Friday, June 23, 2017

Pizza & Pinolo.

I have been behind in documenting our Restaurants o' the Month, and to get back into it, I want to highlight two star performers of this year so far. These are two places that we have already RETURNED to for a second visit because we liked them that much. This doesn't always happen with Restaurants o' the Month because there are always so many new things to try and time, it is short. And also we are not that rich. I am also choosing to focus on these two because I could make an alliterative title for this blog post. Alliteration: just so pleasing!

They also both happen to be on Division Street, like everything else in the world these days. And they both have Italian roots. Basically, there are a million reasons why this blog post makes sense. Or at least three really solid ones.

The first is Scottie's Pizza Parlor.


The pizza options in Portland these days are LEGIT OVERWHELMING. And if you're a snooty East Coaster like Kathy, Manda, and myself, and are used to huge, cheap, greasy slices of New York style pizza from tiny, poorly lit stores that exist in every decent Northeastern city, you might be inclined to say that Portland pizza is way too fancy for its own good and just doesn't compare. MIGHT be inclined. I am personally inclined to say that pretty much all pizza is good pizza. But there is something special about Scottie's: the kind of pizza that's so perfectly greasy, with the right amount of thin crust, and a texture and softness to the cheese that all equals to each bite practically melting in your mouth. And that is the kind of pizza an East Coaster can REALLY get behind!

I got a slice of pepperoni and a bianca, and both were EXCELLENT CHOICES.

Scottie's also has cannoli, which is rare in Portland. They're no Mike's Pastry or anything, BUT they are pretty darn yummy and covered in pistachios, so, yes please. In addition, Scottie's seems to be run by good people who are committed to treating their employees well. They also became famous during Portland Pizza Week this year for making a pizza that had FOR REAL ONE HUNDRED DIFFERENT CHEESES ON IT, which set a world record, and for which I will have FOMO for the rest of my life. Unless they do it again. In which case that last sentence will seem perhaps a bit overblown.

Plus, they have signs like this on their windows, and I pretty much always appreciate signs like this these days. 


And if you're not full on cannoli, what's the perfect way to follow up some fine pizza? GELATO, THAT'S WHAT.

Gelato: molto Instagrammable.

Pinolo Gelato is another relatively recent addition to Division, and it's easy to miss among all the other new shiny businesses, but you. should. go. It's just down the street from Salt & Straw, and while I do think a visit to Salt & Straw is vital if you're visiting Portland, Pinolo is not nearly as crowded and deserves just as much praise. 


You can get up to four flavors in a large cup, and I mean, YOU SHOULD GET FOUR FLAVORS. I am particularly obsessed with both their hazlenut and pistachio. SO. GOOD. On my second visit, I also tried their seasonal strawberry sorbetto, and it was OUT-STANDING. Truly magnificent. 

I think one of the reasons I seem to constantly be craving Pinolo these days is that I follow them on Instagram, and wouldn't you know, every time they post something, I want it. CURSE YOU, SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING. So easy to sway ice cream obsessed minds these days.

I just realized Scottie's probably has an Instagram, too. I am probably going to follow it. Dammit.

Scottie's Pizza Parlor: 2128 SE Division (between 21st and 22nd); open 11:30-9 every day; available by the slice or pie. Delivery in local neighborhoods.

Pinolo Gelato: 3707 SE Division (between 36th and 37th); open 11:30-10:30 every day (summer hours). 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Leggings.


During my first year working at my Dream Job, I wore a lot of tights. Looking back three years later, I can scarcely believe I put myself through this torture, but it felt like the right thing to do at the time. I have never in my life met a pair of tights that fit me, that were comfortable, that didn't roll up into a fat wad underneath my belly the minute I started walking in them, slowly sagging down my thighs for the entirety of the anxiety inducing day. But I wanted to make a good impression at Dream Job, and I thought actually dressing professionally was part of it, and I couldn't find good dress pants that fit me, either, and I'm not that great at shaving my legs, so, tights it was. 

Last year I discovered the dream of leggings and I have never gone back. One decent skirt + leggings = boom, a lifetime of semi-professional comfort. Even though most days my regular black or heather grey pairs go the best with my outfits, I bought a bunch of other leggings just to make me happy. Stripes! Polka dots! Floral designs! Collecting leggings, even if I don't regularly wear half of them, feels fun and liberating.

