January 31, 2004

Winter Things

Ten minutes.

So yeah. I’ve been busy. Busy in that blah dark winter sort of way, though, not in that sexy hot summer sort of way. The way that makes you want to fall asleep reading a book at ten o’clock, because anything that requires more than a languid page turn takes too much effort. There are all sorts of things I need to take care of, from license plates for the Green Dragon to new lenses for my glasses to filling out taxes to partying late into the evening in a hot tub filled with pro snowboard chicks, but these things haven’t been happening.

Other things have been happening, though. Winter things. A friend of mine from the Mountain broke his back snowboarding last Tuesday, and we went to visit him in the hospital Thursday night. Before we showed up we stopped at Safeway to buy him balloons and Mentos. We hung around watching tennis and surf videos until 11:00, at which point it was time for him to get his evening morphine shot.

He’ll be okay, as he has full mobility and doesn’t need surgery or anything, but he’ll need to take it easy and wear a plastic suit of armor for the next couple months.

In the meantime, hug those you love. And bless those who make plastic body armor possible.

January 30, 2004

everybody get naked!

It’s been a freakin’ long week, but tonight I test drove a Subaru Outback and now it sounds like my friends are drunk, so I’m gonna grab my new Incredible Hulk Hands and go hydrate myself with fermented grain beverages.

January 28, 2004


Trout Lake Vistas. Another photo gallery documenting further CSS mastery. View source and mess yourself.

UPDATE: Last night I dreamed a robot was making out with a girl I like in the front seat of my car. I woke up convinced my nose was on fire.

January 22, 2004

support your local grocer

“I think there’s a cat living under our front porch.”

“I’ll get the tear gas.”

So, I’ve lived out West long enough that I’ve needed to go to grocery stores. I tried hard to ration the Cheez-Its and Grain Belt I brought from Minnesota, but after a few months they couldn’t be stretched any further. I’ve gone to a number of different grocery stores that all feel uncomfortable and make me yearn for the buzzing lights and scaffold ceilings of Cub Foods. So many different grocery stores! How do I possibly keep them straight?

One word: Vignettes. Which is French for decorative stories scrawled by writers drunk on wine:

Safeway – Hood River, Oregon: A guy in a Grateful Dead shirt tried to sell me acid in the parking lot and then got all paranoid.

Rosauers – Hood River, Oregon: There was a sushi bar, and alternating black and white floor tiles that made me feel like I was in a casino bathroom. A casino bathroom stocked with aisles and aisles of food and no bathrooms. But a sushi bar.

Safeway – Bend, Oregon: “Grah maaah chagh wuh nephth looh.”

Ray’s Food Place – Bend, Oregon: After a heated dispute at McDonald’s, Shane, Erin and I ran to Ray’s to see whether Dr Pepper is owned by Pepsi or Coke. We were wrong. Dr Pepper is owned by Dr Pepper.

Fred Meyer’s – Bend, Oregon: The checkout girl got all flirty and argumentative with the punk teenager in front of me. I bought three Milky Way bars.

Food 4 Less – Bend, Oregon: A creepy lady caressed onions as her dachshund watched from its pillow in her shopping cart.

Ahh, the memories. For all their differences, however, all the grocery stores out here have one thing in common: the Mexican food aisle. No matter where it is, it always has the same products, the same brands of burrito/taco/chalupa shells, the same canned peppers, the gaudy candles depicting that female-Jesus-or-whatever figure, and the same froofy fruit colas. The Mexican food aisle never has Mexican vanilla, though sometimes I confuse the wide selection of hot sauces for vanilla because everything is written with strange words that almost look like words I know but aren’t.

And that’s what pisses me off the most about the Mexican food aisle, how everything is written in this crazy moon language. Like, I wander through the aisle and I always see something that looks good and I think “Hey, that looks good,” but I never end up buying it because I have no idea what the hell it is. But you know what? There is always one product where the company had the good graces to write its name in English, but it is a product that so obviously couldn’t be anything else you wonder why they even bothered.

