Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Mystery of the Missing Lock

I am attempting to solve a mystery, with few clues to to go by. Let me set the scene of the crime: Tuesday night at the Mall 205 24-Hour Fitness, from 6:30-9:30pm. I arrived at the gym to play basketball, since my regular Tuesday night game was cancelled. Midge was having a group of her girlfriends over to make Christmas wreaths, so I kind of needed to get out of the house. Anyway...

I get to the gym and put my jacket, hat, and gym bag in a locker inside the men's locker room. Inside my gym bag: wallet, keys, cell phone. My lock doesn't use numbers; it is a word lock, with a secret password. It's easier to remember than a random number. With these kind of locks, you must have the password in place in order to close it up, so you must be very conscientious about lining the letters up in order to lock it. I say this because I am quite confident I correctly sealed the locker. I then went to the basketball court for the next three hours, attempting to keep up with the teenagers.

When I returned to the locker room, I started to have a mini-freakout, because my lock was gone. I frantically opened the locker, only to discover all of my belongings exactly where I placed them (or at least they seemed to be). There was no sign of my lock whatsoever. I sorted through my wallet to make sure all of my credit cards were in place, and they were. Next, I went to the front desk and explained what happened. I don't know if they exactly believed me, although they were polite. No one had turned in a lock, either.

Now I need to figure out what happened. How was my lock removed from the locker? Did someone watch me set the code? Does someone have a secret method of opening locks? Did I make a mistake and leave it unlocked? Why didn't they take my stuff? There was cash and credit cards in my wallet, and they could have stolen my phone, or even my car. I wish that there was security camera footage of the locker room, and that I had access to it.

I give this whole experience one big question mark.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Final Novembeard Update

After a month of growing and scratching, Novembeard is finally complete. I am somewhat pleased with the results, although I'm not sure if I will keep the beard after today. Surprisingly, Marisa is somewhat okay with the facial hair, as long as I shave the mustache. So now it's really up to me. I'm sure that I will at least trim the weirdo long hairs that have cropped up, but I don't know what to do with the rest of it. Suggestions?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Novembeard Update + Double Yolk!

It's week 3 now of Novembeard, the annual beard growing event between me and my friends. I'm getting pretty bushy now. I realize when I see these pictures how much I resemble a homeless person. I feel terrible for my wife. She's so nice to put up with all this silliness. Alright, here are the pictures:

November 20 - The neck swirl is really becoming noticable

November 13 - I need a shave and haircut badly

November 6th - I am ugly

October 31st - the last day I shaved

Okay, now that we're done with all that ridiculousness, here's the really important news. This morning, as I was preparing my delicious and nutritious breakfast, I was given a rare treat: a double-yolked egg! I've never seen one before, but have always wanted one since I first heard about them in the movie "Chicken Run". Take a look:

Yowza! I give this whole beard thing one hearty scratch, and the egg six clucks up!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Novembeard and Halloween

As has been the tradition for my friends and I the last few years, I am again participating in Novembeard, the purpose of which should be fairly obvious: to grow the biggest beard you can during the month of November. I usually grow it pretty thickly on my neck and jaw, but not so well on my cheeks and upper lip. I'm also going to be shaving my mustache this year, so as to keep the wife happy. I'm a bit late in posting pictures, but better late than nothing.

October 31st - The last day I shaved

November 6th - I am ugly

Obviously, the first two pictures were taken on Halloween, when we went out. I was originally planning on going as a Mexican wrestler, wearing the muscle suit I got couple of years ago and my Mexican wrestler mask. Below is a look at the devil costume I wore instead. The mask is something I got in Peru this year, and is meant to represent the devilish Spanish.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

100th Post! Pumpkins Galore!

This is my 100th blog posting, hurray!

Now on to business. Midge and I went to the old pumpkin patch last week out on Sauvie Island and picked up 3 prime pumpkins. We went late, as one of us has a job and everything. But we caught the last hay ride out to the patch, so we got to choose our own out in the field. We selected two with gnarly vines on top, and as we were leaving, we spotted one that was shaped exactly like a skull, so we figured it was a sign that we needed to carve a skull pumpkin, as well.

Ooh... spooky...

2 of the Pumpkins...

Picking out Pumpkins...

The last hayride to pumpkin town.

Then, on Saturday, we had our annual pumpkin carving party. It was much smaller than in years past, mostly because we waited too long to put it together. Still, we had 8 or so people come over to mutilate some pumpkins and eat my homemade chili. It was a lot of fun, and we made some good ones.

