Sunday, December 28, 2008

A new ritual begins

It's Sunday afternoon in Portland. Overcast. High 40s. The coffee shop I'm in is a third full and the lighting is perfectly low. Beck's Mutations plays at a nice, side-conversation-deafening level.

This folks, is my special place. It's what I've sought oh so desperately for the last year and a half. It's where my morning routine will live on. I predict, big things will happen here,

For one, my correspondence in this online space will improve - don't think I didn't know my shit's been stinking, lately. Horrible. Embarrassing. And all very uninspired by the lady who kept calling me out on using her can's place, which has only worsened since I last checked in. But yes, I really hope the new environs kick this column up a notch. Or many.

Second, and far more important to me now, is that I will complete a screenplay I've spent the last year working on. Again, I just couldn't relax in that last place and was too often forcing the issue. But here, I almost feel like I could bang the rest out tomorrow.

Third, I think I may just be a happier person. A strike against any upcoming content, sure. But a big plus for my social life which seems to be deteriorating along with any modicum of wit that came along with my general displeasure toward the world.

It is a few blocks off-route to work, but I always said I was willing to go a few extra blocks for the right place. And they do charge $2.10 for a drink that is always $2.00, which is just a pain in the ass cause then you have to have three bills, if you don't have any change, to complete the transaction, or break out the debit card. And I still don't give a fuck. I'll carry around a roll of dimes with me.

It's a little surreal to look around at the black, leather, Barcelona chairs, against a roll-up glass garage door, both of which are features I have special fondness for, but have never actually seen together, and
instantly know that many good hours of my life will be spent here.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Colon Blow

Day 11 (of a two-week cleanse): Oh, what I wouldn’t give for an egg. An egg over a bowl of ice cream. With a piece of cheddar melted on top. And maybe some soy sauce.

I realize that taking part in a cleanse may not sound very “me,” however, with a history of colon cancer in the family and a colonoscopy looming, I’ve got an inherent need to keep the pipes clean. If my liver and kidneys pink'en up as a result, even better. But mostly it’s the colon, and all the impacted fecal matter that comes with it. I want it flushed out so when it's all over, I have intestines clean enough to eat off of.

I looked into the high-colonic, also known as colon hydrotherapy. But ultimately, the price – two sessions at about $100 each - and the idea of pumping solution up where things only ought to go down, deterred me (that said, this crapper, pictured at the high colonic web site looks pretty fuckin' incredible).

So that, and the fact that my wife was just prescribed this particular cleanse by her naturopath to rid her of toxins (another post that I’ve just been given the green light to write and will soon) made this a nice act of solidarity.

Unlike the master cleanse which recently replaced fixie bikes and plastic Japanese toys as the hipster status symbol du jour, our cleanse actually allows us to eat food. An incredibly restrictive diet of food, but solid bits to chew on nonetheless, which definitely helps kill time.

Here’s what’s on my do not eat list:
Dairy, egg, soy, gluten, legumes, pork, beef, tomatoes, corn, grapefruit, sugars, alcohol, and caffeine.

I’ve subsisted on little other than chicken and brown rice for the last nine business days, thanks to the conveniently located bento joint down the road. Mind you, any flavors one might add to that, such as sweet chili sauce or peanut curry are off limits. Just a nice big plate of dry, hot food. Breakfasts are some kind of millet grain prepared as hot cereal with raisins and maple syrup. And for dinner, I’m lucky to have a wife who can make lemonade out of what we’ve been given so things get slightly more experimental. Add to that a steady stream of supplements in both capsule and gaggable powders mixed into a glass of water form, to be taken each morning and night, and you got yourself a cleanse.

I can’t say as I've felt any profound affects and frankly, what’s been coming out of me is perplexingly inconsistent (when what goes in is a constant, what comes out should follow, no?).

Above all else, I’ve grown to appreciate the gastronomical variety we humans normally enjoy, as opposed to say, dogs who are mired in the same goddamned kibble day after day. Although, at this point I would gladly get on all fours and eat Egg McSundaes out of a plastic bowl on the floor for a while.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Hey Direct TV, Suck One

I have never been, nor will I ever be, a subscriber of Direct TV or Dish Network or any other satellite-driven home entertainment service. Unfortunately, I bought a home with one of those horrible receivers left behind by previous owners to hover over our backyard bbqs like some Orwellian cod piece (that's my trying to be all intellectual about the affront to my personal aesthetics. For the layman's version, ie better, see video below).

I called Direct TV, the provider of said dish to have them come haul it away - I even did them the courtesy of removing it from the house.

The first operator curtly told me to throw it away and then hung up on me before I could tell her that I didn't want to be responsible for taking up landfill space and I didn’t want to spend the extra money with my trash removal service since this was never mine to begin with.

Surely they must have new customers in the area in need of the hardware. So I called again.

I asked to speak with a supervisor. I was put on hold for 20 minutes, then asked what the problem was, and was promptly disconnected a second time.

I decided to email Direct TV my request to save everyone some trouble. Here's the response I received later that day:

Take away my dish

Response (Heherson RM. - 100131190) - 10/28/2008 03:36 PM
Dear Mr. Wahl,

Thank you for writing in to us. I understand that a customer that lived in your house has moved out and longer is using the dishes that have been mounted on your property. This equipment is considered the property of the customer and DIRECTV does not remove dishes. Since this dish was left on your property, you may dispose of these as you see fit. I apologize for the frustration you have experienced with this situation.


Romeo M.
Employee ID 100131190
DIRECTV Customer Service

What a fucking waste.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Seeking Proper Coffee Shop

If you've been here before, you may have heard me gripe about my search for the perfect coffee shop before work. I've held off on committing an entire post to this because I've got a lot to say on the subject and I don't imagine it's all that interesting to the rest of you. But some recent run-ins with the lady who owns my current go-to spot has finally warranted a full-blown purge.

I know. I live in Portland, Oregon. Aren't there coffee shops percolating and frothing on every corner? Yes. There are a lot. Some that I love very much. But I have a few essential criteria to my morning ritual and unfortunately, none of my preferred spots fit the very first one:
  1. It must be on my bike route to work. I'm willing to detour a block or two but anything beyond that is tough without a motor. With four miles of urban riding, you'd think I'd be sorted. You'd think. And one more thing on that point. I sort of prefer it coming toward the latter part of my commute, rather than earlier, just so I can be a quick ride from the office.
  2. They have to make a decent cup of coffee. Americano actually. Which is pretty much a given and in this town there aren't too many places that can fuck that up. But alas, there are some and those are simply out of the question.
  3. Good music. I really don't hear much when I get into the 7:30am laptop brain, and sometimes I'm even carrying headphones to regulate my sound. But if this is gonna be my daily spot, I don't want any easy listening bullshit when I come without my gear. Again, something that should be easily attainable in Portland coffee shops and yet, there are a few who just don't get it.
  4. Free wi-fi. If you don't offer it (Starbucks), please close up shop and go home. You have no business playing.

That's it. Nothing crazy. Oh, yeah, I refuse to wait in line for more than 3 minutes, but only the Stumptown on SW third - which, by the way, meets all other criteria - consistently fails me in that one regard.

Now at my last gig, which was in the super trendy Pearl district, there were two, not one, but two great places that met my every wish. Cafe Allora and the Urban Bean. I had to stop going to Allora (the better one) because of some freak coincidence where every morning I would see the parents of an old friend who has since ignored all my attempts to get in touch with her. Despite our estranged friendship, I was forced into small talk every morning with these old people who offer me daily updates on their three daughters' pregnancies. I had nothing against these folks really. They were nice enough for Portland bourgie, but I don't like to talk to anyone during my sacred coffee shop time. That and the fact that there was a bizarre, off-white elephant hanging over every conversation which forced me to go elsewhere for my morning cup. Now I work in a different part of town and the one good shop in the Pearl is way out of the way.

And just one more shout out to the Albina Press. I do so wish you were on my route but sadly, you're not even close.

