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Pattern recognition is a hell of a drug

As humans, we seek out patterns. We see patterns where they don't necessarily exist, and we can mess ourselves up that way.

I wouldn't go to a certain store because of a perceived pattern, not at all a real pattern but one I just thought was there: it seemed like soon after I'd go shopping at a Grocery Outlet, I'd get fired from a job.

I got fired from my Hoffman job the day after shopping at one. I got fired from my Fred Meyer/Kroger customer service job very soon after shopping at one.

THIS IS NOT ACTUALLY A PATTERN. It's not even a coincidence. But I let a sort of short-circuit happen in my brain and thought I go there, a job ends. A bad block for someone who tries to shop around for groceries and save money where possible.

So Friday afternoon I visited the Grocery Outlet about a mile south of where I live, to browse. Even just browsing seemed to be a good, needed gesture, considering what I'd managed to associate the grocery store chain with. I visited on the spur of the moment during a walk, and since I had none of my cloth shopping bags (my main bags nowadays, since Portland banned plastic grocery bags), I didn't want to shop just then. I just decided to remind myself I could.

I watched prices, some of which are better than where I usually shop, some of which are comparable. I was being observant. I needed that after thinking I'd been observant when I was seeing something that wasn't in fact happening.

I'll get back to Grocery Outlet sometime. Start to associate it with something other than what I'd associated it with before.

Soccer's back in town!

Much of that Portland Timbers-Minnesota United FC game was closer than you'd think from a final, Portland-wins score of 5-1.

It's almost always closer than you'd think, it's soccer. Minnesota United, a first-year MLS team after playing in the North American Soccer League for seven years, had the ball slightly more than the Timbers in the first half, so more chances to get it towards the goal, and in the second half got its first-ever MLS goal. I was hoping they'd get a goal. Of course I was hoping the Timbers would get more. But the sooner a team proves (to itself, its fans, and its opponents) that goals are possible, the better. So Minnesota United got past that major psychological barrier.

I hope they win. Against someone else.

The final 15 minutes of the game (96 minutes total, with 3 minutes stoppage time added to each half) got crowded with Portland goals, I thought surprisingly so. They finally dominated; in its six-year MLS history Portland has had better records in odd-numbered years than its mediocre even-numbered years, and it wants to have another good odd-numbered year. And then, ideally, a good even-numbered year in 2018. (Hey, it's sports superstition, it's powerful.)

I listened via online radio — I'm not used to doing that, and I'm glad I remembered I could — to the game, played in Portland a few miles west of me. Providence Park (formerly PGE Park, Jeld-Wen Field, and Civic Stadium in the time I've been a Portlander) is, I hope you've heard, an amazing place to play soccer. Fans mean it, and know the game (more than I do, but I'm learning, I'm learning); I've been to wins, draws, and losses there, and I love the place's energy during a game no matter what. It's welcoming and smart-assed.

This is not my most coherent entry. I accept that. I figure it conveys my frequent giddiness I get from watching the Timbers, a giddiness I want to keep feeling as I watch more and learn more. I want to be a better fan. I'll never be a good player — I was mediocre in grade-school-age soccer in California and Virginia — so I'll follow these players, who are. I'm looking forward to it.

Timbers, play well. Minnesota, you know you can play better.


It probably says a lot about me that in summer 1986, I didn't go to a theater to see the film Howard the Duck, but I did buy this:


The film is infamous as the sort of flop that gets studio executives fired (Frank Price of Universal was the fired exec; Variety's headline was 'DUCK' COOKS PRICE'S GOOSE); with international receipts, the film just barely squeaked past making more than its $36 million budget. It can be hard to realize (during our current renaissance of really, really good films based on Marvel Comics characters) that for a long time, this film — no matter what you think of its content — was the most lavishly-produced film version of a Marvel comic. (Course, for years Howard's competitors were films like the misguided Dolph Lundgren Punisher and the ultra-low budget Fantastic Four that was made purely so another company could keep the FF film rights.) It was a mad gamble on George Lucas's part, but I weirdly respect him for gambling on it. Even as weird as the film of Howard the Duck turned out.

