Thursday, December 28, 2006

Prez Ford: pro-gay

My first reaction to the death of Gerald Ford was the recognition that he was my "birth president" -- he was president when I was born. Of course, I was too young to remember anything about his era. I do remember learning that he was president (at the time of my birth) when I was in elementary school and wondering who he was since he was sandwiched between better known presidents.

Most of the rememberances I've seen or heard this week attribute his lost election to his pardoning of Nixon. In fact, Democratic Governor Ted Kulongoski seemed to almost lament Ford's loss in a report I heard on OPB yesterday:

". . . Kulongoski says history will judge Ford better than voters did in 1976. They blocked him from serving a full term as president.

Kulongoski says Americans chose Jimmy Carter because of Ford's treatment of Richard Nixon following the Watergate scandal.

Ted Kulongoski: "And I, probably like a lot of people, I think he lost his election against Carter, because of the pardon. But he did what he thought was best for the people of this country and in the best interests of America, and I don't think there's anybody around today who thinks he made the wrong decision."

While I wasn't politically aware then, I suspect that I probably would have voted the same way (if only one year olds could vote). While I understand Ford's reasons for pardoning Nixon, it was the wrong decision. Nixon should have been held criminally responsible like any other citizen.

I admit that I tend to be shallow and immediately wonder what a politician's gay rights views are before forming an opinion about them. So, I was surprised to hear that Ford joined the advisory board of the Republican Unity Coalition*, a gay-straight organization. While I couldn't find a quote regarding gay marriage or his opinion of the anti-gay constitutional amendment, Ford did support gay couples receiving the same economic benefits of straight married couples. According to

". . . When asked by Price if gay couples should receive the same economic benefits as married couples, such as Social Security and tax deductions, Ford said, 'I don’t see why they shouldn’t. I think that’s a proper goal . . . I think they ought to be treated equally. Period.'. . ."

(Hat tip:
* Isn't it disturbing that groups within the GOP have to strive to unite the party? How can their party unite the nation if they can't unite themselves?

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

ancient Portland (well, mid-1900s)

Jack Bog had a link today to Dan Haneckow's blog, cafe unknown, which has several entries about old Portland. The latest entry, December 4, is about the helicopter Oregon's former alternative daily newspaper, The Oregon Journal, had in 1947. Real interesting pictures. I won't steal Haneckow's images, so visit his blog to see these great ariel photos of 1947 Portland.

(Hat tip: Jack Bog's blog)

totally inappropriate sex videoclip. totally politically accurate. totally hilarious.

Here's a sex clip that was posted on John Aravosis' AMERICAblog. As John said: "It's funny, political, and not even close to work safe. . . ."

Couple roleplays the political way

It graphically represents my thoughts of Bush Jr. and Republicans are doing to the nation.

(Hat tip:

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas 2006

St. Andrew Catholic Church (Picture NOT taken on rainy, gray Christmas Day.)
Originally uploaded by sweber4507.

After all of the shopping rush, wrapping, and planning, Christmas was a good day to relax. I shouldn't make the preparation sound like a burden or hassle. It really wasn't -- I just like to complain. The whole weekend was without incident.

Christmas Eve

Last night, Scott, "Tim", and I exchanged presents at Tim's house and then headed over to St. Andrew Catholic Church for Christmas Eve mass. None of us are Catholic, but we do like a good Christmas Eve church service. It's a tradition I've had with Tim for several years now. In fact, in prior years we've developed a church curcuit "crashing" two to three Christmas Eve services, but we limited ourselves to one this year.

I admit that the liturgy and Eucharist of Catholic services fascinate me -- especially since I was raised in fundamentalist/evangelical churches that disdain "High Church". However, to me, it feels appropriate to acknowledge the history of Christianity on Christmas Eve by attending a more ancient ceremony. I also have to admit that Catholic Christmas Eve services are just more interesting and, yes entertaining, than most protestant services.

I feel a little guilty about "crashing" another community's religious celebration. While I know most churches welcome visitors, I truly have no intention of converting to Catholicism. In fact, I strongly object to the Roman Catholic church's opposition to same-sex relationships (obviously), discrimination against women in the priesthood, its celibacy requirement for its clergy, its opposition to birth control/condoms/abortion, its archaic top-down organization system, and its current/prior handling of its child sex abuse scandals. However, if I were to convert, I think St. Andrew would be the church I would join. This is the second Christmas Eve service we've attended there and the community is always very warm and welcoming. The service emphasized the celebration of Christ's birth with dancers (who we fondly call the Solid Gold Incense Dancers), banners, and upbeat songs. St. Andrew just seems like everything I would want a church to be.