I've tried alternate, east side routes. I've spent mornings trolling unfamiliar neighborhoods hoping to find a hidden jewel, but I come up disappointed every time.

So it's finally come down to one little hole in the wall shop that is exactly two blocks off course, but relatively close to my final destination. The coffee is great. Ily. The music can be hit or miss. I've heard everything from Eliot Smith (great) to Cyndi Lauper (which, at 7:30 am is enough to make you peroxide your pubes pink and get in the ring with a greased up Captain Lou Albana to go at it all greco-roman style) there. The wi-fi is free. And there's hardly any wait. So I know what you're thinking. Keep bringing your headphones and call this done.

Here's the problem. I hate the owner. I don't just dislike her. I've made up hateful stories in my head about her. I'm convinced she cheats her employees out of their rightful tips, employees I actually like alright. And I'm pretty sure she'd have some sexual harrassment claims against her if her staff weren't so embarrassed that someone that grotesque would hit on them.

What wrong has she done to me personally?

First of all, she's a winker. She should be gutted for that alone.

But my hate campaign started in earnest within the first two weeks. After coming in and ordering the same thing at the same time, everyday, an 8 oz. Americano
with a little room for here, she continued to act like she didn't recognize me. She kept asking for my order, and kept serving it in to-go cups, filling it to the brim or just going with a 16 oz. cup and filling it with water.

On the one hand, this was a good thing. No recognition means no small talk. On the other hand, I'm a fucking regular by this point. Treat me like one, damnit!

Well, she did. It happened one day after I had a nasty fall off my bike. With bloodied palms, I asked her for the bathroom key but explained that I would be right back for my coffee so she wouldn't think I was some vagrant just there to use her bathroom. (Bathroom keys also fuckin' kill me by the way. Like I need someone monitoring my bathroom habits). Before she would release the key to me, she asked me what I would be ordering. I'm fucking bleeding. She takes my exact same drink order everyday. And she wants to know what I'll be ordering, suggesting I'm gonna use her crapper and take off without buying anything even though I had been coming in regularly for at least three weeks.

I responded with the obligatory, "8 oz. americano with room for here." "Great" she said with big, happy to help out smile. "It'll be here when you get back. $2 please." Umm, did she want me to pay before I went into the can? Yes. Yes she did.

Now I knew I was gonna be up there for a while, cleaning out my wounds. I thought about showing her what I'd be tending to, but instead just asked if she could wait to make it until I got back so it didn't get cold.

She winked at me, with a wink that said she knew what I needed the bathroom key for and assured me she would wait. This chick was trying to bust me taking a dump in her commode, even though I wasn't.

The next day was the first day she remembered me. Guess how she let me know she remembered me. "Good morning! Americano? Bathroom key? (Wink)"

I should have turned around and walked out right then. Scratch that. I should have bought the coffee, tossed that shit in her one open eye and walked out.

But I didn't. Like some leather-clad sub, I just smiled and took the lumps. From a person to whom I'd been a loyal customer. I've continued taking those lumps for at least five months, but I've made it very clear that I have no interest in their bathroom, their winks or any of their contrived small talk.

She asks me what I'm writing. I pretend not to hear her.

She tells me it's a nice day. I stare off into space.

Monday through Friday. Every morning. And this is the best option I have.

Two days ago, I really needed to use their restroom. It would be a quick one, but I debated it nonetheless. Could I handle the shame of going through the bathroom key deal with this lady again? Until I couldn't stand it anymore. I approached the owner, with two people in line right beside me, and asked her for the bathroom key.

She handed over the key and with a big, fat, smirky, wink-face, she mock-whispered, "just don't go shooting up in there." What the fuck does that even mean?

I really need to find a new coffee shop. One that meets all my criteria. But in the meantime, I've decided to go ahead and use the bathroom at this one to conduct my daily masturbation habit.

Just in case anyone's wondering.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


It's been a while since my last post, mostly because there's been a real dearth of bitter material in my life. But at the request of an old friend, and in the original spirit of this blog, I'll share some truly inspired venom from the archives.

Back in 2002, I was just an angry ex-pat, living in Vancouver, BC. For the most part, Canadians are a real friendly bunch, but I had a way of bringing out the worst in them and in this particular case, I believe I was dealing with someone of the eastern European persuasion.

I was walking my beloved, Lula, who made this whole wonderful story possible, God rest her soul. We were cutting through the grocery store parking lot directly across the street from my little hovel of an underground apartment. It was late afternoon, just before the Christmas holidays and I was in no mood for cheer. I was in even less of a mood for some motherfucker who didn't like pedestrians clogging up his parking spot and let me know with some aggressive driving.

I did what I do and got right up in his window asking him, rhetorically, what exactly he was thinking. He decided to answer me and emerged from his car, all 300 lbs of him, screaming, in his broken Canadian accent, "You want to fuck with me? I will fucking kill you!" My meek little mutt and I backed away in terror, hoping there were just enough witnesses around that he wouldn't actually kill us.

He finally turned to go into the store and from the edge of the parking lot, I felt the need to get one last jab in, uttering back, "I don't want to fuck with you. I just want to walk through a parking lot without douchebags like you trying to run me over." He turned back in my direction. We jetted.

Now at this point, I was pretty worked up. The adrenaline was flowing. The things I wish I would have said were all spouting from my lips. I was only taken out of the moment by dear sweet Lula who was pulling on the leash because she really needed to pinch one off.

And then I looked down at her glorious little turd, something I may have otherwise left on the sidewalk, pretending not to notice. I grabbed that shit with the only thing I could find nearby, a large leaf, and I probably even got a little of it on my hand, gladly. I marched back into the parking lot and plopped the loaf on the broad side of that motherfucker's hood, beaming with pride as I walked back to my house.

My wife, a Canadian, wasn't super impressed with my tale of fecal justice. In fact, she was convinced the large Ruskie would hunt me down across the street, eat me and shit me out on my own car hood. Which was not the glory I was looking for.

Thankfully, I was on my way to a work related holiday party, where, after a few drinks I was able to recount the story to a few associates who honored me with the hero's triumph I was seeking. As I pumped my fists in victory, one coworker deemed me "The Poo-Chucka" and it is he to whom I dedicate this post.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Fix is In

There have been many well-documented fixes in history.

The 1919 World Series, when the Chicago White (Black) Sox were paid off by the Chicago mob to throw the World Series, losing to a clearly inferior Cincinnati Reds team.

WrestleMania 1, when Roddy Piper and "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff were paid their salaries by legendary showman, Vince McMahon to throw the main event, losing to fan favorites Hulk Hogan and Mr. T. along with a surprise appearance from Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka.

The NBA '07 Season, when commissioner David Stern paid off referees Tim Donaghy (ok, so that was never proven) and who knows who else to keep the big market teams in championship games.

And Election '08, when John McCain took on Governer Sarah Palin of Alaska as his running mate to effectively hand over the presidency to his formidable opponents, Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

Now I don't pretend to know why John McCain would take a fall. Perhaps he was payed off by those deep-pocketed environmental special interest groups. Maybe he was feeling the heat from Obama's Biden pick and and just needed a good scapegoat on which to blame a possible loss. Or, maybe he just got tired. He is 72 for god's sake. I'm 37 and I get cranky if I don't get an afternoon nap.

I do know that with any good fix, there are usually some significant wagers at stake. I myself had three separate bets of $20 each, made over a few whiskeys back in January of this year, when McCain had just secured the GOP nomination and Barack and Hilary were still duking it out. Don't get me wrong. I hoped to lose those bets for the betterment of this country. But I never bet with my heart.

It was a sure thing at the time. I know my countrymen. The unenlightened, McDonalds-eating, SUV-driving, debt-incurring, gun-toting Republicans. These people aren't going to sit by to watch a "neee-gro" named "Barack Hussein Osama," I mean "Obama" or that loud-mouthed bitch from the Washington
establishment who threatened them as first lady with her "commie health care plans," beat out a good ol' white boy, who served his country and has a name everyone can pronounce. Shit no!

