26 December 2017

Ice On The Mountain, Ice On 122nd, and Calendar news (at last!)

What a heavy last few days, 'ey, Oregonians? I grew up liking snow and ice, and you didn't see that so often, and a white Christmas was something you saw on the TV here in the Willamette Valley, not the typical Oregon winter which was wet, gray, damp, and chill.

It it just me, or has there been more of this the last few years or so? Two white Christmases out of four? It used to be one white Christmas out of ten, at the upper end.

Climate change much?


The sun behind the high, thin currus and further muted by the cirrostratus brought a calm blue to the face of Wy'east.

The world is a glacier and the blue of the mountain makes valley and volcano of a piece almost.

A very cold piece.

The Rossi's field sparkled with glittering ice. Ice also fell from overhead wires on 122nd as I was about to drive under them.

If 122nd looked like some Alaskan Way, as in the above, then it was even worse two nights ago, when someone caused a multi-car slideout and decapitated a fireplug just a little north of this at the I-84 exit.

Now, for some calendar news.

One of the reasons I don't plan hard is that things come out of the woodwork to thwart all but the most basic of my plans. I have come very near to a state of completion of my 2018 photo calendar, and plan on putting it on sale via Lulu.com, starting this coming weekend.

Stay tuned. Watch this space.

24 December 2017

New Fountain Pens: Preppy Platinum and KaWeCo PERKEO

A couple of pen acquisitions worth noting.

Despite using a Cross Classic Century for the majority of my handwriting I still pine for great fountain pens. For a long time, until Muse Art & Design closed, I used the Preppy Platinum. This, despite its name, is an affordable, well-made fountain pen for all; it is made of recycled materials ad available in two or three point sizes (I preferred 0.3 mm).

When Muse closed the only local brick'n'mortar art-store source I knew of of Preppy cartridges went with it, so I put up my Preppy for the time being. I'm happy to record here that Artist & Craftsman Supply, the national chain of widely-separated, funky, quirky, employee-owned art supply stores, has started stocking Preppy refills in its location on SE 21st just south of Powell Blvd.

Despite being a unit of a national chain, A&C has charmed us and the service there is very personal. As a matter of fact, after seeing they had Preppy but not the refills we put in a suggestion and a couple of weeks later they called us personally and told us that they were stocking them now, so we are duly impressed. Well-done, A&C!

The other pen was gotten from a little upscale-ish stationery shop at 3325 SE Division St called Little Otsu. The brand KaWeCo is from Germany, and the pen model is called the PERKEO. It's a thick-barrelled clipless fountain pen made in a more traditional style, and, unlike the Preppy Platinum, it accepts the standard international ink cartridge.

Top, Preppy Platinum 0.2 nib; Bottom, KaWeCo PERKEO "Old Chambray" style

The PERKEO is sold in four color schemes. The off-white and blue scheme I have is called "Old Chambray"; they have a scheme that has a black barrel and a pastel-ish, cherry red cap that is called "Bad Taste". There's a complete review of the PERKEO at the Pen Addict blog down this rabbit hole which is written by someone who loves pens more than I do which is possibly unhealthy but probably is actually really awesome and goes into much detail on it.

Left, Preppy point; right, PERKEO point

A close look at the two nibs gives an idea of where the two companies are coming from. Preppy's is unadorned, simple, down-to-business; KaWeCo's PERKEO demonstrates an attention to style and form one would expect from a German brand name whose legacy dates to 1883, even in a basic entry-level model.

I expect much handwriting satisfaction.

Drawing Scott McCloud at the Multnomah County Library

So, yesterday, I drew comics scholar Scott McCloud at the Multnomah County Library.

Yeah! Totally! He totally came by and sat for me, and this is totally what he looks like in real life:

I mean, it would be cool to be able to say that, but obviously not. But I was able to take my ballpoint out and dash this down (using is visage on the cover of Understanding Comics as a model, naturlich), and that was a satisfying thing.