Because I mean really, it’s hard to mistake pickled pig’s feet for anything other than pickled pig’s feet.

Except for maybe pickled fetuses.

January 18, 2004

This one’s for you, Cru Jones

Disco Bowling at Sun Mountain

Pardon our silence, but life has been wrought with activity both predictable and unpredictable as of late. I’ve been doing my best to stave off the delirium inevitable from a complete and utter lack of weekends. I’ve been working straight since my last day off on December 30th, and my last two-day weekend was before Christmas.

Aside from the headache that crops up right behind my eyes and lingers for a few hours, my brain has been pretty rad, lately. Last weekend I taught snowboarding lessons to some five-year-olds, and tried to convince them that apples were part of the meat food group. I did this by telling them stories of my childhood in the Midwest, growing up on an applebeast farm. Applebeasts have apples growing out of their backs and they are harvested once a year for their sweet, delicious bounty. They resemble small hairy elephants with tusks and everything, so you gotta be extra careful when going after those apples.

“There’s no such thing as applebeasts.”

“Sure there are.”

“Apples grow on trees.”

“That’s what they always say, but have you ever actually seen an apple tree?”



Eventually the kids decided I was the applebeast and they started attacking me with snowballs. A few of my fellow instructors accused me of having more fun than the kids. I said mission accomplished. When their parents picked them up after lessons I explained to them all the neat things we learned about science and apples and food groups, today.

“Hmm. Sounds like we’ve got some unlearning to do on the drive home.”

And thus I had my vengeance for performing the thankless task of teaching five-year-olds to snowboard.

Last week I finished week two at my new job and it’s still totally rad. I’ve started telling people I’m a high-powered web designer and like, stuff.

Last night a bunch of us Bachelors went out to Sun Mountain Fun Center for a rolicking evening of cosmic bowling. We got really creative and bowled an entire game switch (using our non-dominant hands), and then did a round of “trick bowling,” where we made up our own moves (backwards, spins, under the leg, handstands, etc.) that everyone else had to mimic. Early on in the game I smacked myself in the leg with a bowling ball. Regardless of bowling-related injuries, it was an evening of absolutely infectious fun (which would be the slogan for the Sun Mountain Fun Center if it serviced a den of heroin addicts) with some super-duper cool folk. The teams Otter 1, Above & Beyond, Fo Schizzle, Neu-Q-Lehr, Ballahs, Orbitz and The Pin Pirates all made an appearance, and swore themselves to numerous rematches over the coming weeks.

When we left the alley I had a bump on my leg the size of a golf ball, and when I took off my snowboard boots this afternoon it had turned into a four-inch bruise laced with the same pattern as my Smartwool socks.

Also, over the last week I’ve developed an unhealthy addiction to Europop/Eurodance music. If you aren’t familiar with Europop, think Club Stargate in Superior. Think unchanging electronic drumbeats with mindless lyrics and a classic 80’s snare line that links every chorus. If you could grind a pack of 18-year-old girls into a fine powder, melt it in a metal spoon held over a lighter and administer it via syringe to a hepped-up vein, you have Europop. It is unsophisticated musical dribble with no lasting value whatsoever. It is completely consumable and disposable. Europop has all the wit and appeal of a vending machine.

And I am completely consumed by it. Whether I’m at work or home, I’m constantly streaming Europop radio stations via Winamp. Every song, every group sounds exactly the same, and yet the music never gets old. I swear that Europop is the most unapologetically happy music being produced today, and represents kitsch in its purest form. With Europop, the 80s never ended and the 90s never happened. It lags twenty years behind current musical stylings and is an idealized wormhole back to big hair, rollerskates and florescence.

Certain writers that we respect and admire have written that no living man or woman has the rocks to resurrect the 80s. Certain writers that we respect more and admire less are going to make every effort to see that it happens. We will do it single-handedly, and we will do it with a word from our sponsors.