Leggings are also the go-to fashion choice for most teen and tween girls these days, much to the chagrin of adults everywhere, apparently. Really, it seems like leggings are in style for everybody, but it's just teenage girls that we want to obsess over and criticize, as is our American way. We have spent more time discussing leggings at some of my school staff meetings this year than we have about, oh, I don't know, the needs of special ed students. At the beginning of the year at the high school where I work, the administration tried to ban leggings and a group of girls immediately started a petition online. Thankfully, the high school realized they didn't want to fight about leggings all year and gave in pretty quickly. At the middle school where I work, it continues to be a bigger issue. Are they wearing a shirt over the leggings that reaches the tips of their fingers, long enough to cover their butt? Can you see their underwear? Are the leggings too tight? If any of these answers are unsatisfactory the girls are handed a pair of sweatpants and allowed to stay at school. I have a lot of feelings about this, some of which I have expressed. Speaking up at Dream Job is hard sometimes, but I'm trying to feel less self-conscious about doing it, especially when I know, in the most solid part of my gut, that adults are being ridiculous.

Honestly, sometimes you can see a girl's underwear through her leggings. Maybe she realizes it, maybe she doesn't. Either way, I don't think we should care. Almost every single girl I see wearing leggings looks comfortable and happy. Just like I am comfortable and happy when I'm in leggings. Because being comfortable makes you happy. 

While I love my leggings, I've never gone out in JUST leggings, as so many of the teen girls around me do, without any skirt or dress to cover most of myself up. But today when I got home and took off my skirt, I realized I still liked how I looked without it. It was kind of a plain outfit--neutral tones, but the long shirt and longer sweater were comfy, and the skinny striped leggings particularly so. It's Wednesday, which means bar trivia night, a place where I never feel judged. So I thought, what the hell. Let's do it! Let's not cover up these thighs with an extra layer of fabric. Let's just go out like this.

And I was so comfortable all night. I felt as comfortable sliding off my bar stool as I felt curling up in my favorite chair when I got home, and there was something freeing in that. I eliminated that step, of taking off my jeans and breathing out all that my jeans had been confining in, of taking off whatever I had worn that day and letting myself just be again. Instead, I was able to just be out at the bar, too. And it was okay. When I got home and took these pictures in the poor light of my bathroom, I even thought my belly sticking out over those thinly veiled thighs looked kind of cute. I'm excited to wear this outfit again.

How comfortable we are in what we're wearing can affect our whole mood, our effectiveness at work, our everything. Tomorrow I'll put a dress on over my leggings again. But tonight, I'm grateful for the small bit of confidence I stole from the beauty and wisdom of teenage girls.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Some random Doctor Who thoughts.

Five years ago, I was working this tutoring job that was starting to wear on me. I worked at a middle school that was close to my apartment, a middle school I still have very fond feelings for, even when it did make me weary. Tutoring didn't pay that well and I had wonky hours. Some days, I started late morning, and some days I had a gap in the afternoon between classes when I was able to run home and grab some lunch. This was also the year I started watching Doctor Who. 

I binge-watched the first few seasons of the new generation of Who, but all in totally wrong order. I started with the Matt Smith years, since he was the current Doctor at the time, and then I went back to Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant to catch up, but even those I watched out of order. While normally I am a very chronological type of person (see: I am a librarian), I enjoy that I immersed myself in a backwards way in this one instance. Because, after all, Doctor Who is very timey-wimey.

When I was feeling particularly tired about my job or questioning my life choices during that time in a particularly melancholy way, I threw myself entirely into the Whoverse. A good Doctor Who ep is totally immersive--you can't watch and surf social media on your phone at the same time (a habit I practice far too much these days), or else you will have no idea what's happening. I spent my mornings and my afternoon gaps watching episode after episode. Getting into them usually made it that much harder to drag myself back to school. 

Looking back now, I view my tutoring years positively--a lot of the stuff I learned at that tough school is still elemental to how I feel about teaching today. But I also look back fondly on all those hours spent watching Doctor Who when I just really didn't want to go back to the real world. Doctor Who is a special show in general, but finding a good escape when you really need it always feels special and deeply personal. And even though I know Doctor Who is one of the most universally loved shows of all time--I had no idea five years ago, because I was way behind the times, how much nerd cred it would give me with kids--my relationship with it felt special and deeply personal.

Which is why it's a bit of a bummer that I haven't felt that special connection with it for quite a while. I know there are a lot of think pieces out there about why this might be, but I'm not overly-analytical about it. I'm out of touch with the hardcore fan base. I don't necessarily love Steven Moffat, but I don't think he's ruined the show. I actually do really like Peter Capaldi as a Doctor. I always want to keep watching, but sometimes I don't watch as closely. I don't miss it too much when it's gone.