Also satisfying: this picture on the right here. Working from a cue in a book titled The Confident Creative, I wanted to make some marks and fill a sketchbook page, I didn't have a subject, didn't have an idea, just started drawing lines. It became an exercise in trying to use those lines to create a suggestion of volume and space, and it succeeded somewhat. I had two arms snaking off and merging into the background, a ceiling up top, and, on the bottom, kind of a shelf going into something resembling a waterfall.

All drawings are ballpoint or liquid ball ink on crushed and deferred dreams.

23 December 2017

Aspiring Portland Artist Defines Talent With This One Weird Trick

Now, we've all, successful as well as aspiring artists, have wondered what defines talent. It's been a search that has captivated and consumed the lives of artists and those who talk about what they do for ages of humankind.

Well, I found the magic bean, you people. Here it is:

... and to think, all we had to do was look at the top-left corner of page 22 of the Walter T. Foster art book, The Beginner's Guide to Art Materials and Terms Used  by Dixi Hall, which was published in 19-something-or-other in Tustin, California.

It really is a delightful book, published in that big-folio style that all the other WTF books were, only it's just a big glossary and compendium of art terms, like brush terms, mediums, grounds, supports ... but sadly, nothing to define other art terms like which drugs to get addicted to to get which results and where to go to rehab.

Nothing's perfect, I guess. But a classic is a classic nonetheless.

17 December 2017

Powell Villa Ace Is the Place for Doohickies

We have fun whenever we visit the Powell Villa Ace Hardware. They're good people and easy with the wit, and they're SF fans besides, as we learned when we found out they had a Federation registry number of NCC-9187. You've got to be pretty logical to rate that.

We went back for some thingamajigs and some doohickies today. The thingamajigs they had to order special, but as to the doohickies?

The doochickies were on aisle 20.

As Spock is my witness I did not photoshop this.

The Oregon Convention Center At Night

Before Portland came all stylish and popular and such, and condo silos started sprouting like an invasive species, one of the premier skyline signatures of Portland and perhaps the most memorable was the Oregon Convention Center. Its twin glass spires were as nothing ever seen before in the skyline of the Rose City. It was kind of our Syndey Opera House.

Now, believe it or don't, it has so much competition that it's just another interesting signal lost in a ton of architectural noise, but it still knows how to put on a show. Here, from earlier tonight, is the edifice lit with an indigo-blue light, which looks vibrant here but in person had a quality that doesn't quite make it to the photograph:

The photograph doesn't do full justice to the reality, but the blue in it is kind of otherworldly still. Seein in the distance between the towers is downtown Portland: the tower closest to the right-hand spire is the Wells Fargo Center, and the one smack in the middle is the KOIN Center. Some lights from Marquam Hill, where OHSU is, can also be seen to the right of that.

The construction site on the other side of NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd between the POV and the OCC is the site of the so-called "Headquarters Hotel", which is going to be a high-rise, so we're about to lose this view, too.

Get down there while you can, troops.

15 December 2017

Administrivium: Reconciling the numbers

So, I just discovered a thing. My blog entry serial numbering is off by 44.

I take, as many things in my life, a laissez faire attitude toward organization. I've had this blog for an awufully long time. And today, while doing some house cleaning, it finally dawned on me that the total of 3544 included 44 drafts that not only weren't published, but at zero characters, clearly, were never going to be.

I love serial-numbering my posts. My diary is the same way. And, over the course of more than 3,500 individual posts is not that many, but I am obsessive enough over this to want that to be on point.

So, for the next 43 entries, there will be a '/A' affix to the serial number, to represent the posts of the overlap. Because I am not, and I repeat not, going to go over all 3500 posts to see where I went wrong.

That's the way it is.

