Oregon Miscellany

Portland from 30 Stories Up

Portland from 30 Stories Up

There are several Oregon items that don’t quite merit their own posts, but they’re good.  I’ll collect them all here:    

Micro-breweries: Apparently, Portland is the micro-brew capital of the world.  They have approximately 3 micro-breweries on each block.  Any beer which is bottled more than a dozen at a time is despised, and generally unavailable to prevent riot.  Instead, everywhere you go, someone offers you a beer you’ve never tried.  There are lots of good ones, but by Oregon law, you may never drink the same beer twice.  Ever.    

Wineries: As above, but with wine.  Also, I don’t really care about wine without a Stretch Hummer.    

The British and Rivers: Chris asked Gilly why the English were obsessed with finding the source of rivers.    

“What do you mean?” she asked, confused.    

“British people are always trying to find out where rivers come from.  Like where does the Nile start, or the beginning of the Amazon.  You’re all obsessed with it.”    

“Where did you get that idea?”    

“I’ve been reading books by an English author, and every one has finding the source of a river was a major plot point in each book.”    

“Maybe it’s just that writer.”    

“Maybe.”    

“I mean, I went to the source of the Thames, and it wasn’t impressive.”    

“See!  No one else would care!”    

We’re an All Natural Commune: Portland is a green city.  It’s good for the world, and the ease and access of bike trails and public transit are admirable.  Sometimes, they go a bit far.  Everything is all organic, done/made by hand, and locally produced, and it’s very important to the average Portlandian.  They seem to think the rest of the world is a poison cesspool full of robot created Chinese death.    

As I was leaving, Chris was worried that I didn’t bought any completely natural, handmade Portland goods.  I told him, “I think that’s more important if you’re from Portland.  Akiyo laughed so hard I thought she was going to burst a blood vessel.  I think she may be tired of hearing about the wonders of handmade organic Portland goods.    

Sales Tax: Oregon has no sales tax.  It’s the only thing anyone knows about the state up here in Canada.  Txt Girl, a cute girl who lives in Vancouver and texts between every heartbeat sent me three messages when she heard I was going.  Each expressed her jealousy that I could shop without paying sales tax.  People in Portland try to convince you you should buy an extra metric tonne of handmade organic goods because there’s no tax, and you could just ship it home.  They refuse to understand that the freight would be higher than G.S.T.    

Gilly’s Detective Skills: Gilly joined me on the couch as I was working on a blog.  Because the whole internet will see it later, I let her read over my shoulder.  She pointed to where I had written Gimtmbifhbsic.    

 

     

It looks like this in the Black Book

It looks like this in the Black Book

    

That’s not a word,” she told me.    

“You’re a great English Teacher.  It’s a code.”    

“Why are you writing in code?”    

“I’m not sure if I’m going to put it in.”    

“But why bother with code?”    

“So if you see it, you won’t know what it says.”    

“Are you worried I’ll be mad if you write ‘Gilly is mean to me, but I forgive her because she is cute’?”    

“…no.  And it’s not slander if it’s true.”    

Food Stands: On third and fifth street in downtown Portland, there are outdoor food stalls like the ones at Skidmore Market.  The food is great and inexpensive.  You have to try them if you get the chance.    

Powell’s:    

It's bigger than it looks

It's bigger than it looks

Powell’s is an enormous second-hand bookstore.  They have new titles as well, and they’re stored on the same shelves, so if there are no used copies you can still get the book.  It’s divided by the Dewey Decimal System, and I think it may be bigger than the University of Lethbridge library.  They certainly have more rare books.  It is several stories tall, and divided into sections like literature, genre fiction, true crime, travel, foreign language, and each ends up with its own room, large enough to be a lesser bookstore.    

When I see this, I hear Choirs of Angels...

When I see this, I hear Choirs of Angels...

Bookstores are fiscally dangerous for me.  It happens like this; I see things I want, I buy them, and I don’t worry about when I’ll actually have time to read them.  I tore through the building, abandoning Gilly in the first room.  When she caught up to me, 45 minutes later, I had shown great restraint.  I only had three books I had to buy.  There were eight more I was seriously considering.  They were the sort of strong maybes that would become yeses with just a little time.  Gilly had much stricter requirements.  She wanted something small (even by book standards) due to the weight restrictions on her luggage home, cheap as this was a used bookstore, and unique enough she might not find it somewhere else.  She needed more time.    

I realized I was about fifteen minutes from a euphoric bookstore breakdown.  This would have led me to drain my bank account and max out my credit card.  There was no tax, so I could just ship all those books home.  Before all logic drained from my brain, I bought the books under my arm and headed to the attached coffee shop.  I waited there, downing mochas for two hours while Gilly gave the store the attention it deserved.  I kept thinking I should get just one more book.    

Akiyo Plays Volleyball: In Japanese school, if you join a sports team, you spend hours each day playing that sport, a level of dedication reserved strictly for hockey in Canada.  Akiyo played volleyball from Junior High until she finished university, and we went to watch one of her community league games.    

Akiyo is sweet, energetic, friendly, and modest.  When she’s playing volleyball, she’s all those things and a force to be reckoned with.  She tends to call thing out in Japanese.  For example, when she serves, she yells “Hai!  Ippun!”  She can play any position, and play them well.  She was dominating the games we watched.  At one point, when she was serving, she scored ten consecutive points.  She would serve, and before you knew it, she was at the net, spiking the ball back with more force than she could have possibly contained.  She was everywhere at once, and the other team was terrified of her.    

Gilly Makes a Wish:  Gilly didn’t want to go back to work, and wished she didn’t have to fly back to the UK.  The next day, a volcano in Iceland exploded, interrupting all air travel to Great Britain.  The airlines lost over $200 million a day, and I encourage them to talk to Gilly about it, because correlation equals causation and this is her fault.    

A Ride in a Convertible: Chris’s care is a two-seater green convertible, which is cool but not practical when he, Gilly, and I need to go somewhere.  We kept walking or talking trains, but eventually we needed to drive somewhere and couldn’t find a larger car to borrow.  Chris informed us that there is a way to fit three.    

We pushed the passenger seat all the way back, and I sat there, being much bigger than Gilly.  She crawled in and sat on the floor between my legs.  Even though she’s tiny, it was a tight fit, with my legs squeezing her ribs.     

In order to avoid being pulled over, Chris decided to stay off the main roads.  The street we took had speed bumps.  Before we reached the first one, Gilly instructed “Make a cushion with your hands behind my head.  I don’t want to head butt you in the crotch.     

As I do, Chris informs us “Usually, the third sits facing the person in the seat.”    

I take a moment to think of how that would work, with Gilly’s face colliding with my business.  It is not an image of pain.  “You can turn around if you want,” I suggest, with my smirk in my voice.    

Just then, we hit a speed bump, and I catch the back of her head as it flies at me, too quick for comfort.  “You can move your hands, if you want.”    

Gimtmbifgbsic.    

