett
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Hotel Rwanda
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Sideways
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: The Sea Inside
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM: The Incredibles
NUMBER OF F-BOMBS DROPPED LATE IN THE BROADCAST (POSSIBLY DURING THE BEST ACTOR CEREMONY) BY CHRIS ROCK TO PROVE HE STILL HAS HIS EDGE THAT WILL IMMEDIATELY BE BLOCKED BY A NETWORK CENSOR WITH THEIR FINGER ON A DELAY BUTTON SO IT REALLY WON'T BE THAT BIG A DEAL BUT EVERYONE WILL TALKING ABOUT IT TOMORROW MORNING ANYWAY: 1
UPDATE (9 PM): Shucks, 6 for 11. With numbers like that I can't even make the playoffs. Damn you, Clint. This was supposed to be Marty's night, not yours! You've already got one of those statues. Hand it over.
Friday, February 25, 2005
Rogue of the Week
Have you seen this week's Rogue of the Week column? The author's name sure sounds familiar. Where have I heard it before? Hmmm...
Naw, it couldn't be. It's probably some sort of freaky coincidence. There must be more than two of 'em running around this city.
Thursday, February 24, 2005
My Toyota had to go into the shop on Tuesday and I've spent the past few days driving around town in a Scion rental car. It's the import equivalent of a Mini Cooper and could probably fit in the back of my vehicle.
While heading downtown on I-5 this morning, I found myself driving alongside a logging truck. With a flick of my wrist I could have easily slide the Scion under its load of old growth trees and kept driving ala "The Fast and the Furious." Or into an elevator in the Wells Fargo Building.
I sure am going to miss the little guy.
"He was small"
Now is probably a good time to dust off this old post from November of 2003.
"He was small."
This is what cantankerous author Hunter S. Thompson had to say about his on-screen counterpart, Johnny Depp, in his commentary for Criterion's "Fear and Loathing" DVD set.
Their "F & L" release consists of two discs. The second includes all sorts of forgotten HST lore, most notable of which is a documentary produced by the BBC in 1977. The hour-long program follows Hunter and artist Ralph Steadman on a road trip from Aspen to Hollywood. After having Depp's portrayal burned into your skull, it's weird to see the real-life Duke chugging rum, firing magnums and sweating profusely. Johnny really did nail the part.
At the conclusion, Hunter contacts a memorial designer about a gigantic grave he wants constructed after his passing. He envisions a gigantic, stone fist with two thumbs (the gonzo logo) on top of a 30 foot tall pedestal overlooking his estate near Aspen. During his funeral service, his ashes will be placed in a canister, along with explosives, inside the pedestal. While Bob Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine plays, the ashes will rocket out of the fist and explode over the woods surrounding the property. A fitting tribute to a man who's lived most of his life as if he were strapped to the side of a nuclear bomb.
In the documentary, he's daunted by the final cost estimate. Here's a picture of what the doctor had in mind:
Also on the first disc is probably the most interesting DVD commentary in existence. As various assistants try to keep him line, Thompson hoots and hollers through "Fear and Loathing," occasionally letting out high-pitched screams for no apparent reason. After bad-mouthing everyone affiliated with the production, he makes phone calls to Depp and Benecio del Toro. Here's what he has to say:
-On Tobey Maguire: "That kid's a stupid wax doll of some kind. I can see why he got [Spiderman]. He's a perfect representation of the breed."
-On Johnny's on-screen impression of his own strange mannerisms: "If I ever saw someone doing that, I'd stab them with a fork from the dinner table."
On director Terry Gilliam: "He's a pederast."
On "What do you think a 17 year-old Mormon girl would think of this film?": "I think she would love it. It's a romantic deal."
On God and religion: "You think I'm one of those cheap, little freaks that insists there's one god? That's like one drug. HA! HA! WOOO! You may have one card in your deck mumble... mumble.......but one god? It's another scheme by Catholic priests to fleece the neighborhood and fuck the fat young boys...or whatever else they can get their hands on."
Left on Benecio's voice mail: "You jackass bastard. I've been hearing a lot about you and not all of it is satisfactory. And the fact you won't answer your phone is making me edgy. Well, what the fuck? Who cares about you, you fucking yellow-bellied, Nazi...pig? Well, see you later. Bye."
I still haven't heard anything about funeral arrangements of the "fist" plan will actually take place. In the meantime, here's a dark take on Hunter's last few decades (from an unlikely source, scroll down to the purple box) and probably the most fitting tribute I've read aside from this one.
