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Thursday, March 31, 2005
InPortland now in the Oregonian
After weeks of subjecting readers to cheeky promos complete with photos of pierced punks casually chatting with soccer moms, The Oregonian's new "alt weekly" supplement debuted in today's edition. If Willamette Week and Portland Monthly mated and gave birth to a mutant baby born with a complete lack of shame, this is what it would like (as of yet, all that's available online is a brief overview).
Wait, upon further review, if Portland Monthly reproduced asexually and one half remained Portland Monthly and the other half was made up of all the chromosomes Portland Monthly no longer wanted, the result would...you guessed it, InPortland.
Ok, one more analogy to put this all into perspective: PM = Arnold Schwarzenegger (pre this), IP = Danny Devito (post, well, everything).
Needless to say InPortland has gotten off to a rocky start but it's worth picking up for the blurb on "Gimmie Doughnut," the new single for sale exclusively at Voodoo Doughnut.
This week's link round up
Here's a week's worth of material in one handy-dandy, easy-to-use package.
- Video games, meet art. Art, meet video games. Click here for more info.
- Have you ever wanted to see an online gallery of North Korean socialist propaganda? Click here and your wish will be granted.
- It's like "Big Mouth Billy Bass" only much, much worse. Click here for further info.
- Learn about the secret life of dolphins and another use for towels with this interactive Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy / fairly cheesy Flash promo for the upcoming movie. It probably won't cure what ails ya' but it will keep ya' entertained for roughly 90 seconds. Follow the link under "click to view."
- I would really like to see the Canadian equivalent of this pamplet.
- Wanna take a online tour of an abandoned Russian embassy in Bangkok? Click here. You won't be disappointed, especially after you get a look at all the creepy "metal lined chambers."
- The first review of Revenge of the Sith anywhere? Is it legit? Only Lucas knows. Decide for yourself here.
- Here's a screenshot from the long forgotten Partridge Family 2200 AD.
And here's a screenshot from a much-loved, now maligned prime time cartoon that defined a generation.
Notice any similarities?
Wednesday, March 30, 2005
A not-so magical trip through Tokyo's Magic Kingdom
Have you ever wondered what the Monorail that circles Tokyo Disneyland looks like? Well, now you know.
Yup, it's time for the next installment in Welcome to Blog's neverending "It Came From Over There" photo series. This one tackles the magical, mystical, incredibly surreal place that is the Tokyo Disney resort. How surreal are we talkin'?
Six words: Gift. Shop. Inside. A. Whale's. Stomach.
Click here for four pages of weirdness and dozens upon dozens of photos of angry robot monkeys and such.
What? You don't want to sift through four pages in order to get a look at the angry robot monkeys? OK, here you go.
Yes, these shots are a bit blurry but, hey, don't say I never gave you anything.
Monday, March 28, 2005
The Bill Maher interview
You might want to read this. You might not. Nevertheless, if you haven't seen this, here it is.
It was a toss up between that picture and another one of him on Jeopardy.
The Birth of the Mickican
Dog breeders have been mixing different strains of canine for centuries. Their efforts have brought us everything from Chihuahuas to Great Danes but what would happen if one of these maniacal matchmakers mated a Ren with a Marmaduke? The results would be catastrophic. This terrible new variety of pooch would no doubt be capable of conquering America and parts of Canada. Mixing radically different breeds of dogs is obviously a terrible idea but what about radically different breeds of beer?
I was destined to find out when I decided to make a Black & Tan out of Corona and Guinness. The idea originally came to me waaaay back on St. Patrick's Day but I didn't immediately act on it.
One reason for the delay was that I needed a proper "lab." I picked the porch at Portland's very own Goose Hollow Inn. "The Goose" is the historic tavern at corner of SW 18th and Jefferson. Aside from serving as a launching pad for Bud Clark's mayoral career, it was also one of the first businesses in the country to start selling Henry's Private Reserve. What better place to play beer god?
On Friday night I asked the barkeep for a pint glass, a bottle of Corona, a 12-ounce Guinness and a spoon. This pint glass was to serve as the home of the world's first "Mickican."
Things didn't go as smoothly as planned. First off, I couldn't remember how to spell the name of this revolutionary new brew. I consulted with my colleagues and we decided on "Mick-zi-can." After they collaborated on a sign to mark the occasion, I rolled up my sleeves and got to work.
I poured the Corona in the pint glass. So far, so good but next step would prove to be the trickiest. Without access to a Guinness tap, getting the "black" on top of the "tan" was going to be difficult if not impossible. I slowly began pouring the Guinness over the spoon and, as I probably should have expected, a good portion of it wound up on the table.
Sure I had spilled beer all over the place but no matter. There was Guinness in the glass and, even better, it was kinda-sorta floating on top of the Corona. SUCCESS!
