Wednesday, November 23, 2011

babies are scary

Look at this one:

This is my nephew. As you can see, he's gone zombie. This photo was taken minutes after he'd eaten the rest of the family. Look how delighted he is. And how civilized! Fork and bib and everything. If only all zombies were so well brought up. (And adorable.)

OK fine, it's beet soup. (Or so my mother claims.) Still: a little bit terrifying, right?

Thursday, November 03, 2011


Due to an unfortunate misunderstanding, I recently watched the new Eddie Murphy movie, Tower Heist. It provoked some lingering questions, detailed below. If any of you can help clear these up, naturally, I'm all ears. (I'd insert the distasteful phrase "spoiler alert" here except that, honestly, who cares? But if you haven't seen the movie yet [yet!] and are going to be upset about learning some key "plot points," well, first, congratulations on being able to read; I'm genuinely surprised. And second, please stop reading now.)

The movie takes place in a luxury apartment building in Manhattan. Ben Stiller is the building manager. Casey Affleck is the concierge. Precious is a maid. Ferris Bueller is a disgraced "Wall Street guy" being evicted. Alan Alda is a super-rich penthouse owner who for some reason plays online chess with Stiller, who lives in an inexplicably posh Astoria flat. Eddie Murphy is among the thugs who lurk outside Stiller's apartment. Brett Ratner (X-Men: The Last Stand; Rush Hour) directs. About five people wrote the screenplay, apparently in isolation from one another.

My questions include:

When and why did Ben Stiller's entire staff go from "we hate you for losing our pensions" to "we're crying because you got fired"?

Am I allowed to count the pale, squishy lump that is Matthew Broderick in this movie as yet another of Sarah Jessica Parker's aesthetic crimes? It's her fault, right?

Wait, can we go back to that Lego model for a second? I'm not sure I'm clear on the plan.

OK so is the entire car made of gold? If yes, why are there car keys? I don't think solid-gold engines are known for being super drivable. (Too melty.)

Did I miss when mocking fat girls became hilarious again?

Not to nitpick -- I know it's only a movie -- but how did four non-mechanics disassemble an entire vintage automobile inside a drained swimming pool on top of a building, without so much as a screwdriver in evidence, let alone hydraulic lifts etc., and then box each part for shipping, in a single night, without anybody noticing? Was the UPS guy not a little suspicious?

Speaking of which, does the typical hotel worker know what to do with solid-gold car parts when they arrive mysteriously on the doorstep via UPS? Ask yourself: if someone mailed you an ingot, would you know how to cash it? (No Googling!)

Is Casey Affleck married in real life? He's dreamy.

What, no prison time for the old guy trying to slay a whole marching band with a delivery truck? Guess he seems pretty stable to you, then, what with the two suicide attempts, grand theft auto and the nonstop maniacal laughter?

Why exactly is that Snoopy float so terrifying, I wonder?

Do we think Alan Alda and Ben Stiller have resumed their chess game in prison?

And finally: why do you hate America, Brett Ratner? Is it because we deserve it?

Saturday, October 29, 2011


So The Rum Diary opened yesterday - an adaptation, for those who don't know, of an early Hunter S Thompson novel, starring Johnny Depp and directed by Bruce Robinson (who did Withnail & I). As my pal Mike Russell mentioned on Friday's episode of Cort & Fatboy (thanks, fellas!), I had a great time watching it, but the more I thought about it afterward, the more it bothered me.

Depp plays Paul Kemp, a sort of proto-Thompson avatar who washes up in Puerto Rico having been hired from afar to work at an English-language daily that is blatantly collapsing. Depp's really good in it; he mostly abandons his Jack Sparrow mugging in favor of a deadpan nervousness with occasional twitching. (Remember when he played Ichabod Crane as a frightened little girl in Sleepy Hollow? It's weird how restrained that performance seems in hindsight.)

Even better is Michael Rispoli, who plays the staff photographer, Sala. He's the heart and the brains of the story, and everything gets sort of chilly when he's out of the frame. The villain is white-linen-suited developer (and ex journo) Hal Sanderson, played by Aaron Eckhart. He's too Evil to be a convincing character, but it's fun to see Eckhart being rotten again. Sanderson's girlfriend (Amber Heard) is supposedly a bewitching mermaid minx/damsel in distress, but I found her pretty dull. And Giovanni Ribisi shuffles around as sort of the Ghost of HST Future, a cautionary tale and/or inspiration, depending on which parts of the Hunter legend you're devoted to.

Anyway. Kemp's an idealistic young reporter who is easily seduced by alcohol and mermaids and also maybe by the cash and sweet car Sanderson throws at him in an attempt to get the writer to plant some PR stories currying public favor for a hideous and probably illegal development project. The project is a grody bait-and-switch that would ravage a pristine island and make Sanderson heaps of money. It's the kind of widespread-corruption story that would make a young reporter's career, if that young reporter's editor weren't somehow involved and thus reluctant to print anything more hard-hitting than astrology columns and bowling-league results. Kemp does protest, but not too much, and he's pretty happy to borrow Sanderson's car. That whole "nail the bastards to the wall" part only comes once the string of selfish greed causes the newspaper's payroll to vanish.

The movie is really well made, and there are scenes of pure alchemical beauty in it - notably a dark, still moment in which Kemp and Sala drop a mysterious liquid into their eyeballs and wait for it to kick in. (And there's a line in this scene that echoes Withnail & I: "You're giving me fear!") The whole thing is a lot of manic fun. And yet....

The thing people forget about Hunter Thompson - and the thing this movie seems intent on distracting its audience from - is how genuinely sad he could be. It's the same way they forget how funny Hemingway was. We inherit these established ideas of what these writers were like, and then we never feel the need to look deeper. There's both accidental and deliberate confusion between the man and the myth. In Hunter's case the real guy vanished early into the character of Raoul Duke. And then that character himself became cartoonified (literally and metaphorically). People associate him with a trunk full of drugs, bats on the highway, lizards in the carpet. Nobody thinks of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas as a sad book. But that scene where he talks about seeing the high-water mark of the culture -- that's tragedy. He's staring out at the desiccated corpse of the American Dream, which back then you could still discuss without irony, and he's mourning. In The Rum Diary, there's a scene in which Kemp and Sala are watching Nixon on TV and Kemp says "When will this blizzard of shame finally end?" and you're supposed to laugh. And then he adds that in a few decades someone will come along who's so much worse that he makes Nixon look like a liberal. And again it's played for comedy.