These are our jack-o-lanterns in the dark...

And these are with the flash on, so you can see the shape of the pumpkins. Take note of the skull pumpkin on the bottom-right-hand corner.

Overall, I give this pumpkin-carving experience ten flaming pumpkins!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Differences Between the West Coast and the Midwest

I visited family in Sioux Falls, South Dakota last week. We did the drive from Tri-Cities, Washington (where my parents live) in 2 difficult days. I wanted to maximize the time spent in Sioux Falls, and minimize the time spent in the car. It was a good trip overall, except at the end, when we hit a deer in Gillette, Wyoming as we drove home. We had to stay there for 2 nights while my windshield was replaced. That is not a fun town. People were nice, but wow, I'm glad I don't live there. But being in Gillette made me realize some differences between the west coast and the midwest, some small, some big.

I realized that the entire time I was away from home, I didn't eat at a single non-chain restaurant. Why? Because we didn't see any. I ate at Applebee's three times, and I hate Applebee's. I resent the whole "eatin' good in the neighborhood" tagline, which is ridiculously disingenuous. They're pretending to be a local restaurant, while simultaneously choking out ACTUAL local restaurants. Yay! You put up clippings from the local high school team in the lobby! You really get us!

We also at at Old Chicago, but in my defense, my uncle won 48 free beers there, so we didn't spend much money there. In Billings, Montana, we ate at the Olive Garden, which confirmed how much I dislike it. The food was fine, but it struck me as sad as I looked around the place, that this was possibly the nicest restaurant in town. I've read that the sauce at Olive Garden comes frozen in bags, which the "cooks" then reheat.

Where I live, we have 7-11s, Plaid Pantries, and mom and pop convenience stores. In the midwest, I found it amusing that the name of every quickie mart included the phrase "'n.'"
-Git'n'Go (yes, I actually saw this)
-Drink'n'Puke (okay, I made this one up)

I noticed on the back of almost every car was a decal of some sort from the dealership at which it was purchased. Almost never on the west coast have I seen decals, and when I have, they're invariably from some other part of the country. If I bought a car with a decal on it, I'd demand a rebate from the dealer for the free ad, or I'd demand they remove it.

I had completely forgotten this, but in the midwest, dinner and supper are not the same thing. First off, nobody on the coasts uses the word "supper" as far as I can tell, and when it is used, it always means the evening meal. So too, does the word "dinner." However, in the midwest, "dinner" means lunch most of the time, as in, Sunday dinner, a meal you eat in the afternoon. The whole trip, I kept asking what people wanted to do for dinner, and they all said, "what do you mean? We already ate dinner." Ugh, I meant supper. Which chain restaurant do you want to eat at for supper?

This was not a surprise, but the midwest continues to lag behind when it comes to quality beer and coffee. I'll begin with beer. As I mentioned, I drank free beer at Old Chicago, courtesy of my uncle. Old Chicago, as you may know, has a bunch of beers on tap, which I wholeheartedly applaud. However, in Sioux Falls, they're all pretty much the same. I'm always somewhat perplexed by the fact nobody outside the northwest seems to value the deliciousness of hops. I want my beer to be brownish, not a pale yellow. At the Pump'n'Pak, things were no better; the most exotic beer available was a hefeweizen.

As for coffee, they do have Starbucks scattered about, and it's really the only choice for espresso. The regular drip coffee I had there was sooooo weak, I really wanted some espresso. On the way home, we stopped at a drive-through coffee stand in Bozeman, Montana, the only place we saw that had espresso, and the lady inside bragged to us about how good her coffee was. She was mistaken, but she gets credit for trying.

I realize this blog may come off as a slam against the midwest, but I assure you, that was not my intention. I was surprised to find I actually like Sioux Falls. I lived in South Dakota until I was 11 or so, and my memories of the town from subsequent trips home haven't always been glowing, but I was glad to realize I kind of like the place. The town is pretty, and the people are nice. The food/beer/coffee situation needs improvement, but overall, I give the place a thumbs up.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Taco Trek, Pt. II

After months of waiting, we finally went out on part two of our Taco Trek, a quest to find the greatest pork carnitas taco known to man (within walking distance of our house). Last time, it was just Midge and myself, but the success of our first outing resulted in a larger crew of taco trawlers, including M, C, and B. It was by all accounts a rousing success.

