10 years, 10 films

What could be more meaningless than end of the decade lists? Very little to my thinking. A bunch of yammering throats eager to announce their importance and unique wonder in the grand scheme of things. File under: "who gives a crap" partner.

That said, here's the 10 movies that stayed w/ me the most over the past 10 yrs, in no particular order.

requiem for a dream

mulholland drive


the best of youth


hedwig and the angry inch

no country for old men


morvern callar

the new world

the careful reader will no doubt identify that i am contradicting myself by lambasting those who post top 10 lists and then doing so myself. you have my every assurance of the deliberate nature of this scenario.



overheard: even if it takes you 300 times an hour to move the mind back to a quiet place it's sucessful

Saturday had the MRI. Heard nothing. This is a good thing. Sunday, yesterday, was the 5 year anniversary of The Call. Meaning it's now been over 5 years since I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. This is a hopeful, beautiful thing. Ironically (or not) my daily email from Eknath Easwaran yesterday is copied below in its entirety

Eknath Easwaran’s Thought for the Day

December 27

The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
– I Corinthians

Most of us find the death of another person or creature deeply unsettling, yet after a time we manage to submerge our feelings and carry on. For someone deeply sensitive to the transitory nature of life, however, an encounter with death can leave scars that last a lifetime. As a teenager Saint Augustine witnessed the untimely death of a bosom friend, and suddenly a trapdoor opened into deeper awareness. He was devastated. “I thought death suddenly capable of devouring all men, because he had taken this loved one.”

The word anxiety is a weak term for expressing this continuing uneasiness, this unsettled sense of being out of place and running out of time. Generally we can only ascribe it to external events, if we succeed in linking it to anything at all. But what is actually happening is that a wisp of memory is rising, whispering to us from deep within that nothing external in life is secure, nothing physical ever lasts.

No matter how hard we may try, in the long run none of us can escape the devastating fact of death. Yet an encounter with death, as in the case of Augustine, can leave us changed decidedly for the better. It can prompt us forward on the long search for something secure in life, something death cannot reach.


new world, the

Been lost in a haze of terrence malick induced stupor of late. nobody makes - ie conceives, directs, edits - movies like him, rewatched the new world last wk and my jaw is still on the floor for reasons that explaining would cheapen. words are meager vessels but suffice to say that it sends my heart soaring. Not to mention The New World, shot on 65 mm, all available light, no cranes or trickery, unreal. True actual cinema, ie true use of the medium of cinema to convey something which cannot be conveyed in any other medium. Very few you can say that about. There goes my heart again!


Is this thing on?

End of decade approaching, End of epic year approaching, 5 year anniversary of my 1st MRI coming on Sunday, my annual MRI coming on Saturday - all of which is to say, a series of  interstitial intersections, an ocean swell of disproportionate conditions blowing in suddenly, clouds and vapor, all heralding some cymbal-clashing stripe of monumental momentousness that I feel some compunction to comment on but....

...what does it all mean really?

or rather does it need to be shared? Some things are not fully formed. Some things can lay underground, unstated, no less potent for going unvoiced.  There is a difference between silence and reduction. A process of refinement lies on one side of the equation, stasis on the other. Idle muteness vs. Subtraction.  Saying vs. Doing. Costume vs. Skin. Persona vs. Person.

To say the absolute least: this year has been transformative. Much was lost, much was gained. One hopes in some sort of cosmic accounting that everything is settled. The 1st 10 months of the year were a voluminous rise of good tiding and atmosphere-departing growth, the last two a sobering hammering back to earth by death, in various forms, literal and imagined, promised and delivered. A reminder of the finite threads we hang from. Which fucks with me already to no end, tied as it to the brain tumor but lining up w/ a series of benchmarks makes it worse: Here comes 5 year anniversary of Diagnosis! Surgery 1! Surgery 2! Proton Beam Radiation! cue the horns, cue the strings, furious drumroll: what does it all mean?

I step to the microphone, clear my throat:

I have no answer. After the mysterious good fortune to overcome hurdles that some do not,  to leap safely across black-hole alligator-jaw-snapping abysses that some do not, I have no secret to claim, no mystical cosmic intonation, no hidden knowledge beyond what everyone knows from reading greeting cards or watching endless televised sludge: 

life is short

as it happens, there's more going on than fumbly survivorship thoughts, those interstitial intersections again, things i'm excluding, the deep dark under a layer of ice on a lake in winter, but i have to leave it there.
more one day.