Which is fine, I guess, because if you don't laugh at this stuff you end up spending your whole life drunk and then blowing your pickled brains out. But to me, the trouble with this movie is that it works so hard to distract you from its own substance. Even just the basic plot outline: aside from hallucinogens and cockfights and some really dodgy club scenes at Carnaval, what exactly happens? Kemp tries to play the role of journalist as scrappy superhero and save an island. He fails. Then he leaves. Sure, in the end maybe he gets the girl, but idealism and journalism and Puerto Rico all get shafted. And the way the movie's set up, we don't care -- we're psyched that Kemp and his pals didn't get shot or jailed. We're supposed to think they won, because they showed the bastards, they stuck it to the Man. But what about that island development project? what about the pillaged newspaper offices? Never mind - let's steal a boat and go chase that mermaid.

The lesson being that you can be a complete wreck of a person, fueled by rum and failure and a wholly untested idealism, and get just as much accomplished as if you're all freshly showered and sober in front of the typewriter, because whatever you write while sane is not what the Man will print anyway, so you might as well drop hallucinogens into your eyeballs - certainly beats working.

 It is much, much cooler to imagine journalism this way, but it also kind of misses the point.

 I should probably add that I've never read the novel; it came out after my love affair with HST had peaked. (It never ended, but it has ebbed slightly over the years.) I saw somewhere that Jann Wenner said Hunter would never have published the book 20 years earlier, and that was enough to make me avoid it, although at some point I'm sure I'll pick it up. (But never that last Hemingway novel, ever ever ever.) But if you really want to watch Hunter Thompson become Hunter Thompson, read Hell's Angels.

Anyway. Huge rant, probably incoherent. But there you have it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

road trip

I accidentally spent a night in Butte, Montana, not too long ago -- cool-looking town. Poisonous lake on a hill, old brick buildings, all the neon signs. It reminded me of how much I liked the movie Don't Come Knocking, directed by Wim Wenders in 2005 and seen by I think practically no one. Sam Shepard wrote the screenplay and stars in it as a grizzled and vulnerable Sam Shepard type guy, alongside Jessica Lange, who is always perfect. T Bone Burnett did all the music. It's better, moodier, and less actiony than the preview makes it look, but here's that anyway:

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Tony Tony Tony

Check it out. They were fools to cross my boyfriend Tony Leung. They will pay.


(But when will they pay? Is this movie ever coming out? Does anybody know anything? TELL ME)

picture time

Instead of typing any more are a few random photos from the latest Sweden trip, in no particular order. More to come, but they're on the other laptop, and I'm lazy.

Ljusnedal Church

Part of the mill in Ljusnedal

Big barn in Ljusnedal. The light here was amazing; I couldn't really catch it.

One of the cabins we stayed in had a calendar tacked to the wall featuring "The Men of Härjedalen" - this is Mr August, I think.

Sami Hut in Arådalen

Captain Joe's cabin in Härnösand

Ha, ha. Real mature, Becky.

Downtown Uppsala (where Mom grew up)

Uppsala Modern

Uppsala Cathedral

Child-size Mom outside her old school.

Ljusnedal again

Cute chicks in Härnösand

Mom's dream hut

Friday, September 09, 2011

rules of distraction

Taking a quick break from typing about Sweden, just to mix it up a bit. (And because I lack focus/discipline.)

By now everyone has probably read this Times magazine article about willpower and decision fatigue. I read it yesterday and then spent the entire evening behaving exactly as the article predicted.

The good news is, I am blameless! If you've read it you know: I do silly things late in the day because of all the energy I've wasted making smart choices all morning. The root of the problem seems to be sugar sags:

"Your brain does not stop working when glucose is low. It stops doing some things and starts doing others. It responds more strongly to immediate rewards and pays less attention to long-term prospects."

Yep. (I'm looking at you, Sandy Hut.)

I'm thinking the judicious application of cookies and ice cream throughout the day might be able to correct for this weird biological quirk. Sadly, all we can do is hope to rescue our future selves from the results of our overtaxed and rumbly brains; the past is past and already recorded and posted onto the entire internet.

Of the many things that probably shouldn't have come out of my mouth today (and please note I'd already made several decisions all by myself just to get downtown, surely depleting the reserves), the one I feel least uncomfortable bringing up again concerns Battlestar Galactica. Mainly, I think I sounded like I was harshing on the series, and I didn't mean to - I've been watching it obsessively on Netflix and really love some of the characters (although now every time Tigh sticks his nose in a glass I'm going to picture Mike Russell howling). But I do find some of the choices exasperating and inconsistent, and I have a feeling the ending is going to piss me off. Also, Baltar is gross. Still, it's bitchin' TV.

The other thing that happened today (this happens often) is that I tried to talk about movies and ended up talking about male body parts. Not a tragedy but perhaps not as informative as some might like. So here are expanded thoughts on two of the movies we talked about today.

The Last Circus
(directed by Alex de la Iglesia)

Still no idea why this thing got to me as much as it did. I mean I like movies that make me feel terrible, I enjoy being wrecked by a work of art. But I didn't simply dislike this movie, I wanted to beat it with trumpets and cannonball it into a brick wall. It felt germy and sordid and wrong; I'm sure I will not feel dirtier after watching Contagion.

This seems like a lot of abuse to pile onto a weird little Spanish Civil War circus movie. And it does start out strong. For the first few minutes you're like, hell yeah! There's a burly clown in a pink dress and Nellie Oleson wig machine-gunning an army of bad guys. Awesome! But before you even have a chance to get into it, the movie stamps that little flame of hope right out. Suddenly it's 30-some years later and the rampaging clown's nerdy little son has turned into a pudgy sad-sack. He auditions for the job of Sad Clown in a crappy circus led by a drunken but handsome Asshole Clown. And of course there's the tightrope walker acrobat chick they both love, who turns out to be a trampy abuse junkie, of course. I think the thing I couldn't get past is that there is absolutely no one to pull for in the movie. Even the underdog, the guy you'd traditionally sympathize with, turns out to be a vile person. So you end up just watching a bunch of miserable assholes being self-destructively awful to each other for no good reason, for two hours, and then at the end you're like, yep, life is hideous.