Don't you wish you had been there to watch history being made? Dry those teary eyes and click here for a Windows media clip of this landmark event, brought to you by the good folk(s) at cupofnoodles.net.
But how did it taste? I took the first sip and was pleasantly surprised. The Corona all but extinguished the Guinness' nasty aftertaste. I passed it on. What did everyone else think? Click here to find out.
Sure, they seem indifferent but they were half-drunk at the time. Had they been stone-cold sober, they would have been raving about its cool, refreshing taste, I assure you. Have a look.
Doesn't that look even more thirst quenching than Coca Cola, Pepsi and Dr. Pepper combined? Of course it does.
Now Rome, Ohio wasn't built in a day and it could take a good long while for Mickicans to become the most commonly ordered concoction in America's hooch establishments. The Mickican's fate is in your hands. The next time you're in a bar, request one. There's no telling how the bartender will react but, hey, no one said this would be easy. After you pick yourself up off the floor and explain "No, good sir and/or madam, I'm requesting a Mickican not a Mexican, the drink that combines the best of two historic beers and crosses the boundaries of the Atlantic and political correctness in a single pint glass (TM)" you'll both have a good laugh. Better yet, YOU'LL BE MAKING HISTORY.
Now hop to it. I've got "Mickican" both trademarked and patented and I can't start suing places until they start sticking the damn thing on their menus.
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
And now it's time for a few random links
My vehicle died on me again this week and, after hearing an estimate from a mechanic, I'm now trapped in the clutches of an uninspired funk. I'm taking a few days off from blogging in order to sell various bodily fluids and my soles (from my Chuck Taylor's) in order to cover the cost of getting it fixed. In the meantime, here's a few links.
Looking to buy a candle that smells like Jesus? Click here.
Do you enjoy photos of "assed-out" hippies? Click here.
Or do you prefer incoherent He-Man clips redubbed with audio from The Big Lewbowski? Brilliant! Click here.
In the mood to play the most misogynistic Flash game ever created? Click here.
Did you know that everyone poops? It's true! Click here for more information.
I'll be back next week with a post on the beer experiment and possibly another installment of "It Came From Over There."
Tuesday, March 22, 2005
More freaky bathroom graffiti
Last summer I ran a post on a death threat I found in the men's bathroom at the Pagoda. Does this graffiti, which was discovered in a Port-a-Pot near the sitka spruce top that? I don't know but it's the last thing I would want to see after sunset at an empty tourist attraction in the middle of nowhere.
Fortunately, for me, I snapped this picture during the tree's busy hours.
Monday, March 21, 2005
The return of the Melting Pot
The place: The newly relocated Melting Pot restaurant in downtown Portland. The challenge: pulling a broken pot sticker out of a boiling vat of oil using only a fondue skewer.
"Use the big spoon. That's why they gave it to us," someone suggested.
"Never," I insisted. After a minute of poking and prodding, the pot sticker broke in two. I managed to spear one half but the other was lost in depths of the pot along with numerous other pieces of meat we had failed to retrieve.
Fondue ain't easy and that's probably why there are so few restaurants in town devoted to this weird culinary art. The local Melting Pot franchise, which once sat on the edge of SW Portland, now resides in an subterranean space under the corner of SW 6th and Main. The windowless atmosphere is nothing to brag about but that's not what draws diners into its Phantom of the Opera meets PF Chang's atmosphere. The Melting Pot is one of the few restaurants in town that seats you in front of a crock pot, hands you a pair of sharp metal skewers and lets you figure out everything on your own. Unlike Dairy Queen or the Portland Grill, there's at least a slight risk that someone in your party may wind up impaled or seriously burnt by the time the desert menu arrives.
The tables at The Melting Pot each contain a stove burner and a crock pot in the center. After you've selected your salad and entree, the waiter brings out a plate of raw meat. Once the oil in the pot reaches boiling, it's time to start cooking. 90 seconds for vegetables. 120 for meats. We went with The Pacific Rim entree, which serves two and contained portions of beef, chicken, duck, pork and pot stickers along with a bowl of assorted vegetables.
It sounds simple, sure. Stick the meat in the pot. Wait. Eat. Repeat. But the Melting Pot doesn't offer stop watches so it's easy to lose track of time. Plus, if you strictly follow the two minute guideline meat typically comes out medium rare. If you're shooting for well done, you'll have to experiment in order to get the time down right.
Once you suspect the meat is done, getting it out of the pot can be tricky. If it slides off the skewer it could be lost forever. As mentioned above, the Melting Pot provides a spoon but convincing everyone to remove their skewers so you can track down a lost mushroom can be a pain. As a result, by the end of the main course our pot was filled with charred MIA vegetables and chunks o' duck.
Other courses are easier. Losing a piece of bread in an appetizer pot full of melted cheddar is all but impossible. Ditto for desert selections featuring fresh fruit, marshmallows and melted milk chocolate.