Christmas Day

Today, Scott, ma, sis and I met at Aunt Jean's before having dinner at McMenamins Edgefield's Black Rabbit Restaurant. Dinner was great -- although I wished they had turkey on their menu, but the prime rib was very filling. After dinner, we played three rounds of the movie trivia game Scene-It in which Scott mercilessly defeated all of us in.

Overall, it was a great day.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Richard Cizik evangelical environmentalism / gay scandal

Yesterday, Fresh Air broadcast Terry Gross' interview with Reverend Richard Cizik, Vice President for Governmental Affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals about his attempts to have evangelicals recognize global warming. Cizik seems to be one of the more reasonable evangelical leaders. While he and the NAE are anti-women's abortion rights and anti-gay marriage, he is leading an effort to fight global warming. Since conservative Christians wield quite a bit of power in 'merica, it's good to know that there are a few leaders who are trying to steer conservatives on a more reasonable path.

As a conservative Christian lobbyist and relatively recent (2002) global warming convert, he understands the precarious nature of his position. One of Terry's first questions was about the Evangelical Climate Initiative statement that he personally promoted. In January, some prominent conservative Christian leaders, including James Dobson, forced Cizik to remove his signature from the statement and asked the NAE to not take a position on global warming ( In the Fresh Air interview, Cizik hinted that several conservative Christian leaders have since changed their minds about global warming, but he did not name anyone specifically. (He also mentioned that Pat Robertson unexpectedly changed his mind about global warming.) Cizik said he disagreed with the NAE's decision, but agreed to remove his name. It seems Cizik understands that he can be more effective within the NAE and is willing to make compromises, but he continues his effort to change evangelicals' minds.

As a lobbyist, he says he supports more government restrictions on the release of CO2 and he calls on conservative Christians to be more bipartisan. He recognized that conservative Christian values are being used to bring Republican votes, but Republicans often don't deliver (my paraphrase).

Terry also asked Cizik to reaccount how he learned about then NAE's president Ted Haggard's gay sex scandal. He responded that he was shocked, but still loves Haggard and saw the fall as one person's fall. Terry then pressed Cizik on his reaction that three megachurch pastors have resigned due to gay relationships this year (I know of Ted Haggard and Paul Barnes, but I don't know or remember who the third is). While Cizik is unwilling to compromise his biblical beliefs against homosexual behavior, he gave a sympathetic answer. However, Terry did what she is good at, and re-phrased the question in manner that got to the point. Here's my feeble transcription attempt:

Terry Gross: "I don't mean to sound presumptious here, but is it possible that perhaps the fact that three evangelical leaders had to step down from their positions because of gay relationships that they had, is that perhaps reason to reconsider your position on homosexuality? And here's what I'm thinking, you know I don't mean this to be presumptious, I just wanted to like raise this as something we could talk about. It is possible that these are three people who are just gay? I mean they just are?"

Richard Cizik: "Yes, that's conceivable."

Gross: "And that by trying to deny that, they basically drove their impulse -- they repressed their impulse and drove them into this underground world because, on some level there was like no denying what their real sexual orientation was, but because it was so repressed, it came out in this kind of underground, underworld kind of way . . . "

Cizik: "Well that . . "

Gross: "And you could argue, 'Gosh it would have been so much healthier to have like a, you know, an above ground, loving, caring, open, honest relationship that, you know, would be life affirming?'."

Cizik: "Well I'm not willing to go there. I'm willing to say though that as evangelical Christians, we have to speak clearly to say that not just heterosexual affairs outside of marriage as well as homosexual relationships are sinful. In other words, I'm not going to depart from my understanding of the Bible's teaching about immorality which can be heterosexual or homosexual, but I can say that this ought not to be a sin so great that one, people can't be forgiven or can't be welcomed into the church because of it. And but that's the message that millions have gotten. Namely that we are self righteous people who sin not and therefore, 'don't come to church unless you're perfect'. That's a sin in itself. It's called pride."

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

'Have you had sex with our pastors?'

Originally uploaded by nojam75.

Originally uploaded by nojam75.

Yesterday, Blogtown PDX posted a hilarious article (NSFW) by Dan Savage about New Life Church, Ted Haggard's former church. New Life Church's "overseers" are basically soliciting information about any other lingering sex and other scandals remaining:

"To assist in both the process of Rev. Haggard's restoration and the protection of the Church itself, the Overseers are open to receiving current information relevant to either Rev. Haggard's recovery process or any concerns about New Life Church staff or its leaders. While they cannot promise confidentiality, the Overseers will handle any such information discretely."*

Apparently the overseers are expecting so many tips that they even set-up a webform to collect all of them.


