Archive for February, 2008

Chalk art?

On my bus ride to work this morning, I noticed a bunch of chalk drawings, possibly names, on NE Broadway between NE 27th and NE 31st. It was in different colors, some were smeared, probably due to foot traffic, and definitely looked planned. Alas, since I was in a moving vehicle at the time, I was unable to gather if it was a art project from the school nearby or some graffiti artist with a lot of exes.

Any ideas?

EVERY Starbucks closing! (no not forever.)

But yes, you read that right: EVERY Starbucks is closing (count them: 7100) at 5:30 tonight Tuesday, Feb 26 [MB Edit] for three (count them: THREE) hours of training. Allegedly this will address service issues such as bad shots and poorly steamed milk.

At one point in time, I was a barista for both The Beanery and Coffee People: Aero Moka, and I could sling lattes with the best of them. I attribute my success (I could make foam you could bounce a quarter off of and my shots were NEVER bitter) to the fact that I had to actually take a full-on class on coffee at both locations. When I started at The Beanery they took me to the roaster and showed me this is how coffee beans start and this is what happens to them, etc. After two solid days of this sort of information I had to take a test. When I started at Coffee People it was a similar situation (but without the trip to the roaster). I had to know a lot about coffee and get a fair amount of training in technique and ingredients and all manner of proper beverage assembly before they turned me loose on customers. I won’t say just how long ago this was, but I’ll tell you not one bit of the airport was under construction and I still had to explain differences between cappuccino and latte to a lot of folks.

It makes me wonder just what it takes to be a barista in this day and age. If you know please let me know. And if you need that hit on the way home, you might be out of luck if you usually stop at Starbucks. Try someone local. You might be pleasantly surprised!

Bathroom Art


Ah – you know it was a good weekend when a bar bathroom makes my night. Providing chalk and chalk boards (like at the Florida Room) is a nice touch…you can decorate a bit if you are so inspired, leave a silly message (or a rude one if you’re so inclined) and not feel like a vandal. The business owners can just wipe it away at any time without the time and cost of repainting to get rid of something they don’t want to see. No harm, No foul.

Or – you can decorate the place so that no one wants to vandalize with unoriginal poems and declarations of love or hate. The old Acme did this – but the art they had on the walls was well – you were glad you were in the bathroom because it kind of made you want to throw up. There were unicorns and talking birds and flowers and it was all inspired by a very creepy mother nature.

Now that the prime space (one of the best patios in town AND a kick-ass grilled cheese – what more could you ask for?) has been revamped as Plan B – not only is the atmosphere and attitude of the whole bar a much more enjoyable place to hang out, the bathrooms have also gotten a bit of fun and – a good little bit creepy – new life.

Just one more reason to love this place!


Virginia Cafe’s bar stool crawl tonight!

"The End"

Originally uploaded by drburtoni.

The Virginia Cafe will be closing its doors this evening at their original location since 1914. The building they have been in for so long is being demolished for a new office tower. But the VC is not closing. They have remodeled a space a couple of blocks away and will be doing a ceremonial “bar stool crawl” tonight. Sometime during happy hour, they will give the sign and you pick up your bar stool and wander up to the new location.

Also, this is probably the last day/evening to smoke it up at the VC. When I was there on Friday, one guy came in and thanked the gods for a place where he could smoke. If you’re a smoker, as the VC’s signs say – “Smoke ’em if you got ’em.”

Virginia Cafe
725 SW Park (until tonight)
820 SW 10th (starting tomorrow)

Thanks to David (drbutoni) for use of the photo under CC.

Grocery stores: when ‘good enough’ will do

Sure, I do the grocery store/food-buying round robin: New Seasons, Trader Joe’s, farmer’s markets, specialty stores, meat markets (discovered Gartner’s last week, in fact), etc. I also do the occasional big-box food shop: Costco, Freddy’s, Winco. And I’m looking into signing up for a CSA so I can have fresh local organic fruits and veggies at my fingertips.

But if I need to pick up ‘just a few things’ and I want to get in and out in record time, well – I go to QFC.

Yes, I know that deli ham I picked up yesterday was from Kroger/Fred Meyer. And I could have probably picked out that single meyer lemon more cheaply at TJ’s.

But QFC sharpens my knives for me if I leave them overnight. They gladly pack my 13 items in a bag branded with Someone Else’s Logo without comment. And – most importantly – I can make that trip for those 13 items painlessly, in record time, and without dropping significant bills behind me in the process.

So when ‘good enough’ is all that I need – well, I’m glad QFC is there to fill the bill!

Snark du Soleil

So coming into town on I-5 today after a week in not-so-sunny southern California, I notice the Grand Chapiteau of Montreal’s Cirque du Soleil has once again taken up temporary residence in the brownfield beneath the Marquam bridge.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of a at least one thing Canadian, and even a French Canadian or two. But there’s something about French Canadian clowns and their production sensibility that doesn’t do it for me.

Somebody will surely be able to set me straight on the shows Cirque has done in Portland, but I saw one show (Dralion?) around 1999 and another (Saltimbanco?) a couple-few years later.