The menu is spendy but well worth it for the opportunity to play with sharp sticks, raw meat and bubbling vats. The Melting Pot gets my vote for Portland's best disaster waiting to happen that takes it theme from old Tarzan movies.
Sunday, March 20, 2005
It came from east LA
1. Spanish derogatory term for a person of European descent. "Look at that trailer trash guero...what a gringo."
If Beck's Sea Change was a eulogy for the death of a long term relationship, his follow-up, Guero, is the subsequent bender on the streets of East LA. The album is tequila-drenched ode to Griffith Park, unemployment, rebounds from doomed love and shorelines filled with sleeping hobos. It plays like a Beach Boys album recorded after they've all just declared bankruptcy with the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse playing back-up. It's a party album set on an abandoned boardwalk.
Take "Rental Car," one of the Guero's last tracks. It's a cheerful 60's pop retread filled with samples that sound like they've been lifted from a soda pop ad circa 1974. The lyrics, on the other hand, tell the tale of a distraught women blazing down I-5 towards the Mexico. Cheery production by the Dust Brothers and metal riffs roll over songs about setting bathrooms on fire, the depths of nostalgic despair and watching the world end from the vantage of the Santa Monica pier.
Musically, Guero's a return to form and sounds like it might have been recorded in the same dank studio as "Mellow Gold." While going backwards is usually a death-null for artists like U2, for Beck it's liberating. Game Boy beeps join Jack White's power cords in his bag of well-worn dime store beats. These tracks aren't going to wind up in a car commercial anytime soon but they'd make a perfect soundtrack for a broad daylight police cash through LA county.
Guero isn't due out until March 29th but it was leaked onto the internet over a month ago. The tracks I've listened to may not be the final cuts but they sounded polished and ready to go.
Also, here's a link to the ASCII-fueled video for "Black Tambourine."
Friday, March 18, 2005
The Adventures of Pete's iPod: The Shocking Finale
A sincere apology to anyone out there that may have been waiting with baited breath for the epic conclusion to this pulse-pounding photo series. It should have been posted yesterday. Anyway, here's Pete's iPod at the top of Mt. Neahkahnie.
And what did it have to say about a glorious springtime sunset over the coastal playground that is Manzanita, Oregon?
"The KKK took my baby away
They took her away
Away from me
The KKK took my baby away
They took her away
Away from me"
And now it's time for the shocking revelation promised in Wednesday's post.
That's right, Pete's iPod is a Republican. What did it have to say about its party affiliation?
Now just throw your hands in the motherfuckin air
And wave the motherfuckers like ya just don't care
Yeah roll up the dank, and pour the drank
And watch your step (why?) cuz Doggy's on the gank
My bank roll's on swoll
My shit's on hit, legit, now I'm on parole, stroll
with the Dogg Pound right behind me
and up in yo bitch, is where ya might find me
Anyway, here's one last photo. It was taken outside of an antique shop in Nehalem.
Pete's iPod was safely returned to him on Monday morning, fully charged. They've patched things up and, according to rumor, they're going steady.
Thursday, March 17, 2005
Beer blasphemy + a daring experiment
You've got to be kidding! The race was fixed! A Guinness drinker must have hacked the poll and skewed the results! There's simply no way that Corona, the God of Beers, could be defeated by Guinness, the Sewer Treatment Plant Manager of Beers.
But them's the breaks. Corona was shot down 17 - 3 in Welcome to Blog's recent beer poll. It was even beat by the third party candidate, whiskey.
Still, to conduct a controversial poll like this at the height of St. Patrick's eason is akin to asking: "Who's the better holiday icon: Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny or the Arbor Day Ferret" on December 24th. If I were to conduct this same poll during the week of Cinco de Mayo the results would have turned out different, no doubt.
Can 25 readers of this blog be wrong? Maybe but there has to be something I'm missing here. Guinness is thick, bitter and tastes like death, as far as I'm concerned. Still, maybe there's a way I can improve it, to make it drinkable (for me at least)- a way to make Guinness better, stronger, faster and at least a little bit refreshing.
Tonight I'll conduct a daring St. Patty's experiment. What would happen if I mixed one part Corona with one part Guinness? My hypothesis is that the result will be a Half-God of Beers, a sort of Hercules brew. I will call this creation...
Get it? Mexican ale + Irish stout = A MICKICAN, a hybrid Black and Tan that crosses the boundaries of the Atlantic and political correctness in a single pint glass. Great idea, huh? I should probably trademark the name before someone else cahses in on this positively brilliant idea.
The results of this bold, daring experiment in beer mixology will be revealed sometime in the next few days, with photos. Stay tuned.
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
The Adventures of Pete's iPod Part 3
I also took Pete's iPod for a walk on the beach.