That wasn't inevitable. Lucas hired the writers of American Graffiti and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (also the uncredited writers who made the original 1977 Star Wars, among other things, funnier); they knew what they were doing. Their first instinct was to make a "Howard the Duck is a P.I. in Hawaii" story that wouldn't acknowledge at all that Howard was a talking, intelligent duck; it would just expect the audience to accept that. But the studio wanted a live-action, origin film. They got that, along with some snazzy ILM special effects and a retroactively creepy performance by the, it turned out, creep Jeffrey Jones.

And as Howard the Duck was a Marvel character in the first place, it made sense for Marvel to release a comic book adaption of the film. By then, my brother T.J. was a comic book collector, and I was learning about comics by osmosis. (Years earlier, he let me read an issue of the short-lived Beyond the Black Hole and I handled the comic badly, crinkling it and making him mad. Sorry, T.J.) By 1986, my first period collecting comics, I was collecting Star Trek; later, I'd get (late) into the offbeat, funny, and low-selling and soon-cancelled 'Mazing Man. We went as a family to a Northern Virginia comic shop; this was around when Marvel's competitor DC was promoting the upcoming launch of the seminal, classic comic Watchmen. I had allowance money, got this, and read it multiple times. I liked it. A year or so later, when the film reached cable, I watched it once on HBO. I finally learned that the Dark Overlord that attacks at the end was drawn completely differently in the comic...


...than what special effects master Phil Tippett, who'd previously animated the AT-ATs in The Empire Strikes Back, had animated for the film:


I'm guessing that either comic had to be drawn before the film version of the creature had been designed, Marvel wasn't allowed to use the film version of it, or (variation on the preceding theory) the filmmakers wanted to keep the look of the Dark Overlord completely under wraps until the film came out, the way they hid the film version of Howard himself. Still, a giant evil duck attacking our hero duck makes a kind of sense.

I think I avoided going to the theater to see Howard the Duck out of a sense that it would do fine on its own — I was already a George Lucas cheerleader, and I still am, plus remember that this film really was high-profile and getting hyped — but I think I got the comic not just because I could keep it (which I did, for years; I wonder if I still have it) but I saw by then that it was good to support the publishers and the shops.

As happens with most comic book fans, I fell away from comics for a while; I only got some during high school, but I started paying renewed attention to them in college in the early '90s. T.J., still a collector, turned me onto Comic Buyer's Guide and Peter David's column "But I Digress..." I followed comics more as a concept than as something to read, but eventually I got back into collecting... and started adding to the long box I'd schlepped around the country for years that held (and holds) my 1980s stash. I'm a regular, if small-time, collector now, enjoying some stories. Helps that I'm in as comics-friendly a town as Portland, and that I even know some friends and acquaintances in the business, on both the creation side and the selling side.

Thank you, Eighties-Me, for getting into comic books.
Today's car-errand was getting gas, using a 50¢-per-gallon discount I'd earned because today was the last day I could use it (thanks, Kroger gas rewards!). So today gave me a good excuse to do more driving, to stay used to driving. Got up on some freeways: up I-205 to I-84 out to Troutdale before turning around and retracing. Weather was dry and traffic wasn't too nuts.

It's a route I took for a time back in 2004 when I temped out around Gresham: that year I spent some weeks working in two different food processing plants. I phased that out and looked for other work because it turned out to be a 30-mile round-trip drive from my then-apartment in Brooklyn. Bad idea when you're working not much above minimum wage. That fall I got my first hospital job, an easier and bus-friendly commute. That was a good idea.

It was also a good idea to brave I-84 around Troutdale and Gresham. It's a freeway stretch I started to dislike in the late Nineties, when I lived in Hermiston, Oregon and would visit Portland. On the nine miles from Troutdale to the 205/84 interchange, traffic picked up significantly, and so did — it seemed — bad driving. I'd get annoyed and nervous on that stretch. Eventually I started getting off the freeway at Troutdale and using surface roads to get through Portland. But avoidance only gets you so far. Vigilant driving gets you farther. And I did a little of it.


Turns out that in late August 2008, when I flew east and, among other highlights, visited my friends rafaela and slipjig in upstate New York and traveled with them to Burlington, VT, I just — just — missed being in the same place at the same time as bonnie_rocks, who I'd meet online two years later. She and her fiancé were visiting upstate New York and Burlington that month, too.

Bonnie told me this today. I replied, "What if we'd run into each other? 'Hello, future friend!'"

That could have been worse...

