rss feed | youtube | links | the burning log
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
But can you survive a blizzard with one?
Tomorrow the city will roll out a new 65-gallon recycling cart to replace the iconic yellow bins that have been sitting at the edge of Portland's driveways for well over a decade. While the new carts will likely increase the amount of trash that doesn't wind up in area landfills, one question remains: can they double as sleds?
You see, for years the yellow bins have been misappropriated during Portland's rare snow days. If you head to a park anytime the city receives significant snowfall, you're liable to find at least a few 3rd graders bombing down hills in them. I myself made good use of my family's bins at least a few times back in middle school. In a rush to get outside before the rest of my neighborhood's brats could hog Gabriel Park's fresh slopes, I'd grab a bin if I couldn't find my saucer sled.
In addition to working fairly well on a downhill jaunt, they also came in handy if you were ever looking to build shelter. Several "bin bricks" of snow, once stacked in a circle, could become a fairly decent improvised igloo. While I never attempted to make one myself, I've spotted a few of them being built on front lawns over the years.
I can't say if these newer, larger carts will cut it the next time the city gets a rare winter blast (which could be sooner than later, given how crappy the weather has been this spring). I see the potential for serious rollovers if anyone is foolhardy enough to use one as a makeshift snowmobile.
The Yellow Recycling Bins
1991 (?) - 2008
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Like all the other geeks out there...
...I ran out and picked up a copy of Grand Theft Auto 4 today. I put off saving my in-game cousin from loan sharks in order to go bowling with my girlfriend. Now he's yelling at me to pick him up from the hospital. I'll get to that soon enough, right after I finish reading this article about what people living in the ghettos of the real "Liberty City" think of this thing.
Labels: video games
Monday, April 28, 2008
You've got to get them started young
I don't want to accuse a sweet little town like Silverton as being a haven for ignorance, gun-totting and full blown hootenannyism but this is an anecdote that must be shared with the world. Before you read the following, please give Silverton's Wikipedia page a prerequisite glance and have a look at the site for the Oregon Garden to get a better perspective on what this historic community of 10,000 or so people has to offer. Also, please disregard this.
With that out of the way, let's talk about six year olds and machine guns.
A few friends of mine live near an "officer of the peace" in Silverton. During a recent visit, I happened to look down the street and spotted this individual walking into his house with two machine guns, one in each arm. This is not considered an everyday occurrence in my neck of the Willamette Valley.
So I asked one of my friends about it and they broke out a story about something that happened a few weeks ago. One afternoon they spotted a child, right around six, walking around the officer's lawn with a fully-loaded M-16. At first they assumed it was a toy and he seemed to be having a ball with it, pointing it at random objects around the neighborhood. Then the kid's mother darted out of the house and tore the gun out of his hands.
And to think I've been complaining about the Labrador Retriever next door that likes to bark at traffic on sunny days.
The Lincoln High letter
I'm including a link to this because if I don't APB will be the only Portland blog that hasn't. I wonder if the kids who put this letter together really did include a condom in every envelope.
The best my graduating class could come up with for a senior prank was the ol' "paint your graduation year on the side of the school thing." Worse yet, it took us three separate attempts to get the job done right.
This blog is clean
Or at least it is until everything falls apart again and corpses start jumping in the pool and I have to fight a giant ghost monster and/or a clown doll. Rather than spend hours shifting everything over to another host or figuring out WordPress I decide to host all future posts on Blogger and run a redirect from, blah, blah, blah...
It's not the best fix or even the 10th best fix but it will do for now. I %#@$!@! hate the internet.
Oh, how could I ever stay made at you, internet?
Puppy kisses, internet. Puppy kisses. <3.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
I guess they went with Young Indy over Old Indy because...eh, I don't care. I'm just overjoyed to hear that area Albertsons stores are stocking their shelves with food products slathered with Harrison Ford's face for the first time nearly two decades. In addition to cereal, they're also apparently selling Indiana Jones-themed fruit snacks, Pop Tarts and malt liquor.
I made up that last one...or did I?
A "thanks" goes out to Shanna for passing this info and photo along.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Zombies. On unicyles.
Today I learned that one of the great things about dumping hours of time into fixing your blog and writing dull posts about dumping hours of time into fixing your blog is that people will send you emails offering their condolences (I received three today. Three! This is very exciting because this blog never garners email). And that some of these emails will include videos of zombies chasing people around forests while riding unicycles.