And what did it have to say about the third largest coastal monolith in the world?
Cho saikou - Harajuku Girls
And that's what you drop, that's what you drop
Cho saikou - Harajuku Girls
And that's what you drop, that's what you drop
(I don't think you understand, I'm your biggest fan)
After getting a look around the coast and feeling the wind beneath its wings, will Pete's iPod return to him? The thrilling climax to this photo series, and the most shocking revelation of all, will be revealed tomorrow. Same blog time, same blog channel.
Goonies do say "reunion"
The Goonies, quite possibly the greatest film ever made, will be celebrating its 20th anniversery this June. Preliminary plans are coming together for a shindig in Astoria, where a good chunk (no pun intended) of the movie was shot. The organizers have registered a domain name and put up a site but there's not much there yet. The following info comes from this site:
"Goonies 20th Anniversary Celebration
I've already "visited" in the Goonie house but I didn't get a chance to see the attic, which is no doubt still filled with pirate relics. I know where I'll be that weekend.
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
The Adventures of Pete's iPod Part 2
Since we covered so much ground on Saturday I'm going to post two photos tonight. As KGON might put it, this is a "Two 'Fer Tuesday."
What did Pete's iPod have to say about the nation's biggest Sitka Spruce tree?
Huh? Right. What? Uhh.
Huh? Right. What? Uhh.
Huh? Right. What? Uhh.
Huh? Right. What? Uhh.
And what did it think of the Cannon Beach cannon?
widows an antique replacement
a briefcase filled with mace
widows six legged lost and found
students spray the kent state mist
wishing wills missing clientele
widows sex legged lost and found
No, the other Portland
The name of this city came down to a coin flip in 1845. Two settlers named Asa Lovejoy and Francis Pettygrove shared ownership of a 640 acre clearing along the Willamette River. Lovejoy had his heart set on naming the spot after his hometown of Boston but Lovejoy won the toss and named it after his old digs in Portland, Maine.
160 years later, this younger, fitter, happier, more productive Portland* gets all the attention while its east coast elder remains distant and quiet. Too quiet, if you ask me.
I've always wondered about the other Portland but never enough to run a Google search. Do the two cities have anything in common? Do its citizens love bicycles, coffee, recycled clothing and crappy weather as much as we do around here? What's going on over there? Shucks, I don't even know what Maine's Portland looks like.
Or at least I didn't until five minutes ago. Godspeed Update, a DC blog, has posted a hoard of photos from the author's November trip to Portland, ME. Based on these shots, the entire city is an amalgamation of the Pearl District (take note of the moose spa sign) and a theme park version of a provincial New England town. It's not quite what I expected to see but what I probably should have expected all along. While the two cities share a passion for anti-Bush graffiti, our namesake only has four Starbucks within its borders.
Only four Starbucks? We must have been adopted.
* A bold statement? Maybe but I'm not willing to look up each town's Chamber of Commerce stats to prove it.
Monday, March 14, 2005
The Adventures of Pete's iPod Part 1
Monday morning deadlines suck worse.
Monday morning deadlines that follow a freakishly hot March weekend suck worst of all.
So it was high noon on Saturday and I was parked in front of my computer. I had already wasted a good 30 minutes procrastinating in The Comics Curmudgeon's archives and this much was already clear: there was no way I was going to get anything accomplished with all those damn birds chirping and lawn mowers blaring outside.
Then I remembered the iPod. Pete had left it in my car the night before. "Shucks," I thought. "I've got a fully loaded mp3 player at my disposal. I'd be a sucker to sit inside all day and work."
Four minutes later I was on my to the coast with another man's iPod. After spending all those hours cooped up inside Pete's cubicle at Willamette Week, it clearly needed to live a little. "Pete never takes me anywhere," the sleekly-designed, expertly marketed mp3 player whined. "It was all fun and games when he first bought me. Now it's like the magic's gone. He hasn't even uploaded the new Mars Volta album onto my hardrive yet."
I was determined to show the thing a good time...or at least take pictures of it in front of various Oregon coast landmarks ala that one urban legend about the wacky, fun-loving kids that took their elderly neighbor's clay garden gnome on a whirlwind trip around the world and then left both it and a stack of photos on his doorstep a few months later. So how did Pete's iPod spend last Saturday? Over the next few days I'll roll out pics from the trip on one condition: no one reading this blog can tell Pete. It's a secret. If he found about me gallivanting around the coast with his iPod he'd be hella' mad. Or super-pissed. Or mildly irritated. Whatever.
So what did Pete's iPod have to say about the historic Oney's sign?
"I'm sittin' on the dock of the bay
Watching the tide roll away
Ooo, I'm just sittin' on the dock of the bay
More of this nonsense tomorrow.
