Monday, March 31, 2008

Triple Threat?

A few weeks ago I floated a tidbit about an opportunity for me to do some additional writing. Well, that opportunity is nigh.

Starting next week I will have a share of the OregonLive Timbers Blog. This blog was originally conceived by Bob Kellett several years ago. Bob also ran a group of blogs called The Offside, which is generally considered to be among the finest of football sites in the world. Bob's pulled back a bit and now just writes his own fantastic Timbers blog for The Offside. He left some big shoes to fill at O'Live. Big shoes.

In the past year Donald Bramlett has manned the station at O-Live. He's tireless in his pursuit of information and tidbits. I hope to be able to add some entertaining and insightful observations from time to time. Our styles are very different and it should lend to a good, regular dose of Timbers content for our readers.

This does not mean that I'll be leaving The 107 Report. Far from it. I will be getting some assistance from time to time on the show, but the goal is to do a regular weekly 30 minute program starting with a preview show the weekend of April 12 and our traditional annual roundtable discussion a few days later. I'll occasionally take a week off and also throw in an extra show from time to time. I hope that it's a banner season for the report.

But wait, there's more! You may also see me from time to time on The Timbers Webcast doing halftime interviews that also will be shown in stadium on the big screen. TV adds 10 pounds. I wonder how much weight a jumbotron adds?

So, I'm about to be very, very busy with Timbers media items. Unique opportunities, each of them. I hope to be able to keep contributing to this blog as well. Maybe not as many posts per week, but I'll still have quirky insights to share.
Wish me luck. And feel free to buy me a beer every now and then.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

We Just Came For The Blood

I used to give blood every two to three months. It seemed like a good way to do some good for someone else. Someone I’d never meet. Someone whose life could be saved.

Then, with my personal waistline expansion project and the corresponding hypertension that accompanied it, I had to start declining the polite yet persistent Red Cross invitations.

Today, however, I donated again for the first time in almost five years. Yay for me!

In the past when I’ve gone on blood-letting excursions my friends and I try to make a game of it. Who can fill out the papers fastest. Which curtained cube will you use for your interview. Which of the nurses will conduct it (Bonus points if they’re cute AND unmarried. Rare, but possible.) etc.

Then, the ultimate game. Who can bleed the quickest.

My brother Stuart and friend David would actually have the attending nurses start their blood draw at the same moment so it was a real race. Each of them squeezing their squishy ball rhythmically to produce a steady stream of blood.

I can’t remember who won these contests, nor what their time was. But I know they beat my time today of 6:58.

I had a great chat with Siobhan my attending nurse. We talked about cat allergies and concerts and a host of other stuff. I got to use a Spider-Man squeeze ball. Who knew giving blood could be so much fun.

So, if you’ve been itching for a good thing to do, call up the Red Cross (503-528-5848) and arrange a time to give blood. It’s a very worthy cause.


Sunday, March 23, 2008

Soundtrack Of Your Life or Sell Out?

TV advertisers have often used music to convey a mood or an emotion. To spark a reaction in you.

Over the last decade or two the use of pre-existing classical, pop or rock music has filtered into the advertising industry. Think of United Airlines with their signature use of Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” or the foray that Pepsi made years ago in using Michael Jackson and his music to sell soft drinks to young boys, I mean, to the masses.

But over the last five or six years the advertising industry has really changed its tune. It is like the soundtrack of my youth coming from the little speakers on the TV with the use of rock, pop and more obscure alternative music.

It reminds me of when I first saw Grosse Point Blank starring John Cusack. Cusack is my contemporary. And the choices that he made for the music in the film reflect that, from Pete Townshend to The Jam to The Clash to Violent Femmes to The Specials to The English Beat. It was clear that the creative decisions being made for that part of the movie were being made by an almost 30-something who came of age in the 80’s.

Those same creative decisions in the major advertising agencies must also now be being made by my generation. This morning alone, while watching NCAA Basketball on CBS, I saw two commercials that use MY music.

The first was for TIAA-CREF. Now TIAA-CREF is the retirement/investment arm of educators, a segment of the population that probably stretches from 25 years to 65 years in age. They chose Bob Mould’s “See A Little Light” for the advert. Now, this song, depending on the week or month, would be on my short list of favorite songs ever. It is that good.