Going Home: I decided “Fuck Bombardier Q400s” on the way home.  Alaska Air my charge $6 for a tiny bottle of vodka, but I wasn’t going to get pass-out drunk on beer.  I had to shell out.  I finished my first, and try to get my second.  Apparently, we were too close to descent, and the attendant wouldn’t bring me another.    

Sweet Escape

Sweet Escape

I grab a few quick drinks in Seattle, and formulate a plan for the next flight.  I slammed the first.  I figured if I went fast, I could get 3 down in an hour and not think about how much I hated the deathtrap around me.  You think the flight attendant got without shouting range at any time before we hit turbulence?  Because that would be a big no.  I think they were hiding from me.

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Is there a story about you and Joey you’d like to hear him tell?  Want to know his warped perception of some event?  Good news, he’ll take your requests, about that time you met, what he remembers about you, or that fucked up time in Cleveland that no one really wants to remember.  Send him a message through WordPress, Facebook, Twitter, or email and he’ll write it and let you know when it goes up.

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Late Late Breakfast Show

For the sake of honesty, I should admit this is more of an advertisement than a review.  I have something of a relationship with the Late Late Breakfast Show. 

Late Late Breakfast Show

A few years back, Lina came up to Calgary because some friends of ours from university were doing sketch comedy in The Late Late Breakfast Show.  I wanted to hang out with Lina, so I agreed to come along.  I didn’t have high expectations, but I figured I could at least support my friends. 

But there’s the key; my friends were heavily involved in the show.  These people made me laugh in conversation, so give them some practice and some props and they were killing me.  With laughter, not props. 

Lina came up for the next couple of shows, and I went with her each time.  We tried to hang out with Amos and Gavin, but when you do a show, the cast bonds.  If you go for drinks with a group of actors after a performance, prepare to be left out of conversations and inside jokes.  They’ve worked their asses off together, and they’ve bonded in ways your lazy ass can’t be expected to understand.  Lina and I were often talking in the corner when we headed out with the cast. 

As time went on, I started really becoming a fan of the show, to the point where if all my friends quit, and the show went on, I would still go see it.  Some of the sketches, like “Cheese,” “Jacked,” “Sad Hearts,” and “Pat Quinn’s Dracula” really grew on me.  As is the way of life, eventually there came a show Lina was unable to attend.  So I brought Kodie.  I kept bringing people, and the show was fine with expanding the audience. 

I had reached official hanger-on status when I went drinking with some of the performers, and it wasn’t because they were going out after the show and I was tagging along.  I was just invited.  They were brainstorming, and I kept throwing in my two cents.  I made them laugh, and advanced some of the ideas.  When I went to the next show, about a month later, a couple of my ideas and lines had survived through the writing and rehearsal process and were there in the show. 

I fucking loved it. 

A little while later, Amos became my roommate.  Living with an actor, you’re going to run lines, and if you live with a writer, you’re bound to read over their work.  It’s just a fact.  They will make you.  By default, I was more involved in the shows, just by virtue of who I lived with. 

One day, Amos told me “Oh, you’ve got comp tickets to the next show.” 

“What?  Why?” 

“Contributors get comps.  We’re doing A.I.D.-sy” 

A.I.D.-sy was a sketch that came out of a conversation Amos and I had a month earlier.  We joked around about what would happen if someone told you they had A.I.D.S. and you had trouble distinguishing it from the hiccups. 

I’m a classy guy.  A classy guy who loves free tickets! 

By the next show, I submitted scripts and collected comp tickets.  I believe in working collectively, and that the actors know their craft.  After I submit the written work, they are free to alter it.  The cast found a much better ending for “Action Boner” than I could. 

There’s a show this week, from Wednesday to Saturday (more info here).  I wrote three things for this one; “Bigfoots,” “Capes,” and “Behind the Couch.”  If you’re reading this, you’re probably been tricked into thinking I’m funny.  If you want to see what real professionals can do with my words, come and check it out.  Or, if you’re like me, and enjoy things that are funnier than the shit that asshole Joey writes, enjoy all of the show but these three bits.  I’ll be at the 8 p.m. show on Friday. 

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  Performance is at the Bird and Stone Theatre, located in the basement of the church at 204, 16th Ave NW Calgary.  Shows run from Wednesday April 28th to Saturday May 1st, at 8pm nightly, with additional 10 p.m. shows on Friday and Saturday.

A Cabin in Bend

Chris and Akiyo asked Gilly and I if we wouldn’t mind leaving Portland for one night during our visit.  They seemed hesitant, like they thought we might say no.  Chris believes the city is an endless source of constant amusement.  As it’s not Vodka City, capital of the Island of Hot Desperate Women, I don’t feel the level of awe that he sometimes seemed to expect from me.  There’s a resort town in Eastern Oregon called Bend, and Chris really wanted Akiyo to see it.  Gilly’s up for pretty much anything, as long as it’s not my idea.  Akiyo was able to convince her boss to give her a day and a half off in the middle of the week, so we made reservations for Wednesday.    

As Bend is a three hour drive, we couldn’t take Chris’s car.  It’s a two-seater green convertible, and it’s as cool as it is impractical.  We decided to rent a  car, a Toyota Corolla, and we headed off after lunch.  We went through Gresham, an endless suburb of Portland.  It goes on into eternity, a hopeless wasteland of strip malls and lower middle income housing.  I quickly learned why Chris calls it “Fucking Gresham” under his breath every few moments; the place begs for contempt.    

We continued on, and Akiyo fell asleep in the back.  Apparently, she does this on any trip over 10 minutes long.  Gilly was reading beside her, some kind of smart person book with a title I can’t be bothered to remember.  (And to think, someone gave me an English Literature degree).  As we headed through the mountains, Chris and I kept playing with the radio, trying to keep a strong signal on a decent channel.  Gilly politely informed me if I didn’t leave the radio alone, she may resort to murder.  Concluding I would be the most likely victim of such an act, I turned the music off.    

Canadians, have any of you ever used chains on a car?  As we headed up Mount Hood, sign after sign insists they are required.  When I asked Chris why, he said they’re for snow.  I still don’t understand.  Are they to tie to a trailer hitch to pull you out of a snow bank?  Do you wrap them around your tires like tank treads?  I’ve driven in snow since about the first time I got behind the wheel, and I have never needed them.  Chris seemed certain that any snow would mean sudden death for all of us, a tragedy that would be easily averted if only the rented Corolla had chains.  My offer to drive if he got scared did not go over well, and we kept going, chainless, due to my challenge of his manliness.    

Really?

Really?

Seriously, though, fuck chains.    

We crossed the mountains without incident, and the landscape became more familiar.  It was full on prairie, interrupted by river valleys full of coolies.  The rest of the car is amazed at how sparse, flat and dry it is.  I was worried I would fall asleep, so I glance back at Gilly to see if it’s safe to turn the radio back on.  She reads me like a children’s book and shakes her head.  Murder was still on the docket.  Chris and I started telling tasteless jokes about nuns.  Gilly decided we could have the radio back.    

