Thursday, December 30, 2010

The King's Speech: B


THE KING'S SPEECH poster - Polish style, originally uploaded by Sam's Myth.

Scott (in protest), Sheena, Ma, and I saw The King's Speech last weekend after Christmas Day. This movie had all the typical attractions -- British accents, royalty, period setting, WWII, all-star cast -- for the white-haired art house film crowd (although, Judi Dench was somehow not cast). I've become a bit of an Anglophile after watching so much BBC America, so I'm probably rating this movie better than it deserves. It wasn't a ground-breaking movie, but it was enjoyable and the performances were good. The nearly sold-out showing we went even applauded the movie.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

rant: deceptive packaging

photo.JPG
photo.JPG photo.JPG

What the heck?!? Food prices are going up and corporations are screwing-over their customers, but really? Shame on you Ernest and Gallo Winery.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Winnebago Man: B

Okay, I didn't actually leave the house to see Winnebago Man last weekend. I lazily watched it On Demand. Like DVDs, it feels like cheating watching movies at home - especially since it was recently at Cinema 21.

I've seen the Winnebago Man YouTube video, but I wouldn't consider it a top viral video. In the Michael-Moore style documentary, the filmmaker, Ben Steinbauer, is frank about his decision to make a documentary about this particular viral video. He acknowledges the problems the subjects of other viral videos have had such as the Star Wars kid. Profiling corporate video spokesman is probably less problematic than exploiting the possible mental issues of those secretly filmed. It was interesting to learn that the Winnebago Man video was viral years before YouTube in bootleg VHS tapes.

When Steinbauer does track down the "Winnebago Man" Jack Rebney, he finds a well-spoken, crotchety old hermit living in a remote cabin. The documentary becomes Steinbauer trying to reach-out and understand the reclusive Rebney. It is entertaining to watch the young-old conflict that isn't exploitive.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1: C

"Deathly hollows" harry potter tattoo '10

We joined the masses and saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 on Friday night. I admit that I'm not a huge Harry Potter fan. I've never read the books and have only reluctantly seen the prior movies (out of sequence). I can see their appeal and have enjoyed some of the movies, but haven't really followed the overall character arcs or story. Besides a vaguely recollection that the headmaster wizard died, I don't remember any specifics of the prior Potter movie.

Deathly Hallows is definitely not a stand alone movie. It reminded me of a TV series grand finale the way it brought back characters from prior movies. For a seventh movie, it's unfair to consider a movie outside of its franchise. But even within the franchise, Deathly Hallows is one of the weaker Potter movies. It's only been two days since seeing it, but I can't recall anything that stands out as particularly interesting -- which is sad impression for a fantasy movie to have.

What I mainly recall was how the magic premise didn't make sense to me and sounded more like Star Trek techno-babble. The magic in this movie is much less awe-inspiring. For example, the magic wands became mere handguns leading to mundane action movie shootouts. I guess for the first part of the finale, they really didn't need to introduce the magic, but it seems this movie was far less magical and more about wrapping-up loose ends and building-up to the series' end.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

train disaster move weekend

I ended up watching two train disaster movies this weekend:

Disaster On The Coastliner Unstoppable poster (French version)

I was sick on the couch watching bad daytime weekend television (which is somehow worse than daytime weekday television) and ended-up watching the 1979 TV movie Disaster on the Coastliner. The steady, predictable pacing of a 1970s disaster movie was all I could handle with my head cold. Then today, since I felt better, we went to Unstoppable. Oddly enough, both movies feature former Capt. Kirks heroically saving the day.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Red: B


RED, originally uploaded by dodobear1020.

Last weekend, Scott, ma, and I saw Red. We all left the theater with the same review, "That was cute." It was an enjoyable movie: simple story, good pace, with funny moments and a large all-star cast.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

