Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Republican Idol

The GOP's primary process is basically "American Idol," but with more racism and less rhythm.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

You Can't Camp Here Anymore

If you're someone who doesn't like to camp in fee campgrounds and is used to camping wherever you could drive to in the Deschutes or Ocheco National Forests or the Crooked River Grasslands, you may find that your favorite lovely dispersed campsites where you could set up a tent are no longer legal sites.

According to this press release "Deschutes and Ochoco National Forests and Crooked River Grassland to Implement New Motor Vehicle Use Rules" decisions were made in 2011 to enforce new Motor Vehicle Use Rules in 2012. Among other things, the new set of rules changes the conditions for motor vehicle access off of designated roads for dispersed camping."

There are two salient points that affect Mrs Elliott's and my camping.

First, prior to this new set of rules, unless a forestry or use road was posted as closed, you could drive it. Now, all roads are closed unless they are posted as open on a Motor Vehicle Use Map.

Second, where previously a fellow could camp any place that was not posted as closed, "Motorized access for dispersed camping is only allowed to existing sites within 300 feet of roads shown on the Motor Vehicle Use Map [...]."

This means that you can't camp on any site that is more than 300' from the road, and that road has to be one of the ones shown as open on the map.

Jack picked up a set of the new Motor Vehicle Use Maps (free) from the Deschutes National Forest Headquarters in Bend (new location on Deschutes Market Road) last week. The seven maps that cover the two national forests are large, 3 foot by 4 foot, and printed both sides. They are very detailed and very depressing. This because the riverside and lakeshore places where he and Mrs Elliott like to camp are outside the 300' corridor and even the pretty sites that Jack hoped would not be affected, such as the south end of Crane Prairie Reservoir, are off-limits.

See the press release for more information.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

New Bakery Downtown

Located in the space formerly occupied by the Bond St. Market, La Magie Bakery opened their doors for business for the first time today. High-end French pastries are what they are about, according to the nice lady working there who somehow tricked Jack into buying an apple turnover.

949 NW Bond St.
lamagiebakery.com

Friday, January 27, 2012

Call for Suggestion: Cabin

My birthday is coming up in March -- another year older! Not necessarily wiser.

I would like to find a nice cabin near Bend or Sisters or Sunriver or Maupin to rent for a couple nights, and I'm looking for suggestions.

Not resorty, I don't want a place that feels hoity-toity, don't want a spa or a restaurant, don't even want housekeepers. No one knocking on the door to change the towels, just a  basic kitchen and a pile of firewood.

It could be part of a lodge, it could be just one of a string of fishing cabins; I do want a place with staff, it being March and no telling what the weather might do.

Clean, snuggy, no highway noise; a pretty location, and a sense of privacy, a place where a fellow can be alone with his thoughts.

If you know a place that sounds like this, click on the "comment" button (below). I won't publish your post unless you ask me to. Otherwise, it's a private message. Thank you.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Brother Jon's Downtown Opening Date

For those who are fans of BroJo's (and Jack is), mark your calender for February 1, the date they are scheduled to open their new downtown location at the former site of The Decoy and then the Bond Street Grill.

That is all.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Ancient and Manly Ritual of Soap, Brush and Blade

Friend, fellow blogger, Bend's honorary goodwill ambassador,  and (gag) "Bend treasure," H. Bruce Miller, has turned me on to a new obsession.

For many, many years, Jack has shaved his rugged, manly face and chiseled chin with a Gillette Mach3 razor: a system with a cheap handle and expensive three-bladed cartridges. This, along with Edge Shave Gel, gave Jack what he thought was a pretty good shave.

But during conversation over a game of chess a few months ago, the matter of shaving came up, as it does with well-groomed gentlemen. Bruce let on that he used the India-made Parker double-edge razor with Japanese Feather brand blades.

double-edge, or safety, razor. The blades are of of honed steel. Multi-bladed injection-molded cartridge razors are to this as Miller Lite is to real beer. 

I paid little attention at the time; this idle bit of conversation sank without a ripple into my aged and creaky brain as swiftly as the names of people to whom I have been recently been introduced, unavoidably and regrettably forgotten almost immediately.

But like a good aftershave, the idea lingered. It had attraction: it suggested gadgetry (which I love), and connoisseuroisty* (which I also love); it appealed to me and a seed was planted which eventually flowered into curiosity and, shortly thereafter, into acquisition.

For Christmas I asked for a hard rubber shaving mug, the kind you could rattle a shaving brush around in without fear of breaking or loud rattly noises. My admirable daughter obliged.

And once that thing was in my hands, I was hooked.