Wednesday, February 23, 2005
The day after the Day After Tomorrow
It seems like it hasn't rained in Portland for weeks. For the month of February the city has received roughly a third of its normal rainfall. Skiers have been belly-aching about low snowpacks since early January and brush fires are already flaring up in Washington. If things continue like this through the month of March we're n for a long fire season and a lot of dead lawns.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles looks like this:
Houses have been sliding down hills in Bel Air and 16 people are dead as a result of ongoing storms. All things considered, it's probably high time LA county gave us our clouds back.
UPDATE: Here's the Oregonian's take on all of this.
Tuesday, February 22, 2005
An ode to the Beaverton Winco
I now do 95% of my grocery shopping at the Winco in Beaverton. It's fun, cheap, close to my workplace and every visit is like an Indiana J...wait, scratch that. Every visit is like Firewalker.
Or it would be if Chuck Norris spent the entire movie in 24-hour discount grocery store/warehouse. Instead of Aztec gold, plenty of preservative-filled foodstuffs are up for grabs.
My regular trips take place near the midnight hour, which means I have to contend with an onslaught of forklifts. Like Costco, Winco stocks its shelves in bulk and this requires heavy machinery. Regardless of what night I'm there, the forklifts are out in full force; their drivers blasting through the aisles while maneuvering roughly 2 tons of Depends Undergarments. Getting across the warehouse's main aisle can be like ducking through traffic on an interstate. Is running the risk of dismemberment worth saving $2 on a box of Chocolate Lucky Charms? I think so.
Plus, Winco is great for people watching. It's amazing the number of seemingly normal shoppers you'll find cruising the aisles in the middle of the night. Why is that seemingly-innocent looking yuppie couple filling a cart full of fruit? Why are those three secretaries stocking up on cans of Campbell's "Thick and Chunky" soup at midnight on a Sunday? And why are entire families going shopping at this god forsaken hour? All of these questions will spring to mind during any given late-night trip to the Beaverton location.
But they only make up 10% of Winco's Sunday night crowd. The rest? The morbidly obese, methheads and possible zombies. A steady diet of Winco's cheap eats, over years, could turn me into any number of these. Nevertheless, the savings on my grocery bills can't be beat. I'm so infatuated with the Beaverton Winco that I've written it this blank-verse ode:
How do you do it?
You sell tubes of Crest for a dollar less than Thriftway
$1.50 less than Zupan's
You're the only place in town where I can buy a pumpkin pie at 3 AM on the Fourth of July...well, expect for all the other Wincos
Your endless stacks of granola bars, your .99 cent Catholic candles
Your death-defying forklifts and your...death-defying, but in a different sort of way entirely, zombie-like clientele
Your gigantic wine selection and your $5 jugs of half-gallon Ragu
I go to sleep every night knowing that, if, for some strange reason I wake up a few hours later with an insatiable need for a "Fairly Oddparents" pinata, I can rush into your perpetually open bosom and buy two of them
For all of these reasons, Winco, I love you with a passion that will whisper through the ages
Monday, February 21, 2005
If you haven't had a look at the Parent's Television Council's website, now is as good a time as any. As Lewis Black pointed out on "The Daily Show" last week, the organizers of this decade-old organization are attempting to suppress questionable TV content by...posting it on the internet.
The column on the far right of the site (pun intended) leads to unedited clips from the Paris Hilton episode of "South Park" and Motley Crue's f-bomb on "The Tonight Show." "Sex and the City," currently syndicated on TBS, has an entire page devoted to it, which includes this rant by the PTC's president. As Mr. Slave might put it, "Jes-uth Christ!"
The PTC site also contains a "helpful" family-oriented TV Guide and a color-coded alert system. "Nip/Tuck," "Alias" and the like are regulated to danger-level red. Shows like "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" and "Everybody Loves Raymond" are rated on the safe, green level but, really, shouldn't the hue for these be brown?
A lineup of the best and worst shows for families from the 2003-2004 has "American Idol" listed in the top ten and "That '70s Show" slotted as the second worst show on television for its "irresponsible treatment of teen sex and drug use, which are depicted as risk- and consequence-free." Teens? Wait, isn't the entire cast well into their 20's?
There's also helpful tips on how to file complaints with the FCC against programs deemed objectionable. Michael Powell's office number is listed so I decided to give it a call (it's 202-418-0232 for those of you too lazy to follow the link).
A recorded woman's voice picked up the line when I called and offered the option to leave a message for Powell or any of his numerous advisors and assistants. Instead of leaving a complaint on his voice mail, I politely requested that he devote the final months of his tenure as chairman lobbying for new episodes of "Futurama." Oh, and, also getting "The Naked News" on C-SPAN. I'm sure he'll quickly get back to me on both of these requests.
Thanks, PTC! You've made a dull President's Day a little more interesting.
