Archive for September, 2011

falling rock tap house

When you Google search the phrase “falling rock” you get my website – this one here – but you also get a result for the Falling Rock Tap House in Denver, Colorado.  I’m happy to report that I visited the other Falling Rock last weekend.

The Tap House apparently got its name from the same source I did: namely, those ubiquitous Falling Rock signs you see along the mountain roads of Colorado.  In my case, the name presented itself to me on a trip from Boulder to Crested Butte.  After seeing signs advising me to watch out for falling rocks for six hours, I wondered if that was already the name of a national park.  Turns out there is a Falling Rock Park in LaGrange, Kentucky where you can learn how to scuba dive, but no state or national parks.

I only learned about the Tap House after moving to Portland, making a trip unlikely.  But, as fortune (and careful planning) had it, last weekend brought me to my soul bar.

The other patrons were a little weary of a guy taking pictures at a bar like a tourist at Disneyland, but no one complained.  Live and let live at Falling Rock, whether it be a remote desert park or a LoDo bar.

big plans #5

My friend Aron makes comics.  He makes funny, wry, beautifully drawn comics.  His self-published series Big Plans is about to reach its fifth issue, but he needs your help.  If you’ve got an extra 15 bucks lying around (or 5 or 500), head on over to his Kickstarter page and help fund Big Plans #5.

When I first moved to Portland I had heard this was a cartoonists’ town but I was still surprised at the depth and breadth of talent.  Aron was one of the first cartoonists I met here; he generously traded the Xeric-awarded Big Plans #1 for one of my own meager offerings.  I was quickly and irrevocably drawn in (har) by his sharp dialog and tight, expressive artwork.  It almost didn’t come as a surprise that he has a background in animation.  After buzzing through the first issue I set out to Powells to obtain further sustenance.

Aron writes about his life, sometimes drawing himself and others substituting a wolfman alter-ego.  Each issue is a collection of stories, usually one main tale (like his trip to the Academy Awards) and several one- or two-pagers.  Big Plans #5 will continue this trend I’m sure, but the difference is the size: it will be over 100 pages long with a full-color cover.  This promises to take Big Plans out of the realm of mini-comics and launch it into the hallowed ground of books with spines.

Won’t you help Aron meet his dream?  A small contribution will make a big difference.  Get over to Kickstarter and spend some dough.

friday robots: vista street robot

This flying robot flew low over the Vista Bridge on a misty morning in May.  I was fortunate enough to capture this image before the robot took off.

Where did the robot come from?  Where was it headed?  These are questions more grand than this blog is prepared to tackle.

Have a good weekend, and remember to heed all robots that cross your path.

will i ever rewatch The Phantom Menace?

The internet has been aflame with news related to the recent re-release of all six Star Wars movies on Blu-Ray.  A lively (and often hilarious) series of “reviews” are on Amazon right now for your entertainment.  What do we talk about when we talk about Star Wars?  Is it really the movie (or three, or six)?  Or is it the memory of watching that story for the first time?  My bet is the latter.

My brother and I grew up watching Star Wars on a faded VHS recording of a TV broadcast.  A long, long time ago indeed.  I have a faint memory of seeing Return of the Jedi in the theater.  I slept under Ewok sheets.  My favorite scene was (and still is) the landspeeder chase through the forest.  Am I the biggest Star Wars nerd in the entire world?  Not by a long shot.  But I have always enjoyed watching the movies, even after George Lucas rereleased them in theaters with all the infamous CGI tweaks.  When it comes down to it, they’re fun movies to watch.  Nothing more, nothing less.  I know, stating that on the internet is liable to get me lynched, but that’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it.

This latest re-re-re-release begs the question: will I watch The Phantom Menace ever again?

I was not alone in being excited by the prospect of a second Star Wars trilogy.  Like any good story, you don’t want it to end.  Add to that the fact that Darth Vader would be the main character of the series, and Lucas was assured of my attendance opening night.
Oh, the anticipation.  A group of us drove from the small town in Ohio where we were supposedly attending college to the regional mall and theater.  The moment the opening fanfare played, I was hooked all over again.  After The Phantom Menace ended, we wandered out into the night, happily dazed at the spectacle of light and sound we had just experienced.

Over the course of the next weeks and months, I was in denial that maybe, maybe that movie sucked.  What happened, exactly?  And why was Darth Vader such a little annoying brat?

Denial led to anger, then acceptance.  Mostly I felt duped.  I had spent far too much time anticipating this new chapter, only to discover it was a turd.  I watched the next two prequels and, as a result of my newly-lowered expectations, enjoyed them for what they were.  I had to separate the experience of watching Star Wars as a kid from the college-aged me watching these new movies.

The integrity of the original three movies, by the way, remains intact.  Yet the Phantom Menace looms over the whole series like a vomit-specked hobo.  Does George Lucas expect us to watch all six Star Wars movies in a fantastic nerd marathon, The Phantom Menace first?  It’s the worst one!  How is anyone supposed to suffer through this complete failure of storytelling and think it will get any better?

My advice, then: It gets better, kids.  It only gets better.