One of several entrances

One of several entrances

In Bend, we were staying at Old St. Francis School.  Chris told us the story of the McMenamin Brothers.  They started running a micro-brewery several years ago.  Using the profits, they started buying several interesting properties in Oregon, and turning them into resort hotels.  This used to be a Catholic school, but now the classrooms have been turned into hotel rooms.  The rest of the school’s facilities have been converted into guest services.    

At the front desk, we found that because we booked our rooms together, we had use of one of the cottages.  It turns out that the school used to provide lodging for some of the teachers on the grounds.  Eventually, these homes were used for classes, before they were converted back into cottages.  We were in the Art House.   

Our Cabin

Our "Cabin"

I don’t know why they called it a cabin or a cottage.  It looked like a house, just with exceptionally bad paintings on the wall.  The faces were scary, and the colour was a bit like old puke.  

Those walls *shudder*

Those walls *shudder*

  Apart from that single visual complaint, it was amazing.  We had a private kitchen, a breakfast nook, a full living room, and the bedrooms and bathrooms were off a little hallway.  It cost about what I would have expected for hotel rooms, not a full on set of conjoined suites, which we literally had.  

Out our backdoor was a courtyard with tables and bonfires. 

Bonfires don't photograph well...

Bonfires don't photograph well...

  Yeah, full on bonfires.  There was a cigar bar with a complete food and drink menu in one corner, and anything purchased there could be consumed around the fires.  However, you couldn’t smoke cigarettes, just cigars.  I really don’t know how that worked.   

There was a normal restaurant, but we were more interested in the eccentric parts of the resort.  They had a movie theatre with a bar and food, but we couldn’t agree on any of the movies.  Chris likes cheesy 80s movies, like Romancing the Stone.  Gilly goes for chick flicks or kid’s movies.  Akiyo speaks English really well, but really prefers if a movie has subtitles, either in English or Japanese, to make sure she understands what’s going on.  No one but Kodie shares my taste in movies, so they weren’t even playing The Convent.    

 

  

The Greatest Movie Ever

The Greatest Movie Ever

 

We decided to give theatre a pass.    

Old Saint Francis School also had a soaking pool, which is like an extra large hot tub.  When we lived in Japan, the four of use used to go to onsens together, which are Japanese public baths.  Chris glanced in through the window in the door to see how similar the facilities were.  He quickly jumped back with a devil’s grin and said something in Japanese that I didn’t catch.  Akiyo was aghast and Gilly laughed. I peered through the window.    

The room on the other side was gorgeous.  An old chapel had been converted to hold the pool.  A skylight and high stained glass windows let in natural light.  The walls were painted with murals of monks working vineyards.  Steam rose from the water, which entered the pool through a gentle fountain in the center and the lion statue in the corners of the pool.  The eye was most drawn, however, to the long haired man sitting on the edge of the pool.  He didn’t appear to be wearing anything, but details were blocked by the girl in the tiny bikini and a tramp stamp.  She stood in the pool, pressed against him, and trying to crawl down his throat tongue first.    

“Oh,” I said as I stepped back.  Gilly took a peek but Akiyo was too crept out.  That would never happen in a Japanese onsen..  We decided to go get our swimsuits, on the official hope that they would stop by the time we returned.  I tried to hurry everyone along because I think it would be funnier to interrupt them and see what they would do.  Despite my best efforts, Poolguy and Trampstamp are gone by our return.     

We soaked, and discussed how that would never happen in Japan, partially because onsens are nude and gender segregated.  Co-ed onsens came up, but Akiyo told us only creepy old Japanese grandfathers go to those.  Gilly piped up “No, creepy young English teachers go too.”  She inclined her head to indicate me.     

“So that’s a no on making out in the soaking pool then?”    

She didn’t answer, as more people came through the door, providing her resounding no.    

After an hour or so, we dressed, and passed an old gym which had been converted into a live music venue.  Like everything they had a full food and drink menu.  A bunch of middle aged dudes were playing slow folk rock.  Akiyo wasn’t familiar with the genre.  “Are they good?”    

“Not really,” I told her.  “I doubt the good bands play on Wednesday night.”    

We decided to spend the evening in the Fireside Pub instead.  The place had an enormous hearth and pool tables.  We had an incredible meal.  I loved their Devil’s Grin beer, and the garlic knots and wood-baked pizza were superb.  We were there for quite a while, mostly because Akiyo wanted to grab a seat by the fire.  We waited until the girls at the nearest table left, and ate desert by the fire.  The chocolate brownie was a s good as the rest, but we may have overeaten a bit. 

Fireside for dessert

Fireside for dessert

We headed back to the cabin in time to catch The Daily Show and Colbert Report.  Akiyo had trouble following either show, and feel asleep by the first commercial break.  Chris and I prefer different programs, so I insisted Gilly decide which was better.  She chose Jon Stewart either to spite me or, more likely, she didn’t quite get Colbert yet, and needs to watch more of him to really get him.    

Here’s the very best part though; in the morning at Saint Francis, someone leaves a basket on the front porch.  Inside are a newspaper and fresh ground coffee.  It was right there, waiting for me, and it was amazing.  I drank a little over half a pot before we had to check out.  If you’re ever in Oregon, you need to check out a McMenamins’ resort.    

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Just try to follow Joey on Twitter.  Just try.

Wine Country in a Stretch Hummer

Akiyo and Chris love showing you things that other people haven’t found yet.  This is often a matter of perception.  While the whole city of Portland knows about the Weekend Skidmore Market, they understand people beyond the city’s greater metropolitan area have never seen it.  The same can’t be said for Oregon’s wine country.    

I mean, I didn’t know about it.  If you had asked me “Where do they grow wine in the U.S.?” I would have told you California.  Apparently, Oregon’s wineries are famous, at least throughout all of … Oregon.  So if you’re going to tour the vineyards with Akiyo and Chris, there needs to be a twist, because just doing it is too normal.  So they got together a group of people, and we rented a stretch Hummer.    

How to do wine country

How to do wine country

It’s alright.  There were ten of us.  We were carpooling, so , um, it was environmentally friendly…    

The Hummer came to get us at about 11 a.m.  I was dressed in the finest I had brought with me: a collared shirt and a nice sweater over jeans.  Fortunately, while in Calgary this would be casual, or business casual at best, it’s Oregon formal.  Everyone else was about as dressed up as I was, and they did consider it dressed up.  Our driver, whose name I can’t remember but I feel like calling “Jake” was in normal, real world formal wear.  He was built like a bodyguard, and always had his hands clasped in front of him, ready for trouble.  He wore dark sunglasses that hid his eyes, a Bluetooth earpiece, and a well-groomed goatee.  He was a man of action, and I assumed he would have my back should evil rear its ugly head.    