Restaurant #1
La Salsa

6036 SE Division St.
Portland, OR 97206

The first stop was at "La Salsa," a family-fun taqueria on 60th and Division. We had driven by it a hundred times, meaning to stop in. The menu was hand-written on a giant whiteboard above the cash register. Unfortunately for our purposes, the menu didn't include pork. I asked the girl behind the counter if they had any and she replied, "maybe next week," a response I really enjoyed. Since we were unable to order carnitas, we got shredded beef, which was the closest thing to pork in our estimation.

The tacos were somewhat unusual, in that they came with beans inside. The beef was flavorful, although quite sloppy. The tortillas were flour, very tasty, and homemade. We enjoyed them, and will likely return, although I'm pretty sure I'd order something else. The service was great, and they had a big salsa bar (which makes sense, considering it's called "La Salsa"). We got 3 tacos for about $5.00, a good deal.

Restaurant #2
Taqueria los Gorditos

SE 50th & Division St.
Portland, OR 97215

Our next stop was just 2 blocks from our house, "Taqueria los Gorditos," an extremely popular taco cart on the corner of 50th and Division. We've been here before, and are always blown away with the food. However, we've never had the tacos, so it really worked out for us to go on the Taco Trek. Like "La Salsa," this place didn't have pork carnitas. It did have pork al pastor, which is meat in a red sauce. Usually when I've had al pastor elsewhere, it's really greasy and gives me stomach trouble. I did not have that problem at "Taqueria los Gorditos."

The meat was fall-apart delicious, with a taste that can best be compared to Tandoori, the Indian style of baked/grilled meat. It was truly incredible; the meat was tender, with a subtle flavor. We liked it so much we went back for more the next night, only to learn they had sold out already. The tacos were just $1.50 each, which means a great, cheap night out.

Restaurant #3
Por Que No

4635 SE Hawthorne Blvd
Portland, OR 97255

Por Que No is sooooo trendy, which means I am generally loathe to eat there. Don't get me wrong, I've had their food on several occasions, and always enjoy it. But there are things about the place that bug me. First, I don't like the line out the door. It means that people are coming from wherever they live to come and eat "somewhere cool" in my neighborhood. Por Que No made its name in North Portland, and opened this second location in the Hawthorne neighborhood to great fanfare. But like its patrons, I feel like it is vacationing in my part of town because it is a trendy place to be. As a vacation destination, the prices at Por Que No are appropriately expensive. I don't like paying $3.00 for a taco, no matter how the meat absolutely melts in my mouth, mingling with the crumbly cojita... hhghghghghg......

Sorry. I started to lose myself there. There's no denying it, the food is very good. But I don't believe it was worth the 10 minute wait in line to order, the 20 minute wait for the food to arrive, and the high price.

Restaurant #4

4612 SE Hawthorne Blvd
Portland, OR 97215

Dingo's was Midge's dark horse in this competition, because she really loves their tacos. The key at Dingo's is to order the carnitas platter, NOT the tacos. It's a little confusing, I know. The carnitas platter consists of 4 or 8 taqueria-style tacos, simple items consisting of a corn tortilla, meat, and a vegetable garnish. We got an order of 8 for the table, at a cost of $12. The meat is the key at Dingo's. It's sweet, crisp, salty, and delicious, with a definite citrus edge. The restaurant changed the presentation from the last time we went, however, switching from an onion/cilantro topping to chopped tomatoes. While still tasty, I prefer the onion/cilantro mixture. Still, a good taco at a reasonable price.

This has nothing to do with tacos, but while we were sitting outside at Dingo's a local homeless guy was going table to table, obviously drunk, bothering the patrons. Just as he was to arrive at our table, a police officer pulled up. "Hello, Peter," said the cop. "Let's take a walk down to the corner." They wandered off. Moments later, the officer was pulling the guy back towards us and his cruiser. Peter's pants were at his knees, and he was now getting arrested. Midge was treated to some full-frontal hobo, a surreal experience to be sure.

All of the tacos were good in their own way, but this is a list, so let's list them. From best to not-quite-as-good:

1. Taqueria los Gorditos - The taco cart wins. Delicious, cheap, and just a couple blocks from home. What else could I want?
2. Dingo's - An old favorite, solid if unspectacular.
3. Por Que No - Really tasty tacos, no doubt. If this were only about flavor, it would be #2. But I'm rating the experience, too.
4. La Salsa - Very good, but I have a feeling this isn't La Salsa's best dish. We'll definitely go back. We only ordered a few tacos, but they still brought us a delicious basket of fresh tortilla chips. I liked that place a lot.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

We Went to Peru!