There’s a lot of great things to say about Cirque du Solel — they don’t use animals, the circus artistry is top notch and comes from all around the world, and the tech is high end and extremely well executed. Both shows I saw had a variety of acts woven into a narrative acted out by clowns, musicians and acrobats. Contortion, aerial and floor acrobatics, juggling and shows of strength are all represented. (Not so much on the side show stuff, so don’t expect anything like the good ol’ Jim Rose Circus. It’s just a little different than that.)

But what I can’t take (besides the $50-$250 tickets) is the tone of the show. Everything is slicker than slick, breezy as hell, and just generally, eh, a little too twee for moi.

The first show I saw actually had clowns playing the guitar/synth rock soundtrack. I’m thinking, come on, people, didn’t Kiss do this in 1975? I also found myself thinking, damn, they sure do rely a lot on third-world child labor (lots of kid performers).

Cirque du Soleil is pretty much a the French Canadian Disney of the human circus industry. (And that’s coming from somebody who just spent some time at Disneyland.) It’s definitely worth seeing once, even if you (like me) don’t care so much for clowns of any kind, much less French Canadian clowns. The circus artistry and stagecraft alone are worth it, even if the production is a bit overwrought.

Cirque du Soleil’s Corteo plays Portland March 1 through April 6.

Asshat parking job of the day

Asshat parking

Originally uploaded by dieselboi.

Ugh, the west side. I am such an eastsider and proud of it. Today, as part of some shopping, we had to venture west of the hills which was challenging to say the least. We even had to brave the traffic of 217 and Washington Square Mall. Luckily I wasn’t driving. I think that saved my sanity. Just as we were getting to our final destination, this asshat pulled into the parking lot and parked, running into the establishment. Even in a hurry, two parking spots? Paaalease!

The only saving grace is that amazing sky I captured with this photo. Wow!

Upcoming Shows

Here’s a few upcoming shows that you might wanna check out:

The Slants, The DTSS, Patterns – Slabtown, March 8. The Slants are a group of local guys (and one gal) who are doing PDX proud and quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with on a national level. After the show on March 8, they’re embarking on a long tour that will take them all over the U.S., as well as a couple of stops in Asia and the UK. Despite being snubbed in a bizarre (and in my opinion, unfair and uncomfortably-racially-tinged) piece in the Merc, the Slants keep on truckin’. They play some pretty rockin’ synth-pop, to boot. Check ’em out.

Ah Middle School…

Remember middle school? I don’t know about you, but I was busy being fitted for my nun’s habit and embracing anyone who was different from me. What? You don’t have Guess jeans and wear your t-shirt tucked into your jeans so you can show off the wee triangle on your ass? Well, the rest of us are doing it but join us anyway because everyone knows adolescent girls are all about inclusion and acceptance. I’m pretty sure this is still the life of the middle school student, right? I mean, MTV and myspace are not available to anyone under eighteen and the school playground is filled with hugs, rainbows, sunshine and fluffy ducklings.

Sherwood Middle School is this sort of an idyllic place. So idyllic in fact, the school’s principal felt that a play about bullying and written by one of the school’s teachers was inappropriate and some of the subject matter was too mature. I said it was about bullying, right? Well the main character might or might not be gay and is bullied for dancing with one of his male friends. Not to worry, the bullying is equal opportunity. Latinas, fat kids, smart kids, everyone gets some of the bullying action. (I know, right, what the hell are we teaching kids? That the world is a tough place and a lot like middle school?!?) The principal, being a true diplomat, took it up with the students. She told them that they either had to revise it, or the play would be canceled. The kids stood their ground and the play was canceled.

Here’s the some of the principal’s reasoning, from The Tigard Times, “‘The issues that are raised are extremely sensitive,” she said. “They’re poignant, they’re hurtful and I’m not convinced students are ready to view the play as it is.'”

All I know is, when I write a play for middle school kids, it’s going to be about the importance screaming and pointing whenever you see someone different than you are. That and the literary value of slam books.

Oregonian story here.

My pal Recovering Straight Girl wrote great post on her blog and I would have never known this was happening if I wasn’t a loyal reader of hers. She also has a list of other media covering this story.

Got a Blog? Like Beer? Have I got a deal for you!

I know it’s short notice, but today (yeah, TODAY!) You can hang out from 4-6 at the Lucky Lab (SE 9th and Hawthorne) for Beer and Blog which is completely Portlandy and a brilliant idea. Hang out at the Lab for a couple of hours and pick the brains of blogmasters for your own blog. Usually there is a focus on one particular subject for the evening and tonight it is WordPress for newbies. We’re going to discuss setup, themes, plugins to install, and general WordPress Best Practices. Tonight we get a Guest Host in the form of Adam Duvander. It is going to be awesome! How do I know? Well for one thing, I will be there! (: Also, there’s a chance that our own Dieselboi might attend as well. You can meet other bloggers, of course, and what’s not to like about the Lucky Lab on a sunny Friday afternoon? So if you’re getting ready to kick off your weekend and you think a beer might be the way to do it, come hang with us. Who knows? You might even learn something too? (If you do, don’t worry, I’m sure a few more from the bar will scrub it right back out of your brain…)

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