art and stuff

As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, school recently resumed for the year. I feel obligated, but not necessarily compelled, not yet at least, to write about it. I'm actually feeling remarkably good about the semester four weeks into it, but there's so much other stuff going on. Friends are having babies, voting materials need to be read, movies have been watched and need to be commented on, and a brand new season of television has begun. Plus, I haven't thought to take any images just yet. It's boring to write about art and stuff without any pictures to share. Next time.

As you may know, Gilmore Girls premiered on Tuesday. Knowing the creators have left the show (althogh Amy Sherman-Palladino did pop up as the executive producer), perhaps I'm searching for things to be off. But didn't it seem like the dialogue just wasn't up to par? Lots of it, fast-paced, and typically back and forth like a tennis match, but, I don't know, not as clever or something.

And a few observations about this cycle of ANTM thus far. Firstly, Tyra's lost it. Not only is it more and more blatantly the Tyra show (if you go to the CW's website, click on the show's page and then select "models," she's dead-center), but what's with the overly dramatic entrances several times every episode and the big hair and 50s dresses? And the neck/no-neck comparison in the premier so reminiscent of last cycle's demonstration of smiling with your eyes. I could barely tell the difference.

As usual, a couple of promising contenders didn't even make the top 13. I can only think of Becky at the moment and it's not just because we share the same name. She should be in the house, along with a few others. I never understand their thinking at first, although I'm usually pretty content with the winner. Of the girls remaining (and it's not, in my humble opinion, the strongest bunch), Melrose is probably my favorite. I like A.J., Caridee, and Brooke about equally. I didn't care for Anchal at first but she's grown on me. And I liked Megan but so much for that one. I didn't care about Christian leaving the first week, and didn't necessarily want Jaeda to go this week, but Megan shouldn't have left just yet. Monique should've been the one to go. Bad attitude, bad pictures, buh-bye. That would be my policy if I ran the show. Anyway, we'll see how Melrose does. I can sympathize with her cleanliness and resulting frustration with the other girls in the house. I thought it was hilarious, though, in the premier when she made a comment about being more mature and confident than the other girls because she's older. She's 23. There is a big difference between 18 and 23, I'll give her that, but 23 seems so young to me now.


duh, it's like a famous quote

I recently watched "Clueless" again and wanted to write about how excellent that movie is. It came out the year before I graduated from high school, but I remember watching it on video during my senior year, so I must have been just about Cher's age. I liked the movie so much, when, about a year later, I lived in an apartment without a VCR, I rented the video anyway and located a conference-style room in the complex where I lived and asked if I could use it and its VCR for a couple of hours.

So what do I like about the movie? Goodness, what don't I like about that movie?! I love how preppy and girly Cher is...Those were the days when long, unlayered hair was in and you could wear plaid head to toe. Matching was cool (I totally remember shopping at Contempo Casual!). I love her attitude about high school boys ("Searching for a boy in high school is as useless as searching for meaning in a Pauly Shore movie."). I like to think this is why I didn't have a boyfriend throughout much of high school. I like the bit about standing in line in P.E. class: "Miss Stoeger, I would just like to say that physical education in this school is a disgrace. I mean, standing in line for forty minutes is hardly aerobically effective. I doubt I've worked off the calories in a stick of Carefree gum." I think it says something about our educational system in general. Oh, oh, and the scene in the car, when Cher sets Josh's liberal arts collegey girlfriend straight on Shakespeare:

Heather: "It's just like Hamlet said, 'To thine own self be true.'"
Cher: "Hamlet didn't say that."
Heather: "I think I remember Hamlet accurately."
Cher: "Well, I remember Mel Gibson accurately, and he didn't say that. That Polonius guy did."

But mostly, I just like the way they talk. I wish everyone talked like that. I can't imagine ever being in a bad mood if I heard that all day long. But I wonder why I enjoy stories based in Southern California so much. Yeah, so I'm sorta "from" California, but I spent my eight years in Northern California. From what I hear, there's a big difference. So what is it about SoCal? From Beverly Hills 90210 to Melrose Place to Buffy to Six Feet Under and now the O.C....What's that about?

