Louis CK in Portland Review

February 1, 2011 1 comment
Louis CK

Louis CK

“I know that things will probably never get better than this and I’m ok with that” – it wasn’t a boastful exclamation from one of the hottest contemporary comedians, but more an admission that Louis CK‘s popularity is unusually strong. With his self titled show a hit on FX and concert film “Louis CK: Hilarious” making the rounds online,  Louis CK has built a very strong following, putting him on par with many of the top stand-up comedians performing today. Selling out two back-to-back shows at the Aladdin Theater in Portland, Louis CK  tickets sold for hundreds of dollars on Craigslist and had people waiting in line around the block from the Aladdin Theater.

Louis CK’s charm is that he simply isn’t charming.  Most comedians want to connect with their audience, compliment their city and make them feel welcome.  Louis CK dispels all this pretense and simply says what he thinks and what he feels.  This naked approach results in a show that is constantly fresh and alive.   I’ve seen much of Louis CK’s work, including his entire series and recent concert film, and the set he did at the Aladdin didn’t repeat a single joke from any of it.  To have an entire show of completely new material is a real delight, and some jokes, including a riff on Sarah Palin, seemed to come right off the cuff during the set. Read more…

Categories: Comedy Tags: , ,

Why I Am Cancelling The Oregonian

January 20, 2011 9 comments
Oregonian

Oregonian

There’s a point in almost any bad relationship when you know you’ve stuck around longer than you’ve should have. The moment came when you should have broken up but somehow you thought things might change, that whatever was weighing things down would dissipate if you only waited it out. This is how I feel about The Oregonian.

I first started to subscribe to The Oregonian in 1993 when I first moved to Portland. It was our first connecting point to the news of our new home. The Oregonian in 1993 was a mighty thing, with staff writers and columnists galore. The paper stood as many things in Portland do: much stronger than you’d expect for a city of its size.  Flash forward 17 years and you have a paper in absolute ruin.  Where once stood a Business section is often a single page of wire reports and cobbled-together news bits.  Where once there was insightful and award-winning investigative journalism, you now have reporters using anectodal information; my favorite was for the story Construction of downtown Portland high-rise is halted by tight credit in which “reporter” Ryan Frank says, “Real estate brokers had taken to saying that Park Avenue West would be built by the “Bank of Tom Moyer.” No source, no quote, no real reporting.

The Oregonian suffered like most papers in this country as the economy faltered and news migrated online.  But I stuck it out. I tried to look past the fact that more and more of the paper was comprised of news articles that came off the news wire.  It became harder when I started to see wire articles appear in the paper that had been online for days and some times weeks in advance. Again, a sign of the economic times.

With belt tightening at The Oregonian came another clear trend: articles that were going to print without being proofed.  Over the last year we’ve played a game at the breakfast table, reading aloud some of the headlines and articles from The Oregonian to our two grade-schoolers to see if they could spot the glaring grammatical errors. They almost always can. Read more…

Categories: Portland Tags: ,

Portland Getaway – Inner tubing on Mt. Hood

December 24, 2010 2 comments
Inner Tubing at Skibowl at Mt. Hood

Inner Tubing at Skibowl at Mt. Hood

It’s a common misconception that if you don’t ski or snowboard, there isn’t a lot to do on Mt. Hood.  In fact, there are a number of places to go where you can rent inner tubes on Mt. Hood and have a fantastic experience in the snow.

This year we decided to give three of the major Mt. Hood inner tube options a try and see which one is best.  The most well known innertubing on Mt. Hood is Mt. Hood Skibowl .  Skibowl sells passes for two hour sessions which start on the hour. This can be a royal pain if you arrive on the half hour, as you either have to wait thirty minutes to hit the mountain or lose a full quarter of your time. Read more…

Radio City Christmas Spectacular comes to Portland

Radio City Christmas Spectacular

Radio City Christmas Spectacular

Portland is a wonderful city at Christmas, even if we don’t get much snow. Our city has a little something for everyone, like walking the SE neighborhood street Peacock Lane to see the beautifully lit houses, bundling up for the train ride at Zoo Lights, or driving the Portland International Raceway track to see the lights of Winter Wonderland.