Sunday, February 20, 2005
HST: 1937 - 2005
"Author Hunter S. Thompson Kills Himself" is the last headline I expected to read when I clicked on Yahoo news a few minutes ago.
Sure, he idolized Hemingway but how could a man like Thompson, who epitomized the term "free spirit," go out like this? While his career has waned in recent years, he was married to a woman over 20 years younger than him, he had a cavalcade of celebrity friends and a huge, loving fanbase. I've never met the man, always hoped to and I'm ill-equipped to speculate on "why."
For two generations of journalists, wannabe journalists and imitators he was a living god. He's one reason, if not the reason, that many college kids pursue journalism degrees. Prior to Thompson, journalists were men in rumbled suits that wrote in tiny notebooks and hunted for "scoops."
I remember sitting at a friend's house one forgotten high school night. Around 3 AM someone went to the bookshelf and dug out a dog-eared copy of his most famous work. He read aloud the chapter about Dr. Gonzo and his attorney drag racing a car full of cops and their terrified wives on the Vegas strip. Two months later I enrolled in a journalism class.
HST spent two decades riding a crest of a high and beautiful wave that lead him past the Hells Angels into the belly of Haight Ashbury; to the fall of Saigon, to the edge of hell in Las Vegas and back again to a 'Frisco porn palace. He partied with Muhammad Ali, butted heads with Tim Leary, got his doctorate from a mail-order church, interviewed Nixon in a bathroom, hunted sharks, routinely shot his typewriter, created a new form of journalism and was a cartoon character in Doonesbury. HST was a 67 year old man who (supposedly) spent this past New Years Eve at a party with Johnny Depp. Together, at midnight, they fired rifles at a case of dynamite.
A case of dynamite. Anyone else and this anecdote could be immediately written off as bogus. In the case of Thompson there's no telling.
He was the coolest son of a bitch to be born in the 20th century. There will never be another one like him. In the words of Chunk, "Oh, God am I depressed."
Over the weekend I visited two new (for me) bars and an old sci-fi favorite.
Bar of the Gods (AKA BOG): ...is closer to Hades than Mount Olympus. I heard about this bar when it first opened ten years ago and immediately wanted to go. There were just two problems: my 21st birthday was five years away and a fake ID wasn't going to erase my pimples. Years later, I finally made it over there and discovered an overcrowded, pitch-black punk bar with paintings of Greek gods added almost as an afterthought. Would Zeus or Aphrodite put up with cramped quarters and getting occasionally poked with pool ques? Where were the zebra-skin couches? The half-naked, Creaser's Palace-style staff? The nubile sevants to feed me grapes while fanning my head with palm leaves? BOG doesn't have palm tree leaf one but it does have a table-top Mrs. Pac-Man machine. On the Ancient Religious Theme Bar Scale that alone raises it from Ares (bottom level) to Hephaestus (next step up from the bottom level).
The Space Room: BUT A-HA! Now this is more like it. SR is one of the first bars I hit in town once I came of age. It'd been a year since my last visit and they've remolded. The sign out front now has an animated UFO. The old star-filled foyer, which was covered in torn stickers and carved initials, has been covered over with an all new intergalactic mural. Once upon a time, the Space Room was one of the smokiest bars in Portland. Its LA haze has cleared up enough to allow visibility levels of almost twenty feet. It's now possible to see across the room and speculate about other patrons. Like, what's the deal with the poodle hair woman and her puffy shirt*? And is that new carpet on the floor? Woooo...new carpet.
The Ambassador: A well-preserved disco turned karaoke bar? The Ambassador and its mirror-covered walls look like they survived dozens of incarnations. Blood-red curtains hang over a chessboard dance floor, making the place look like Twin Peak's Black Lodge circa 1977. While we were there a 350 pound man tried to pick a fight with three yuppies he collectively outweighed. Later, a truck-stop couple performed "Celebrate" as a group of Bratz danced alongside them. If this bar had a god theme, it would be a Zues.
* Yeah, it's a Seinfeld reference.
Thursday, February 17, 2005
An all new fun thing
On Saturday night I was sitting downtown at Dragonfish when a friend abruptly jumped out of his chair. He ran over to where I was sitting, grabbed me by the cuff of my shirt, threw me out of my chair and punched me in the neck.
"WHERE ARE THE ALL THE PHOTOS YOU TOOK IN TOKYO, JERKFACE," he screamed. "ALL YOU DO ON YOUR BLOG IS DRONE ON AND ON ABOUT RASHEED WALLACE, ADULT SWIM AND ALL YOUR LAME PERSONAL ANECDOTES! 'SHED ISN'T EVEN ON THE BLAZERS ANYMORE! I WANNA SEE SOME PICTURES OF A BUNCHA KOOKY CRAP!"