Because I had an errand I needed to drive to, I drove the car this morning, for the first time in a while.

I found that someone had gotten into it.

Not broken into it; turns out I'd left a door unlocked, and in the couple of weeks since I last drove it, someone got in. They clearly had looked for something valuable; the change door (which had been empty) and the glove compartment were both open. Stuff from the glove compartment was spread around the passenger side seat, but it looked like nothing was missing. My hand warmers, gloves, maps, and insurance/registration pack were still there with the appropriate paperwork.

A little dispirited, I cleaned up, feeling lucky that nothing (as far as I can tell) is gone. This has happened only twice in my time in Portland; the other time, at my Brooklyn neighborhood apartment building, the person who got into the car took some (not all) of the middling amount of change I'd had in my car, and even left behind (lost?) a glove. That person probably lost money.

Meanwhile, after this time, the car is home...and locked again.

A corner of Portland

I've lived in Portland since January 2001. I was born here, too, and visited about once a year for my entire youth, and my appreciation of the town has grown over time. (My perception of it is more complex, as is suited for growing up and seeing negatives as well as positives; I'm not blind to Portland's issues.) Also, I get around a lot of it. About quarter to 6:00 tonight, after walking down Hawthorne Blvd., I was waiting for the bus — at a stop about three blocks from where I first lived, back in 2001 and 2002 — before I moved to my apartment in the Brooklyn neighborhood.

Here's that shot, taken at SE 50th and Clay:


Herman Melville, short form

Herman Melville (1819-1891) wasn't always epic. This is true even though in Moby-Dick he wrote "No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, though many there be that have tried it." What also kind of surprised me as I read a Melville short story collection is that he could be funny. 19th-century funny, which means I had to pay more attention to see it, but in (for instance) "The Lightning-Rod Man" the humor was more obvious when I read it out loud. As I read "Cock-a-Doodle-Doo! or The Crowing of the Noble Cock Beneventano," about a man trying to find what's apparently the world's loudest, proudest rooster, I let myself laugh like a 12-year-old at his narrator so often saying "Oh, noble cock!" (I also noticed that story's mention of "the glorious victory of New Orleans" and realized he meant the War of 1812 battle that was fought two weeks after the end of the War of 1812. I wonder if that was meant as a dark joke.)

He wrote about property quite a lot in these stories, like "I and My Chimney," which gets dramatic about a proposed house remodel. In "The Paradise of Bachelors and the Tartarus of Maids," the narrator is much more interested in the two places described in the story than in the young women who work in the second of those two places. The women in that story are basically background, to an uncomfortable extent; they certainly don't get to speak. I'm wondering if that was intentional commentary by Melville, or just me reading it in the 21st century. (I'm pretty sure the narrator of "Cock-a-Doodle-Doo!" is meant to be clueless, but again, 21st-century perspective.)

Anyway. I've gotten more read. Now to head to the library, return this and another book, then get more books.


Sequel dreams

Sequel-dreams last night to visiting-Disney World-related dreams, working-in-school-related dreams, Survivor-related dreams, Star Wars-related dreams...I dreamt involved dreams, is the thing. Whoa.

The theme throughout: what was an important thing I needed to do?

My home from fall 1973 to summer 1976.

There. On Southampton Circle. In Virginia Beach, Virginia. This is me being thorough, because it was the first house I lived in — except for most of November 1973, where Mom and Newborn-Me stayed with her folks in NE Portland's Concordia neighborhood — but I don't remember it. At all. The absolute earliest I can recall was moving to Rancho Bernardo, CA after moving away from here. I had no idea, but we moved into the town on Bicentennial Weekend, July 1976. Two-year-olds don't care about milestone birthdays.

Everything before that, and bits of pieces of time after that, I can't recall. I was eating, sleeping, crapping, and learning how to walk and talk...there. That's worth noting.

Later, when we moved back to Virginia Beach in 1982, the house we rented was, coincidentally, laid out in a mirror image of this one. It's probably good that I didn't remember the Southampton place by then, because I might have gotten confused by the new house.
I lived in a desert that tries to pretend it's not a desert. Semi-desert, maybe, not full desert, but as the California drought's reminded us: yep, desert. Striking and craggy, with lots of lawns and pools.

