Billy Mitchell is God, and I'm a fool

Oldie did it to me...again. You may have read, a few months back, that Old tricked me in to seeing a movie without telling me what it was. He got me to the theater under the pretense that the movie's description would not do it justice, thus it should remain a secret. It was implied it would be a pleasant surprise. That movie, The Host, was a foreign film that takes place in Seoul, South Korea, where a mutant sea monster terrorizes the city.

Had he told me the plot in advance, I would not have gone. He knew that. He knows I wouldn't go to a lot of movies that he gets thoroughly enthused for.

Fast forward to the present. Last week, Old pulled out the, "Hey, there's a really good movie I want you and Kes to see" card. Now, I've been down this road before, so I was immediately reluctant. However, in the past, I've actually liked the obscure movies he coerced me into seeing. So, being the open minded and hopeful person that I am, I agreed to go. Not without conditions, though. I had him clarify that we weren't seeing one of his fantasy wizard movies, full of magic and sorcery.

When he told me the name of the movie, I tried to imagine a story line. However, with the title, King of Kong: a Fistful of Quarters, I got contradictory images in my head. On the one hand, I was thinking about a giant ape climbing the Empire State Building; on the other, I was thinking about a spoof of the old Spaghetti Westerns with Clint Eastwood. Never did I imagine I would be watching a documentary about two video game legends competing for the world record score in Donkey Kong.

The movie revolves around video game legend, Billy Mitchell, an ego maniacal gamer from the "Golden Age of Arcade Games," and Steve Wiebe, a nice family man with unbelievable Donkey Kong skills. Billy was the first ever to record a perfect score in Pacman and, until recently, was the world's highest scorer in Donkey Kong. Steve is the one who took Billy's record, causing Mitchell to get his panties in a bunch and try to destroy Wiebe's credibility.
The story follows Weibe as he attempts to beat Billy's long-standing record. Billy, on the other hand, shows his sinister side as he argues against the authenticity of Wiebe's eventual high score, while also making attempts to outdo the newbie. It is apparent in the film that Mitchell fears losing the reputation of the "king of kong," as his self-righteous attributes shine brightly throughout. In fact, Billy, at one point in the movie, likens the controversy surrounding him to that of the abortion issue. In multiple scenes, Billy can be seen meticulously combing his long hair prior to making public appearances. In one such public appearance, a reporter asks "how are you." Billy responds, "Perfect, haven't you heard."
Weibe, on the other hand, is the ultimate good guy with a competitive edge. He is a science teacher and family man, with one weakness: he is extremely obsessive. It is this obsessiveness that leads him down the path to Donkey Kong stardom, as he eventually unseats Mitchell as the King of Kong. Whereas Billy is sneaky and will do whatever it takes to remain the king (including sending in a potentially doctored video of him achieving a high score while playing), Weibe makes an attempt to play his record breaking games in public or recording quality videos of his play, leaving little question of the authenticity of his achievements.

The cast of the movie is rounded out with an assortment of odd characters who all share a common trait: they have a weakness for old school video games. Most are in their late 30's, hailing from the same "Golden Age of Arcade Games." They are geeky, snobby, and have amazingly poor social skills. They refer to girls as DDG, or "drop dead gorgeous," and use their video game superiority as some sort of social status. They live by the motto, "never surrender," and when they beat opponents they refer to their win as "a shellacking." Many of them have formed an official club of gamers called Twin Galaxies. This club has since become the official referee in the video gaming world. They authenticate and make official all video game records. As such, the Guinness Book of World Records depends on Twin Galaxies to report respective record holders. It is no coincidence that Billy Mitchell is good friends with the Twin Galaxies consortium, and subsequently had a huge influence on the tribulations Steve Wiebe went through in pursuing the record.
As in the movie, The Host, I found myself intrigued with what I was watching. The urge to end my friendship with Old upon hearing about the move waned, and I ended up liking it. As a result, Oldie's reputation for finding quality, albeit obscure, odd-ball movies holds.


