Cool Tech at PDX

Columbia Sportswear's Interactive Display Window

Columbia Sportswear's Interactive Display Window

On Wednesday I went down to PDX to pick up family vising in Portland for the Thanksgiving holiday. As I waited for them to get off the plane and clear the security checkpoint I played around with the window display at the new Columbia Sportswear store (which is right before the security checkpoint at the A, B and C gates).

The Columbia Sportswear store has an interactive display window. You can touch the various icons on the window itself to get information about Columbia Sportswear and to play videos of their products in use. Most people standing around the window didn't realize that you could interact with it, but the reception to it was pretty good when my daughter stepped up and started playing Warren Miller snowboarding videos on the full display window.

The opportunities for a rich interactive retail experiences are so vast and it's nice to see a non-technology company like Columbia Sportswear embrace new technologies for one of their keystone stores. Who knows maybe Microsoft will start promoting this technology as "Windows for Display Windows".

Twilight – Pure Romance

Twilight - Pure Romance

Twilight - Pure Romance

If you are a teenage girl, in love with the romance genre, then Twilight is your Citizen Kane. Not since Stanley Kubrick locked Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise in a room together for hours and hours in Eyes Wide Shut have we seen more screen time devoted to the relationship of just two people.

Based on the best selling novel by Stephanie Meyer, Twilight tells the story of the deep attraction and constantly unconsummated relationship between two high school students, Bella and Edward. These two star crossed lovers would have little standing in their way were it not for the unavoidable fact that Edward is a vampire.

This conflict, "Will he lover her or will he eat her?" is the core of Twilight, everything else feels tacked on to fill out the movie. On paper this makes Twilight a fairly superficial and thin film. Ancillary characters, like Bella's father, are thinly drawn and only exist to bridge the gaps between scenes with Bella and Edward. Sub plots involving rival vampires and mysterious murders are completely throw away and again, only serve to connect us to scenes between the two lovers. What Twilight lacks in depth it more than makes up with passion. There's enough passion in Twilight to fill up an entire series of films. So much so, I fully expect teenage girls to literally swoon after seeing this film.

Robert Pattinson, who is sure to become a 'teen idol', plays Edward as a wonderfully pained and brooding character. Pattison's performance seems to be inspired more by Hamlet and Romeo than Dracula and Angel and his character feels oddly un-vampiric. Kristen Stewart does a solid job playing Bella, the every girl grappling with the attention of a boy so captivating she can't help but become obsessed with him.

If there's a third star to Twilight it's the Pacific Northwest. I can't recall a film that has celebrated the overcast rainy weather more than Twilight. Oregon and Washington come off stunningly with key scenes shot from tree tops looking across wooded valleys. The Viewpoint Inn, the setting for the finale of the film is also stunning and is sure to become a hot destination for fans of the film.

In many teen oriented romantic films issues of high school politics, popularity, social circles and just 'fitting in' tend to dominate.. With Twilight the issues are much more internal. Bella is less concerned with fitting in and more concerned over whether or not she's done something to keep Edward from loving her. This internal struggle of self confidence in relationships is sure to strike a deep chord with the intended audience especially combined with the deep level of complex and unconsummated teen love.

As a vampire movie, Twilight reinterprets the traditional vampire myth through almost superhero eyes. In the Twilight universe vampires don't have fangs, aren't effected by garlic (even a golden one) and don't burst into flames in the sunlight. The Twilight vampires have more in common with The X-Men than they do with Buffy The Vampire Slayer. At times Edward seems almost celestial despite his constant proclamations to the contrary.

But summing all this into a recommendation is extremely difficult. Twilight is one of those movies where film criticism really doesn't matter all that much. Odds are audiences are going to make up their minds to see this film based on the novels or at least the popularity of the novels. It's just one of those movies so connected to the book series there's no way to really un-teather it.

For my part, I feel that Twilight does one thing well, it captures a passionate romance between teenagers and embodies the highs and lows of that experience. Beyond that I think the film is a little weak. But for the target audience I think it's going to be more than enough.