Sunday, March 13, 2005
Battle of the Brews
Welcome to Blog reader Mike B. writes:
My name is Mike Beckmann. I'm from St. Louis, Missouri
and, I'm sorry, but you're wrong! Guinness is a BEER and a
great one in my opinion! For your information, it's not
"maple syrup," it is a dark, heavy beer! Nothing
against Corona, which I also like to drink on Cinco de
Mayo but Guinness is my favorite beer.
One more thing: I have gone to the Brewery where Guinness is
made in Dublin, Ireland the Capitol of Ireland. The name of
the brewery, by the way, is St. James Gate Brewery. If
you don't enjoy Guinness then you can get either Harp
or Smithwick's also made by the St. James.
P.S. Blog, once again, you are wrong!
Mike was responding to this post from way back in August. Despite my Irish roots, I'm no fan of Guinness and I much prefer the silky smooth taste of a refreshing Corona. As far I'm concerned, Mike is as wrong as wrong can be. On the other hand, maybe my tastebuds have no, well, taste. To settle this, once and for all, I've decided to turn this hoppy debate over to y'all. That's right, it's time for another ridiculous Welcome to Blog poll.
Let's settle this once and for all. Which is the better brew? Thirst-quenching, "Nectar of the Gods" Corona or revolting, thicker than motor oil, stand a fork up in it Guinness? Yes, St. Patrick's Day is only a few days away but don't let that influence your vote. Clear your mind, feel the Force and then vote.
May the better beer win.
Thursday, March 10, 2005
The only museum in the state where you can kick the art
While I was an undergrad, the University of Oregon Museum of Art was a lonely, moss-covered building that no one ever went into. I ventured in once and discovered two floors of dusty art and faded carpets. If memory serves, I was one of about three people in there at the time.
What a difference a $14.2 million dollar renovation makes. The newly dubbed Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art reopened its doors on January 23rd. The university's murky collection now takes a back seat to interactive galleries, a coffee bar, a new modern art wing and a traveling Andy Warhol exhibit.
When I visited a few weeks ago the museum was actually crowded. The foyer alone had more visitors than the old museum typically saw in a month. Instead of hitting the galleries, Shanna and I immediately headed towards the Interactive Discovery Gallery, an OMSI-like room filled with exhibits catering to tykes. We immediately lost interest in the "Build Your Own Sculpture" section when we got a look at the "Silver Cloud" room (see March's photo of the month, above).
This is probably the only work of Warhol's accessible to the preschool crowd. Kids aren't big on screenprints of Chairman Mao. We spent a ridiculous amount of time in there kung-fu kicking the "clouds." If only more art allowed the viewer to give into their destructive impulses.
After passing through a wing filled with photos and the museum's European and Asian collection, we headed into the modern art wing. The blank canvas concept has been parodied in numerous comic strips and even a credit card commercial so I was surprised to see one in a gallery. Apparently, some conceptual artist out there finally made a go at it. There's no telling how much he/she sold this thing for. Art imitates Visa?
A small crowd was watching a video piece of a man standing in front of murky pond. I found myself entranced as we all stood there for what must have been five minutes. Finally, he swung his arms back and leapt but froze in mid air. Meanwhile, the water below him continued to swirl. After another minute I lost interest, crossed the room and took a look at this:
Why is this spike-covered heart on a leash? Maybe it was probably misbehaving. It must have peed on the wrong person, place and/or thing.
Finally, we wandered over to the Warhol exhibit. Some of the artist's more popular work was on display- Maos, Marilyn Monroes and Campbell's Soup. There were also iconic images of Muhammad Ali, Mick Jagger and the Kennedy assassination. I know absolutely nothing about art but still find myself compelled to give a review of the exhibit.
It's great to see the old place renovated into something relevant and functional. With any luck, the university will turn the attention of private donors towards the Collier House, a once great spot on campus that's been sitting mostly vacant for years now.
It smashes, it dashes + Buzz Bunny
What happens when you drop half a dozen automobile bumpers into a shredder? Or a couch? Or, better yet, a boat? The good folks at EPSN have the answers to these questions and a few videos to go along with them. There's no way in the world you'll be able to just watch one of these things (link via Jack Bog).
Also: Warner Brothers could be facing legal action over "Buzz Bunny," an updated version of Bugs for their new, terrible-sounding Saturday morning show Loonatics. A Dutch freelance designer claims he came up with the character's name first but here's where it gets interesting. Buzz Bunny is also the name of a trademarked "erotic device." Click here for more info.
What's up, Doc indeed.
Wednesday, March 09, 2005
Random link time
Ok, it's time for a few random links:
- "Eatyourdamnpeas," a regular poster on Welcome to Blog, spent the summer of 2004 touring the wilds of Eurasia. He started in China and worked his west all the way to Chicago. He just posted a gallery of photos from the journey. This shot, of a statue in Beijing, is pretty mesmerizing.
