2.27.2008

Alaskan Bush Journey .1

Oh, the wilds of Canada, or as Kes and her family call it, Southeast Alaska. It's a majestic place, filled with grizzly bears the size of houses, wife-swapping hillbillies, limited public infrastructure (no electricity, roadways, running water, or government), shotgun-toting rebel fishmongers, and the most pristine silence present on this planet. The kind of silence that amplifies the residual noise of freeway traffic, alarm clocks, cell phones, TV, and the combustible engine (an invention that hasn't quite made it to these isolated islands as of press time) for a solid week after arrival. It is a land that I've been fortunate enough to have visited half a dozen times over the past nine years, as Kes' father claims territory here (he's a frontier squatter). While I must admit that upon first impression, this rugged region didn't capture my heart (I mean, who really likes wiping their ass with dried salmon skin?), over time it crept inside and took hold of my soul, kinda like a heroin addiction. As proof, you only have to look at the trail of discarded jobs I've abandoned instantly at the chance of heading up north...I hate working, and AK is the perfect place to be a lazy drunkard. Everybody's doing it. I remember Kes' father once mentioning that it costs him less than $7,000/year to live in the land not down under. I just made that figure up, but the point stands.

Anyway, we took my Pops and little sister Squirt there this last summer and frankly, we had a ball. Here are a few pictures of the trip, starting with our journey from Sitka, where we stocked up on ammunition, salted pork, and oranges to ward off scurvy...and ending up in the oatstanding Canuckian (posing as Alaskan) outpost of Port Alexander, affectionately known by its settlers as PA. Enjoy.

Totem Park, Sitka.


Mt. Edgecomb (aboot to erupt), Sitka.

The Starship Tourista...these Pluto-originated crafts are singly as big as the city of Sitka herself. And carry twice the population. It's not uncommon to see four or five docked at any one time.

A lone fishmonger returning with the day's catch (baby seal and polar bear mostly). This is what night looks like.

Typical view out the window of a flying four-man deathtrap affectionately known around these parts as a "float plane".

A man's arm. Somewhere in the background is the back dock of Port Alexander, and David's home (made completely with solid gold panned from the Klondike itself).

Arriving at the front dock in PA. This will be the last form of modern-day civilization that we'll have contact with over the course of the next 7 weeks.

A video of our fearless pilot abandoning us to a life of beach asparagus diets, twelve year-old room temperature bottles of Budweiser, murderous 40lb. ravens, disturbingly-grouchy house tigers, radiation-affected mosquitoes, 24 hour insomnia, and dozens of potlucks (Oh, the Horror!). You're right, just like summer camp. I have a vague recollection of the pilot shouting "SUCKAS!" as he gunned it for civilization.
video

To be continued...

2.19.2008

Scrabble Bags

On any given Thursday night, in a dark and smoky bar tucked beneath the Morrison Bridge, a battle of wit and wisdom is being played out. In this industrial part of the city, where wharehouses and homeless encampments fit in more than the aforementioned bar, a phenemenon begins...already starting to sweep the nation.

Le Merde, the adjoining bar to Le Bistro Montage restaurant, is the quintessential underground watering hole. This may seem counterintuitive to the fact that it sits next to a very popular restaurant and is full on most nights. However, because of its industrial setting, as well as dark and smoky interior, it gives off a sort of rebelious, intellectual air.

Every Thursday night at nine, Le Merde hosts a trivia in which multiple teams battle it out for pub-intellect supremecy. Anybody can play, so long as they are in groups of five or less, and have a team name. Shannon, aka Shanrock, is the hostess and provides the questions and structured format. The rounds are broken up by category, as well as the way the questions are asked and supposed to be answered. For example, one round requires you to listen to one clue at a time and, based on the number of clues it takes for you to figure out the answer, you'll receive a variant amount of points. There is also a music recognition round, and a physical challenge, too.

A group of friends and I have been going to Le Merde for a couple years now, and, until recently, have been picking a new team name every time. However, as the core group of people going narrowed down some, and our attempt to win became more serious, we decided it was time to name ourselves. So one night, in the company of Bobby, Ian, Stephanie and Olde, we unveiled the new name: The Scrabble Bags.