Old Parkrose: Adam's Market, NE 111th and Sandy

One more thing to share today. Adjacent to the lot that contained the Carolina Motel is a lot that holds a little commercial strip building. In any other part of Portland this might hold some artisanal boutique or something. Here, it's much more Old Portland, and much more prosiac.

There's a corner quick-shop, a coin-op laundry (which has pinball, vintage video games and wood paneling straight outta the 1970s) and a little beauty parlor (just out of shot on the left).

It's forlorn in the morning light, kind of shabby but absolutely clean and trim and tidy. Not a spot of trash in the lot. And Adam's Market, open and ready for business. It's the quiet time at 111th and Sandy, though; not a customer in the place.

But this sign? I love this sign.

Adding FISHING BAIT to the mix on the sign? That elevates its game from Old Portland AF to Oregon AF.

Lost Portland: The Carolina Motel, Parkrose, Sandy Blvd

Today I stopped by the corner of NE 112th and Sandy Blvd in Parkrose.

For those who don't know, Parkrose is a neighborhood of northeast Portland, centered more or less on NE 102nd Avenue and Sandy Blvd. That intersection pretty much anchors the west end of 'downtown' Parkrose, and it stretches just about a mile east, to NE 122nd Avenue and Sandy. The more redoubtable and historically commerical buildings are all between about 102nd and 110th.

There are also a number of shabby motels which nonetheless are trim and neatly kept but which bear names which kind of poke existential fun at themslves: There's a "Courtesy Motel" and a "Prestige Motel", and you know how every town has a "Nordic Motel"? Ours is along the commercial strip in Parkrose.

Of course this was the point at which US 30, the Columbia River Highway, entered Portland back in the day; for a good portion of the 20th Century, Parkrose was pretty much Portland's NE corner. And, at the gateway to town, there were the roadside motels. Travellers stayed there, and people moving to town; I'm no judge of people, but if the zeitgeist is any clue, some people aren't travelling so far any more, and the places some travel to are just a little darker than they used to be.

In 2014, Google Street View showed 11144 NE Sandy Blvd, Portland, Oregon, to look like this:

Sometime during the last year, the property obviously sold. This is what it looks like now.

The neat, trim cottages are gone, leaving a lot so meagrely sized you'll find yourself wondering how any motel could have possibly fit there.

The sign still standing, offering DAILY RATES, CABLE TV HBO SHO, and the rustic amenity of the DD PHONES adds a real touch of surreality to the scene. The fence around, meant to keep Those Who Needn't Be Here off has been breached. I did not take advantage of the freedom of entry.

An additional touch of culture amidst the ruins is positively spooky: Note that the topiary, even after most of a year, is still disturbingly on fleek.

Men At Work: Portland Edition

Yesterday morning I went down to the OSU Food Innovation Center to do a taste test. It was burger patties. Rated two samples, each about a quarter of a small patty, and since my taste buds had been sharpened by coming directly off work and not having anything since The Wife™'s lovingly-calibrated snack she sent me off to work with, it was like this tiny feast.

They were both superb. One a little more superb than the other, but it's hard to put me off when it comes to hamburgers.

The OSU FIC is on NW Naito Parkway (or "Front Avenue", if you have the memory) just north of the Broadway Bridge, just south of the NW 9th Avenue signal, wedged between the street and the rail tracks going northward out of town toward Seattle. Immediately across the tracks from us, there's yet another building of some sort going up (don't ask me, I can't keep up anymore), and there were workers on it, and beyond that, a 15-story condo silo called The Pinnacle (presumably to differentiate it from other pinnacles in the area, and my, haven't a lot of them sprung up in that area in the last decade?). And, after I got my bits'o'burger and collected my $30, I went out to the lobby and my love was chatting with another woman who was there, and then she pointed out the window and had me look at the men at work there.

I pointed and shot. Cameras are like the best thing ever any more. At least we have that workin' for us. Which is nice.

The building in the foreground (don't ask me, I only live here) has four men on those pillars: the two on the left have orange shirts, the two on the right, yellow shirts.

