Saturday, March 20, 2010

Can and Bottle Drive for KPOV

If you're like Jack and have embarrassingly large container full of empty wine and beer bottles to get rid of because people are starting to look at you with concern, KPOV's annual can and bottle drive this weekend is just what you've been looking for.

KPOV-LP FM (106.7) is Bend's own community radio station. It's not yet another stupid commercial station with shouty ads, it's not yet another public radio station with cultured shows like All Things Considered. Community radio is down to earth, volunteer powered, and pimps for no one.

They are hosting their annual can and bottle drive this weekend. Cans and bottles can be donated between 8 a. m. and 5 p. m. at Ray’s Food Place on Century Drive, in Bend. This Saturday and Sunday only.

Or swing by the studio at 501 N.W. Bond St., in Bend and drop them off there. Meet the friendly folk who keep this little stations going.

And while you're at it, sign up for their short broadcasting course so can go on the air yourself with your own show.

Just picture yourself telling your friends and family that you are a radio host. Cool? Of course, there's nothing cooler.

A new career, and a chance to start re-filling your recycling bins with new empties. It's a win-win, my friend.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Sound Check at The Silver Moon

Last night at the Silver Moon:

"Check, check, check, boom boom boom, hello test test test la-la-la-la-la oooooo-eeeeee testing testing testing testing testing check check a little more bass please check check check more bass please check check ahhhhh-HAAAAAAAA test test that's better check, check, boom boom boom, hello test test test la-la-la-la-la oooooo-eeeeee testing testing testing testing testing check check..."

Wash, rinse, repeat for five minutes. Then another musician takes up the mission to make sure his microphone is getting the sound he wants, like this:

"Check, check, check, boom boom boom, hello test test test la-la-la-la-la oooooo-eeeeee testing testing testing testing testing check check a little more bass please check check check more bass please check check ahhhhh-HAAAAAAAA test test that's better check, check, boom boom boom, hello test test test la-la-la-la-la oooooo-eeeeee testing testing testing testing testing check check..."

Then another, then another then another. It never stopped. They would not shut up, even for a few seconds.

The Silver Moon has a new sound system. Looks like they spent some bucks, too.

The music was advertised as starting at 8. They started their sound check at 6:15 and proceeded to blast the place with shouted "check check" for at least an hour before my friends and I finally gave up trying to have a conversation and threw in the towel. Others left, too. No one looked too pleased.

"Music better be fucking good for how long this sound check is taking," I announced as I was paying my bar tab.

Someone with the band said that it was that good.

And it might have been awesome, but clearing the place before the performance doesn't seem very smart or professional.

It's one thing to be unable to hear the person sitting next to you because of music, but it gets downright irritating to have to listen to one guy after another blast the place continuously with:

"Check, check, check, boom boom boom, hello test test test la-la-la-la-la oooooo-eeeeee testing testing testing testing testing check check a little more bass please check check check more bass please check check ahhhhh-HAAAAAAAA test test that's better check, check, boom boom boom, hello test test test la-la-la-la-la oooooo-eeeeee testing testing testing testing testing check check check, check, check, boom boom boom, hello test test test la-la-la-la-la oooooo-eeeeee testing testing testing testing testing check check a little more bass please check check check more bass please check check ahhhhh-HAAAAAAAA test test that's better check, check, boom boom boom, hello test test test la-la-la-la-la oooooo-eeeeee testing testing testing testing testing check check..."

It's a good thing I don't carry a handgun.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Imbalance?

Does there seem to be a paucity of interesting single men in Bend?

I'd like to hear from my female readers.

(No. 31 in a series of Jack's surveys.)

Downtown Irish Stouts Derby


My reader will recall that I have been on a mission to find a good dry Irish-style stout in Bend, a mission this reporter embarked upon over a year ago.

It has become clear that most stouts hereabouts are sweet, toffee messes, sometimes (intentionally, it appears!) made even more icky by the addition of coffee or, even chocolate. If I want a dessert I'll order a cake.

For this St. Patrick's** day, the local brewers have come up with drier offerings and Jack has tasted a couple for you, my reader, and can say that the dry stout at Bend Brewing Company is darn close to Guinness, the gold standard for such things.* It's a bit bigger than a Guinness, coming in at 6.5% abv (for non beer-geeks, that's "alcohol by volume," and Guinness clocks in at 4%) so use caution if you are used to quaffing pints of the imported Irish stuff), but it has the same dry quality for which the Dublin brewer is justly famous.

