Archive for February, 2008

The Books in your Living Room

bookshelfSo Portland is the most book buying city in the US. Or maybe we’re the most literate city in the US. Or was it that we’re the greenest book recycling city in the US? No, I think it was that we’re the most gourmet, bicycling while having a tiny paperback poking from our messenger bags city in the US. I think that’s what The New York Times said anyway.

And not like I need to make this leap for this post to be relevant to Portland, but I choose to because it’s leap day and I want everyone to be happy that I’m posting about Portland. Can it be leap day all the time so I can post about things that are interesting to me in the hopes that they’re interesting to about two of you out there, Portland or not? I guess not.


I was reading Bookslut today and there was a great link to this article about the books on your shelf. One guy says the books on the living room shelves ought to be all books you’ve read. (I think he’s being ironic in his column, but there’s no fun in talking about books unless we’re all going to be extremely serious and check our senses of humor at the door.) One guy says, pishaw! Bookshelves are to display the books that we haven’t read in the hopes that the people reading the spines will think we are the type of people to read these tomes.

I was a bookseller for five years. My partner was a bookseller for twelve years. We have a lot of books. Have we read them all? God only knows. All I know about the books on my shelves is that they’re a lot like bunnies — they reproduce whenever I turn my back and they are dirty, dirty, mind-warping things. That’s like bunnies, right?

As for the books on that shelf, I haven’t read four of them. A few I have read, one of them is by a former teacher, three are by favorite authors, one I read in an afternoon, one is by Kelly Link who I wished I loved and I try to love but I just don’t, and two books are by me, while the others are collections in which you’ll find my short stories.

So, what’s on your shelf?

A leap day flower

leap day flowers

Originally uploaded by dieselboi.

With the sun this past week, everything is starting to bloom. Weeeeee! I love wandering around downtown and seeing all the planters with their blooms. The colors, the smells, the beauty. I leap for joy! (Had to get that in there somehow.) Anyone else smell that Daphne?

Enjoy the rest of leap day and the rest of Friday all.


Wow. Talk about a stupid idea. Here’s the latest ballot initiative from Republican Kevin Mannix – you know – the “sensible spending” party?

He wants to force judges to implement mandatory prison sentences onto drug dealers, felony property offenders, and identity thieves. At first glance, it sounds reasonable. Having your identity stolen is a big deal. Having your car get broken into sucks (I know – it’s happened to me twice). And who isn’t against drug dealers?

However, this is a horrible idea for at least a couple of reasons:

First, it takes drug treatment off of the table. The overwhelming majority of property crimes are committed by addicts in order to get money to feed their addictions. It’s pretty much common knowledge that addiction is a medical issue more than it’s a criminal issue. In other words, if you want to cut down on addicts stealing things, cure the addiction. Throwing drug addicts in jail won’t do this. It will actually just make things worse. The addicts will come out as newly hardened criminals, with no prospects for employment or housing – and the addiction will be just as bad, if not worse, then when they entered the incarceration system. Locking up addicts does NOTHING to reduce crime.

Secondly, our jails are already overcrowded, and we spend way to much on incarceration. Want to know which state spends the largest part of its state budget keeping people locked up? Oregon , that’s who. And if Mannix’s crackpot idea gets voted into law, we’re looking at a 12% to 44% increase in our prison population, with a price tag of up to $200 million per year.

There’s just nothing good about this idea. Vote “no”, and urge everyone you know to do the same.

Downtown Portland Getting Uwajimaya?

Thanks to Cuisine Bonne Femme over at Portland Food and Drink for the heads up on this one.

Have you been to Uwajimaya in Beavertron or Fubonn in Greshland? They are fantastic stores – good fresh seafood and produce, cooking supplies (I bought my husband a great cleaver from there for Valentine’s Day a few years ago) and all the unique (and sometimes just plain crazy) Asian grocery items you could ever want.

We had a party a few years ago with an Asian theme. We went to Fubonn and got lots of fun pre-packaged snacks and ingredients for some of the various recipes we were putting together. We also bought a dozen cans of wacky flavored sodas and juices….like grass jelly, chrysanthemum, coconut ginger and lychee fruit… we covered the labels with construction paper, numbered the cans and everyone did blind tastings trying to figure out what the flavor was.

So a Uwajimaya in Chinatown would be so awesome. I love the store – but I try to avoid crossing the west hills whenever possible. It’s just not worth the effort and frustration of getting there. Fubonn is much closer and easier to get to, and I love the whole Asian shopping plaza, but it’s definitely still a ‘destination’ shopping trip.

CBF reports that while it’s still not a done deal, things are looking good. Let’s hope this one gets through all the red-tape and is a go!

Greg Oden – one classy fella

On Wednesday, I’m sitting at Chili’s in Lake O for lunch of some honey dipped chicken wings…(don’t ask)…. when I looked up at the TV and saw our own Greg Oden being interviews by Jim Rome on ESPN. I was intrigued because Oden hasn’t been in the news lately since he isn’t playing. One would think Brandon Roy would be in the interview chair. The sound was off, so I had to read he subtitles between chewy bites of overcooked chicken. The interview was about Oden speaking out publicly in support of Barak Obama. That’s cool. I am surprised that this is a big news story, but in the world of sports, maybe the players don’t publicly get political and this is a first.

