I'm too classy to make a DIFF'RENT STROKES vs. HEM'RHAGES joke ... twice.

ON THE RIGHT TRACK is not a good film but it had an undeniable, lingering effect on me since I saw it as a child. I don't travel by trains much, but every time I'm in a train station I still imagine that I'd find Gary Coleman if I opened enough of the lockers.

Mr. Coleman's recent death changes nothing in my little fantasy, except make the resulting tableau a little grosser as the years pass from here on.

Quick lunch at Pasha

Too short on time to visit Floating World but it looks awesome from across the street during its actual business hours. (Eventually I will go on walks downtown after, say, 10am. Everything in this town seems to open around then, including some breakfast places.)

Visiting the Village on Division

G had a big box of unwanteds to sell. I was just along for the ride and to enjoy the gossip.

Waiting for some Whole Bowls

Very cool mixed-media portrait of the Buddha. I did not kill it like you're supposed to -- I was still fuming about how the two hot-dog joints on Hawthorne seem to be douchebag magnets. I guess the hot-dog shack in the Burnside Whole Foods' parking lot has raised my expectations to untenable levels for a restaurants specializing in a staple foodstuff at frathouses.


A disappointing cup of foam with some chai near the bottom, and a baked brick that was claimed to be a pumpkin-pie cookie or bar or somesuch.

Breakfast of Unsuccessful Candidates Two

Another order of Greek-omelet/potatoes/wheat toast, only this one was called .... sigh .... a "Yuppie" at Fat Albert's cafe (hey hey!). I refuse to change my pre-interview meals now -- doing that would be caving to superstition and lieteral nonsense. Eggs should not be made without feta cheese, nor orange juice be served without ice. These are simply The Rules.

As the ranking and location of the best wheat toast in Portland is fast becoming one of this blog's most searched-for topics: Albert's toast was not as awesome as Sully's.

Mossy roofs

Taken from my balcony prior to my morning address to the neighbors. Taken Saturday.

Worst Vietnamese, Ever.

Why is it that the restaurants closest to home have the worst food? Taken on the 21st.

PDX curbside art, part #16,596

Walking down to the Post Office, I happened by this handsome 1966 Ford Galaxy 500, just sitting out on the street. Not the most collectable car on the planet, but I know some people wouldn't dare leave it untarped, much less actually drive it around town.

A gigantic weed and satanic license plate

Yesterday late-morning.

Breakfast of unsuccessful candidates

A good mediterranean omelet with the only wheat toast [not pictured] I've ever considered describing as "decadent." The potatoes were OK. Taken yesterday.

I come to praise King Carson, not YouTube-linkblog him

Slow-start morning -- I've been thinking about Johnny Carson a lot lately, particularly how THE TONIGHT SHOW was remarkable for how it maintained a sense of energy and momentum even though it moved at a much slower pace than talk shows today. Whether that was Carson's genius as a host, his producers' knack for choosing the right mix of guests [and that guests would always stay on the couch for later guests], that the show was genuinely live, or if it's simply that posterity [and Carson's production company] has buried the boring shows, there's still a crackle and drama in even corny, old-folks segments like the many times Carson hosted Mel Blanc for no apparent reason beyond him wanting to hear Blanc do the classic bits and voices he used with Jack Benny.

In watching a bunch of Carsonia, I happened across this, which fired all of my guitar-nerd synapses at once:

I wish there was more "Lonesome" George Gobel easily available, especially his formative years as a singer/guitarist/comedian on the Chicago radio show NATIONAL BARN DANCE in the mid-'30s. After mustering out of the Army Air Corps. after WWII [he was such a local star that he was sworn into service on the radio], Gobel began a four-decade streak as a professional guest star on variety/talk/music shows briefly interrupted by his own popular NBC sitcom in the early '50s. Like Benny, you can see Gobel's influence on a young Carson.

But that's not at all what I can think about watching the above clip -- I can't take my eyes of his guitar. It's a Gibson L-5 model customized to Gobel's own specifications -- a thinline body, shorter-scale 24-3/4" neck, cutaway and cherry-red finish [a first for the company]. Formally designated an L-5CT and informally considered a stealth-signature "George Gobel" model, only 44 of them were made from 1958-1962. To invert one of Gobel's most famous ad-libs, it's a tuxedo in a world full of brown shoes -- although I wouldn't be surprised to discover that the L-5CT feels as comfortable as a pair of old brown shoes.