But now, with Sarah Palin as a running mate, all bets are off. I watched her speech in St. Paul last night and I wept for all the peope who have donated their time and money to this campaign. Shrewd, passionate and outspoken - she is all those things. But a viable commander in chief, that these lunkheads can count on in the unfortunate event of McCain keeling over from a P.O.W. flashback-induced stroke. Not a chance.

I have yet to find any bookie picks online. But if anyone wants to take McCain/Palin, I'm personally offering 7 to 1 odds.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

MUXTAPE R.I.P. 2008-2008

Anyone who's come within a mouse length of me and a computer in the last four or five months has heard me proselytize the miracle of Muxtape. The icon to the left of your screen, which used to link you to my muxtape, now leads you to the image on the right.

For the uninitiated, was a free website that allowed users to upload 12 of their favorite MP3s at any one time to create your own personal soundtracks and share them with the world wide web. Likewise, any mux-maker could stream in other mixes and listen to their hearts content, without actually owning anyone else's music. Unless of course you clicked the "Buy MP3" link located beneath every track on every muxtape, which led you to, bringing the necessary evil into the mux and allowing for the song's purchase.

The real beauty of this site wasn't all the obscure music I discovered. It wasn't all the muxtapes I tagged as my favorites or the like-minded sensibilities I found through that feature. It wasn't even the four users who became fans of my muxtape, although I checked frequently, always hoping that number would go up.

No, the real beauty was its simplicity. From the looks of it, you'd never know there was corporate involvement. Large, graphic song titles and the color of your mux label. That's all there was. It was
Internet Bauhaus .

Now of course, the RIAA has put an end to all this harmless fun that could actually boost record sales for artists who might otherwise go undiscovered. And why not? Users found a way to share music legally, so the powers that be just went ahead and made it illegal.

I really hate people a lot.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Cell phones cause cancer

There. I said it.

It may not be true. There is no conclusive evidence to support the claim. But after what I went through today at the Sprint store, I hope they all suffer financial ruin (I would wish cancer on the these people, but if they all got it, then I'd be worried it really is the phone and then I'd have to stop using them and my life would become more complicated). So if any of you four readers happen to be Sprint customers and decide to opt out of your contracts, that would be great.

I'm not a gadget guy and I'm super cheap. So when I signed up for my most recent two year Sprint rectal (I've been on the receiving end of Sprint's fist for the last five years), I took the cheapest possible phone with the plan - the free one. They asked me if I wanted the seven dollar per month insurance on my free phone, to which I responded, "Insurance? The phone was free."

I've had this free phone for less than a year. This morning, on my way into work, I received the message, "Looking for Service" accompanied by a spinning satellite dish, but my service was never found.

I called Sprint, who, after 20 minutes of being on hold, instructed me to remove the battery and reinsert it. I did as they said. The message then changed to "Offline Mode." That's when I was informed that the phone had been rendered inoperable and I would have to visit a store. And then the lady had the gall to ask if there was anything else she could help me with. Well, my foot feels pretty good today, but maybe you could go ahead and arrange to have a city bus run over it so it no longer works, either.

I go into the store, which is never conveniently located near my office even though there are three clustered in a one block radius near my home, and I explained the problem. The employee removed my battery cover and noticed a big, fresh droplet of water sitting on the battery. "Uh-oh" he said. "Looks like water damage. You don't have insurance on ths phone, do you?" Nope. He smiled his big fat fucking corporate smile and continued, "we can take this in the back and see if the motherboard is corroded from water damage, but if so, there's nothing we can do. You just have to buy a new phone. I'll tell you what, though - with the new phone, I'll let you get the insurance if you want it. And if there is no water damage, we'll just replace the phone but you'll have to pay us $35 for opening it up and looking at the device because you don't currently have insurance."

Thanks sport. You'll let me replace my free phone for $35. And you'll even tack on $7 a month for insurance. Because that's the kind of guy you are. Well aren't I the fucking luckiest guy on earth then. How about I just buy that shiny new phone over there. The one with the $50 sign over it.

"Oh, ummm" he replied with that tone of me being totally shit out of luck. "That phone is actually $250. It's only $50 if you've had your current phone for 22 months or if you sign up for a whole new contract."

I started to get a little annoyed by this. He sensed my disappointment and tried making me feel better by asking me if I knew how much Sprint pays for those phones. Because they're way more than $50. I asked him if he understood why Sprint would do something like that - pay more for a phone and lose money on what they charge me. He responded, "because we want your monthly contract."


I then went on to explain that Sprint has gotten 5 years of monthly payments out of me already and I will absolutely end it at that if I couldn't have those stipulations on the $50 phone waived. He gave me all the corporate jargon to explain why that couldn't work, at which point I told him to quit acting like a fucking shill and listen to how ludicrous this all is. He was incapable of that until I told him to end my absurd contract, which I would gladly pay to be freed of. Now I know the other companies are no better, but he doesn't know I know that and that seemed to help things move along.

My phone came back from the repair guys and I was told there was no water damage, so I could get my free phone replaced with one of equal or even crappier value. I just needed to pay the $35 fee for opening the phone up. And I'd get my new one in just 24-48 hours.

Can anyone recommend a better rectal?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Cancer

I've been fretting about the big “C" since I was four years old. My Granddad picked it up through a steady diet of bacon, scotch, cigarettes and cigars. I watched it kill the man. It wasn’t pretty.

As a result, I was the only 12-year-old scared to sneak smokes because my oncologist advised against it. I load up on antioxidants, even if that is just marketing speak, whenever they're around. And, I generally fear the worst.

Short of moving into a bubble, I am hyper-aware of my environment and do my best to avoid cancer-causing agents (my wife argues the build-up of creosote in our chimney is causing us cancer, but I'm gonna roll those dice).

And besides, our bodies will do what they are pre-disposed to do. There's no fighting genetics.

In the last week, I've heard of two people I know indirectly, who have both contracted terminal cancer. Both women in their early 40s and mothers of young children. Pancreatic, lung and brain cancer between them. Another friend died last year at the age of 36 to ovarian cancer.

I'm not gonna lie to you - I'm totally freaking out.

I know the precautionary CAT scan for an otherwise healthy adult won’t be covered, (those insurance bastards probably figure what you don’t know, you won’t treat, and thusly, they won’t have to cover). So I’ve gone and run the numbers. $3470 for a whole body scan.

Anyone wanna go half-sies?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Slow Down Obama

You're not president yet. And while I truly hope you will be soon, I don't quite have the same faith in my fellow Americans that you do to make it happen (I currently have $60 in wagers that McCain will win in November - any takers?). You see, most people that share this great nationality of ours think you're a lot like the guy in the picture to the right. Complete with flags burning in the fireplace and portraits of Bin Laden mounted on the wall.

Which was the point.

I'm not morally aghast that this cover was published, like all the of the uppity liberals who think this will only feed the fears of many Americans (the Americans we need to be worried aren't exactly reading Hendrik Hertzberg's skewering of the Bush administration or
checking in on David Denby's movie reviews - sorry. Do they even sell this magazine south of the Mason Dixon line?)

No the Americans we need to be worried about are the ones who barely even know how to pronounce your name, Senator, or that you just edged out Hilary in the primaries. The ones who will learn that there is a presidential election coming up from all the tv ads they will see in late October and will pull the lever
100 times for a white, war hero named McCain over a young black man named Obama, if they could. And I think they can in Florida.

They're the same Americans who complain about the rising cost of fuel but drive SUVs they can't afford and believe that it is their inalienable right to do so.

The same Americans who think 2nd cousins are plenty removed enough.

Sadly, they're the same Americans who might just catch enough of the nightly news to see your tour of the Middle East and question your association with Afghanistan's president, Hamid Karzai, because you're not the president yet. sort of beat me to the punch on this one, but it does seem odd that a man who has a lot of work to do before becoming America's first black president is
behaving like one in a part of world that would like nothing better.

A bit presumptuous some might say, even if some don't really know what presumptuous means.