While I think the "overseers"' efforts are probably sincere, their webform is really awkward. After all, if I had been personally involved in a sex (or other) scandal, I don't think I would fill-out a webform that requires name, address, e-mail, phone, a 500-word limit, and states that information will NOT be handled confidentiality and does NOT promise a reply:

"While the Overseers will review any information submitted, please understand that there are a variety of reasons that you may not receive a response, including the fact that they may already be aware of your concern."*

Who is overseeing the overseers? Would it have it been too difficult to set-up a telephone number or even a person to contact? This certainly confirms my doubts about the ability of megachurches to provide meaningful fellowship and to minister to its members.

UPDATE: I stand corrected. The "overseers" had good reason to expect numerous tips. Over a week ago, a second New Life pastor resigned. According to a press release (PDF) issued last night:

". . . On Friday, December 8, 2006, the Director of New Life Church's 24/7 ministry resigned his position, and the Church accepted his resignation. The 24/7 ministry is a young adult leadership training program. This Director resigned because, in meeting with the Overseers, it became apparent that he had displayed poor judgment in several decisions throughout his tenure. This poor judgment included one instance of consensual sexual contact with another unmarried adult several years ago. . . ."*

While the gender and type of sex is really not relevant, it is interesting that New Life seemed to go out of its way to not refer to whether the consensual sex was same-sex or opposite-sex behavior. However, "unmarried adult" implies that Beard had a heterosexual affair since New Life believes marriage is for heterosexuals only.

BTW, according to, another one of Beard's poor judgments calls at New Life probably occured in 2002:

". . . Beard previously made headlines in 2002, when several law enforcement agencies — including a SWAT team — were put on alert after Beard led a 'training exercise' in the church’s parking lot. . . ."

(* Underlines added to quotes.)

Saturday, December 16, 2006


Originally uploaded by nojam75. [Image stolen from Kevin Cook as Miss Texas in Triangle Productions' Pageant.]

On Friday night, Scott and I joined his co-workers at Triangle Productions!'s comedy musical Pageant at the tiny Firehouse Theatre. We were all there to see Scott's co-worker, Kevin (aka Poison Waters), perform as Miss Texas, a semi-finalist in the fictional Miss Glamouresse pageant.

The show was hilarious! The show's small venue required audience participation including five audience members posing as pageant judges. In fact, one blond judge/audience member almost stole the show with her banter with the pageant's MC. There was also a drunk audience member who was too enthusiastic about the show. However, the MC did a great job of improv and wrangling the audience.

The show was a great way to end the week. I'm always amazed how a relatively small show (compared to a blockbuster movie or big stage production) can be so entertaining. I really should go to more local performances.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Portland/Seattle sight-seeing

Originally uploaded by sweber4507.

Originally uploaded by sweber4507.

Originally uploaded by nojam75.

Originally uploaded by nojam75.

Originally uploaded by nojam75.

Originally uploaded by nojam75.

Originally uploaded by nojam75.

Scott's sister, Lacey, visited us this weekend. She has visited Portland before when Scott first moved to town, so we decided to go to Seattle. I haven't entertained very many people from out of town before, so I'm not quite sure what is really interesting or worthwhile for people to see. Also, the weather has been rainy, so that kills many of the outdoorsy sighting seeing like the Columbia Gorge. However, I think we had a good time. Here are some of the highlights:

  • McMenamins St Johns Theater & Pub: (see prior post)
  • Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, Seattle: We started our weekend in Seattle at Paul Allen's Sci-Fi museum inside the hideous Frank Gehry building at the Seattle Center. Outside of Star Trek and maybe Star Wars, I know very little about science fiction, so much of the museum seems obscure. Although Scott and Lacey were excited to see the alien from Aliens. While not as interesting as Star Trek: The Experience in Vegas, it was neat to see Captain Kirk's original captain's chair. They also had the scale model of the original series sets that were used for planning the production.
  • Space Needle: This was a great time of year to do the touristy Space Needle. There were no lines like when we visited last summer.
  • Monorail: A ridiculously short transportation system, the monorail is still a fun excuse to ride the short distance downtown.
  • Pike Place Market: We were too late to see any fish throwing, but we did spend some time at a comic book store and did see the original Starbucks store. The line was too long at the original Starbucks store, but we did manager to visit two other Starbucks earlier that day.
  • Dilettante Chocolates: In the Capital Hill neighborhood, we made sure Lacey experienced our favorite tiramis. Soooo gooood.
  • Elliott Bay Book Co.: On Sunday morning while we waited for the aquarium to open, we had coffee at the Elliott Bay Book Co.'s cafe which is supposedly the inspiration for the coffee shop on Frasier. However, I don't think they promote this association.
  • Seattle Aquarium: The aquarium fed the octopuses chicken drumsticks while we were there. We noticed that all the kids would scream "Dory!" whenever they saw the familiar blue fish.
  • Sungari Pearl: Back in Portland, we ordered Chinese take-out which allowed Lacey more chopstick practice.
  • Portland Art Museum: Scott and Lacey saw the ancient Egypt exhibit at the art museum.