2010 Election Results

ME
WILLA-
METTE
WEEK

OREGON-
IAN

PTLD
MERC

BASIC
RIGHTS OR
NARAL
SIERRA
CLUB
OLCV
CANDIDATES
US
SENATOR
WYDEN WYDEN WYDEN WYDEN WYDEN
WYDEN RE-ELECTED 56% 778k HUFFMAN 39% 541k
US REP
OR 3RD
BLUMEN-
EAUR
BLUMEN-
EAUR
BLUMEN-
EAUR
BLUMEN-
EAUR
BLUMEN-
EAUR
BLUMEN-
EAUR
BLUMENAUER RE-ELECTED 69% 180k LOPEZ 24% 64k
OR
GOV
KITZ-
HABER
KITZ-
HABER
KITZ-
HABER
KITZ-
HABER
KITZ-
HABER
KITZ-
HABER
KITZ-
HABER
KITZ-
HABER
KITZHABER (RE)ELECTED 48% 672k DUDLEY 48% 663k
OR
TREAS
WHEEL-
ER
WHEEL-
ER
WHEEL-
ER
WHEEL-
ER
WHEEL-
ER
WHEEL-
ER
WHEEL-
ER
WHEELER ELECTED 53% 713k TELFER 41% 546k
OR ST
REP 42ND
BAILEY BAILEY BAILEY BAILEY BAILEY BAILEY BAILEY BAILEY
BAILEY RE-ELECTED 84% 20k 9%
METRO
PREZ
STACEY HUGHES HUGHES STACEY STACEY STACEY
HUGHES LEADING 50% 187.3k STACEY 50% 187.0k
EMSWCD
DIR 2
KUEHLER KUEHLER
KUEHLER ELECTED 52% 64k SWEENEY 27% 33k 11% 7%

ME
WILLA-
METTE
WEEK

OREGON-
IAN

PTLD
MERC

BASIC
RIGHTS OR
NARAL
SIERRA
CLUB
OLCV
STATE MEASURES
OR MEAS
70
YES YES YES
E.M.O.: YES

EXPANDS WAR VETERANS HOMEOWNERSHIP LOANS: Updates program to include recent vets.

PASSED YES 84% 1,118k NO 15%
OR MEAS
71
YES YES YES YES YES
LWV: YES

REQUIRES LEGISLATURE TO MEET ANNUALLY: The legislature already meets annually, but has to pretend there is an emergency.

PASSED YES 67% 868k NO 32% 415k
OR MEAS
72
YES YES YES

AUTHORIZES EXCEPTION TO $50K BORROWING LIMIT:

PASSED YES 58% 731k NO 41% 510k
OR MEAS
73
NO NO NO NO NO
E.M.O., L.W.V.: NO

INCREASES MANDATORY MINIMUM SENTENCE FOR REPEATED SEX CRIMES AND REPEATED DUI

PASSED YES 57% 761k NO 43% 574k
OR MEAS
74
YES YES NO NO

ESTABLISHES MEDICAL MARIJUANA SUPPLY SYSTEM:

REJECTED NO 56% 755k YES 43% 587k
OR MEAS
75
NO NO NO NO
E.M.O.: NO

ALLOWS MULTNOMAH COUNTY CASINO

REJECTED NO 68% 908k YES 31% 424k
OR MEAS
76
YES NO YES YES
E.M.O./LWV
YES
YES YES

CONTINUES TO DEDICATE 15% OF LOTTERY PROCEEDS TO PARKS, BEACHES, WILDLIFE HABITAT, AND WATERSHED PROTECTION:

PASSED YES 68% 922k NO 31% 414k

ME
WILLA-
METTE
WEEK

OREGON-
IAN

PTLD
MERC

OTHERS
LOCAL MEASURES
MULTCO
26-109
YES YES YES NO
BOJACK: NO

REPEAL TERM LIMITS

PASSED YES 52% 120k NO 47% 111k
MULTCO
26-110
NO NO YES YES
BOJACK: NO

ALLOW COUNTY COMMISSION TO RUN FOR ANOTHER OFFICE

REJECTED NO 62% 144k YES 37% 85k
MULTCO
26-111
YES YES YES YES

SALARY COMMISSION TO SET SHERIFF'S AND D.A.'S SALARIES:

PASSED YES 76% 166k NO 23% 51k
MULTCO
26-112
YES YES YES YES
BOJACK: YES

RESIDENCY REQUIREMENT FOR COMMISSIONERS

PASSED YES 83% 196k NO 16%
MULTCO
26-113
YES YES YES YES
BOJACK: NO

LIMIT COUNTY ELECTIONS TO FILL VACANCY TO MAY AND NOVEMBER

PASSED YES 80% 187k NO 19%
MULTCO
26-114
YES YES YES YES
TRIB: YES BOJACK: NO

ALLOW FORMATION OF A LIBRARY DISTRICT:

PASSED YES 72% 171k NO 27%
MULTCO
26-118
YES YES YES YES
TRIB: YES BOJACK: NO

FIVE-YEAR 0.005% TAX FOR OREGON HISTORICAL SOCIETY:

PASSED YES 54% 136k NO 45% 115k
PTLD
26-108
NO YES NO YES
E.M.O.: YES BOJACK: NO

PUBLIC CAMPAIGN FINANCING

REJECTED NO 51% 82k YES 49% 77k
PTLD
26-117
NO NO NO YES
BOJACK/TRIB: NO

0.009-0.014%* TAX FOR FIRE TRUCK & RADIO UPGRADES

PASSED??? YES 50% 79.8k NO 50% 79.1k
TRIMET
26-119
NO YES NO YES
TRIB: YES BOJACK: NO

21-YEAR 0.008%* TAX FOR SENIOR/DISABLED BUS UPGRADES

REJECTED NO 53% 241k YES 47% 210k

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

2010 Election Endorsements

ME
WILLA-
METTE
WEEK

OREGON-
IAN

PTLD
MERC

BASIC
RIGHTS OR
NARAL
SIERRA
CLUB
OLCV
CANDIDATES
US
SENATOR
WYDEN WYDEN WYDEN WYDEN WYDEN
US REP
OR 3RD
BLUMEN-
EAUR
BLUMEN-
EAUR
BLUMEN-
EAUR
BLUMEN-
EAUR
BLUMEN-
EAUR
BLUMEN-
EAUR
OR
GOV
KITZ-
HABER
KITZ-
HABER
KITZ-
HABER
KITZ-
HABER
KITZ-
HABER
KITZ-
HABER
KITZ-
HABER
KITZ-
HABER
OR
TREAS
WHEEL-
ER
WHEEL-
ER
WHEEL-
ER
WHEEL-
ER
WHEEL-
ER
WHEEL-
ER
WHEEL-
ER
OR ST
REP 42ND
BAILEY BAILEY BAILEY BAILEY BAILEY BAILEY BAILEY BAILEY
METRO
PREZ
STACEY HUGHES HUGHES STACEY STACEY STACEY
EMSWCD
DIR 2
KUEHLER KUEHLER

EAST MULTNOMAH SOIL & WATER CONSERVATION DISTRICT DIRECTOR AT LARGE 2: Through my work, I know a little bit about this obscure agency; however, I was surprised to see four candidates on the ballot for this unpaid position. Only three candidates managed to get statements in the official voters' guide. And only two candidates responded to the League of Women Voters (PDF). Decidedly, Kuehler is the only candidate with endorsements and a related resumé.


ME
WILLA-
METTE
WEEK

OREGON-
IAN

PTLD
MERC

BASIC
RIGHTS OR
NARAL
SIERRA
CLUB
OLCV
STATE MEASURES
OR MEAS
70
YES YES YES
E.M.O.: YES

EXPANDS WAR VETERANS HOMEOWNERSHIP LOANS: Updates program to include recent vets.

OR MEAS
71
YES YES YES YES YES
LWV: YES

REQUIRES LEGISLATURE TO MEET ANNUALLY: The legislature already meets annually, but has to pretend there is an emergency.

OR MEAS
72
YES YES YES

AUTHORIZES EXCEPTION TO $50K BORROWING LIMIT: I'm still pondering this one. Although Republican legislators voted against this measure, no arguments against this measure were filed and I haven't found anyone recommending a no vote. Apparently this measure changes an 1859 law by allowing the state to obtain slightly lower interest rates by issuing general obligation bonds instead of certificates of participation. Recently, governments have defaulted on certificate of participation, therefore they are riskier and have higher interest rates. General obligation bonds are fully secured by the 'full faith and credit' of the government and are therefore less risky and have lower interest. It seems to make sense. Our state should use all available resources (i.e. taxes, general revenue, etc.) to repay its loans. (djcoregon.com)

OR MEAS
73
NO NO NO NO NO
E.M.O., L.W.V.: NO

INCREASES MANDATORY MINIMUM SENTENCE FOR REPEATED SEX CRIMES AND REPEATED DUI: This seems like a good idea on the surface, but it's unclear what the unintended consequences will be. The state already spends more on prisons than universities. This measure would increase spending $29 MILLION, but doesn't specify where the funds will come from. There has to be a more effective and less costly alternative to warehousing criminals for longer periods.

OR MEAS
74
YES YES NO NO

ESTABLISHES MEDICAL MARIJUANA SUPPLY SYSTEM: The state should control marijuana distribution like it does liquor. This measure is a good start, but it unfortunately doesn't replace the current problematic grow-your-own or find-a-'dealer' system.

OR MEAS
75
NO NO NO NO
E.M.O.: NO

ALLOWS MULTNOMAH COUNTY CASINO: There is no reason Multnomah County should be exempt from the non-tribal casino ban. Worse, the state government (not our county) receives a portion of revenue.