The building beyond, The Pinnacle, has four guys cleaning the windows (truth be told, one or more may be women. I had no chance to go up and ask). One of the window washers is on the balcony between the two glass faces. Here's a closer look at them:

What I wasn't able to capture at the moment was the farthestmost-right one, he was having himself (or herself) an enjoyable time swinging back and forth.

Well, that's just the sort of thing someone enjoying that sort of thing would enjoy, I guess. They go up there so you don't have to.

13 December 2017

Wy'east: The Spear of Light

I try to tell myself I'll be happy with just a longing glance as I drive uphill on Big 122.

I try. Truly I do.

But I'm smitten. Nay, addicted. Whatever. There's no treatment for this, and that's fine, just fine. It's put the mark on me. I'll take it.

Wy'east on the horizon and the sky over Rossi Farms this morning. Yes, I know I'm starting to fall a little too in love with bumping the color, but I can't stop myself. I mean, it looks delicious, don't it?

Of particular interest today, other than the contrails, is the spike of light that's visible just there, on the right side of the scene. Do you see it? It looks like a ghostly streak, going straight up, perpendicular to the horizon, kind of like "zodiacal light", except this isn't at night, and I don't think it's along the line of the ecliptic. At least, I don't think so.

It's just right of the farthest right tall tree there. Looks like a vertical smear.

Here's a closeup, which is a noble and beautiful sky-and-cloud picture unto itself.

I imagine it has something to do with ice crystals in the air and the sunrise, because right at the base of that spike, as we arrive in the general vicinity of the Winter Solstice, is where the sun itself came up not too much later.

12 December 2017

Abysinnia, Vera Katz

Vera Katz, Portland's mayor from 1992-2005, died this week. She was 84 years old and since retiring from government, she had been battling cancer. She eventually succumbed to that cancer, but if you consider how long it's been since she left the Portland mayoralty that she had and, indeed, since about 2000, been fighting some form of cancer (breast, that first time), you have some idea of how much fight there was in the woman.

She had firsts: First woman speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives (1985), first woman mayor of Portland (and possibly the only local politician  who could possibly follow Bud Clark's act) and a good deal of the reason why the City Club of Portland is no longer a men's room.

A bronze statue of her sits on the Eastbank Esplanade, which is named in her honor. It sits right at see-level, that one could walk right up to it. No ceremonial plinth for her; she wouldn't have that. She took TriMet to work. She was Portland that way. She had courage, as when she stood in Tom McCall Waterfront Park with President Clinton during the '96 floods, which were threatening to overtop the Seawall; she was visionary in that Portland way too, dreaming of capping I-405 (a dream that, as of yet, has not come true).

A friend on Facebook, Tim James, did a splendid caricature of her, and it's wonderfully fitting: that smile really did kind of light up the place. It disarmed one no matter what one thought of her.

Vera Katz. Caricature by Tim James, used with permission.

Abysinnia, Vera. She was a character, and that character was Portland.
Oh, yes ... Tim James' website, http://www.timoworld.com/, is full of his inimitable art and redoubtable wit. Give it a visit.

NE 122nd Avenue, North and South

There is, just about twenty-five feet north of the intersection of NE 122nd Avenue and Sacramento Street, a pedestrian overpass.

Big 122 is wide. And there isn't a crossing signal north of NE San Rafael* St (which is the 2000 block north of Burnside) until the light at the onramp to I-84 eastbound, which is just south of NE Fremont St, which is close enough to three-fourths of a mile as to make no difference. So a pedestrian overpass is a necessity there.

Originally I was hoping to get an alternative viewpoint for future photos of Wy'east. No success there; too many trees to the east and southeast.

Eventually, Agent Cooper, one takes them for granted. It's the Cascadian way.

Speaking of ways, by the way, anyway: I didn't get a new look at Wy'east, but I did get a cool viewpoint just to peep the best street in the world.