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Illusionist: Grade D

Originally uploaded by nojam75. [Image stolen from]

Scott and I wanted to show his sister, Lacey, one of Portland's pub/theaters. We took her to The Illusionist at McMenamins' St Johns Theater & Pub on Friday. The 1905 Lewis & Clark Exposition building matched the film's turn of the last century setting.

For some reason, there are two turn-of-the-century magician movies out this year with promising big name stars. The other movie, The Prestige, starring Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, and Michael Cain, I have not seen, but I understand that it is about competing magicians. The Illusionist stars Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti, Jessica Biel and is a love story about a poor boy who returns to his home town as a traveling magician and reunites with his higher-class first love. The movie was filmed in the style of an early motion picture with a dim and flickering image, bland cinematography and an obvious plot. I hate trying to guess how a film will end, but this film's storyline was so basic and obvious that I could not help but know how the film was going to end. The movie is 1 hour 50 minutes long, but felt like it dragged on for three hours.

Edward Norton came close to making his magician character, Eisenheim, interesting, but his performance confuses being mysterious with being aloof. In the end, I didn't really care about Eisenheim or his love interest. Giamatti's Chief Inspector character helped salvage the film and steals the climax of the film.

Overall, I would have rather spent my evening watching a different film. Illusion is not a very interesting or mysterious subject since we all know the filmmakers cheated through the use of visual effects. Had the filmmakers made some sort of commitment to viewers to use only believable, turn-of-the-century illusionist tricks, I think the film would have been a little more interesting and compelling.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

hate crime in Vantucky?

Yesterday, I saw a KGW report [clip] about a Vancouver, WA, restaurant that was vandalized with anti-Arab hate graffiti and set on fire. The mediterranean restaurant, Galilee Cafe, is owned by a man from Israel.

I was surprised that there was relatively little coverage of the possible hate crime. However, the Oregonian reports that the one of the suspects told the police that the fire was set for "monetary gain". It seems unfair that to let a comment from a suspected arsonist undermine a possible hate crime victim, but it seems the media reports are handling this case carefully.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Fresh Air: Gay in the Middle East

Fresh Air had an interesting pair of interviews today about being gay in the Middle East. It really puts the gay debate here in perspective. Fortunately, there is some hope the burgeoning GLBT communities in Tel Aviv and Beirut.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

back to the gym

Just for the record: I've returned to the gym. I've never been a fitness fanatic or considered myself athletic, but the guilt and embarrassment was really weighing me down (figuratively and literally).

I stopped going for all of the typical reasons (lazy, unmotivated, work, relationship, etc.). The reality is that I didn't make the gym a priority. Anyways, a few weeks ago a co-worker admitted that he was in the same boat. He stopped going when his gym partner had to stop going. So, last week I bit the bullet and offered to go to be his gym partner.

So far, we've gone Monday and Tuesday night. Fortunately, the good people at 24 Hour Fitness were kind enough to continue debiting my checking account for the many, many months I avoided the gym so I didn't have to worry about re-joining. What's more embarrassing to admit is that I actually forgot where the gym was and took the wrong street (yes, it's been that long).

Anyways, I'm really sore today, but I feel good that I'm getting back into the routine. We may go Friday, otherwise, I promise to go this weekend.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Jimmy Carter is great

Originally uploaded by nojam75.

Today, I've been hearing (NPR's Fresh Air) and seeing (CNN's Larry King Live) Jimmy Carter's interviews about his controversial new book, Palestine Peace Not Apartheid. He admits that the title is purposely controversial.

Admittedly, I know nothing about the Middle East/Israel/Palestine dispute. However, it's always troubled me that the U.S. gives so much monetary, military, and political support to a country that seems to discriminate based on race and religion. The rationalization is that Israel is still better than many of the neighboring countries in the regions.

