Politics Portland Vegan

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.


Don’t Miss The Abyss Beer from Deschutes Brewery

Deschutes Abyss Bear
Deschutes Abyss Bear

Great news for Portland beer fans, it’s time again for Deschutes Abyss Beer. If you somehow missed this gold medal winning Imperial Stout last year you absolutely do not want to make the same mistake again.

Considered by many to be one of the top Oregon Stouts, The Abyss comes in a wax dripped bottle containing one of the deepest and most satisfying beers of it’s kind. At 11% alcohol by volume it’s one you’ll sip, savor and enjoy!

The Abyss beer is only available in limited quantities and it tends to sell out quickly. Belmont Station (one of my absolute favorite Portland beer stores) is going to be selling The Abyss starting at 5pm Tuesday November 18. They are limiting sales to just 2 bottles per person and they expect to run out fast.  Belmont Station is located at 4500 SE Stark.

The Deschutes Brew Pub (210 NW 11th) also has an extremely limited number of cases of the Abyss (and they expect to sell out of them by the end of today).

Take our advice and simply do not miss The Abyss!  (Read some great coverage on this beer at Brewpublic)

Update: The Abyss is selling for $9.99 at Belmont Station and there was quite a line at 5:00.

Here are some pictures from The Abyss beer release:

The Line for The Abyss Beer at Belmont Station
The Line for The Abyss Beer at Belmont Station
My 2 Bottles of The Abyss Beer
My 2 Bottles of The Abyss Beer

Tessy and Tab meet Clark The Baby Shark

Showing off the new Clark The Baby Shark
Showing off the new Clark The Baby Shark

This past Sunday, Blue Lake Children’s Publishing, publisher of the educational reading program Tessy & Tab, opened its doors to its young Portland readers to celebrate the upcoming holidays and unveil their newest project.

Tessy & Tab Early reading program is a subscription based service that delivers a new magazine to children 24 times a year. Targeted to children aged 2-6, Tessy & Tab is an integrated learning system that empowers kids to learn to read through self direction and discovery.  Each issue tackles a different theme, concept or activity that kids easily relate to and it’s often accompanied with related activities you can print out from the Tessy and Tab web site.

We’ve had a subscription to Tessy & Tab for my son for many years and although he just turned seven (and has technically ‘aged out’ of it), he still adores the publication and expresses the same level of excitement and enthusiasm as when we first started receiving it.

At their open house the Blue Lake Children’s Publishing unveiled Clark The Baby Shark, a new subscription program aimed at children 9-24 months. Clark is delivered in a special casing to enable toddlers to easily hold and look at the magazine. More importantly the magazine was designed with pages that won’t tear (a serious issue when giving books and magazines to toddlers). My youngest daughter absolutely loved Clark The Baby Shark and so when it’s available later this year we plan on picking up a subscription.

When I talk to other parents of young kids I’m surprised that more of them aren’t aware of Tessy & Tab. Not only is this local company producing the single best early reader product on the market but they’re doing it here in Portland.  The Tessy & Tab team are also amazingly receptive, every email suggestion or comment we’ve sent has received an immediate response.

Clark The Baby Shark subscriptions can be found on the Clark The Baby Shark site. Also be be sure to check out the sample Tessy & Tab issue which is online.

Food Vegan

Nutshell Restaurant Has Closed

Where Will Bigfoot Eat Now
Where Will Bigfoot Eat Now

It comes as little surprise the news that Nutshell Vegan Restaurant has closed. In September I wrote the piece In A Nutshell – They’re Screwed that took a look at how Nutshell had gone from Portland darling to a restaurant precariously on the edge of the “Portland Restaurant Dead Pool”.

That hypothesis became a reality this week when Nutshell threw in the towel and closed their doors.  Perhaps the final nail in Nutshell’s coffin came from Alison Hallett who wrote a sharp criticism of Nutshell in the Portland Mercury review: Cracked Up – Nutshell’s Unsuccessful Revisioning.

Nutshell’s closing is either vindication for chef Sean Coryell (who left the sinking ship) or a sharp condemnation of the owners of Tabla (who also run Ten01, a restaurant which had its own near death experience last year).