Same thing's true of A Perfect Crime, probably de la Iglesia's best-known movie: It starts out fast and sharp and funny and stylish, and then you begin to realize that everyone in it is selfish and grasping and horrible. You assume the ugly-duckling savior girl is sweet and kind and the perfect match, because that's what always happens. Instead it turns out she's horrible. Which I suppose is new and interesting. But all it means is that, in this world, no one is sweet; everyone's an asshole, it's just that some people are also ugly.

Or maybe I was just PMSing or something.


The Warrior
I should probably talk about something besides my boyfriend Tom Hardy's amazing shoulders (god, can they act!) but it's late and I'm tired and I won't be able to do the rest of the movie justice. Also, it's not just me: this movie is very interested in bodies. I mean, it's a melodrama about MMA fighting. You can't ignore the muscles; it would be like not talking about the aliens in Aliens. Anyway, the trailer tells you the structure (I mean the entire structure, so don't get all upset - you can see all of this coming from the first few minutes anyway, and it really doesn't lessen the impact of the ending, I promise). It's a classic Rocky-style plot: underdog endures hardship, trains, is victorious. Except in this case there are two underdogs, my boyfriend and his older brother, played by Joel Edgerton (backup boyfriend), and you really want both of them to win.

Nick Nolte never takes his shirt off but is completely heartbreaking as the recovering-alcoholic dad; Jennifer Morrison from House doesn't get a lot of screen time as backup-boyfriend's wife, but her character is tough and cool and totally convincing. Recommended especially if you like training montages, slow-motion fist-to-face shots, honor and love among gruff and broken men, or shoulders.

Now for some deep knee bends.

Friday, September 02, 2011

The Mitten of Nowhere

My apologies, glob fans, for the recent neglect; I've been dizzy.

This might be relevant.

What happened was, I went to Sweden for Lonely Planet and came back kinda grouchy. This could be because I've had an embarrassment of free time since March, and now I don't have any, and when I had it what I mostly did with it was nap.

I miss napping.

No more naps for me, though. I'm a dedicated little worker. Here is proof: I could've spent all of last Friday adventuring on motorbikes with two very attractive young men. Instead I stayed in, working.

Maybe I'm just not all that bright.

Anyway! Sweden. My mom came with me, and I heard lots of stories about what it was like for her growing up there, some of them possibly even true. We took a couple of days in the middle of the work trip to search out her dad's little cabin in a tiny village in Jämtland - more about that part soon, including some possibly controversial facts about trolls.

(Short version: trolls are real, and they are SCARY.)

This is the first time I've had anybody shadow me full-time on a guidebook research trip. I figured Mom would be bored out of her mind, or at least annoyed. I know I usually am. But I think she actually had a good time. Which, oddly enough, made me have a good time, too. I'll post photos and highlights this weekend, along with my traditional post-trip List of Petty Grievances.

Meanwhile, here is what I'm working on this morning: Swedish drinking songs! Hey, the people need to know. Here's a good one:

I Like the Snaps
I like the snaps and the snaps likes me,
thrilling as only a snaps can be.
I want to drink the real elite:
Aalborger aquavite!
Over the mountains, over the sea,
Millions of snapses are waiting for me.
Please go to hell with juice and tea,
Snaps is the drink for me!!


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Goldrush 2011

Last weekend I went on the annual SFRC Goldrush ride out to Eastern Oregon. This was my favorite part of the road:

...but the whole thing was pretty awesome. Riding, camping, swimming, bikes, beer, handguns, a shag-carpeted outhouse, a power-station tour, red meat three meals a day, fifteen soap-operas' worth of drama - what's not to love?

On the way home I killed a bird with my helmet. Any tips on de-sliming will be gratefully accepted:

Yeah, that's just gross.

Anyhow. Every so often a non-riding friend of mine will ask me what's so great about this whole motorcycle-club thing. To them I say,

That is all.

Monday, June 27, 2011

race report!

This Saturday was the annual OMRRA Vintage Days at Portland International Raceway. All kinds of mayhem occurred all day, most of which, between racing and fretting about racing, I missed. My class is 250 Vintage [corrected!], and in that class, for some reason, the Vintage Days tradition is to do a Le Mans start.


In a normal race, you just form a grid, bikes running, everybody alert and pointed toward the first turn, and when the green flag drops you take off. But Le Mans is more complicated, and much more comical. Someone holds your bike, engine dead, at the inside wall of the track, and you line up across from it on the other side of the track. A gun goes off, you run to the bike, hop on, bump start it and go.

In theory.

In practice, if you're me, you kind of stumble toward the bike, only belatedly realizing how hard it is to run in tight leather pants, motorcycle boots and a helmet. You take a moment to grin at your awesome bike holder, then struggle to throw a leg over the seat and start duck-walking as fast as you can with the clutch pulled in, bike in second gear. You have short legs, so this looks ridiculous and doesn't work very well. Eventually you reach a speed that seems promising. You let out the clutch. Nothing happens. You do this three times, until everyone else in the race has safely gone ahead, and then at last when you let out the clutch the bike roars to life and you go.

(Actually, on the second race of the day I got a really good start, first try. But that's rare, for me. Some people can run along beside the bike to get it up to speed, then hop onto it while moving, with a fluid grace I've never approached in any endeavor and am damned sure not going to try in front of a crowd.)

A novel thing about the Saturday morning race is that I had someone to chase. Usually I'm at the back all by myself, just trying to catch sight of the second-to-last guy, hoping the race leaders don't pass me until the whole thing's almost over, so I get to see how it ends. (Have I mentioned that I'm extremely slow? Smooth! But terribly, tragically slow.) But this time, there was a guy whose bike maybe wasn't running too well, or maybe he was just taking it easy, enjoying the scenery (we have ospreys!), and at some point during the race, to my surprise, I passed him. Fun! (Pretty sure he passed me right back, but I only remember the fun part.)

In the afternoon race I was even slower than I'd been in the morning. But as every single living human I've encountered at the racetrack has said to me, Hey, at least I'm out there. (I don't really know what this means. Good try? I think it's a nice thing to say, but I'm not sure it makes a lot of sense if you think about it.)

Anyway. Things that fell off my bike include:

* the bellypan;
* the bolt in the middle of this photo (glamour shot by Scott Elder), directly beneath the SeeSee smiley face.

Looks important!

(I can't help but wonder how it fell off without my noticing. It's a large bolt. Surely I would've noticed a large bolt hitting me in the face at speed. Maybe, as Patrick has suggested, it was never really there at all.)

Things that did not fall off my bike on Saturday include: me, so that's nice.