This year we are excited to add something new to the mix – the Radio City Christmas Spectacular featuring the world-famous Rockettes. This new touring production is constructed for large-scale venues like the Rose Garden, replicating the Christmas Spectacular production playing New York’s Radio City Music Hall.

The 90 minute show is enchanting and beautiful, both from the set design and digital scenery on an 80 ft. LED screen, and the singing and dancing. One thing we immediately appreciated was the show’s sense of timeless tradition and elegance. There are no ridiculously overblown light shows or frenetically paced dance numbers. Each vignette of dancing or storytelling is introduced by Santa, beginning with his entrance on stage in his sleigh pulled by Rockette reindeer. Our favorite performances include New York at Christmas, the glittering costumes in the closing number, and something special with a company of Santas that you have to see for yourself.

Read more…

Zoo Lights at The Oregon Zoo

December 4, 2010 1 comment
Zoo Lights at The Oregon Zoo

Zoo Lights at the Oregon Zoo

Zoo Lights at the Oregon Zoo is one of the holiday activities we’ve always meant to do, but never managed to actually attend.  In Portland, the holiday season is so packed with holiday fairs, parties, and related activities, it’s easy to put off going to things like Zoo Lights or Peacock Lane until it’s too late.  This year we had the opportunity to make it to the Zoo Lights earlier in their run.  Unfortunately, we were not prepared for the massive crowds and bitter cold that we experienced at the Oregon Zoo. Read more…

The Portland Ballet presents La Boutique Fantasque – Reviewed

November 29, 2010 No comments
The Portland Ballet presents La Boutique Fantasque

The Portland Ballet La Boutique Fantasque

With so many choices in holiday entertainment, we were excited to kick off this year’s season of celebrating with La Boutique Fantasque, a charming family-oriented ballet performed by The Portland Ballet at Portland Center for the Performing Arts’ Newmark Theatre.

Set in France in the early 1900s, La Boutique Fantasque, or The Enchanted Toyshop, opens with a group of excited children and their parents at the doors of a shop filled with toys and dolls. While the children play, the shopkeeper tries to convince the parents to buy something, but with no luck. Two of the children, frustrated that their parents will not allow them to take any toys home, decide to hide when the shop closes so that they may continue to play. They meet Pinocchio and spend the evening being entertained with dancing by all the toys. The parents eventually return searching for their children and are extremely angry with the shopkeeper, which he then blames on his wife, Amelie. He forces her to clean up the shop. She brightens her sadness by daydreaming about happier times while she sweeps, until Pinocchio calls on the Blue Fairy to make Amelie’s dreams come true, changing her plain clothes to a shimmering gown. The shopkeeper returns to find his wife fleeing the shop with the Blue Fairy and enchanted toys. The performance concludes with the shopkeeper realizing his mistake and how much he misses her, Amelie returning to console her husband, and the two dancing together with renewed affection. Read more…

In The Heights Portland Tour Review

October 20, 2010 No comments
Lexi Lawson and Joseph Morales In The Heights

Lexi Lawson and Joseph Morales in In The Heights

The original off-Broadway (and eventually Broadway) production of In The Heights is a much better show than what I saw at the Keller during opening night. If there was ever a show that clearly demonstrated the acoustic limitations and the issues of bringing a show on the road it was In The Heights. Set in the Washington Heights neighborhood in New York, In The Heights takes a very conventional musical structure and infuses it with an eclectic mix of latin music, culture and dance. The core of the story is a Dominican named Usnavi, raised by a surrogate grandmother in the neighborhood, who struggles to run a small, often broken-down convenience store.  Usnavi is surrounded by an cast of characters all dealing with the gentrification of the neighborhood and the struggle between planting roots or sprouting wings and finding a better life somewhere else.  Thematically and musically there are a lot of notes lifted from Rent, with characters at the apex of dealing with their identity. This is no accident as many of the producers also worked on Rent. Read more…