Monday, July 21, 2008

It's Official - Your Taste in Movies Sucks

The box office numbers are in and The Dark Knight is apparently the best movie ever created.
  • Top grossing opening day.
  • Top grossing opening weekend.
  • I heard somewhere the movie made $62 Million in one minute with the midnight showing, last Thursday.
  • And it's expected to break first week numbers as well.

Don't you people know that comic books on the big screen aren't good?

Iron Man, despite all it's hype was only ok and only because Robert Downey Jr. is cool. The first Spider Man installment, which previously held all these records, casts Tobey "Sea Biscuit" Maguire as the hero for chrissakes. The first X-Men may be the only flick to debunk my comic book movie theory but that's only because it started with a decent story.

Now, the only good thing people are saying about Christopher Nolan's latest addition to the Batman franchise is Heath Ledger's performance as the Joker. And that guy's dead.

You'd think after DC and Marvel trot out their big-budget circus acts summer after summer, the movie-going public would get hip to them and go for something a little more... oh, I don't know, entertaining.

I don't imagine Gonzo: The Life and Work of Hunter S. Thompson will break any summer movie records but we all need our heroes.

Friday, July 18, 2008

More Insecurity. Less Anger.

As you can see, this space is no longer titled "Anger Becomes Me."

I fucking hated that name. Here's why:

1. The name pigeon-holed me into recounting stories focused solely on my own hate and personal misfortune. I figure I can always hate, but sometimes I just want to love a little too.

2. The whole "angry man" thing is played out (and no one does it better than Larry David).

3. It just sounded a little fruity, like "Color me Angry" or "Does Anger Make My Butt Look Big?"

All very self-conscious motivators. But as a coworker put it the other day, the whole idea of a blog is pretty narcissistic. I argued that point, making up some crap about how I only do this to get in the habit of writing regularly and I don't care if anyone else is reading. But in retrospect, he's right. I'm just a vain motherfucker.

So enjoy the new title (a nod to the point of view of an alter-ego I hide behind when I don't want people to think I really think these things), and the content to follow. Hopefully it makes my butt look a little smaller.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Bike Rage

This story, published in today's Oregonian is too good not to share with those unaffected by "quintessentially Portland thing(s)."

The basic gist: Biker runs a red light. Driver of nearby car, who is also a big bike advocate in town, tells biker that he's giving all bikers a bad name. Biker, who is drunk and happens to work for the city's dept. of transportation begins beating man and his car with the bike. Random passerby sees this and knocks biker out with one punch, then leaves the scene. Other bikers ride up to find downed biker on ground in front of car. Angry biker mob attacks innocent motorist.

Ed. Note: I was nowhere near SE Belmont and 20th on the night of July 6th.

Perhaps us Portland riders just need a few less rules.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Musings of a Self-Riteous Cyclist

I don't know if I live in Portland because I bike. Or, if I bike because I live in Portland.

Frankly, I'm not very good at it. I had four crashes in a seven-day-span last month, which merely capped a lifetime of bike accidents that started with a car knocking me off my Huffy dirt bike and the two front teeth out of my mouff on the way to school back in 7th grade.

I've stuck with it, though and currently ride my wife's 15-year-old Trek mountain bike almost everyday to work (my sweet ride was stolen a couple years ago out of my garage, which to Portland riders is considered some kind of f-u rite of passage). And the city of Portland, often likened to Amsterdam, is embracing the effort, holding bike fests, enacting traffic laws to protect the biker and hopefully, with enough critical mass, will move toward
bike only thoroughfares. ( with it's 40 or so blogs related to biking in the area and links to proper legal counsel, sort of confirms Portland as Bike Town).

So what does all this bike love create? A happy little village where drivers and bikers co-exist in commuter harmony?

Not quite.

People who drive are typically in a hurry, talking on their cell phones and they just paid good money for gas so they don't really want anyone telling them what to do with it.

We bikers think we own the roads and every last SUV, bus and wheelchair must yield to us. We get off on cars making an illegal motion so we can chase after them dangerously, and teach those drivers a thing or two about "sharing the road." We delude ourselves into thinking that if everyone got out of their cars and onto their bikes, the world would be a better place, when in fact, the current riders would just be pissed about all the bandwagon bikers that are clogging up our narrow little bike lanes.

Since this blog is essentially a forum to discuss all the venom I spew and the hate that is subsequently directed toward me, I will share my recent run-in with a driver who I am clearly superior to because his vehicle is motorized and mine is not.

I was heading south on NE 16th around Lloyd Center at my usual 7:15 am ride time. As I started to merge out of the bike lane and into the right turn lane (which bikers use when making a right turn and not going straight), I extended an arm to let the oncoming Ford Explorer know I was coming over. I heard the SUV gun it's engine to cut me off and speed ahead in the right turn lane and so held off on merging to save my neck. I then followed the driver through the right turn and up to the first traffic light which was red. In my favor.

His windows were up so I exaggerated my lip movement to say, "Yield to bikes, dude!" He waved his hand at me, in his scoffing way and tells me I should have been in the bike lane. Which was just about the worst answer this pinhead in a suit driving an SUV could have given. Because now it's time for some driver's fuckin' ed.

I leaned up against his car and unloaded - "Listen you mutherfucker - I was making a right turn, so I had to get in the right turn lane. I was ahead of you when I put my arm out, so I had the right of way. And I'm on a bike so you gotta yield to my ass whether you like the previous two rules or not, you fuckin' SUV oil-hog bitch."

I watched the man shrink into his seat throughout my rant with great delight. But just as the last "fuck" emerged from my lips, I noticed the young child strapped into the car seat in back, terrified that the angry biker man was going to eat his daddy. As a father of a young girl, I felt some shame and left the incident at that. However, faced with a similar situation next time, I'll probably do it all over again and exonerate myself here.

In the meantime...

Monday, June 30, 2008

The Apple Genius

The word "genius" is thrown around a little too willie-nillie, diminishing any real value behind it. I use the term a bit much myself. Usually in reference to a new Wilco album or Sophia Coppola film when it fact, these pop culture passers-by hardly compare to the life-altering contributions brought to us by Da Vinci, Einstein or Galileo.

But even in my most egregious hyperbole, I don't suck the meaning out of this word quite like the Apple corporation does with their hugely over-promising "Genius Bar."

The over-stylized punk who leans up to you from the
Apple store counter, with his smug sense of self-importance, seems to have neither graduated from high school nor realize that before phones and MP3 players, Apple actually made computers. But hey. We're dealing with geniuses here.

Recently I took a 9-month old lap-top in to have the plastic casing replaced since it's been stripping away on the sides. And it's only 9 months old. Which is fucking ridiculous (but that's another issue).

On each of my three visits to the store to get this repair underway
(genius), I noticed the work order they wanted me to sign listed an old address of mine from an entirely different city and the corresponding phone number. I alerted the geniuses to this problem on my previous two visits and was assured that they would correct that, no problem.

When it came time for me to actually turn over my $1500 computer for repair, the address and number were still listed incorrectly. I pointed it out to the young, female genius, who took it over to her genius manager. After a few minutes of genius conferencing, she returned to report that this group of geniuses could not make the changes at the store and I would have to call Apple Care to update that information.

I took a moment to look around and reflect.

I was
surrounded by at least 30 computers in a retail environment that sells machines designed to create, store and distribute information, all of which were connected to the Internet. And, lest we not forget, three of these computers were manned by self-proclaimed geniuses.

I've never left a sweater at a dry-cleaners without the store proprietor, usually an old Chinese man who doesn't speak a lick of English, taking an accurate address. I've rarely made a dinner reservation without the host taking a current phone number. These aren't computer companies. And they're not staffed with geniuses. Just your average, everyday morons. And somehow, in their charmingly inferior minded way, they developed a system that allows them to take current contact information.

I explained this to the team of Apple geniuses and got an unwelcome, albeit genius, response: "Sorry, dude, that's how our system works - just call Apple Care."