Mainly I knew Rancho Bernardo was warm. Hey, I was 2 years 8 months old when we moved there in July 1976, and 7 when we moved out late 1980/early 1981 to another part of Southern California. I didn't yet know that not all places have palm trees; they were part of the background, I took them for granted...then I revisited Rancho Bernardo on a 1995 road trip, and was surprised by the trees. Those were here?!

In Rancho Bernardo, I started to learn how to remember. My absolute earliest memory is from there; other flashes from when I was 3 come to me, but just flashes; after I turned 4, I started having the bare minimum of retained, continuous memory. It starts at me walking into Mom and Dad's bedroom, where Mom was working on something, and asking her how old I was. She told me, and I went back down the hall — then later I asked again because either I'd forgotten or I wanted to be sure.

(I'm trying to be careful in this entry. The farther back you go, the more likely you're remembering something that didn't happen. Memory can be messed with; memory can mess with you. If I start explaining that I fell into a bear enclosure, point out that that was a scene in Anchorman.)

We lived in a single-story ranch on a cul-de-sac.

The small backyard had a tree that I sometimes climbed (but had trouble getting out of), and a slope: up to the houses on the next street westward, towards a hill that burned sometimes. (Later, my former neighborhood was spared in the 2007 wildfires that destroyed swathes of Rancho Bernardo and other parts of Southern California.) I sometimes climbed and sat on that slope — my first time seeking out some height. I sat there once when the Goodyear blimp was in town, and I watched it approach from the east and then — then — fly right over me. With my foreshortened view from that vantage point, plus the huge noise from the engines, it seemed the blimp was close enough to grab.

At 4 or 5, I bicycled for the first time. I used someone else's bike; I was so small that I had to roll the bike in front of a driveway, then walk — me rising on the sidewalk, the bike staying on the street — to get the little bit of height I needed to get onto it. I took to bicycling. I could ride more than a Big Wheel! (We had a Big Wheel.)

My bedroom had wallpaper of World War I-era planes. (My brother's wallpaper: jets and rockets.) I had a decent amount of light, with a window facing south. I had a turntable and, eventually, the ability to handle and play 45s and LPs. Legos and Lincoln Logs littered my floor. A large, worn, out-of-tune ukulele was available, and I sometimes took it out and plucked at it. I showed no signs of having the talent to play an instrument (still don't), but hey, it was fun to make sound.

As my folks decided was best, since I have a late-in-the-year birthday, I took pre-school longer (at a church on Pomerado Road) and waited a year, until 1979, to start kindergarten (Westwood Elementary). This meant that for me, each grade's ending year rhymed with the current year: I ended first grade in 1981, second grade in 1982, and so on until 12th grade, 1992. Makes it easier to square memories with years. Kindergarten included getting practice tying my shoes, learning that left and right don't change for you even when you change which way you're facing, and learning that there really aren't a lot of left-handed scissors so I'd better adapt to using scissors with my right.

I swam. A lot. We lived near Westwood Club, and were members. Playground, lawns, and a pool (also, at least now, a miniature golf course, but even if it was there in the Seventies I probably would've been too uncoordinated to enjoy it). Ah, a pool. Where I scared mothers: I had an almost dolphin-style, undulating way of swimming back then, and I'd stay under so long that some of the moms would worriedly ask my mom if she should get me out of the water. He's fine, Mom'd tell them: she knew I was.

Not far from us were amazing things for a kid: Sea World, the San Diego Zoo (I subscribed to ZOONOOZ for years), and the San Diego Wild Animal Park (now the San Diego Zoo Safari Park). The Wild Animal Park was probably my favorite of the three, and still would be; I'm less fond of Sea World now. But the Wild Animal Park's design was a smart, forward-looking idea: more room for animals, with ways for people to watch them that are less intrusive. I was too young to get that: I just knew I could get in a train and see exotic creatures, and that was cool.

There's a selected realism to some of my memories of Rancho Bernardo: some are clear only to a point. Though we mainly grocery-shopped at a Navy commissary to the south, if we shopped in town we usually went to Vons. I remember the 70s-era supermarket (including when it got a single video arcade game in the front), the parking lot, and the other buildings around it, but beyond that...it was, to my memory, like the edge of a set. As if nothing was beyond that, and there didn't need to be anything beyond it. Sometimes the memory is of something more like a void beyond that parking lot, just some kind of bright limbo out towards where I didn't go: more surreal, but young minds can imagine and accept that.