I did walk away with a massively uncool sunburn, the short-sleeve farmer's-tan variety, and a brand-new hideous burn scar on my forearm, from the tailpipe. Which is great, because the old scar from the first time I burned my forearm on the tailpipe in the exact same place had just faded. I do enjoy continuity.

(I was going to post a photo of the disgusting blister that blobbed up over the tailpipe burn, but it's too gross. I have standards. I'll wait until it pops.)

Here's a rare shot of me near a fellow racer. I can't remember if I was passing him or he was passing me, but the smart money's on the latter.

And another just for fun:

Still not looking cool enough to actually buy the photos.

Also, I think I need a fairing.

Well, I probably won't have another race until August, so those of you bored to tears by all this nonsense but too polite to say so are in for a reprieve. Enjoy!

Friday, June 03, 2011


This'll be up shortly at WW, but here's a quick peek for those who just can't wait to see what I thought of the new X-Men movie:

X-Men: First Class

One thing I've learned from reading a lot of X-Men comics is that evil doesn't just spring up out of nowhere. More often than not it's born of carelessness: someone "good" says something thoughtless to a fragile soul on the threshold of darkness, and blammo, new supervillain. This happens twice in X-Men: First Class, which makes sense, considering how much of the movie is spent on establishing character -- or at least introducing characters.

A prequel to the four preceding X-Men movies (from the pretty good Bryan Singer-directed X-Men in 2000 to the universally lambasted X-Men Origins: Wolverine in 2009), First Class has so much fun with its setup that you almost wish it never got around to the saving-the-world-from-nuclear-annihilation plot. (Mutants solve the Cuban Missile Crisis; JFK gets credit.) It's a blast watching the young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and the future Magneto, aka Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender), sashay around the planet collecting stray mutants to protect and school. Even more fun is watching Lehnsherr track and punish his Nazi tormenters -- this could easily be its own whole movie. The man has flair. (And teeth! My god.)

It's also cool to see how far the characters have come. Pre-wheelchair Xavier is a little smarmy (he tries the line "that's a very groovy mutation" twice). He's idealistic and brilliant but not yet wise. He lacks the weighty dignity of the Patrick Stewart years, and we get to see him make mistakes. (See above re thoughtlessness.) Other characters arrive fully formed; there's a great cameo that damn near steals the show. Jennifer Lawrence (Winter's Bone) does a good job at toughing it out as Mystique, who must console herself with Fassbender after getting the brushoff from wimpy Xavier and nerdy Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult). The other young recruits are mostly props for training montages -- and the nerd in me insists I mention that Banshee (Caleb Landry Jones), although adorable, is really supposed to be Irish, and old enough to get with Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne).

As villains go, well, for starters you have the Nazis. Kevin Bacon makes a decent Sebastian Shaw, and the special effects around him are weird and impressive. But January Jones doesn't radiate enough intelligence for Emma Frost; the movie turns her into Shaw's penthouse playmate. She looks fabulous, though, as does the whole enterprise, particularly the bad guys' Austin Powers-y egg-shaped sub-submarine hangout.

Both silliness and sap increase as the film rolls along, but the big action scenes are handled well, and it never becomes ridiculous enough to undercut the cool, shaken-not-stirred vibe of its first half.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

back to beerlight

Attention, Steve Aylett fans: Novahead is out! I'm reading it now -- I'll post a review here soon. Can't tell if the cold medicine is adding clarity or weirdness, but so far, soooooo good.

Monday, May 30, 2011

evil is adorable

Had a busy weekend of subzero camping and motorbikes, which I might report on later, if the green slime ever leaves my head. In the meantime please take a look at this (and beware always the helpful-seeming minion!).


p.s. Happy birthday, Karl!

Friday, May 27, 2011

kerosene around

Hesher opens today at Cinema 21. It's pretty awesome. I talked about it a little bit today on Cort & Fatboy, with Mike Russell. OK, mostly I talked about Joseph Gordon Levitt and his bare chest and grimy underpants. And a little bit about wrestling, and capes. It was fun.

But anyway. Hesher!

I keep trying to explain to people why this movie rules so much, and I haven't really been able to. Describing the storyline makes it sound terrible: a family made catatonic by grief is invaded by this longhaired burnout who appears out of nowhere for no obvious reason and won't leave. There's a love interest, played by Natalie Portman as a checkout girl in hipster glasses. That's pretty much it. So instead I'll just say that Hesher, as embodied by Joseph Gordon Levitt, might be my ultimate dream boyfriend. He has gross hair, lives in a garage, drives a creepy van, sits around the house watching stolen-cable porn in tighty whities all day, lights cars on fire in vengeance, cusses at the dinner table with grandma, comes into your room just to fart -- but underneath all of that, he is Joseph Gordon Levitt.

In short, Hesher is hot.

He walks away from explosions calmly, without looking back.

Also, he's hilarious. And although he's menacing and totally unhinged, his disregard for civil society ends up serving the forces of good. When he shows up and attaches himself to 13-year-old TJ, you think he's some kind of punishing antagonist, bent on destroying whatever little scraps of this poor kid's happiness might remain. But what he ends up doing, probably by accident, is provoking the kid into rage and thus action. He's a totally uncouth asshole, but he helps people. Sort of.

The movie's not perfect. All the acting is solid, but the tone is a little confused; it's like Joseph Gordon Levitt's character was teleported in from some other movie, strictly to mess with the structure of this relatively ordinary family drama. The clash seems entirely deliberate. Some people won't like it, but I found it hysterical. The mood swings didn't bother me. Maybe I'm just easily distracted by the naked torsos of lithe criminal idiot stoners riding bicycles into strangers' swimming pools. But even if you don't share this fondness, you'd have to be a total square not to love the Pabst-fueled speech Hesher gives at the end of the movie. It's so wrong, but so right.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

i eat food...and complain frivolously

In lieu of a new glob post, here's the raw (more wordy) version of my Sunshine Tavern review, which you can read in tidier form in this week's WW. I would like it noted that although I really wanted to, I didn't even once complain about the prices. Restraint!

The Sunshine Tavern is neither sunny nor a tavern: discuss.

Let's get the griping out of the way: the Sunshine Tavern is not a tavern. It is many delightful things: a beautiful room, a mini-arcade, a chic new restaurant whose slender menu lacks nothing. But it is not a tavern, not in atmosphere and not in priorities.

