Saturday, May 31, 2008

Stuff White People Like? Apparently, Portland...

There was a front page article in the Times a few days ago about gentrification in Portland, specifically on Alberta St. The accompanying photo was sort of chilling in it's accuracy. That's going to be Mr. and Mrs. Best in a year. I was thinking about writing on it, but I didn't want to be annoying with another "hey, the New York Times wrote an article about Portland again" post.

But then I noticed the folks at Stuff White People Like picked up the story. That's an amusing site, but reading the comments pretty much takes the humor out of it. Apparently white racists aren't in on the joke. I hate it when dumb people ruin funny stuff.

We're about 15 blocks north of Alberta, and it's where we go to eat and hang out. In fact, I had dinner last night with friends at the Tin Shed. I'm not sure why people are worried about gentrifying Alberta St. I got news for you, folks - it's too late. That place was fully taken over by the hipster pod people about 2 years ago. For me, the turning point was when Joe's Place, the last "black" bar on the street was sold and re-opened as a hipster hangout called the Nest. It's the other neighborhoods directly to the north of Alberta that are really starting to get gentrified, including our home base of Woodlawn. I guess we are classic gentrifiers. But, hell, we're not trying to displace anyone. We just needed to find a cheap place to live. We actually chose Northeast over other sections of the city because we wanted diversity. Sigh. There is really no way to defend yourself without sounding like some sort of cliche. Now, excuse me while I put on my Birkenstocks, selet some Modest Mouse on my iPod and go out and wash my Prius.

This looks promising...

Here's the trailer from the Coen Bros. upcoming comedy Burn After Reading:

Brad Pitt excels at playing dumb guys, but I only enjoy his "dumb" work in a comedy. I can't really stomach him in a straight role.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Ah, June in Oregon

Summer is starting everywhere else, but not here. June is always one of the crummiest months of the year. Almost without fail, June is a total washout - but when July comes, it finally turns beautiful and stays that way till October. And now we talked about the weather.

UPDATE: It's currently gorgeous here, and I ate my lunch on the roof, basking in the sun.

The Next Big Show

EW has an article on the upcoming second season of Mad Men. Fire up your dvd player and power through season one, because this show is the shit. It should be on HBO - hell, the creator was a writer for The Sopranos, but the suits passed on it. Idiots. Do yourself a favor and save it on Netflix now - season one comes out on DVD July 1.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

R.I.P. Hedley Lamarr

When I was a kid, my whole family would gather every week to watch The Carol Burnett Show. Families used to do that. Maybe they still do, but it was a lot easier with only three networks to choose from.

I loved this guy. We should have called him Uncle Harvey. Rest well.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Shat

He never fails to surprise. Like that Greek dude who rose from the ashes, the Shat is still around and working it. Impressively.

A TV series, making songs with Ben Folds, a ton of books and enough endorsements to call him the Tiger Woods of senior citizens.

That, my friends, is how you do not go quietly into that good night.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Three Windows That Must Always Be Open

The Sizzler found and shared the first two:

Sad Trombone

Instant Rimshot

To cap off the trifecta of sound effects to make your coworkers and friends cower when a comedic risk doesn't pay off:

Instant Crickets

If only I could take my laptop to some of the plays I see...

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Evils of Advertising

I thought they stopped this kind of shit years ago...

Add it to my wish list

My birthday is several months away, but there's no rule against shopping (and gifting) early.

Just take a short trip to The Burt Reynolds and Friends Museum and shop to my heart's content. I'll love you forever.

