What I Learned From WordCamp Portland

I've lived in Portland for 15 years and in that time I've seen tremendous change and growth in the Portland internet community. The Portland tech community has gone from early seedling groups like Lenny Charnoff's Netogether and Mike Pritchard's Internet Entrepreneurs Association to full blown, large scale, sold out events like Ignite Portland and WordCamp Portland. It's been an amazing thing to watch.

Sitting in the sold out room for WordCamp Portland I was struck by just how dynamic and exciting the internet community in Portland has become.  There's a part of me that doesn't want to write about it, doesn't want the rest of the world to know about our little secret (but I think the secret is already out). Big things are happening here in Portland. When I say big things, I don't mean some major Internet company is going to be opening its doors, and I don't mean there will be some huge announcement of some grand Oregon based product.  The magic of what's happening here is that it's a million little exciting things that all add up to a very significant and flourishing community.

Aside from my realizations of just how great the community is. I did learn some very specific and helpful things:

In all, It was a full Saturday well spent, unbelievable value at $10 and an event I'll absolutely attend again when it comes around net year.

Not So Shiny Toy Guns – A Concert Review

Shiny Toy Guns Hiding Behind Smoke and Lights

Shiny Toy Guns Hiding Behind Smoke and Lights

I'm sorry to report the shine has come off the penny. Shiny Toy Guns has effectively gutted itself, replacing lead singer Carah Faye Charnow with Sisely Treasure and moving the female lead vocalist spot to something just above a back-up singer. Chad Petree made it extremely clear in front of the sold out Berbatti's Pan crowd that he is The One and that the Shiny Toy Guns stage doesn't have room for another strong and dynamic vocalist. Petree is extremely talented, but what made the band so appealing was the vocal interplay between Petree and Charnow. Without Chanrow Petree is left short, a fact that was clearly reflected in the band's extremely brief and underwhelming show.

The crowd seemed very eager to welcome Treasure with open arms, cheering loudly as she took the stage. Their eagerness was not matched by the band who stashed her towards the back of the stage, under mountains of smoke, and relegated her to the occasional backup vocal. It wasn't until she finally stepped forward to sing lead vocals on one of the bands notable songs, 'Le Disco' that it became clear that gamble to reorganize the band was a bust. As a lead vocalist, Treasure struggled through many of the Shiny Toy Guns' song, never quite connecting with them. Her performance brought very little of herself and seemed more like a mimicry of the recorded music than anything else.

I don't think there would have been as big of a problem if the band really brought her in and shared their new direction, but they don't seem to really have one. The one and only song which they performed from their new album Season of Poison was Ricochet, a Marilyn Mansonesque driving rock song which was ok at best. Treasure did seem more in her element belting out rougher, Pat Benetar like, vocals to a driving beat. But that was it. The only real peek into what the band might someday be.

Unfortunately, most of the 50 minute set was a peek at what the band isn't – they aren't the band they used to be. The Shiny Toy Guns left the crowd stunned as the exited the stage after just 38 minutes. Playing only a couple of songs in their encore, the band was off the stage before 11, less than an hour after initially taking the stage (and they were the headliner).

It's no fun to be a fan of a band and see them take a turn for the worse, especially a band that shows tremendous potential.

The show at Berbatti's Pan reminded me of a quote from Annie Hall: There's an old joke – two elderly women are at a Catskill mountain resort, and one of 'em says, "Boy, the food at this place is really terrible." The other one says, "Yeah, I know; and such small portions."

Here are pictures from the Shiny Toy Guns Concert:

Stout Time Has Arrived

Photo by david.nikonvscanon

Photo by david.nikonvscanon


For dinner the other night I went to the Bye and Bye (1011 NE Alberta St). I did what I always do: I stared at the menu for a long time and ended up ordering the exact same thing I always get – The BBQ platter. Rather than order an IPA to accompany my meal I realized that it was 'Stout Time'.

Stout time comes when the air is crisp in the morning, the clouds migrate back into the sky and it begins to rain again. It's a time when you retire the summer IPA's and wheat beers and pick up the dark stuff.

The Stout I had was Alemeda Brewing's Black Bear XX Stout – an amazing chocolaty, coffee-esque, dark but clean beer that was the the perfect start to autumn and a fantastic accompaniment to my vegan BBQ platter.

Happy Hour runs 4-7 at the Bye and Bye and I plan to be drinking many more of those stouts in the weeks to come.

Stout Time is Here!

For dinner the other night I went to the Bye and Bye (1011 NE Alberta St). I did what I always do: I stared at the menu for a long time and ended up ordering the exact same thing I always get – The BBQ platter.  Rather than order an IPA to accompany my meal I realized that it was 'Stout Time'.