Week in Review

I thought I'd take a page out of Old's book and offer some tidbit news items for our readers. The last week was a busy one for Portland, in which the national spotlight was on our dear little Stumptown.

- First, the city got to show the world how well our emergency response teams, as well as city leaders, handle staged terrorist attacks. As you read in an earlier post, the Department of Homeland Security chose Portland to host TopOff4, a terrorism-preparedness exercise designed to measure our ability to respond to crisis situations. The supposed dirty bomb was detonated on Monday, and as the week played out, pretend victims (with fake blood and all) were admitted to hospitals (OHSU participated, as did a local high school fronting as a trauma center) and fake news reporters documented the catastrophic events. City buses were used to play the part of fire trucks and bomb-sniffing dogs were used to sniff out any remnants of other terrorist weapons. As it turns out, the multi-million dollar operation wasn't all just fun and games. While police dogs were sniffing out the "terrorists," a car belonging to a Homeland Security official gave off the smell of explosives, alerting multiple dogs to the car. Multiple blocks in the area were closed off, with local businesses and schools also proceeding with lock-out procedures. The actual scare didn't produce anything of substance, though, and all was declared safe some hours later.
- Speaking of terrorism, the nation's most "feared racist skinhead group," as labeled by the Anti Defamation League, came to town a couple weekends ago. The Hammerskin Nation (see dufus on left) chose Portland to celebrate the anniversary of their formation in Dallas, TX 20 years ago. While Portland is generally perceived as a liberal outpost, it is not without its racist roots. Volksfront, one of the most active skinhead groups in the U.S., was created in Oregon in the 1990s. Also, in 1988 an Ethiopian immigrant was beaten to death in Portland by members of East Side White Pride, a gang affiliated with Volksfront. Luckily, as the area is becoming more diverse, and its liberal ideals are strongly being maintained, Portland is seeing less activity of racist groups. However, the gathering of the Hammerskin Nation in the area is still disturbing. As it turns out, the public hall that was rented for the event (under the front of a reunion of old band members) received enough complaints that the gathering was shut down by its owners, leaving the foreskins, I mean hammerskins, without a place to gather. Yay!

- The president of Major League Soccer, Mark Abbott, was in town the other day. He and MLS commissioner, Don Garber, met with Merritt Paulson, the owner of the Portland Timbers, to discuss the possibility of bringing an expansion team to the city. If chosen, the city of Portland would have an MLS team beginning play in 2010 or 2011. They would most likely play at PGE park, on the condition that the park is renovated to MLS standards. Such a renovation would likely cost $50 million. An additional $30 mil would be paid as a fee to MLS to bring Portland its second professional sports franchise. In speaking of Portland, Garber stated, "this is a soccer town" and it "is a passionate soccer community." While I don't follow soccer, it would be a huge boost to the sports community and, if successful, may put Portland closer to acquiring another sports franchise in the future (please, for Christ's sake, bring baseball to Portland).


Fat-Faced Caricatures

I must admit that I haven't caught a South Park episode in years (a decade?), most likely since abandoning channel surfing back in high school. However, who can deny the greatness that is the South Park character. This site was passed my way, and allows you to create your own no-neck fat head caricature.
Go ahead, release your inner dress-wearing, chain-smoking, sword-wielding, bald and bearded, gypsy spaceman.

Here's my (quite accurate) self-rendition:

They're really just more intricate Peanuts characters, aren't they?


Portland: First Impressions (Guest Editorial)

Here's the first of (hopefully) many future posts by a featured guest. If you are interested in writing for our blog, send a sample post to either Jeff or myself.

This one is courtesy of our friend Anto, and was originally featured on his blog, 10 Days & 10 Nights, detailing his first visit to Portland in the summer of last year.