On Thursday, I got a little confused. I was listening to OPB and they ran a story about Laura Bush’s visit to Portland. Along with causing traffic delays, Mrs. Bush was in town to support youth programs as part of an initiative W. had kicked off in 2005. One of those programs is mentoring. At one event, our Greg Oden got up on stage to introduce Laura Bush…. HUH? Yep, the day after Greg is news about supporting Obama, he is hanging with Laura. Now that is one classy fella. Seriously. I personally would have had a difficult time if put in that position. It shows we picked a winner in more ways than just basketball when we drafted Greg Oden. Way to go Greg!

Side note – look who else has a blog and wants to keep Portland weird.

Pic/Asshat of the day *Updated

Portrait of a modern day racist

So this guy was getting annoyed by a woman of a different race than his pasty whiteness on the bus. The woman was talking with the driver, so she was speaking a little loudly as to be heard by the driver during their conversation. This ass, started making comments under his breath to the people around him trying to get them to laugh at the woman. It elevated to the point where he started thanking her as loud as he can after she finished a sentence. As people bored with him, he took it up a notch, “blah blah blah, I gotta go get my welfare check” he says loudly in a terrible mocking accent. He is lucky she didn’t hear him and also lucky that I am not a physically violent person. This stuff makes my skin crawl and my blood boil.

You know just because a woman with darker skin than you is talking louder than you would like, does not mean she is on Welfare, you ass.

In fact, statistically whites are more likely to be on welfare, you ass. YOU ASS!

Play Hooky?

Happy 10th Birthday! While all your old school classmates are turning 40 this year… you my February 29, 1968 friend… are celebrating your 10th birthday tomorrow. Or at least that what you can tell others if they try to give you any of those “Over the Hill” birthday gifts.

Now for you leaplings born in 1988 who are desperately waiting for your 21st birthday next year, celebrating the fact that this is only your 2nd birthday might not be as much fun. But hey – maybe it’s like looking young – you’ll appreciate it when you’re older.

One old tradition said that Feb 29 was the one day that women were allowed to ask men to marry them – and the men could not refuse. Maybe that’s why those terrible high school Sadie Hawkins Day dances were always held in February.

A friend of mine wants to start a new leap year tradition. He said that he’s not working on Friday – that his salary is the same as it was last year with only 365 days in it and that he’s not working an extra day for free.

Sounds reasonable to me. So what do you say – start a little revolution and not go to work tomorrow? I think it’s supposed to be another sunny day…

Who’s with me?!?

Get in the Gutter

Photo Credit: A.L. Venable

While some may have spent February 14 snuggling on the couch with their loved one, fretting over if they bought the right flowers, the right candy, the right jewelry, had the right amount of sex…or if it’s time to move on, I spent Valentine’s Day in New York City with the Gutter Twins as they began their first-ever tour.

Led by Greg Dulli (Afghan Whigs, Twilight Singers, often contributor to Lo-Fidelity Allstars’ sexy jams) and Mark Lanegan (Screaming Trees, Queens of the Stone Age, an album with Isobell Campbell in addition to his solo work), the duo’s music is perfect for a night of questioning life, who you love, and even your belief system.

When I first listened to their debut album, Saturnalia, I felt in the wrong for playing it in the afternoon with the sun shining through my living room windows. It’s perfect for a dark and rainy night, perhaps just before dawn so you’ll have the light to look forward to shortly after the album ends.

The Gutter Twins will visit Portland on Monday, March 3 for a performance at the Wonder Ballroom. Their debut album will be released the following day. Great Northern are the opening act. Tickets are $15 and this is a 21+ show.

New Seasons Turns 8, Offers Cake & Ice Cream

Ever been to a New Seasons on the weekend? It’s a great time to go as they are usually sampling some great foods they’ll hope you will buy. It looks like this weekend especially something fun is in the air…New Seasons turns eight! To party down the local grocery store chain is offering birthday cake and ice cream to all visitors between 11am and 5pm. They’ve even done an entertaining little video to promote their cake give away.

Mmm….birthday cake and ice cream….

Starbucks – a counterpoint

A devil’s advocate post

A devil’s advocate post, whoda thunk? As everyone in the known universe knows, Starbucks will be closing all of their stores this evening for three hours of re-training. While many are quick to jump on the anti-Starbucks bandwagon (me included mind you) and jump for joy hoping they would stay closed, I would like to offer up an alternative theory.

Starbucks has seen a significant change in the past couple of months. Their CEO for many years Jim Donald was replaced by former CEO and current Chairman Howard Schultz who made Startbucks into the juggernaut it is today. Howard Schultz took the company public and expanded it to 43 countries. Good? Bad? Not here to decide that.

What has happened in the past 15 years since Starbucks became the coffee giant is that they also became the WalMart of the service industry. People hate them for just being who they are, not because of the quality of their coffee. They became the personification of what many believe is wrong with corporate America. Howard Schultz plans on turning that around.

I liken this shift and change to another company that re-invented itself – Apple. Remember when everyone was gaga over Dell and many trade rags believed Dell or Compaq would eventually just buy Apple outright – like 1995 or so? Well, around that time, Steve Jobs returned to the company and look at them today. A former CEO returned and created a company many now aspire to emulate. Could Howard Schultz be Starbucks’ Steve Jobs?

Being number 1 is a for Starbucks to lose. They must change with the times to stay viable.

The end.

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