So, how is that for sharing? For silence? Now do you understand?


let's go blazers!

Portland made the front page of the ny times sports section! Oh, wait it's about how bad the blazers are sucking of late. Whatever karmic alchemies were put in place to get the current roster the bill has apparently come due. A mish-mash of non-function and various maladies across players, coaching, owner - ranging from the severe (bladder cancers, lymphomas) to the season-ending (oden) to the season-arresting (outlaw, batum) to minor annoyance (aldridge, fernandez). Oh yeah, plus nate mcmilllan had surgery on his achilles tendon. Quite a turn from last season but you never know. It's early


sentence of the day 12.06.09

Maybe it's beef trachea day?

mm to lennie briscoe on the occasion of his birthday in reference to
a long-forgotten and disgusting treat in our cabinet


romy, mon amour

saw le combat dans l'ile the other night which bore some obvious hallmarks of a debut french film from 1962 but was mostly really effing weird. part love triangle, part assasination plot, part fight on an island ("hence the title" it was explained to me) paced w/ all the deliberation of drying paint. however that said , if romy schneider is involved then i say paint away. new print doesn't hurt either.

mojo hand


giving thanks, 09

many things were learned, experienced, underscored in the arizona desert. time permits me from addressing all of them but a smattering may/might include the following:

never eat at something called macaroni grill; a grace kelly double feature on tcm is a beautiful thing; never allow circumstance to loosen your guidelines and actually ingest something prepared at jack-in-the-box; when one party honors the strength and courage of the white pilgrim at a thanksgiving toast maybe you shouldn't just let it go unchallenged; if you discover mashed potatoes will be of the boxed, processed varietal prepare to run to the store instantly to correct; the desert is a beautiful place but you wouldn't want to live there; a museum that honors the extermination of native peoples while celebrating 'american expansion' may want to consider ramifications of presentation; oregon beer at cafe happy hour is glorious; under the watchful eye of peregrine falcon something you carry with you is left forever on thumb butte

pix are here


blood-brain barrier

An article in the ny times addresses a new approach to brain tumors - spraying cancer-killing drugs directly on to the tumor. one problem is the breaching the blood-brain barrier but that technique was perfected by a DR at OHSU. Awesome. Obviously at the starting line but getting there.

Introducing Taffy "Sunburst" McKittrick

I am reticent to get into the area of endorsement but I cannot deny the impact that a young singer/songwriter named Taffy McKittrick has had on me. At some point this year, maybe through this very blog, he tracked me down and announced his intention to become "internet BFF's" something I had no interest in. Thinking him a spammer or a phisher (or worse) I merely ignored him. But he sent repeated and multiple emails, urging me intensely to check out his blog. I finally broke down a few months ago and I duly admit to you - head hung low - that I read it from time to time. His songs and writings generally hover around a few topics (boring day job, thoughts of an artist, microwave burritos) but one cannot deny the sheer inadvertant ridiculousness they engender. What McKittrick lacks in talent he makes up for with eager full-throated ambition. I suppose that's a back-handed compliment. Taffy has urged me to make mention of him on this blog which I have resisted for quite some time. But, what can I say, he broke me:

If you have the stomach for it, you can experience Taffy McKittrick's blog writings here and his songcraft here (youtube) or here (vimeo).

I shall never mention him again. promise.


sentence of the day 11.14.09

"You smell like one of those barges floating around looking for an island to dump trash on"

Margaret urging me to seek immediate dental attention upon rising

sentence of the day 11.13.09

"I don't get the whole cuddle party thing"

Mike Rennie after hearing me and margaret discuss the parameters
of a semi-notorious social gathering (about which - let me be clear - we have only heard about)


i don't love wes anderson

Richard Brody's recent puff profile of Wes Anderson in the New Yorker (which can be read here ) vexed and perplexed me. This is partly due to Brody's semi-inappropriate cheerleading and back-patting of Anderson's efforts and partly due to Anderson himself who - according to the essay - seemingly makes movies to merely reference other movies, not because they're willed into creation by some deep internal necessity. This in turn breeds a certain, say,  inauthenticity in his characters which by some accounts is grand and by others grand folly. I'm in the latter camp. as is this assessment of life aquatic from n+1 which Brody references.