Friday, June 09, 2006
First Impressions: Portland

Where do I begin? I guess it would have to be with the word vagine, pronounced, vajeen. I was greeted at the airport by rain and 80 degree weather, a combination I had yet to experience in life, and I had to say, it was good. I met the green one at around 8:00 pm and went directly to a hole called Ole Ole, and had the best fuckin' taco I've had in my life and was greeted by two other friends, Old and Kesia. So far so good, as I ate my taco I could see Green plotting on what kind of touristic fairy adventure he was going to take me on next, the Rose Garden....no, too late. One of the 78 bridges that occupy Portland.....no, he knew I wouldn't go for that. So he took me to a place he knew I would love...a bar [Doug Fir Lounge -Ed.]. This wasn't no ordinary bar, at least not one I'm accustomed to, no this bar was weird, not weird in a bad way not at all, but almost....too good to be true and here's why: We didn't get arrested, and get this, we didn't even get kicked out!!!! Let me explain why this doesn't make sense. Old called out 4 girls to fight me like he was fuckin' Don King and I was Tyson, it didn't happen but by the looks on the girls' faces and the speed at which they left, they well knew that it could have. 45 minutes later I made an executive decision to break a beer bottle on someones hotel door, 25 yards away, it had to be done. 30 minutes after that I tried my darnedest to convince K.C. to throw one at a girl's head, all in honor of the word of the week, Vagine. Shortly after, I remember, vaguely, throwing a girl to the floor to test her wrestling skills, she was nothing, as I crushed her easily, then realized she didn't even work with Green, and she just wanted to get man-handled. As you could imagine, I was promptly cut off from the bar service.....now here is where it gets weird, we didn't even drink that much. Now, I know what your thinking "that much"? I have been known to consume more alcohol than the average and have a knack for getting those around me drunk. Here is what was on the manifest: 2 shots of whiskey, 2 jagermeister, 1 homosexual concoction, and about 5 beers....are you fuckin' kidding me????? I usually drink that much on the way to the bar just to wet the ol' whistle, but I was acting like a drunken nutcase and that usually calls for at least a fifth of something. I woke the next day with questions, Green & Old had no explanation, they threw up profusely the night before so I know they felt my confusion, but seemed not to question it as much. Was it the altitude? Something in the drinks? Borat? What gives? This was beautiful, I saved at least $300 that night as opposed to Bay Area drinking, and had Old not fucked with the POS system at the bar to "check his e-mails" we might not have been cut-off and experienced a near death alcoholic experience, ( I love those ) with only a handful of drinks....????!!!!! Where was I? It seems The Lord created a perfect little city up there. Day two was uneventful and not worth discussing, except of course for Ethiopian food [at Blue Nile Cafe - Ed.], a contradiction in itself, but rather yummy, and as for day three, well, I'm going to have to pass the mike to the Mick and let him tell his side because my side was, to say the least, blurred. All in all, I had a blast and want to thank the natives for showing a Bay Area boy a great time, thanks Green, Old, Kesia, Cassie, K.C. (doesn't that get confusing?) I'll see you guys soon enough. Out.


Watch out for that dirty bomb

Portlanders will be in for a treat on Tuesday, 10/16, for it is not everyday one witnesses the intentional detonation of a dirty bomb and subsequent emergency response of the city's authorities. This Tuesday, though, you can soak under a cloud of radiation and watch the police, firemen, paramedics, and city leaders scramble to show how well Portland can respond to a terrorist attack....sort of.

It's all pretend, of course.

The dirty bomb won't really have radioactive components in it (darn). However, everyone from the mayor on down to 911 (they'll use 211 on this day, so as not to jam the real emergency response line) operators will have to act like it's a dirty bomb, thus showing the world how prepared we are for terrorist attacks. The mission, dubbed "Topoff4," and overseen by the Department of Homeland Security, is a practice run of what the government wants us all to fear: freedom-hating terrorists, with an arsenal of biological weapons, bringing their savage ways to a city near you. It is the government's hopes that such a mission will allow us to further prepare for, and simultaneously prevent, a situation similar to the World Trade Center attacks on 9/11.