(Also, on none of my visits to the Sushine Tavern was there any sunshine in evidence, but it seems unfair to blame the owners for that.)

Names set certain expectations. And if you're a pedantic little jerk like me, this sort of thing can ruin a night out. (I never quite surrendered my grudge against Taqueria Nueve: not a taqueria.) I realize this is absurd and self-defeating, which is why I'm glad my principles so often crumple in the face of a really yummy dinner. As it turns out, the Sunshine Tavern could wear a pretty hat and call itself the Queen of France and I'd forgive it, on account of the chicken.

Sunshine's menu offers just three entrees, plus a handful of inventive pizzas, sandwiches, salads and burgers. Order anything you want as long as it's the fried chicken dinner ($14). You'll be rewarded with perfect, juicy, boneless hunks of bird on fat semolina waffles drizzled with honey. It is heaven. The same chicken is equally good on a spicy sandwich ($11), accompanied by a tawny pile of awesome fries. And I was exaggerating earlier: everything we tried was delicious. The chopped salad with french fries ($8) gets a lot of attention, but a boring-sounding iceberg wedge with buttermilk blue cheese dressing ($8) is even better. The baked-egg appetizer ($9), lauded in the Wall Street Journal, is worth trying for novelty, but it's less exciting than a platter of gravy cheese fries ($9), and not only because to eat them is to toy with death. (A small heart attack may be a fair price.) Even the humble burger ($10, more for extras like cheese, eggs or pork belly) holds its own.

None of this is a huge surprise, considering that the Sunshine Tavern is owned and run by Jenn Louis and David Welch, the folks behind Lincoln. The drinks list is as well-edited as the food menu; it includes a handful of specialty cocktails ($7-8) and eight unusual beers on tap ($5 pints), plus lots of interesting things in bottles.

But let's get back to the griping just for a second. If Sunshine is not a tavern, what is it? The place is confusing. It's an elegant room, with huge windows, tall tables, and rough dark wood smoothed into hard-angled shapes. The bar is made of an old bowling lane, and over it hangs a long metal Jenga-style light fixture that will blow your mind. The shuffleboard table at center stage has a lean grace not generally associated with the sport.

Meanwhile, kids are running wild all over the place. Donkey Kong and Ms Pac-Man bleep their familiar bleeps from the corner. A bartender refers to a window-side six-top as the Party Table. The crowd is adult-looking, but they're sipping margaritas dispensed from a slushy machine behind the bar. The star dish -- that so-sweet chicken and waffles -- is practically dessert. And afterward you can have a bowl of ice-cream ($5) with house-made "magic shell" chocolate sauce. Remember magic shell? It's still fun!

In short, the Sunshine is a place where you can be a parent and a child at once. In that sense, it might be the quintessential Portland restaurant. It's not a tavern. You wouldn't nestle in with a pint and a paperback. But it's a nice place to try some sophisticated comfort food and briefly abandon your hangups.

Order this: The iceberg wedge, then the chicken and waffles.
Best deal: Fried-chicken sandwich with fries, topped with slaw.
I’ll pass: Slushy margarita ($7) -- fun idea, but not really worth it.

EAT: Sunshine Tavern, 3111 SE Division St., 688-1750, Dinner 5pm-10pm Sunday-Thursday, 5pm-11 pm Friday-Saturday. $$-$$$ Moderate-Expensive.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

race report!

This past weekend was my first motorcycle race since October. (They're held at Portland International Raceway, with OMRRA.)

Short version: I am very slow.

Slightly longer version: This race went much better than the last one! In October, I fell off during practice, and then it rained oceans all day, and the wind picked up, and there were ducks and tadpoles and probably sharks floating around in huge lakes all over the track, not kidding, so I kind of freaked out and didn't actually grid up for the race.

But this time I wasn't even nervous. Possibly someone has been slipping a little bit of Xanax into my coffee. Or maybe this is the upside of seasonal-affective disorder. Whichever. I'll take it.

I guess it's about time for me not to be nervous. I started racing in 2007. Here is something I wrote about that, for Willamette Week. And here is a second little race diary from that first weekend. I escaped the 2007 season with a cracked thumb and a souvenir t-shirt that says, "If you're not crashing, you're not racing hard enough." (A thoughtful gift from the girl I collided with.) But since then I've only raced maybe six or eight times. (I travel too much, and am poor.)

Last year I did one race, plus the aborted rain weekend. So I'm a little rusty. My bike is (was) a 1968(?) Honda CL175 in need of a bit of mechanical tenderness. So in October my friend Will at Poor Bastard Cycleworks made me a deal. I'll spare you the details because I will get them wrong if I try to tell you, but essentially he got some cool 175 parts and I got a freshened-up, hotted-up, Mad Maxified race motor.

Best part: I now have only four speeds instead of five. This makes it much less likely that I'll spazz out and forget what gear I'm in or when I'm supposed to be shifting.

There was some suspense as to whether the motor would make its way back into the bike on time, and run. But it did. On Saturday morning we had three practice sessions. But if you're me, you manage to run out of gas on the first one and get black-flagged on the second one. If you're black-flagged you're supposed to go back to the starting line and talk to the guys there; it could mean something is falling off your bike, or that you are on fire.

Turns out they flagged me because they saw the red liner of my jacket and thought my leathers weren't zipped together. I suspect the starting-line guys were just bored and wanted someone to talk to. ("Hey! That slow dude's a chick! Get her over here, let's check it out.")

Here's me trying to figure out where I'm supposed to exit the track after getting black-flagged:


Anyway. Finally made it all the way around the track a bunch of times on the third practice session Saturday. Felt smooth but incredibly slow. My lap times were epic. Glacial. Peristaltic. (Can I use that word that way?) Everyone had plenty of time to admire my pretty black-and-silver paint job. My friend The Italian Cowboy's 76-year-old dad was there and he said he walked to the bathroom faster than I was riding. (Probably true: he'd eaten lunch at the concession stand. I can't be expected to match that level of urgency.)

However! On Sunday, my practice lap times were four seconds faster than Saturday's. In the race they were six seconds faster. (I broke two minutes!) There was a new guy racing Sunday whose times were close to mine. I thought I might be able to beat him, or at least be near him. But he crashed in practice and broke his collarbone, so he was out.

For next time, I need to drop three seconds a lap to beat the slowest guy, and ten to really be racing with anybody. Ten seconds a lap sounds like a lot. But there are nine corners on the track, so if I just do each corner one second faster....