Don't get me wrong, I love love Bottle Rocket and like-love Rushmore - perhaps b/c the first has the ambitions of the nascent filmmaker on full display and the second has its roots in slight biography; they're also the least self-concious of his attempts -  but it's all been downhill from there, each sucessive movie a more labored effort to watch. Is the well dry?

I feel compelled to include that I have an inherent alarm bell that rings when the rich (c/f spike jonze) have these artistic vagabond narratives spun about their early formative experiences and then go on to get really into fashion and culture and being in magazines. maybe i'm just jealous.


sentence of the day 11.08.09

"There's not a shower head in the world that can accommodate a waffle"

bp to mm, responding to her idea, early AM.


The Ascent

some time ago at the library i randomly picked up The Ascent
by Larisa Sheptiko
based pretty much on cover art and synopsis.

just watched, mouth agape. holy crap.
Stunning, staggering images.
Use of sound and music.
Have not been as struck by a film in a long time and the fact that it's a random find makes it all the sweeter.
Who is this woman?

Shining, The

On Halloween night we decided to stay home and rewatch The Shining. I've seen it probably 20 times previous with most interpretations circling some varietal of horror/domesticity but this time I finally got it in clear precision: The genocidal history of the United States. This is somewhat buttressed by Bill Blakemore's essay in the San Fran Chronicle but the essay only goes so far to my thinking, limiting the scope to decimation of native americans and leaving it there. While the film certainly does include that I couldn't help but feel that was more of a leaping off place, noting the placement of red/white/blue in nearly every frame, the iconography and symbols of USA surrounding Danny (goofy, apollo usa, baseball bats), the watered-down revisionist telling of events at the Overlook by Stuart Ullman (his initials a reversing of US), the placement of American flags, the British servant handing the reins over to Jack, and most pertinently, the final shot of the film, the push in to the photograph of the Overlook Hotel's 4th of July celebration in 1924. The man that oversaw genocide and widespread race destruction is not a mere antecedant of the modern man - his alcoholism, his abuse, his frustrations at the domesticity that entraps him - but in fact, the very same individual. Oh Kubrick, I love thee so. In every frame.  

edited to add link to this spot-on take on the shining written w/ more smarts and patience than i can manage


cure for what ails

margaret and i were both home sick 3 days in a row. a perfect opportunity to rewatch that's entertainment to my way of thinking, a perfect opportunity to make endless fun of me for doing so to margaret's. Fine, throw me your taunts gentle woman, tease, prod, laugh at me. But try to deny the curative powers of fred astaire and ginger rogers and you'll be doing a fool's errand.
oh yes. you will.

sentence of the day 11.5.09

"Look right when you drive!"

mm crossing the street yelling at an oblivious driver just after slamming her hand on the hood


natural cycle

Aided in part by the eager and encouraging urgings of my wife i started running again last week. i don't run as much during the summer b/c i get a fair amount of bike riding in but after the shift into autumn riding the bike to work becomes less tenable (for me at least, there are plenty of people in portland who are undaunted) and my fitness level drops, seemingly day by day.

this am it was dark and windy but not cold.  the air had whiff of potential precipitation but it only had to hold for 30 min and i'd be home dry so i ventured out. 10 minutes later it began to rain. nothing horrible but enough to kill the buzz. i made executive decision to abort full run and head home at which point i'd retrive the dog and run the last 10 minutes with him. (his behaviorial issues prevent me currently from taking him on the whole run). i could feel my reflexive anger bubble up, almost taking it personally that the universe waited until i was the furthest point from home to start unloading. i feel utterly ridiculous typing that out but if i'm being honest that's how narrow my worldview can get at times. i was able to pull back from that spot though: it's a natural process. you can no more take weather personally than cancer (which has been on my mind of late due to a friend's diagnosis and cemented by the cover story in the sunday ny times yesterday). We struggle to not attach malevolence or intent to natural process. I recalled the gift of my recurrence-free life and how the me of 4 years ago would be thrilled to hear i'd be drawing breath at all 4 yrs hence, much less running around, having the luxury to complain about minor discomfort. and for awhile I actually smiled.