Before I could grab my laptop and shove it down the throat of this pretentious faux-hawked genius before me, an unassuming techie emerged from the back. He heard about the guy in front freaking out about an address correction (me) and was in the back making the necessary adjustments. Seems it was really no problem at all. You just enter the correct information into the computer.

Luckily, Apple makes a pretty good product that you don't have to be a genius to figure out. And even more luckily, I wasn't there to solve any software issues. God help me if anything goes wrong with my OS - I'm pretty sure Apple geniuses think that's an acronym for "Old School."

And while he's no Picasso, I think there's something just a little bit genius, or at least clever and insightful about Mike Judge's take on the degradation of human intellect.

Take notes, Apple Geniuses. The future is yours.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Poo Lady Cometh

I am a married man with a 2-year-old daughter and a full time job. There are very few moments in my life that are exclusively and unequivocally mine.

Sad as this may be, those moments typically occur behind a stainless steel, institutional type door, sometimes with a half naked man only inches away.
Nonetheless, I savor these moments.

When I feel a moment like this coming on, usually about an hour and a half after my first cup of coffee, I prepare some light reading material - the sports guy’s column off of, or, if I’ve already read it, whatever I can find on Slate. And just so that no one in the office asks why I’m printing online magazines, rather than reading them straight from the screen, I cut and paste the content into a word document so it appears as if I’m simply reviewing my own hard work (any coworkers reading this should know that I use the black and white printer and reduce the font size to 9 pt. so as to keep the whole article under three pages. And I’m a pretty fast reader so we’re only talking 6-7 minutes total). I then sneak said article into my pocket so the receptionist, who I pass with every trip, won’t notice me carrying papers into the can.

This is all very premeditated and has become a natural part of my daily routine. Don’t take that away from me.

But for whatever reason, the building in which I work has hired a female custodian to clean the men’s bathrooms. I like a clean bathroom as much as the next guy, and frankly, I don’t care who cleans it. It seems to me that if a woman is going to be cleaning a men’s room and doesn’t want to be exposed to the inherent maleness that exists in there, they should take care of their custodial duties after hours.

Yet, every day, just as I reach that critical point of the article, where Dana Stevens explains to me why any guy who bashes Sex in the City, The Movie must be a misogynist wife-beater, or as Bill Simmons waxes poetic on the similarities between Red Sox Nation and the chosen people, in walks the Poo Lady.

Every fucking day. Regardless of the time.

She knocks first. But she enters as she knocks. And the only thing you can blurt out fast enough to avoid through-the-stall confrontation is a castrated sounding “I’m in here!”

She promptly retreats, but the damage is done. You know she’s out there. Just waiting to disinfect the foulness I’m in here creating. And she’s no more happy about it than I am.

No more Dana Stevens. No more sacred moment to myself. It’s just finish up and get out.
And if all that weren’t enough, now I have to walk out past this woman and suffer the indignity of giving her my post-crap “all clear in there” thumbs up.

Maybe next time I’ll just let her come in and we’ll both go about our respective businesses.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Lefty and John McCain are now friends

I received a new friend request this morning (the friend followed all the rules from my previous post and I'm happy to have received it), but as I responded, it all became very clear what's going on here.

Facebook is the GOP's vehicle to take control of our minds and in one fell swoop - or poke as the case may be - program all the facebook friends to vote for John McCain. Yes, yes, I know there's Obama propoganda everywhere you look on the social networking site, but hear me out.

The right wing media moguls (not naming names. Rupert Murdoch.), put out this milk toast site that somehow, no one can resist. We check in daily to find out who's friends with who and watch precocious little bastard children playing guitar on our funwalls. And when we least expect it, say around October 28, a transmission goes out across the network and quietly enters into all of our subconscious.

We don't notice it. We hardly even talk about it. But somehow, come Super Tuesday, John McCain doesn't seem like such a bad option after all. I mean, he's not Bush, right? Bush is from Texas. This guy's from Arizona. And Arizona is cool. They have Sedona. And he's a war hero, so he knows how to kick some ass. Except for that time he was a P.O.W., at which point he probably got his ass kicked pretty bad. But that just shows the guy can take some licks.

I'm not endorsing McCain. Now.
I'm just saying, when you're in that polling booth and a swarthy man with white hair, who's rhetoric could single-handily put Lunestra out of business seems like the right choice, but you're not sure why, just remember. Facebook.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Who the F- are you?

Yes, we all hate the phenomenon of Facebook. And no, I don't use the word phenomenon lightly. I know you kids have been hip to this shit for the past 6 years or so, but seriously, what happened 12 months ago that made it a mandatory for anyone under the age of 60 to have a page, much less a widget, fun-wall and all the other crap that comes with social networking 2.0? It's like some Borg that came out of nowhere with its brain-sucking virus and took complete control of all of our remaining dignity. But that's not why we hate it. The real reason we all hate it, is because it no longer belongs to the young, cool kids. It's everyone's now.

And yet, without a facebook page you are a social and professional leper, quickly fading off into obscurity. I went and drank from the FB cooler and like everyone else, I find myself checking up on old friends, in almost compulsive, stalker-like fashion. I realized the other night that this site had transcended critical mass when one of my closest friends, who lives a scant 4 blocks away, told me he had a link he wanted me to check out later, and while I looked over his shoulder, he sent it to me via our facebook's accounts. How that's easier than good old fashioned email, I still can't comprehend, but apparently, this is now the norm.

So here we all are, all of us, linked together by a pretty rudimentary online interface. There's only like 3 degrees of separation between most of us and with enough friend searches, you soon find that we're all part of this big, happy incestuous popularity contest. But with anything of this magnitude, I believe in some ground rules:

#1. When you contact that old bud you haven't seen in over 10 years, remind us who the fuck you are.

I'm not saying I'm so popular I can't keep track of the many friends I've had over the years (I'm up to 185 at the moment), but if you got married and are no longer Betty Maiden Name, chances are, I've not followed your life so closely that I'm privy to you and your husband's shared surname.

It's pretty simple - when you send a friend request to someone you knew before you changed your name, sex, appearance, etc., drop a short note explaining as much. I'll probably accept your friend request either way, because I'm very shallow and feel the number of friends I have speaks to the kind of person I am. And if I don't accept your friend request, or I tell you I don't recall anyone by the name of Betty Married Name, then all of the sudden I'm the prick who got too big for his britches. I
f the point is to reconnect, just tell me who you are. Which takes me to ground rule number 2.

#2. If we've never met before, and I wouldn't know you even if you did introduce yourself via Facebook, do we really need to be Facebook friends? Yes, I know I said I want as many friends as I can get, but aren't there better ways to introduce ourselves whether for professional or for personal reasons? Otherwise, the future of our relationship will be reduced to something akin to what I have with the other 180 people with whom I have nothing left to say post-"How you been?".

#3. Just because someone posted a heartwarming video on your page about a kitten that was rescued from near death, and there's a forward button at the bottom, use some discretion as to where that forward goes. We may be Facebook friends, but I hate kittens and I hate heartwarming stories. I will delete 99% of your silly little videos from my page almost immediately and I don't want to feel like you're checking up on me to see if I still have it proudly displayed.

#4. (And lastly for now) Facebook has this great little tool that tells me when it's one of my friends' birthdays. Keep in mind, this is the same friend I haven't spoken to since 1989 and probably won't speak to again anytime soon. But I feel guilty that they know that I know it's their birthday and I'm not wishing them a good one. So just for the record, unless we've wished each other a happy birthday in the last few years, please do not take the time to wish me one. I'm good.

I'm sure I will have lots to add to this list of Facebook faux pas-s, but for now, please, just tell me who the fuck you are.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Pox in Socks

Perhaps I deserved it. Maybe it was those bearded ladies who wished this upon me (I never considered the fact that they might be witches, or that they'd even know my lambaste against them existed, but it just goes to show, you can't underestimate the will of a woman who carefully grooms out her facial follicles.)