It was exciting and fun and we did a lot of cool things. But I'll spare you all the details and pictures that I could put here. We've already showed our families the slide show of our vacation photos. So instead, what I'll do is share with you a minor highlight of the trip. We were at a bar in Aguas Calientes, the small tourist town that sits at the bottom of Macchu Pichu, on a Sunday night. The place was dead, and we only chose it because of the 4 for 1 drink special. This is the place's sign:

As soon as I saw it, I said out loud, "That's Shannen Doherty! Remember her from 90210?" My friends, geniuses all, immediately dismissed my idea. "Max," they said, "why on earth would a bar in a tiny town in Peru put Shannen Doherty, of all people, on their sign?"

When I returned home, I was glad that I took a picture, because I was right. M came over to share photos and we began discussing the sign. I said, "I wouldn't be surprised if we found that picture online." And wouldn't you know it, a simple google search of "shannen doherty" in the pictures section popped up this photo:

I am the smartest man alive. Now, I wish I had only taken a photo of the sign in Cusco that had Lindsay Lohan on it...

I give this sign 4 for 1 drink specials, and myself, 5 for 1.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Things I Won't Miss About Work

So some of you know, others don't; I'm losing my job in about 2 weeks. My contract expired and my boss declined to renew it. It's complicated, but it basically boils down to money. I've made no secret to my friends how unhappy I've been, so this will hopefully be a bit of a blessing in disguise. If I'm still unemployed in six months, I may reconsider. Anyway, I thought I'd make a list of things I won't be missing about working where I work.

  • Skipping my lunch break everyday because I've been assigned too much work

  • The mistaken belief of a couple of my coworkers that quoting movies instead of responding to comments like a normal human being somehow equals comedy.

  • Feeling like my head will explode from stress.

  • Small southern women.

  • Constant (inaccurate) comments by people from the south about how much better it is.

  • Dreading waking up.

  • Getting called in on the weekends because we're understaffed and someone called in sick.

  • Doing the job of 2 people for 1 person's paycheck.

  • Eating crappy frozen meals for lunch everyday.

I give losing my job one sideways-pointing thumb. Good? Bad? Who knows.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Taco Trek Part I

Midge and I recently realized that there are eight restaurants within walking distance of our house that serve tacos (not counting Taco Bell). Last night, we went to four of them. We were trying to get to six restaurants, but we got a late start and two of them had closed by the time we got there. It actually kind of worked out, since that split the restaurants in half.

All of the samples were the basic versions of that restaurant's pork carnitas tacos.

We drove my car down to the farthest restaurant and parked it for the night, then walked home, stopping at the taco spots along the way. Here they are, in order, with my ranking at the end.

Restaurant #1
La Palapa

1864 SE Hawthorne Blvd
Portland, OR 97214

We'd purchased fresh tortillas at La Palapa before, and they are fantastic, so we had high hopes for the tacos. They didn't disappoint. The meat was very flavorful, as were the tortillas. The pork was more chunk-like than shredded, but still was tender and fell apart when you touched it. The onions in the tacos were a bit much. They were too roughly chopped and dominated the taco. It was good on its own, but came with a very nice homemade hot sauce. The major downside to La Palapa was the price: $2.99 each.

Restaurant #2
Taco Del Mar
3106 SE Hawthorne Blvd.
Portland, OR 97214

As the photos probably tell you, these were different that the previous tacos. Taco Del Mar's version of the carnitas taco comes with lettuce, tomato, and cheese. It was the only taco of the night that wasn't wrapped in two tortillas. I prefer the double layer. The lettuce and tomato add a nice freshness to the taco. The meat was flavorful, but really mushy from soaking in a container of broth all night. These tacos were 2 for $4.19.

Restaurant #3
Cha! Cha! Cha!
3433 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland

Cha! Cha! Cha! was third on the list. It was also the first on the list to serve beer, which was appreciated. The tacos are similar to La Palapa: pork, onion, cilantro. The pork was shredded, and had a good consistency. The onions were finely diced, and didn't overwhelm the taco. However, the tacos were somewhat bland. There were two hot sauces on the table, a green and a red, but adding them made the tacos taste like hot sauce, not tacos with some hot sauce on them. I wanted the pork to have a more distinct flavor. I feel like these tacos had promise, but didn't quite live up to it. The price keeps dropping, however; these were $2 each.