On a side note, what's with the "and friends" part? Why can't I pick up a Dom DeLuise fat-man cap a Charles Durning hernia truss or a 45 of "She Got the Gold Mine (I Got the Shaft)" by Jerry Reed?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Jury Duty

Sorry for the lack of postings lately. I went in for my jury duty on Tuesday and was assigned to a criminal trial. First time I've ever done anything like this. It should wrap up tomorrow, since we heard the final arguments today. The trial is actually pretty interesting, but of course, I can't disclose anything till it's over. I can't even discuss it with the other jurors, we all just give each other shrugs and funny looks when we're dismissed after every session. It feels weird to miss this much work, especially with the upcoming 3-day weekend. Luckily, my work will pay me during these 4 days. I kinda feel like I'm slacking, but I also feel a lot of responsibility to the trial. After all, someone could go to jail for a very long time and my empathy glands are working over time. Glad I'm not at this trial.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Take Me To the River

You've probably already read about the record-breaking turnout for the Obama rally in Portland yesterday here, here or here. Some sources are saying 80,000 people. Well, I say 80,000 people and at least one fetus, because Mrs. Best and I were in attendance. It was an unseasonably hot and beautiful weekend, and as Obama says, a spectacular setting for a rally. It actually got a bit too hot for Mrs. Best, so she had to leave a little early.

It was a pain in the ass getting in. The line snaked through block after block of downtown. Luckily we saw some friends and were able to jump ahead in line. We got in just as the Decemberists started their set. They did a surprisingly good job engaging the crowd, including breaking them into sections to sing different vocal lines. I thought the majority of the crowd was sort of befuddled by them, but it was really cool to see them rocking the rally. I was thinking about how I played shows with Colin Meloy some years ago at the Laurelthirst, to a handful of people. This was before the Decemberists existed, and he was just another singer/songwriter with an acoustic guitar. I doubt he remembers me very well, but we had a great time one night doing a duet on Big Star's Thirteen. You've come a long way, baby...

Sometimes I think I am overly sentimental. Maybe it is my German blood. But right before Obama came out, they cranked up Springsteen doing The Rising, which is already one of my favorite songs. The anthemic power of that song in that setting, at that moment, caused me to well up. But luckily, I was wearing my new Elvis shades. TCB, baby.

The speech was pretty good and a good deal tougher than when we had seen him last year. Here's some highlights:

After the rally, I took the Max up to PGE Park to catch the end of the Beavers game with the guys. When I got home, I started searching the web for news of the rally. I saw this story and my jaw dropped when I got to the last few paragraphs. Apparently Bill and Chelsea Clinton were in town yesterday morning, too. And not just in town, but 4 blocks from my house!

Clinton and his daughter began their day at Woodlawn Elementary School in Northeast Portland, promoting the work of the I Have A Dream Foundation, which encourages low-income children to graduate from high school and go to college. Dressed in blue jeans, a black T-shirt and running shoes, the former president spent several minutes on his hands and knees planting tomato seedlings in the school's community garden while providing a running discourse on the best planting methods to a group of youngsters.

I am so bummed that I didn't know about that event. That's where we go walk Lucy. What the hell were they doing in our crummy little out-of-the-way neighborhood? It would have been something to see Bill and Barack in the same day. Even though Bubba is on my shitlist for his recent campaign shenanigans, I still love the guy.

So, how was your weekend? My pix below:

Friday, May 16, 2008

What you'd like is a little more stride in the crotch?

The Sizzler passed on this piece of real-life comic gold. President Johnson orders pants from Joe Hagar. You can listen to it on the page. In the meantime, this excerpt is priceless:

LBJ: Now the pockets, when you sit down, everything falls out, your money, your knife, everything, so I need at least another inch in the pockets. And another thing - the crotch, down where your nuts hang - is always a little too tight, so when you make them up, give me an inch that I can let out there, uh because they cut me, it's just like riding a wire fence. These are almost, these are the best I've had anywhere in the United States,

JH: Fine

LBJ: But, uh when I gain a little weight they cut me under there. So, leave me , you never do have much of margin there. See if you can't leave me an inch from where the zipper (burps) ends, round, under my, back to my bunghole, so I can let it out there if I need to.

JH: Right

I LOVE that he carries a knife. What a nut. Speaking of nuts, could "Back to my Bunghole" be the new "Back to School" sale? I'll leave that for Crustodio, the resident ad man, to decide.

Now that I look at it, I'm kind of afraid what he's hiding behind that book in the picture above....