I've been studying photos from the track to see if it'll help. Here's what the fast guys look like:

And here's me on that same corner:

You see the difference. My head and shoulders are more or less in the right place (could be lower), but look at my poor little legs. Death grip! Very uncool. If I can stick out my knee and hang off a bit, scoot my weight to the inside, I can go faster. And more importantly, my photos will look a lot cooler.

So it's hypnotism and leg presses twice a day for a month. Next race is June 25-26. Come out and watch!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

movie time

Sorry, glob fans, for the recent neglect. I've been out gathering valuable insights to share with you. Oh, fine: I've been fooling around on motorcycles and watching lots of movies.

I will tell you about the movies eventually.

OK, I'll tell you about one of them right now.

Hobo with a Shotgun!

Hobo with a Shotgun opens tomorrow (Friday!) at the Hollywood Theatre. Like Machete, it's one of the movies that grew out of the fake trailers included in the Tarantino-Rodriguez double feature Grindhouse. You can watch the original Hobo with a Shotgun fake trailer here. In the full-grown movie, the hobo is Rutger Hauer and the shotgun costs ten bucks less. (Times are tough.)

The title kind of gives away some key elements of the plot, but here is the gist: a hobo (Rutger Hauer) makes the terrible mistake of getting off the train at the presumably once-idyllic Hope Town, now renamed Fuck Town, a place inhabited mostly by people made of ketchup. I'm only guessing about that last part. They seem to be made of ketchup, inside very tautly stretched skins, because whenever they are even lightly punched, kicked, stabbed or crushed by evil go-karts, they explode in a big wet splash of red and essentially vanish.

The ketchup is extra red because this movie is filmed in Hipstamatic. (Although the opening credits display the hilariously period-correct Technicolor logo.) I couldn't decide if I liked this or not. It's pretty, but it somehow looks wrong. I mean, y'know. More wrong.

Anyway. An evil businessman and his Raybanned sons have taken over Hope Town and spraypainted over everything nice. You can tell they're evil because their insults are uncreative, and also because they break a kid's joystick arm so he can't play videogames anymore. Dicks! And their clothes are iridescent white, so they like to congregate near bluelights, because it looks awesome, and they YELL all their dialogue.

The yelling is hilarious. Sample dialogue [please read at full volume]:

"I'm gonna wash off this blood…WITH YOUR BLOOD!!!"

Anyway. The movie starts out a little slow, but pretty soon someone is foolhardy enough to piss off Rutger Hauer, and things pick up quickly. (He eats glass! Did I tell you that already? They make him eat glass! Rutger Hauer!) And then, about the time you figure it's peaking, the main bad guy yells, "SEND FOR THE PLAGUE." Awesome.

The Plague is HILARIOUS. It's a metal monster thing that looks like an angry Lego.

I mean, you probably know what you're getting into with this kind of movie. Rutger Hauer eats glass. He yells at babies. He springs up out of a shopping cart filled with slurpy human guts. A guy gets his crotch shot out, and the camera zooms in on it -- twice. And kind of lingers there. To make sure you really get a good look. Because how often do you get to see a thing like that?

Also: death by ice skate!

Also: toaster used as weapon! Lawnmower used in anger! Motorcycle riders in spurs!

And more.

Here's this bonus note from the theater:

Before the shows on Friday and Saturday night, to make sure we get the crowd's adrenaline pumping, we'll be running a 35mm "RUTGERSPECTIVE" trailer reel, honoring the great Rutger Hauer, star of HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


See what I mean?

(About the pants?)

I spent yesterday at Portland International Raceway for a Motocorsa track day - my first track day ever (although I have crawled around that track many times on my CB160). It was awesome. I am very slow. But I think I got smoother toward the end, and nothing fell off my bike, including me. Also: no rain. Pretty much perfect!

Here is the photo in which I think I look the least nervous/uncool.

And here are a few more pics:

Stretching is key.

Sucking up to teacher ^ (Thanks, Chris Page!)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


It's a fair question: "why does being safe have to involve dressing up like a DayGlo sausage, a European hairdresser or a large nylon pillow?"

(I think my current look is closest to the sausage thing, alas. One spring ritual I especially dislike involves cramming my winter fat into unforgiving leather pants. Incredibly, they still fit, but I'll tell you, there is not a lot of sag in these things right now. They are minimally bendy. I'm thinking a three-day juice fast...the first vintage roadrace of the year is nine days away. Eek!)

Friday, April 08, 2011

man vs machine

Don't get me wrong: I like boys - a lot. But, like any fun hobby, they can be frustrating. At such times, I find it useful to hang out in my garage, absorbing the noxious fumes and ruminating on the many, many ways in which motorcycles are better than boyfriends. A few examples:

1) The obvious: motorcycles vibrate.

2) When a motorcycle starts acting weird, you can remove its head, dig around in there, and replace any parts that don't look right.

3) You can totally rebuild the whole bottom end.

4) If a motorcycle has a breakdown, you can just leave it by the side of the road and get someone else to deal with it later.

5) Even if a motorcycle doesn't work at all, you can usually still get some money out of it.

6) When a motorcycle spends all day in the garage, it comes out cleaner.

7) When's the last time some guy in a Camaro leaned out his window and yelled at you, "Hey, nice boyfriend"?

Friday, April 01, 2011


I pretty much never want to see an opera any other way than as explained by Mike Russell. The drawing of the kid throwing a tantrum about his homework doubles as a perfect reflection of my mood today. Bonus!


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

achieving results

The beginning of a really good idea sometimes looks like this:

If you're lucky, it'll continue along these lines...

...most likely ending up somewhere around here:

Anyway. No harm done. 'Course that could be because your heroine reverted to audience mode before events reached this stage:


This weekend was the annual SFRC Alley Sweeper ride, in which about 106 motorcycles slowly and gently terrorized various parts of residential Portland by ripping through the city's many small unpaved, unmaintained and mostly mud-bogged alleyways. (This is legal!) I hadn't realized, but the ride doubles as a large-scale dog-tormenting endeavor; those poor chain-link-runnin' suckers hated us. Plus I pruned some hedges for some people who will probably never get around to saying thanks. That's okay. It was nothing. I enjoyed it. I've never had the right bike for the alleys before, but this year I took the little DT-175 out and it couldn't have been more perfect.