To be fair 2008 has proven to be one of the toughest years for Portland restaurants yet.  With a growing list of restaurants closing because of the brutal economy including: Rocket, Kalga Cafe, Banh Cuon Tan Dinh, Genoa, and Carboni’s, the BBQ/wood-fire pizza. We expect at least five more Portland restaurants to join this list befor the year’s end. So if there’s a local Portland restaurant you don’t want to see added to the list, I highly recommend you make sure you dine there a few times before the end of the year, it does really matter.


10 Karaoke Commandments – from Ignite Portland 4

10 Karaoke Commandments
10 Karaoke Commandments

I got a lot of emails from Portland Karaoke lovers to post the 10 Karaoke Commandments from Ignite Portland 4Alex Williams‘ entire Ignite Portland presentation can be seen online at Youtube.

So here are the 10 Karaoke Commandments (by Alex Williams)

First know: failure at Karaoke is being totally ignored.

  1. Karaoke is not a singing contest
    No text message voting, no record contracts, you won’t win any awards
  2. Leave it all on the stage
    Don’t just stand there, get up and do some moves. Just perform, don’t have any regrets.
  3. Use a fake name
    Create a persona, it’s not you, it’s that other person
  4. No groups – 2 people at most
    There are only 2 microphones so if you’re not holding a microphone, you’re irrelevant and get off the stage
  5. Know your range
    Know what type of voice you have, if you can’t sing Don’t Stop Believing, stop believing you can sing it. Sweet Home Alabama is a great song to sing, not too high not too low. Don’t be a hero.
  6. Pick a song you would play at a party
    The party test: A song you’d play at a packed party, if you wouldn’t do that, don’t do it in karaoke. Do not pick the Beatles because you’ll never sound as good or better than them.
  7. Know the verses of the song
    If you don’t know the verses of a rap song, don’t do it.
  8. Musical measures are the enemy
    A long guitar solo is a long you solo
  9. Karaoke DJ is The Soup Nazi
    Hand them your slip, a tip and walk away (they’ll never be your friend)
  10. Adapt to your Audience
    Pick something the audience would like, not just something you want to sing.

Most importantly – Have Fun!

Here’s a list of my favorite Portland Karaoke bars & lounges : Voicebox Karaoke Lounge, Chopsticks II, The Boiler Room, Galaxy Restaurant and Lounge, The Alibi Restaurant and Lounge.

Events Music

Storm Surge – Storm Large’s Next Chapter

Storm Large Sings at The Selfless Afterparty
Storm Large Sings at The Selfless After Party

Storm Large has had a number of phases of her career: local lounge buzz singer, international television superstar (on Rock Star: Supernova),  and local celebrity.  Recently Storm has opened a new chapter to her career, almost literally.  With a novel in the works, a successful run in Cabaret and an upcoming one woman show entitled Crazy Enough Storm Large is expanding her universe and redefining herself as a performer.

Last week Storm appeared as a surprise guest in the much talked about Super Project Lab. She treated the crowd to renditions songs which artists had asked McCain to stop using in his campaign. It was a buzz worthy performance that snagged her another spot in the Super Project Lab November 22nd show.

On Thursday Storm played at the Pander Brothers’s Selfless after party. Storm appears on the Selfless soundtrack, a film which won top honors at this year’s Bend Film Festival.  Dressed in a long skin tight black dress, Storm sang soulfully with a depth of emotion and sophistication that counterpoints her often in-your-face larger than life style.

I spoke to Storm about her new direction and upcoming one woman show Crazy Enough. “I really hope people connect with it,” commented Storm, “there’s a lot of really dark and personal stuff in the show, and I don’t want people to just feel sorry for me.”

Last fall Storm played Sally Bowles in the Portland Center Stage production of Cabaret. “Researching the play and its context historically really impacted me, I was surprised how deep I got into the role,” Storm recalls, “and it popped my theater cherry and set me up for my show.”

In addition to preparing the show, Storm is also working on a novel. “I started blogging around all the election stuff, and it got me my first death threat…from a guy in Gresham!” explained Storm, “but I found that I loved writing, and there have been a number of authors who are really pushing me to write.”

Crazy Enough is set for Portland Center Stage 3/31/09 and will run 3 months. In the mean time Storm is singing up a storm, appearing at many key Portland events as well as providing the entertainment for private functions.

Storm’s single Ladylike made it all the way to  #5 on the Billboard charts, and so now the big questions is will Crazy Enough land her on Broadway?