I once again own pants and shirts that fit about as well as clothing fits me at all, and what's left my hair is cut about as well as it can be. Print out a resume & references and I think we can do this tomorrow. Feeling the urge for boxing DVDs and carob-peanut clusters over finishing off some freelance work.

Waiting for food at Laughing Cow Café

Another day, another downpour, another burrito.

Microsoft treats some of its most useful features as Easter Eggs. Shocking.

holy fucking shit dude, it's just the monkee's paw -- let's cheese it before it moves or someone makes a wish on the thing

I just found a text file of notes about hidden features I found in Microsoft Paint over the years I used it to make the old monkee strip. I'm never using the program again, but I thought it would be good to pass these tips along:

Stamp tool -- select part of the image and hold CTRL while dragging it.

To draw straight or diagonal lines with the pencil, hold SHIFT and move the mouse in whatever direction you want.

Image-selection rescaling -- select part of the image using the Select tool, then press CTRL and either + or - to scale up or down. Doing the same thing using the drawing tools changes your brush size. Don't go too crazy enlarging it, tho -- it's Windows so it crashes easy.

Burrito at Laughing Cow, 05/13/10

And a gigantic $2 lemonade, Tofu A La Spice Piquante and "famous mac & cheese" from the Delta Cafe & Bar on SE Woodstock, 05/15/10.

My quest for a table and chair: IKEA is fuck-you large

As in, the place is so large you just have to say "fuck you."

After I got my cheap, light furniture, we went a journey to get a griddle and blender at Macy's. It's not the instruments pedigree, it's what you do with them once you escape from the mall. Taken on the 13th.

Ring the bell, sucka -- school's back in

Linkparking a bunch of art-educational and illustration pages/sites:

A swell archive of "classes" in the Famous Artists Cartoon Course.

John Kricfalusi's lessons from Preston Blair

Rad Sechrist's HOW TO

Rob Richards' ANIMATION BACKGROUNDS, which are fascinating and oddly funny to see without the actors in front of them.

Some J.P. Miller books at GOLDEN GEMS

A cache of personal Christmas cards from mid-Twentieth Century artists, including Ernie Bushmiller, Rube Goldberg, Otto Soglow, William Steig and Edward Hopper as well as my recent new-favorite, Frank Hanley.

An info site devoted to the irreverent prewar girly movie magazine FILM FUN and its Enoch Bolles-painted covers.

Scott C.'s GREAT SHOWDOWNS -- art plus words, people

Will Finn's righteously savages a deeply misguided piece of FLINTSTONES art

Anne Bush's digital background tutorial

Via Dylan Horrocks and/or Sam Zabel, I recently rediscovered Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema at the Art Renewal Center. Sir Lawrence painted sun-warmed marble like nobody's business.

Audio Link for Sunday Nights at Seven

Jack Benny truly was an anti-comedian, wringing the biggest laughs out of doing nothing at all. It's staggering to think that he and just a pair of writers wrung 30+ years of scripts out of a pretty limited character and a small cast -- even when a performer had to be replaced, which was rare, Benny never strayed far from what was already working [Dennis Day was the best, but one eager-beaver tenor singer was about as good as the next].

Here's an archive of the radio portion of the series -- the television version only lasted a mere 15 years, but what it lost in visuals ["the radio had better pictures"] it made up for with seeing a master's sense of timing at work, but the radio program is the prime material.

[Noteworthy for Orson Welles nuthuggers like me: Welles replaced an ill Benny as host/foil/victim for bulk of the March 1943 shows.]

Saturday Night At The Movies: FIVE [also: Audiolinx: LIGHTS OUT]

While never reaching the level of prestige that contemporaries like Norman Corwin and Orson Welles enjoyed, writer/director Arch Oboler had a run of brilliantly made radio dramas that anyone else would have killed to have made. Best known these days as the inspiration for Bill Cosby's "Chicken Heart" routine, Oboler's relatively brief [about three years, with a number of later revivals] run on LIGHTS OUT is still one of the rare examples of horror entertainment that can genuinely be scary. And revolting, incredibly revolting for the late '30s and early '40s. Here's the Cos talking about listening to "Chicken Heart:"

Oboler also made the fine anthology series Arch Oboler's Plays for NBC and later the Mutual Network.