Yeaaaaaaaaaah, you're not going to want to click that play button if you're at work, squeamish or think the whole zombie thing is "totally played out." As for myself, every time I start thinking that every conceivable twist on the zombie genre has been done, I see something like this. Plus, I'll sit through just about anything zombie-related until I finally see something, be it a movie or a graphic novel or whatever, featuring the undead using hot air balloons to attack their victims. Wouldn't that be somethin' else? Zombies in hot air balloons? With unicycles now out of the way, I think that's the last original thing that can be done with zombies.
It should also be noted that the video above includes a not-so happy "happy ending" that is going to keep me away from anything nature-related for at least the next two hours. This includes the "Little Tree" air freshener in my car.
Kudos to the Filmed By Bike (link) entrants that created the video and to Kim for passing it along.
Monday, April 21, 2008
You throw me a bootleg copy, I'll throw you the whip
Like a fool I didn't buy tickets several days in advance so I didn't catch Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation at the Hollywood Theater over the weekend. Still, after rummaging around on this site I think I probably know more about the movie than those that have sat through it. The first nine minutes can also be found on You Tube:
Not impressed? This BBC clip will better explain everything.
If this is all news to you, here's a quick rundown (a long one can be found here). In the '80s a group of kids in Mississippi spent seven years recreating and filming nearly ever scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark (they couldn't quite pull off the airplane fist fight). During the course of their odyssey, they nearly burnt down a house, almost killed one of their actors, broke a limb or two, learned how to make pipe bombs, conned someone into loaning them a real submarine and went through five prop boulders. From what I've been told, their recreation of the truck chase is amazing.
It's all an inspiring tale of geekery and indomitable determination. The makers are now in the process of trying to get their careers going in Hollywood. Supposedly, there's also a movie about the production of The Adaptation in the works. Until then, here's hoping the real-deal comes back through town again. As I understand it, it can only show it at charity screenings due to innumerable copyright issues.
The World's Hardest Game
The last go round
Here's a few photos and shaky-cam footage from last week's Portland Timbers season opener. It was Timber Jim's final game as the team's mascot. They scored a goal in the final minutes of the second half so he did get a chance to saw one final slab off the team's log. The Timbers won 1 - 0 over the Puerto Rico Islanders.
Thanks for the memories, Timber Jim.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Random Cell Phone Photo # 33
A photo of the mural over the snack bar at Valley Lanes in Beaverton, where an hour of bowling won't set you back $50+.
Labels: cell phone photos
Building a Better Burg # 1: More Midnight Movies
Because this blog should really be more of a repository for unsolicited advice, here's a new series of blog posts about random ways I think Portland could better itself. Yup.
Monday, April 14, 2008
Attack of the rickshaw bike cabbies
I remember seeing one or two riding around downtown last summer. Now they seem to be all over the place. I even know someone who now makes his living as a bike cabbie. Still, I can't figure out where they all came from. Doesn't it rain too much here for this sort of thing?
Well, that was ill-advised
On Saturday the sky over western Oregon shook its seemingly perpetual cloud blanket and the temperature climbed to over 70 for the first time in nearly six months. Rather than take this opportunity to chop down the jungle of grass and weeds outside my cabin or lounge around on a pub porch somewhere, I went and did something stupid. I climbed a mountain instead.
I do this sort of thing a few times a year and I'm not talking about Everest here. I'm a big fan of the trails around Nehakahnie Mountain, which is basically an overgrown hill north of Manzanita that overlooks the Pacific Ocean. Typically I cheat by starting from a trailhead halfway up but last summer I ran into an elderly couple on the mountain. They had climbed from sea level at Short Sands Beach and had managed to reach the peak. Round trip: 8 miles. Despite having reached the peak a few dozen times over the years,they made me realize I had never truly climbed this damn thing.
That day a gauntlet was thrown down. If they could do it, so could I. I accepted this self-imposed challenge on Saturday. So what if I was out of shape and hadn't been on a hiking trail since last fall? I tossed a few Cliff Bars and a jug of water in a backpack and off I went.