PPD came and he spent the night in a drunk tank*. After a trip to OHSU, I immediately went home and got to work on this, Welcome to Blog's 52nd feature, the first installment of a series I'm calling "It Came From Over There."
Rather than roll through a dull travelogue, I've decided to break up the pictures by topic. The first one covers modern art. Sounds boring, sure, but just wait until you get a look at the poop monsters. Oh, this thing? Not a poop monster. At least I don't think it's supposed to be a poop monster.
I'm hoping to squeeze out one installment week until I run out of Tokyo material or fall down. Next week's topic: sex and drugs.
* No, none of that actually happened. Just roll with, OK? It makes for a more interesting post.
Mining the depths of nihilism
Apparently, Doubleday has hometown literary hero Chuck Palahniuk on a book a year schedule. His next, Haunted, is due out in May. Based on the info that's been leaked online, it could be his most macabre yarn yet.
Haunted is a collection of 24 short horror stories all weaved together into a larger narrative. The premise goes a little something like this: a group of strangers turn out for a writer's retreat. Instead of bonding and inspiring one another, in typical Palahniuk fashion, they slowly turn into murderous sociopaths. Locked in a dilapidated theater with little food and no access to the outside world, each character rolls out their story ala the Canterbury Tales. As their situations grows worse, they heighten their own suffering in order to have a better sell for the memoir rights they'll be offered once they're rescued.
The biggest criticism tossed at Palahniuk, aside from all the blood and sacks of body fat, is that the "voice" of his characters remain the same in each of his works. If he can't pull off an original narrative for a novel, how's he going to manage 24 characters telling 24 separate tales?
Three of these tales have already been released. "Guts," a staple of Palahniuk's public readings until audience members began to faint, was published in Playboy last year. The other, "Punch Drunk" just hit stands in the March issue. Last summer, Palahniuk read "Exodus" during stops on a book tour to promote Stranger Than Fiction.
I caught the author when he swung through Portland last June. No one fainted during "Exodus" but it certainly made everyone squirm in their seats. As Palahniuk further delves into the realm of pitch black humor at some point he's going to have to hit the bottom. Given the incredibly grim material lined up for Haunted, this could be it. Where can he go from here? One prediction: children's literature.
An early review of the collection was posted on Ain't It Cool News earlier this week. It can found here.
Here's to you, Milk Chan
Who lives in a condo in the future? Super! Milk! Chan!
Who confounds her tiny audience and can be found on Adult Swim after midnight on Sundays? Super! Milk! Chan!
If you were to toss the Powerpuff Girls into a blender with the likes of Aqua Teen Hunger Force and pour the resulting glop through a charcoal filter, the result would be Super Milk Chan. This strange little import, which found its way onto Cartoon Network last fall, centers around a perpetually-drooling toddler/super hero with quick fire temper. With her roommates, a water cooler robot, a mechanical dog and a green slug, she works for "the president of everything," an overdemanding commander in chief with a penchant for dancing in the nude. Unlike average super heroes, Milk Chan and her friends are incapable of saving the world and rarely complete their missions. Instead, they toss non-sequiturs at one another as Milk Chan launches a barrage of obscenities and insults, among them her catchphrase: "YOU DUMBASS!"
SMC holds the same sort of disregard for its audience as the most esoteric episodes of Space Ghost: Coast to Coast. The annoyingly catchy theme song ("EI! EI! EI! DABO! DABO! DABO!") alone is enough to send most scrambling for their remotes. Milk Chan's adventures typically delve into complete nonsense seconds after the credits stop rolling. Every few minutes the show cuts away to shot of an overseas park or bowling alley as an off-screen narrator reads poetry comprised of gibberish. In one episode, actors provide sound effects over the action, distracting from Chan's quest to track down a mistress/Hello Kitty clone. In another, the president calls Milk Chan and begs to stop a missile he's accidentally fired at himself. They spend 30 minutes locked in a rambling argument before it finally destroys his office.
All things considered, SMC is either the best or the worst show to ever air on television anywhere in the world. Feel free to decide for yourself. SMC can found every Sunday night/Monday morning on Cartoon Network at 1 AM and 4 AM. The unedited, original episodes are available on DVD.
Tuesday, February 15, 2005
A new contender has entered the ring
Last month, I declared this article as the greatest to ever grace the front page of the Oregonian. Now, mere weeks later, there's this.
Matthew Reed, a Portland tattoo artist, recently filed a lawsuit against a Nike for an ad featuring former Blazer Rasheed Wallace. He claims he owns the copyright for the design that covers 'Sheed's upper right arm. Reed wants the ads pulled off television and the internet and he's also seeking damages.