Speaking of which, here's what I'll be watching this season: House and Gilmore Girls on Tuesday, and America's Next Top Model, Lost, and, somehow, the O.C. on Wednesdays. Good thing Neal built us a Tivo-style HTPC. New shows I might check out inlcude Studio 60 and 30 Rock. I'd watch the Office, but I'm way behind on the American version, so I've added seasons one and two to my Netflix queue. Ambitious, I know.


the end...again

(Or...a dry, mostly sunny week: part five) School started a couple of weeks ago, so our trip to Oregon is a distant memory, but before I get into blogging about the semester so far I thought I should wrap up this multi-day post.

We took a red-eye flight back from Portland to Boston (via Atlanta, Georgia) Tuesday night, which gave us all day to make the roughly four-hour drive north. First stop (after breakfast at Bend's own tasty breakfast joint, the Original Pancake House) was Shaniko, a ghost town about halfway between Bend and the Columbia Gorge. In its heyday, right after the turn of the last century, Shaniko became known as the "wool capital of the world." Unlike other ghost towns I've been to (mostly in Nevada and not too recently), the newer buildings in Shaniko have been built between the old buidlings and the town has a general sleepy quality, although it was a weekday. I'd been to Shaniko before, toward the end of a road trip from Colorado Springs to Bend. I remember eating ice cream and taking a picture behind bars at the old jail. Maybe we were turned around, but I swear the old city hall and jail cell are no longer standing. You can still see pictures, though, on this website. I don't know how official it is or how regularly it's updated.

We spent fifteen minutes or so walking around town. This new and used gift shop was one of the few stores open that day.

Here's a view in the opposite direction, looking back at the hotel, which claimed to have no vacancy.

Here's an old piano on the porch of the miniature and old western style strip mall on a street parallel to the hotel. Isn't it creepy? Can't you just hear music playing, the keys moving up and down with no one around?

And this is the old school building, now a wedding chapel.

After Shaniko, we continued north to the Columbia Gorge, stopping at The Dalles to have lunch at Taco Time. I love Taco Time's motto: "Taco Time...It Really Is!" So true. I almost always have the veggie burrito, which has been served sans meat and on a wheat tortilla long before those things became food fads.

We continued along the Columbia Gorge toward Portland, making a couple more pit stops, first at Multnomah Falls.

It's a half-mile, round trip, up to the bridge, another mile or so, if I remember correctly to the top of the falls.

Neal took this picture, on the bridge, looking down.

Which reminds me, I should probably confess that Neal took a few of the pictures I've posted over the last few blogs. All the good ones...

We made one last pit stop before arriving in Portland, to check out another of McMenamins' establishments, Edgefield. Each McMenamins location has a story; Edgefield used to be a poor house, the Mulnomah County Poor Farm, to be exact. From their website:

"Residents operated a self-sufficient environment, raising hogs, poultry, growing a variety of fruits and vegetables, operating a dairy, cannery and meat packing plant as well as working in the laundry, kitchen and hospital."

What a great idea. Negotiating the parking lot that afternoon was a little confusing because they were getting ready for a Los Lonely Boys concert. We managed a fifteen minute or so tour, though, and I bought some of their coffee and a keychain in the gift shop. The keychain is a pig with a little silver button on his back. When you push the button, his nostrils light up and he oinks. I thought it would be handy for those nights when I'm leaving the studio late and I can't find the lock on my car door.

In Portland, before returning our rental car and trying, in vain, to sleep on the plane, we had dinner at Gustav's, the bierstube-like side of Rheinlander, a fine German restaurant on the east side of town. This is where I first had Spaten Oktoberfest. Actually, I think that was the first beer I really enjoyed (what with beer being an aquired taste...good thing I hung in there!). Anyway, after a fondue appetizer, I had my usual, the jager schnitzel. German food there and back, making this epic blog post doubly full circle.


a different kind of sunset

(Or...a dry, mostly sunny week: part four) Relaxing and eating is what I do best in Bend (and on vacation, although this comes only very recently, after years of practice and feeling like I should be more productive). But we did do a couple of interesting things the weekend we were there (in addition to relaxing, eating, and spending time with family). On Saturday, for example, we took the ski lift to the summit of Mt. Bachelor. I remember doing this at least once during a childhood summer visit, but the lift hasn't been open during the summer months for a good ten years or so. While I enjoy cross-country skiing once or twice a year, I'm not a big fan of speed, so I don't downhill ski or snowboard, which means I don't spend a lot of time on ski lifts (the most treacherous memory of my first and only time snow-boarding was the getting-off-the-lift bit at the top, with one boot buckled in and one dangling free). So the summer things works well for me.