It's a scorcher

Earlier this week it was in the 50's and raining. Today the predicted high is 97˚ - not quite breaking the previous record of 100, but close enough for me.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Best lunch spot in town

I love eating my lunch on the roof of the Dekum Building, where my office is located. A beautiful unobstructed view across the Willamette all the way out to Mt Hood. Actually, Crustodio and I had drinks up there the weekend of my wedding a few years ago.

The deck is in disrepair these days, though there are still benches and chairs and a grill. What's missing is shade. There used to be some kind of awning or canvas stretched across the seating area, but it's probably disintegrated since the days when Wieden + Kennedy ruled the roost.

He is such a bastard

News flash: Portland mayoral candidate Sam Adams is reportedly NOT gay. Or so claims City Commissioner Randy Leonard in this very funny clip. Get this man his own TV show already...

Randy Leonard's Raw Interview from dalas verdugo on Vimeo.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Dares, facial hair and reviews

It all started with me being lazy. Living in Super Casual Seattle, it’s easy to pass on shaving several days in a row. However, thanks to my half-Filipino blood, I have never been a five-o’clock-shadow guy. What I’m saying here is that after a number of days avoiding the razor, I don’t resemble Grizzly Adams as much as a homeless dude.

So, DAY 5 of not shaving arrives and I resort to the lazy “fix” of shaving just a little around the neck, leaving a short goatee and moustache. Not all bad. In the words of my friend Cory, I “throw down a mean moustache.” According to my son, my goatee and moustache are “Pro”, and that he would “kill for that facial hair.” Keep in mind that he’s 16 and dying for some of his own, but you get the idea.

Fast forward to a week before we leave for Mexico and Cory dares me to leave just the moustache and get a photo of me wearing a sombrero. Harmless enough, so you bet. I’m in.

But wait – there was a catch. I had gotten a little sun in Mexico, so I had to wait to shave after our return. Didn’t want to walk around with a pale patch right under my nose, did I? So wait I did.

Fast forward a couple weeks to me auditioning for my latest show. The director wants to keep the moustache – and could I grow a goatee too? Oh, and don’t cut your hair either if you can get away with that.

Oh fuck, fine. I’m in.

A couple of months later and here I am. So goddamned ready to shave. So f’n ready for a haircut. Seriously, another month and I’ll have a skullet. If that happens, I will have to drink drain opener.

But thankfully, my last day of facial hair is just around the corner, as The American Pilot closes 5/24. It’s been a great run. Very talented people. A few good reviews too.

But holy shit, I can’t wait to be clean-cut me again.

From Cleats to Pleats

My mind races in the morning when I drink too much java. Nonsensical flights of fancy that quickly become tiresome even to myself. Sometimes I just have to snap myself out of it and say out loud, "shut up!". Sometimes I do this in the bathroom, because I find peeing very boring and I do it a dozen times a day, so my mind wanders or races depending on the aforementioned level of coffee, and I'll just catch myself making up silly wordplay and puns in my head, and I just have to stop! Whew.

I also have a problem where I'll take certain song lyrics and change a few words to make them dirty or "funny". The outcome is always so stupid and 7th grade, that I can never repeat them in public, except I will now for you, dear reader. At the same time, these stupid phrases ingrain themselves in my mind. I don't know if it's something I should see a psychiatrist about, but 80% of the time that I go pee I sing, to the tune of the Youngbloods' Get Together, "C'mom people now... shine on my buttchecks.... Everybody get together... etc.". This is wrong, I know. But is it actionable?

I also make horrible sophomoric doggerel out of street names. I lived for 2 years right off of SE Ankeny. And EVERY SINGLE TIME I saw that street sign I said in my head "Wankin' me." Every time.

Driving down I-5 south of Portland there is a sign for Terwilliger. Every time I see it, I think to myself "turd wiggler". There are more, but I'll spare you.

Anyway, today someone jokingly at work suggested we try to naturally work the British slang word "chap" into a conversation. We had a meeting recently where all 10 of us were in the same room on a conference call with a guy from the U.K. He was a very charming guy and he used some classic Britspeak that we are all silently cracking up over, trying not to catch each other eyes, such as "brilliant!" and another time when one of us made an obvious and dull comment, "Well, that would be the sensible thing to do". Well, maybe you had to be there, but we all went around saying Brilliant! for the rest of the week.