January 13, 2004

Parking Lot

Eager Snowboards - Hoodoo Parking Lot

The most difficult thing about moving from Minnesota to Oregon was when my camera broke. It didn’t really break per se, but the landscapes around me changed so drastically that I couldn’t frame shots, anymore. Oregon is huge, and I don’t think anyone understands quite how huge this state is until they’ve driven across it. In a few hours you can go from the sand dunes of the Oregon coast, to the hills of the Coastal Range, to the wet and oppressive lushness of the Willamette Valley, to the deep snow and thick forests of the Cascades, to the tumbleweed barrens of Central Oregon.

Oregon is all about vistas, and vistas are all about postcard shots. And postcard shots are extremely lame unless they come to you stamped from the South Pole with a picture from the Wisconsin Dells. In Minnesota I understood my subject matter well enough, having lived and breathed it for 22 years, to photograph it. I was able to capture those nuances of texture and color in a way that still eludes me in Oregon. So far, at least. Oregon is different in that its views are so huge, so incredible, that you immediately feel that nothing short of a 360 degree, fifteen meter lens could possibly do it justice.

As I dart around Bend on clear days, my eyes are always drawn to that horizon. I want, need, to see those mountains, and I feel affronted when they’re blocked by clouds or buildings or darkness. Thus whenever I grab my camera I instinctively snap photos of the snowcaps, the vapor trails, the cloud veils. Like any serious relationship, mountains do really weird things once you move in with them and they feel comfortable around you. Their behavior dominates the conversation and drowns out the subtle words you loved in their absence.

But the pictures never turn out the way I hope because my scope is all wrong. Instead of compartmentalizing existence and focusing on the small details, I am trying to capture that One True Picture. Through my lens I scan darkness for the answer. I probe for the eye of the divine. It would be dishonest to claim that I never made such aspirations back in Minnesota, however. I would be wrong if I said that there was nothing at home, nothing so grand and powerful as the Cascades, that welled such a strong desire to channel clairvoyance. I lived on the shores of Lake Superior for four years, and even then it took me three years before I could see it.

Really see it.

January 12, 2004

A Moment

They say there are those mornings, those special mornings, where to grab the moon from the sky all you must do is get your fingers wrapped around it. The early sun glints off the smokestacks of the old mill, warms the frozen blood of fragrant pines, and paints the mountain peaks with broad strokes of gold. Soon you stand at the summit, take a deep breath and find yourself synchronized with light and earth.

With your overstimulated head about to explode in a flurry of thoughts and equations you drop into the rugged south side of the mountain. When you move there is the sound of your board accompanied by war whoops. When you stop there is nothing but the sound of you panting. The symphony continues into the dampened acoustics of the treeline, changing tune for the ten minute slopestyle track back home.

Yesterday morning I decided, nay realized, that I am never going home, that everything I need is tucked away in the billions of acres of freedom that surround Farewell Bend. Every instant I am out there I am simultaneously deconstructed and rebuilt, with molecules from the ether seeping between my bones each time. The body fortifies itself from the marrow on outwards, imperceptible at first, growing strong from mere exposure to the silent primeval forces.

They say you can never really hold the moon, so much as you can fool it into your grasp for a single moment. What they never tell you, however, is how long that moment really feels.

January 10, 2004

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Ten things I like:

  • Waxing my snowboard
  • World’s Strongest Man Competitions
  • The Weekly World News
  • Nag Champa
  • Astrophysics
  • Earl Grey tea
  • Bowling shoes
  • Microbrews
  • Looking at California from the summit of Mt. Bachelor
  • Living in a town with more than one traffic light

Ten things I don’t like:

  • Cats
  • Waking up earlier than 8:00
  • Shoveling snow
  • Florescent lighting
  • Beer with ‘ice’ anywhere in its name
  • Butter stains on my matt pond PA shirt
  • Spam
  • Per-minute phone billing
  • Poor math skills