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.

18 November 2017

OryCon 39: The Souvenir Program Cover

And, here's one look at my real contribution to the OryCon 39 effort: the cover of the Souvenir Program. Design by myself, artwork by the Artist GoH, the delightful Sarah Clemens:

We saw Timothy Zahn. Affable fellow.

The site of the illustrator, Sarah Clemens, is http://www.clemensart.com/.

OryCon 39: Cosplay Via Starfleet, Vegas Division

And, what 'con ... SF or otherwise these days ... is complete without a little cosplay?

The friend of mine pictured, who goes by the name of Sarah, particularly rocks the idea of the Star Trek: The Original Series female crewmember who came to the NCC-1701 by way of the Vegas Strip. Sparkly!

Everyone who loves Star Trek should know a friend like Sarah. She's the Trekkiest person I know. She Treks hard every day and twice on Sunday. She Treks so hard that there are little Starfleet insignia arrowheads left in her wake. I don't care how hard you Trek, my friend, Sarah was already there in front of you. She even Treks so hard that when I get weary from pop culture media saturation of Trek, she reminds me why it's cool to love Trek.

My sincere thanks to Sarah for allowing me to put her in the picture.

OryCon 39: Wy'east From the Mighty Columbia River

OryCon 39, this year, was at the Red Lion Jantzen Beach Hotel. This, through the many years the 'con was at the Red Lion Columbia River, which was and then was again the Thunderbird, was known as the "Other" Hotel, since for a long time both of them were Red Lions and the Portland fan crowd held so many events at the old Thunderbird.

The sight lines from the back of the ballroom area, which I assayed between two panels in the Art Show, provide for striking views of Wy'east, resplendent under the plentiful snow that the last couple of storm systems have deposited.

The boat mooring in the foreground make for an attractive composition as well.

OryCon 39: Alexander James Adams In Performance

Alexander James Adams is a treat that we OryConians have been priviledged to for quite a long time. We love him and he loves us back and it's become sort of a mutual admiration society. This is a good thing.

For a time, while Alex was still in Heather mode, he lived here in Oregon, but fortunes and times change, and he and his wife still live in Oklahoma, near Muskogee.  I mean, I can't criticize, but Oklahoma? Well, you thrive where you can, but ... Oklahoma? 

Now, I'm not trying to besmirch Alec's fortune at all, but this is literally the only, and I'm speaking personally here, nice thing to ever come out of Oklahoma. I've known a few people from Oklahoma. Their proudest achievement is leaving. That said, Alec let slip that, while he's not moving back to Oregon, he's going to hold more live performances out this way, and you know what? We'll take it.


Any Alex performance is a memorable one. I still recommend him to people who don't think they'll like folk music. They'll come away convinced that there is a least one modern folk artist they'll enjoy enough to buy music from. And as he travels down the road of Time, and we go along with him, his music puts on the patina of wisdom, touches emotions we didn't know we had.

I think Alex's website is needing some attention, but for those of you familiar with the magic of Patreon, you can get on board and help him create more music (including the occiasiona and keep up to date generally:


Alec also offers periodic online-live performances via ConcertWindow:


17 November 2017

[branding] Colonel Sanders Wants To Wrap You Up In A Cocoon Of Internet Protection and It Just Got Really Weird

I picture it happened this way:

Wendy's: We have the best most surreal social media strategy out there. Nobody can beat our tweets.
KFC: Hold our Extra Crispy $5 Fill-up and watch this.

In the world of social media and branding, it's hard to tell what's real any more. But KFC, so far the master of surreal TV commercials featuring a round-robin of edgy stand-up comics playing The Colonel, has decided to really up the weird. It's hard to tell if it's a troll right now, but for the sake of the joke we'll concede the point for now: KFC is, right now, on their website, selling an Internet Escape Pod.

Since the link is probably destined to die soon (it's a Cyber Monday thing) here's a screenshot for posterity's sake:

It's 10-kilobuck price tag is apparently them selling it at-cost.

There are so many things about this that are just really too weird. The Colonel, shielding you with those long, long arms like some fast-food version of the love-child of Stretch Armstrong and Reed Richards; the drumstick that's the door-handle. But perhaps the funniest (and I'm speaking cosmically here) thing about it all is that a modern, armed and fully-internet-operational fast food company is selling, even as a joke, a Faraday cage (look it up) to protect you on Cyber Monday from the internet.

I mean, here in Portland, we DIY that shit every day of the week.

Twice on Sundays (we don't go to church around here, so we got the time).

