Tuesday, December 25, 2007
It appears I haven't posted a damn thing for a month and not much previous to that. Premature New Years Resolution: post more frequently, and think of something worthwhile to write about.
At any rate, to my thousands upon thousands of loyal readers: Merry Christmas.
The photo is from a wicked storm in January 2005(?): most welcome sight of the day, as a nice warm bus rolls toward me.
Monday, November 26, 2007
I have a lot of respect for Portland's cyclists, especially the die-hards who commute every day regardless of how crap the weather is: rain, sleet, cold, even snow (the truly mad among them). But, BUT, bicyclists have to remember they're jousting with big heavy moving masses of steel while they have nothing but a cheesy helmet and bravado in return. If you ride a bike, for God's sake, you have to assume that everyone in a car is blind, stupid and self-involved. You cannot assume that just because you happen to be in The Bike Lane! that you're visible, even if you also have one of those really cool blinky lights on the front. Always assume you're invisible and split seconds away from death.
For that matter, get the hell off the main drag (Hawthorne Blvd, in this case) even if it does have a bike lane and even if it is the most direct route. It's also where all the damn cars are!
It's OK. I'm home safe, not having killed one of you through no real effort of your own. We've survived another commute.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Friday, November 2, 2007
The Bier Stein is a pub that specializes, oddly enough, in beer. Lots of excellent beers on tap and a huge selection of bottled beers in the reach-in coolers along several walls. You can buy beers to take home, or pick out something and have it poured into a reasonably-correct glass to consume on-premises. Since this is Oregon, they have to serve food, and it's very good pub food, well-suited to accompany something from the cooler. On this evening, we beat the rush; by the time we actually got to eat the place was jammed and no seats were left.
Thursday, November 1, 2007
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
Sunday, October 7, 2007
Thursday, October 4, 2007
What I find most amazing about the project is the speed at which the road- and trackwork is being completed. There are portions in Old Town where the work is already finished, at least at the road level. None of the work to put in stations, overhead power, or the multitude of other work has even been started. I'll get some photos soon of some of the finished brickwork; it's really beautiful and a significant upgrade over the previous road surface, which didn't appear to have been touched since the 70s.
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Denis Cooverman has spent his school years (especially the critical pubescent years) sitting behind the exquisite Beth Cooper. Year after year, classroom after classroom, sitting in excruciating love, tumescence and devotion.
His big chance finally comes at graduation, in the guise of his valedictorian speech, where he finally and publicly declares his undying love for you, Beth Cooper. An unwise decision? Yes, in all probability, but it's a decision that is destined to change his entire life -- or at least the rest of graduation night, which is nearly the same thing.
Anyone who has survived adolescence, whether as a geek, a jock, the head cheerleader or a Goth, can find serious, important, life-affirming hysteria in I Love You, Beth Cooper. Larry Doyle, who is apparently young enough to remember the wrenching violations of high school and old enough to view it with amusement instead of agony, is a very funny writer, and Evan Dorkin is a very funny illustrator (each chapter features a new and more ravaged portrait of Denis -- see here ).
So, remember, I don't do book reviews any more. This is your only warning. Go get this book and read it.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Sunday, September 16, 2007
This was the weekend to move my son, Alex, into his Eugene apartment just in time for the Fall term at U of O. Which meant it was also another opportunity to recreate with Ryan and Jenaya! First up was a trip to the bar at El Vaquero, where the art and science of cocktails is in the hands of Jeffrey Morganthaler. We sampled a number of his creations, including a marmalade sour, Pisco sour, Richmond Gimlet, 43 Manhattan and a tomato daquiri. Everything was new and wonderful, with his own components (including the house tonic water) adding distinctive character to everything . . . but my heart belongs to the marmalade sour.
Alex passed on the cocktail hour, which was a big mistake, but joined us for a wonderful dinner downstairs at Marché, where Ryan happens to be the wine buyer. Lots of delicious appetizers, three different wines (I can't keep track; ask Ryan) and superb entreés including the salmon dish pictured here, a couple orders of duck, and Jenaya's paella. Oh, and it looks like we had dessert as well, judging from the photos here.
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Look, it's first thing in the morning, I'm still adjusting to the concept of being awake, and all I want is to suck on my coffee and have a refreshing shower. Why do I have to deal with a spider in the tub? I am getting efficient at this operation, because it seems to occur on a weekly basis. I have to put a robe on, open the front door, grab an unwanted section of the morning paper and then persuade a very skittish arachnid that the newspaper is a better place to stand than his other option: the drain. Once the spider has made his move, I quickly dash to the front door, balancing newspaper and spider, fling open the screen door and make damn sure he's off the paper outside the apartment. Slam door, slip tainted newspaper into the recycling, and get back to the shower business.
What worries me is how often this happens. It's obvious that any spider who wanders into the tub is stuck there, but if it's happening on a weekly basis, how many damn spiders are padding through my apartment at night? I never see them when the lights are on, and there really isn't a lot of available spider food in here anyway. Good screens on the windows means almost no bugs. So why are the spiders here at all? And what is it that they're up to in the apartment with the lights out?
Or is this the same damn spider every time?
Friday, September 14, 2007
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
What? Portland? Oregon? No way!
Pambiche restaurant, NE 28th & Glisan, five minutes from home (on a bicycle!). But it sure looks like Cuba. Or how I imagine Cuba. And the food is incredible.
Monday, September 10, 2007
Thursday, September 6, 2007
This particular building is one I always admired while it was still a commercial building and I have to admit, if I had a bazillion dollars, I might think seriously about buying a unit in the conversion. There is a garden on the roof, but it's not possible to tell from my lowly position on the street whether it's a communal garden or whether one of the residents has even more money than the rest. I confess to a sick feeling of envy.