The path leading up from Shorts Sands to the 101 is a gradual climb. Nothing too serious and there's a fun "bouncy bridge" ala Tom Sawyer's Island along the way. This tree is also fairly Tolkien-esque and photogenic.
The path across once you cross the typically elk-free Elk Meadow and the highway is another story. What seemed like a pleasant walk through the woods became a hellish uphill slog. I typically take the much easier and shorter route on the south side of Nehakahnie. The mountain was crowded on Saturday, which meant every 10 minutes I ran into people coming down from the peak. When you're covered in sweat and when your knees are on fire and when you've begun questioning why you didn't just buy a six-pack at the Arch Cape Market in order to make a feeble attempt at recreating a Corona ad on the shores of Cannon Beach, the last thing you want to see is a joyous church group singing camp songs as they practically fly back down to the parking lot.
Oh, and there were snakes. Did I mention them? They were all over the place. Small and harmless (hopefully) but snakes nonetheless. I nearly stepped on one that was sunning itself in the middle of the trail. It must have been Slither Day on the mountain. I swear, every twenty feet one of them, no doubt startled by my huffing, puffing and muttered bitching, would suddenly spring up in the underbrush near my feet and bolt to a spot a few feet away. They did help break up the monotony but, honestly, I prefer the rabbits that can sometimes be spotted along Nehakahnie's trails. Further adding to the danger factor: muddy conditions and numerous trees downed by last winter's wind storms. I made sure to wear my Indiana Jones-type fedora on the hike. I look more like a dork while wearing it but the snakes might have gotten me if I hadn't brought the hat along.
I reached the top 140-minutes later. I'm a casual hiker, if that, so my mud-covered shins were convinced we had just conquered K6. I broke out a Mexi-Coke and, despite being lukewarm, it was the best damn soda I've ever drank in my entire life. Everything they say about Coke tasting better when it's made with sugar instead of corn syrup is true. I loved that Coke so much we were later married in a small ceremony at dusk near Haystack Rock. This might have been a worse idea than climbing the mountain. I don't think the state of Oregon is going to let me add the Coke to my medical plan, let alone get a tax break.
A few days have passed and my knees still feel like they're filled with battery acid. My feet and I still aren't on speaking terms. I guess I should probably cancel those plans to hire a few Sherpas and hit the Himalayas this summer. Mountain climbing is a major pain in the pass. Who knew?
Friday, April 11, 2008
What would Krusty think?
I like Cirque du Soleil.
There, I said it. If you've ever wondered who pays real cash money to see something with a loose plotline about a clown ascending to the afterlife, you're looking right at one. Or at least the words of one. I've now seen two Cirque shows and I'll do it again, dammit.
I think it's for the same reason I'll sit through any Hollywood blockbuster, no matter how lame and Michael Bay-y. I like spectacle, I like explosions and I think sitting through over two hours of a French Canadian death circus is a pleasant way to pass a Thursday night in April.
Cirque's traveling show Corteo is in town and I paid to see it. Every few years the Cirque folk come to Portland and set up a gigantic yellow and blue circus tent in a vacant spot wedged between the South Waterfront and the Marquam Bridge, leaving me to wonder things like how do they keep it heated and where do the performers hang out during their off hours.
I never figured out the answers to these questions but Corteo did allow me the opportunity to watch a clown morosely carry a candelabra across a tightrope while hanging upside down. I also got to watch members of a liberal town audience contend with a midget standing on their heads. At one point, Coreteo's central character, an ailing clown named Mauro, wanders out into the ring with a small woman attached to several silver balloons. He then flings her out of the ring, presenting spectators with the challenge of getting her back into to it. I overheard lots of awkward laughter as she stepped on shoulders and giggled like a preschooler all hepped up on Coco Puffs. I probably wasn't the only one there thinking, "Er, is this ok? Are we somehow exploiting this woman? Are the PC gods cool with something like this?"
In terms of spectacle, the first half of the show is mesmerizing. The two rows of tourists behind me ate it up but the second half, well, it bored us all to tears. I went with my parents and the two of them were nodding off as the show quickly succumbed to way two many trapeze acts and a cringe-worthy "Punch and Judy" reenactment of Romeo and Juliet. The tourists talked through the second half while loudly munching on a neverending supply of popcorn. A group of five to our right didn't even bother to return after the encore. By the time Morteo finally rode a bicycle over the ring and off to heaven people were ducking for the exits.