Without a substantial base of snow below your feet, though, you're suspended precariously high off the ground, nothing but a metal bar keeping you from falling forward, to your death. More nerve-wracking were the yards upon yards of cable we noticed lying on the ground directly below us. What was it doing there? At least there weren't empty lift chairs and rotting carcasses or anything. But it's still a little scary. The view on the way up (and down) and at the summit, though, is indeed breathtaking.

Here's the view from the other side of the mountain.

Normally, you can see Bend pretty clearly in the distance, but the view was hazy because of recent and ongoing wildfires to the west. Here's a shot on the way down.

On Sunday, we were guinea pigs for my Dad's newest toys: two inflatable two-person kayaks. I think it took us longer to inflate the boats than the amount of time we spent floating down the Deschutes River. I did little to help, spending most of the pre-float time swatting mosquitos off my legs and arms. It was also the first time in years that I had to, uh, find a tree off in the distance, if you know what I mean. I like indoor plumbing...

On Monday, our last full day in Bend, we spent the late afternoon and early evening "para-waiting", as paragliders refer to all the time they spend waiting for the perfect, flyable wind conditions. Earlier that day, in town, we stopped at various windsocks and flagposts to scope it out, eventually coming to the conclusion that it was a definite possibility and ultimately making the half-hour drive to Pine Mountain. Sadly, for my Dad at least, the wind was too gusty. We flew big kites instead (one so big - nine square meters or something like that - it actually "plucked" my Dad off the ground and then drug him a good thirty feet or so before he let go).

Here's Neal with the smaller, tamer kite.

As the sun was beginning to set (another thing I like about the west coast...mountain sunsets, when the peak silhouettes look like paper cut-outs), we made the drive back to Bend, catching dinner and a movie at the old St. Francis School, one of many locations in Oregon and Washington renovated and reimagined as pub, art gallery, movie theater, and hotel by the Portland-based McMenamin brothers. We saw "The Da Vinci Code." I was thoroughly confused during most of the movie (maybe it was the "ruby" beer I was drinking), but I think it might just qualify for my summer film festival, ignoring Tom Hanks' role, of course...


in defense of Bend (and, perhaps, the scrunchy)

(Or...a dry, mostly sunny week: part three) On Friday morning we made a return visit to Pig 'n' Pancake. After breakfast, I stopped by their gift shop and picked up a stuffed animal version of their mascot and logo for a friend who's got a thing for pigs (but I had to have a picture before I gave it to her).

From Lincoln City we headed east, through Salem and across the Cascade Mountains to Bend, the hub of Central Oregon. My grandparents have lived in Bend for as long as I can remember, when you could buy a house there for $30,000. Ten years ago, when I lived there for about a year, the town was home to around 30,000. The population has more than doubled since then...which makes me feel really old, but I like being able to return to a place a couple times a year and remark on the way things have changed and grown since "my day."

I like Bend. I don't think I could live there again, at least not for awhile, but I enjoy visiting. The people are really friendly, there's a ton of stuff to do and always new restaurants to eat at, and the dress code is super casual. Most people who've been to Bend like it, but I have a friend who recently stopped there on her backpacking journey from Seattle to L.A. and she complained that Bend is a town where the scrunchy is still in style. The scrunchy is, I think, not so much in style as it is functional. The way I like to look at it, being a pretty casual person myself (although I can't say I own a scrunchy), I never feel underdressed or self-conscious in a town like Bend.

The other key to enjoying Bend is an apprecation for the great outdoors. You can play outside all year-round, from skiing on Mt. Bachelor in the winter, to kayaking down the Deschutes River in the summer. Just outside of Bend you can go spelunking, geocaching, and in general explore all manner of geological wonders, such as Big Hole, Hole in the Ground, and Crack in the Ground (yes, that's really what they're called).

My grandparents and the great outdoors is precisely why my Dad moved there in 1997. In addition to spelunking and geocaching, Bend is, apparently, not a bad place to paraglide, and paragliding is the love of my Dad's life. It's a solo sport that requires years of training and experience (unless there's a tandem pilot handy) so we spent most of the time chillin' at home, walking along the nearby creek and hanging out with my Dad's cat, Ozzy, who was my fifteenth birthday present.