While I was watching the interview's closed captioning at the gym, a caller to Larry King asked about why not a single-state solution in which Palestinians were recognized as citizens and allowed to vote. Carter's recognized that Israelis would never agree to such a situation because, obviously, the Palestinians would vastly outnumber the non-Palestinian Israelis and take over, but I love that the question was asked and considered.

Contrary to the inept way his presidency is often portray by right-wingers, Carter strongly defends accomplishments and Clinton's Mid East peace accomplishments. It's reassuring to know that after almost six years of Bush, Jr., incompetence, there are still people who believe Mid East peace is possible.

Also, in one of the interviews Carter distinguishes the Bush presidencies as "Bush Senior" and "Bush Junior". I have never heard any other political figure use the senior/junior language. I always assumed there was some kind of unspoken rule against using this language, but Carter seems to use it.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Seattle trip

Originally uploaded by nojam75.

Originally uploaded by nojam75.

Originally uploaded by nojam75.

Originally uploaded by nojam75.

Scott and I took our semi-annual Seattle day trip today. We spent too much time and money at IKEA. Then we hung-out in Seattle. Scott took numerous pictures of Smith Tower.

We got back this evening. It was nice getting out and seeing another city for the day.

Christmas tree lighting

Originally uploaded by nojam75.

Originally uploaded by nojam75.

Scott, Paula, and I went to the Christmas tree lighting "ceremony" at Pioneer Courthouse Square last night. The first 45 minutes we had to listen to the "legendary" Linda Hornbuckle(sp?). While I'm sure she is a great musician -- we didn't really care for her selection of music. Then the has-been group, the Bare Naked Ladies, came up and played two Christmas songs.

After the tree was lit, we got the heck out of there and went to a nearby Starbucks. Ta-da! Christmas has been celebrated.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Michael Richards' apology

A seemingly unedited version of Michael Richards' unpolished and rambling apology on the Letterman show is on YouTube (The abridged version CBS posted doesn't make any sense). Richards' statement seems pathetic and unrehearsed that it seems genuine. He even used the outdated "Afro-American" term. recounts a Richards sighting after the apology in which he is overheard admitting that he doesn't have a PR person to handle the disaster: "I don't have anyone handling this. If I did, I wouldn't have gotten into trouble in the first place." (Obviously this is a rumored remark, so who knows how accurate it is.)

I have to admit that as a long-time Seinfeld show fan, I really did want to believe Richards was genuine and sincere, but Richards offensive remarks seem to go way overboard. During the statement, he momentarily lost my sympathy when he tried to phrase his behavior in the context of the nation's race relations and Katrina, but he steered himself back to his awkward apology. It would be adviseable for Richards to check-in into drug/alcohol or even psychiatric treatment -- even if he doesn't have a diagnosed problem -- because I can't imagine how else he can explain away his remarks.

On a side note, this has to be one of the most awkward television moments ever. Jerry Seinfeld even scolds Letterman's live audience ("Stop laughing. It's not funny.") who were obviously not following the unexpected transition from comedy show to serious interview. Undermining the Letterman segment is that Michael Richards and Jerry Seinfeld are so closely connected to their self-centered Seinfeld characters who were never sincere or serious about anything. Although I intellectually know Richards and Seinfeld are real people seperate from their characters, it was impossible not to see their characters in the Letterman segment.

Monday, November 20, 2006

ExGayWatch exposes Exodus' misleading statements posted this great presentation about Randy Thomas' misleading statement on the Adam Carolla show. Also, Peterson Toscano transcribed a portion of the interview in which Thomas asserts that participants must voluntary participate and that Exodus ". . . respect a person's right to self-determination."

Although it's still early, Exodus and Thomas have ignored EGW's criticism. I would assume their position would be that Thomas was only referring to adult participants and that minors may be forced into their programs under the guise of parenting.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Casino Royale: Grade B

Scott, ma, auntie, and I saw Casino Royale last night. The new James Bond, Daniel Craig, is excellent! This reimagining is along the lines of last year's Batman Begins. A little more serious and less comic bookish. There are fewer gadgets and eye-rolling one-liners and Craig is featured as this film's eye candy. Even during the S&M torture scene, the (one-eyed) bad guy remarked how well Bond worked out.

The only real complaint I have about the film is that it was too long. The Oregonian's critic, Shawn Levy, is right. The new Bond is great, but the movie itself is bloated and one-third of the film could have been edited out.