Restaurant #
3832 SE Hawthorne Blvd

It turns out, we saved the best for last. The tacos at Pepino's were by far the best, and the cheapest. The $.99 taqueria taco special is fantastic. The pork was delicate, flavorful, and tender. The onion/cilantro mix was just right, a perfect compliment to the meat. This taco also came with a nice salsa to add a different flavor, but again, the real star here was the meat. The other elements of the taco served to improve the flavor, not distract from it. The tortillas were also well-done. They had just a bit of a crunch, which I really enjoy.


Overall, I enjoyed all of these tacos. It's pretty tough to mess up such a perfect culinary creation. But here's my list:

1. Pepino's - Flavorful, delicious, cheap. What more can you ask for?
2. La Palapa - Tasted great, but a bit pricey.
3. Cha! Cha! Cha! - Lots of promise.
4. Taco Del Mar - Really deserves to be in its own category, but on this list, it's fourth.

Still to come: Dingo's, Por que no?, La Salsa, and the cart on the corner.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Am I Wrong?

I expect it to happen at fast-food restaurants, grocery stores, gas stations, etc. But at work?

I went into the restroom today, and someone left their "waste" in the toilet. Why on earth, at a professional workplace, would you NOT flush the toilet? Are you trying to prove something? Are you forgetful?

Chances are, I know whoever did that. I mean, there are like 150 people in my building, and I'm on a first-name basis with probably 100 of them. Narrow that down to 50 guys. One of them is gross. Now I'm asking myself, "did they wash their hands? Have we been touching the same things as this person?"

I give Poopy McNoflush one big "whoosh" of the toilet.

Monday, April 27, 2009

I Interview the Houston Rockets - or - Every Now and Again, My Job is Super-Cool

I got to interview Yao Ming, Ron Artest, and Shane Battier, and here's proof:

That's me in the bottom left. Yao is on the right hand side of your screen.

Let me start from the beginning. Last night, our weekend producer called in sick, and it just so happened to be my turn to fill in (again). I have the worst luck. Anyway, I ended my weekend early and went in. Because I had to be at work until 11:30, they changed my schedule today so I didn't have to come in at my usual 7am. That also meant I had a light workload. Our sports person had a baby, and we didn't have anybody else to do it, so I was told my primary duty today was to go to the Rose Garden and interview the Houston Rockets. I just about passed out.

We got to the Garden a little early, and ended up hanging out waiting. First out was Ron Artest. I was really nervous. He wasn't as tall or big as I anticipated. He seemed kind of anxious to get moving, but he still put in some thought to his answers. I asked him how important it was to get off to a good start in Game 5. He hesitated when I asked, which made me feel like I may have asked a stupid question, but was gracious about it, and said that only the end of the game really matters.

Second up was the big man, Yao Ming. I realize it's not the most original thing to say about a guy who's 7'6", but that is one TALL dude. I was really impressed with his grasp of the English language. He is Chinese, as you likely know, but he really seemed to understand the questions he was asked, and answered in genuine ways. I maybe came up to his sternum. It's funny how different people can look on television versus live. He has bad teeth and skin, and that kind of surprised me. He was also very patient. He seems like a good guy. I asked him if the coach changed the rebounding strategy at all in the 4th quarter in Game 4, or if was just effort. He said that Coach Adelman told them to be patient.

After Yao wrapped up, we saw Rick Adelman walking down the hall at us. He was on his cell phone. After he finished we approached him, and the Rockets' PR guy told us not to talk to him. We thought it was because he wasn't talking to the media today. More on that in a minute.

Next up, Shane Battier. He was really impressive. First off, he waited for us to get to him. Other reporters had just finished up when we got there, but he saw us coming and waited. Really cool. I first asked him about how the Rockets have stopped Travis Outlaw, one of the Blazers biggest scorers off the bench. He said that basically, they've just been paying attention to him and making him take tough shots. Next I asked kind of a stupid question because I was nervous. I asked about the two three-pointers he hit, and how he broke out of his shooting slump. Kind of an insulting question, when you think about it. Again, very patient and cool. You can tell he answers stupid questions all the time. He said that it all evens out in the end. Finally, I asked him what every Trail Blazers fan wants to know: What's up with the officiating? He said that the playoffs are physical, and that's that. Then he politely said goodbye. Shane Battier, despite being a Dukie, has won my eternal respect.

