Takeout dinner from Pok Pok

It's baffling why a classy joint like Pok Pok is open the latest of any restaurant in the neighborhood. Usually it's gutbucket greasy spoons and franchise chain stores that are your only options after 10pm in this town. I've already forgotten the name of this dish, but it was tasty albeit brutally spicy in aggregate.

I am now 36 years old.

And I've reached an odd spot in life, which I'd like to think all men reach around now, when I've realized two things: One, despite the lingering gut, bald pate and acne scars, I'm definitely received that second wind of attractiveness that blesses some men and not others; I've always cleaned up well with the right coaxing, but I'm utterly baffled by how I managed to look better at 36 than I did at 35 than I did at 25 than I did at 17. After not-looking in the mirror on a regular basis since making faces stopped being a hilarious pasttime when there was nothing good on television and all my books and records sounded boring -- not to mention how much of my face was eclipsed by a beard the last decade or so -- I think I can see my reflection with substantially less loathing than I used to expect.

This is turning into an essay, so let's cut it short for now with: Yes, I do think that song is about me. Add more text here later. Or not.

(the other thing I realized: I don't need to be anonymous for work anymore. Robin at Inkstuds posting a hi-def pic of me leaning out of a shot to the Internets helped a lot, but really it was long past time I gave up on my career of CIA assassin. They never return my phone calls anyway.)

Anyway, for my first day as a 36 year old, I thought I'd take a reflected self-portrait of the moblogger strongly disapproving of the half-assed state of bar-game entertainment. What's next? A fucking WII in every dive instead of a 3/4 scale pool table? You want manly video games in your bar, buy an old PUNCH-OUT arcade cabinet with the arm controls and rake in the quarters. I hate bars, but I would spend hours and all my self-imposed allowance on one of those simulator-like arcade games.

Flanders' Big Adventure III: The Senses-Shattering Conclusion.

So, he's safe from the dogs, out of the tree and back inside. He's safe, right? Wrong. His sister, who normally doesn't go in for dishing out assbeatings, kept seeking him out in the house to give him anothr whuppin'! Poor Big Man's tail never de-poofed from fright for hours, even when he was asleep in the bedroom closet. I would have tossed the Gray Lady out so he could have total peace but I didn't know if those dogs would be back.

Flanders is fine now, wanted to go outside immediately after breakfast the next morning. What an odd way to spend your birthday afternoon.

Flanders' Big Adventure II

So The Big Man is up a tree following a rough encounter with some dogs and he ain't coming down, so I have to come up and get him. After rooting around for work gloves -- I know how claws-out grabby even the sweetest cat can get when more than five feet from the ground -- and a step ladder, he and I swing in the bluster of the day while I try to find a level spot for the ladder that will get me high enough to safely grab him and come down. That is one surprisingly dense tree.

Have I mentioned that the day was sunny but cold and we had been periodically pounded with hail and rain all day? I haven't? Oh. The day was sunny but cold and we had been periodically pounded with hail and rain all day. Ticktickticktick!

The second time the ladder was blown sideways in the wind, by sheer dumb luck I set it in the perfect spot to climb up a foot higher than where Flan was, grab 'im and ease down the ladder without a scratch. Huzzah.

[I must admit, I laughed so hard at seeing how middle-aged cats, like people, look extra-flabby/puffy in the face when looking down at a viewer that his rescue probably could have been completed in much less time. I am not an entirely good man. If Flan had received an Injury, me laughing at him every time he looked down at me would have been the Insult. Then again, I was already very sick and shaky, so that furball gets no apologies from me.]

Flanders' Big Adventure I

One of the cats I'm sitting is a big outdoors nut, which is all well and good until two neighborhood dogs (no owners in sight, no leashes and one didn't even have a collar) decided that he would be a fine meal/chew-toy/who-knows-what and surround him.

I hear a ghastly, high-pitched roar and get outside in time to see these mutts circling Flanders like sharks waiting for a shipwrecked man to get a bit tired from treading water before they strike. I've never seen a cat arch his back so high before.

After I chase the dogs away for good, I finally turn around to see how The Big Man is ... as he climbs this tree as high as he could. He didn't look hurt, so I figured I'd give him a few minutes to cool down and come back with food to entice him back down. It didn't. He was still pissed/scared a half-hour later, although it might have been the blusteriness of the afternoon making the tree sway so hard that upset him.

It gets worse/better.

Homemade chicken soup

A ladyfriend made a pot of it for her cold, and brought me over a container of it and some Emergen-C packets. She is the best. The only thing missing is a zinc tablet or two, but I forgot to grab them before I left to go house-sit for two weeks. Taken on the 25th.

Saturday Brunch at the Screen Door

I can now understand why this place has consistantly long lines to be seated, and often hour-long waits for their delicious chicken and waffles. A side of the chicken with a fine spring-vegetable hash.

After noting yet another seafoam-green scooter, we went to Laurelhurst Park to relax and let the rhinovirus that I felt when I awoke that morning take full root in my sleepy head.

Hot chocolate before the ballet; poutine after. 4/22/11

The sampler at Cacao's on/near Broadway -- regular, spicy and cinnamon. The latter was my favorite although I enjoyed the spicy one more than I thought I would.