I wonder if this is the first time anyone has tried to claim copyright over a tattoo. If this guy wins in court, some entrepreneur out there should immediately send off a few claims to the USCO. It's unlikely that anyone out there owns the rights to ink staples like barbed wire, love/hate, anchors and hearts with the word "Mom" written in the middle. Thar's gold to be mined in them thar' appendages.
More traffic delays should be like this
Every time I think Portland has shaken off its small town ways I come across something like this. While driving to work the other day I came around a corner on SW Terwilliger and encountered a ramshackle station wagon parked in the middle of the street. Attached to the rear bumper was a rope stretching over to an ancient, quarter-ton pickup truck.
The night before, possibly even that same day, someone had attempted to drive this truck up a 12 foot, 60-degree incline and on to a lawn overlooking Terwilliger. With its tires immersed in mud and English ivy, the truck wasn't about to budge. The driver in the station wagon, a wiry guy that looked like Jay from the Kevin Smith movies, gunned the engine and the bumper immediately began to buckle. Before wackiness could ensue, he realized his mistake. He tipped his black Slipknot hat to me as he removed the rope and cleared the street. The delay cost me five minutes but, really, it was worth it.
The truck? I'd have to check but I'm willing to bet it's still there. In releated news, earlier today I watched two police officers deal with a teenager mysteriously wielding a large plumber's wrench outside of the Central Library.
Monday, February 14, 2005
A trip in the V-Day wayback machine
I think it's safe to say that roughly 98% of world's population detests Valentine's Day. If you're currently shacked up with someone you probably spent the day re-confirming your love by shelling out a stack of cash for worthless gifts and/or an overpriced dinner. If you're on the receiving end, you spent the day watching your significant other blow the whole holiday by half-heatedly adhering to annual traditions. If you're alone on this most joyous holiday, your head is probably sitting in a microwave as I type these words.
I'm a member of the majority but not for the usual reasons. Sure, I'm single and, sure, I'm stuck at work tonight but my own V-Day loathing stems from something else entirely: good ol' childhood trauma.
If you spent any part of your youth in a PPS elementary school prior to '89, you're no doubt familiar with its V-Day celebrations. If you didn't grow up in Portland, allow me explain this twisted once (possibly still) annual tradition.
Every year, around February 7th, our homeroom teacher hauled in two bazooka-sized rolls of construction paper. With plastic scissors in hand, we would spend the following afternoon building paper mailboxes and gluing paper hearts to the side. After hours of cruel labor, the teacher arranged them in alphabetical order along the walls and gave us the following homework assignment: prepare 28 Valentines for each of our classmates.
Now a few kids really got into this whole thing. They ran home and no doubt spent the following week...watching their mom make homemade Valentines covered in sparkles and stickers with candy hearts tapped to them. Most of us just made our begrudging parents drive out to Fred Meyers to pick up a box of cards. They were incredibly cheap, stamped with the latest Nintendo or Saturday character but accompanied by the same lame puns from last year's sets.
Even as early as 1st grade I had a problem with all of this. Wasn't Valentines Day for old people, like, over the age of 13? Furthermore, why did I have to give a card, even one that cost 3 cents, to the kid that made a daily game of tossing my super-cool Lamborghini Trapper Keeper in the trash? I loved that jerk about as much as a pile of steaming Smurf crap.
Worse yet, we had to give Valentine's cards to ALL of our classmates of BOTH sexes. Still reluctant, I saved all the good cards for those that didn't run rampant with my personal property. Slappy McTrapertrash? There was no way he was going to get a coveted Mario card. His lame ass was getting a slightly torn King Koopa.
By grade three this annual tradition became even more perverse for obvious reasons. Despite the rules, many of us stopped giving cards to the same sex. Others shelled out $3 bucks for proper Valentines for their not-so secret crushes. I remember girls crying and storming out of the room when they didn't receive a Hallmark card. Despite all the budding hormones and pre-teen soap opera theatrics, this bizarre tradition continued through the fifth grade. Fortunately, by this time, I found my own solution to this school-sponsored, state-mandated day of sadism. I feigned the flu every February 14th and spent the day at home watching "Gilligan's Island" and "Remote Control." The next day, I went into class, grabbed my box, tossed out the cards and ate all the candy.
Valentine's Day still sucks, especially in comparison to St. Patrick's Day and the Fourth of July. Here's a link.
Also, here's Richard Roeper's take on the holiday.
Sunday, February 13, 2005
Random notes from the weekend
- I've been hitting the Goose Hollow every Friday night for the past few weeks. Without fail, the same group of people is always parked around one of the tables. Their ringleader appears to be a huge guy that always dressed in a kilt, rain jacket and golfer's hat. A few of them look like Bud Clark impersonators and sometimes they bring along a pug. There's also a mysterious, ZZ-Top guy in sunglasses that's always wearing a bright yellow Columbia sportswear jacket. I think they're all apart of some sort of illuminati, cult and/or mafia ring.