The WFMU blog had a great vinyl rip of the long out-of-print but ideal Oboler/LIGHTS OUT sampler, titled DROP DEAD, but the post seems to have been deleted. Here's a download for a ZIP file of the album, which must be public-domain like everything else in Oboler's creator-owned oeuvre has become. It's a short LP, and the brevity of the pieces shades them more comedic than macabre, but it still gives a taste.

Now, the actual movie: Like Welles, Oboler went on to make movies for RKO, but unlike Welles, he never quite translated the genius of his radio work to the screen. Occasionally, as in the following movie, you can literally see flickers of what made him so great with the lights out. FIVE is the first and -- I might argue, with a few caveats -- the best of the post-WWII movies to ponder the idea of Atomic annihilation. It could be considered a godfather of independent filmmaking -- Oboler wrote, directed and produced it largely on his own dime and filmed it in his house -- granted, that house was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, but still.

Audiolinks that can't tell if you move your lips or not

I can't decide what's more sublime: the idea of a ventriloquist becoming a smash hit as a radio performer, or that so many of his coworkers on his show recalled that, while he made plenty of flubs in reading the script, his main dummy never screwed up a line. I'm talking, of course, about Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy. There's a gentleness in Bergen that I always loved -- it's rare to find a straight man who genuinely radiated affection for his partner the way Bergen loved McCarthy -- and yes, I know I'm talking about the puppet like it was real. Bergen clearly believed in his own internal magic so fervently that he could only see it as external to him, which gives his performances a dimension and unique quality that more than made up for the fact that, as his movie appearances reveal, he really wasn't that good as a ventriloquist. I guess, when it comes to pretending than some carved wood and fabric is a real living creature, it's better to have faith than skill.

Of particular note is the October 30, 1938 show: Bergen's show, THE CHASE AND SANBORN HOUR, aired on NBC opposite THE MERCURY THEATRE ON THE AIR, and practically annihilated it [and anything else CBS had put up against against it in that Sunday at 8PM timeslot] in the ratings. I don't have the numbers handy, but I remember the Orson Welles program got roughly a tenth of the audience that Bergen & McCarthy got.

This Halloween evening, however, after listeners enjoyed the first 12 or so minutes of Edgar and Charlie's banter before the team threw the mic over to a singer to warble a song, a lot of the audience flipped over to another station to listen to something better until the funny resumed. Listeners how jumped over to their CBS heard ... an invasion of New Jersey by Martians. Then, some people went apeshit, a lot of butthurt newspapers [radio was eating print's lunch for audience and advertising] trumped the stories up to try making radio look really bad, and for a few days it looked like the United States' lunatic fringe wasn't a fringe at all. The MERCURY program, which was a sustaining, sponsor-less show in some danger of cancellation, got a sponsor and was saved -- oh, and Welles was offered the greatest deal ever offered any writer/director/producer/actor in the history of Hollywood. Bergen & McCarthy continued to be the 800-pound gorillas on Sundays at 8PM for another decade. No moral. The End.

Edgar Bergen Show - 1937 - 1941
Edgar Bergen Show - 1942 - 1943
Edgar Bergen Show - 1944 - 1945
Edgar Bergen Show - 1946 - 1947
Edgar Bergen Show - 1948 - 1955

[See also: CHASE & SANBORN star Spike Jones.]

audio link: Load onto your MP3 player, destroy your opponents

Courtesy of Archive.org: A Librivox recording of Sun Tzu's classic THE ART OF WAR, as translated by Lionel Giles and read by Moira Fogarty. It's remarkable how applicable these teaching remain across such a wide spectrum of contexts, and it's somehow more palatable to listen to a woman's voice impart lessons on how to most effectively burn your enemies and bribe their secret agents to work for you.

The brownie I've thought about for two years

Brenda's cream-cheese brownie, from New Seasons market on Division. I was shocked and a little delighted to see 1.] that I live not that far from the market and the neat Italian joint kitty-corner from it that I enjoyed when I last visited and 2.] NS still has the turkey meatloaf in the deli too. As for the brownie itself: When last we met, I was the student -- now, I am the master of cream cheese. I dunno -- the walk was worth the brownie but not so much in the opposite, if you know what I mean.