- The local blog "Oh Dog, You Slueth" continues to confound its audience with photos of Portland's weirdest businesses. These shots of Keana's Candyland, a candy shop inside a renovated house in Sellwood, could give you nightmares. For some reason the direct link kills the image files so scroll down to the entry marked "2/27/05."
- Would you like to see the release poster for Episode III? Click here.
- Would you rather watch the video for "E-Pro," the first single of Beck's new album? Click here. Head's up: you'll have to fill out fake answers on a registration form before the video starts.
- I see this image all over the place in graffiti and posters stapled to telephone poles. What's it all about?
- The instruction book for Masters of the Universe Evil Hoard Slime? Here.
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
Attack of the Sociopathic Talk Show Host(s)
He dresses like a Mexican wrestler, talks like a preadolescent reincarnation of one of the Three Stooges and gobbles Pixies Sticks like they're, well, candy. He's the Famous Mysterious Actor and his semi-weekly local talk show debuted on CNW14 last month.
The masked entertainer was born as a bit character in a Eugene improv group. A year long gig at Jimmy Mak's led to stints entertaining Portland clubgoers between sets at area clubs. Then in 2003 TFMA landed a "fake" talk show at the Ash Street Salon.
A monthly show turned into a bi-weekly one as the crowds grew larger and the press came calling. Now he's on cable TV. I taped the February 28th show and finally sat down to watch it last night.
The Famous Mysterious Actor Show plays like a combination of Pee Wee's Playhouse, Andy Kaufman and Space Ghost. TFMA has two cohosts, one of which speaks entirely in German and apparently introduces each show.
Imagine a local Late Night With Conan O'Brien but hosted by a masked sociopath and you should have a good idea of what the show is like. As FMSA took the stage, the audience was prompted to toss candy at his head as he waved around a bullwhip. When they ran out of ammunition he began rolling through a potty-mouthed monolog taking aim at Lindsay Lohan, the president and others.
After slurping on an oversized Pixie stick and giving away a free tattoo to an audience member, his first guest, a guy from Dark Horse comics, took a seat next to the desk. Graphic novels took a backseat to FMA rambling diatribes on Judge Wapner, the devil and cutlery infomercials. His second guest, "Mr Wonderful," the owner of the Rose City Rollers, was subjected to the same treatment.
Further adding to the strangeness were the commercial breaks, which consisted of nothing but ads for No Fish, Go Fish, the Sapphire Hotel and other local businesses. A spot for Movie Madness was a weird parody of The Godfather that ended with someone discovering the disembodied head in a bed. A cartoon ad for a tattoo parlor starred a girl riding an atomic bomb as he falls into the heart of downtown Portland.
For obvious reasons, The Famous Mysterious Actor Show is my new favorite talk show, taking the place of The Tony Danza Show. The next episode airs this Sunday, March 12th at 9 PM on channel 14.
All I had to go off of was a silent live image on KATU. Various news sites around town hadn't posted the news yet. It was 5:40 PM and a gigantic plume of ash was pouring out of Mt. St. Helens. For all intents and purposes it looked like 1980 all over again.
Stuck at work and with no way to actually hear the broadcast, I fired up IM and started text messaging people for more info. "MT ST. HELENS IS BLOWING UP," my words screamed. "TURN ON THE NEWS! THIS IS IT!"
Thirty minutes later, after getting a handful of people's hopes up, I finally caught an update on kptv.com. While this may have been the largest eruption since St. Helen's began rumbling again last fall, it was only the latest in a long, drawn out series of anti-climatic eruptions.
Or was it? Was this what we were all waiting for? Is this it? Will St. Helen's go back to sleep for another quarter century? For the time being at least, the affiliates are unwilling to put all this in context. Where's a geologist when you need one?
Whatever. I've lost interest. At the very least, the eruption looked impressive.
Monday, March 07, 2005
The Chili Incident
It's been a while since my last trip to Winco. Running low on groceries I decided to take the last edible thing in my house to work: a box of chili.
But this wasn't just any box of chi, er, maybe it is. Now that I think about it, this was my first box of chili. Typically these things come in cans. Nevertheless, this was a different bread of chili, regardless of what sort of container it came in. This was "INFERNO: SELF HEATING MOUNTAIN CHILI (meat free)."
I picked up the box months ago during a dull trip to REI. Wedged between the indoor rock wall and an aisle devoted to tin coffee and espresso cups was another full of ready-to-eat meals. Most of what REI had to offer was run of the mill "Just add boiling water" packs of lasagna and scrambled eggs: the sort of inedible glop that can be found at any yuppie camping site. The bright red Inferno box practically screamed "BUY ME! I AM THE COOLEST THING EVER FORGED BY HUMAN HANDS!" Self cooking chili? What will those wonderful food scientists think of next?