I accepted other things as a kid. I thought, at some point, that the old man living in the two-story house at the corner of Palacio Place and Capilla Road was President Jimmy Carter. I have no idea why I thought that; I just did. I also accepted that mulch, which neighbors used for landscaping and which I wasn't supposed to walk on, was quicksand. At that age, magical thinking works.

Some memories I know for sure are jumbled. I think of both where my brother and I got Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back trading cards and where I got haircuts, and my mind remembers...the same place? Which is exceedingly unlikely. But the area was still memorable.

(The area stayed in my memory another way: in the mid-80s when I first read Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, I imagined Guy Montag's city looking like my part of Rancho Bernardo. Almost certainly not what Bradbury would've pictured.)

The more desert-y area we went to regularly was Poway, the next town to the east. Mom's church was there. The town was smaller than Rancho Bernardo, and more defined — almost overwhelmed — by its surroundings. I visited there, too, during my 1995 road trip; I think I found the same church Mom had attended. I think.

In Rancho Bernardo, I can finally remember going to the movies, like the original Star Wars, probably in mid-1978 when it was re-released; I also remember going to the theater for Mary Poppins (its Spring 1980 re-release) and the Robert Altman Popeye. I remember the down-and-up-and-down walk to Westwood Elementary School, the first sort-of long walk I got used to. I remember my first parade, along Bernardo Center Drive, grabbing candy that had been thrown from floats and fire trucks. I remember feeling puppy love towards a babysitter, to the point that I got up from eating ice cream and followed her around the house talking to her for long enough that I came back to find my ice cream melted. I remember thousands of sand-filled paper lanterns lining my neighborhood's streets one night, I think on or near Halloween, and my family walking around to enjoy the sight. I remember one of the few times I've fished, at an event at Lake Poway after the lake had been specially stocked. I remember, in pieces, the earliest birthday party I can recall. I remember not understanding, one time, why Mom wanted me to put on socks when I was barefoot; I asked her why, and she said "because my feet are cold." This was logic I didn't get.

And I remember going to military bases every once in a while, because Dad worked there, trained there, or flew in and out of there to get to aircraft carriers. Mainly Miramar, occasionally Coronado, reached via that high, striking bridge into San Diego's harbor. The military surrounded me. One of those early memories of mine, around age 3 or so: seeing air show footage on television.

My family wound up on the local news once, for a nice reason: at the end of an aircraft carrier cruise, Dad's F-14 squadron returned to Miramar (then a Naval air station; now a Marine base), and a cameraman caught us hugging. This was not covered by Ron Burgundy, because Anchorman wasn't real.

I hope most of this entry is of memories that are real.

An unused story idea

I wouldn't write this, but I kinda sorta want it to exist, so I'm putting it out there:

There's crime fiction, plenty of it inspired by real-life awful people, and some crime fiction is urban fantasy with fantastical elements. Today, it hit me:

What if the Pacific Northwest had a serial killer...a serial killer who only hunted Sasquatches?

I first thought of it as a joke, for the benefit of Greg Nibler of Funemployment Radio (he follows reports of possible Bigfoot sightings), but it hit me: first of all, the Pacific Northwest has a history of being a home of serial killers; and such a serial killer would be doing it knowing that a) Sasquatches and other Bigfoot-type cryptids exist, and b) each one dead makes the species' existence more precarious. They'd know the truth...and would be killing the truth. Which, as an idea, is messed up.

How would you stop a serial killer like that? How would someone even learn the murders were happening? How would someone learn the truth...and try to keep the truth alive, and protected? You have a built-in ticking clock that way: stop the killer before more cryptids are killed, and protect those cryptids from the rest of the outside world.

There's also the chance that the killer would be doing this to make it more likely that, finally, after all these decades of sightings and claims, the existence of Sasquatches would be proven. Corpses proved the existence of giant squids; a verifiable Sasquatch corpse would be huge proof. Would the killer think they're starting a species death that the rest of the world will finish?

I'm creeping myself out with the ideas in this.

(...no, I do not want a Sasquatch to be a serial killer. That idea is too sad.)

The story's protagonist, in learning of the cryptids' existence, learning of the killer, and trying to stop the killer, would be well-served to learn what the Sasquatches are like: do they have a society? Do they have ways to warn fellow cryptids, and to protect themselves? Are the cryptids fighting back? How could this escalate?