By the time I got home I was drenched and grateful. The rain hadn't let up but it hadn't gotten worse and so - since I was already soaked to the bone - I figured I'd grab the dog and go. we only had to do 10 minutes. We'd run 5 min out, 5 back. no sweat.

We made it 4 steps into the street and the heavens cracked open, unleashed sudden pummeling, pounding, king lear, monsoon storm, sideways sheets of epic rain. The kind of rain you seek immediate shelter from. I was the guy you see - from the safety of your dry car through wildly thumping windshield wipers - and think oh my god that guy's a lunatic. running with his dog in this? and why the fuck is he laughing?


sentence of the day 10.15.09

"A house without cheese is like a heart without love."

mm defending her shopping list

The Mirror

Dear friends are recently arrived in the post-diagnosis place m and i occupied nearly 4 yrs ago - a roiling ocean of darkness, chaos, fear, uncertainty. We have a unique window - unique at least among our friends - into their situation. But the window is also a mirror, reflecting back our own experience in ways we'd forgotten, illuminating the way things happened and the way we have chosen to remember it . M and i have the luxury - now anyway - of looking rearward at what happened; the further we get the more the edges of it are defined, more formed, more compartmentalized. But when you're in it, heading into the storm it is black and endless.

This week I am quick(er) to anger, i am deeply annoyed at the chattering person on the bus, i am frustrated with our dog choosing which commands to honor. This morning i recognize that this is probably happening on a micro-scale, my body recalling/empathizing at the cellular level, forwards and backwards, what has happened to us/what is happening them.


sentence(s) of the day 10.9.09

"..i went to college, you went to college; i shaved, you shaved; at the end of the day we're just mammals..."

c. dye, relaying his approach to a recent courtship

"there's something askew with my pneumatics"
overheard in the workplace


it feels like a hundred years...

Spent some time this AM filling out a pre-meet health questionnaire for upcoming visit to new acupuncturist. The document was generic in nature but aimed at isolating recurrent mind/body health issues so the practitioner knows how best to treat the patient. Got to the part about Emotional Health and was asked check all that apply:

granted, most of the choices are at the gloomy end of the spectrum but the 3 items i selected were certainly not positive. all day i keep asking myself why not joy? I'm not completely joy-less in my day to day life but joy is not my default setting, not even close. You'd think after the brain tumor that I'd be shitting out sunshine and dancing on moonbeams but i worry a lot - too much? - about death. The death of those I love. The death that's built into everything - even planets, stars, galaxies. I can't just go for a beer with a friend, I go for a beer with a friend that I know one day will be dead. I go to watch a baseketball game and instead of keeping my focus on how good Greg Oden looks and how nice it is to have Martell Webster back, my mind drifts to 100 yrs from now these 17,500 people will not exist in this current form. This is not a positive or sustainable scenario for emotional well-being. I get that. And I'm not saying that I can't help my thoughts b/c I know I can if I work at it, but I do wish that - in the face of all this inevitability - that i was joyous.

updated to add: feel compelled to qualify - after two slightly concerned emails - that i am not drowning in an ocean of sadness per se as relates to death. it's an intellectual consideration not emotional, even though the above post is mostly about my emotions. does that make sense?



yesterday plus 4 yrs ago i began radiation treatment for the residiual bit of brain tumor that was unresectable, attached near the carotid artery. today i walk down the street, outwardly normal, inwardly heart aching for friends in turmoil, recently plunged into darkness. around me those w/ the good fortune to remain untouched by trauma of any stripe wander oblivious, but i can't really blame them. i would too. how could i not if i didn't know? today i am wearing giant bose earphones and my ipod is on shuffle and mary oliver pops up to read 'her grave' which concerns, mostly, a dog's death. these lines cut me down:

Do the cranes crying out in the high clouds
think it is all their own music?
A dog comes to you and lives with you in your house, but you
do not therefore own her, as you do not own the rain, or the
trees, or the laws which pertain to them

and the last line hits my face.