The second was Taco Bell (which I have not had ANY of in almost four months. Yay for me!) Which used, appropriately enough, Modern English’s “I Melt With You” to sell something extremely cheesy.

In other commercials Nissan has used The Clash’s version of “Pressure Drop” (an awesome song, reggae or punk version both) or several stylings from The Who to sell their various SUVs. The Buzzcocks’ “Everybody’s Happy Nowadays” is being used for AARP. That’s an ad for the retirement generation, folks. “Blister In The Sun” by Violent Femmes was featured in a Wendy’s commercial.

More contemporary, and relevant to Portland, is the use by JC Penney and Old Navy of a few songs by The Weepies in their recent Christmas campaigns. The Weepies are the current musical group of former Portlander Deb Talan, who led the awesome and fun group Hummingfish for most of her time in Portland.

It’s easy to label these artists as sell-outs for allowing their music to be used commercially. Especially Pete Townshend who mocked the idea back in the 60’s with The Who Sell Out. But, with a music industry that is struggling to figure out how to deal with download v. CD v. the resurgence of vinyl, home publishing, youtube, myspace, it’s not surprising that artists are less apprehensive to lend their music to the mass advertising. It’s exposure. It’s money. Where’s the harm?

But, it’s clear to me that even if I am not the target audience for some of these products or services that the ones making the decisions grew up as I did; watching John Hughes movies and MTV, listening to college radio and discovering the great, obscure music that the 80’s and beyond had to offer.

I think that’s cool.


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Happy Birthday Bro!

Today is my big brother Stuart’s 41st Birthday.

We don’t talk or see each other as much as either of us would like, but he’s still my best friend in the whole world. Those words seem unbelievable when I reflect on the special torture that a big brother inflicts on a younger over the years. But, somewhere, I got over it and he did too.

If you wish to post some birthday wishes for him feel free.

Happy Birthday Stu!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Register, Then Vote

I’ve taken another day off today so I’ve got some modest plans of things to accomplish during the daylight.
  • Laundry
  • Post Office
  • Finish My Taxes
  • Grocery Shopping
  • Re-Register To Vote As A Democrat
The first four on the list are rather tame. Just the dumb things I gotta do. But the last is rather monumental for me.

I’ve always been a political animal. I grew up in a household with a very liberal father and a slightly less-liberal mother. I attended very left-leaning schools. While much of the liberal philosophy influenced me, I had an independent streak, even at an early age. But I still registered as a Democrat and followed most of the party line until the 2000 election. Hell, I even voted for Jesse Jackson in 1988.

But after the Florida debacle that handed the White House to George W. Bush I couldn’t take the new Democratic party. I found the party to be unfocused and lacking vision. Too willing to take up every cause and therefore creating too many splinter issues, rather than focusing on the things that could win elections, influence broader policy and move the country forward. National politics is for big picture stuff. They had lost me.

So I registered as an Independent.

Now, in Oregon, if you’re an Independent you are not allowed to vote in the primaries as they follow party affiliation. Normally this doesn’t matter on the national stage as Oregon’s primary is so late in the election cycle. But this year is different. The Democratic nomination is still up for grabs. Still in play. And I actually care about who wins.

So they’ve got me back. Whether they want me or not. My father will be pleased.

My personal politics are a strange, strange hybrid of libertarian, liberal and conservative. My strong personal beliefs are in the individual and their privacy, which sounds conservative, but actually opens up the liberal aspect of my nature.

But I digress. This election is the most interesting in my lifetime. Perhaps I’m just seeing it through the lens of 8 years of idiots, bullies and war. Maybe not. There are three distinct candidates left, all of who could still earn my vote. Although John McCain is a longshot as he’d need to become the maverick that he used to be. But then I’d be concerned that he was flip-flopping. So he’s probably not going to convince me to vote for him no matter what he does. But I have not ruled it out.

But Clinton and Obama have my interest. Politically they are basically identical in their over-arching policies. Hillary bores me to sleep. Obama inspires me with his words but does he have the guts to follow through on his vision? It’s a very interesting exploration of politics, race, gender, influence and all else.

So, I’ve downloaded my voter registration card, you can find it here for the State of Oregon. Register by April 29, 2008 to vote in the primary. Washington has online registration here (but you missed their primaries if you’re not yet registered). That’s pretty cool.