After the Battier interview, I turned around and saw that Adelman was being interviewed by all the other guys, so we started walking over there. He stopped what he was talking about and made a big show of saying "No, not those guys." Apparently he doesn't like my station for some reason. We believe that it's because of a story we ran on his son, who is a local high school coach who got arrested for a DUI. Very odd. The Rockets' PR guy kept apologizing profusely. It was strange to be met with disdain by a guy who I respect a great deal. Adelman was the Blazers coach back in their early 90's heyday, and I was disappointed not to speak with him. I forgot that I was interviewing the players and coach for my station, not just for my own enjoyment. It made sense that he wouldn't want to talk to US, but I really wanted him to talk to ME.

All in all, this was a really cool experience. It was fascinating to see these guys up close, not only to see how big they really are, but to see their personalities a little bit. I give this experience seven playoff wins!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Ankle Sprain

Ladies and Gentlemen, this won't be pretty. I direct your attention to my left ankle, perfectly normal. Below, is my right ankle, after spraining it pretty good at the gym. I just want to say thanks to the guy who chose to undercut me during a jump shot. I really enjoyed stepping on your foot. I really liked rolling my ankle and hearing it pop. I will also enjoy being inactive for the next month. Super.

Exhibit A: Normal Ankle

Exhibit B: Sprained Ankle

I give my painful ankle one month of rehab. I give (gave) the guy who hurt it a dirty look and a swear word or two.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Wing-Eating Contest

My friend Orion and I have agreed in principle to engage in a hot-wing eating contest. We may invite Mike from BenkoBlog. We've decided to buy a ton of frozen wings from Costco, cook them up, and see how many we can eat in 10 minutes. I was arguing for barbecue sauce instead of buffalo sauce, because it's about stomach capacity, not our ability to withstand spicy food. But I think Orion will win with his argument that it's more about the overall experience than mass-eating. We'll have perhaps 50 wings for each competitor, a bowl full of blue cheese dressing each, and a glass of something to drink. I doubt any of us will come anywhere close to eating that many wings.

This was all sparked from a post on, in which the writer tells a story about Portland Trail Blazer Channing Frye. He reportedly ate 86 in one sitting at Fire on the Mountain, a local wing restaurant. I can't fathom eating that many, but Channing's a big, big man.

I've been craving wings lately, so this should kill that craving altogether. I give this contest idea three bloated, distended stomachs, and a big bottle of Tums.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


I'm taking classes at the local community college right now for web design. I'm just about to start my third semester. I've taken three classes so far, but I may take as many as 9 credits this term, thanks to a couple of weekend sessions. It's kind of exciting to get new skills. I've made a couple of websites for my classes now, although you can't see any of them; they're on the school's server.

I hope to use these new abilities for evil. I mean, er, to get a different job. I just applied for one that requires a combination of media experience and web knowledge, both of which I both have. I have my fingers crossed. Please cross your fingers for me, too.

I give learning new skills 1 page of dense and confusing HTML code.

Friday, March 20, 2009

March Madness

The coolest thing happened to me yesterday. A coworker of mine, AS for short, came up to my desk and asked quietly "what time do you get off?" I was immediately suspicious.

"I have two tickets to the afternoon session of the NCAA tournament."

That's right, AS gave me free tickets to round one of the Big Dance. It was sweet. I got off work and met a friend, and we went down to the Rose Garden. There were thousands of people milling around when we got there, around 4:15. It turns out, in between the morning and afternoon sessions, they boot everybody in the building out, then make those with all-day tickets come back in.

The first game was Gonzaga vs. Akron. The Zags were obviously the crowd favorite, as they're a northwest team. They were really impressive, despite a lackluster first half. They actually trailed at halftime, but made adjustments in the second half and overwhelmed the Zips. Gonzaga is full of really long, tall guys who can shoot, and when they started to press, it was over. At the half, my friend Mike and I ran into 3 of the Hoelter brothers, with whom I'm going to the Saturday session as well. They were all wearing Kansas t-shirts, even though Kansas is playing elsewhere. That's diehard.

The second game was the biggest upset of the tourney (so far). Western Kentucky, the 12th seed, knocked off 5th seed Illinois. The Hilltoppers are very athletic, and the Illini are a fundamentally sound team, and each lacked the other's strength. In the end, athleticism won out. But it was interesting, because once Illinois began pressing, it became clear that WKU doesn't have many good ballhandlers. Illinois cut a 17-point lead to 2 with about 10 seconds left, but came up short. If the game had been a minute longer, Illinois would have won.