OR MEAS
76
YES NO YES YES
E.M.O./LWV
YES
YES YES

CONTINUES TO DEDICATE 15% OF LOTTERY PROCEEDS TO PARKS, BEACHES, WILDLIFE HABITAT, AND WATERSHED PROTECTION: Yes, it seems appropriate to me to lock-up funds from an essentially recreational activity for the benefit of the environment.


ME
WILLA-
METTE
WEEK

OREGON-
IAN

PTLD
MERC

OTHERS
LOCAL MEASURES
MULTCO
26-109
YES YES YES NO
BOJACK: NO

REPEAL TERM LIMITS: Term limits don't work (see: state legislature). Also, county commissioner is such an unknown office that it is unlikely an incumbent would become politically unbeatable.

MULTCO
26-110
NO NO YES YES
BOJACK: NO

ALLOW COUNTY COMMISSION TO RUN FOR ANOTHER OFFICE: The county's critical problems are too important to have part-time commissioners campaigning for other offices.

MULTCO
26-111
YES YES YES YES

SALARY COMMISSION TO SET SHERIFF'S AND D.A.'S SALARIES: Shifts salary-setting from county board to a salary commission appointed by the county auditor.

MULTCO
26-112
YES YES YES YES
BOJACK: YES

RESIDENCY REQUIREMENT FOR COMMISSIONERS: Fixes current loophole that allows commissioners to move out of county.

MULTCO
26-113
YES YES YES YES
BOJACK: NO

LIMIT COUNTY ELECTIONS TO FILL VACANCY TO MAY AND NOVEMBER: Fixes the current law that would potentially force the county to hold a costly ($400k) and rare March or September election (wweek.com).

MULTCO
26-114
YES YES YES YES
TRIB: YES BOJACK: NO

ALLOW FORMATION OF A LIBRARY DISTRICT: Seems like a routine change. It makes sense for the library system to eventually become separate from the county.

MULTCO
26-118
YES YES YES YES
TRIB: YES BOJACK: NO

FIVE-YEAR 0.005% TAX FOR OREGON HISTORICAL SOCIETY: Certainly a worthy cause, but it is unfair that county residents should subsidize a state non-profit. I changed my mind after reading the measure will provide FREE ADMISSION to Multnomah County residents. That seems like a reasonable offer (the "Oregon" Zoo and other locally-subsidized attractions should consider rewarding local residents).

PTLD
26-108
NO YES NO YES
E.M.O.: YES BOJACK: NO

PUBLIC CAMPAIGN FINANCING: A nice idea, but the City's inept plan has turned into an embarrassing cash give-away. In five years and $1.7 MILLION, the plan has only produced one elected official (not counting the plan's brazen designer). I would support a public campaign financing plan that had more effective safeguards to the public's cash (i.e. limit funds, adhere to City's purchasing rules, etc.). Unbelievably, instead of fixing and fine-tuning the current experiment for the greater public financing movement, proponents instead defend the fraud and waste as well worth the enormous cost.

PTLD
26-117
NO NO NO YES
BOJACK/TRIB: NO

0.009-0.014%* TAX FOR FIRE TRUCK & RADIO UPGRADES: Certainly a worthy cause, but the City should have budgeted for these normal upgrades. This is merely a City scare tactic of putting vital items to a vote while quietly approving discretionary items like the new, unneeded fire yacht, consultants, etc., etc. *(wweek.com)

TRIMET
26-119
NO YES NO YES
TRIB: YES BOJACK: NO

21-YEAR 0.008%* TAX FOR SENIOR/DISABLED BUS UPGRADES: I changed my mind and decided to vote against this tax. It's a worthy cause, but TriMet should be able to cover this cost in its normal budget. TriMet has put rail expansion before the needs of the disabled and elderly. *(lwvpdx.org)

Here are the endorsements I've found so far. I was a little surprised and disappointed that Just Out did not issue any endorsements due to lack of staffing. Also, I can't find Portland Mercury's list either.

UPDATE: I'm surprised the alternative alternative-weekly, The Merc, opposes Measure 74 (marijuana dispensaries) supposedly because the quality safeguards and criminal background requirements may not be strict enough. Their fuzzy headed reasoning doesn't make sense. The current grow-your-own or get-a-'dealer' system certainly lacks any sufficient rules and regulations. Measure 74 would at least give patients an alternative to becoming pot farmers or finding a suspicious unpaid grower. I cynically suspect The Merc really fears this law will eventually lead to the demise of the current murky grow-your-own/black-market system which benefits recreational users' access.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Montreal (part II) and Quebec churches

(More vacation pics. Fantastic photos are of Scott's Flickr collection. The shaking videos are from my iPhone (YouTube).)