This is NE 122nd Avenue looking north:

Big traffic-friendly swath straight-arrowing its way through a suburban residential district. And all those trees!

That yellow VW? Yep. Olivia.

The zoom-in is interesting as such:

Those hills in the near-distance, beyond the brownish tree groves that seem to be at the bottom of the dell beyond the brow of the hill are in Vancouver, Washington. That's how close another land is to me. I literally spend every living moment I can within the city boundary of Portland, but adventure for me is only a bridge-crossing away.

That traffic signal in the distance is at the onramp to I-84 eastbound. A curious creature that: That's the only eastbound exit/return between the I-205 mixup and 181st. Going westward, there's no street-level access from I-84 from 181st until the Hollywood district, an off-ramp at 42nd Avenue. That's a long way to go in a major city without a way off the freeway, folks.

The dim hills in the far distance are even more Washington than that, and the rosy color is, of course, from the destruction of Seattle by aliens. Or it could be the sunrise. Go with what promises more adventure.

This is Big 122 looking south from the Sacramento St Ped Overpass:

It's actually a little more commercial than you'd thing from this angle; the fringe of the neighborhood hides the ECR recycling yard (behind that tall tree there, you can see the low wall providing a visual barrier there going away from it), and the NE 122nd WinCo is visible behind tree (it's the cream-colored wall with the dark stripe). Some details are more visible in closeup:

You can glimpse the WinCo sign there on the right. That first signal there is NE San Rafael* St: there's a Taco Bell on that corner, and a Shari's just down the street fram that. The very next light beyond that is NE Halsey St; on the right hand side there an ARCO-AM/PM station's sign peeks out. Just behind that, and out of sight due to the angle, is Courtesy Ford, which was Marv Tonkin Ford back in the day; across from that, Russom's Nissan of Portland, which was once a Ron Tonkin dealership.

If there ever was a royal family of Big 122, I guess it would be the Tonkins.

And this is life one cold morning on the doorstep of winter in Oregon, Out 122nd Way.

* In Portland, "San Rafael" is pronounced "san-ruff-EL", not "san-raf-AY-el", as you'd expect. That's just Portland for you.

11 December 2017

DavidDoulglaslandia's Favorite Son

Oregon's Junior Senator, Jeff Merkley, is a person in whom I find much to admire and inspire. He's "Bedrock" through and through, and as long as we have him as part of Oregon's congressional delegation, I feel as though there's still a significant chance that things will stop going the wrong way and go the right way again.

From 1998 to 2008, he was State Representative from District 47, the area in which I live; in 2008, he became our junior US Senator. Doing good work, all the way.

But, something I shouldn't have been surprised at, I found out when we attended this hears David Douglas Holiday Bazaar, where we load up on home-crafted artisanal soap for the year, in the gallery of past student body presidents:

Jeff Merkely was DDHS student body president in 1974 because of course he was.

DavidDouglaslandia grows some notable people. As noted in another entry, some time ago, this 'dude' was also student body president.

You may have seen him in a movie or two.

I do wonder if Jeff thought, when he was student body president in '74, if it would end up with him on the floor of the US Senate during one of the most remarkable times of modern American history.

Me and The Wife™ are actually come-latelys to Douglasland. But we couldn't be happier here. Best part of Portland by far.

10 December 2017

One Way In Which Oregon Is Different From California

Here's one from the Dept of Hometown Pride Dept, seen in a cold and wet shopping center parking lot sometime last week:

Even though the thought behind this is rather nuanced (and the graphic approach both simple and sophisticated), please ELO's "Down Home Town", please and thank you.

How We Found Out Dan Rather Was In Town

We found out Dan Rather was at Powell's Books last night.

He's a very popular guy, apparently.