Stout time comes when the air is crisp in the morning, the clouds migrate back into the sky and it begins to rain again. It's a time when you retire the summer IPA's and wheat beers and pick up the dark stuff.

The Stout I had was Alemeda Brewing's Black Bear XX Stout – an amazing chocolaty, coffee-esque, dark but clean beer that was the the perfect start to autumn and a fantastic accompaniment to my vegan BBQ platter.

Happy Hour runs 4-7 at the Bye and Bye Cafe and I plan to be drinking many more of those stouts in the weeks to come.

Sportfight 24 – Blood on the Canvas

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It's beyond me why the Rose Garden Arena isn't completely packed for SportFight 24. For four and a half hours fighters pounded it out in an evening filled with action, sport and blood. What more could you ask for from a Friday night out!? It's hard to imagine what kept the Rose Garden from being as full as a match up between the Winterhawks and The Seattle Thunderbirds. Is it the expensive $8 a cup Rose Garden beer that kept people away? The 7pm Friday night early start time? Or the fact that it was broadcast live on HDNet? Whatever the reason, many Portlanders missed out on a fantastic, unmediated top class sporting event that can be experienced by watching it on TV. Fans who opted to watch the matches at home on HDNet missed some of the best action of the night as the untelevised under card fights proved to be stronger and more exciting than some of the main bouts.

Sportfight 24 started with a bang with two extremely strong under card fights. Marques Daniels made quick work out of Joshuah Lagrange with a rain of punches that caused the ref to jump in and stop the fight (one of the few fights of the night stopped this way). That fight was followed by the much hyped Colt Toombs and Colin Porter bout. Toombs is "Rowdy" Roddy Piper's son and he clearly had the support of the crowd (who chanted "Piper, Piper"). Early on in the fight Toombs got into trouble, taking a number of hard shots, his face began to well early. Toombs then got caught in a rear naked choke that looked it was going to end the match and put a damper on some of the the hype surrounding Toombs. Choke well set Toombs gave the ref a thumbs up and then proceeded to find his way out of the choke, he then reverse it into a dramatic choke of his own to win the fight. It was one of the more explosive moments of the evening and it kept the buzz turned way up for Toombs.

After the first two solid fights things stayed on the ground for several of the middle matches. After an arm bar win by crowd favorite Tyson Jeffries, four of the next bouts went the full three rounds and almost all of them ended by decision. It wasn't until the fight between DJ Linderman and Mychael Clark that things started to heat up. Clark displayed flamboyant martial arts styling with spin kicks, supermans and other 'showy' moves, but it was Linderman's consistent strength both on his feet and on the ground that made him a clear contender for the win. Linderman looks pudgy, but after three rounds he barley seemed winded. Taking a solid unanimous decision Linderman showed he's a fighter not to be underestimated.

My favorite fight of the evening was the Mark Miller, Mike Pierce bout. Mike Pierce, who fights out of the Braveheart Gym didn't find much support in the pro Team Quest crowd, but even his harshest critics couldn't help but notice the absolute precision in Pierce's fight. I saw Pierce fight in a previous Sportfight and it's clear he's put his time in training and refining his skills. Like a surgeon Pierce took Miller apart. One blow opened a huge cut on the top of Miller's head and blood streamed out in a flow that made Miller look like something out of a Rob Zombie movie. The fight was stopped so that they could assess Miller's injury and much to the surprise and delight of the crowd they let the fight continue. Step by step Pierce pushed the fight in the direction he wanted it to go, with control of almost every position on the mat Pierce showed that he was clearly the better trained fighter. In the end Pierce won by TKO and Miller's cuts became too severe for him to continue. Of all the fighters who fought at SportFight 24, it's Pierce who showed the most promise and his fight was worth the price of admission.

The feature title bout between Enoch Wilson and Brian Gearahty wasn't as exciting as the Pierce/Miller bout. Gearahty gave Wilson a lot to handle for four rounds, locking him up and pressing submission attempt after submission attempt. Four rounds into the fight it was clear that Gearahty had done just enough to win a few rounds but not enough to take Wilson's title away from him. Ultimately Wilson prevailed with an earth shattering, late fourth round, punch that left Wilson dazed in the corner. Wilson gave a gladiator roar as he pounced around the ring, sticking around long after the bout was finished to celebrate.

It's exceptional to live in an area with such easy access to high quality Mixed Martial Arts and a shame more people aren't taking advantage of it. The athletes fighting out of Team Quest and Braveheart gyms have the foundation to carry them to national attention, and for just a few bucks you can catch them live and in person.