...Also, Seanan McGuire hasn't written this yet, has she?
Friend time! My friend/former girlfriend Alicia was in town yesterday, with a part of her extended family, to say hi and to shop at Powell's City of Books. I met them st the store, then we split off for lunch: the family members to the Whole Foods deli a couple of blocks away, Alicia and I to The Roxy. Good thing we could go there without kids; The Roxy's not kid-friendly. (One of the T-shirts it sells says, in giant letters on the back, "PORTLAND FUCKING OREGON.") Good diner food and a chance to catch up on what Alicia's doing, and what she's enthused about. I like knowing her.

After that, we headed back to Powell's for book-shopping, the big reason for the trip. I helped her find some books and makde some purchase suggestions, plus I sometimes carried the books she was going to buy. Plus I carried a big bag of books I'd loan to her later. We found several books she'd wanted, then hooked up with her other family members, and they bought their books en masse. Me, being a big target with the bag of books she was going to borrow, waited away from the checkout line; Powell's was (no surprise for midday Saturday) busy. Then it was back to the car, where Alicia and I swapped books-to-borrow and got these shots.


(I couldn't decide which of the two pics I liked better.)

I visited and walked around downtown and East Portland for the rest of the afternoon. Took me until this morning to realize my shoulders were sore from the large bags of books I'd been carrying.

A moment of philosophy

"Apart" and "A Part" have much different meanings.

(English: it gives us little gifts like this.)

My Geek Trivia, Part 5: the Poop of Truth!

Cort and Bobby's Geek Trivia had a true/false category, but it wasn't called "true or false"; it was called "Truth or Poop?" Same concept applies, though. The trick was to find stuff that seemed outlandish but was true — yes, Barbra Streisand showed up unannounced on the set of Indiana Jonrs and the Temple of Doom and pretended to whip Harrison Ford — or plausible but false — you would've thought they had, especially in the Eighties when they were making similar films, but John Cusack and Robert Downey, Jr. have still never starred together in the same movie.

I decided to make this entry just "Truth or Poop?" questions that I'd written.

26. Truth or Poop? The thundering, kick-ass score to 1982's Conan the Barbarian has a piece of music, "The Orgy," that was co-written by Basil Poledouris and his 9-year-old daughter.

27. Truth or Poop? The last movie Gene Siskel (Rest In Peace) ever picked as Best Movie of the Year was 1998's Babe: Pig in the City.

28. Truth or Poop? There are 68 other positions.

29. Truth or Poop? A James Bond film features a title song by Blondie.

30. Truth or Poop? Richard Roundtree, the star of Shaft, is a breast cancer survivor.

31. Truth or Poop, Death & Science Edition! Among the things that happen after you die, your hair and nails keep growing.

32. Truth or Poop? Paul Bunyan was invented for an ad campaign.

33. Truth or Poop? Winona Ryder is a natural blonde.

34. Truth or Poop, Nature Edition! You should be scared of Antarctica. It's smothered in miles-thick ice, powerful winds, the world's coldest temperatures, deceptively adorable penguins, and hidden aliens who look like bearded men growing internal organs and calamari out of their mouths. BUT... you DON'T have to be scared of one particular thing, because there are no spiders in Antarctica. Truth or poop?

35. Truth or Poop? Portland's Forest Park is the largest park within an American city's limits.

26. Truth! But don't worry: Zoe, the daughter who wrote a melody for the cue, had not seen the scene it was for or know the cue's title. Basil Poledouris was a GOOD parent!
27. Truth! (P.S. After I wrote that, I noted “OK, I've got to get better at writing "Truth or Poop?" questions where the answer is "Poop!"”)
28. Poop.
29. Poop. Blondie recorded a song called "For Your Eyes Only," hoping it would get used, to find out the producers had really wanted the band to record Bill Conti's already-written song. They declined, and Sheena Easton got the job.
30. Truth.
31. Poop, but skin dries out, shrinks back and exposes some hair and nails. THE SOPRANOS got this correct, as I recall.
32. Poop, but Paul Bunyan was popularized through advertising in the early 20th century. I'd thought the answer was "truth" when I wrote this.
33. Truth: She first got her hair dyed black on her 1986 film debut Lucas.
34. Truth.
35. Poop. According to Wikipedia, it's the 19th largest.