I wanted to head out to the car and immediately break it open but an eerie warning on the side dissuaded me.
"WARNING: During the initial activation process you may notice a chemical vapor. This odor is the result of the chemical reaction between the flameless exothermic heater and the inert activation solution (salt water). This odor will quickly dissipate and poses no harmful effects whatsoever."
Exothermic heater? That didn't sound harmless. This was an experiment that would have to wait for another time and place. The time? When I ran out of anything else to eat. The place? The break room at my office. There was no way I was going to open this Pandora's Chili Box anywhere near my abode.
Instead of following the directions I tore open one end of the box. Ooops. Step one on the "heating steps" was "lift tab." With no way to tape the box back together I pushed a copy of Wired up against the side and lifted the tab. Inside was a thin white "activation strip." I pulled it and expected some sort of wiring noise or a few laser beams to jut out of the box. Instead, nothing happened.
The instructions advised me to wait no less than 15 minutes. A minute or so later I noticed the chemical smell. So it was working, after all. Then it happened: a cloud of steam shot of the box like a teakettle. The box's "take Inferno to the office" suggestion sharply contrasted with the "always use in adequately ventilated areas" advisory I had overlooked. I tried to look as nonchalant as possible next to this mysterious steaming box as a coworker came in to buy a Butterfinger from the vending machine.
Somehow he didn't notice the steam or the weird smell that had filled the room. I eyed the sprinkler system overhead. Was this chemical cloud enough to kick-start the office's fire alarm? Or would it be able to tell the difference between life-threatening smoke and possibly carcinogenic chili smoke?
Apparently, it was the later. After ten minutes I got tired of waiting pulled out the chili's black plastic tray along with an included spork and a Baby Wipe napkin. Given all the vapors floating around it had to be fully heated.
Alas, not. The chili was lukewarm. The verdict? It tasted like any given can of .99 cent chili that would have taken me 2 minutes to heat up in the microwave. The box of Inferno had set me back $5 and over 10 minutes.
The other $4 must have gone into making the heating unit, which was hidden within the black tray. I thought about using the rest of my break to dissect it with a coworker's Leatherman but noticed Inferno's final warning: "attempts to disassemble may result in injury." I wasn't going to take any further chances with Inferno. I tossed the tray in the trash and slowly backed out of the room.
This will probably be my last self-cooking meal. Nevertheless, if Inferno rolls out a self-cooking Thanksgiving turkey that'll be hard to pass up.
Sunday, March 06, 2005
In the summer of 2000 I had just finished up a stint as the associate editor of the Oregon Commentator, a student magazine at the Univeristy of Oregon. Our last press run of the year, the annual "Tater Awards" issue, had rubbed someone the wrong way. Entire stacks of copies were mysteriously disappearing from boxes and stands around the nearly-vacant campus. We assumed the the Commentator's rivals, perhaps killing time until summer term started, were behind it. Then our news editor had a conversation with Hatoon, the homeless woman that lived outside the Knight Library.
Hatoon apparently had a problem with the cover, a Photoshopped image of the magazine's logo depicted as a cartoon character. According to her, "all the children of the world [were] being born with cartoon eyes" and the Commentator was at least partially responsible.
It was a cryptic explanation from a woman that charmed and befuddled UO students for decades. Rumor had it that she was the eccentric daughter of an alumni that donated a substantial sum to the university. Unlike the rest of the city's homeless population, Hatoon had full access to the school's facilities. She reportedly showered in the rec center and was always roaming the corridors of the library. During my years there, she could be found chatting with students at her spot in the library's courtyard. I never had much contact with Hatoon aside from the occasional nod and a weird encounter outside the University Bookstore last November.
Last Tuesday Hatoon was struck by a car while biking through an intersection. She later died at local hospital. A campus memorial was held on Saturday and my sister Shanna and her roommate Kat attended. At one point, a large hawk swooped low over the crowd and watched the ceremony from a tree branch. The crowd gasped and pointed. One woman reportedly called out, "Hi, Hatoon" before it flew off, only to return as the memorial ended.
Kat has posted a collection of pictures on her blog, along with a tribute. Most evocative is this image taken in a Woolworth's circa 1980.
The tributes in last week's Emerald could only briefly surmise Hatoon's life up to her years outside the library. She supposedly had an estranged daughter that she hadn't seen in years. There's no telling the combination of factors that drove the woman in the photograph to edges of the UO campus but it's an image that will haunt me for a long time to come.
Jump kicks, jump kicks, jump kicks
I can now say that I have seen every conceivable jump kick in the history of martial arts. Jump kicks off tables, jump kicks off miniature taxis and flaming jump kicks to the head. Jump kicks, jump kicks, jump kicks is what Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior is all about and it delivers the goods.