I’m not a wine drinker.  I like bad, cheap wines, like Dr. Zen Zen Zinfandel, which is wine-speak for shit in a bottle.  Generally, I’d be happier with vodka in grape juice.  If you are a true wine aficionado, the tales that follow might horrify you, at the very least for my ignorance.  We were going to several wineries to do tastings, and I drink at a graduate level, so I knew it was unwise not to stick to wine, and I made the necessary sacrifice.  I just happened to be more interested in the drive and the buildings than the individual wineries, but the wine drinkers amongst us didn’t have any complaints about the places we went.  If you did want a real guide to Oregon’s wines, you may be better off going here.    

We got into the limo, and I crawled all the way to the back.  Every cute girl there follow me, so I decided then and there I wasn’t giving up that spot.  Someone needed to entertain the ladies, and failing that they could talk to me.  We were prepared for the drive out to our first stop, and we had a bottle of white wine from the house.  The limo was stocked with wine glasses, ice to chill the wine, a decanter and tumblers in case of scotch, and even a karaoke machine, if we were so inclined.  It’s a style of travel I could get accustomed.    

I could get use to this

I could get used to this

Our first stop was Rex Hill.  The building was absolutely beautiful, with interesting displays of both their product and wine in general, and a gorgeous terrace.  We paid $10 each to taste six wines.  They were they types of wine my parents tend to like; they were classy, and while they were complex, you didn’t need the acquired taste or refined palate of a long time wine drinker to enjoy them.  If you loved fancy wines, they were good.  If you were just a drinker, they were also good.  Everyone enjoyed Rex Hill.  A really cool guy behind the counter poured each glass, and could tell you all the fancy wine things you needed to know if you had more complex interests then trying to catch a buzz.  I was also pleased they didn’t have a swill bucket, the kind for you to spit out each taste.  He also poured more wine into each glass than I expected, and thusly won my respect.   

Rex Hill's pleasant gallery ... a little too pleasant

Rex Hill's pleasant gallery ... a little too pleasant

The area we tasted in was almost museum-esque.  We weren’t allowed beyond the displays.  The guy who poured took us to an area where we could sneak a peek at the brewing facilities.  Is it brewing for wine?  I can’t be bothered to go all the way to Wikipedia to check.  Still, I’m pretty sure the wine guy and the museum were hiding some supervillainy.  I nodded to Jake, who seemed to agree with me.  Should I need to take action, Jake would have my back.  However, there was no time to investigate further, as we had other wineries to visit.   But I’ve got my eye on you, Rex Hill.    

Our next stop was Duck Pond, which was my favourite.  There was a wine counter for buying and another for tasting.  The rest of the main building was a specialty food shop, with BBQ sauces, salad dressings, and all sorts of mouth-watering goodies that made me want to grill up some steaks.  Out front there was a Koi pond with some benches, and it was a pleasant place I could come back to.   

I had such a great time at Duck Pond I forgot to take any pictures. Instead, here is me running happily through a vineyard. Sorry.

It helps that we got to try five wines for two dollars.  Add into that the pourers were cute girls in hoodies, and I’m smiling.  Then leave them impressed by my French pronunciation, and I’m on top of the world.  Duck Pond may sell twelve dollar bottles of wine, but I prefer twelve dollar bottles of wine.  I loved everything we tasted there.  By far, Duck Pond was my favourite.    

Jake motioned with his head that it was time to move on, so I grabbed one of the cute girls and told her I needed a Riesling to drink in my limo.  If you ever have a chance to tell a girl you need something for your limo, FUCKING DO IT! 

That is, if you want to know what it’s like to be Tony Stark … (and, yes, you want that)

That is, if you want to know what it’s like to be Tony Stark … (and, yes, you want that)

No matter the circumstance, she will be impressed, and you will head back to the stretch Hummer with a delicious bottle wine, knowing that she thinks you’re amazing.  I reinserted myself amongst the ladies who got to ride in the limo (sorry, Duck Pond cuties) and announced we were drinking on the way to our next destination.  Akiyo agreed that my selection in wine was delicious.  Gilly, however, has expensive tastes, and prefers red wine, so she was not a fan on two accounts.   

Archery Summit suited her a lot better.  It’s on a mountain top, only bottles reds, and nothing was less than fifty dollars.  A waiter in Oregon Formal sat us on a beautiful patio table, and brought us four wines for fifteen dollars.  I think wine tasting has changed, because even at this classy venue, there was no expectation for us to refrain from consumption.  Being the man of simple tastes I am, these were my least favourites.  The real wine drinkers loved them.  One of the wines we tried was $100 a bottle.  Gilly ended up getting something from Archery Summit.  I’m not sure what it cost, but I’m pretty sure I heard her mention how it would be a while before she planned to have her firstborn.    

Our waiter then took us on a tour, and I learned their facility is amazing.  The mountain has been hollowed out, and hundred and hundreds of oak barrels rest in the caves, carefully aging their red gold.  

The Wine Catacombs of Archery Summit

The Wine Catacombs of Archery Summit

We were told that the light and air-conditioning have been installed because they sometimes host rehearsal dinners and events.  The place was astounding, and worth checking out even if your idea of a good wine is a 2010 Boones or a good fortified Box’o’Wine.   

Jake was ready to take us hoe, but Chris realized we were a touch short on alcohol, and Gilly wasn’t going to part with her treasured bottle.  He asked to stop at Duck Pond.  I offered to go in with him, but he said we needed to hurry, thus cockblocking me, keeping me from the be-hoodied sirens inside.  Why do married guys ruin all my fun with their schedules, and big pictures, and making cute girls promise never to sleep with me by having weddings before said girls even get to meet me?  But then he gave me more cheap wine, and all was forgiven.    

Take us home, Jake.

Skidmore Saturday Sunday Market

I’m staying with A1 and C1 in Portland.  C1 was an English teacher in Japan for 9 years, and was our guru of all things Tokushima when I lived there.  A1 is his adorable, energetic Japanese wife.  Gilly, another English teacher I know from Japan, came to visit them from the UK at the same time.  Gilly is mean to me, but I forgive her, because she’s cute.  

Just like in Japan, C1 and A1 know everything near their home worth seeing, and they always find a long list of great things to do.  On Saturday, I went with the girls to the Skidmore Saturday Sunday Market, as C1 was at work.
 

The market is near Portland’s city center, and it’s amazing.  It’s a huge collection of portable stalls, selling local art, handmade items, and all sorts of tiny oddities and strange wonders.  It reminds me of Crossroads Market in Calgary, except open air, far more creatively geared, and five or six times the size.  

Seriously, it goes on,  

First View  

And on,  

more  

And on,  

Even more  

And on.  

sill more  

There was hand-made clothing and bags, made by hand and often made strange.  There was some amazing fractal art, painting, and photography, which would have been difficult to get back home, but if I lived in Oregon, I’d have such great art in my apartment from the market.  There was hand blown glass jewellery, fused works by artists, and a huge variety of earrings, necklaces, and pendants.  None of it was really my thing, but it was cool to see.  

The food was amazing, and that is my thing.  They had elephant ears.  

There, on the left!  See them?

There, on the left! See them?

They have them every week.  You can go there, and get sugar-coated deep-fried dough all the time.  