For the simple-minded, this could refer to an assortment of lettered tiles in a felt bag. Or, if you are familiar with Old's dad's lingo, or just plain brilliant, you'd know it is more of a reference to the male anatomy. Whatever the case, we thought the name was perfect. It now represents an approximate grouping of Chrissie, Casey, Ian, Bobby, Olde, and I. There are stragglers, of course (Stephanie, Sydney, and Maggie), but the core remains farley intact (with Bobby, Olde and I the most committed). This commitment has begun to catch on, and has now become a movement (in many ways, a force to be reckoned with). Case in point: on a recent trip to Denver, my sister (being granted honorary status as a Scrabble Bagger) and I went to a pub trivia with a friend of hers. Intent on representing the Scrabble Bags in another state, and unwilling to take on another name, we forced my sister's friend to change their team name to incorporate "Scrabble Bag" in it. Unfortunately, the outsiders tainted the force, and we fared poorly. However, the word is now out and spreading across the nation. The Scrabble Bags have arrived...and there will be no avoiding us.

Peep us at Le Merde on any Thursday night that we can get our shit together and make it out. At worst, you can get a beer and some bomb mac and cheese from Montage. Check 'em out at 301 SE Morrison St.

2.06.2008

In a fight, Sergio would crush Roy.













Surprising absolutely no one who cares to follow the Portland Trailblazers (a growing number nationally), our recent and highly scientific poll shows that 46% of readers favor Brandon Roy amongst the team's starting five. The guy is truly a gem...the reigning Rookie of the Year (there's been much comparing this title to his acronym-prone last name, R.O.Y.), he was recently chosen by the league's coaches as a reserve player in the upcoming All-Star game. The last player to be chosen with this little amount of NBA experience (it's his sophomore year) was LeBron James in 2005, which tells you something. This guy is a true leader for the other Blazers, holding the team together with a calm maturity not often seen outside of 10-year veteran players. He's single-handedly won many games with 4th quarter explosions of skill and aggressive ballerism, and has really helped the team as a whole congeal into a serious threat in their division, possibly propelling Portland towards the Playoffs for the first time since (I think) 2003. Folks in Portland who don't even give a shit about basketball think this guy can walk on water.

Other results for your "favorite starter":
-23% LaMarcus Aldridge (my personal favorite, if only for his perpetually cheerful face, like he's balling while hooked up to a portable morphine-drip)
-15% Joel Przybilla (really showing a boost in effort over last year's ball-buster of a season...sorry, I couldn't resist)
-7% Martell Webster (the guy's a killer at the perimeter, and really needs to get the ball more often)
-7% Steve Blake (welcome back, bud...your workman-like effort was sorely missed last year)

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Overwhelmingly, Portlanders love the gypsy-folk, with a whopping 50% selecting Sergio Rodriguez as their favorite back-up Blazer. This also comes as no surprise to the fans, as Sergio aka Spanish Chocolate aka El Magico aka La Pata Negra aka The Andalusian Mystic (he's my second-cousin) is leading the league in a variety of statistics. Despite averaging less than 10 minutes per game (wake the fuck up, Nate!), Sergio is averaging an astounding 13.8 hexes per game, 97.2 no look/eyes closed while meditating mid-air passes, 3.6 full court buzzer beaters (or as his best friend Aldridge would intone, "buzzahbeetahs"), and at least one opposing assistant coach fatality each quarter. Yes, you read it right, this kid is the greatest player to ever hold the rock. And apparently, Portlanders at large agree. By the way, that picture of him to the right is of him hovering from one end of the court to the other, not of him attempting a jump shot...no that, my friends, involves flips, transporting, and waves of gypsy fire.

Your other "favorite backup" players:
-25% Raef LaFrentz (my mind just exploded typing that...he's the worst player on our team and the highest paid...who the fuck signed off on that?)
-16% Travis Outlaw (frankly, I'm surprised this number isn't higher...this kid has won several games for us, and has miles of room to grow)
-8% James Jones (the sharpest shooter of the bunch, this dude is a fucking sniper...and also out for the next 6 games due to knee troubles)
-0% = the amount of love "Big Body, Itty-Bitty Head" Channing Frye and "Assassin" Jarrett Jack received. Step it up, guys.

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Now that that's out of the way, please turn your attention to this month's extremely simple poll, asking whether you like the polls we've been doing...or not. If you'd like them to continue, but feel that those presented so far have been lackluster, feel free to leave a comment to this post with your suggestions for future polls. Thanks, folks.