So, okay. I'm gonna stay the hell away from politics and defense subjects for a while until my idiot alarm stops going off. But that doesn't mean that there's no hot summer action around here, baby! Just a sample of what's going down in NoPo and elsewhere:
1. Inauguration of Astor Firing Center. This Monday saw the City of Portland recognize the blacktop play area behind Astor Elementary ("We skin knees!"), the formerly-derided "eyesore" and "kiddie wasteland", as the Rose City's first urban firing center/impact area.After years expending scarce city funds pursuing Portlanders exercising their God-given right to blow their hands and/or heads off expending illegal Washington State projectile-type fireworks, Mayor-Elect Sten signed the proclamation designating the asphaltic rectangle as the "Tre Arrow Memorial Astor Firing Center", commenting "Let the dumbasses up there in North vacuum their own goddam gene pool" and left City Hall in a huff immediately after detailing seven third-graders from Mrs. Pike's class to police up the dunnage left on the playground the day after this year's Fourth of July live fire exercise.
2. Garbo Talks! Little Miss said her first Official Sentence today: "No go tubby!" in response to Mojo's suggestion that her stanky toddler butt could use a scrubbing (up 'til now it's been single words and baby babble).
Girlfriend has also been working overtime to dispel the cultural stereotype of the compliant Asian girl, throwing some pretty impressive Level IV tantrums when family life doesn't break her way. She explained it in her second sentence: "I ain't no China Doll, homeslice, and I don't think those crunchberries are going in your cakehole!"
She's also figured out the First Cardinal Rule of Childhood: Brothers Are For Blaming. We've come to expect any competition for toys, affection, food to result in a scuffle, a wail followed by the arrival of an adorable toddler, chubby finger thrust out in a wordless cry of "J'accuse!", accompanied by a torrent of condemnatory babble featuring the Peeper prominently.
Example: "Shea-shea da na baga na die gaka!" (Translation: Shea-shea is a dirty rotten little bastard AND he's got my Army bear! Kill him! Kill him now!)
3. It's Gasoline! It's Pizza! It's two, two, two treats in one! No, it's not. It's just pizza.But it's good-ass pizza! Next time you're in St. John's, try Signal Station for the St. John's Combo with a limonata and tell'em the Chief sent ya!
4. Another Brick in the Wall: Peeper in Full-day Kindergarten! After a delay of over three months, Portland Public Schools announced that The Student Known as Peeper was accepted to Mrs. Thompson's class of full-day kindergarten at Astor School.Yaay! His parents, elated, informed the newest Astor Eagle and the Peeper was wildly excited by the news for approximately ten minutes, between the last of the chocolate milk and his departure for scootering.
5. Books on Film: New in Entertainment! The past week saw a couple of debuts in the Fire Direction Center. First, the ever-indispensable Teacher Reena babysat and let the Happy Couple do dinner (at Equinox) and a movie at the Laurelhurst. For braving the stick floor and pricey beers they took in an odd little movie: "The Band's Visit". You'd think a flick built around a misdirected Egyptian police band and a desolate kibbutz deep in the Israeli Negev wouldn't deliver much.But on the strength of several terrific performances - and particularly on the movie's insistence to remain true to those of its characters whose lives are deeply, truly bereft - we truly enjoyed TBV and voted the flick into our personal Academy awards alongside "Cosi" and "The Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death".
Second, on the nightstand right now is Jasper Fford's "The Fourth Bear", a "mystery novel" if you can imagine a mystery where Philip Marlow has to figure out who killed Cock Robin and the Gingerbread Man is a vicious psychopath ("You can't catch me!"). This is the second of these "Nursery Crime Division" books I've read, and it's a fun, clever outing, full of sly humor and the skewering of detective fiction and police procedural traditions. It's worth a look, if you're searching for a light summer read...give the NCD a try.
6. Almost done! The Hateful Drywall in Missy's bedroom is almost done. Thank you, Baby Jesus.
7. Hit the beach. Sunny, hot days in the Willamette Valley mean lovely, cool misty days at the Oregon Coast.As bothersome as having to commute to Lincoln City has been, it did allow me to enjoy some of the beautiful days on the beaches of Road's End. This quiet little park is where the road from the Willamette Valley ended on the coast back in the day. The historical marker says that a pair of newlyweds humped over the Coast Range to honeymoon there in 1837, which must have meant wilted neckcloths and soggy crinolines but hopefully, like newlyweds throughout history, these hardy romantics were to busy discovering how all those Old Testament people did that stuff they got smote for to mind the drizzle.
8. Sudden Adult Brain Death Syndrome. I had a great subject for #8. Really. A genuine ass-tickler. But by the time I got here, it was gone. Vanished. Pouf. My mind was a complete and utter blank. It's stuff like this that makes me take my cod-liver oil in hopes of staving off the Alzheimer's...
Wait! I remember now! I was sorting through my bookshelf at work and came across "In Search of Ancient Oregon" by Ellen Morris Bishop and I wanted to mention it was one of the best, most readable, and beautiful! (the photos are worth the price alone) geology books I've ever seen. If you enjoy the Northwest, or geology, or just like picture books about the outdoors...check it out. Great, great stuff.9. Bad funnies will drive out the Good. While waiting on my drillers today I was reading the comics page in the back of the World's Worst Paper's "How We Live Now" section, what used to be called "Living", the flimsy paper ghetto where the O hides the celeb gossip, recipes, pet-of-the-week and entertainment news (i.e. what 86% of Portland actually reads the catbox liner for) and it struck me how exceptionally lame, weak and flat-out crappy the comics the O runs are. We're not talking "Cathy"-lame, but, Peanuts? Hey, guys? Sparky's DEAD. You can't be lamer than dead. Does anyone still read, care or give a nanoshit about "Garfield"? "Ziggy"? or "Mary Worth"?
The frustrating thing is that the comics page used to kick freaking ass like a crazy monkey. Check out this page in the original Dutch from "Little Nemo in Slumberland".
The daily comics used to have their crap back in the Twenties and Forties, too, but to balance it out you used to have great stuff like McKay's Nemo, Hal Foster's Prince Val, Will Eisner's The Spirit...
Now you seem to have all the Browne family and the dead hand of "Peanuts". No wonder the Japanese seem to have snaked all the cool comic ideas. If a nation can be judged on the state of its funny papers...uh oh...
10. And don't forget Wednesday cheap sushi night at Takahashi!
The only nightspot in Portland where your sushi comes by train and the tempura tai is to die for! I'm on my way right now...
I'm finding my way to a more zen-like place where the clamor of the national noise machine is dimmer and less aggravating. Hope you are, too. It looks like a pretty nice summer...
And that's all!