Addendum: BBC's brewmaster, Tonya Cornett, tells me that making a dry stout is not that difficult though it does require an expensive yeast. Speaking of yeasts, she is experimenting with sour ales, a personal favorite of Jack's. The secret facility is offsite because we don't want the wild yeasts that help create the distinctive qualities for which sour ales, "lambics," are famous to contaminate BBC's more traditional ales and beers. BTW, her "Desert Rose," on tap right now is a sour, a "baby step," as she puts it, is in the direction of a full sour, a la the offerings from Cascade Brewing/Raccoon Lodge up in Portland who are the only folk making interesting fruity, sour ales in the PNW near as I can tell. I am hoping that sours will take root here in Bend. Tonya calls them dessert ales because they are as every bit as sip-able and complex as any fine wine, but Jack thinks they are swell any time.

Here at McMenamins (where I am blogging this right now) they have an Irish style stout with a somewhat sweeter flavor than BBC's offering; it's nowhere as sweet as your usual American stout. Mike "Curly" White, McMenamin's brewmaster, tells me that they don't call their Irish stout a "dry" because of "that roastiness," which results in a little more residual sugars.

Beer drinkers in America think that dark beers, especially stouts and porters, should have high alcohol content. Which is really a pity, because a brewer can easily create flavorful ales with low alcohol content, and sell more of them before their clientèle fall on the floor or get into a fight ... or both.

McMenamins's Irish stout clocks in at a lowish 5% abv.

Cascade Lakes is said to be offering an Irish stout today, too, but they are not downtown and I find the place a little too cavernous and cafeteria-like to be comfortable.

Jack Says that if you are looking for a genuine dry Irish stout, I commend to you the BBC, but watch out for that higher alcohol content. If you like your stouts on the dry side but with a bit of roasty maltiness, hie thee to McMenamins.

Either way, with careful timing you will hear pipers and drummers tonight.

================
* Murphy's is a good example of a dry Irish stout, too.

** For reasons of senility I originally wrote "St. Francis's day." I have no excuse. I even studied how to possessivize "Francis." See Robert's comment at http://socal2bend.blogspot.com/2010/02/it-makes-so-much-sense.html

Pipes and Drums Tonight in Bend

In case you are a fan of bagpipes, the Bend Firefighters Association will be playing downtown tonight, according to the association's Mike Caligure. There will be six pipers and four drummers (three snare and one bass).

This kind of ensemble can unleash a mighty sound. The players are all fairly new at their instruments so the resulting sound might be even more awesome, according to Caligure.

Folk usually think of Scotland when they think of pipes, but the instrument came to Scotland from Ireland (as story goes, the Irish gave the Scots bagpipes and whiskey, but forgot to tell them that the pipes were only a joke).

Our firefighters deserve all the support the community can give them. I'll show mine my hoisting a pint and cheering them on.

Here's the schedule:

6pm in front of the Bend Brewing Company,
7:30 pm at JC's, and
9:30 pm in the theater at McMenamins.

Maceo Parker at the Tower

Maceo Parker and band delivered two full sets of solid funk music last night. It was great. It even got me up and dancing in the aisles. Few things are as pitiful as seeing an old fat white guy dancing. Apologies to all but I had fun.

Jack out.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Bend gets 2011-2012 masters road championships


The masters nats are coming to Bend, and for fans of elite cycling this is good news.


I say that now's the time to start auditions for the Devil of Bend.

Bend's cycling shops will see lots of business as the local roadies gear up, though my Magic 8-Ball says that someone will observe that he didn't see an uptick in comic book sales during the event.

There's an app for that (Beards)


Undecided about what kind of beard to grow for the upcoming 2010 Beard and Moustache National Championships? Something old-timey? Mountain man? Spiffy and classy? There are so many ways to go wrong and so few to go right. A poor decision can keep you out of Bend's better clubs.

Well, fret no more. The BeardMe iPhone app lets you try on different styles until you find the right one.

Use it on your kids, too!