That, friends, is a description of Heaven.  

They had all the best festival foods, from mini-donuts to corn dogs, all the stuff I need to wait for Stampede to get.  They had booths offering an insane variety of regional dishes.  I tried Nepalese food.  I’m not sure what the fuck momos are, besides amazing. 

They are kind of like Gyoza

They are kind of like Gyoza

Even the coffee was great, like the best coffee shop you’ve ever tried.  I’m considering moving here just to eat this stuff every weekend. 

We wandered around for several hours.  Gilly and A1 were actually shopping.  I was mostly engrossed in people watching.  There were hippies, young and old, dreadlocked and grey beards.  There were punks with big green Mohawks or liberty spikes.  There were skaters and housewives, midlife crisis-ing artists and bored high schoolers.  They mingled in no set proportion, with no one sub-set dominating any part of the market for long.   

The thing that kept striking me about the market was there were rows and rows of hand-made crafts, and all kinds of alt-kids, but nowhere was I smelling any pot.  No one was selling hand carved pipes without mentioning what you might smoke out of such a craft.  There were no hand blown glass bongs.  I started to think it was due to the higher criminal penalties for marijuana use in the States.  I began to imagine even paraphernalia was sold in underground markets, and you had to by rolling papers from the dealer, as they were as bad as the product itself.  We were there for three hours before we reached the edge of the market.  A permanent shop with it’s storefront open to the crowd  had a Bob Marley lithograph.  Finally, the market made sense.  

Of all the things he stood for, we just remember he liked weed.

Of all the things he stood for, we just remember he liked weed.

There was only one thing that was a permanent fixture for the market, and that was the pipe and bong store.

I’m kidding of course.  There were other permenant stores, like on selling swords.  If you have a free weekend day in 

Portland, you need to check out the market.  It’s easy to find, just take any of the Max Trains down town to the Skidmore Fountain stop.  You get off right in the middle of it.  Even if you’re not a shopper, it’s worth a day of your time.

*****************************************************************************************

Blogs are a lot of work.  Listen to Joey more often, like whenever he’s bored, on Twitter.

Flying to Portland

Friday, 4:16 pm

I arrive at the Calgary International Airport.  If my passport can be trusted, and I’m reasonably certain that it can, it’s been exactly one year since I returned from my last visit to Japan, and it’s been too long.  Sure, I’m just going to Oregon.  I could drive there.  It’s just good to be getting out.  My boss, T1, had never seen me so excited at work.  I spent the whole day bouncing off the walls, singing, and being happy.  My traditional work mood is caustically sarcastic as I worry about the state of my soul, and she was worried I was drunk.  That’ll take more than the three beers I shot gun in the parking lot at lunch…

4:25 pm

I need to check in.  I’m flying Alaska Air, and I can’t find their counter or kiosk.  Everything is WestJet and Air Canada, and the few other companies in the terminal aren’t even close to what I’m looking for.  This is the first time I’ve booked through Expedia.  Most of my adult life, when someone else isn’t arranging my travel for me, I’ve gone through Shogo at Osaka #1 Travel.  Shogo liked major airlines, and he kept me on Air Nippo0n and Air Canada the vast majority of the time.  Maybe it was a Japanese thing, preferring the big brand names.  Now that I don’t live in Japan, I can’t book through him because I can’t pay him without a Japanese bank account.  A computer program that finds the cheapest flights is a poor substitute for his considerate attention.  I think I need to get a real travel agent again.

4:31

Using my detective skills and my willingness to just press buttons on a self-serve kiosk, I discover Alaska Air operates as Horizon Air.  Thanks for the info, Expedia.

4:33

I go to check my suitcase at the Horizon desk.  The guy tags it and points me to the U.S. customs part of the terminal.  I haven’t flown into the U.S. post 9-11, so I didn’t realize how intense the security had really gotten, or that they haven’t really relaxed.  No other country has the paranoia, the balls, or the international weight to make you clear customs pre-flight.  Normally, you do it when you land on their soil.  The U.S. has a walled off section in the Calgary International Airport, and I find it odd and a little insulting.

4:38 pm

I learn there are two types of US customs officials; those that have a desk between you and them, and those that don’t.  Non-deskers are friendly, happy people who make jokes and genuinely make you feel welcome, like most of the Americans I know.  Deskers hate you and your free-range roaming ways.  They are hoping you slip up.  They’re all “Why are you going to Portland?” “Who are you visiting?” “When were you last in Oregon?” “If you’ve never been, how do you know people in Oregon?”  Apparently, these people have never been eight feet away from their desks, and don’t understand how travel works.

4:41 pm

The Americans decide my bag is allowed into the States.  I’m still under consideration.

4:43 pm

I get in line to get in line for the metal detectors.  These are not fast lines, as we have to be careful.  What if I have over 100 ml of liquid in an opaque container?  Zounds!

4:51 pm

I reach the front of the pre-line.  A friendly moustachioed man reviews my boarding pass and asks me to step on a mat.  Nearby, a green arrow lights up, and I’m directed towards the line for a metal detector.  I wander what happens if you get the red arrow?  How does the mat decide?  Do I really want to know?

4:53 pm

My shoes?  We’re still taking off our shoes?  Have there really been shoe bombs?  Is this really a problem that requires continued consideration?  I quietly oblige.  I haven’t been out of Canada in a year, and I’m not waiting another year just because some idiot is afraid my Adidas can take down a jet.

4:56 pm

I get my shoes back.  I try not to look slighted.

5:01 pm

Though I haven’t eaten them in months, I remember hearing you can’t get dill pickle chips in the U.S. I therefore buy a bag.

5:02 pm

I realize a bag of chips won’t survive two flights, probably.  I determine the only responsible thing to do is eat the chips.  They are amazing.

5:38 pm

The Smallest Plane a man should fly on

The Smallest Plane a Man Shoud Fly On.

I don’t like small planes.  I avoid DC 10s whenever possible, and Shogo knew that.  I hate feeling the thing working.  A jumbo jet is like a floating mall, and I never remember that I’m trusting tonnes of metal not to fall out of the sky.  DC 10s wobble, and never let you forget that man is defying nature, at least for now.  I love travelling, but flying makes me nervous.  Planes are basically airborne robots, and I don’t know if you saw Terminator, but robots hate us and will someday rise up and annihilate us.  As long as the plane is big enough, I forget that fact too. 

I’d never seen a Bombardier Q400 before, and I wasn’t pleased.

A Tiny Plane of Death

A Tiny Plane of Death

5:41 pm

They aren’t hooking up the collar, that temporary walkway from the terminal to the plane.  The plane is too short.

5:42 pm

The gate attendant announces the planes overhead compartments are too small for almost anything.  Bags bigger than a laptop will be loaded below, and we will pick them up on the tarmac when we land in Seattle.  I remind myself that the flight is the shortest part of the trip.