A night at the ballet ["Song & Dance," as put on by the Oregon Ballet company at the Newmark Theatre] was fun. I don't know enough about dance to know if it was great, but I know one guest dancer [Artur Sultanov] has buckets of charisma after I realized I was watching him simply sitting deep upstage sucking wind after a pretty grueling duet while a handful of dancers were whirling around in the foreground. That segment was the best, contemporary and artsy in the best possible way. It came off a bit like an animated early Dali painting before he became a pondering profiteer.

I then lost my foodcart virginity on a medium order of poutine (French fries & chunks of cheese smothered in brown gravy; the Cannucks love it and so should you) at Potato Champion at the pod community on Hawthorne & 12th. S'bon!

The Big Man loves gravel too.

For the few minutes that the 22nd was warm and sunny.

On the walk to and dinner at: La Bamba's on Powell

I'm still baffled by the idea of Mexican curry. The 21st.

Pool & Fish on the 20th

I went to the Rialto on SW Alder expecting it to be a classically seedy pool hall. That chunk of downtown? I could already smell the stale cigarettes -- it doesn't matter when the no-smoking ordinance was passed, pool tables give cigarette smoke a half-life on par with most nuclear isotopes -- and French fries cooked in even staler oil. A good bad pool hall acts like a time machine to a place even the regulars there don't want to live in.

You could imagine my surprise to find that the joint turned out be a modern, curiously elegant and almost airy (perhaps they save all the seediness for the Rialto OTB storefront next door). It's the first hall I've seen that looks like a pool hall went down on a sports bar in the shell of a dance club. I'm already a fan. Table rates were reasonable, the mezzanine has a great view/less noisy area for actual conversation while playing.

After a few games, we discovered that the bistro-looking shop on a side-street is also part of the pool hall, so we popped in there for a very large, intriguingly flavored fish sandwich & fries. The menu is definitely a cut or two above the usual fare; I'm still struggling to wrap my mind around the idea of a pool hall serving brunch, even in this town.

After eating, we staggered North a few blocks to see a Satanic/420/heavy-metal/sci-fi burlesque show at Dante's, aka another Wednesday night in Portland.

The last 24 hours

Waiting for my crispy spring rolls at Hunan Restaurant on Park St. downtown. Unsurprisingly, the bus dumped everyone onboard a few blocks/miles early.

Cinnamon-nutmeg-raisin blondies

Last week's cinnful caramels were so good and the available stove is so bad that I thought I'd try translating my recipe to a blondie batter. They are delightful and the right balance of moist and dense. I think I'll stick to baking for a while.

Another seafoam-green car

Plus a facinating rust-colored bug. Taken on the 9th and 11th.

The 9th.

A day of organizing, cat-petting, vegan and omnivore meals capped off with a fine tart.

Cinnamon-raisin fudg-- er, caramels

Been too buried to fotoblog. Here is the before & after of my star-crossed/stove-damned attempt to make my old recipe for cinnamon-raisin fudge. Taken on the 7th and 8th.

A Quick One: I dodged quite the cultural bullet

I was born during a time when Disney was out of the feature-film animation racket almost entirely and their sad parade of films that led to that hiatus were rarely shown. I think THE SWORD & THE STONE was the only post-war animated feature I saw projected, I think as a evening-at-the-movies fundraiser at school, and even that one looked cheap, disjointed, tired and uninspired to my inexperienced eyes.

It seems I didn't miss much; here's a delightful collection of shamelessly reused material from those movies -- what offends me isn't that they reused so much, it's that they didn't even show a flicker of imagination in the recycling. Even in those pre-VCR days, the animated features still saw reissues and TV airings often enough that they should have known people would catch them eventually:

My sympathies to anyone 5-10 years older than me, who probably was dragged to see such weak sauce as THE JUNGLE BOOK, THE ARISTOCATS, ROBIN HOOD and THE RESCUERS as a kid.

Saturday Night At the Movies: THE LIFE OF REILLY

Charles Nelson Reilly's subtly moving one-man show SAVE IT FOR THE STAGE was a rare night at the theatre that begged to be recorded and saved for posterity. Like all great character actors, Reilly had a detective's eye for detail but the rare gift of being able to distill people and events into wonderful mini-portraits and vignettes; it's a shame that he was never interviewed for the Archive of American Television's oral-history series.

Thankfully, we have this film adaptation of the show -- Reilly's last stage performance prior to his 2007 death at age 76 -- to enjoy, which the film's producers have chopped up and uploaded to YouTube.

The DVD's extras include this tremendously valuable Making Of documentary, which moved me further by showing the actor's unvarnished vulnerability and irritability before a project finally snaps into focus. It's not something you see in proper context every day; typically, such footage is sliced down to the worst moments and shown on Celebrities Behaving Badly-type shows, where the hosts and audience can chuckle and/or cluck-cluck about these crazy divas and their outrageous demands for a cold diet soda. If, like me, you came away from SAVE IT FOR THE STAGE/LIFE OF REILLY with a vastly expanded view/appreciation of Reilly's unique mix of fear, pluck and adrenaline, this doc will expand it even more:

I sometimes get the feeling that I'm being watched.

Seuss stares and stares and stares in the front window. This evening.

Business-ish meals I have known.

The sampler at Pine St. Biscuits, some fine homemade vegan soup and a fish burrito & Mexicoke from Don's on 82nd. Lunch, lunch, dinner from yesterday and today.