Sounds like a good plan. At least when we are again caught off guard by a terrorist attack, we can say we did all we could to prepare. However, after two years since the last Topoff mission, a public report has yet to be filed, in effect keeping all findings from the test results a secret (I thought it was to provide insight in the event of a real attack). In this mission, the fourth carried out since 9/11 across various US cities, a dirty bomb will be detonated on the Steel Bridge (really at the Portland Raceway), causing a domino effect of panic, scurry, emergency response, and, naturally, a restoration to peace and order (for we can't let the terrorists win...maybe we should also practice shopping afterward to boost the economy and let them know our way of life won't be impacted by their threats). The mission will include the participation of 15,000 people, from police and EMTs, to Mayor Tom Potter and fake news reporters (I'm sure real media outlets will be there, too, to report on the silliness). Governor Kulongoski will even be around to make sure Portland is not taken over.

If you want to show off your emergency preparedness skills at Topoff4, show up to Portland International Raceway at 9:00 am on Tuesday. Don't forget your sunglasses and hazmat suits, though.


Underdog Lucky Lab Declared Preeminent Portland Brewery

The results of our most recent poll, asking who the finest brewery is in Stumptown:
  • Lucky Lab: killed the competition, taking 33% of the vote.
  • McMenamin's: 18% (Seriously? Their IPA tastes like Band-Aids.)
  • BridgePort, Laurelwood, Old Lompoc, MacTarnahan's, and Widmer Bros. all tied, with a respectable 8% each.
  • Hair of the Dog, Tugboat, and Rockbottom: 0%...better improve your marketing department, folks.

Make sure to participate in our newest poll...now that the rains are here in all their Biblical Flood proportions, what's your favorite rainy day activity? This poll will run through next month, as well, since it got off to such a late start.

Thanks for the interaction, peeps.


Ghosts of Celilo

For 10,000 years, the mid-Columbia River has been a sacred and traditional fishing area for local Native Americans, referred to as River People. These River People, or Wy-Kan-Ush-Pum (literally, Salmon people), were made up of the Nez Perce Nation, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation, and the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Indian Nation. These tribes were made up of different ancestral groups and familial bands that all, to varying extents, made a subsistence on the river and the fish that swam its waters.

One group in particular, the Wyampum, prospered in their fishing village, Wyam, and have roots in the area that span more than 10 millenia. Wyam, which translates to "Echo of Falling Water" or "Sound of Water upon the Rocks," was a sacred fishing site that saw many generations of fishermen support their village with the fish they caught. The Wyampum built intricate fishing systems along the falls, which included wooden platforms and scaffolding that allowed dipnetters and spear-fishermen to stand over the falls for better access to the fish runs. The significance of Wyam, now called Celilo Falls (just over an hour from Portland), extends beyond the food the river provided. The fishing activity also increased the areas importance as a trading site, where other tribes would come to trade for salmon, steelhead and eel, with commercial canneries purchasing what was not eaten and traded among the locals. In more recent times, the intricate fisheries along the river became somewhat of a tourist attraction ("Hey, mom, look at the Indians fishing!"). To say the least, Wyam, or Celilo, was historically important and culturally deep.

All that changed, though, 50 years ago when, in the name of progress and modernity, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dammed the river in an attempt to generate hydro-electric power. When the dam's floodgates were closed in 1957, and the river's flow impeded, Celilo became an afterthought, as the fisheries were destroyed and the falls and village flooded. The people whose life blood had been the falls, were now left with a diminishing food source and a lot less land...not to mention the complete loss of 10,000 years of history and tradition.