Then, having annoyed the peaceful denizens of three city quadrants, a few intrepid souls dragged the party to a friend's back yard (and kitchen and living room and various couches...eesh), where those of us who hadn't been thoroughly slimed in alley-swamp mud corrected that oversight. I crashed a CT-90 into every stationary object in the area, and the ground. Those things are really hard to steer. We set a bunch of stuff on fire and threw gasoline at it and people jumped over it on motorcycles (see above), and Thor dragged a willing victim around the block in a Radio Flyer at 40mph or so (see below), and all in all it was pretty much your typical Saturday night. Rule of thumb: bruised knees = probably had a good time.

And it's only March!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Point!

Probably not something I should brag about, or even admit, but this movie -- more accurately, the album, by Harry Nilsson, my parents' copy of which was illustrated in needlepoint -- was crucial in defining my worldview as a tiny kid (along with Flat Stanley and a Daniel Pinkwater book called The Big Orange Splot, plus suicidal lambs and rabbit mothers who chronically ate their young -- but that's getting into the dark side). Ringo Starr narrates. The animation looks like it was all done in crayon, and it's clear that everyone involved was stoned to the bone, but the songs are pretty great, and you can't argue with the moral of the story, man. Dig those wacky flying stars and big ol' bouncing ladies!

Anyway. The Clinton Street Theater is showing the whole movie next week (March 24). I'll be going.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Tony Tony Tony

I think I'll be waiting a good while yet, but I'm unreasonably excited about this:

Sunday, March 06, 2011

very important work

Some of my friends are, like, engineers and stuff! This project has been years in the making.

On an unrelated note, I saw Animal House on Friday night (it was the Cort & Fatboy midnight movie) and was struck by how deeply certain parts of it resembled certain elements of the SFRC. Coincidence?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Cold Weather

I might expand this review at some point, because I wrote it in kind of a rush and it's not really saying everything I meant to say, but I wanted to get it posted before the weekend. Short version: if you like good stories, and looking at pretty things, go see Aaron Katz's new movie at Cinema 21 this week.

Update: In hindsight, that short version sounds like I'm writing off the movie as some merely nice-looking entertainment. Instead I think I'll add this, which was halfway down a page I swear I just opened to at random, cruising a bookshelf for something anything a minute ago -- it's John Berger, talking about movies, and maybe it's a little on the heavy side but I think it fits okay:
"No other narrative art can get as close as the cinema to the variety, the texture, the skin of daily life. But its unfolding, its coming into being, its marriage with the Elsewhere, reminds us of a longing, or a prayer."

Monday, February 21, 2011

pretty good weekend

Fortunately, most of the antics this weekend were not recorded. But here's a sample of what can happen when you go off into the mountains with fifteen guys, a stack of wood, some gasoline, beer, light weaponry and no sign of authority whatsoever. Mom, don't worry, that cooler felt totally safe:

Our main task for the day was to build a ropetow system powered by motorcycle to get us and our ski bikes and sleds up the opposite hill. (Couple of photos posted at In an exciting and unexpected twist, it actually worked. Later there was a bit of combat grappling, and as anyone knows who has seen me recently, I got socked in the face with a couch during some kind of dogpile, which I probably instigated, but really my only regret was failing to take a photo of the hot tub at its man-filled peak Saturday night. Never seen a spectacle like that before and I don't expect to forget it anytime soon.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

movie stuff

I posted a couple of movie notes on the KBOO site today. Sorry about the formatting, I lack the patience to fix it. Today was also the monthly Movie Talk half-hour. Check it out if you like. I really wish I could go see Rubber and Outrage at PIFF After Dark this weekend! I hope they come back - I'll be in Sunriver, bonding with sixteen motorcycle guys and shooting stuff and riding bicycles with skis for wheels, apparently. (Maybe we'll film it, for posterity.) Anyway. Go see them if you live in town - I want this late-night PIFF thing to continue.

Whatever you do, though, don't go see The Last Circus, unless you sneak a sharp object into the theater and can use it to immediately jab out the parts of your brain that store damagingly awful images of really stupid shit that no one needs to see ever. Stupid and ugly and weird and gross and TOTALLY not funny and just effing ridiculous. And I like weird! I even like stupid sometimes. But this was just pointless, like a migraine externalized and projected. I can't remember ever being so full of rage and scorn in a theater before. I can't even think about it long enough to explain in detail why I hated it so much. Who thought it was a good idea?!? Maybe other people liked it. A few behind me were laughing, but I think it was that hysterical laughter that seizes you uncontrollably at inappropriate times, like during funerals or while witnessing horrific accidents, right before the men in the white coats come and take you to a safer place. Damn it. I was in a really good mood today, too.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

the rusty rocket gets some love

Jack's pet project appears today in the cool bike blog Bike EXIF. It's even prettier in real life, and it goes! Good work, fellas!

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

where there's smoke

Hell for Leather covers the One Motorcycle Show - you have to subscribe to read the whole thing, but I think you can get a day pass for cheap.

Monday, February 07, 2011

sometimes it's like that

Oh. My. God. Cutest thing I've seen all week, and I spent sixteen hours surrounded by motorcycle dudes, for cryin' out loud.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Friday, February 04, 2011

something old

I've been sifting through half-finished pieces of writing in search of something to read at the One Motorcycle Show storytelling thing tomorrow night. Still not sure what I'll bring, but I did find this, which seems relevant even two years later, despite a few altered details (my apartment is kind of huge now, for example, and my couch is from IKEA - gross). It's kinda wordy and ponderous. And it has the feel of an argument I'm trying really hard to convince myself to buy; I'm not at all sure anymore that it's so dangerous to own things.

But still.

Well, anyway - have at it.

In Defense of Immaturity

I've lived in the same tiny studio apartment for years. In the kitchen there is a single spoon, one knife, one fork. The first time my mother came to visit, I told her she had to bring her own set of utensils. She also had to provide her own towel, washcloth, pillow and blanket. "I never want to own more than what I can fit in my car," I explained to her, as we sat cross-legged on my floor drinking wine out of rinsed-out jam jars. (She never complained.) Years later I sold the car, and my rigid aesthetics instantly softened. Without a physical limit on their number, possessions creep up on you. They fill the space allotted.

Most of the things I have - a coffee-stained Pier 1 loveseat made of foam, a creaky chest of drawers, two chairs, a few lamps - were thrust upon me by a family friend who was cleaning out her basement. I didn't ask for them. But the weight of ownership can be seductive. Before long, the chairs needed a desk, the lamps called for end tables, the couch demanded an ottoman.