A similar building is just across the street.
Sunday, September 2, 2007
Jackson was likewise a booster and an educator on the subject of whisky, especially whisky from Scotland. I am sure he would have loved this dram of Laphroaig, 10 year old original cask strength, and I raise it in his honor and memory. The man lived a rich and bountiful life, with a planet full of friends to remember him, but he still left too early.
Saturday, September 1, 2007
Friday, August 31, 2007
At any rate, I've invested funds in the chicken ranch because I loooooooooove eggs and fresh farm eggs from happy chickens who get to scratch and nibble all day are the best eggs of all.
(Photo by Bob Truhn)
More chicken photos here! Photos by me.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Friday, August 24, 2007
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Was it inattention? Was the dog running in the park off-leash when the owner get distracted by the ice cream truck? Did the owner really believe you could leave a dog alone all day in the back yard, that a fence would hold in a determined dog? Or that the meter reader wouldn't leave the gate open?
And no one ever tells us how the story turned out. No one puts up flyers that say "Never mind! We've found Maya!" And I want to know. I think these people have some responsibility to relieve my concern. The damn flyer has been up there for two months and I still have no idea whether Maya found her way home, or whether the owners had the good sense to have an identity chip inserted in the dog's skin so the Humane Society could track them down. Are they doing a better job of keeping an eye on the dog?
Maybe the Humane Society has a list of dogs that have been happily restored to their humans. And I hope those people got a good talking to, as well. "You can have your dog back and soon as you put up those posters apologizing for worrying your neighbors."
Don't even get me started on cats.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Friday, August 17, 2007
Jenaya and Ryan about to dig into the entrees. This was taken at Roux, an incredible restaurant here in Portland, on the first anniversary of Katrina. We've already been through cocktails and appetizers (including crawfish pie!!!) and there will be huge desserts after this course. This may have been the best dinner I've ever had and certainly the most fun I've ever had eating. More photos.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Although I count myself a fan, I am not a fanatic, so I have never re-read the adventures of the boy wizard. When volume 7 arrived in the mail, though, I decided it would be a great opportunity to do so. Yesterday, I polished off the Philosopher’s Stone (on the bus, at lunch and during a Mariners game) and started on volume 2. The project looked pretty simple at first blush, because the first two books are relatively slim. I have no idea why Rowling super-sized Harry starting with volume 3, but now I’m looking at the stack of fatties that awaits me and wondering if I can choke down that much Hogwarts at once.
I didn’t remember the books as particularly jokey, but Rowling definitely gets in her little British humo(u)r in the Philosopher’s Stone, and not just at the expense of the Dursleys. I have a vague memory of people complaining that the books got progressively darker, and I wonder if she had such a plan when she started scribbling.
I find it interesting that the movie characters, for the most part, have not intruded in my imagination while reading the books. Most of the actors are fine for their parts, but their voices do not replace the characters. The exceptions are Alan Rickman (one of my all-time favorite actors, since I first saw Truly, Madly, Deeply) and Robbie Coltrane. Snape and Hagrid speak from the pages in the voices of those two actors.
We shall see whether I can persevere, but no Deathly Hallows for me until I do. I may need to take a break and read a good modern crime novel somewhere in the middle. Or maybe a post-modern graphic novel.
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 640 pp
My days of writing book reviews are long over, but not my desire to recommend books or to “discover” new authors—which in this case means discovering someone who has been writing fiction for a number of years and who I’ve only just stumbled upon. The Religion is a big fat, incredibly satisfying historical novel set during the Siege of Malta in 1565. It is apparently the first of three novels chronicling the life of Mattias Tannhauser, and the historical period is rich in possibilities.
Tannhauser has returned to the West after spending years as a Janissary in the service of Suleiman the Magnificent and has been dedicating himself to trade and sensuality, both of which conspire to place him inside the beleaguered fortress with “The Religion”, the Knights Hospitaler’s headquarters in Malta, as thousands and thousands of Turkish warriors descend on the island, determined to put an end to the fighting monks, who they view as terrorists.
Willocks has chosen a fascinating period in European history and done an incredible amount of research. This is still a period preceding the rise of nations in the West, with a great struggle between the Church and the wave of Protestantism, the Muslim East and the great array of languages and principalities. Tannhauser is a terrific vehicle for the story, as a man who has lived among the Ottomans and the “Franks”. Willocks reminds me very much of the late Dorothy Dunnett, except, well, far more violent, brutal and explicit, much like Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe only, well, far more violent, brutal and explicit. Willocks surrounds Tannhauser will a host (literally) of other fascinating characters, all of whom felt to me as though they were human and rooted in their time, rather than 21st Century characters transplanted to the 16th.
I am intrigued to see where Willocks takes the trilogy. Unlike so many other “first” novels in a series, Willocks leaves no obvious trails to be dragged out into other stories, and The Religion stands alone very well.
Monday, August 13, 2007
3.5 miles is a much longer walk when your legs are only four inches in length.
My best dog friend, Ralphie, is a bagel. Which is pretty much to say, he's got a basset hound body with a beagle head stuck on the front. He also has a fierce heart and would probably walk until his stumpy legs wore down to nubbins, well after my much-longer legs gave out. Ralphie and I no longer live in the same house, but he's always ready for a ride in the car and a nice long walk.
This photo was shot as we rested up after our walk on Portland's Esplanade on a beautiful weekend morning. We walked north from the Hawthorne Bridge to the Steel Bridge on the east side of the Willamette River, crossed over on the walking path of the bridge (as MAX trains and cars rumbled overhead) and then back south on the west side, amidst scores of runners and bicyclists.