Within a week, I had ordered an Edwin Jagger DE87 safety razor, a puck of Mitchell's Wool Fat shaving soap, a Simpson badger shaving brush, a bespoke Dirty Bird pottery scuttle,** an assortment of blades, a styptic pencil to quench the newbie hemorrhaging, other necessary accouterments such as lotions, aftershaves and balms, and cheerfully embarked on the quest for a manly man's Damn Fine Shave.

At time of writing, I've only been shaving with the razor for a few weeks. I am but a tyro, a newbie. It is harder than shaving with a cartridge razor. It requires practice and skillfulness. One must proceed mindfully.

I nicked myself a lot at the beginning.

Some brands of blades are sharper than others and beginners need to be careful. After trying several blades, I've settled on Gillette 7 O' Clock "Yellow" blades as a comfortable and effective blade to use while I develop my skill.

I'm getting better; my shaves are becoming dependably baby-butt smooth and miles better than anything I ever got from a supermarket blade. I'm glad I switched. Supermarket cartridge razors are clearly the Two Buck Chuck of shaving.

I'm enjoying, as Bruce says, "[...] the ancient and manly ritual of soap, brush and blade." And, like he found, "[...] it gives a better and more comfortable shave."

But is it manly enough? Bob Woodward, former Bend mayor, local mountain biker, Scottish beer afficionado, occasional writer for The Source Weekly, raconteur, and man-about-town tells me that he shaves with a straight razor:


Jack is just too uncoördinated to use such a thing.  Jack can't chop two onions without lopping off a fingertip. 

============
* A neologism a day keeps lazy readers at bay.

** Not yet here; Dirty Bird scuttles are hand-made.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

New Place for Ribs

Player's Bar & Grill on the west side is not the first place that comes to mind when I'm looking for some eats. It ain't one of Bend's more upscale establishments.

But I was tooling down Century Drive around lunch time yesterday, entertaining the idea of getting some barbecue ribs from Baldy's when I saw this sign in front of Players:

I've never been in Players before, but it was pretty much like I expected: video gambling machines, pool table, several TVs tuned to random channels (I saw ODOTs video feeds of road conditions on one, some kind of dog race on another), jukebox, beer and liquor posters.

There were three people at the bar, two guys and one woman, but the place was otherwise empty. The two guys were in the middle of a conversation. One was a large white man who looked like Jessie Ventura; the other was even larger, and black.

I walked up and their conversation stopped. The Jessie Ventura guy studied me from behind a pair of sunglasses.

"You must be Big Troy," I said to the other guy. "On account of your cook's apron."

I am, he said.

"My name is Jack Elliott and I am in the mood for some barbecue. What do you have?"

Ribs, is what he had. St. Louis style.

Perfect.

Big Troy is soft-spoken and Big Troy is big. Big Troy sports size sixteen feet, he said. "Double wide."

I ordered a half-rack of ribs, which was all he had left after the weekend. A half-rack, no sides, is eight dollars. That's at least a couple bucks less than what you'll pay at Baldy's or Slic's, the other two prominent BBQ shops in town.

While Big Troy was working up the order, I overheard the bartender ask the Jessie Ventura-looking guy if he wanted another beer.

"How many have I had?"

Two, said the bartender.

"Sure."

I carried my ribs home for lunch and they were the best I've had in Central Oregon so far. Big Troy grills them for nine hours which makes them tender. And there's lots of meat on the bones, maybe 30% more than the other shops provide.

Big Troy's opened last Thursday. Call ahead for take-out at 541 389-2558, or stop in to enjoy the fine ambiance of Players. It might not be the most salubrious place in town, but with the addition of Big Troy, the place is now on my radar.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Brick and Mortar Loses Again

I don't expect stores to carry every single weird item I want to buy; It's unrealistic because: 1. I'm a quirky fellow, and (B) a store is probably doing gangbusters if it carries 90% of what customers are looking for.

But boy did the stupid big-box stores disappoint this week.

Case #1. Buying an Aftershave at Target.

Target's a fine store, my daughter works for Target and we are both grateful that her employer is very flexible and willing to accommodate college students' schedules. But dang it, I drove all the way out to our Target on Wednesday morning -- rainy and slushy and mashed potato-y heaps of brown snow all over the roads Wednesday morning -- to buy a bottle of aftershave* listed at target.com as "In Stores."

By "In Stores" they mean "Hey, you never know, you could luck out and your local Target might actually have this stuff on the shelf, but don't count on it."

A Target employee, a nice lady, did a stock check for me and found no evidence that the product had ever been in the store.

Irritated, but trying not to be, I walked across the street to another big-box store for my next pu

Case #2. Buying a Surround-Sound Test DVD at Best Buy.

Best Buy. Synonymous with home appliances, blue polo shirts, and Geek Squad-optimized batteries.

And home theater gear.

"Can I help you?"