- The Reuben sandwich at the Goose has never killed a man. Give it time.
- The unwritten rules and decorum surrounding karaoke must take a lifetime to learn and master. This much I've discerned. Under no circumstances is it ever appropriate for a guy to sing "Papa Don't Preach."
- "Smart Park" is neither a "park" nor is it "smart."
- Paying to leave your vehicle at a Park and Ride completely defeats the purpose.
- A male stripper dancing in a renovated Denny's to the tune of "Welcome to the Jungle" to help bring a smile to the face of a lesbian celebrating a birthday as a crowd of women and elderly Asian men take pictures truly is a sight to behold.
- "Hart to Hart" is a television series that aired in the '80s and stared Robert Wagner as a globe-trotting adventurer/CEO.
- Howard Hughes? Crazy.
- If you absolutely have to wash a pair of black Converse tennis shoes, don't add bleach.
- Why don't the Pachinko machines at Dragonfish work?
- No matter how aerodynamic you make them, no matter how carefully you paid attention during the "The Aviator," a dollar bill airplane will never fly safely from your table to the stage at Mary's Club. It will either hit the floor or someone in the back of the head.
- Boggle is hard.
- Pear cider tastes like death.
- "Goldfinger" is a perfect song for mixing.
- Russian advertisements are neat.
- The Hungry Tiger is always crowded.
- Voodoo Doughnut is always sold out of bacon-covered maple squares.
Thursday, February 10, 2005
Tales from the JET Program
WARNING: Avast, thar' be foul language and culturally-sensitive material ahead. ARRR!
"You know what's kind of funny though? Some kids can't say 'Good morning,' but damn near all of them can ask if I have a big dick.
Y'see, Japan's an island no bigger than California, where everything is filtered. There are so few foreigners here, their only impressions of things outside of Japan comes from the media. And to be honest, they don't really give a damn about anything other than America. So yeah, try to imagine a country where the perceptions of you are created by your movies, music, and MTV. And when you stop crying and shaking at the sheer horror of that thought, I'll be here waiting.
So anyway, I get asked 'bigu dikku.' A LOT. Every 2-3 days in fact, which is amazing considering I got asked this question about 2-3 times *in my entire life* in America. Locker room jokes aside. How do you answer that anyway? To a 12-15 year old? I wave them off and say 'No no no.' Then they say 'Oh, sumaru dikku?' (trans. 'Small dick?') and OF COURSE that's wrong so I have to correct them. It's just a no-win stiuation."
Shanna passed along this link to a blog written by "Azreal," an American teaching English in Kyoto. His stories are fairly disturbing and hilarious but not as fairly disturbing and hilarious as a certain, long-lost blog with the intials "TB." Or this. Azreal's site is bare bones but the writing makes up for the lack of flare.
Also: On a completely unrelated topic, would you like now the next Batman movie ends (maybe)? Of course you do. Click here.
Big Fat Tuesday
I'm sure local tv affiliates jumped all over Tuesday night's Mardi Gras melee but the Oregonian has (so far) devoted all but three paragraphs to it. PPD arrested 44 people in downtown Portland for partying 10-25% over the legal hardy limit. 27 minors made a trip to the Hopper Detox Center and one driver for was hauled in for slamming into the back of a squad car.
Q: And where was I during all of this?
I'll give you hint. It's not C.
Wednesday, February 09, 2005
The release date for Guero, Beck's next album, has been set for March 29th. Here is a shot of the cover.
Yeah, I know. Click here for a closer look.
Now then, "E-Pro" the debut single off the album is currently available on iTunes. I had a listen last night and it sounds like "Pressure Zone" and any given metal song circa 1986. The backing guitar riff is huge and the beats are fast. In short, it gives the hint of a return to form after his last album, the uncharacteristic, 48-minute recorded sigh that was Sea Change. If I was a Tiger Beat critic living in the year 1975, I might even describe Guero as "a real cool potential winner!"
To read all about it, and a disturbing anecdote about Will Ferrell's behavior at a recent Beck show, click here.
Tuesday, February 08, 2005
As we all know, SpongeBob Squarepants has come under heavy fire from the religious right over the past few weeks. One church in Clevland is bucking the trend. Check out this excerpt from the United Church of Christ's website:
SpongeBob meets with the Rev. John H. Thomas, the UCC's general minister and president, in his office. Explains Thomas, "No matter who you are or where you are on life's journey, SpongeBob, you're welcome here."
To see the rest of Spongebob's tour, just follow the link above. The site makes no mention of Patrick Starfish though. Hmmm...