To mark 50 years since the historic travesty, Marv Ross, in conjunction with Artists Repertory Theater and Youth Resources Incorporated, has brought the story back to life with his play, Ghosts of Celilo . The story revolves around four ghosts, all stuck beneath water in the flooded village of Celilo. Each of the four ghosts are connected by their respective relation to the main characters, Chokey Jim (Noah Hunt) and Train (ColtonLasater). By figuring out their connections, and thus retelling the story of events leading up to the damming, the ghosts will be able to escape the purgatory they've found themselves in under the river. Mary, one of the spirits (played by Chenoa Egawa), is the mother of Train, a boy from Celilo who is kidnapped, along with his friend Chokey, and taken to an Indian boarding school. The man who kidnaps the two boys, Inky (Kevin Michael Moore), is the second of the four ghosts. He and Mary are joined under water by the ghosts of Big Eddie (Thomas Morning Owl Jr.), who, despite being from Celilo, helps the missionaries run the said boarding school, and The Colonel (Corey Brunish), an Army engineer assisting with the completion of the dam. The story follows Chokey (loosely based on the life of Nathan Jim) as he seeks to escape the boarding school and return to Celilo before the eventual flooding of his village. The play comes together as a musical interpretation of the lives that were effected by the river and its subsequent damming, as well as what Native Americans were forced to endure as the encroaching white population sought to make them assimilate into their society.

Marv Ross' production, with the direction of Greg Tamblyn and musical contributions of Chenoa Egawa, manages to turn a sad and unfortunate story into one of strength, perseverance and deep cultural history. To see the play, you must do so before its last showing on the 14th of October. For more information, or to buy tickets, visit the website, http://www.ghostsofcelilo.com.


Avoid the Extra Glucosa...

As Jeff has frequently informed our loyal readers, I am a huge fan of the "gibblet." The gibblet (or nibblet, tiddbit, nuggeeeeet and dozens of other variations) refers to a tasty little snack, preferably of the greasy, fried variety. I search high and low for new additions to my regular rotation of gibblets, often purchasing well more than I can ever eat alone or store at home (often leading me to pass them off onto the homies...Jeff is currently babysitting at least four recent purchases at the moment). A recent find is the Vietnamese snackpack called Trai Cay Say. It's basically a bunch of fruits and starches (pineapple, banana, taro root, sweet potato, and jack fruit) of the dried, fried, and salted kind.

Anyway, while snickersnacking this afternoon, I decided to attempt to decipher some of the Vietnamese language present on the bag when I spotted a small paragraph of English...If anyone can tell me what this means, I'll change my name to Pol Pot.

By the special processing industry used in the process of production of dry products from fresh fruits. No chemical substance is used, but the colour and natural flavour is well maintained. These dried products have also the peculiarity of sweet, smelling, appetite, crispness, tempting taste. Provide many nutritive facts, vitamins, mineral necessary for the body, avoid the extra glucosa.

Kinda makes you hungry...


Greasy Tidderbites

Assorted news and adventure updates...reading Jeff's sarcastic (and ironic...you hipster!) last entry has sucked all the creativity out of my heart and soul, so this is what you get:

  • Jeff and I took a trip on down to City Hall to participate in a City Council session. Little did we know that we were trapped in a 3-hour discussion on developer subsidies. Wow. We spent the entire time barely containing giggle-laughter whenever we glanced over at Dan Saltzman obviously suffering from an overdose of methamphetamine cut with black tar heroin.
  • Kes and I checked out the new Cha Taqueria & Bar over on NW 21st and Everett and were not impressed. Items similar to their other, far less snooty, locations were double, sometimes triple, the price. The service was terrible, and our server wouldn't let us participate in their happy hour despite arriving 20 minutes before it ended. Booo. Their al pastor was muy delicioso y autentico, carved straight from the lump of pork rotating in front of the mini-heater, with pina juice dripping down it's exterior. My mouth waters, but not for 3 bucks a piece.