5:46 pm

I walk down onto the tarmac, hand over my backpack, and get on the plane.  There’s barely three steps to get to the cabin.  I have to watch my head as I get inside.  The interior is like an elongated Greyhound bus; two seats on either side of a centre aisle, maybe twenty rows worth.

Not How Planes Sould Look Inside

Not How Planes Sould Look Inside

Shogo never would have let me get on this deathtrap.

5:48 pm

I find my seat.  On either side of me is a young man in a well cut business suit.  Both sit upright with their hands resting on their knees.  Their eyes are closed, like they are meditating.  I wonder if they share my fear of the Bombardier.

6:01 pm

The flight crew begins the safety instructions.  When they point out the plane has only one bathroom, I somehow manage to feel even less safe.

6:03 pm

The captain announces it will be 40° outside when we land in Seattle.  I think about global warming.

6:04 pm

It dawns on me that he meant Fahrenheit.

6:05 pm

I finish the math and realize that about 5°C

6:08 pm

The propellers spin up, and the well dressed man across the aisle concentrates harder.  (Yeah, this fucking thing has actually propellers) From the corner of my eye, I confirm the one by the window is doing the same.

6:09 pm

I begin to wonder if these two men are psychokinetically turning the propellers.  Does this tiny plan run on the power of the human mind? If so, why is that less terrifying to me?

6:10 pm

I wonder if the plane is making me crazy.

6:11 pm

I conclude I’m awakened to higher realities.  I wish the psychokinetics the best. Telepathically.

6:13 pm

We sit on the runway.  The psychokinetics are turning the propellers as hard as they can, but we aren’t moving.

6:14 pm

I consider helping them, using my own massive will, but I am wearing a hoodie and a Batman T-Shirt.  I’m not dressed appropriately to assist.

6:15 pm

I become impatient, and help despite my casual clothing.

6:16 pm

We achieve lift-off

6:18 pm

Having done something for four consecutive minutes, I lose interest and stop concentrating.  The plane banks to the left.  The psychokinetic on that side gives me a disgusting look.  I shrug.

6:27 pm

The drink service comes by.  The psychokinetic on the left gets a wine.  I consider asking him if that’s wise, considering his brain keeps us aloft, but decide he’s already mad enough at me.  I say nothing.  I mind my own beer and play Nintendo D.S.

6:00 pm

We change time zones.

6:12 pm

We begin our descent.  The left side is a bit shaky. I blame the wine, and begin to help using my mind, as before.  Drunkokinetic gives me another dirty look.

6:28 pm

We disembark.  I grab my bag from the landing attendants and rush to the terminal.  Who knows what a man who can power a jet engine with his mind might do to my head in a drunken fury?

6:48 pm

I get a burritos in the terminal.  It is as delicious as it is enormous.  God bless America’s obesity.

Thanks, Fatties!

Thanks, Fatties!

7:11 pm

I am unable to finish the burritos.  I am more proud of how far I’ve gotten than how much is left.

7:40 pm

After killing time in the mall that is the Seattle Airport, I board another stupidly small plane.

Seriously, Mall.

Seriously, Mall.

7:43 pm

Three minutes on the plane, and I still can’t spot the psychokinetics that will power this craft.

7:44 pm

Oh shit. Drunkokinetic just boarded the plane.

7:45 pm

Fuck, he’s coming right for me.

7:46 pm

Shitfuck, he has the seat beside me.

7:47 pm

Bastard-ass-cock-shitter-fuck, he asks me if Calgary’s home.  He remembers me.  I steel my mind, in case he tries to blow it up, Scanner’s style.

7:48 pm

He noticed I was writing in my Black Book on the last flight.  I am sufficiently vague about being a blogger, and do not let him see my entries, as I enjoy my currently unexploded head.

7:49 pm

Drunkokinetic turns out to have fascinating ideas about social networking, the internet zeitgeist, and the blogosphere.  While his buzzword vocabulary matches his well cut business suit, he is a fountain of insight.

8:55 pm

This flight passes quickly as I am engaged in the conversation.  Upon landing, I decide against giving him my website.  After all, if he takes offense, how close would he need to be to explode my head?  He found me once, he may track me down again.  I instead pleasantly part ways, brain completely in tact.

******************************************************************************************************

Joey wants you to follow him on Twitter.

We Should Know Each Other

After the lacrosse game, S1, one of my co-workers, and a bunch of her friends were headed back to her place for drinks.  I was invited, and the thing about a girl offering me drinks at her house is it’s gonna happen.

Not … not sex, of course.  But I will drink anything at any girl’s house.

It helps that S1 lives two blocks from me, so I can stumble home when I’m sufficiently inebriated.  Everyone loves their own bed.

Five Bad Ideas

Five Bad Ideas

At some time, every one of us makes poor decisions.  The guy who decided new needed to do shots at two a.m. did.  So did I, when I drank it.  And maybe several more.  I don’t really remember.

I do remember pain.  I woke up with it taking up most of the bed.  Why couldn’t it have just been a three hundred pound buffalo of a woman?  You can just ignore her until she gets the hint and leaves, and go on living your life-like it never happened.  Instead, my head was bursting.  There were things in my stomach that didn’t want to be there, and demanded out.  I obliged, and it was a long and painful morning.  I kept trying to drink water, but it just dissolved more alcohol that wanted to leave again, or however science works.

Magic Hangover Cure

Magic Hang Over Cure

Why doesn’t this stupid country have Aquarius?  Seriously, a bottle before bed kills a hang-over, and if you forget (polite for pass-out) it still does wonders the next morning.  But no, all Canada has is water.

Seriously, Fuck Water

Seriously, Fuck Water

Fuck water.

Anyways, by noon I was ready to eat a cubic metre of grease from McDonald’s.  It helped a little.  By that point, I was only a tiny bundle of agony.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t getting better fast enough.  That night was the “We Should Know Each Other 50” party my roommate A1 wanted to bring me to.  A buddy of his had been having these things for years, parties where cool people could meet up and find each other.  He assured me it wasn’t a key party, but I agreed to go anyways.

I’m not good with strangers. I have an odd sense of humour, and I know it.  Without someone there who knows when I’m joking, and therefore laughs, I alienate people.  In the three years I’ve lived in Calgary, I can count the number of new friends I’ve made on both hands.  This party is where I needed to go, just not as death warmed over.

Where No Boots Are Made

Where No Boots Are Made

But I went.  It was at the Alberta Boot Company, which doesn’t make boots anymore.  It’s a hollowed out building that rents out its space.  It’s also across from the scary downtown Bottle Depot.

Don't Get Too Close

Don't Get Too Close

We paid our $2 cover, which went to the space rental.  Inside, they had set up a few different rooms.  The main space was set up for bands, and also had a makeshift bar, which I had an astonishing lack of interest for.  Some of the bands were really good, like the guys who rocked out some Jewish folk music.  Others weren’t so good, like the guys who thought a high pitch whine was a note.  At first, I thought it was just speaker feedback, but it turns out those guys hated me.