Corteo's a far cry from Ka, a Cirque show I saw in Las Vegas a few years ago. Ka benefits from having a theater built exclusively for the production and a multi-million dollar stage powered by hydraulics. There's only so much you can do under a big top set up next to a freeway. Still, Corteo should have spread out some of its wonders into that second half slog.
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
And I guess they brew a damn fine mocha too
Speaking the praises of Stumptown Coffee has become as much a Portland cliche as bragging about how you don't bother to carry an umbrella, wear a jacket or use any common sense at all when it starts pouring down raining. That said, I never see or hear anything about the art that's on display at the company's shops around town. There always seems to be something random or interesting hanging on the walls. Or at least more interesting than what you'll find down at Coffee Shop X. For example...
These portraits could be found at the downtown location last summer. I don't know if I'd put them up in my living room but I'm sure they'd serve as helpful visual aids when it comes time to explain the whole "birds and the bees" to the kids.
This one...maybe not so much. Those other two could be hanging over a blackboard in a middle school health classroom as we speak.
Just to prove that the artists Stumptown picks aren't all into subversive depictions of sexual deviancy among members of the animal kingdom, here's a cell phone photo of one of the paintings that can currently be found at the Belmont location:
The prequels really could have used some more of that. All Chewbacca was allowed to do in Episode III was stand around talking to Yoda.
Monday, April 07, 2008
A quick note on April's photo of the month
Every month or so I replace the photo at the top of this blog. For April, here's a shot of a graffiti-covered wall underneath the Thurman Street Bridge. I have no idea if it's supposed to signify anything or if it's just meant to be stylish in a Stop Loss and/or street art sort of way. There's a staircase that leads from the bridge down to one of the best trails through Forest Park.
Also: in a town full of creaky old bridges, that one's got to be the creakiest.
Random Cell Phone Photo # 32
Every time I pass by this mysterious sculpture in NW I find myself thinking that someone carelessly abandoned it in that parking lot, treating it like a forgotten plastic bag from Best Buy. Does anyone out there know the sculpture's story and what it's doing there?
Labels: cell phone photos
Three minute movie review: Shine a Light
Sweet Jesus, Keith Richards really looks terrible these days, doesn't he?
Ok, with the prerequsite jokes about the age of one or members of the Rolling Stones out of the way, I can get on with a review. With something like this you've got to consider the context. The band hasn't recorded anything worthwhile in going on three decades and they're all in their 60s. That said, they still put on a live show better than most younger bands. Mick Jagger can still move beter than a coked-up 20-something while Richards, Charlie Watts and Ron Wood still seem to genuinelly enjoy playing the same damn songs they've been pounding out for decades.
Ugh, only a minute left. Uh, uh, it's all well put together but many of the old interview clips included are disjointed, out-of-context and pretty crappy altogether. Also: the tracking shot that ends the film is incredibly, unbelievable cheesy and I don't belive fofr a second that Scorsese didn't know the set list until the last second.
For some people, most people, actualy, watching Jagger strut around on a 3-story tall movie screen is a nightmare. For myself, a lifelong fan, not so much. If anything, his continued ability to perform at that level should give us all hope for the future. If you've got millions of dollars, a great health regime and are probably willing to sell your soul to Lucifer and write long-winded rock odes about him, the cruel effects of aging can be thwarted.
Another BSG-related post
There's a pretty good audio interview with St. Helens' own Katee Sackhoff currently on KUFO's website. Topics discussed: which cast members have the clout to get their family members on the show and what Edward James Olmos' breath smells like.
Friday, April 04, 2008
Happy Battlestar Galactica 4th Season Premiere Day
I probably won't catch tonight's premiere live. There's a screening of Anchorman at the Baghdad tonight and I can't miss that. I'm not sure if this makes me more or less of a nerd.
The Mercury devoted half of their today's blog posts to the show, including a series of incredibly important BSG-related polls. So far, "no" is leading over "yes" in the "Isn’t Starbuck Kind of a Moose-Face?" poll.
I'm sure some big plot twist will be revealed tonight. I've got five bucks on "Bob Dylan is a Cylon sleeper agent."
Also: Roslin '08 t-shirts can be found here.