Yeah, hey, I'm looking for a surround-sound demo disk. Something to exercise the system, confirm operation in Dolby AC-3, DTS, 5.1, 6.1 -- all the fun stuff."

"I'm sure we have that."

He took me to another fellow. I describe again what I was looking for.

"Any DVD or Blu-Ray with THX will do it."

No, I want something for testing different digital formats like Dolby, DTS.

He thought for a moment. Said they didn't have anything like that.

My shoulders sagged. I dug deep into my suitcase of fortitude and strength and proceeded.

Case #3. Clear Switch Plates from Home Depot.


Mrs Elliott had the living room repainted a couple of weeks ago, and we wanted to get rid of the stainless steel covers on the wall switches and electrical outlets, and replace them with clear plastic ones painted on the backside with the same color as the walls. I've done that in a few rooms of the house and it helps blend them in.

But Home Depot, the place where I bought the last batch, no longer carries them.

I can probably get them at Ace Hardware, I thought. But have I lack gruntle right now. So it's easier to grouse:

So, kids, what did we learn today? 


Timmy? Yes, that's right: shopping online won. 

==============
* "Sex Appeal" by Jovan. Mrs Elliott likes it. That's good enough for

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Gratitude

Patrick O'Hearn's "Beyond This Moment" is on the stereo.

The light outside my kitchen is fading into evening indigo. This, after a gorgeous afternoon of sun and rainbowage (yeah, Mrs Elliott and I saw it).

I guess it doesn't take much to perk me up. Gimmie four hours of cheerful sunlight after two, three days of gray and slush and I feel like I've been repaid, with interest.

Monday, January 16, 2012

In Recognition of Style

Fellow blogger and friend H. Bruce Miller, who is (according to two [2] people in Bend) a "Bend treasure," and I were at Sideline sports bar last Saturday to watch the 49ers and the Saints play a very exciting game of  American football when this guy caught my eye:
Sorry -- the iPhone's camera is lousy in low-light situations.

Or rather, it was his hat that caught my eye.

No, wait...to be honest, it was because this guy totally rocked that hat.

"It's a Bailey," he said when I told him that he looked great.

(This was not a man crush. Not much of one, anyway. It's a case of where the man had style and I had to give him props.)

I'm not sure if it was the hat, the black shirt, the black suspenders, or the way he totally flirted with every woman at the bar, even those 30 years his junior--but the man exuded confidence.

The only thing that could have made this picture better is if he had been holding a poker hand and a cigar instead of a goddamn iPhone in a pink "My Little Pony" case.

But still . . . he hit on every girl.

Sigh.

He's my hero.

[Note: the hitting on every girl thing? I'm just joking.]

Monday, January 9, 2012

A Tale of Three Beefs Burgundy

Throwing myself onto the grenade again for the likes of you, I tried three versions of this venerable recipe, in order:

Tony Bourdains's Boeuf Bourguignon (from Les Halles Cookbook and also here)
Julia Childs's Boeuf Bourguignon (as shown here), and
Cook's Illustrated's Beef Burgundy (link here)


  • For ease of preparation, Bourdain's recipe wins, and it tastes great.
  • Childs's recipe is more difficult than Bourdain's, and it trails far behind in terms of taste.
  • Cook's Illustrated recipe is fairly difficult, and is guaranteed to fill the house with smoke, but OMFG it is incredibly tasty. Mouth-wateringly rich taste. Stunning. 


All three are all-day recipes. Plan ahead.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Bill Evans and Shaving

Bill Evans ("Complete Bill Evans On Verve") on the stereo right now.

After banging together a highly-successful Shepherd's Pie and a whole pan of (zero carb) fudge last night, I'm taking a break from fancy cooking. Got me some hot wings from Newport Market and a glass of cheap red wine tonight.

Mr. Obama did what many Republican Presidents have done in the past: made appointments when congress was not in session. The GOP is outraged, but find anything they are not outraged by these days that doesn't involve giving the rich and corporations more tax breaks or promoting things that Christians like and I'll give you a buck.

(By the way, comments are turned off for anyone who wants to argue about this matter: forget it: this is my blog, get your own.)

Mrs Elliott came home from errands this afternoon and gave me a big smooch on the cheek.

I'm a lucky guy.

Some of my favorite television shows are returning after winter hiatus; and it's high time, too: a fellow can only watch so many Cheers reruns on Amazon. But some shows I enjoyed, like Bored to Death, have been canceled. Oh well.  As an educated white man I know I am supposed to be thrilled that Downton Abbey is starting up again, but it's only a mildly-interesting show at best.

Soapier shows, your ladyshows, like The Good Wife and Revenge are also raising their heads. Mrs Elliott enjoys them and I find them tolerable. But other shows she likes, like The Bachelor are, to me, stupid. I'm sure she feels the same way about the stupid shows I like, such as The League, The Life and Times of Tim, and Beavis and Butthead. 