So, this morning I was thinking of "chap", which led me to "chaps" and then quickly to "assless chaps". And then I thought The Assless Chaps might make a fine band name, with a cute little double meaning. And then I thought again - shut up!

Then we were talking about leather pants and I remembered that our college buddy Brad wore leather pants back in the day. I believe they were red, a la the Loverboy album cover pictured. We were very young and impressionable and tended to copy each other's wardrobe constantly. We followed Brad down a few blind alleys, including a craze for wearing cleats, even though none of us played sports.

But I really dug those leather pants. I decided I wanted some, too. With no shame at all, I asked my parents to get me some for Christmas. They dutifully bought me a pair of leather pants - WITH PLEATS. Yes, nothing says wild rock & roll rebel like pleated leather pants. Just in case you're driving your motorcycle to a formal event. I think I wore them once and then they went into the closet forever, just like this guy's pants. Much like another college buddy, Tim, he was "led by the cock into a major purchase". That phrase was coined when Tim came home from Chess King with a very tight and extremely ugly pair of black pants with red pinstriping and tales of a very hot and flirtatious sales girl. Ah, youth...

In honor of Stroke's birthday...

I apologize if it seems this blog is turning into something completely different, but how do you pass up what may well be the best headline printed in years?

Drunk Darth Vader escapes jail sentence

I freakin' love the British press sometimes.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Damn troublemakers

Ran across this article in the Portland Business Journal about all the vacancies on SW Third in downtown. So what, you may ask? Well, my office is on Third in the Dekum Bldg, which is mentioned in the second paragraph, and I've certainly noticed all the places staying empty. It seems weird, since there is so much foot traffic there. Well, now we know - it's because of all the "troublemakers".

Anyway, who knows how businesses make these decisions on where to set up shop. I just saw today that a new Greek restaurant is opening around the corner from the Greek Cuisina. I gotta say, that seems fucking retarded.

You know you got it going on...

... when people are making their own commercials for you. Seems to be happening a lot lately, especially on YouTube. This one is for all the Mac geeks out there:

Do Not Be Ashamed

This must be the "LP" version of a shorter commercial - but holy mother of ad men, it's wonderful.

Has the musical made a complete comeback?

Friday, May 09, 2008

Oregon is the center of the political universe today

According to the Oregonian site, anyway.

Sen. Barack Obama is speaking at a Beaverton high-tech workplace this morning, while his main competitor for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, Sen. Hillary Clinton, will host a health care roundtable discussion at Doernbecher Children's Hospital.

Oregon is the center of the political universe today as the dueling campaigns cross paths in the state. Both candidates made motorcade passes just blocks apart through downtown Portland as they headed for their campaign events, snarling traffic and thrilling passers-by.

Local television covered Obama's speech at Vernier Software and Technology live. While his question-and-answer session drew attention, Clinton waited at Doernbecher to make her appearance -- seemingly waiting for local TV airtime to become available.

Obama's campaign is buoyed by Thursday's pickup of an Oregon superdelegate. Obama won the endorsement of Rep. Peter DeFazio, one of the state's superdelegates.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Holy Crap

If our friend, Stroke, ever read this blog, he'd know I was thinking of him with this post.

This want it. No I don't. It's stupid. Why would I ever own such a thing? I mean really. Seriously. Way over the top. Too much. I swear I'm not that much of a geek. I SWEAR. STOP IT. SHUT UP.

via American Copywriter

Number 5 with a bullet

Kudos to my old bandmate Corrina for racking up #5 in Willamette Week's Best New Band contest with her new project Tu Fawning. I'm planning to round up the other ex-Flowers and catch their show on the 17th at Rotture.

In other band news, my new project Los Estimulantes has already gone through some major changes. Dave decided that he really wasn't ready to be pulled out of retirement, so he bowed out last month.