The Original Burger at Hollywood Burger Bar | Reviewing The Dish

October 14, 2010 4 comments
Hollywood Burger Bar Old Fashioned Burger

Hollywood Burger Bar Old Fashioned Burger

After having an underwhelming Island Burger at Ate-Oh-Ate, I still hadn’t satisfied my craving for a really great burger. I’ve been to Hollywood Burger Bar on several occasions and while they may have not the number one best burger in Portland, they make a pretty damn good burger. The last time I had attempted to go to the Hollywood Burger Bar it was closed (although it was on a day which the sign said it was open). With no sign in the window to explain the odd closure, it took me a while to warm up to paying it another visit.

This old fashioned Burger Bar has a counter which seats about 10 people and tables for about 5 or 6 more. Orders are taken right at the counter and here’s what I ordered:

Original Burger – 1/3 pound ground beef patty on a sesame seed bun with 1000 Island, mayo, lettuce, tomato, pickle & onion for $5.75. I added cheese for $0.50 and had an iced tea for $1.50. My order total was $7.75.

The burger took a good 10-15 minutes to come up, and the wait felt longer than it was given that the space between the chair and the counter was designed for much shorter people. My iced tea came up pretty quick and it was amazingly strong, so strong it needed a TON of sugar to make it palatable. Read more…

Jack Johnson To The Sea Concert Review

October 4, 2010 2 comments
Jack Johnson at The Sleep Country Amphitheater

Jack Johnson at The Sleep Country Amphitheater

There’s something magical about seeing a performer at the top of their game. It’s an indescribable quality that permeates everything they do. For Jack Johnson, the To The Sea tour is a clear apex in his career. With several albums under his belt and some significant changes in his life along the way, Jack Johnson has made the transition from funky surfer guy to a full blown rock star. What makes Jack Johnson so special is that through all that transition, he has managed to maintain the core of who he is as an artist. Even while playing to a packed house at the Sleep Country Amphitheater, Johnson manages to make you feel like you’re seeing him strumming his guitar on the beach after a long day of surfing. Being able to scale that kind of intimate performance is a difficult task and Johnson does it with ease.

When it comes to performing, you really can’t fake heart and it was clear as Jack Johnson moved through his cannon of music that he loves what he does. Most artists build anticipation by saving their latest hit for the end of the concert, but Jack Johnson opened with it. As he sang You and Your Heart the crowd leapt to its feet and remained there singing and dancing throughout the concert. In many ways it was like Jack Johnson cared too much to make his audience wait to hear something they really wanted to hear, so he gave it to them right from the start. Read more…

Arcade Fire in Portland Concert Review

October 1, 2010 2 comments
Arcade Fire in Portland

Arcade Fire in Portland

I saw Arcade Fire back in May 2007, the last time they came to Portland, at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. The venue was perfect, the sound was perfect and the band kept the audience engaged with almost every note. It was one of those magical nights that you always hope for but never can expect.

I saw the band again in September of that year, on the same tour, at the Hollywood Bowl. While I liked the show at the Hollywood Bowl, something got lost as it scaled to the big venue. Somehow the intimacy and magic present at the Schnitz was completely absent at the Hollywood Bowl.

Flash forward three years and Arcade Fire is simply on fire. They went from one of the biggest buzz bands around to one of the top bands performing. For The Suburbs tour, this necessitated a move to bigger venues and larger arenas for their shows.

Acutely aware of the issues with scaling their shows, Arcade Fire drummer Jeremy Gara admitted to fears to NME that the band wouldn’t “connect” with fans when they play big arenas. This combined with the fact that the Portland stop on their tour was booked at the Memorial Coliseum made me a little hesitant about seeing their show. The Coliseum isn’t Portland’s best venue (the best happens to be the Schnitzer) and it can really have significant acoustical problems.

Given how good the band was the last time around and how good their new album “The Suburbs” is, I decided I absolutely had to give it a try. Read more…

Categories: Music Tags: ,