An ottoman! Ten years ago I didn't even know what that word meant. It sounded exotic (presumably Turkish?), like some variation on the humidor - a decadent contraption safely confined to the adult world. At the time I was 27, arguably in the adult world myself. But I was committed to the principle of immaturity, all stubborn and pure in my insistence on childish things.

I'm still committed, but these days it's more complicated. Immaturity now strikes me less as a character trait than a position staked out. I'm not alone in defending it; most of my social circle cultivates a studied immaturity. In the '60s, people dropped out of the grown-up world; these days, we opt out. We don't like the rules, so we refuse to play the game. By this age, one should have made certain adjustments to one's lifestyle: acquired a mortgage, a mate, some manners, possibly even a regular job. I, on the other hand, live in a garret furnished with castoffs. I date boys in their twenties, and never for long. I don't know how to walk in heels or wear lipstick. Formal dinners terrify me. I don't have a retirement account; most of the time I barely have a checking account. My work entails whole days of reading comic books or watching movies and writing about them. I also write travel guides, which allows me to leave the country for several weeks every few months - a handy way to escape unwanted social entanglements.

What this sounds like, even to me, is a blatant shirking of responsibility, a cowardly refusal to grow up and do one's share. But the kind of immaturity I'm talking about is both more difficult and less silly than it seems on the surface. I know this because I'm constantly on the verge of losing it. The firm conviction I held at age 27 is, ten years later, more like an inclination, fragile and under assault. What immaturity really means is resistance. (Resistance to what, exactly? To the anaesthetized trudge of most of the world, to resignation, to just getting through the day.) And resistance is the one thing people get worse at the more they practice it. The world pushes in on you, on all of us; there's a tremendous pressure to take part, grow up, behave. It was easy to ignore this pressure when you were still the age at which everyone expects you to rebel. It gets exponentially more difficult as you get older, as the number of your allies shrinks and the awful machinery of commerce roars in your ears and the spectre of unrelieved struggle lurks ahead. Resistance tires people out. Sometimes you just want something soft, some easy luxury; you can't help it, you want some small margin of comfort in which to rest and put your feet up.

You want the ottoman. But you must not have it. You can't give in. Because it's not just an ottoman, of course; it's an instinct made manifest, and it's a bad instinct. Buying the ottoman means giving in to an urge toward domesticity, toward settling down, toward putting your energy into physical things - things that you will then own and worry about losing. Domesticity isn't inherently destructive, nor is it merely a chance to be lazy; but when it's adopted as a means for escaping the hard work of rebellion, or as a big fluffy bed into which the exhausted former adolescent wishes to collapse, it's a mistake. That kind of domesticity shifts one's energy from action to object, and it narrows the focus of fear until the most pressing threat is the loss of those objects.

The danger isn't simply personal. It can seduce whole movements. When the New York intellectuals of the 1930s settled down and started taking jobs as college professors, their radical spirits flagged. Russell Jacoby in The Last Intellectuals says this happened because, having achieved a measure of acceptance and a sense of security, they were suddenly afraid of losing it. Their alliances shifted subtly but irrevocably toward security, away from risk. Public life began to deteriorate; in Jacoby's view it has never recovered. By 1957, Norman Podhoretz was counseling the former bohemian radicals of Greenwich Village to "stop carping at life like a petulant adolescent" and "get down to the business of adult living."

But living isn't a business, or it shouldn't be. The goal of a business is to expand its worth, as measured in dollars; that's a warped goal for a human life. Besides, it doesn't work: we now know how easily all those things we're supposed to have achieved in the business of life - the house, the job, the retirement fund - can vanish just like any other object. Security is not acquired through possessions; it's a feeling. And although I sometimes forget this paradox, I feel the most secure when I'm the most completely immature.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

slouching toward mediocrity

Thanks to the super-awesome Mike Russell, and the equally awesome Cort & Fatboy, I did this yesterday, and I did not throw up or cry or get stabbed.

As usual, my teeny little infant-muppet voice can barely be heard, perhaps because I was not breathing, or maybe because we abandoned our original plan of getting me drunk on the show.

Also, I didn't talk about movies AT ALL, despite Mike's many kind attempts to draw me in. The one movie-related thing I said was really about boys. Hmm.

So anyway, I'm a borderline-embarrassingly adoring Cort & Fatboy fan - I sleep in a C&F t-shirt, the one where they're being impaled by a unicorn, which Mike drew - so I was a little starstruck being right there in the room with them. (They are very handsome.) This was compounded by the fact that a poster of Byron Beck in his little wrestling singlet was beaming at me from a foot away, even as Cort's new wall-mounted stabbing knife poked singlet-Byron in the butt. Plus with the not breathing. So I was nervous, but they were really sweet. Karl says it sounds like I'm being cross-examined for the first five minutes but then it gets better (I think mainly because I stop talking). Anyhow, these guys are awesome, and you should subscribe to their podcast on iTunes immediately.

Some notes and corrections about stuff I mumbled:

1) To clarify, the motorcycle show belongs to my friend Thor Drake and his company SeeSee - the SFRC is just helping him put it on. Here's the link to it:

2) Turns out I'm still ditzy with calendar-type stuff: the One Motorcycle show is on Saturday, whereas the Cort & Fatboy Midnight Movie, Dirty Dancing, is on Friday, so I might be able to go see it after all. Yeay!

3) I should clarify that Byron didn't actually say he set me up with a friend; what he said was that I went on a date with a friend of his. So it really could be anyone - but I'll never tell.

4) Kitty Pryde! Did you hear him say that? I definitely heard him say that. If it sounds like I spent the next hour fainting, that's because I did. (Wooderson is good, too, though. I'll take that. I've earned it.)

5) In real life, I love Lonely Planet, too. There may have been a bit of post-deadline grouching.

6) There's a point about 14 minutes in where Karl emailed me to say, "I really hope Mom doesn't speak Latin."

7) I forgot to mention that I had a Johnny Castle poster when I was a teen. On my bedroom ceiling. Oh yes.

8) Update from Mom: "How come you didn't know that Jennifer Gray won Dancing with the Stars?" So there you go: what she's been up to lately.

9) Johnny To's Vengeance really is great. It's filled with crazy, gorgeous fight scenes and tender hitman bonding and totally sideways takes on the standard gangster/revenge flick. And anyone who has pissed me off should not be allowed to watch it. Grr.