As they used to say on SCTV, register, then vote.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Advocate This!

Every time I walk into a Fred Meyer store I am reminded of the power of the consumer.

Now, I’m not a huge consumer advocate type of guy. I don’t go out of my way to complain. I think I’ve sent a total of one meal back at a restaurant in my entire life. Hey, if I order it and I don’t like it, whose fault is that? Anyway, back to Fred Meyer.

In the late 90’s the Fred Meyer location at Northwest 20th and Burnside went through a major renovation. Everything was replaced and redesigned.

This is where Bruce had to go to work.

Y’see, they replaced the shopping baskets. The traditional rectangular baskets with the two fold out handles. The ones that work really, really well. The ones that many of the people that live in the neighborhood and walk to and from the store use to buy a day or two worth of groceries.

Well, FM tried to fix them.

They replaced every shopping basket in the store with an ergonomic, stacking basket. Shaped like a kidney bean it had a plastic handle that was attached right in the middle of the basket. They sure looked fancy and they were easy to carry. Hugged right to your hip.

But you couldn’t fit anything of any size in them. At it's widest, the floor of the basket had maybe 3.5 inches of space and it flared out to a wider opening at the top. What’s the use for a basket that can’t hold a half-gallon of milk standing upright? Or a head of lettuce? It was absurd.

I immediately used the power of the internet and got a note in to the Manager of the store. I explained the problem and asked him to resupply the traditional baskets.

I received a pretty quick reply from him (within one day) and he let me know that he had checked out my concerns and that they were bringing in a stock of traditional baskets that afternoon.

I went to the store and, lo and behold, rectangular baskets. They kept the kidney bean ergo-baskets around for a few months, but nobody ended up using them.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

So that’s my one standout consumer action story. One that actually had an impact on people doing their daily business. Small scale? I suppose. But it had to be done.

Do you have an advocate story? I’d love to hear it.


Monday, March 17, 2008

I'm So Tweaked

So it finally happened. I hurt myself working out.

Not horribly. But I tweaked something in my back lifting weights yesterday. It's sore. It's tight. It's being a nuisance. I'm taking recommended doses of advil, drinking lots of water and trying to stretch it.

But I'm not too happy about it.


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Ladies And Gentlemen Of The Jury

I got a jury summons last week.

I’ve done jury duty once. It was a two day trial over a traffic accident. Some idiot kid was high and hit and spun a taxi at full speed on MLK late one winter night. The driver, an immigrant from Somalia, suffered some pretty severe injuries, trauma and was out of work for several months because of it.

It was an easy case to decide guilt on. Not so easy to determine damages. There was a very vocal minority in the jury room unwilling to acknowledge the trauma that an accident has on someone. Therefore, assigning a dollar value to it was even less clear to them.

We ended up awarding lost wages and a modest amount of compensatory damages for pain and suffering. The total award was something like $28,000 of which only about $7,000 was pain and suffering.

I still feel guilty about that. I fought hard for more damages but was not persuasive enough. It’s hard enough to negotiate something with people you know and trust, even harder to do so with eleven strangers, some of whom would rather be anywhere but in a jury box. I feel like I failed that man.

But I did appreciate the experience and looked forward to doing it again. Civic duty or some such thing.

So, last week the summons arrived. Special Jury selection starting March 28. Up to four weeks service time expected, maybe more. Wow. This is either for a grand jury or a big trial. Immediately I started to calculate how this would affect my April. Kip’s wedding. The day off I had planned. Timbers soccer. The expected dates with that one perfect woman who I still have yet to meet.

Hmmm. I’m not so sure I could do this. The clincher came when I went to work the next day and checked our HR policy. Short duration jury duty is not a problem. You can get up to two weeks pay and the time off. But longer than that and you are out of luck. So, with regret, I returned the forms in the provided postage paid envelope, and set out to wait for the court to respond.

I got deferred. Yay.

So, come October I’ll get another shot at it. It may not be the special jury, although I’d be very willing to serve on it. Being of sound judgment and so forth. But regardless, I will have the chance to contribute modestly to our justice system. I find the coolio in that. I really do.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog


I am really starting to love blogs. I recently put up a poll question about how many blogs each of you visit regularly. I’ve got a few myself, they’re listed down there on the right. Way down.

