May 16th, 2008

Me 1

And a good time was had by all.

Recreating the Rick Emerson Show Listener Party I went to tonight would be pointless. It's a very specific stew of in-jokes, profanity, music sets, drunkenness, ogling (hot DAMN Emerson has attractive fans), surprises, and roasting. Rick's request to us was, "What happens at the roast, stays at the roast." Though photos are OK. When I find some online, I'll share them.

It. Was. A. Blast. And I have the wrecked voice and slightly wobbly legs to prove it. :-)

And now I'm home, after getting a cab from downtown back to my place, and I'm winding down. Please let it be easy for me to get to sleep...
Whale fluke

Elemental

Via smwance:


What is YOUR Element?
created with QuizFarm.com
You scored as Wind

You are wind, an essential and loving element. You are quiet, and oppose fighting, unless in dire straits. People tend to associate wind with beauty, wind being one of the more calm elements holding a more serene aura than others. The only downfall with wind is that you're extremely quiet, causing people to overlook you, and move onto the more blatant elements, such as lightening and fire. But when people look into wind, they find great qualities.


Wind


63%

Lightning


54%

Earth


50%

Water


50%

Fire


38%


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Me 1

Had I had a bad time, I'd have called this "Roast Beefs." But I had a great time!

Now that I've had some sleep, some food and some caffeine, I can share more from last night's "Emerson's Eleven" listener party and roast attended by many listeners of The Rick Emerson Show:

* I went straight from work to downtown, getting cab fare from an ATM and having a quick dinner at the Virginia Cafe, before reaching the venue. I arrived about an hour before doors opened, with the line only halfway down the street from the Crystal Ballroom's entrance. (I heard that later the line reached around 3/4 of the block.) The crowd was mellow; a good recipient of stuff from the sponsors. Viso had samples of their caffeinated vitamin drinks (good stuff, though I'm more a StrawKey, Razza and Lemon guy myself, 'cause those are the noncaffeinated drinks); Everybody's Garden Center had coupons; someone gave show aasistant Ritchie Bristol a box full of little boxes of Schick shaving razors, which he threw (the boxes, not the actual razors!) at us. We did some good catching of those boxes. Other sponsor Powell's Books Cedar Hills Crossing (the newish Powell's Beaverton store) was not set up outside (the store had a table set up inside); in a move that would sadden at least one friend of mine, other other sponsor Taboo Adult Video wasn't set up outside, either. (Portland ain't so wide-open that we'd be getting porn on the street!) Taboo gave (well-wrapped) gift boxes to the roasters.

* We entered efficiently, thanks to the quick and expeditious McMenamins people. We spiraled up the staircase into the Crystal's darkness, to the Ballroom on the third floor, and spread out across the bouncing floor. (Yes, bouncing: the ballroom's floor has a special "give" to it.) I spent much of the night next to the window wall of the Crystal Ballroom, standing on a bench to get a better view.

* In my view: guest roasters Aaron "Geek in the City" Duran; singer Storm Large (yes, that's her real name) of her band Storm and the Balls and veteran of TV's Rock Star Supernova; Rick's show producer Sarah X. Dylan; Scott Dally, Duran's partner-in-crime for the podcast Film Fever Radio; Byron Beck, "the only remaining minority at the Willamette Week" and the writer of WW's "Queer Window" column, KUFO's Cort (looking very rabbi-like) and Fatboy, both of The Cort and Fatboy Show, roastmaster Carl Click of KATU...

*...and special guest Lisa Desjardins of CNN Radio! She's one of Rick's favorite people at CNN, calling in from Washington, D.C. for political news updates. She's been a hit with us in Ricks' audience: scarily well-informed, geeky, hilarious, and very pretty. A lot of us have crushes on her. Her visit had been kept under wraps, but it got partially blown during Ricks' Thursday show: her CNN colleague Bob Costantini called in for his segment and right away let slip that Lisa was in Portland. Rick hit the Dump button so the radio audience didn't hear Bob, but the on-line live-feed listeners did. The online forums went NUTS, and Rick and Sarah had to scramble to halt the spread of that tidbit. I was totally unaware that she'd be there, but I should have guessed; Rick's wanted to get Lisa to a show for a long while. And Rick introduced Lisa via an in-joke: he shot a video that I didn't realize was meant to ape a scene from The West Wing, because when Lisa begins her segments Rick introduces her with the opening credits music from that show. That didn't click for me until an American flag appeared on the screen and the band did something that kind of sounded like that theme. Then it started to dawn on us, and we ERUPTED when Lisa was introduced in all her pale redheaded glory.

* There was lots of music throughout the night. The band Emerson Starship served as house band, much like Paul Shaffer's band on David Letterman's shows, giving quick musical signatures to each roaster. There also was a special set by the other band there that night, Portland's Nickel Arcade, who last year per Rick's request wrote the joke "tribute to Britney" song "Vodka in Heaven."

* I used my dancing-in-a-very-small-space skills.