I called up Rob Scrivner, an old friend and former bandmate in National Anthem to see if he was interested in joining up. At the same time, Ben was talking to his former bandmate Zaben Long about possibly collaborating with us in Los E's or maybe in a different project.

After several discussions, we decided to bring Rob and Zaben aboard, so we are now a 5-piece with 4 songwriters and 3 lead singers. Rob, Zaben, Ben and I will be switching between guitar, keys and bass, while Marty holds down the drum chair. It's all very exciting and something I've wanted to do for a long time: the multi-singer/songwriter band, which I have raved about previously. First practice went well and we ended up drinking wine and chatting till midnight, which was remarkable for me, considering it was a Wednesday.

UPDATE: Last night's practice was even better and again went super late, till almost 11. Normally, I can only handle about 2 hours of rocking out, but we're averaging over 3. Rob had a couple new songs that we really dug into, one of which he had never been able to play successfully with a band, because of the odd time signature. Los E's ripped right into it, much to his delight. I've been reminded how much I like his material - good stuff.

Took a pass at one of mine, but no real sparks were flying. But many good jams in different formations. I didn't realize what a good bass player Ben was. I never think of myself as a lead guitarist, but I was having a lot of fun in that role, for better or worse...

Friday, May 02, 2008

4:00 PST – Spokane Washington - 5/1/08

Sitting here in Spokane International Airport. Sure, we laugh when we see how small it is, but lemme tell ya, it’s a helluva lot more convenient than Sea-Tac or any major destination. Painless drop-off. Zip through security. Two tiny bars that are more than happy to server you a beer. (And give you that extra shot for a buck, if that’s how you like to fly.)

However, they do have something in common with the big boys. They love to charge you for Internet service. $3.95 for 15 minutes! Sure, you can get a whole month for $30, but jeez.

With airlines and airports getting an ass-load of awful press lately, you’d think they could pony up and give their poor, mistreated customers some free Wi-Fi. Whaddya think that’d run for an airport this small? Not a lot.

So I’ll be posting this after I get back. Fucking greedy bastards.

So, it looks like my flight will be departing on time. Thank god. See, I have a confession to make. I’ve broken one of my golden rules: “Never fly on the day of a show.” It’s just too damn scary. And trust me, it’s not like the theater has the budget for understudies. So if the flight is delayed too long – or hits the ground in a fiery blast – the show don’t go on. Cross your fingers, Crustodio. You’re gonna be extra tense for the next hour and a half.

However, it should be noted that I am sticking to one of my other golden rules: Never drink before a show. And I can’t begin to tell you how counter-intuitive it is for me to skip that thirst-quenching part of the ritual. You leave work to fly home = you have a beer or two at the airport. It’s the way of the world, and yet I must decline.

That brew after the show tonight is gonna taste great.

Authors Note: It did

Thank you, Hulu

I've really been getting into lately. They have the motherlode of Irwin Allen sci-fi series from the 60's: Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Lost in Space, Time Tunnel, and Land of the Giants. All these shows are pretty wretched, but they were manna to my pre-teen mind. (And I've written about before.)

I watched repeats of the first 2 as a kid in the 70's, but I never saw Giants or Time Tunnel until this week. But I knew all about them because I had a stash of magazines from the 60's, mostly MAD and Tiger Beat, of all things. (and some Playboys, but that's another post...) You know, those Tiger Beat mags probably had a lot to do with my Monkees obsession. I read those MAD magazines over and over, and there are dozens of movies where I know every plot twist and character because of reading the movie parodies, but have never actually seen. So, I was familiar with the shows because of this and also from reading the novelizations.

I was so into sci-fi show novelizations. I had so many Star Trek books and Planet of the Apes (the TV series), Space 1999 and even Man From Atlantis. In those pre-video, pre-internet days there was just no way to see this stuff unless it happened to show up on one of the 5 TV stations.

So, it was great to finally see Land of the Giants after 30 some years. And boy, was it bad. And I can't wait to watch more!

I've also been catching up on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia repeats. This clip is from my favorite episode, "Sweet Dee's Dating A Retarded Person".