Another room held icebreaker games.  There were standard questions built into ingenious little devices.  There were wheels you could spin to play “Would you rather be … Or …”  There was a board with questions that you could shot an air pumped die onto, to break the ice.  There were a few more I can’t really describe, and I didn’t get pictures of them.

There was also a Lego room.  The floor was covered with years and years of Lego, more than I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a lot of Lego.  People hung out and chatted as they built stuff.

It was all really cool.  Unfortunately, I was not.  Still suffering, I was more than a touch insufferable.  People who knew me didn’t talk to me long, as I had little to say, and a more permanent grimace than Ronald McDonald.  I managed to offend an ex-girlfriend, which is something I rarely accomplish by accident.  New people had no interest in getting to know me, and at that point, the feeling was mutual.

Grimace

Grimace

It’s too bad.  I was really looking forward to the party.  As the night went on, the atmosphere got more and more bar like.  The party was on Earthday, so at 8:30 the lights went out.  About then, it got too much for me.  Darkness, loud bands, and an inability to communicate drove me out of there.  If I manage to get another invite to one of these parties, I’ll jump all over it, and avoid S1 and her late night shot parties the night before.

Dear Hockey, Fuck You. Love, Lacrosse.

Much to my Dad’s disappointment, I wasn’t very good at hockey growing up.  My birthday’s late in the year.  When you’re talking about the difference between a five year old and a six year old, the effective age difference between me and a kid born in January, there are huge gaps in coordination, power, balance, speed, and a bunch of other excuses I use to justify being Canadian and bad at hockey.  In small town Alberta, sucking at, and therefore disliking hockey can make you something of a pariah.

 There it is!

Then I found soccer, and I loved it.  All the real athletes were busy playing hockey, so I wasn’t out-classed.  I was a member of the team, and I played and contributed.  Even at eight, the similarities between the games struck me.  All the basics, from the line ups to the fields of play, they’re just variations on the same basic theme.  But I played soccer, so it was better and more hardcore, and in all ways superior.  I developed this theory that the European alternative versions of sports outclassed their more popular Canadian counterparts.  In my mind at the time, I assumed rugby must be better than foot ball, cricket must be better than baseball, snogging must be better than making out, and so on.

 Then rugby let me down.  Hard.  I got to play in a touch rugby tournament in Japan.  I learned rugby is football, except without the strategy, variety, entertainment value, or any inclination on my part to be involved.  When you take out tackling, rugby has nothing.  Seriously, after the first game, K1 and I spent the whole weekend sneaking around, avoiding rugby.  We were too busy to play our matches because we were helping with something, or driving into town to pick something up, or eating ice cream, or we were too drunk to run.  Sure, the parties that weekend were great, but rugby can go fuck itself.

 Thus disillusioned, I never chased the other alt-sports.  That is until I got tickets to the Roughnecks lacrosse game the weekend before Easter.  If you’ve ever been to the Saddledome, you should know the beer is really good.  I’ll take a free ticket to almost anything to get at that frothy draft.

 Calgary Roughnecks

I didn’t know much about lacrosse.  While as a kid, I felt soccer was alt-hockey, I knew lacrosse was closer.  You’re not on ice, but you wear gear similar to hockey players.  Instead of a hockey stick, you have a small net on the end of a pole.  I thought it lived in the world of polo and shuffle board, rich easterner sports that had no place except in getting me closer to Saddledome draft.  It has that effeminate French name, and no one out here seems interested in it, so I thought it was a gentler game for trust fund kids.

 I have never been so happy to be wrong in my life.  Less than a minute into the game, one guy comes at another with a flying tackle.  The attacker soared through the air, perfectly horizontal, five feet off the ground.  He wrapped his elbow around his opponent’s throat, and dragged him to the ground.  There was no penalty called, not even a stop in play.  This is just part of the game.

 Fuck you, rugby.  Lacrosse is a man’s sport.  If only it didn’t have that terrible French name.  It’s like a bad ass guy called Elliot, it just doesn’t fit the incredible potential for violence it will live up to.

 You know how in hockey they play music whenever there’s a stoppage in play?  Well, lacrosse never turns it off.  There’s always some rock anthem pounding in the background.  Apparently hockey players have too much trouble concentrating, while lacrosse players won’t stop rocking out.  Sure, when the visiting team had possession, they turned down the volume, so that they wouldn’t get pumped up, but that seems to be lacrosse.  In fact, the commentator spent most of the game trying to demoralize the other team.  He talked smack, called them out, and led the crowd in chants about how they sucked.  It was as unsportsmanly as it was awesome.

 My sucking at hockey isn’t genetic.  My youngest siblings, Bev and David, and my cousins Matt and loubagga, they all played well.  I always used to tell them the thing I didn’t get about hockey fights was the process.  You are armed and armoured, but you throw away your stick, remove your helmet, and cast off your gloves.  It always seemed like a major tactical error to me.

Lacrosse agrees.  Apparently, you can get a penalty for fighting, but you really have to work for it.  You need to hit the guy enough times with your stick, and you seem to need to stagger him.  In lacrosse, it isn’t a fight until someone’s already hurt, and even then it’s just starting.  Then you stick smack the shit out of the other guy for a while, and he returns the favour until the refs work up the balls to intervene.

 What Puns Look Like

Everything was over the top.  Hell, the cheerleaders, were called the “Drill Crew”.  I know it’s a pun on Roughnecks, but it’s barely single entendre.  Of course, when they were out there, my big boy words weren’t really working.  I had some important watching to do.

Seriously, this is the greatest sport until someone invents naked parachuting machine-gunnery, and I’m still working on a plethora of legal issues to get that league started.  Despite what we would have the world think, hockey is not our national sport.  It’s our most popular, sure, from 2004 to 2009, the most watched T.V. show in the US was American Idol.  Popular does not equal good.  Lacrosse is hockey cranked to 11.  Our national sport is actually the greatest sport in the world and you need to see it.  Treat yourself to some Roughneck tickets.

Contraband

Writing this review, I see one major problem already; time.  I went to see Contraband on March 24th, and this review is just going up now.  It’s one thing if it’s a concert, something you don’t have a chance to go see it whether or not I liked it.  With a play, you may have a chance to go see a later performance than the one I saw.  So, with apologies for this one, going forward I’ll do my damndest to get a review up before the show closes.

Secret Opera House 

Contraband played at the Arratta Opera House.  It’s a few blocks from my house, but I’ve never seen the building.  I walked a full circle around it trying to find the damn place.  I guess I didn’t expect an opera house to be subtle.

 Mob Hit bribes us with cake

Inside, the people from Mob Hit Productions were incredibly friendly.  It always helps people win my favour when they start by pouring me a drink.  Sure, it would have been even nicer if I didn’t have to pay for my vodka, but I don’t hold that against them.  You should probably really like me before you offer to support my habit.  They did let us take our drinks into the theatre, which is amazing.  You never get to drink at a play during the play.  There are a lot of plays that would have been a lot better with this policy.