Then again, it may have just been that I have a 2-year-old who picks up these filthy little diseases in her daily routine of being a 2-year-old, and this particular virus, which only crops up in May and November, can only be spread through feces when there are no visible blisters, and the sweet little angel of mine decided to crap in the tub
, something she hasn't done since she was two weeks old, during her most contagious state, unbeknownst to my wife and I because her only symptom was a short-lived fever.

Or it could have been the bearded witches. F- them, anyway.

Whatever the cause, I was stricken last week with hand, foot and mouth disease.

For the uninitiated, there was no livestock involved - this is not hoof and mouth disease. It's totally different. Well, the "mouth" and the "disease" part are the same, but otherwise, totally different.

It all began a good week after my daughter had spent a few hours just slightly off her game. My wife and I both felt like shit on a Thursday night, crawled into bed around 9pm and didn't wake up 'til 10 the next morning. I dragged my flu-feeling ass into work, but complained to anyone who would stand close enough to listen and scooted out early.

The next night, my wife said that swallowing felt like daggers going down her throat. Now I'm no doctor, but I looked at her throat, and unless daggers look like little blistery white sores all over her tongue, these were no daggers.

As my wife is prone to do, she went to the Internet for a diagnosis. The conclusion: tongue cancer. It just so happened that I discovered red sores near my big toe around the same time and I thought I had a bad case of athlete's foot. Neither the tongue cancer nor the athlete's foot seemed too related to our mutual fevers just 24 hours earlier, but the dueling diagnoses seemed right at the moment and we went to sleep.

The next day, a Sunday, I was working at a remote location with about five people from my office and an extra 20-30 people I had never met before. Before my very eyes, about 30 blisters popped up across my hands. With no cell coverage and no Internet access and a bunch of folks who probably didn't want to know that someone in their vicinity had blisters inexplicably popping up all over their hands, I came to the conclusion that I must have the dreaded hand, foot and mouth disease I had only just heard about last November when the toddler circuit spread it last.

The athlete's feet I noticed the night before was now consuming my thoughts, with the feeling spreading across all my toes, but well disguised in both socks and shoes. The only thing that took my mind off them were the blisters that continued to surface on my palms in plain view of anyone looking. As the day concluded, several handshakes were offered up to me, and not wanting to explain my predicament, I simply accepted and silently wished them the best.

That night, my wife and I practiced medicine some more by searching HF&M online. Seems we had a textbook case (all except for the part about not being kids) and we were politely asked by everyone we knew to stay home until all signs passed.

It was a long week of feeling perfectly fine, but being so contagious we were quarantined to our own little family of filth. The blisters did not go away gradually and I soon wondered, would these be with me forever. I love my family, but I was worried I wouldn't last alone with them for much longer.

And then they all just disappeared. Except for the two big ones (one pictured above). Those popped and scabbed over, just like the Internet told us they would. So here I am, back at work and feeling perfectly hand, foot and mouth free.

Anyone want to share a soda?

Monday, May 5, 2008

Northwest Style (Part 2)

In today’s episode of Northwest style, we head south to Portland, OR and feature bearded ladies.

These are not the women you see at the checkout stand with an excess amount of unwanted facial hair under their chin if they have a couple of those. That's just mean. These are also not the stuck up little waif bitches with fuzz on their cheek bones because they don’t eat enough (by the way, I did check up on that and it is in fact true that women with eating disorders develop facial hair as their bodies revert to some Neanderthal means of protection. So for all you ladies out there thinking about taking up a nasty bulimia habit, this is one guy who prefers his women facial hair free even if that means a little on the chubby side. If you're not really a stuck-up bitch, just an insecure woman with an eating disorder, may I just suggest, cheeseburgers. Super delicious. Extra fattening). Oh, and this is not about pre-op trannies, either. They are clearly tortured souls who have to endure a lot more than my snickers.

No, these ladies have gone to great lengths to develop these sexy facial locks while remaining otherwise true to their estrogen. They are women who appear to have shaved certain parts in an effort to groom out a goatee or perhaps a wispy little fu man chu. Women who seem to feel entitled to experience the male-dominated, yet drone-like morning ritual of having to shave. And at the risk of sounding presumptuous, these are women who always show up alongside other, more feminine looking women – psst, I think they may be lesbians.

Mostly and for no apparent reason, I see these women at the New Seasons on 33rd and Killingsworth. And much like the aforementioned utilikilt, I have never spotted this phenomenon outside the city limits from whence they come. Which is weird, as this trend requires no store of any convenience, other than one that sells razors.

My only real negative run in with the lez-beard happened at synagogue. Now I’m not a religious man, and I sort of dread going to temple all together, but once a year, tremendous guilt takes over and we convince ourselves that we should at least try something Jewish. This particular sect is very progressive (sic. hippies), geared to young families, minimal religious services and just a nice place for young Jewish kids to run around with each other. If these are the faith-based dues I must pay, I can handle that.

We took my mother-in-law with us on our last religious outing, which gave her great nachus (sp? - yiddish for pride). But my mother-in-law comes from a pretty traditional background and we had to prepare her for the hippie schtetle she was about to enter. She’s been to the Northwest before and even had her own run in with a utilikilt so there isn’t much that can put this woman off, but we offered some fair warning nonetheless.

Being the communal congregation that this is, everyone is encouraged to bring a dish to share, and following a short service, a potluck dinner is served. I just need to say here that eating a bunch stranger’s Jewish cuisine gives me great nausea (English for vomit) and I refuse to partake. But I sat with my wife, daughter and mother-in-law who scarfed down the kugle like it was their last supper.

And then the bearded lesbian approached. There was one vacant seat right next to my mother-in-law and of course, hairy-face headed right for it. Her beard was more of a goatee, but a nice thick-ish one and all gray to match her gray head of hair. And she was a friendly sort. So much so that she immediately engaged my mother-in-law in a long, close-talking conversation.

My mother-in-law didn’t flinch. It was incredible. 50-some years of honing her polite allowed this woman to stare in the face of a circus freak and carry on a natural conversation. I watched in wide-eyed wonder as this follicular female ate blintzes and talked, while bits of cheese and batter flew sporadically through her whiskers which, thankfully acted as a mini-barrier. The whole thing was truly horrifying.

I don't so much judge these women for choosing to grow out their beards. They are entitled. But by the same token, the rest of our non-
female-bearded society is entitled to stare, point and shout the occasional "oh, my god, look - that woman has a beard." It's only fair.

Postscript: As fascinating as I find this cultural trend, there is a real dearth of information online about it. The only photo and discussion I could find on topic came from the lady pictured above, Jennifer Miller and she is a professor at Indiana University, which totally debunks my whole Portland-centric thesis. She seems to have been afflicted by unwanted facial hair and chose to embrace the situation, rather than cultivate it as some kind of alternative style. Horrible example all around.

Oh, and if any bearded women stumble onto this blog and decide to go back to your silky smooth, feminine face, I encourage you to do so and even included this link for your convenience.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Northwest Style (Part 1)

An oxymoron, you say? Those Capilene-clad jam-band groupies wouldn’t know style if it bit ‘em in their Birkenstocks.

Having lived all over the Pacific Northwest for the last 14 years and being very proud of that fact, I should take umbrage with this preconception.

But you’re dead fuckin’ on.

It’s as if someone decreed Portland, Seattle the “why bother” fashion capital of the world.

Huge rubber toed shoes that look clownish and uncomfortable – a Northwest staple. Hair that hasn’t been washed in far too long and exists in places it shouldn’t – right next to me, right now at the coffee shop.

For the most part, I’m ok with this. I’m no Pierre Cardin myself, and I appreciate the lack of pressure in that regard.

But there are a couple things going on out here that just aren’t right. They are desperate attempts at creating a style that’s not stylish. They are completely isolated to their city of origin, failing even to catch on in the other major cities of the Northwest. And they irritate me so much, I’ve had to cut ties as a result.

Today we’ll start with Seattle and the utilikilt.

A heavily pleated, durable fabric skirt with pockets, the utilikilt is worn primarily by men – I have spotted women wearing these atrocities, but that is not what we’re talking about. The men who wear utilikilts are not exclusively gay – I have spotted gay men in them, too but they’re only part of what I’m talking about.