My only two gripes with the experience would be the lack of alcohol at the venue, and the fact that they weren't showing highlights on the bigscreen. First, I guess it's sort of NCAA rule that fans not drink beer in the stands, which is a ludicrous rule. The NCAA wants to pretend it's a pure institution, but without getting too into it, that's a ridiculous conceit. Students can't afford tickets to the game, so who are they trying to protect, really?

Second, why on earth wouldn't they show highlights from other tournament games? We could see on the one scoreboard showing other scores that UCLA was barely holding on, but they wouldn't show us what was happening. Instead, we got "greatest moments" clips, which repeated over and over again. We were there for the second session only, and saw some clips at least twice. Ridiculous.

I give my first taste of March Madness action (in person anyway) an 8. I can't wait until Saturday!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Mix Tape

Stanley and I are exchanging mix tapes via the internet right now. I've always been a huge fan of making mix tapes, which is part of the reason I got into dj-ing. It's fun to find songs that segue into one another, and it's even better when those songs serve a larger theme. The one I'm working on right now is a "Robots vs. Humans" theme, inspired by a couple of Daft Punk songs, and the Flight of the Conchords. I have 14 songs picked out, alternating between robot songs and human songs. For the first exchange, I picked out a good road trip mix, starting fast and ending slow. Stanley sent me a country-tinged mix.

When making your own, I firmly believe in what John Cusack's character in "High Fidelity" has to say about mix tapes.

You start out hot, then crank it up a little. You don't want to blow your load, so you take it back a notch. From there, you must vary the intensity. If you go with too much hard rockin', the listener will glaze over. If you whimper your way through, the listener will stop paying attention. Of course, there's always room for the hard rocker and the quiet song, but you must set them up with mid-tempo stuff. Don't be afraid to toss in the quirky song that you love, even if it's a bit inaccessible on the first couple of listens. But remember, if the tape's not just for you, you must remember your audience. Put something that will appeal to the person who's listening. It doesn't have to be a song they know, just one they'll likely enjoy. In fact, it's best if they don't know it. Who doesn't take joy in discovering a great new song or band?

Lastly, try to think about the long-term listenability of the mix tape. It may seem fun to toss that Weird Al song in there, but if by the third time you've gone through the CD you're already skipping past the song, it means you made a mistake, and your listener will be less likely to give your disc multiple listens.

I give the art of mix taping eleven pairs of headphones!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Could February End Already?

This has to be among the worst months ever. Let me count the reasons why:

-Midge's grandfather passed away yesterday.
-Midge's law school friend V died of brain cancer this month. She was only 30-something.
-I found out my position at work will be eliminated in September-ish. I'm not sure that I'll be let go, but there's no way this is good for me.
-Midge (and many other state employees) will be forced to take unpaid furlough days this year to compensate for the economic problems with state is having.
-Two of our friends, including our next door neighbors, had their boyfriends of several years break up with them.

I give February 0 stars.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Two Complaints

1. When did it become acceptable to run red lights?

I feel like this happens at every single intersection. I'm waiting at the light, ready to go straight. The turning lane gets the green, and people drive through. On the tail end, one person runs the yellow, then the next one runs the red. So we all end up waiting 3 seconds for Douchebag McGee to make his turn. It's not cool. I feel like it's gotten noticeably worse over the last couple of years. Sometimes I honk at those people, but of course, they don't know why. It's almost to the point that that's the standard. About a month ago, a guy in Clackamas got beaten up by another guy, because he wouldn't run the yellow. I'm not saying that's the norm, but it does make you wonder.

2. Am I the only one at the gym who's playing basketball because it's fun?

I went to 24-Hour Fitness last night with O, and we were having fun. Then a full-court game starts up, which I'm always interested in, and we start to play. And it's the same story every other time I go to the gym. We start to play, and there's one guy on each team who doesn't believe anything is a foul, or that anyone but himself is capable of scoring, handling the ball, or doing anything else, for that matter. A guy last night loudly announced that the rest of us weren't cutting through the lane enough, so he decided to start shooting every time down the court. He went 1 for 20 from three-point range in two games, while the rest of us continued to cut through the lane and get open. And when we had the ball, did he cut through the lane? No. And by the way, gym guy... you're not my coach, so don't complain as I shoot the ball... then act like you didn't when I make it. Don't stand motionless, 6 feet from me, clapping your hands for the ball.