Woman Claims She was Assaulted Downtown, Wasn't

Downtown was abuzz a couple weeks ago with the news of the assault of a young woman in an alley downtown. Jack recalls walking past the police cruiser with its flashing lights parked at the mouth of the alley that night.

Late last week a little bird told me that the mugging was a hoax, that the woman had made it up. The first story she told the police was so improbable that she recanted it and provided a second story. Which also turned out to a fabrication.

The Bulletin's story is here (paywall).

The little bird tells me that the police have no idea what really happened, but there was no assault.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Working from Downtown: Bagels and Bikes


It's nearing spring, a time when my fancy lightly turns to thoughts of bagels, bicycles, and Ubuntu.

It being a relatively comfortable 30 degrees F outside this morning, I decided to pack my new little $350 "netbook" computer on the bike and bip downtown for a bagel schmear and a cup of joe.

The ride downtown was very nice, blue skies and crisp air. The school day starts at Highland School at Kenwood Elementary at that time, so I had to dodge a lot of erratic cars on my way to the footbridge. Kids and moms and cars and bulky SUVs everywhere. Not a fit place for a cyclist: I'll find another route to the bridge for that time of the morning.

Cops looking to write tickets for talking on cell phones while driving would find the pickin's easy there.*

I leaned my bike against the front of Thump Coffee on Minnesota, and by craftily securing the rear wheel to the bike frame with an old toeclip strap, I immobilized it. Hardly high security, but there's nothing you can do to keep a thief from stealing a bike if he really wants it. My measures are aimed at the casual crook, the one with low motivation, a weak skill set, and no tools. Give a guy a battery-powered angle grinder and some bolt cutters and all bets are off.

Thump is a bustling place in the morning and there was no place to sit, so I wandered down the alley to Lone Pine Coffee which was pretty full, too, but there was a small table free where I could set up shop. Most everyone else there seemed to have the same idea.

The computer is a dinky little thing which came with Windows 7 installed. Windows 7 is said to be a fine operating system, unlike Vista which is by many accounts a turd. But these little netbooks are underpowered, the computer world's "D" students, and I do not want to run a bloated OS like Windows so I've been setting it up with the Ubuntu operating system.

I had some initial glitches with Ubuntu, like constantly dropping wireless connections and some lockups when using LogMeIn to access my office computer's desktop, but I tinkered away and now the system runs flawlessly. It not only loads and runs considerably more quickly than Windows 7, it has a lot more geek-cred.

With laptop connected to my office computer's desktop I found that I could work easily from downtown. Which mean that the Ubuntu-ized rig will work from anywhere in the world with Internet access.

I took calls outside, though, because on the spectrum of things that get under my skin in enclosed public space -- squalling children being a "10" -- folk that sit right next to you and talk on their cell phones is a solid 9 in terms of irritating.

After working for a couple of hours I packed up my gear, donned jacket, helmet and gloves, and went outside to ride back home...and found my bike missing. Crap.

I looked up and down the alley. Nothing.

I felt myself flushing; I had that hollow feeling in my gut.

I dialed Mrs Elliott's cell phone to ask her if she could give me a ride home, but hung up after two rings because I remembered that I had left the bike in front of Thump.

Which is where it still was.

Mrs Elliott called me back as I was loading my stuff into the basket.

"You called?"

"Sorry," I said. "I accidentally pocket-dialed you."

I figure that the less she knows about what a nitwit I am, the better.

But I think she knows anyway.

===============
* Seems that the larger the SUV, the more likely the driver, if female, will have a cell phone pressed to her ear.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Bacon Craze has Jumped the Shark


Jack doesn't eat bacon. Jack likes the taste of bacon, having been raised on the stuff as part of a normal breakfast, but Jack has endeavored not to eat animals for a while now.

Bacon has become more and more popular, Jack has noticed, as a flavoring for just about anything. Bacon-covered chocolate, for example.

But with the advent of bacon-flavored vodka, it's clear that the peak has passed.

Urp.

Wife Flies Fogey to Victoria for Birthday


For my 60th birthday, Mrs Elliott flew us to Victoria, B.C. The first leg was on a normal commercial carrier from RDM to Sea-Tac. The second leg was aboard a Kenmore Air de Havilland DHC-2 "Beaver" seaplane. As can be seen from the attached photo, we were apparently kidnapped and somebody's grandparents took our places.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Bye, Bye KOHD News.