the slick mountains of love break

over us


ashland, in thumbnail

drive down from portland saturday, arrive, unpack, nap. wake around 630, eat leftover food, walk thru streets to agnes bowmer theater for Paradise Lost. everything works, every performer on, play is amazing, it hums, soars. we walk back in a daze, wine on balcony under stars. sunday morning americanos and walk to coop,  m cooks breakfast we eat on balcony, read nyt, look at hills - tree-laden and humboldt like in one direction, rolling and marin-like in the other. back to to downtown, more americanos at coffeeshop/bookstore and i see name on local art that i recognize from arcata, then back to bowmer for macbeth, which is great but not as great as what we saw the night before. after, we hear actor playing banqo do q/a at elizabethan thtre about macbeth. after beer at standing stone and debate whether to see 3rd play that evening (don quixote in elizabethan thtre). we go back and forth, walk thru park, decide to go back to room, relax. i nap. decide to forgo play and have celebratory anniversary dinner at restaurant instead. m's food is putrid but tempered by bottle of elk cove. m puts her left-overs on a city bench. we see a movie that we suspect will be bad but we have no clue as to just how bad until we're in front of it. we walk back in a daze - but a different sort of daze than the previous night. m's leftovers are gone. monday am we exit, more americanos, breakfast. when we come out there is smoke in the sky, back up to portland.


number nine

since m was bee-stung and on steroids to reduce the swelling and inflammation from her recently updated status shifting from 'not allergic' to 'allergic' which prevented her from being particularly ambulatory and further since this wknd finds us headed to ashland to see a couple plays in honor of the 9th anniversary of our wedding, yesterday - the actual date of our actual anniversary - was to be a more subdued pedestrian affair. i returned from work to find m laying on the couch, foot propped up on a pillow, listening to divaville on the radio (which for the uninitiated may just be the best show on the radio in oregon, to say nothing of the country as a whole). we talked briefly about our dinner options (ie a pizza) and debated the process of dinner arriving at our house (ie, me picking it up or having it delivered). i ran downstairs to see if we were within vincente's delivery area by checking on the computer. couldn't find it. ran back upstairs and sat across from margaret just in time to hear the radio announcer say: "..and this one goes out to margaret and brian. it's dinah washington..." and it was the glorious dinah washington singing cole porter's "let's do it" which was a beautiful, glorious thing. we sat there quietly smiling at each other as dinah sang. then i went and picked up a pizza and m propped her legs up in front of the tv and we watched 3 episodes of a television show. it is not what we imagined what our 9th anniversary would look like necessarily. but it was great.

sentence of the day 9.17.09

"That prarie party mix had a little snap to it"

supervisor in the workplace discussing an office snack


i am afraid of dumb people

yes, i'll admit it - i fear dumb people - and i don't believe you can be a birther, a tenther or a teabagger without being dumb. there are gradations of idiocy certainly- running the gamut from box-of-rocks dim to choosing-to-be-uninformed dumb to malevolent denial-of-the-truth-despite-the-facts stupid - and all of them apparently listen to some creature called glenn beck, who i had the extreme misfortune to stumble across on the radio the other day while waiting in the car while m was in the grocery. facts, reason, rationality, logic are all anathema to these people. it will require patience and stomach and bravery, evinced by the likes of this man:



This image - taken in 1898 at Willamette University Medical Department, which merged w/ the Univ of Oregon Medical school in 1913 to become OHSU, where i had two brain surgeries in 2005 - comes from a newish book, recommended if you're into that sort of thing, meaning if you need some type of reminder that the clock is ticking - no matter your circumstance - and that it's time to get cracking. The faces of those standing are not so different from you and i (well, minus the bowler hats that is) despite what lies underneath them: the last station on a journey of natural processes.