UPDATE: I also love this movie's Bond song You Know My Name performed by Chris Cornell:

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Portland architecture debate

The PortlandTribune stirred up controversy with its October survey of local architects' and designers' most beautiful and ugliest Portland buildings. The select architects the Tribune surveyed made some very unpopular choices:

Tribune Most Beautiful Buildings:

1. Robert and Ann Sacks home, 2281 N.W. Glisan St.

hawkeye-sacks building
Originally uploaded by jege.

a.k.a. Dosha's NW Portland salon. (This is such an unpopular/unrememberable building that I couldn't find any photos on Flickr or Google image. I think I found one photo using the really cool Flickr maps feature. Dosha has a photo on their website.) I'm sure it's a functional and well-designed building, but I wouldn't call it beautiful.

2. Portland Art Museum, Hoffman Wing

(Again, this building is so unrememberable that I can't find pics to link to.) I actually like the simple design of the Portland Art Museum's main building. However, I'm not even sure what the Hoffman Wing is. Their website said it was added in the 1960s.

The museum's main building has always been dwarfed by the huge and more impressive Egyptian-ish Shriner's building next door. Now that the Shriner's building is part of the museum, the museum has had to install signs to remind people that the entrance is located at the smaller building next door.

3. U.S. Bancorp Tower

pig bink
Originally uploaded by travis ezell.

Although it appears to be just another blocky Portland office building, I do like the pink tower's angles and reflective copper windows and it is a major feature of the skyline. The former US Bank headquarters is less impressive in person though.

4. Belmont Lofts, 3442 S.E. Belmont St.

Belmont Lofts
Originally uploaded by sleevelesshearts.

This is a nice, functional building. However, like the NW Dosha building, it's not very rememberable. It looks like a throwback to the 1950/60s block buildings. Also, I have to wonder how long that wood exterior will last.

5. Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse

Originally uploaded by david owen.

I do like the federal courthouse. Unlike a commercial all-glass office tower, this federal building looks solid and imposing, but also optimistic and futuristic like it plans to be around for the next millennium.

Tribune Most Ugliest Buildings:

1. Wells Fargo Center

Wells Fargo Center
Originally uploaded by

I agree. Portland tallest and universally disliked building dominated the city's skyline for much of the 1970s/1980s. Portland needs just a few more tall buildings to hide this zebra behind.

2. Portland Building

The Portland Building
Originally uploaded by Daly & Daly.

I like this building. I know it's a weird and controversial building, but the City should get credit for trying something different.

1000 Broadway

1000 Broadway
Originally uploaded by JoeCollver.

Again, I disagree with the supposed 'experts'. This is a great addition to the skyline and a pedestrian-friendly building.

Marriott-Downtown Waterfront

Originally uploaded by pdxjeff.

While I would not call this building pretty, I think it should receive credit for being shaped differently than the series of block buildings surrounding it.

Rose Garden Arena

Rose Garden
Originally uploaded by rfduck.

I wouldn't call the Rose Garden Arena ugly, but not beautiful either. It's just like any other arena: big. Also, the artwork thrown around the building like the unbuilt fort and the crown are just pointless.

The Tribune's articles generated a much-deserved outcry from readers, so it ran an article about readers' comments.

Readers' Favorite Buildings

Multnomah County Central Library

Central Branch
Originally uploaded by jensect.

The Central Library's design is classic and functional. In fact, when the building was recently gutted, the floor plans were left relatively unchanged -- at least in the building's public areas.

Jackson Tower

Jackson Tower Portland, OR2
Originally uploaded by Seth Gaines.

I like this building -- although the lighting is a little gaudy. I'm not sure if the its clock even works.

Fox Tower

Fox tower
Originally uploaded by samgrover.

The Fox Tower is still too new to know if it's styling will endure, but I like how it fits into the skyline and it space age features.

Pittock Mansion

Pittock Mansion
Originally uploaded by lindn.

While I agree that the Pittock is beautiful, I think of it as a home -- not a building.

Dekum Building

Dekum Portland, OR4
Originally uploaded by Seth Gaines.

This is probably one of the overlooked Portland buildings, but its a great building.

In addition to the above buildings, here are some of my own picks for beautiful buildings:

Norm's Additional Beautiful Building Picks:

McMenamins' Ringler Annex

Originally uploaded by sweber4507.

I love this tiny, triangular building.

First Congregational UCC

First Congretional Church
Originally uploaded by Aphex Twin.

Most older churches have an unfair advantage when competing against other buildings in beauty. First Congregational has the tallest church bell tower, lovely stain glass, and a great circular interior layout.

Portland City Hall

City Hall Portland, OR2
Originally uploaded by Seth Gaines.

I'm not sure what the architechual style of this building is, but it looks perfect as a city hall.

Justice Center

Multnomah County Justice Center
Originally uploaded by XBearPDX.