However! I've started watching the newest episodes that began airing last month, and I liked Billie straight away. And this is not just because she's the first openly queer lady-of-color companion! Although that is of course a big plus!! I especially liked the second episode, Smile. It felt like classic Who: this interesting idea about a future world, an idea that seems plausible and bright and shiny at first, with funny, campy robots/aliens. I loved their ridiculous emoticon faces. The audience is told right away how this bright and shiny place is in fact laced with scary evil and desolate heartache caused by human hubris, duh, but it takes Billie and the Doctor a little longer to figure that out. And waiting for them to figure it out, and having no idea what they're going to do to fix it, makes for such good TV.

So as I watch Season 10, some of my Who feelings are coming back. And while I probably won't ever reach my binge watch immersion feelings of five years ago again, I want to write some of my thoughts and feelings down. These will be very random and I'm going to limit myself to five to start with, because frankly, I've already said a lot of thoughts in this post.


1. Clara Oswald. Eh?


I think one of the biggest anchors behind my Who ambivalence (Whobivalence?) the last few years is that I never truly connected with Clara. 

At first, I thought her storyline was going to be fascinating. How had she already appeared on so many timelines in the Doctor's life, without any memory of them? Who, or what, WAS she? So much potential for backstory and twists and intrigue! But I feel like for large spans of time we forgot that her story was timey-wimey at all. 

In general, a companion is only truly compelling when there is more to their story than just their adoration of the Doctor. They have to be their own full, complex human being. Which is probably why the only episodes where I felt totally into it over the last few seasons were when Clara was developing her relationship with Danny Pink. This is not to say that Clara didn't have any meaning without a dude at her side, of course, but Danny was a great character. And when he was gone, Clara just...didn't have any of her own stories anymore. And while I don't have any negative feelings towards her or Jenna Coleman's acting, she felt almost too perfectly plucky, too adorable and charming, too close to a Mary Sue. I liked her--I just never loved her. And maybe I have to watch her final episodes over again to truly understand what was happening, but I feel like there were just so many unanswered questions about who she was and what her purpose was.

This also makes me slightly apprehensive about Billie. I know we're only three episodes in, but other than knowing that she's queer and pretty pumped about her new life aboard the TARDIS, we know absolutely nothing about her. Yes, I like her a lot so far, but you better give her some character development stat, Doctor Who, or else I'm gonna be real sad.


2. David Tennant is the best Doctor, forever and ever amen.


I mean, I feel like this is practically cannon at this point. He is just the best! I want to do a re-watch of some of his seasons but it might be too emotional. He didn't want to go. :(

Kathy watched Jessica Jones a few months back and it traumatized me how evil and scary he was on that show. I know David Tennant has been on a lot of things, and plays evil and scary really well, but I REJECT IT EVERY TIME. He is the Doctor. The best one. And that is all.


3. I still miss Donna.


I know Donna was only the companion for one season, but I still feel like she's overlooked. I only know of one other person who loves Donna the way that I do. A lot of people think she's even (gasp) annoying. But I loved her from the very first second! From the very first second to the very end, she is the companion that gives the Doctor the most shit, that has just as much verve and sass and confidence as he does, and not in a I'm-so-cute-and-subservient way, but in a I-am-just-as-important-as-you-okay way. And funny! Like in the screencap above, I can't remember anything else that happened in that episode but I do remember that scene being HILARIOUS. And her grandpa, ugh, don't even get me started. Wilfred. :( 

I also attest that Donna's ending as a companion was the most gut-punching, unfair, heart-wrenching ending of all time. YES, EVEN WORSE THAN ROSE'S. I SAID WHAT I SAID.


4. Blink v. The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon


Blink (Season 3) is undeniably the most famous episode of all the new generation episodes, and for good reason. It is scary AF, yes, but it is also just such a finely crafted episode. A perfect stand-alone mystery from start to finish. GOD, it is good. Mind-blowingly so.

BUT. The first episodes I ever watched were the back-to-back Season 6 openers, The Impossible Astronaut and Day of the Moon. And I remember being pissed at all my friends who told me Doctor Who was just full of time travel and whiz bang fun, because this shit was TERRIFYING. I just remember that creepy faceless astronaut scaring me SO BAD, and those stupid lines on their arms and faces. Nopey nope nope nope.