blue jay

home sick on thurs. i lay on the couch in the rumpus room and read the first two acts of uncle vanya (b/c the night b/f i had finished the confessions of edward day which features u.v.) and fall asleep. i am roused by lennie up to no good upstairs, bounding and/or leaping at the cats most likely. i pick up uncle vanya and begin act 3, around the point where Sonya says "You're bored, you don't know what to do with yourself and bordeom and idleness are infectious" and lennie is still terrorizing the cat/s. i call up to him, which usually does the trick but not this time. he's whining and leaping around the living room. i throw back the covers and head up the stairs and hear the shrill call of a scrub jay. as i step into the living room i see that the scrub jay is in the fireplace, protected by the screen from lennie's eager jaws, flapping furiously. what to do? first, i trick lennie into the rumpus room w/ some meaty snacks and shut the door. i go back to the fireplace and the jay is gone. good. that does that. all i need to do is close the flue so i reach my hand up and the jay springs out, into the living room, crashing against the northernmost window. i immediately open the front door and the screen door and try to coax her out. she is furiously pecking at the window, furiously flapping wings and when she takes a quick break i can hear her breathing. Her mate lands on the arbor vitae just outside the window, cheeping at her, but she can't get out. i run downstairs, put on garden gloves and for a moment think that i am going to snatch her up and carry her outside but split-second of approach is all she needs to inform me that such an option is not viable. her breathing and flapping intensifies. she's getting caught in the curtains. what to do? I go to the coat closet and pull open an umbrella, gently moving it - unopened - toward her, attempting to coax her onto the end. this too is not a viable option. eventually, i have all the furniture pulled from the wall, the curtains tucked over and around the bars from which they hang. i open the umbrella and shock her into the adjacent, west-facing window. and then i close and open it again, shocking her toward the door and she flies out - free - heading straight to the neighbor's tree.


b e n d

multiple highlights from trip to central oregon this wknd - watching climbers at smith rock, ski-lifting up mt bachelor and learning about subduction, great meal on mirror pond, good progress w/ lennie briscoe and his training, the weather, the 360 degree stunning photo-ready landscapes, and on and on - but as documenting each moment in travelogue form would be a prohibitive time constraint, and further of more interest to me than you - i'll center focus on one particular aspect, a lowlight in fact, but no less memorable.

here are some backstory elements that may inform the narrative: my parents and margaret's mother left early friday morning for bend. m and me and LB were to follow after i got off work - around 230ish - and meet up w/ them. since m had to juggle multiple errands in preparation for trip she arrived closer to 315, which is of little consequence except as relates to traffic on I-5 on friday afternoons, which is to say, an urban clog of frustrated drivers, smelly trucks and the like wherein it took 1 hour to get from the tram in portland to the edge of wilsonville. meanwhile in bend, the parents unpacked and got settled in their rooms in the late afternoon, and expecting us shortly, headed to the bar - w/ it's riverside vista - for a cocktail. as they enjoyed frolic and good cheer, m and i were out of cell phone range in the mtns en route, and so thinking again we were close by, they all enjoyed another cocktail. at last we arrived, threw our stuff in our room, left LB in the car (no unattended dogs in rooms) and went to the riverside bar wherein we found our parents in a well-intentioned but hazy fog of alcohol. m and i sat down and the bar waitress came out. we elected to step to the hotel restaurant next door given the general fatigue and condition of our party. the bar waitress disclosed how she'd gotten to know our parents over the past couple hours and told them of her approaching nuptials and her multiple emotions she was experiencing about getting married, which is all fine and cute, except she wouldn't stop talking really and it began to verge on inappropriateness and it dawned on me that the bar waitress seemed a shade or two shy of stone drunk. My parents and m's mother were in no condition to detect her state themselves - encouraged her banter. We collected ourselves and went thru the bar to the hostess station of the neighboring restaurant. end of backstory narrative.

begin main narrative. We tell the hostess that the 5 of us would like to sit down and eat please. She says 'just a sec' and runs off. Because part of the restaurant is sunken, we can see that it appears to be a slow night, only a few tables are filled. A couple minutes tock by. m's mom leaves us and finds her way to the restroom. we make small talk and another couple minutes tock by. It starts to feel like something is wrong operationally speaking since there's no real visible cause for delay. at long last the hostess returns and says 'is your whole party here?" which seemed mildly ludicrous since the five of us were just minutes ago assembled in front of her and to which i said 'um, yeah. one person's in the restroom'. the hostess grabbed menus and said 'well let's just walk really slow then' with a sort of smirk meant to indicate that we were somehow violating a restaurant dictate b/c our party wasn't all there, even though it was.

we were led to a sort of empty banquet room at the back of the restaurant and shown to a table with 4 place settings. "There's 5 of us" I said. The hostess looked annoyed though whether at us or at her own failure to properly convey the information to the table-setting crew i don't know. she grabbed a chair from a nearby table and put it at the edge of our table and quickly set a fifth spot. I sat on one corner, across from my dad and next to my mother. m sat at the new setting w/ her mother on her left. (The specifics of our seating arrangement was of consequence later as you shall soon see).