New Comics Wednesday audio links, plus Richard Nixon and Art Garfunkel

Looking for something else, I stumbled over WIRED FOR BOOKS -- a remarkable archive of writer audio interviews and readings. I particularly enjoyed this 1991 interview with Art Spiegelman, conducted shortly after he finished the second half of MAUS. Since then, Artie has become such a professional raconteur/interview subject that it's endearing to hear him stumble around a bit here. It's pretty exciting and appropriate to see there's a chat with underground-comix godfather Harvey Kurtzman in the archive -- from 1985, so Harvey is still pretty incandescent when given the opportunity.

[Another comicsy one, if you must: Rick Obadiah of First Comics/Classics Illustrated.]

Other Don Swaim interviews of note in the archive:

William Kennedy

Elmore Leonard

Ed McBain (Evan Hunter)

Isaac Asimov

Ray Bradbury

Oliver Sacks

Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Norman Mailer

Studs Terkel

James Jones

Jerzy Kosinski

Susan Sontag

Gore Vidal

Tobias Wolff

Walter Tevis and Jamie Tevis

Andrea Dworkin

Andrew Sarris

Douglas Adams

Martin Amis

Paul Auster

Clive Barker

Carl Bernstein

Judy Blume

Barbara Branden, Nathaniel Branden and Leonard Peikoff on Ayn Rand

Jimmy Breslin

Art Buchwald

Christopher Buckley and William F. Buckley

Anthony Burgess

William Burroughs

Jim Carroll

Raymond Carver

Robertson Davies

John Dean

Ariel Dorfman

Bret Easton Ellis

Bruce Jay Friedman

Fred Friendly

Charles Fecher on H. L. Mencken

Paul Fussell

Art Garfunkel

Don George on Duke Ellington

Brendan Gill on Frank Lloyd Wright

Sir Alec Guinness [this was probably the "something else" I was originally looking for]

Pete Hamill

Joseph Heller

Nat Hentoff

Michael Herr

Patricia Highsmith

S.E. Hinton

Robert Hughes

Clifford Irving

Erica Jong

Ring Lardner, Jr.

Alison Lurie

Rod McKuen

Richard Nixon

George Plimpton

Victor Navasky

Mr. Fred Rogers

Budd Schulberg

John Sayles

Michael Schnayerson on Irwin Shaw

Norman Sherry on Graham Greene

Gay Talese

Amy Tan

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Peter Viertel

Elie Wiesel

And Henny Youngman

Audio Link, Part the First: Once mowah, with more vig-gah

From archive.org, the bottomless pit of intellectual property, comes a cache of John F. Kennedy audio, from the Nixon election debate to the inaugural address to "Ich bin ein Berliner" to hours of inner White House conversations. Fascinating stuff. JFK never got his due as a great speaker; most people can't get past the accent to hear how perfectly Kennedy played his instrument.

Just got back from exploring ShadowHouse & more of Hawthorne

Lots of neat stuff -- haven't seen a glass-bottle Pepsi machine nor a vacuum-tube tester in years -- but we have no idea what that thing in the second photo is. It was on a shelf with old guy stuff, which makes it even more puzzling.

Walking back from Oasis Cafe

Yesterday. I'm serious when I say that I will date anyone responsible for making pizza so good.

I do not think that word means what you think it means, Señor

I don't think I would eat at any place named "Merde" but the Espaniel D'Coppolla at Foti's Greek Deli a few blocks down the street was good. Taken on Friday.

At Fred Meyer's, again.

Astro Boy van stencil FTW. Taken on the Fifth.

Falling back in love with Fred Meyer

Where else can you get organic avocado, Diet Pepsi, carob/yogurt-peanut clusters, a laundry basket, new house keys and wild octopus in the same store? Taken on the First.

Hit The Road Eleven: Portland

At a stop light, doing the travel math when I looked up and said "Oh, Hai!" The car, unpacked save for Emannuelle, and my first food as a PDX-man. April 30, 2010.

Hit The Road Ten: Idaho to Oregon

Taken on the 30th.

Hit The Road Nine: Wyoming

At a surprisingly warm rest stop, au naturale. My first piece of wingnut graffiti -- pretty impressive, considering I've driven roughly 2,000 miles across the country at this point.