5. I still have no idea what happened on The Name of the Doctor.


I know that it was fun having so many Doctors together. Seriously, that was hella cool. But the rest, man. I....have no idea. Like, okay, who was John Hurt again? And just like...what the eff was happening?

Five random thoughts went by fast. I haven't even mentioned River Song yet! OR how much I want Sue Perkins to be the next Doctor after a genius stranger on the Internet implanted the idea in my brain. So many other random thoughts to vomit out into the void! Hopefully, if Season 10 goes well, all these random thoughts that other people have likely articulated much better in think pieces somewhere on the Internet already, well, I'll write them down anyway soon!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Fave Five: High Desert Spring Break.

Eastern Oregon is overwhelming in its vastness. It is full of wide open spaces, room to make big mistakes. But it's also not just a sage brush prairie. There are mountains and hills and gaping canyons that come out of nowhere. It's desert and forest and lava fields. And a whole lot of cows. A LOT.

But no matter what it is, it is big, incomprehensibly so. And mostly empty. An emptiness that leaves me feeling awed and slightly uneasy. But it is really, really pretty. 


We took a two and a half day road trip at the end of my spring break this month to see some of it. As we do with road trips, we crammed a whole bunch of stuff into a short period of time. Here are some of my favorite parts of the trip, in an absolutely random order.

5. Shaniko.





Our first stop on the Journey Through Time Scenic Byway (we REALLY LOVE a scenic byway) was the "ghost town" of Shaniko, Oregon. There were a bunch of old timey shacks and civic buildings and such that are a tourist draw in the summer, but at the beginning of a very chilly April, it was almost an actual ghost town. We did see a few other people but not many, starting a theme for the whole vacation, really. Still, cheesy tourist trap or not, it was a really fun spot to take pictures, AND we got to meet a friendly dog named Sadie. Win-win!

4. The High Desert Museum.


Visiting the High Desert Museum outside of Bend, where we headed for our last day, was a literal last minute decision after other outdoorsy plans were nixed due to it snowing outside. Because it snows in the high desert during spring break! FYI! The High Desert Museum is a little pricey to get in (although they take AAA discounts!) but it was awesome and totally worth it. You get a bunch of history and edumacation stuff, including a particularly good wing dedicated to high desert/plains American Indian culture, which is markedly different from the coastal nations that you most often see associated with the Pacific Northwest. There is currently another exhibit about the high desert during World War II, where I learned a bunch of stuff, including some particularly terrifying things about the Hanford Nuclear Site. Hoooooly shit. It is incredible that at 33, I am still learning new stuff about World War II. 

What makes this museum unique though is that there is also wildlife to see, and a ton of it! We watched a badass peregrine falcon demonstration, and did you know that peregrine falcons can fly over 200 miles per hour, making them the fastest animal on the planet, because they can and they are! We also saw owls, eagles, tortoises, snakes, lizards, a porcupine, and a bobcat. A BOBCAT!

And we saw this amazing band playing old timey folk songs, which made us feel real peak white people.

3. Fave Food: Little Pine Cafe and Spork.


Welcome to me not-so-sneakily squeezing more than one thing into a single number on this list; it is about to get even more ridiculous when I get to number one!

We stayed one night in Mitchell, a tiny town in the middle of nowhere where we constantly worried about our survival, either from ghosts in the one hotel in town in which we were the ONLY GUESTS, or from the other folks in town who were REAL BIG FANS of open carry laws. BUT the one place in town where we definitely felt the happiest and most welcome was the Little Pine Cafe, also known as the Mitchell Stage Stop. The food here was standard American diner fare: burgers, sandwiches, salads, but everything we got was really good and the waitress was really friendly. And we learned that in Eastern Oregon, you take friendliness where you can get it. Even though we were, unsurprisingly, the only customers, it was a really cute space and we didn't feel uncomfortable at all. And their homesqueezed lemonade was STELLAR. 

Somehow we did survive our stay in Mitchell, even with Manda's Hillary sticker still on her car and Kathy's queer haircut. For this, I consider myself blessed.


Back in Central Oregon in a town where we didn't feel like we might get shot if we spoke positively about Obama, we ate at Spork in Bend, a food cart turned hip brick and mortar restaurant. And like all food carts turned brick and mortar, the local residents seemed evenly split on their Yelp reviews about whether this place was even more awesome now or TOTALLY SOLD OUT. Luckily, we are not locals, so I can say without any anxiety about how cool I am or not that it was neat and delicious and I really enjoyed it! While I got the spicy Korean chicken because like any red blooded millenial it is hard for me to say no to spicy Korean chicken, everything on their menu looked great and I would love to go back. 