* It's good that profanity isn't solid, taking up space in air like humidity or drunken bugs that would bump into us, because we swore A LOT; nay, it was blisteringly profane. (In fact I was surprised there wasn't more. C'mon, Storm, you have a reputation to maintain!) Yes, I swore too. Usually loudly, while making my lame attempts to cheer or throw devil horns.

* No, I'm still not going to try to recreate the content of the roast; these hours and hours of entertainment don't reduce well to being written down afterwards, plus roasters should be allowed to say whatever they can make funny without worrying what people not at the show would think of their jokes. When the opening film (a Forties-style newsreel of the show staff preparing for the show) is posted on YouTube, I'll link it; it's in-joke-filled, but there are sight gags that anyone can like.

* Out-Of-Context Theater! The one thing I got to say to Rick: "Dude, where'd you get the bacon?!" "Wal-Mart, sadly," he said. "Buck-ninety-nine!"

* Portland's taxi fleet last night was A) busy and B) not too present in downtown Portland, meaning I needed to wait a while and walk several blocks before I got one. Turns out the taxis had been flocking to the Oregon Convention Center across the Willamette. Me, I started to worry I had some sort of taxi repellant!
Good Omens

Into the Stephen King part of my mind

(Nothing bad happened in the events that followed. I am NOT angling to knock Stephen King off his “Master of Suspense!” throne.)

I gave myself an excuse to imagine the end of the world one summer day.

Summer 1995: staying with family between junior and senior year of college, I’d joined my parents and several relatives to drive south of Portland to another part of the Willamette River Valley. Around Dallas, if I remember right. My cousin Jeff (then age 12) was playing softball; we were there to cheer him on. The sky had tiny scattered clouds moving slowly against the blue. You and I, we’ve seen many skies like it. Summer warmth, of course, but manageable, as long as my pale self was sufficiently lotioned up. I took pictures, at hobby level of proficiency, of the game, including a good moment of Jeff running to home plate and doing a fist pump. A nice “Yes!” moment.

Part of the time, I read. Other times, I photographed the game, my family, and whatever other interesting shots I could get. It was a pretty spot: fields and lawns surrounding the baseball diamond and the neighboring school, with hills folding up toward the south and west with trees. Much was green. You’ve seen many places like it, unless you live in the Canadian north or the Australian Outback: pretty, but also pretty generic.

Then I saw the puff.

At first it looked like a tuft of white cloud, appearing from behind the low hill southwest of us. It took a few moments of looking for me to realize that it wasn’t moving in the same direction as the other tiny clouds. And it seemed to be growing.

Maybe it was from a smokestack. It’s timberland, that area; it still has mills. But the isolated, out-of-context puff looked somehow wrong.

Images of an industrial accident popped into my head.

A year before, in summer 1994, I’d read my first Stephen King book, the expanded edition of The Stand, because I’d seen the decent miniseries version that ABC had run. The book I’d brought to that game was King’s later non-fiction work, Danse Macabre, analyzing horror and why and how it works, and (among many other things) talking about the moments in horror stories where things start to go wrong. It could be in Carrie when the light bulb explodes; it could be in Larry Cohen’s film It’s Alive! when a doctor stumbles wounded out of an operating room; it can even be the moment in the first sentence of 1984 when the clock strikes thirteen, Orwell’s way of signaling that the world of his story is subtly off. (Yes, I could analyze 1984 as a horror story.)

King has made a career out of visualizing and describing those moments when things begin to go wrong, to become wrong. And I, with my King book at hand, started visualizing something wrong like that: the puff was the leading edge of a poison cloud, about to stain the blue sky and sicken everyone at the game. Closer to where the cloud had begun, some hills away from us, people would be dying quickly; birds would falter and fall out of the sky; rodents would panic. Some people would run for it; some would escape, at least for a time, some wouldn’t. Maybe others would be trying to stop the accident, contain it, at least limit its impact. Maybe they’d succeed; maybe they’d fail. I wouldn’t know. I might not ever find out.

Thoughts like that ran quickly through my head. They left me darkly amused. It’s the end! The end comes with a cloud! (I did not yet know of King’s story The Mist; maybe had I read it, I would’ve compared and contrasted my mental image of the mist with the puff of possible death seemingly headed our way.) The thought stopped, and I went on to other thoughts, plus other actions: more photography, more visiting with family, more cheering of Jeff’s team. And the thought, while not evolving from there, stayed put in a part of my mind; revived from its dormancy now because I decided to think about it.

Stephen King has said how he’s often darkly amused by what his mind conjures. He wrote in Danse Macabre about the both terrible and weirdly liberating feeling of killing off 98% of our race in The Stand – hey! See how I tie in these two books so conveniently – and when I saw him speak at the Schnitzer in 2006, he described the moment of inspiration for his novel Cell. To an extent, I get that. I get him. It was a good sign that I was going to be a good fan.

(This entry was written in part for even more ardent Stephen King fan docbrite.)