After a strange duration - given the emptiness of the restaurant - some menus appeared. We scanned them and awaited the arrival of the waiter and made small talk. After a strange duration - given the emptiness of the restaurant - the waiter appeared. He was a tallish doughy sort in black shirt, black apron, black pants and a kind of faux-chummy waiterspeak that was probably meant to convey confidence. He said "How we doing? My name is Brad I'll be your waiter. Can I get us started with some drinks?". Wine was decided on - despite several members of our party requiring no further alcohol and Brad disappeared for five minutes.

When he reappeared he was holding a small cutting board with three raw unappetizing chunks of meat on it. He launched into a presentation that had all the patina and charm of a powerpoint in a 2nd-tier corporate office park: "Now we are primarily known as a steakhouse and we have three prime cuts tonight, the new york strip, the porterhouse which has both a strip and a filet of course - and the bone-in ribeye...". He continued to discuss some of the significance of the "marbling" but by this time after looking at bloody meaty chunks most of us were leaning away from any of those options. Brad said "Does anyone have any questions?" and one member of our party drunkenly said "talk to me about fish" (i won't name names but it was m's mother) by which she meant talk to me about your fish options but since it came out funny it caused a brief moment of levity wherein m being kind and compassionate as she is wont to do, apologized to the waiter for the hassle and may have inadvertantly touched his arm or looked him in the eye.

Brad disappeared for awhile. We could see him thru the windows tending to a blond couple on the deck romantically sharing a the view and bottle of white wine. When he reappeared he said "Okay, we ready to order?". By this time we'd been seated for about 35 minutes so we emphatically answered his query in the affirmative. One member of our party drunkenly said "talk to me about fish" which added a surreal dimension to the proceedings since she asked the exact same thing verbatim minutes earlier. The table howled as m in turn apologized again to brad, perhaps with more enthusiasm this time.

Our food came out. Predictably it was on the unspectacular side but by this point we were all winding down, contending with various states and stages of exhaustion, talking out the plans for tomorrow and the rest of the wknd so it didn't really matter. The entrees were all served w/ a decorative orchid which m at one point stuck behind her right ear. We continued chatting. Eventually, the blond couple on the deck were gone and we were basically the only people left in the restaurant. My dad leaned over to me and said "did you see that?" motioning thru the windows outside. "What?" I said. "The waiter just took a shot of something. Whiskey I think".

Moments later Brad reappeared. "How we doing? We thinking about dessert?" None of us were, so full of food and alcohol that the impending walk across the parking lot to our rooms seemed like a feat. My mom said "Maybe tomorrow night" at which point Brad seemed to light up thinking that we would be back which we would not. We would never be back. Brad - standing at the foot of the table next to me and my dad - looked across the table at Margaret and the orchid behind her right ear. He said "You know, what is it, in Hawaii, they have a thing, what is it, where the women put an orchid behind their ear on the right side if they're taken and on the left if they're available".

A long interminable second slowly ticked off the clock. An exhaust fan kicked on somewhere.

Margaret said "Um, what?".

Brad continued "Yeah, in Hawaii. The right side means the woman is taken and the left means she's available".

Margaret, as politely and directly as her character allows said, "yeah, it's on the right side then".

Brad wanted to make sure she understood what he was driving at so he said "Right is taken"

Margaret replied "it's on the right side".

There was heavy silence as the table considered what we had just witnessed. A quick constellation of alternating despair and hope flashed across Brad's face. He attempted to regain his footing and managed, as casually as possible "So we'll all do dessert tomorrow night then"?


sentence of the day 8.21.09

"I've got to feed my feet"

mm defending her generous serving at bbq
as a necessity to sustain her ample extremities

sentence of the day 8.20.09

"Your face is dusted with nut-sleeves"

mm to bp after eagerly ingesting a serving of nuts at happy hour


sentence of the day 8.13.09

"you can't have more than 100% of a doughnut"

bp to mm in a feeble and ill-mannered attempt to explain a mathematical construct beyond his understanding


sentence of the day 08.09.09

You don't smell that? It literally smells like we're inside a cat box.

mm on an aroma only she could detect in the tv rm


"Portland Noir" reading

it took me longer than i meant to put this together but here's a few of the voices in the amazing portland noir anthology, from a reading at the start of last month.