Bob Schieffer was not there. He did not file this report.
Sightings of Scott Pelley in the Red Room are unconfirmed as of press time, though I did get to browse my beloved Aisle 320 by about 8:15 PM, so it wasn't a total loss. Unlike other celebs, though, Dan apparently went out through another entry, so I was unable to get a picture.

And that's the way it was.

SDCC: All Your Comic Con™ Are Belong To Us

A tale from the branding and trademark war: Forbes magazine is reporting that, in a rights battle between the organizers of what was up until now called the Salt Lake City Comic Con and the juggernaut-of-them-all, San Diego Comic Con International, the side that cast themselves as the David in the all-too-inevitable David v. Goliath interpretation, the SLC group, lost in its contention that the term comic con was one that was a generic description of a convention-style (at least as this legal layman understands it) event celebrating comics (and in the SDCC case, just about every corner of pop culture).

A fairly close reading of the article suggests that however one might feel about the battle, the SLC organizers show signs of being the wrong partisans. For example, the article cites a finding in which two of the organizers voted themselves a six-figure bonus even as they were crowdfunding their legal defense; if someone was going to release a zig for great justice, this may not have been the ideal one, even with a barnstorming prosecution via the court of public opinion. Meanwhile, SDCC seemed to have a solid case on their side and proved infringement in court.

As a result, many fan events calling themselves 'comic cons' may find themselves having to negotiate agreements with SDCC International just to use the term, this case having established a precedent. Since IANAL, I imagine there's a lot of context that may come to bear, but the article also mentions a few top-echelon Comic Cons that have worked out licensing agreements with SDCC, Emerald City ComicCon and our own local Rose City Comic Con. There are also many ways to title an event: the current-on-hiatus indie fest Linework NW and a few small micro-cons offer examples of this and how it can avoid what is now a court-adjudicated trademark issue.

It's kind of like the dark side of the idea of trademarks and service marks, and I can't help it: proving one has the rights to a generic-sounding trademark like "Comic Con" feels a little like trademarking the phrase "I Love You" (which I remember happening during my lifetime), or "air" as "something to breathe." In the context of first-magnitude events, it attains a certain level of reasonableness, somehow, however.

This definitely puts a new wrinkle into the idea of crafting an identity and personality for media-centered fan events going forward. The ripples from this one will probably be spreading out for a while.

09 December 2017

LooWit: Mount St Helens In The Sunrise

Leaving work about two days ago I saw the same sort of sunrises we've been enjoying lately giving great color to the sides of the truncated cone of Loowit:

Still I remember when it wasn't lopped off like that. Snow is now heavy on the mountainsides, and the long rays of the winter sun gave that great color.

But in this ... extreme closeup ...

... I bumped the color.

Yep. That's me. Color bumper. If color bumping is wrong, I don't wanna be right.

Scenes From A Southeast Portland Diner

Visted Tom's Restaurant and Bar at the corner of SE César E Chávez and Division. This is the third time for me and The Wife™, and this time it was the chili burger for me (which was superb). It's also a great place to simply watch the world go by, as on the CEC side of the building is a busy stop for the TriMet line 75.

The wind was brisk tonight and whipped the awning outside enough to make it feel like it was trying to come into the building. I don't blame it. It's in the 30s out there right now.

Two scenes:

The waitress diva doing her thing as we were cashing out. Tom's, according to the banner, has served Portland in this location from  1975, and it still kinda feels like 1987 in there, but totally in all the good and right ways.

They could totally make a killing with that clock on eBay, tell you what.

We definitely love this place. 13/10, would (and will) eat there again.

08 December 2017

Wy'east: The Mountain Today, 7 Dec 2017

Stopped by 122nd and Shaver for a helping of mountain with clouds and a side of lovely sunrise light.

What the clouds do the light is incomparable. And the interest today was in the squiggly bits over on the right there.

Not too much earlier, at the Killingsworth Street approach to I-205, it looked rather this way:

As I was returning to Olivia's cockpit after taking the first picture above, a postal worker paused before turning into the lot (the Parkrose Station is there also at 122nd and Shaver) and enthused unbidden about being lucky enough to be able to come by here each day and photog it.