Heck, even I know they are stupid.

Mrs Elliott doesn't care for Dexter, and frankly, after this last season's cartoonish episodes, I have doubts about it, too.

I'd like to watch Portlandia, having heard it's quite good, but our Bend Broadband tier o' shows does not include IFC, and I'll be damned if I'll pony up more bucks for one show. Amazon streams it for something outrageous like $4 an episode in HD. I can't justify that.

No sir, I just don't like it.*

Shaving. Yes, it's time to talk about shaving. Last year, H. Bruce Miller ("A Bend Treasure," Bend's unofficial goodwill ambassador) told me that he shaves exclusively with a safety razor -- a double-edge (DE) razor -- not one of your pathetic plastic multi-blade cartridge razors like I have been shaving with for the past four decades.

I was intrigued. Was I missing something?

So for Christmas I asked my kids to get me some DE shaving tackle: a shaving brush, a shaving mug, and a razor. They got me one out of three (the mug) but let me tell you: even getting one thing I asked for for Christmas from my kids is a friggin' miracle.

I took it upon myself to order up a nice razor (Edwin Jagger DE 87), some hard shaving soap (Mitchell's Wool Fat), a good brush (Vie-Long Gonzalo), an assortment of blades, and then shopped around town for other items like a good pre-shave oil (Burt's Bees Vitamin E and Citrus Bath & Body Oil) and a nice astringent aftershave (Thayer's Witch Hazel Aftershave) -- both found at Newport Market; and read plenty of shaving articles and fora online, and watched a few shaving instructionals on that YouTube.

(Where were we before the Internet?).

Plunging in, I started shaving with the new tackle a week ago. It's a different technique than using a pivoting Mach 3 blade: less pressure, no long strokes, more attention to each stroke.

Bruce loaned me a pack of the ultra-sharp Feather brand blades (Japan) which are not recommended for newbies, but Jack tends to try to skip the baby steps, and a few nicks and weepers aside, some initial fumbling, I'm now getting a closer, sweeter shave than I've ever experienced. I'm talking a baby-butt smooth finish which lasts for nearly 24 hours.

Pivoting cartridge razors, I'm seeing, are the automatic transmission of razors; double-edged razors are your manual transmission: much more control.

I have fine-tuning to do. Everyone's skin and beard are different and there are dozens and dozens of DE blades on the market, from far-flung places like Russia, Finland, Japan, Israel, Turkey, England, and elsewhere, to try. Each has characteristic qualities -- finish, plating, honing, etc., -- that work well with some skins and beards and not so good with others.

This shouldn't take more than a couple years to sort out.

==================
* A pint of local ale for the first to come up with the animated show from which I lifted that line.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

In Short

Need to catch up!

I finally had a chance to eat at Slick's Que Co., on NE Revere. Had the baby back ribs. No doubt about it, they are better than Baldy's. A couple bucks more (full rack is $22), but they are more meaty. Recommended.

My kids visited for Christmas, and I used the event as an excuse to cook some fine food and drink some fine wine. I made coq au vin for Christmas Eve, and prime rib and crème brûlée on Christmas day. Once again, I managed to NOT set the kitchen afire with my Ace Hardware propane torch.

New Year's Eve is also our wedding anniversary. Mrs Elliott and I stayed at Five Pine Lodge in Sisters, an outstandingly well-appointed and luxurious place. Also on property is the Shibui Spa, which Jack is mildly irritated at.

You see, when he booked the hotel room through TripAdvisor he received this coupon:

Even the untrained eye will see that this coupon has some ambiguous language. We booked the room in October for December 31, but the coupon says that is is good no later than November 30. 

However, it also says, "[...] receive a 10% discount on any spa treatment during your stay!" [Emphasis mine.]

It's pointless to offer a discount for a period of time when customers are not staying at the hotel. 

Now, Shibui could have jumped either of two ways on this when I asked about it: They might have honored the spirit of the coupon (the "during your stay" part) or they might have tried to save a few bucks by denying the discount due to it being outside the pointless redemption date. 

Guess which way they jumped? Yup, no discount, sorry. 

Guess what I did? I didn't book the couple's massages. They lost a decent sale trying to save 10%. Not your most effective customer service or business practice. 

We had dinner at Jen's Garden, also in Sisters. A lovely six-course prix fixe menu with wine pairings. Thoroughly delightful.

I checked my weight after the holidays, and hadn't gained a pound. That's amazing.  

AND FINALLY, GO DUCKS!!! The Rose Bowl game was great fun. Next year's schedule has already been posted and my calendar has been marked. 
 
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