The real demographic of note is the burly, usually quite stocky, and always thickly bearded, straight Seattle man who wears them as some kind of Northwest badge of honor.

This is not some miniscule segment of Seattle society. This shit is rampant. You see them all over town, but more frequently performing manual labor like when there’s heavy lifting to do or sawing wood. They can be worn to go out on the town, but this is not their common habitat. They’re most often accompanied by a sturdy pair of work boots. And they’re not cheap. They start at about $150 and go up to the mid-$600 range, if you're one of those dudes who likes your pleated skirts to come in leather. And they are so popular in Seattle that they necessitate not one, but
two retail outlets (please click this link for the user-generated Utilikilt mock-umercials - they are fantastic) devoted exclusively to the waist-to-knee eyesore. After your third or fourth sighting, you start to get desensitized.

In 2004, we moved to the Fremont neighborhood, a veritable bastion of dreadlocks and patchouli - seemingly a very different subculture than the utilikilt lover but you still see 'em everywhere. The former owner of our house was putting some finishing touches on the place. In his utilikilt. And let me just say, this guy could totally kick my ass.

Despite this introduction to Fremont and the neighbors with their chicken coops, I loved living there. There was a park two blocks away where I walked my dog daily and chatted it up with neighbors who did the same - a few of us hung out pretty much every night shooting the shit while our dogs took some laps.

One guy was particularly nice, a middle school teacher who rented a room in a house across the street from the park and often invited me to sit on his front porch for beers. We talked about all kinds of things in life and I probably told him more about my day-to-day issues than most members of my family. My wife and I went out with him a few times socially and for a while, felt like he was one of our better friends in town. He had a big bushy beard.

And then the weather warmed up. I show up to the park one fine May evening for my regular session only to find this dude all skirted up. I was duped. He wasn’t the type and he never let on that he wore that shit. He could have told me months earlier that he was a skirt wearer and it never would have gotten this far. After that, it got awkward. He was somebody else in that pleated skirt and I couldn’t shake it.

I didn’t write the guy off completely. I gave him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he was just experimenting. Not turning totally skirt or anything. Just taking this $150 garment out for a spin. But the nice weather got nicer, the skirt got more play and I got more uncomfortable. It totally ruined the whole nightly hang for me and I had to start taking my dog to other parks. Eventually he moved and we never saw or heard from his skirt again.

Postscript: Apparently, there are utilikilts now residing outside of Seattle. This guy from San Francisco loves 'em. But I've never had a sighting beyond the 2-0-6. Please let me know if you see one so I can issue a retraction of my Seattle-centric critique. The city does have two big stores, though.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Ah, regrets

This post is mostly just an excuse to bury the last entry. Yes, I diverted from my angry ways. But I was angry when I wrote it damn it, even if it did just sound like I was a big pussy. One reader went so far as to call me a hyper-sensitive fag. And that was a chick.

Rather than defend myself anymore on this one, I'd just like to point out
some stupid shit other people do, too. And in this case, the ramifications are a bit larger than five readers not being entertained enough by my random disillusionment with the world. So piss off.

I guess no one in the marketing department at London's Office of Government Commerce caught the self-indulgent
logo (right) before it made it's way to some corporate swag.

It was soon turned on it's side to appear less, umm, wanker-ish.

So on behalf of London's Office of Governement Commerce and this blog, please excuse all former masturbatory materials. It shan't happen again.

For the full story, check the UK's Daily Telegraph report here.

Monday, April 21, 2008

I love me a good couple's fight, Part 2

Other than the loose tie back to a previous post (Love Me a Good Couple Fight), this next story does an awful job of staying true to any form devised by this blog. But it weighs on me, so I air it. If you’re one of those purist types who feels I’ve diverged, lost my way, “jumped the shark” perhaps, just skip this post.

4.21.08 Approx. 7:32 am

I ride my bike to work. Just not in the rain, which probably doesn’t sound like very often in Portland, but you’d be surprised. And the only relevance my bike has to this story is that I find by passing things slower than I would in a car or on a bus, and by not having steel doors around me, I become almost an active participant to the events around me.

Anyway, there are a couple different routes I’ll take, depending on the coffee shop I want to stop at on the way – today I chose Grendels on East Burnside and 7th. It’s fine. Nothing special but one of the few tolerable places (decent music, not too sterile,) on my way into the office – please, if nothing else is gained from this blog, someone just open a cool coffee shop between Burnside and SW Harrison, or at least notify me of one I’m missing.

I specifically chose Grendels on this particular morning because I had a free coffee coming to me and I was running a little light.
The route between my house and Grendels takes me through some fairly industrial areas right before I hit my destination. This morning, I came across a parking lot full of big rigs. It’s one of those things that you never pay attention to, and you would have no idea if the trucks are for sale or just parked there for the night, or anything else about them – I normally just ride by.

But on this particular morning, I happened to ride up to this parking lot, just as a man in his 20s, and woman who was most certainly in her teens, and the low ones at that, emerged from behind a truck. The man did the ol’ look both ways and go for it. And the girl, dressed in way too short a dress for this early in the wedding season, wandered aimlessly and confused as if she just had her very innocence violently ripped away from her.

The whole thing was horrible. And since there was absolutely nothing I could say or do, I tried to justify what I just saw.

Maybe she was a whore getting in her last licks of the night (definitely in the right part of town for that).

Maybe she was his coworker and they just had a disagreement about how to run the business.

Maybe that was the most loved she’ll ever be.

I will never know. But since I now have to live with the image of those two walking away from each other in utter disgrace, I figure someone else should at least share it with me.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The restaurants I hate (And why they probably hate me back)

What good are restaurant recommendations? From anyone? I have specific tastes (good). You probably have specific tastes, too. And if someone recommends a restaurant to me and I don’t particularly like it, you would think my giving them an honest opinion was akin to me wishing cancer on them.
So I think we’d all get a lot more out of knowing which restaurants I emphatically urge you to avoid.

My ultimate goal, through this blog, is to single-handedly put these restaurants (all in Portland) out of business - or at least convince a few less people to support them.

It wasn't necessarily the food. Or the service. Or the atmosphere. And truthfully, you could very easily have a wonderful experience at one of these places.
But they wronged me. And for that, they should pay.

These are listed in no particular order, except for the first, which was just the most recent event and impetus for this post.

1. Mississippi Station
This place has all the makings of a great restaurant/bar, but fuck them. Last Thursday night, at around 9:30, I met a friend there for a drink. He was initially opposed to the spot due to an equally shitty experience there, just the night before. I chalked it up to an off night on their part. I arrived first. The room was lit up like a high-school cafeteria and despite the three or four parties still comfortably settled in, the bartender and waitress appeared to be tidying up for the night. I ordered a whisky for myself, a beer for the friend and handed them my Visa, asking them to start a tab. They rejected my tab and told me it was almost last call. AT 9:30 PM! So I asked what time they closed on a Thursday night. They responded together, "11." Umm, I checked the watch I don't wear and reminded them it was ONLY 9:30 PM! They stumbled over each other like a bad Abbot and Costello routine and told me they were actually closing at 10:30 but they would start a tab for me, like they were some patron saints of inebriation. And with my tab, I received the annoyingly attentive service of a acne-laden waitress, who looked much better, much further away, but hovered over anyway, hurrying our second drink on us and placing the bill down with them, all but holding our jackets open. We left promptly at 10:30, just short of involuntarily – geez, I'd hate to see them make any more money before closing.