You and me both, fella.

02 December 2017

Wife Art: Midland Library Bookshelves with Trees

While I dither over creating art, The Wife™ takes charge and takes action, during a deliciously long afternoon sit-in at the Mighty MultCoLib's Midland Branch:

The wispy trees lining SE Morrison Street beyond the window are in a shiny silver marker. The subjective marks above the window are in a shiny gold.

Such is the subjective power of impulsive art that I can fetch the way I was seeing, the feeling of place, and the emotions of the moment just by looking at that card.

30 November 2017

Wife Art: Colored Coffee Cup #1

The Wife™, as me, carries about a handful of art tools at almost all times. When so moved, and we get a plain coffee cup, no designs, she goes to work.

The result is usually as delightful as it is simple, and authentic because it's totally of-the-moment.

"It's okay. Toss it out." says she?

Not on my watch, pal, not on my blog.

29 November 2017

The Fremont Bridge from Kaiser South Interstate

It's not hard to get a bridge photo in Portland. The challenge is to find unexpected settings.

The Fremont Bridge is an architectural marvel and one of those things one only needs look at to know this is Portland. It is north of the city center, for those of you who aren't of here, and both the east and the west ends are in industrial areas (which are getting less industrial by the day, given that this is Portland, but they still wear that heritage proudly.

The Kaiser medical complex at the top of the hill on North Interstate Avenue faces that area and provides some vantages that look more blue-collar worker than the effete population that seems to be washing in like a tide.

The growing (!) city in the background, but in the foreground, the old, grubby, working, Albina rail yard side of old Portland which, while the character of the work seems to have changed a little, still looks the way it did thirty years ago, only if you don't look too close.

There are artist's studios down there now. I'm not against artists and studios, aspiring to be an actual one with one myself, but it's just kind of a dislocative thing.

There's a cement plant down there. It was going full-throat when we were there, as see above.

Of course, as above, if you pull in close enough, you see the encroachment of the Beautiful New People, with that signature crop of the time, the building crane. They're in full bloom lately.

The Union Pacific yard house's chimney, still more or less unchanged over the ages, holds sentinel duty against a wind of change that threatens to push it over, but who knows? In ten years, it'll be the centerpiece of some lovely lifestyle community maybe.

24 November 2017

Old Portland, With Clouds

Today we went on a personal mission that was a something of a fail. Not a disaster, but something we could have done without.

Digital photography, though, means that no fail is a thorough fail. We at least have some photos that scream Old Portland.

NE Broadway in the Rose Quarter area. A lot has changed, but it still looks like Old Portland when you get this angle.

On N. Larrabee Avenue, which is the name of the street that you approach Interstate Avenue northbound from the Memorial Coliseum, there is this grain elevator. It's part of working Old Portland; I'm cheered by, despite all the up-towning we done around here lately, the Willamette harbor is still a working harbor all the way into the city center.

And, if you take a picture at the right moment, the city seems deserted, just like scenes out my favorite apocalyptic movies.

Fremont Bridge from the Larrabee merge onto N. Interstate Ave. Same feel, same deserted look, same cloudbank being held back by the range of the Tualatin Mountains in Forest Park.

Downtown Portland with Clouds Cresting the Hills

Sometimes, Portland's West Hills seems to bar the way for the clouds that are trying to come over them.

And all the time, with a downtown that's dominated by the hills close to hand, that's rather dramatic.

The blurriness of the photo had a lot to do with being in the front seat of a car in motion. Kind of a layer of bokeh, I suppose.

20 November 2017

OryCon 39 and the Ghost of OryCons Past

The occasion of OryCon is, as one could probably expect after one reaches a certain point in their journey, an occasion to remember things and to evaluate how those things have changed, just like spending long quality time with any loved one in ones' life.