Anyway, I want to recognize two blogs here today (and inadvertantly, a third).

The first is A Work In Progress by my friend, Stephanie Earls. Her blog was really the catalyst for my blog. She’s taking a break from blogging for a bit to concentrate on her overloaded duties of her real profession, a features writer for the Albany Times Union. Anyway, now would be a great time for any of you that like fun, lively writing and home renovation to check out her blog since it will be in a holding pattern for the next month or so.

The second is Mile 73 by Heather, a recent transplant to Portland. One of the good kind of California immigrants from what we know of her. Our mutual friend, Dave, of Daveknows: Portland, thinks her blog and mine have similar styles. A bit all over the place, with an emphasis on personal observation and neuroses. She’s a new read for me, but you should check out her blog and her vast links to other great, fun blogs on the ‘net.

That’s what I’ve got for now.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

You've Got Mail

I've dedicated an email address to blog related questions.

So, If you've got a question or comment that you don't wish publicized, or if you just wish to chat about something, please send me a note at

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A Salute To The Army

I’ve avoided two subjects on the blog for the most part: politics and sports. I’ve got plenty of political opinion, and a bit of it will surface soon, but today I want to touch on sports.

I’m a flag waving, scarf wearing, foul mouthed member of Timbers Army (there’s no initiation, nor membership roll. Show up, sing, sign up for stuff). Now most of you are in the know about Portland Timbers Football Club (that’s AKA soccer) here in town. It’s our local professional team. They play at PGE Park to ever increasing crowds. But some of my visitors may not have any knowledge about this squad.

There’s also this band of misfits called Timbers Army (The TA). They’re the thousands of nutters who stand in the north end of the stadium and sing and chant and carry on with noise in abundance for the entire match. While this phenomenon is not unique to the sport it’s pretty darn rare in the USA. They have a message board where they organize and discuss the team and get together even in the offseason.

But what really sets the TA apart is their abundance of civic pride. They tend to view Portland as their home. I don’t mean hometown when I write that. I mean HOME. Portland is what connects them. What creates the bonds. What creates the family.

Today one of the TA’s own told the story of his brother dying recently. He wrote passionately and achingly about their time together at PGE Park with the army. How it fostered a closeness that he valued. The army does this. It creates bonds where there previously were barriers. The TA really steps up when one of its own is hurting. Financially. Emotionally. Spiritually. It is an amazing group of people.

It’s hard to believe that it started with seven or eight guys and some buckets and loud mouths seven years ago. But what it’s grown into is something you have to see to believe. And you can become a part of it. Show up. Stand, Sing. Done.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Butter Flavoring On That?

A friend and I were having a quick chat on gmail last week about movies. Movies that we love. Movies that we quote. Movies that we never really tire of seeing but that we don’t watch with much frequency anymore.

It got me thinking. It’s time for a marathon movie day. An all day affair of movies, food, drink, naps and more movies.

Of course such a day must involve the holy trinity of movie-going treats: Sno-Caps, Goobers and Raisinets, as well as some of the newer kids on the block: Hot Tamales and Red Vines.

So, I need your help. We’ve got to make a list. I’ll start:
  • The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension
  • The Princess Bride
  • The Big Lebowski
  • Kingpin
  • Fletch! (but not Fletch! Lives)

Chime in, dear readers. We may even put you on the invite list.


Saturday, March 8, 2008

Something's Gotta Give

Remember the episode of Seinfeld where Jerry, Elanie, Kramer and George enter the contest to see who can go the longest without, um, hmmm...taking care of their personal business?

Jerry delivers that classic line at the end, "Meanwhile, I'm in this Contest, I'm dating a virgin, somethings gotta give!"

I think I’m about to enter that territory. Between my work, this blog, the TV show, my podcast (which should start up again soon,) a possible writing opportunity, plus a slowly expanding social life (rising like yeast? Is that the worst simile in history?), I’m rapidly reaching saturation.

So, something’s gotta give.

I don’t expect it to be this blog, although it may suffer some collateral damage in the way of shorter or less frequent posts. More likely I will choose to scale back my role on the podcasts and may have to reconsider the TV show. This would normally make me really disappointed. But if things come to pass properly you’ll end up getting the very best of what I have to offer, just on another page and website.