  • As a way to celebrate my heritage, I participated in and received a third place award in the grease-tossing contest at the Festa Italiana. Next year, I swear I'll conquer you both, Mama Giordani and Don Giuseppe!
  • Finished off this year's Flicks on the Bricks series (an outdoor screening of family-friendly films, projected onto a 10 story tall inflatable plastic TV smack-dab in the middle of Pioneer Courthouse Square) with the time capsule of my childhood, Stand By Me. Remember these: I got dibs, your ass is grass, give me some skin, that's boss, cock knocker, you wet end...? A true 80's homage to youthful vernacular.

  • With the closing day of summer, Jeff, Kes and I mourned the death of another Portland institution, the Parking Lot Movie. For as long as we've been here, MacTarnahan's brewery has been showing great films like Where the Buffalo Roam, and The Big Lebowski on a projection screen in their parking lot...viewers crowd around in camp chairs or lounge on the still-warm asphalt, sipping on brew and celebrating summer. Well, no longer. Due to shitty weather the last few weeks, attendance was almost non-existent at the screenings, causing them to drop the affair altogether. We found this out while settling down in the parking lot for what we thought was a night of some Harold & Maude. Oh well, I'm sure someone else will start these up again if Mac's isn't up to the task...

  • I'll finish off with this gem. Close your eyes and imagine that you're hanging out at home, enjoying some good ol' PCP and peyote tea, then BAM! you wake up and this is the scene you've gotten yourself into:

Campus safety officers found a man masturbating and choking himself in the dumpster yard after they found an illegally parked car near his location that was later reported stolen. The masturbation location was visible from several dozen apartments. He was found with a cloth tied around his foot, genitals, and neck, and he was pulling the cloth with his foot. The man said he did not know how he got to the location and appeared to be under the influence of a narcotic, according to a Campus Public Safety report. (taken from PSU's daily paper, the Vanguard)


King Lou in Portland

"Who so pulleth out this sword of this stone and anvil is rightwise king born of England."

According to legend, only one true king would be able to pull out the sword mentioned in the quote above. If you remember your bedtime stories well, you'd know that Arthur, the young king-to-be who was mentored by Merlin, would be that fateful person. After removing the sword from the stone, he would grow up to be the storied King Arthur, who, along with his Knights of the Round Table, would bring honor back to Britain.

After many theatrical depictions of this mythological story, King Arthur again returns to the stage in Portland. The challenge, though, was to find the right person to portray King Arthur. This person would be expected to embody honor, chivalry and bravery, as well as inspire the romantic in all its viewers. After searching far and wide, only one person could be found to capture the essence of the Royal Arthur: Lou Diamond Phillips. Yes folks, none other than Lou Diamond Phillips will be delighting Portland theater-goers as King Arthur in Lerner and Loewe's, Camelot.

While the memory of him in Young Guns, as the Native American and spiritual leader of the Regulators, may prevail, it was his portrayal of Richie Valens (really Ricardo Valenzuela) in La Bamba that really captured the hearts of Americans. But if his serenading Donna in La Bamba didn't cement his name in Hollywood history, his performance as a high school drop-out and gang member, who overcomes all obstacles to become an honor roll calculus student, must have surely sealed the deal....for the genius of Lou Diamond Phillips is undeniable.

This was only the start of Lou's career, though, as his star was only just beginning to shine. He later went on to wow audiences in the eventual sequel to Young Guns, cameoed alongside Michael J. Fox in an episode of Spin City, and made a compelling appearance in Brokedown Palace (the mega-hit starring Claire Danes). Lou was even considered to replace Fox Mulder in X-Files, but was apparently over-qualified for the TV roll. His fame has most recently peaked with an occasional appearance on the show, Numb3rs, and now on stage as King Arthur. Fans of Lou must be proud to see how far he has come and, no doubt, will show their support when he performs in Camelot this week, October 2-7, at the Keller Auditorium. You can get your tickets at Fred Meyer or call Ticketmaster at (503) 790-ARTS.