Not only is this jerk a player and coach, he's also a referee! Amazing! I fouled someone on a layup, blatantly. He called, and I called it. And my teammate, who was at half-court, comes roaring downcourt, screaming that no foul was committed. You could see the body glove I left on the dude's arm, and my teammate is telling me I didn't foul the guy. You may not be surprised to know that we didn't win the game.

I give you, the reader, six gold stars for reading this self-serving blog.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Greatest Prank Ever? The Worst? You Decide!

Midge and I went to the Grand Lodge in Forest Grove this past weekend. It's a McMenamin's hotel, with 4 or 5 bars inside and a movie theater. It was fun. We saw "Role Models," which was really funny, and drank in each bar. There was a group of really obnoxious middle-aged Republicans who kept showing up every place we went, loudly talking about politics and annoying the living shit out of us. We kept stopping our conversation to eavesdrop and laugh at the ridiculous things they were saying.

At dinner, I pulled a prank on Midge. I've told a couple of people, and for the most part, people seem to think it wasn't nice. I thought it was funny. Here it goes:

Midge ordered a french dip sandwich for dinner, which came with a cup of au jus sauce. We also split a beer sampler, which included six small glasses of beer, from lighter beer to a porter. When Midge went to the restroom, I chugged the porter and replaced it with au jus. About 5 minutes after she sat back down, I got her to try the "porter." She was surprised to say the least. It also just so happened to be that the waitress came to our table to check in on us right as Midge was taking a sip. I laughed a lot, and Midge did too, after a couple of minutes.

What do you think? I'll let you rate this prank on a scale of awesome, to slightly mean.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


I only have 2 things for you:

-I competed in a rib cookoff at Emily's house last weekend, and it was a lot of fun. I made my mustard-apricot-pineapple sauce, and finished tied for 4th out of 6. Not the finish I was hoping for. I will concede, however, that my ribs were not the best. They were tougher than they often are, and I put too much rub on them, overpowering the delicate nature of the sauce. I really, really, really liked Micahoe's coconut pineapple curry ribs, a lot. I didn't mind tying him for 4th. You can see all the ribs at Emily's blog. I ate so much, and was really tired anyway, so I ended up going all zombie-like on the couch while we watched the Vikings stink it up against the Eagles. I even broke out my Minnesota sweatshirt for the game. If I'm going to pretend to be a real fan, the least they can do is win at home.

-Have you ever seen It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia? It's fucking fantastic. I can't believe we caught on to it so late. It's the funniest thing on television right now, and that includes The Office and 30 Rock, which are hilarious. Do yourself a favor, though, start with the first episode. We started in season 4 and it took us several episodes to figure out what was going on. I can't wait to rewatch them now that I know who's who, and why Frank is sleeping in a Futon with Charlie.

My ribs, I give 4 out of six bones. The show gets my highest rating: 16.5 quadriceratop faces.

Friday, January 2, 2009

The Stuff I Got

So Christmas has come and gone, and I had to work again this year. I also got sick, but you can't call in sick when you're working the holiday because then some poor other person has to come in instead, which sucks even more than getting scheduled to work. We did the crazy, non-stop weather coverage for a week, because we got more snow here than we have since 1950. While much of the city more or less stopped going to work, that wasn't really an option for me. I took the bus to work a couple of times, but the closest it would really take me was about a mile away, so I walked through the snow to work from that stop. 3 times I walked home from work, which is about 3 1/2 miles.

My in-laws and my sisters came over for Christmas Eve for the family dealy. We had a honey-baked ham, courtesy of Midge's parents, which was deeeeeee-licious. The next day, after I got of work, we went to see the Blazers lose to the Mavericks. Dirk Nowitzki is a bigger bitch than I had previously thought. The buffet that came with our seats was good, and I had fun.

Now, here's what you all really want to know: what did I get for Christmas? Good question. I got Guitar Hero World Tour, so Midge and I have been rocking out. Our band name is "Nude Slumber Party." We used the money and gift card I got for Christmas to buy a 32" Vizio LCD TV and a new TV stand. I'm stoked. I got plenty of other good presents, too, including "The Dark Knight" on DVD, plenty of work shirts, and a record player that feeds directly into my computer using a USB, which will come in handy. I also traded in a couple of the 8 work shirts I got for a nice Brandon Roy jersey.

I give the whole week of Christmas 18 inches of white, fluffy disdain, but the time I spent with my family one sweet, salty ham (and that's a good thing).