It ain't Clear Channel, it's the people listening to Clear Channel
Local corporate-owned radio station KGON is celebrating its birthday by rolling through a looooooooooong set of the top 923 classic rock songs ever recorded. The entire list was printed on a back page in today's Portland Tribune.
Unlike Rolling Stone magazine, which ran a similar list back in November, the Portland station left the voting up to its listening audience. As such, there's a few highbrow-raisers in the top ten. Coming in at # 9 isn't Jimi Hendrix's "Foxy Lady" or the Stone's "(Can't Get No) Satisfaction" (# 25). Instead it's Rush's "Tom Sawyer." Aerosmith has two songs in the top 6 and somehow a ZZ Top track beat the Beatle's entire catalog. Bob Dylan, the Doors and David Bowie didn't even make the top 100. Golden Earring, on the other hand? Its "Rader Love" came in at # 55.
So this must be why acts like Boston and the George Thorogood get the same amount of airtime as Hendrix, the Who, Pink Floyd, etc. KGON's programmers are giving their audience exactly what they want. Yet another reason to switch back over KNRK? Not really. They keep playing the Dave Matthews Band for some strange reason...
Monday, February 07, 2005
But has Mr. Il actually seen it?
Another Czech-related post? What a coincidence.
Click here. You'll be glad you did.
A trip to the Pod
I've heard it referred to as "The Pod" and "Cart Row." Whatever the name, the line of food carts on SW 5th was a mystery to me until last Friday. In search of a cheap lunch and unwilling to delve into the Pioneer Place food court or make yet another trip to Rocco's, I headed over there instead.
The Pod is known for its international selection but at least 1/3 of the carts serve hot dogs and burritos. Around the corner, a strange, wood-paneled one stood out from the others. A sign with smiley face on the counter read "Check out Czech!"
When I had asked a colleague earlier for advice on how to circumnavigate the Pod, he mentioned this cart. "I eat there about once a year. When I do, it takes a year off my life." With a review like that, how could I buy a bland, everyday burrito?
I ordered the "Bohemian Goulash," a dish comprised of roughly a quarter pound of tender mystery meat and a red sauce laid over five pieces of white bread. With a Coke it ran $5.
I spent the rest of the afternoon feeling like I had devoured an entire pig. You can give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach him to fish and he'll eat for a lifetime. Take him to this cart and he won’t have to worry about eating for three lifetimes. Hooray for Czechoslovakian cuisine!
Sunday, February 06, 2005
While I was on break tonight I managed to catch 15 minutes of Sunday's main event.
"American Dad" may as well be "Family Guy" in an activist sheep's clothing. Much like its predecessor, the jokes were lame, obvious but somehow, against the laws of both time and space, hilarious just the same. For those in doubt, running political satire on the heels of the Super Bowl, on a Rupert Murdoch-owned network, has to count for something.
8:30 PM is probably too early for this sort of thing. Gags centered around a Olympic German skier trapped in the body of a goldfish make more sense on after hours cable.
After Fox buckles to pressure from conservative critics, moves its timeslot around and cancels it by May, here's hoping "American Dad" hits Cartoon Network's Adult Swim. After all, anything's better than that "Tom Goes to the Mayor" thing.
Thursday, February 03, 2005
Yet another reason why I miss 'Sheed
The Detroit Pistons visited the House o' Bush on Monday. No, not that one, the one that's featured on the back of the $20 bill. Get your mind out of the gutter.
There to celebrate last year's championship, Bush congratulated the Pistons for winning "the right way" and went on to add "nobody expected you to win. I know how you feel."
But one player wasn't enthralled about a field trip to the executive branch. The Free Press asked ex-Blazer Rasheed Wallace what he was going to say to the president. His response?
"I don't have shit to say to him. I didn't vote him. It's just something we have to do."
Just so long as he keeps "cutting the [social security] check," right, 'Sheed?
Wednesday, February 02, 2005
Panda-Powered Sociopathy or the Story Behind February's Photo of the Month
Here's another Tokyo anecdote for y'all.
Much like the Space Needle*, a 365-day a year carnival resides beneath the Tokyo Tower. We hit the tower on a Tuesday afternoon and pretty much had the place to ourselves. Mixed in among the same sort of carnival rides that can be found in the US was an arcade filled with only-in-Japan video games.
Near the entrance sat a six-foot tall Pikachu machine along the lines of the mechanical pony rides found outside of supermarkets. Inside its belly was a tiny seat and a steering wheel/dial covered with pictures of his cartoon cohorts. I tried to operate Pikachu but all he did was scream at me in Japanese through a worn stereo speaker. No matter what I did, the machine spun in a circle as plastic balls filled with candy and stickers rolled down a shoot and into the cockpit every 30 seconds. I "won" four of them before Pikachu stopped berating me and finally sputtered to a halt.