Oratoire Saint-Joseph du Mont-Royal
(aka Saint Joseph's Oratory)

MontrealStJoseph13

MontrealStJoseph2

This was my first time seeing this amazing hill top basilica. It was a great place to explore. We quietly watched a service held in the 1917 Crypt Church at the base of the building. The adjacent 1948 Votive Chapel and tomb of Brother André contained candles and crutches of those healed by Brother André. Our occupational therapist friend observed that apparently all the people healed seemed to have used the same size crutch. Coincidentally, Brother André was canonized as Saint Brother André just after our trip.

MontrealStJoseph14

The 1967 Basilica is huge. Apparently, the dome is the third largest in the world and the church is the largest in Canada. We were warned by a native Montrealer that while the view and the church's exterior were beautiful, the interior was not so much. In contrast to the exterior, the interior is modernist/minimalist 60s. The interior style conflicts with the exterior.

The view from the hill top at sunset was terrific. It was a dark and a little windy so we didn't walk through the garden or the small chapel built by Brother André.

One of the strangest sights was seeing pilgrims climb 99 steps on their knees to the basilica. I don't mean disrespect, but it's sort of like riding an escalator next to someone struggling to climb stairs. It felt like we were cheating merely walking up the steps. (Although as an out-of-shape fatty, the stairs were plenty hard.)


Université du Québec à Montréal's Judith-Jasmin Pavilion
(formerly Saint Jacques )

For a city that probably wouldn't miss losing a church building, it's great that this university kept this church's bell tower and ornate entrances.

MontrealDowntown4


Notre-Dame de Québec Cathedral
(aka Our Lady of Quebec City)

During our one full day in Quebec City, we made sure to visit the Notre-Dame de Québec Cathedral in Old Quebec City. Yet another beautiful basilica.

I was a surprised to see large flat screen monitors lining some of the columns like a sports bar (or a tacky megachurch). Tammam pointed out that they were probably to allow those seated in the side aisles to see around the columns.

QuebecOldTown39
QuebecOldTown40
QuebecCathedral1

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Montreal churches (part I)

[Photos by Scott (see blog)]
...This is the first time I was ever in a city where you couldn't throw a brick without breaking a church window...

- often cited Mark Twain In Montreal

Ironically, a native Montrealer we met proudly touted that Montreal was one of the most non-religious cities in North America. Scott and I politely countered that Portland also known for being non-religious. I haven't been able to find comparable statistics. In 2009 Oregon was rank #1 US state in residents with no religious affiliation. Another study somewhere mentioned that Quebec was ranked the worst in Canada for church attendance. It is surprising considering the importance of Catholicism in Quebec's history and the overwhelming number of beautiful church architecture.

As someone who was raised in a fundamentalist (and very anti-Catholic) church that met in a rented gymnasium, the huge ornate churches in Montreal and Quebec are ostentatious and impressive. After first seeing these churches in 2000, I really wanted to attend high church services; however, no church building in Portland can really compare.


Basilique Notre-Dame de Montréal
(aka Notre-Dame Basilica)

MontrealCathedral1
Probably the most ornate sanctuary I've visited, it was the only church that charged a modest $5 tourist admission (no charge for pilgrims) -- which is well worth it.

Tammam mentioned that Celine Dion had a wedding and baptism in this church.
MontrealCathedral3 Scott was upset that the square in front of the church was under construction.
MontrealOldTown24
MontrealCathedral6
The "chapel" behind the sanctuary is just as amazing. Apparently it was quickly rebuilt after a 1978 fire.

Cathédrale Marie-Reine-du-Monde
(aka Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral)

In any other city, this cathedral would be amazing. However, its architectural style pales compared to the other Montreal churches. It's scaled-down version of St. Peter's in Rome reminds me of a Las Vegas tourist attraction. It doesn't help that the building is dwarfed by the surrounding office towers.

MontrealDowntown25_FInal
MontrealBasilica3
MontrealBasilica4

Christ Church Cathedral
(montrealcathedral.ca)

The only non-Catholic church we visited, Scott and I preferred this Anglican church's style and scale. It seemed much more approachable and friendly than the massive catholic churches. The rainbow flag in the sanctuary was a nice touch too.

Also, we learned that an underground mall was built under the cathedral which caused the cathedral to be nicknamed the Cathedral-on-stilts during construction.

MontrealAnglicanChurch8

MontrealAnglicanChurch5

MontrealAnglicanChurch2