Having been to Bend a few times now, I think the area where Spork is, on the west side of the Deschutes along Newport Avenue, is one of my favorite places to be. It's just down the street from Chow, which is also delicious, and a few blocks north of 10 Barrel Brewing on Galvelston. Of course, I think this area of town is newer, more manicured than older parts of Bend, but that's the nature of the beast with Bend--so much of it is new and manicured that as an outsider it's hard to figure out what's authentic, or rather what authentic even means, making Bend both really cool but kind of weird. While this can probably be said of any town in the West these days, it seems particularly true here. 

Anyhoo, Spork was great! And ALSO had good lemonade! Well, mint limeade, actually, but close enough!

2. Alpacas at Crescent Moon Ranch.




One great thing about having a friend like Manda is that she will always make you stop anywhere it looks like you might be able to pet animals, and it is ALWAYS WORTH IT. Crescent Moon Ranch is just north of Redmond near Smith Rock, and even though getting in and out of it almost gave me a heart attack because it's right off this section of 97 that has WAY TOO MANY CARS WHY ARE THERE SO MANY CARS, 10/10 I would go back again. You can buy feed in their store and then give it to ALL THE ALPACAS. They are so cute and so soft and they don't really like you except for the food and they might spit at each other or at you if you give the food to the wrong alpaca instead of them but gosh they are the best.

1. The John Day Fossil Beds.




A) Clarno Unit.

The John Day Fossil Beds were the real purpose of our trip. They are a national monument spread over three distinct units, with many miles between them all, full of geology and science and history and diverse landscapes. We hit all three and they were equally fantastic. The first one, heading west to east, is the Clarno Unit, these hulking cliffs that come of nowhere from the rolling hills surrounding them. 

We only walked part of one of the several trails here. It was full of placards that told you about the things that happened millions upon millions of years ago to make those cliffs, when there were no Cascade Mountains and the Northwest was basically a jungle, and it was at this point that I realized my small human brain cannot comprehend what millions and millions of years ago even means. Time + Earth = WHAT.






B. Painted Hills.

The middle unit of the John Day Fossil Beds, Painted Hills, is the most famous of all three for a reason. It is out of this world. Much of the landscape makes you feel like you are legit on Mars, or at least the closest thing most earthly mortals can imagine of Mars. A lot of the hills look so soft and smooth and inviting that you just want to throw yourself upon them, but DON'T DO IT. The rock that forms these otherworldly formations and striations has been here, again, for millions upon millions of years, and much of the landscape is so fragile and protected that while there are a number of trails here, most of them are relatively short and limited, including some boardwalk trails. You know, so that us humans can't eff up this magnificent place too much. *ahem* AND THIS IS WHY WE NEED THE NATIONAL PARK SYSTEM.





C. Sheep Rock Unit.

The biggest of the three units and the furtheast east, closest to the actual town of John Day, is the Sheep Rock Unit. It's also the hardest to describe. It is surrounded on both sides of Highway 26 by an incredible canyon, and then once you turn into the heart of the unit, there are sweeping landscapes of sage covered valleys and peaks that are just...breathtaking. The kind of landscape where you turn off the music in the car so you can sit in silence and fully take it all in. 

There is also a great visitors center here, the Thomas Condon Paleontology Center. You can walk through a rather impressive exhibit about the natural history of the area, where I learned about a bunch of ancient animals that apparently roamed this place that I had NEVER EVEN HEARD OF BEFORE. You can also watch REAL PALEONTOLOGISTS AT WORK through a glass window like you're in a scientist zoo! In addition, there's a small theater where you can watch a 20 minute video about the John Day Fossil Beds. We debated where the exact copyright of this video fell, although I feel pretty strongly that it was between 1990 and 1994, but whatever it was, it was fantastic! There is nothing I like more than a video at a national park visitors center! 

Manda and I also purchased National Park Passports here and got to stamp it THREE TIMES, once for each unit. Best day ever!

There are a ton of trails and things to see at this unit, but a storm was blowing through all of Oregon this day and it was so cold and windy that you could barely function outside for more than five minutes. In a way, this was good, because now I have more of an excuse to go back.

Some photos are just made for a harsh Instagram filter.

Man, that was fun to write. But now I miss vacation even more. Why can't every day be a day for exploring? 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

My Fave Comics of 2016.