Somehow, the magical, mystical Pikachu machine wasn't as weird as the arm-wrestling game or the robotic panda bear in the photo above. After hitting the arcade, we turned a corner and found this young family riding around. Entranced by what may or may not be the most amazing thing ever built with human hands, we followed them through the park. A few minutes later, we found a second panda parked next to a miniature train ride.
A ride on the panda cost 50 yen and lasted about five minutes. There was a red steering wheel connected to his neck and a reverse/forward shifter attached to his spine. As we rode around, a speaker buried in his chest played a music-box-esque tune. Much like we had done, others stopped and took pictures of our mini-spectacle.
Despite my repeated, not-so-subtle suggestions, my colleague refused to drive the bear into a wall. After I finally convince her to let me take over the controls, I didn't have time to steer the panda towards something that would inevitably lead to us getting arrested. The bear came to a stop a few feet away from a metal barrier. I searched my pockets for more coins but finally came to my senses.
That's right, I realized that there was no way a mechanical panda bear packing roughly .3 horsepower would do anything but mindlessly mash its head against the fence like a battery-powered toy puppy. Without the ability to upgrade the bear’s motor with something diesel-fueled, my dreams of causing panda-powered mayhem at a Japanese carnival weren't about to become a reality.
*sigh* Another lost opportunity on the road o' life, I guess. Se la vie.
The moral of this story? Oaks Park could really use more mechanical panda bears.
*Actually, the Space Needle's carnival isn't beneath it. It's actually a few hundred feet away. Whatever.
Tuesday, February 01, 2005
The trials and tribulations of Star Wars Guy
Jeff Tweiten, the guy that pledged to spend five months on a couch outside of the Seattle Cinerama to wait for the next Star Wars movie, was slapped by the long arm of the law last week. As reported in an ongoing Seattle PI column, the eyebrows of area homeless advocacy groups shot skyward as Tweiten started making the national press in early January.
Much like Portland, Seattle has a "sit/lie" ordinance that prevents anyone from doing either on city streets during daylight hours. Usually Seattle police only respond to these if someone complains. One "anonymous" call later, Tweiten was given a warning to pack up his couch or risk a trip in a squad car. In the face of adversity, the Star Wars devotee did what any noble crusader would do: he found a loophole.
If Tweiten stands next to the Cinerama instead of sitting, he'll get to stay. Standing. On his own two feet. For around 16 hours a day. For the next three months.
A pretty daunting task but...apparently one that immediately petered out. According to his blog (linked above), Tweiten struck camp and set up shop a few blocks away at the Seattle IMAX. With the full permission of the Pacific Science Center, he'll be spending the next several months on private property, out of the ever-disdainful eye of the city's overzealous police force.
But there's just one more potential snafu.
The theater may be showing some sort of educational science film instead of Revenge of the Sith on May 19th.
Ladies and gentleman, I give you the 21st century, American-equivalent of Mohandas Gandhi.
High School USA
High School USA is probably the greatest thing you've never seen. I can say this with absolute certainty since it's the only made-for-TV movie in existence featuring Michael J. Fox, Crispin Glover, Nancy McKeon Bob Denver, Todd Bridges AND a dancing robot. If a cast like that doesn't stir your interest, you sir have no soul. Either that or you weren't raised on a steady diet of early '80s sitcoms.
This forgotten 1983 mini-classic stars Fox as a teenage rebel out to snag the heart of a rival's girlfriend. He's aided in his quest by Bridges, Glover, the robot and a Trans Am. Blocking their path on the road to triumph is an ex-Nazi history teacher and Dana Plato. The budget is almost nonexistent, the cast indifferent, the plot as banal as it gets but the laughs are big, big, big.
Actually, on second thought, they're small, small, small. So what's the appeal of High School USA? Nostalgia? Probably. The cheesy production values? Maybe. The scene where Fox takes gets into a fight with a seeing-eye dog? Definitely.
Really, words don't do something like this justice. If you're still unconvinced this early-'80s peculiarity isn't worth a Netflix rental, have a look at the DVD case.
For a closer look, click here.
It's certainly isn't a testament to the film's greatness. For reasons unknown, the company that owns the rights to High School USA stuck the Trans Am and a minor character's face on the cover instead of playing the nostalgia card by exploiting Marty McFly to fullest extent. Is the film, as the cover implies, a gritty football movie along the lines of The Program? Not even close.
This may not be worthy of the cults surrounding films like Back to the Future but it deserves at least a Labyrinth-size following. Give the film a try and help spread the word.