The location of Ory39 this year was the Red Lion Inn on the Columbia River, at Jantzen Beach. Jantzen Beach, for those who don't know, is essentially a neighborhood on Hayden Island, which is just within the boundaries of the city of Portland and the last bit of Oregon as you head north on I-5 before you enter Vancouver, Washington. It's seen many changes. For a very long time a very many years ago, it was one of Portland's then-more-numerous amusement parks; it was the place where the first traffic bridge from Portland into Vancouver was built (and is still rockin' away), and it had a front-row seat to Vanport.

In my time it's been the home of two hotels that loom large in Portland fannish history: one on the west side of the bridge, the other, on the east. And that's still the case.

When I began attending OryCons, back at the ninth iteration of same, it was being held at the one on the west side, then known as the Red Lion Columbia River. The one on the east side of the bridge was known as the Red Lion Jantzen Beach (it's rubric has flowered somewhat), and since most of the Orys happened at this hotel, that was was affectionately referred to as the other hotel. No further explanation was needed. That which was known as the Red Lion Columbia River began and ended life as the Thunderbird, which was a local chain based here in Portland (it's original edition, between Interstate Avenue and the Willamette River adjacent to the Memorial Coliseum, is what gave that dead end street there, N Thunderbird Way, it's name).

The Red Lion Columbia River/Thunderbird was a cool hotel to have an SF convention at. It, with it's five room wings extending like pincers to the west and east of the main hotel building, even reminded me of a spaceship. And in the early days, me and The Wife™ entered the hotel on Friday afternoon and didn't leave until Sunday afternoon, so it was pretty much the same thing as.

Mapquest tends to update on some levels slower than Google Maps on the satellite view. You load that into MQ and zoom in, and here is what you see.

That is just a cool layout, as I said. Walking the corridors linking the five wings, which were all named for local features, was like traversing a sort of space station.

In the interim since the last OryCon was held there, the property has seen some adventure. Around 2003, the Red Lion sold off the property, and it simple became the Thunderbird again. In 2005, it closed for good. In 2012, most of it burned to the ground, taking a whole lot of memories with it.

But part of it still stands, and that's the part that really is cosmically hilarious. It's still a hotel. A Rodeway Inn, as a matter of fact.

Those last two wings are still in business. They even have the names of the old wings up on the outside: Multnomah Wing, St. Helens Wing.

We drove around it on Sunday on our way out from our end of 'con. There's a new lobby area ... it was the ground floor lobby on the Multnomah Wing back in the day ... and they've built a new entrance. Driving around the back side, though, it's hard not to remember the rest of the hotel attached to it ... and the good times it held.

And now, OryCon's home is what we used to call the other hotel, perhaps illustrating that axiom that implies that while you can return to whence you came, you can never really go home again - but, all you really need is now, anyway.

And so it goes.

19 November 2017

OryCon 39: Timothy Zahn Talks To the Fans

This is also the sort of reason why OryCon means so much and matters. OryCon has long had a reputation as a 'literary' SF convention which is appropriate; most Portland SF fans try to realize some sort of dream as a writer (I've known few who haven't), and in a city with events like Wordstock and famous for establishments like the Mighty Multnomah County Library and Powell's City Of Books, it just makes sense that people attracted to the craft and activity of writing would make OryCon he sort of place it is.

In this talk, author Timothy Zahn talked about things authory and Star Warsy: it was Zahn who brought us Grand Admiral Thrawn, one of the most enduringly-popular and arguably important characters in the SW Expanded Universe; Zahn is credited by some I've read with setting the table for a great deal of what followed. In his talk, he was a bit more modest about it, leaving the impression of someone who felt he was at the right place at the right time.

But the point I was striving at he just what a nice guy he was; affable, indefatigably friendly, the kind of Author GoH I remember OryCon seems to attract and invite. The kind of author all us aspiring SF writers hope to be.

He's our kinda guy.