We'll see. Stay tuned.


Wednesday, March 5, 2008

And In The Blue Corner In Polka–Dot Old Navy Boxers Weighing In At 210 Pounds…

So I got on the scales today.

I made weight. 210 pounds.

I will admit to getting a bit emotional. Not teary-eyed emotional, but lump in the throat emotional. Reaching this goal was not easy, but it also wasn’t as difficult as I expected. But I am proud of myself. I got there 3 and a half weeks earlier than scheduled. Yay for me!

Now 210 pounds is still pretty big. In the Olympics it’s considered Super Heavyweight weight class in boxing. It’s the Heavyweight class in pro boxing.

Here are a few things that also weigh 210 pounds:

  • A motor for a Lotus Elise

  • A 26-foot Anaconda

  • A Typical 3-foot Pirate's Cannon

  • A 10-month old St. Bernard

I'm in good company. Especially the cannon. Cool.

So now it's on to sub-200 by my birthday, May 8. And a final goal of 180 by end of summer. Wish me luck.


Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Portland Men On Sports

Well, It's about three weeks after we taped the show but we've got air dates for Portland Men On Sports.

The show will air on channel 21 on Comcast.
  • March 4 10:00pm
  • March 5 10:21pm
  • March 6 6:00pm
  • March 8 12:00pm
  • March 9 7:11pm
  • March 10 3:44pm
  • March 11 10:00am
  • March 11 8:00pm
  • March 13 6:00pm
  • March 14 10:00pm
We're still working on a regular schedule for the upcoming shows, but now that we have some time slots those should reach the air quicker. At least we hope they will.

Feel free to tune in and leave a comment here with your observations, critiques and applause.


Gift Registry 2008 Style

So, my good friend Kip is getting married in a month. I have the honor of standing with him as best man. We’ve got tuxes ordered, have a fun bachelor day planned in a few weeks and then it’s on to Edgefield for the ceremony in April.

A few days ago I asked Kip where he and Jen were registered. The response, “Sears and Kmart”.

Times have changed.

It used to be that couples would only register at Meier and Frank (now Macy’s) or another splashy department store. But 2008 people register now from places as varied as R.E.I. to Williams Sonoma to Joe’s, Sears, Target, Etc. I’ve even heard of people registering at Toys ‘R’ Us. No joke.

As people have migrated to getting married older it’s only natural that the wedding gift would migrate with. Couples who get together in their late 20s, 30s or even 40s have a significant amount of accumulated stuff. Many are already home owners and the old necessities of place settings, knives and such have given way to more durable practical items like barbeques, lawn furniture, hedge trimmers and laser levels.

I like it.

Tonight I perused the gift lists Kip and Jen compiled and there are lots of interesting things to choose from. I don’t want to spoil it as Kip reads this blog from time to time, but being able to choose between a chainsaw, fiberglass step ladder and lawnmower are my kind of wedding gift choices. But it begs the question:

How in the world do you gift wrap a chainsaw?


Sunday, March 2, 2008

Fantastic Practical Jokes

I've never been much for practical jokes. At least not pulling them. My mind just doesn’t come up with things that way.

When I was in college there was one great practical joke that I heard of. In my Freshman dormitory, Wig Hall, someone had the doorway to their room removed.

They were away for the weekend and one of their friends, who had planned this meticulously, got drywall, paint, plaster, etc and drywalled over his doorway. When he returned his room had disappeared. A classic bit of nuisance.

Several months ago this clip was floating around the web. If you haven’t seen the Yankee Proposal prank, check it out.


Saturday, March 1, 2008

He's Dead Gym

Brief observations and musings from my morning visit to the gym.


One bitchin’ mullet. Obscured by a hat. Shame.

One yerkl. This is the clinical term for a comb-over. (Why do balding guys do this? Go short. Don’t hide it.)

Kerry Eggers.


Amongst the crap gym music, Generals and Majors by XTC, Sheena Is a Punk Rocker by The Ramones and Weird Science by Oingo Boingo.


One conversation between one huge guy and one much smaller guy. The 30 seconds I overheard contained at least five uses of the term, “dude”. Wow. And at least one utterance of the word, “tasty”.