I've seen much worse than Twilight, but as a parent bringing my pre-teen to a movie I found that it was engaging enough not to be a miserable moving going experience (something I can't say for many of the films aimed at her demographic).

Coraline Full Theatrical Trailer

While there's been a lot of buzz this week over the locally shot film Twilight, the buzz is just getting started for another film shot in Portland: Coraline. Directed by Henry Selick (who directed The Nightmare Before Christmas),  based on a book by Neil Gaiman, and shot at Laika studios in Portland, Coraline could be another huge notch in Portland's belt as a top destination for filmmaking.

While Coraline doesn't hit theaters till early 2009, the full trailer has been released, and it looks fantastic!

Portland Radar Screen: Super Project Lab with Storm Large, The Super XX Man and Melissa Ferrick

Storm Large Joins Super Project Lab 11/22

Storm Large Joins Super Project Lab 11/22

Some of the best stuff going on in Portland this weekend could easily be under most people's radar screen… but not ours!

Friday 11/21: Twilight Prom – Dance under the stars at the View Point Inn and pretend you and your date are Edward and Bella. This kicks off what will sure to be an absolute frenzy over all things Twilight. (The Viewpoint Inn is located at 40301 East Larch Mountain Road in Corbett, Oregon.)

Saturday 11/22 Super Project Lab: Meet Your Force of Nature (8pm @ Portland Center for Performing Arts – 1111 SW Broadway). Storm Large is the special guest for Super Project Lab, whose run at PCPA has been a smash hit. Super Project Lab will be joined by one of my (other) favorite improv groups The Liberators. This is a not to be missed show!

Melissa Ferrick (8pm @ Wonder Ballroom -128 NE Russell) if improv isn't your thing, don't miss the extraordinarily talented Melissa Ferrick. Indie inspired acoustic folk, Ferrick falls soundly between Ani DiFranco and Patty Griffin. Check out her cover of Bush's Glycerine and you'll understand why she's on our radar screen.

Sunday 11/23: OPB Music presents: Super XX Man Record Release party (7pm @ Someday Lounge – 125 NW 5th) featuring works by comic illustrator and album cover artist Brian Oaster and Chad Crouch.  The evening will feature a rare performance from Team Evil, (featuring members of both>Point Juncture, WA and Blind Pilot) and Super XX Man performing songs from Vol. XII "There'll Be Diamonds" which was inspired by his work as a musical therapist at an Oregon State hospital. Tickets are $6. Also check out the Super XX Man video on Youtube for Collecting Rocks – it's a trip!

Got an event you'd like us to cover? Be sure to let us know about it so it's on our radar screen!

Twilight Prom at The Viewpoint Inn

Twilight Prom in Corbett, Oregon

Twilight Prom in Corbett, Oregon

Twilight is one of the most anticipated movies of the holiday season. Based on a run away best selling series Twilight is the first installment in what looks to be a new major movie franchise (and the launch of Summit Entertainment).

Interest in all things Twilight are so high that one of the locations, Viewpoint Inn has been beseiged by series fans, who want to see where one of the film's climatic scenes was filmed.

To celebrate the film's release Viewpoint Inn is throwing a Twilight Prom to give fans a chance to relive Edward and Bella's prom date.

The Twilight prom runs November 20th and 21st. Admission is $47 and includes:

  • Admission to The Prom
  • A Movie ticket to a midnight showing of Twilight
  • Food and non-alcoholic beverage
  • A Twilight T-shirt
  • A Twilight Poster
  • Pictures from the filming of Twilight

Given the success of the Twilight series it's possible that not only will Twilight break the Oregon box office curse, but it will more than likely supplant The Goonies as Oregon's premiere film destination for fans.

Twilight Prom tickets are are on sale now and reservations can be made via phone at 503-695-5811 or email  The Viewpoint Inn is located at 40301 East Larch Mountain Road in Corbett, Oregon. Twilight opens in theaters on November 21st.