Last night, over a straight-up blended Scotch at downtown's least-prestigious cocktail bar, I learned that that Chambers Communications in Eugene, who owns KOHD-TV, is shutting down their Bend-originated news broadcasts.

This is unfortunate. KOHD was Central Oregon's only high-definition source of news programming. (And when I say "high definition I'm referring to the video quality, not the reporting.) Mrs Elliott and I found their amateurish crew to be charming in a high-school production kind of way. They delivered every bit as much in-depth local "reporting" as KTVZ.

Which ain't much, of course. Sending cameras out for footage of accidents, events, and rancorous meetings doesn't really pass for investigative reporting, but that hasn't been a strength of TV news for decades now.

KTVZ is weird for us to watch. The overly made-up newscookies are creepily lit. Video processing gives them alarmingly bright eyes and teeth. They are like people with too much cosmetic surgery: they don't look quite human.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Chess Hustling in Bend


"There used to be a Bend Chess Club here."

My side of the board was in shambles. Routed in five moves.

I had been lured into a game of chess with a local Bend blogger in spite of my objection that my chess-fu was abjectly miserable.

We met at Di Lusso Bakery Café on Franklin. It was a safe place to get my butt kicked, I figured. The place doesn't have great coffee, and in the middle of the afternoon, only a few bored housewives and twelve-steppers would see the ass-kicking happen.

He had his hand-crafted Russian chess set already set up on the table when I got there. He didn't seem very interested in small talk.

I ordered an "Oregon Chai" and sat down. It was 2:40.

"You play a lot?" I wanted to know if he was as lame as I. "Do you know what a gambit is?" I probed. (I know chess has lots of gambits in it.)

He shrugged. "I've heard of gambits."

I nervously sipped my chai.

"White goes first?" It had been a long time. I was unsure.

"Yeah. I can see that you know what you're doing."

By 2:45 he had me in a queen-king fork. I resigned.

His eyes gleamed like wet mushrooms under the shadow of his hat brim while his fingers deftly put away the game pieces. The bone and wood pieces rattled softly inside their black leather bags as he folded them inside the elephant-ivory and sadeli chess board.

He lit a Turkish cigarette, drew on it. "A little practice you'll be better than me. A lot better. I could teach."

"How often do you play?"

"With real people? Once in a while. Not a lot. Mostly Internet."

(I have not played for 30 -- thirty! -- years.)

He tapped the cigarette's ash into his coffee cup. "There used to be a lot of guys to play with. A club. The Bend Chess Club. Yeah, we were somebody in those days. People respected us. We played a lot. I won a lot of bets, too. A lot of bets, sure, and not everyone was happy about it. Money changed hands. A lot of it may have ended up into my pockets -- I'm not sayin' it didn't. Those were good days.

"I dunno what happened to those guys. There used to be 20, maybe 25 of them. But after a few months, most of them stopped coming. Pretty soon only old guys with no money and less to do came to the meetings."

He snapped the set shut. "Next week?"

"What -- me play chess with you again. That was totally one-sided!"

"I could use the practice. Tell you what -- you get a good book on chess, learn a few book openings. Take $50, a hunnert bucks outta your wife's checking account, we meet in maybe two weeks."

Chess hustlers in Bend.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Big Six-Oh

Yeah, Jack is turning 60 in just over a week. Mrs Elliott has something planned, wants me to pack a suitcase and be ready to depart to Places Unknown the day before my birthday.

Many years ago I had a "Yankee' push-drill. My dad had one, I used one for years when I was younger. Lost it. Those things have been out of production for many, many years, since most folk use cordless drills.

But sometimes a push-drill is just easier, so I said to myself, "Maybe for my birthday, one of my kids can find one for me."

So I added a push-drill to my 60th birthday wish-list.

Last week, I was talking to Mike Accardo of Quality Interior Works, about his favorite subject -- tools -- when I told him about the push drill I used to have. He said he thought he had an old one kicking around the garage.

Then on Saturday, Mike showed up on my doorstep holding a used but serviceable Stanley model 130A Yankee "Quick Return Spiral Ratchet Screwdriver."

"Merry Christmas."

"Wow. What's weird is that my birthday is in a couple weeks and I had a `Yankee push drill' on my wish list!"

"Happy birthday, then!"
 
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