Oh, Portland

You may have heard of Portland, Oregon's Horse Project. My town still has lots of rings attached to its sidewalks, used a hundred-plus years ago for hitching horses and horse-led carriages when people needed to park. The Horse Project ties toy horses to the rings. All sorts of toy horses: I once saw a nearly foot-tall toy horse at SE 50th and Hawthorne.

People don't have to attach just toy horses, either. Seen today at SE 46th and Salmon:

My current reading

Continuing my re-read of Harry Potter: I'm about 200 pages from being done with Order of the Phoenix, and Half-Blood Prince awaits on the bookshelf.

Also, I've started a collection of short stories by Herman Melville. The collection opens with "Bartelby, the Scrivener: a Tale of Wall Street," which is basically Melville's Office Space: it's about a worker who keeps saying he won't work, saying "I would prefer not to" until it's almost a mantra. It's clever. Considering Melville is most famous for the great, but heavy, Moby-Dick, I like knowing that Melville could be light and funny.

To keep exposing myself to poetry, I'm reading lyric poems by Virgil, his Eclogues. I'm starting to think Virgil is never going to be my favorite poet (I once referred to The Aeneid as "The 'Manger Babies' * of epic poems"), but I'm glad I'm trying more of his stuff.

My To-Be-Read list has at least two definite books in it, Laura Anne Gilman's alternate-history-Western-with-magic The Devil's West Book 2: The Cold Eye, and Stephen King's pulp-influenced 2013 novel Joyland. Other books will, of course, follow.

* After Googling, I guess I should explain this because it's probably not obvious enough a reference. Luanne on King of the Hill does a kids' puppet show called "Manger Babies" about the adventures of the animals who were in the manger when Jesus Christ was born. It was a way for Luanne to use a bunch of animal puppets she had (one of which was an octopus).


A poem this morning

by Christopher Walsh, 2/12/2017

The Ce
Nter Cann


A note re: last night

Because Christian and Denise didn't mind people dressing casually at their wedding celebration on Saturday, I wore this.

Someone who looked at my shirt asked if one of them was supposed to be Sen. Bernie Sanders.
NOTE: As I write this, I'm braving having my bedroom window open for the first time in months, because this room could use some outside air, even though it's still winter and the current temp — *checks* — is 37. The window won't be open for long.

Anyway. Hi. I was social last night.

Two friends of mine who recently got married had a marriage celebration. Christian and Denise had had a relatively small wedding ceremony, at Timberline Lodge on the south slope of Mt. Hood; they're now back from their honeymoon (New Orleans, good choice, if loud: they were near Bourbon Street) and wanted to visit with more friends than could make it up the mountain.

They gathered a good batch of happy people at Mad Sons, a pub just off of Hawthorne. (Portland recycling at its finest!: Mad Sons is a repurposed version of a restaurant that used to be there called Madison's. The neon sign outside is almost the same with just the I and the removed, and the wood-paneled decor was changed to be about the Founding Fathers of the United States.) Denise and Christian's party was on the pub's second floor, closed off for just us; the counters overlooking the first floor are lined with vintage early-, mid-, and late-20th century books. I didn't read them, but I did check out some of the titles.

Christian and Denise's circle of friends is eclectic, and nice to visit with. I like being in that circle. I listened to one artist describe her trip with her husband, also an artist, to see the Chicago production of Lin-Manuel Miranda's Hamilton, a show that moved her to tears. How big fans are they of Hamilton? They've donated art pieces to the show, and got a nice shout-out from Miranda himself for their art. I listened to another artist talk about one of her big recent projects, cleaning up a website of hers that has content going back to 1998. She said the way the site used to be, was like a house that had had odd, rambling additions grafted onto it, which I think is neat for a house (kind of like the Winchester Mystery House!) but confusing for a website. The site, I'm sure, works better now. I wouldn't normally be interested in hearing about coding, but I (and Denise and Christian) know people who can make that and many other subjects interesting and worth listening to.

The newlyweds were nice enough to feed us, too. And a guest offered to get me a drink, but I turned him down: I want to have my next drink when I'm celebrating getting a job.

So. A good time with good people. Then home, on a clear and bright-moon'd night.