Most people don't realize that this prominent building is not just a courthouse, but also the Portland Police HQ and county jail. What I love about the building is how well it hides it purpose.

Telegram Building

Originally uploaded by sweber4507.

I'm not sure what the name of this building is now that it's been remodeled. I think the developers are still trying to find an anchor tenant since the intended tenant, Princeton Athletic Club, went defunct.

Union Station

Originally uploaded by sweber4507.

It's amazing to think that this grand train palace was once a major gateway to the city like the airport is now.

Blitz-Weinhard Brewery

Originally uploaded by sweber4507.

The developers did a great job keeping this industrial building intact -- even keeping two huge tanks that I think may have been converted into rooms. Although, I miss the brewery's smell.

Benson Hotel

Originally uploaded by sweber4507.

Oddly, the telephone company purposely designed their building behind the hotel to match the hotel, while the hotel's own later addition looks like a terrible, stylized modern version. So the adjoining building that most resembles and compliments the hotel is actually a boarded-up telecom.

Bishop's House

Originally uploaded by sweber4507.

Hat tip: Jack Bog's Blog

Thursday, November 16, 2006

downtown churches

Tuesday's PortlandTribune had an interesting cover story about the plight of Portland's downtown churches. I used to attend First Unitarian, Scott and I met at the beautiful First Congregational UCC, and we often admire First Presbyterian Church. I can't say we stopped attending First Congregational because it was a downtown church. While we liked the church and its service, both of us didn't really connect within anyone else there -- not that we're really connecting with anyone at the church attend now. We are both really bad at church socializing -- hence why it took us three months to meet. I suppose we liked the church we attend now because it's much smaller and more intimate than First Cong, its closer to Scott's house, and (admittedly this is shallow) has a later starting time of 11:00 a.m.

I suppose the glaring ommission in the Tribune article is that religious fundamentalism is a major contributing factor in the growing appeal of suburban churches compared with the stagnant/declining sizes of many traditional and theologically careful (and liberal-leaning) downtown churches. Most downtown churches carry traditional mainline denominational baggage (hence all the "First" church names), such as whether to include/exclude gays, whereas many suburban churches are fundamentalist-orientated have already concluded such debates.

More positively, the Tribune edition included an article about First Unitarian which seems to have the opposite problems of the other downtown churches. As a proudly theologically/politically liberal church, it continues to grow, has expansion plans, and is considering adding a third Sunday service. They're currently building on their block and have plans to build a new sanctuary (if they ever raise the money from the admittedly thrift UU members).

I attended First UU for about a year. Although its size was intimidating, I liked its progressive culture and Dr. Sewell is a great pastor. My main reason reason for leaving was that I missed Christian tradition and, again, didn't really connect with anyone.

FRONTLINE: A Hidden Life

I just saw FRONTLINE's report, A Hidden Life about the 2005 sex scandal involving the late Spokane Mayor Jim West. It painted a really sad picture of West's life/career and raised questions about the Spokesman-Review's reporting ethics.

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Simpsons untouchable

The Simpsons producers and writers have made their opinion about Bush, Jr., the Iraq invasion, and the military very clear such the Operation Enduring Occupation in this year's Tree House of Horrors XVII. Last night's episode was about the military's in-school recruitment efforts. There was even a gag about the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal which I even thought was distasteful. The episode went beyond John Kerry's "botched" joke and directly implied that the people who enlist are either Cletus yokels or Homer idiots.

The episode appropriately lampooned the Army's child recruitment efforts. Having lived with a former recruiter, I'm well-aware of how commission-paid, military recruiters target low-income, minority, and otherwise vulnerable youths. Before 9/11, my gay-military-recruiter housemate (long story) and I argued about Portland Public School's policy of prohibiting military recruiters due to its anti-gay hiring practices. He laughably argued that the military was an educational institution and therefore not subject to such restrictions (I'm still not sure how his argument worked). I argued that the military is an employer and PPS had the right and duty to enforce its policy prohibiting discriminatory employers. Now with the military enmeshed in an unwinnable war, I doubt he would even argue the military is an educational institution.

Didn't Walter Cronkite's editorial against the war mark a major turning point in the public's sentiment about the Vietnam war? Twenty-four/seven corporate entertainment news has eliminated the venerable anchorman (with PBS' Jim Lehrer the possible exeption), but the nearly universally watched The Simpsons' criticism of the war and the military has to signal some kind of change in the public's perception. While I'm sure many conservatives disagree with the show's anti-war/anti-military sympathies, I haven't seen any criticism about the episode or this season.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

weekly Classical Millennium trip


Nearly every week, I get to accompany Scott to Classical Millennium (part of the original Music Millennium store). The highlight of this weekend's visit was finding a mildly humorous sign at the Subway restaurant down the street.