2. Sweet Basil
Sadly, this may be Portland's best Thai food. I won't mention its location because I wouldn't want you to be tempted and there are plenty of other good ones, so just deal with it. Because the first thing you’ll find there is the wait. We typically order the food to go and no matter how long they tell you it will take, or how long you actually give them, they invariably make you stand by the cash register for no less than 18 minutes. It’s like you serve penance for the delicacies about to be bestowed upon you. You could easily watch a group come in, get seated, order, get served, eat, pay and leave in the time it takes for them to put your take-out order together. My last pick-up was with a buddy so I have witnesses and he’s a much more patient person than I. We waited and when it finally came time to pay the $35 tab, both my friend and I each laid a $20 bill on the counter. They asked us if we wanted any change. First of all, it's take out. Not delivery. Not eat in, and mess up your place. It’s TAKE-OUT!. Second of all, don't ever ask me if I want change. Yes, I always want change, even if I am eating in your stinking joint and then I will decide how much of it you get. We responded “yes, we would like our change” and graciously left her a dollar each. We got home and unpacked the food. They had forgotten two orders of spring rolls and one order of Pad See Ewe. I called and asked them what they intended to do about it. They defensively argued that they had no order for Pad See Ewe and we were not charged for it. What about the spring rolls? Oh yes, they did forget those. So, ummm... Yeah, ok, they'll deliver those. But not the Pad See Ewe unless we wanted to put that on our card. Should be at our house in 15 minutes (sic. 1 hour). The driver showed up and held his hand out for a tip, which I refused but felt bad cause it really wasn't his fault. Until he left. He only brought one order of the spring rolls. Goddamn them! My wife suggested we call the restaurant again and tell them to give the money we were charged for the spring rolls that will never belong to us, to the driver, since we didn't tip him. I suggested we never call them again and blog about how much we hate them.

3. Any Small Plates Restaurant
Clark Lewis. Toro Bravo. That place on NE 28th that everyone loves so much. I haven't even been to the last two and I hear Toro Bravo is the best place to wait 2 hours for a table in the city. But fuck them anyway. I hate this new small plates dining movement that's taken the pretentious foodies by storm. It's bullshit. If there are four people in your party, they bring three of whatever you ordered. If there are 20, they'll bring 19. It's the small plates Russian Roulette mind fuck to see who is the most selfless person at the table. Who will politely bow out of each dish, just because they won’ t bring your table enough to go around? You know who? Me. You guys loved the place because you ate. I starved so I could blog about it.

4. Stumptown Coffee
Yes, it's still better than Starbucks. And I’m all for supporting local business. But if you’re waiting 12 minutes in line for your morning latte, just to soak in that gritty yet hip bike messenger vibe, then you're just a big sucker. Wait a minute....

5. Park Kitchen
Everbody loves Park Kitchen. It’s so eclectic and inventive and the atmosphere is admittedly warm and lively. But get outta here with your crazy meat concoctions. Duck ham, preserved strawberries and goat cheese fondue. Carpaccio of halibut, oil cured cardoons and chervil. Savory rhubarb, big woods blue and oat crisps. Freshly marinated anchovies with preserved lemons and fennel. Yes, you’ve wowed me with your inventive spirit and love for the epicurean. Too bad everything tastes like I threw up in my mouth.
Ed. Note: The restaurant Rocket falls into this same category of hate for me. They have Grilled Spencer and Scrapple on their menu and when I asked what these items were, the server responded as if I were rubbing feces all over myself. Who doesn’t know what Spencer and Scrapple is? With that warm reception, my party and I stood up and walked out. So I didn’t actually eat there. But the view from their balcony may be the best Portland has to offer. Too bad you should never go see it.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Why does my office smell like body odor?

Yes, I know the obvious answer.

But why just at my office? Why not in my home or in my car? Why do I smell myself when I finish a physically strenuous exercise but not when I'm sedentary - like at my office. Most importantly, why did I start finding the funk immediately upon returning from a vacation I took in November, along with a half-drunk cup of half milk, half coffee (I never take milk) at my desk.

I'll tell you why. Someone else sat at my desk and left the beast. And there is no recourse.

No one else seems to notice, or they are simply too polite to say anything. My boss was gracious enough to wipe down all the surfaces, but that didn't work. I lit a match. Nothing. I've even thought about trading offices at this point, but the only trading power I have is a window and I'm not sure what's worse - drywall or or some stranger's secretions seeping into my nervous system every m-f.

Oooh, look at the concrete building outside.

Ed. note: I realize all this banter comes in the immediate wake of my dog dying and that I should be mourning, not writing about 4 month-old body odor, but this is how I grieve. Leave me alone.

I can totally beat your 5-year-old down


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I have to kill my dog today

It's sad, but setting that date has definitely been the worst part of it.

Yeah, I'll miss her. She's been the one single constant for me in the last 15 years.
But let's be frank, I can buy rugs now. Nice rugs. Rugs I won’t have to scrub the feces out of – dab, don’t scrub! - within 6.5 hours of purchase.

And I'll get 20 minutes of my morning back everyday.

And I won't have to deal with what to do with her every time we travel.

I hate to be crass - well, not "hate" so much as, I know it's inappropriate to be crass - but there are parts of my dog's passing that I'm really friggin' psyched about.

No, the worst part of this experience, by far, is consciously making the decision to end the life of a friend, another living thing w - (ed note. I just had to get up from typing this to pick her up and carry her out side) - ith a real personality. And with just a single phone call to the neighborhood vet, that is exactly what I did.

Here’s how it will go:

• I called the vet last week and we worked out a convenient time to kill my dog, that fits both his schedule and mine.

• The vet will come into my home at approximately 4:47 pm on March 25.

• I’ll let him in the front door and point him toward Lula.
• He’ll take out his syringe of murder juice and stick it in my dog.
• Once she goes limp, the vet will take the body out of my home and back to his clinic (probably in the trunk) and cremate her (I can have her ashes/evidence if I want it).

People have been very supportive. They say things like, “this is the right thing to do” and “it’s her time.” But no one really knows. I mean, she definitely isn't loving life these days, but she also doesn't get to weigh in on her own demise.

I just hope, when it comes time to put me down, no one has to negotiate with the doctor whether or not it works for them to stop and do it on their way home from the office.

The clip below references the ol' girl's namesake - the polish subtitles are just a bonus.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


I was just informed in a comment from the last post that my blog has now "Jumped the Shark."

I didn't know what that meant, until about five minutes ago. But it was followed by "Step it up" so even I, could easily infer the slight.

According to Wikipedia, "Jumping the Shark" is used "to denote the point at which the characters or plot of a tv series
veer into a ridiculous, out-of-the-ordinary storyline." Which I always thought was the whole point of this silly exercise. In fact, I'm almost tempted to rename this blog "Jumping the Shark."

I am only disappointed in myself for not knowing the source of this expression - my boyhood hero, Arthur Herbert "Fonzi" Fonzarelli.

Please enjoy this colloquialism-defining TV moment.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

I love me a good couple's fight

Especially over really petty shit, like forgetting to pick up the milk or clogging the drain with hair. Or making your partner attend "disgusting sex clubs." It makes me feel so much better about my own dysfunctional relationship. I found some examples on youtube and I think you'll agree - it's very watchable stuff.

But I draw the line when the fight breaks out right in front of a house I just poured my life-savings into. I have a property value to protect here. So when you classy couples pull your white Chevy Malibu not quite over to the side of the road, leaving the passenger door
swinging wide and have at each other like some Jerry Springer stalwarts in full view of my home, well, that's when I step in.

Such was the scene I rode up to upon returning home from work yesterday. There was no, "gee, I wish you could respect my feelings..." It was more, "I hope your testicles rot with cancer you motherfucker!"

I needed to choose my words wisely, maybe even suggest a decent couples counselor before they go and do something stupid like split up. So I decided to pass the adorable little love birds and park my bike in the garage while I thought this through. But just as I returned to the sidewalk, it seemed my services were no longer required - the man was walking away from the woman while she shouted out after him, "I was never into your disgusting sex clubs, either! You're totally gonna get STDs. If you don't already have them!" (Wouldn't she have them, too?)

And off she went, screeching away in her Chevy Malibu way, while her disgraced man shook his head at the entire scene.

I hope they can refrain from choosing our street to air out their dirties in the future. But if anyone does see this couple going at it again, please let me know where. I'll bring the Raisinets.