Next time...more about Bend, and our return home, via a ghost town at Shaniko, the Columbia Gorge, and a red-eye flight to the South.


east side, west side

(Or...a dry, mostly sunny week: part two.) I woke up at about 5:30 a.m. on Thursday morning, still on east coast time despite staying awake nearly twenty hours the day before. I had some time to reflect on the Captain Cook Inn before willing myself to fall back asleep. CCI is an example of an "autel," a hybrid of the words "auto" and "hotel," apparently in use before the word motel (a cross between "motor" and "hotel") was coined in the 1950s. Originally called "Neel's Autel", the CCI was completely renovated in the early 90s. And it is charming inside and out...flower boxes line the windows that face each of the twelve rooms' parking spaces, and inside you'll find nicely painted arch doorways and pedestal sinks. But I think the bed and showerhead might have been the originals. And the walls were paper thin.

But it had a lot of character. We stayed courtesy of the "Blackfish Café Package," which included two nights and thirty dollars to spend at the nearby Blackfish Café for the going rate of one night at most of the oceanfront hotels throughout Lincoln City.

On our way into the city the night before we'd noticed a restaurant with serious breakfast potential: Pig 'n' Pancake. The P 'n' P is a local breakfast chain (one in Portland and another four scattered along the Oregon coast) that makes a mean sourdough pancake. Like Mexican food, the west coast just does breakfast better.

Sufficiently carbed, we headed to Tillamook, about a 45-minute drive north and slightly inland. Tillamook, of course, is home to Tillamook Cheese. On the outskirts of town is a visitor's center, where you can take a self-guided tour of the facility (for free!), hovering above factory workers, sample cheese curd, have ice cream for lunch (which we did, of course), and buy some fudge for the ride home. There's a small grocery section where you can buy curd and other cheese products you're not likely to find at your local supermarket, as well as all sorts of cheese-related products and paraphernalia. For around $3, Neal and I shared a waffle cone sundae with Caramel Butter Pecan and German Chocolate Cake ice creams. Yum.

On our way back to Lincoln City, we took a short detour to Pacific City, known for this geological formation visible from the coast, sand dunes, and the Pelican Brewery. The rock (also known as "Haystack" or "Chief Kiwanda" Rock) appeared to be floating along the crystal clear horizon. It was totally awesome, dude. We took off our shoes, rolled up our jeans and enjoyed a walk along the beach and a very short distance up the side of the dune. From there we watched surfers paddle out in relatively calm waters, waiting, we assumed, for larger waves, and families with dogs running up and down the side of the dune. We supplemented our ice cream lunch with appetizers and beer at the Pelican Brewery before continuing south to Lincoln City.

I'm a little embarrassed to admit it, but back in Lincoln City, we spent some time at the outlet mall (I got a Columbia jacket for less than half of its original price!) and along the slightly more quaint strip of shops along Highway 101, taking advantage of Oregon's lack of sales tax. We freshened up in our hotel room before crossing the highway to have dinner at the Blackfish Café, probably one of Lincoln City's nicer restaurants. The food was good but unusually rich for seafood. Neal and I shared an appetizer of calamari, probably unnecessary before our incredibly filling dinners of tuna and salmon on beds of cheesy starches and buttery vegetables.

We walked off some of our dinner along the beach as we watched the sun set. The water was at low tide, exposing tidepools and, in theory, all sorts of interesting critters, although mostly all we noticed were lots of mysterious clearish bugs that resembled particularly spastic grasshoppers, jumping at random, often landing backwards. They were mostly absent from the drier sand.

Anyway, it had been awhile since I saw the sun set over water. I don't know what it is I like so much about the ocean, and even more mysterious is my preference for ocean sunsets versus the sun rising over the ocean. I used to think it was something about the Pacific Ocean and the west coast in particular (and it is a little bit of that), but I had a similar experience one summer staying on France's Ile d'Oléron, watching the sun set over the Atlantic (low tide and all). On the way back to the parking lot, we noticed somebody had written "Rebecca" in the sand, as if to personalize this particular sunset for me.