Ong-Bak, which opened in Portland on Friday, has received heavy press on movie sites like CHUD and AICN over the past few months but little anywhere else. The low-budget movie from Thailand stars Tony Jaa as a young monk that just so happens to be an expert in Muay Thai, a martial art that focuses on blazing fast fisticuffs (and jump kicks). When a gangster makes off with the stone head of Ong-Bak, his town's sacred Buddha, Jaa sets off to Bangkok to track him down.
Not that the plot matters much. After a prolonged first act, the rest of the movie consists of little more than a string of action scenes. In Bangkok, Jaa finds himself pulled into an underground boxing circuit. He takes on a Hulked-out boxer in one match, which quickly erupts into an all out bar brawl as the two of them toss tables, refrigerators and live electric wires at one another. In another, Jaa finds himself literally on fire as he takes on gang outside a gas station. In perhaps the film's best stunt, Jaa performs a flaming jump kick which ignites one thug's head.
Ong Bak's tagline proudly proclaims "No computer graphics. No stunt doubles. No strings attached." The acrobatic moves that Jaa performs recalls the best of Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan. Some would his style surpasses even them. During the film's running time, Jaa leaps over cars, under speeding trucks and an endless series of other obstacles while jump kicking everything that moves.
As every review I've read points out, this isn't the last American audience will be seeing of this prodigy. My prediction is that Jaa will star in one or two more great films overseas before heading for Hollywood to co-star in a fish-out-of-water comedy starring Chris Tucker, Owen Wilson and/or a talking ferret.
Thursday, March 03, 2005
Sex, Drugs and Dougenzaka
Why is this man sleeping on the subway?
Did he just finish a 100 hour work week?
Or is he heading home after a long night in one of Tokyo's red light districts...possibly on the heels of a 100 hour work week?
Love hotels, travel-size bongs, panty-filled vending machines, anime beer, middle-aged hookers, drunken mobs and a shop that sells nothing but condoms- they're all in "Sex, Drugs and Dougenzaka," the second installment in "It Came From Over There," Welcome to Blog's ongoing photo series on Tokyo.
DISCLAIMER: If you're under the age of 18, don't click on the link. If you're over the age of 18, you probably still shouldn't click on the link.
It's clearance time here at Welcome to Blog and I'm rolling out all the fledgling ideas that never quite crawled out of the primordial depths of Blogger to become fully formed posts. I'm slashing prices to 50%, no, 75%, no 98%, no, FREE! These half-posts are absolutely FREE (to loving homes)!
Actually, even if you don't have a loving home at your disposal, feel free to take them anyway!
HALF POST # 1: This week's Willamette Week ran a piece on a Portland blogger named Josh Orchard and his efforts to see a live music show every night for a year straight. He met the goal last night but still plans to keep going until Saturday.
This made me wonder: where did he go on holidays? What local venue could possibly be hosting a live show on Thanksgiving? Or Christmas?
Answers: On Turkey Day he hit a blues show at a place called the Metro. He spent a portion of Jesus' 2006th birthday at the Portland Grill where a pianist was playing Xmas songs.
HALF POST #2: This gerbil could use a loving home. But be warned, he's a bloodthirsty cannibal (thanks, Cory).
HALF POST #3: If you ever find yourself sitting around the house on a Tuesday afternoon and you suddenly get an overwhelming desire to purchase a personalized pimp cup, here's a place that makes them online. They also sell faux-diamond cross necklaces and scrolling LED belt buckles (thanks, Banjo).
HALF POST #4: One word. Cardhouse. Learn it, love it, lose 500,000 million hours of your free time on it (thanks, Sho).
Wednesday, March 02, 2005
The darkest hours
Maybe I'm wrong but I'm still convinced that that the past 24 hours have been the worst in Blazers' history. From today's Oregonian"
"He drew a technical foul -- one of the lasting impressions of his tenure in Portland -- with 5:03 left in the third, drawing a cascade of catcalls from the crowd. Wallace then egged the crowd on by waving his hands above his head, asking for more boos. When the boos did come, Wallace pointed to the scoreboard, which read Pistons 75, Blazers 60."
But a colleague of mine was at the Rose Garden last night and he claims the crowd was actually half-cheering 'Sheed's showboating. You know the situation has grown dire when fans start longing for the bad ol' days of "check the check" and praise a player they outright despised a little over a year ago- a player who strolled back into town with a big, fat championship ring on his finger.
Worse yet, Maurice Cheeks was given the boot this morning.
After the game, Wallace reportedly threw his arm around his former coach's shoulder as they headed into the bowels of the Rose Garden. A weird exit after a weird few years on the Blazers' stage.
While Cheek's headaches may finally be over, Portland's pain has only just begun. As recent history proves, no matter how much talent (Cheeks) and problems (Wells/Wallace) the hometown franchise rids itself of, things will only get worse.