 The lobby was hosting an art show for Sarah Slaughter.  I apologize, but I couldn’t find a link to her work.  It was a mix of painting, photography, and skateboard designs.  I don’t know a lot about visual art.  I liked what I saw, and there were some really cool pieces, but I can’t really explain them, so I won’t.  I will keep an eye out for her work in future.

We can admit only one... Whch is a Highlander joke. 

The play itself was an enjoyable way to spend an evening.  It’s a story about two brothers rising through organized crime in Calgary.  I recently had a conversation with my sister, about how Canadian art spends too much time worrying about what it means to be Canadian, instead of just being.  Plays tackle historical subjects to increase their Can-Con weight, and everything is so intent on completely defining the nation.  My sister and I agreed it would be better if Canadians just wrote about what they cared about, or found interesting.  It would make better pieces than this struggle for Canadiana.

 It turns out Contraband is a great example of what we want to see.  The plot sounds a bit like a T.V. show.  Considering how often people watch T.V. compared to plays, that’s probably a great way to reach people.  If they don’t care about the things that theatre is often about, if you can’t fill seats, why not tell the type of stories they’ve shown an interest in?

 That’s not to say this was just T.V. done live.  Through an excellent use of space, the action in Contraband is so much more intimate.  You’re close.  At home, when you watch a mob movie on their home entertainment system, there’s a plate of glass, an invincible, impenetrable barrier keeping violence on the other side.  In the theatre, where the audience is sitting in two rows of ten, spitting distance from the action, there’s something absolutely harrowing in every blow, every time someone’s thrown to the ground, each time a gun is fired.  You know it’s not real, but when you can smell the shot you just saw and heard, the impact is on a totally different scale.

 I really liked the stage craft.  Actors moved the set pieces in dim light while taking their places.  It kept the pace fast, and since not every actor whom placed a prop was in that scene, it kept you guessing. 

 The casting was superb.  Several times, the small cast was called upon to play extra roles.  Through excellent use of costume, and the consummate skill of the cast, you could tell if they were their main, named character, or some walk-on role.  They could easily slip into their major part, and you could tell who they were portraying before they spoke.

 I especially enjoyed Frank, the mob boss.  He carried himself with such strength and confidence, and own the stage in his scenes.  Unfortunately, a couple of times a line of dialogue would slip from his grasp, and the character would melt.  The actor was alone on stage, completely out of place, standing where Frank should have been.  These were moment, parts of a second, and he would find the word from the script and Frank would reappear.  The character was locked to the script, and the actor couldn’t keep him if he lost his way.  It’s too bad it took so much from an otherwise brilliant performance.

 The show was partially multi-media, and video was leveraged to enhance the show.  There was an excellent piece, with a fire, and if all the video segments had shown that level of artistry, it would have bolstered the show into excellence.  Other times, the video was used to cover difficult set or costume changes, and with more variety it would have done this better.  There were a few points were it was rather unnecessary, like they felt they needed to give the video team more to do.

I do that shit 

If there’s one thing I tend to be hard on, it’s writing.  After all, I really get it.  I know you can’t usually fault a production for it’s writing, but I understand Tim Ford was directly involved in the production, and I feel it’s fair game.

The play began with a conceit wherein we were watching a news program about the brothers.  This vanished twenty minutes in, and it was awkward and unnecessary, so I was fine with the fact it didn’t come back.  We watched each step of the brothers development into criminals.  They were pretty stock characters, which isn’t a bad thing, but it means we don’t need to be spoon fed their development.  They were unique and individual versions of their archetypes in the main story line, but their history was nothing new.  The few important details revealed in the first twenty minutes, and there weren’t many, could have been handled later, in conversation, or even flashback.  Instead, the slow start was used to prop up the weak device and I kept fearing the opening news show would come back, since it was never resolved or ended.

The second act was constantly interrupted by news reports, framing the action in the bigger world.  This was another poor choice.  The strength of the stories was their intimate nature, and the plot points delivered in these news pieces could have been worked into dialogue or shown.  Additionally, authority figures kept urging the “city” to be vigilant and report everything their neighbours did, even if it was slightly suspicious.  I was unsure if the play was condemning or promoting a witch hunt mentality.

Everything you need 

“Drugs” and “guns” kept coming up.  It seemed odd that the gangsters referred to their product as “drugs” since they also stated they were dealing explicitly in cocaine.  I would understand if they were using euphemisms for their particular product, but they were just being unnecessarily vague at some point.  There was no evidence anywhere that any other drugs were moved by the organization the characters were involved in.  “Guns” received special reverence every time they were mentioned.  They were spoken about as being glamorous and making you rich, as though they were the holy grail of the criminal underworld.  However, for all the dialogue allure, plot wise character had weapons the moments they wanted them.  In their hands, the weapons were workhorse tools.  If they’re a staple of the characters’ world, they should be treated as such.  If they are rare and life changing, they should remain that way when they show up.

When we’re introduced to the character of Nate, Dmitri tell us he’s a psycho.  I’m not sure why.  He’s a loyal, trustworthy character, who has one little instance of the old ultra violence.  That moment seems out of character.  There should have either been more instances, or some admission that Dmitri was wrong.

Despite this long list of me being a picky bitch, it was a great show.  I plan to see more Mob Hit in future, more for their original work than their other productions.  They have a unique voice, and I want to hear what else they have to say.

Naming Convention

While I plan to post a few things over the next week, there’s one meta-thing I need to get out of the way; how I’m going to refer to people.  There are some people who appear in my life regularly who I will likely need to talk about to tell you about my life.  It’s one thing for me to give up my privacy, but other people may be more protective of theirs.  Some people are willing to be famous as I become super popular.  Kodie is fine with me just calling him Kodie.

Other people would prefer to use standardized nicknames.  Lina and Nique are going this route.

If I write out the entirety of someone’s name, or a full nickname, I have first received their permission to refer to them as such.  I also give them the right to ask to have it removed at anytime.

But things will happen: I’ll deal with people who I want to talk about, but I won’t have their permission to call them by name or handle in the blog.  It may be I didn’t think about it.  It may be I want to talk about them with or without their permission.  In these cases, I will refer to them by an initial and a number, such as S1 or X1.  I don’t plan to explain how I chose the name, but I do plan to keep updating this file.  It will have a quick overview of who each of these initials are.

The Kodies, you’ll get to know them without reminders.

Below is a list of used initials

A2 – Leonard’s Best Friend, lord of the iPhone

A3 – Leonard’s friend, cute girl who I sometimes hit on unsucessfully

B1 – Shawn’s friend, often at the same social events as me

K1 – Friend and fellow English teacher in Japan.  World class drinker, master of the Blue Smirnoff.

K2 – High school friend and champion drinker

R1 -Leonard’s friend

S1 – Neighbor and co-worker.  She sometimes throws late night shot parties.  A hugging friend.

S2 – Coworker and photographer.  Not a hugging friend.

T1 – My boss, who has the unenviable job of trying to wrestle productivty out of my mania

W1 – Co-worker

Published in: on April 5, 2010 at 12:39 pm  Comments (14)  
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