Thursday, April 03, 2008
Crazy From the Heat
I keep finding myself reading tomes on pop cultural icons. I made it through all 900+ pages of Bob Spitz's doorstop on The Beatles a little while back before diving into Neal Gabler's book on Disney (thus yesterday's ridiculous post comparing Walt to Sam Adams). Now I'm working my way through David Lee Roth's rambling, often incoherent but extremely entertaining 1997 autobiography Crazy From the Heat. It doesn't disappoint. Here's an excerpt from a chapter Roth devotes to stage props from his live shows:
The giant microphone, as well as the parade saddle, the inflatable legs, et cetera, all had to be designed and manufactured, okay? The best meeting was when I said, "Okay, we'll use the boxing ring again, but we should put four devils, statues of devils, on each corner, like the album cover A Little Ain't Enough. And on cue, I want them to pee Jack Daniel's into the audience. There were several technical meetings involving prop managers, stage directors, experts.
Entertainment, sure. Or at least more entertaining than paying $100+ to see Springsteen in the year 2008 "At times (mostly before the show and on the MAX afterwards) it felt like the uncomfortable last moments of some accounting firm's Christmas party." Yikes.
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
To infinity and beyond
While stuck in traffic on Highway 26 today I decided to come up with a some sort of analogy for Portland mayoral candidate Sam Adams. Walt Disney was the best I could come up with. Much like "Uncle Walt," Adams strikes me as a dreamer and a guy who loves a serious financial risk. Whereas Adams has far-fetched concepts for bike bridges and streetcars, Disney had, well, Disneyland, a monumental project that was widely predicted to end his career and destroy the company he built from the ground up. If cancer hadn't cut him down in the mid '60s, Disney might have pulled off his original, epic vision for EPCOT. He wanted to create a far-reaching community devoted to the advancement of everything from technology to art to urban planning. Sadly, Disney's concept eventually led to the creation of that glorified World's Fair sitting in Florida.
Given an endless cash supply and ultimate, god-like authority over Portland, I could see Adams trying to turn this city into his vision of a utopic model for urban planning ala those original plans for EPCOT and an example for other American cities to follow. Hey, I'm all for living in a big, happy, progressive super-sustainable utopia, especially if Monorails, People Movers and a Space Mountain or two are somehow worked into the mix but let's be realistic here.
While no one will ever convince me that filling Portland's thoroughfares with slow-moving, traffic blocking streetcars is a good idea, part of me would have loved to have seen Adams pull off his proposal to recycle the Sauvie Island Bridge into a pedestrian/bike path over the I-405. It's a cool idea but one that would have cost millions of dollars over a more traditional span. And therein lies the problem with Adams: the concept of "fiscal responsibility" completely escapes him.
For years, Portland's leaders have ignored its crumbling infrastructure. The city's streets are still filled with potholes, its sewer system is rusting to pieces and the Sellwood Bridge is in terrible shape but, somehow, there's plenty of funding to go around for bike box instructional videos, 24-hour access to City Hall's potties, streetcars and tax cuts for condo developments. Local blogger Jack Bogdanski is keeping a running tally of the projected debt Portland is quickly accumulating on his blog's sidebar and he has the number currently pegged at over $4 billion dollars.
While Adams wouldn't have carte blanche over Portland as mayor, he would inevitably rekindle an era of Vera Katz-like pipe dreams. If City Council is unable to reign him in, there's no telling what he could come up with and find funding for while neglecting the city's much more boring, everyday needs.
The only hurdle blocking what seems like an inevitable Sam Adams mayorship is Sho Dozono, a local business owner who comes across as even more doddering and out-of-it than current mayor Tom Potter. A recent Dozono publicity stunt at Voodoo Doughnuts was downright cringe-worthy. Dozono's feeble cries for sensibility at City Hall are never going to be heard over Adams' grandiose promises. A still-in-progress, "completely unscientific" poll on the Portland Mercury's blog has Adams leading at 62%, with Dozono coming in at a distant second with 16% of the vote. While the Mercury's readership skews younger than the bulk of who will likely turn in my ballots for the primaries in May, everything's coming up Sam so far.
Does Dozono really stand any sort of a chance against a charismatic juggernaut like Adams? Jumping back to Disney analogies, this race already seems like Scrooge McDuck going up against Mickey Mouse.