Portland Noir from Northern Flicker Films on Vimeo.


civic duty vs. past infractions

got picked for jury duty. arrived at courthouse around 745am. went thru security checkpoint and into jury room where roughly 120 people gathered in leather chairs after being issued scannable ID cards. we watched a 10 minute video on the extreme value of our collective presence, a video clearly designed to neutralize those of us who felt supremely unlucky to be picked. then, we waited. no grand jury selection today fortunately (a potential month commitment) and we were assured that the bulk of us would only have to contribute one day. an hour and a half ticked by. the juror room lady stood at a podium and read off a gaggle of names. not it. i continued to sit.

11 am-ish I get called. a panel of 12 to be whittled to 6. We file upstairs to the 3rd floor into a small courtroom. The judge explains it's a DUI case and I have the sudden sensation that i'll be dismissed b/c i was arrested (wrongly) for DUI many yrs ago. Each potential juror runs thru a quick list of background questions - name, occupation, living situation, feelings about DUi's - and then the two lawyers ask questions. Since it's a criminal case the burden is on the state and the atty for the defendant says she'll argue her case only w/ state's evidence. her questions are along the lines of "do you believe that a police officer can be wrong?" and i do and I am now quite certain that i'll be dismissed b/c of demonstrable bias. i tell briefly about what happened in humboldt in 1996 when i blew under the legal limit but the CHP officer was convinced that i was under the influence of marijuana which i was not. The judge and defendant and attorneys step away to the judge's chambers and return in moments. 6 of us are dismissed, which does not mean we get to go home, only that we have to return to the jury room in case our services are required for an afternoon case.

lunch break. burrito. return

sit. sit. sit. the juror room lady takes the podium. there is only 1 remaining case on the afternoon docket so most people are about to be dismissed "except the following names..." of which i am one. I sit, I read and read having brought both the ny times sunday magazine and a recent issue of the new yorker. across the day: i finish the ny times crossword, i read nicholson baker's thoughts on kindle, i read michael pollan's cooking/food essay, i read an oddly sympathetic and lionizing profile of michael savage, i read a putrid piece of fiction by joshua ferris, i read about obama's iran policy, i dabble in ian frazier's travelogue of siberia (but i cannot commit)...time passes. the kind juror room lady takes the podium.

the case has been dismissed.
we are free to go.

La Promesse (1996)


sick zine

went to reading frenzy last wk for a reading for this zine. while it covers a broad range of illness and distinct points along the journey for each writer - fear, anger, despair, levity etc - there is a magnificent almost cosmic unity in the telling. Illness is a shared language, transcending the reductive boundaries of race, class, age. Put another way: fucking incredible, fuck yes.

go buy it at reading frenzy
it's 5 bucks

or here
or here


wknd in thumbnail

not in chronologic order:

french fries and crepe for dinner, jazz trio at the press club, summer hours, moon, nighttime bike-ride, division street fair, every little step, 4 mile walk w/ parents, cleaning house, oversleeping during nap and missing jaw festival, reeling from seeing summer hours, hellish drive to hillsboro, warm pita slices and hummus glop for dinner, amazing outdoor performance of romeo & juliet, beers w/ brothers sipes in alleyway, reeling from every little step, training dog during private lesson, reeling from wknd


from dc trip

finally going thru our footage from the inauguration trip in january. found this nugget. yes.



mm got me a fancypancy imac for my bday last month which means - among many other things - that i can stop using windows movie maker to throw together tiny video clips.

me using windows movie maker, as mm has heard me allege is akin to a gorilla wearing boxing gloves trying to fold origami.

anyway, i'm finally getting around to exploring the imac in earnest. here's a very quick spin in imovie w/ random yachats footage

ordet (1955)

sentence of the day 7.17.09

"Should I follow that dump truck?"

bp to mm, driving


"It had a certain irreality, if that's a word"

mm to bp


sentence of the day 7.17.09

"I brought this by accident; I'll leave it on the table"

mm to bp, regarding the roll-on deodorant she had in haste
taken to the car and was applying, all while running from car (engine on) to the outside table in the backyard to set deodorant down before darting back to the car and screeching away