And so it goes.

15 November 2017

[liff in PDX] I've Been Framed Should Definitely Be One Of Oprah's Favorite Things

A visit to I've been Framed nourishes the heart. Even if I just pick up another blank book for my sketchbook/diary backstock ($3.99 for a Daler-Rowney, such a deal!).

It was when I was browsing the block-printing and screenprint department that I saw this:

... which I think of as Domo-kun goes Diving.

And, on the other side of the column from Domo there, here was Oprah:

Everyone should get a new art. And that should be one of Oprah's Favorite Things.

After I noticed it, Mark, who's always a pleasant personage, let me in on a thing. If you visit IBF on any regular basis, as we've been doing for more than a decade now, you'll have noticed an evolution in the glorious gallimaufry in the interior decor. As it happens, as the legion of people who've worked at IBF have found other opportunities and moved on, as people will do in a working life (especially one in art) they are afforded the chance to decorate part of a wall, making the interior of IBF not only a wonderful, fun, happy place to browse and find, but also a story of many of the people who've worked there.

I respond strongly to that. I didn't think there was a way for IBF to be any more charming than it is ... well, my friends, I was wrong.

Best. Art supply and framing store. Ever.  

11 November 2017

[liff in Cascadia] BV-Radio.com: Cascadia's Favorite Music

There is a website devoted to Pacific Northwest local music; powered by Burgerville, it's called BV-Radio.com.

Right now it's devoted solely to playing music by Pacfic Northwestern artists. It has just two things to do, which is refreshingly simple; click the play button to start the stream, and a form to send feedback. There's also a bit of verbiage:
Welcome to BV-Radio.com, a new conversation about what makes this region-the beautiful, dynamic, Pacific Northwest-the unique place it is.
We have a goal to connect the people of the Northwest with each other and explore what makes this community so resilient, what restores us, what grounds us in our home. We are starting through music, and expanding from there…art, agriculture, food, architecture, design…wherever you and the story leads us.
We’ve created a platform for some of the region’s recording artists. Listen along. You’ll hear songs you recognize and songs you don’t. You’ll hear new music and classics from way back. But everything you hear has a connection to this region and the people who live here.
This is your home. It should sound like it. Join the conversation and we’ll make sure your voice-and your music-gets heard.
I've included the entire text because it provides a picture of an interesting ambition. Burgerville is the quintessential Northwest burger place, and no other place that I've experienced so far has managed to translate the PNW 'foodie' tropes of local sourcing, terrior, and seasonal availability so effectively to the crowd who isn't going to go out to the fashionable places. Lunching BV regularly is a relatively cheap way to sophisticate the palate.

As such, BV has developed a certain essential local POV as a now-indelible part of its brand. You can get burgers and fries that will sastisfy, and those you will like, in other chains, but none as PNW as the stuff at Burgerville.

BV-Radio, one can infer from the text of the site, is helping BV establish a bridgehead in more than just Northwest fast-food culture, but other intellectual sectors of the local spirit, offering itself up as the first brick in a bridge that could connect those Northwest things ... art, architecture, design ... that intangibly establish that you are here feeling that you can't get anywhere east of Rockies or south of the Adams-Onis treaty line. Listening to it is easy on the ear; the feeling is that of listening to KINK-FM, back in the day.

To bring this prolix meandering to a point, though, it was the logo that really intrigued. The big, classic radio mike, its capsule encased in the big steel cage, is a given. But the background really made me think twice.

To those of us in the region who think about the past, present and future, that design is no mystery. To those who don't look at a map so much, it may confuse. And the shape of it is very specific, and very very local.

The region I live in has acquired a sense of place and has called that Cascadia. The geographic design is a conception of what Cascadia could be defined as; the sum of the basins of the Columbia River, the Salish Sea, and everything along the coast east of the Cascades and the Canadian Rockies that drain to the sea. Commerically, BV is limited to NW Oregon and Western Washington; founded in Vancouver, WA, it's been a part of NW culture since its founding, around 1962. Through the arts and culture initiative that BV-Radio seems to represent, it sees itself as an available platform for more than just Oregon and Washington, and more than just music.

It's an interesting ambition for a chain of burger joints, but then again, Burgerville has grown into a rather unique chain of burger joints, with a vision that goes a little farther than just selling burgers and fries. BV's always been a little bit 'out there', and if its self-given remit seems a bit grand, it's never been insincere.

The music's free to stream (such a deal), and a link to buy the music is provided as the song is playing. And it's a good listen.