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

"Jesus Camp" closes

In other news, the Christianist indoctrination childrens camp featured in the documentary Jesus Camp is apparently shutting down. According to

Organizers of an evangelical summer camp for children featured in the documentary "Jesus Camp" are discontinuing the camp because of negative reaction sparked by the film and recent vandalism at the camp site in Devils Lake, N.D.

"We have decided to hold different activities in future," Pentecostal pastor and camp organizer Becky Fischer said.

While the negative reaction to the camp is understandable, vandalizing a kids camp crosses the line. If ND has any type of hate crimes law, the vandalism should be prosecuted.

Like any good evangelical leader/marketer, Fischer believes God led her ministry into the spotlight. According to her article on the ministry's website:

It all began in 2002 on my first trip to South Africa. My host . . . prophesied boldly: "Becky Fischer, you're going to be on national TV with children who are operating in the supernatural." We got it on tape. . . .

. . . But in the back of my mind I was expecting a phone call someday from TBN or the 700 Club or some other Christian programmer.

Later in her article, she unsuccessfully argues that the film misrepresented the camp as political:

. . . The surprising twist none of us expected to come out of the film was that it ended up having strong political overtones. "How in the world did that happen?" I kept asking myself and them. I have never ever considered anything we do political in any way. . . .

. . . But when we drug out a life size poster of President Bush to teach our kids this scripture, secular eyes saw this as political.

Likewise when we brought out a flag of Israel and taught the kids to pray for the peace of Jerusalem according to scripture (Psalms 122:6 NLT, "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. May all who love this city prosper.") they saw it as political. Without question then when Lou Engle came the last night and shared his vision of praying for the peaceful overturn of Roe vs. Wade (the court case that made abortion legal in the USA) the filmmakers saw a whole new angle to their film. But this is just good Christianity to us! (Psalms 106:38 NLT "They shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters. By sacrificing them to the idols of Canaan, they polluted the land with murder.")

Fischer is apparently naive and/or trying to portray herself as a persecuted Christian. Apparently by sending the evil secular media to her, God wanted to pressure her to shut-down the camp. Or maybe exposing false prophets is just good Christianity to us.

Hat Tip:

We've got political capital and we're going to use it.

After the Republicans won the presidency, House, and Senate earlier this decade, I tried to console myself with the assurance that the electorate always swings back to the uneasy Red/Blue balance. After all, the Republicans are very likely to over-reach. Well, it took longer than I liked, but voters finally decided to reign-in the Republicans and are going back to two-party control of the government.

I've had been looking forward to watching the election returns come in; however, instead, I accompanied Scott to Portland Opera's Faust. It was a great production! The opera was a nice distraction to watching the often misleading initial returns come in. It was very exciting to come out of the opera and hear the news that the US House has been won back.

Locally, I was pleased with most of the state and local election results. It appears the OR House has been won back to the Dems -- creating one-party rule of the state government.

The election I'm watching closely is OR State Representative for the 49th District (East Multnomah County). The incumbent, Conservative Christianist Republican Karen Minnis, used her position as House Speaker to single-handedly block a civil unions bill that had bi-partisan support and the votes to pass. Her challenger, former public radio reporter, Democrat Rob Brading, narrowly lost the 2004 election. Overnight, Brading was leading, but this morning Minnis is ahead by 335 votes.

UPDATE: 11/08/2006 I edited made minor changes to my self-important thoughts above.

Sunday, November 5, 2006

Whirlwind Omaha Wedding


Wow, I just got back from my 48-hour trip to Omaha, NE, to join Scott at Jay and Paula's wedding. On Friday night, Scott picked me up at the airport and drove me through downtown before we arrived at the rehearsal dinner. The dinner was at Gorat's which is an old 1940's formal dining restaurant that has been made famous as billionaire Warren Buffett's favorite steakhouse.

The wedding and reception on Saturday were great. Jay and Paula were married in a traditional Catholic service at Holy Cross and the reception was held at a huge, historic barn. I got to meet and spend a little time with some of the people Scott and Paula often mentioned from their college days. We roomed with Natasha who was very entertaining and friendly. Scott was sorry that we didn't have any time to explore the town or show me some of his favorite places like Runza. However, I'm glad I was able to see the much-talked about wedding.

Scott and I have been awake since 2:00 AM Portland time to catch the plane today, so we're still a little dazed. I wish I took Monday off too so I can catch-up, but oh well.