One of my last real posts on here was about the Year I Got Real Into Comics (2015). 2015 really isn't that long ago, but looking back at that post, I remember how insecure I felt walking into a comic store, like someone was going to call me out for not belonging there. Now, my comic store is one of My Places. And while it's an extremely irresponsible part of it, picking up my pull list now feels like an essential part of my monthly budget.

I know we're well into 2017 already, but I do what I want, so here are my top five comic reads of 2016.


5. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl
Ryan North & Erica Henderson
Marvel

Goddamn, Squirrel Girl is delightful. She is the goofiest, most lovable, nerdiest, most truly all-age comic there is right now, all due to the goofy, nerdy, lovably Canadian Ryan North. I would read anything Ryan North writes, because it's hard to be in a bad mood while reading anything Ryan North writes. 

If you didn't know, the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is half girl, half squirrel, which gives her the power to EAT NUTS AND KICK BUTTS. She is also a computer science major college student, with an amazing best friend and roommate, Nancy, and an adorable squirrel sidekick named Tippy Toe. While she does, as aforementioned, have the power to kick butts, the truly lovable part of Squirrel Girl is that she almost always takes down her adversaries through logical conversation, empathy, and non-violent persuasion. 

I do admit that sometimes I put off reading my issues of Squirrel Girl these days if I'm looking for a quick read, because reading all the footnotes North includes on nearly every page requires more time and patience, but at the same time, the footnotes? Best part.


4. Patsy Walker, AKA Hellcat!
Kate Leth & Brittney Williams
Marvel

The first thing you need to know is that Kate Leth and Brittney Williams = DREAM TEAM, so there is no way you can go wrong with this comic.

The second reason that I like this comic, about a superhero who's trying to go low key in life by starting a temp agency for reformed superheroes (but who obviously gets caught up in a lot of superhero-ing anyway), is because of her gang. I just really love a good ensemble cast. After all, Buffy is nothing without her Scoobies. And the ensemble of Hellcat is particularly strong, and also particularly queer and feminist! I am OBSESSED with Ian and Tom (PARTICULARLY TOM), who are pretty regularly at her side, but her BFF is She-Hulk, and Jessica Jones is there a lot, and as illustrated in the cover above, a bunch of other amazing Marvel Universe ladies show up from time to time, including America Chavez (swoon). Plus, cats are the best.

Kate Leth has announced that this current revival of Hellcat will be coming to an end this year, which breaks my heart a little, but alas, such is the world of comics. 


3. Goldie Vance
Hope Larson & Brittney Williams
Boom! Box

Goldie Vance, and how much I loved it, was my biggest comics surprise of 2016. There are no superheroes here, just the charming antics of Goldie, a mischievous, sleuthing teen who works as a valet driver at a resort hotel in Florida in the 1960s. I've learned I really dig the hotel-as-primary-setting storyline set up (see also: Jane the Virgin), and there's something about the shiny, clean art style of Brittney's in this one that's really satisfying. This was originally just going to be a one story, few issues arc, but I am so glad it was successful and Boom! Box kept it going. 

This comic is all about Goldie solving mysteries and living her best life. The first arc involves solving a mystery for a hotel guest, and the second arc delves into the life of her best friend, Cheryl, who works the front desk at the hotel and dreams of being an astronaut. The third and current arc is all about cars, which I'm not as into, but it's still great having a comic out there about a girl who really loves cars. Goldie also has total googly eyes for side character Diane, which makes sense because Diane is a stone cold fox. 

This happens to be my only non-Marvel comic on this list, which is a little misleading because I increasingly love almost everything Boom! Box puts out. Their books are all-age gifts of goodness with huge heart, and I can't wait to keep following their work. Thank you, Shannon Watters, editor lady!


2. Ms. Marvel
G. Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona/Takeshi Miyazawa/A Whole Buncha Artists
Marvel

While I still read most of the comics I included on my 2015 list, Ms. Marvel is the only one that's making a reappearance on this one. And that's because Ms. Marvel continues to be, simply, the best. Issue after issue, arc after arc, I am still in love with Kamala Khan. She had a real rough year this year, especially with all that Civil War II junk, and my heart wishes that she could go back to just hanging out with Bruno at the Circle Q and superhero-ing, you know, sometimes. :\ And honestly, I forget all the different superhero leagues that she's supposedly a part of now. But it's her continuing, mounting struggle between who she is as Kamala Khan and who she is as Ms. Marvel that makes her story, like so many superhero stories before her, compelling and heart-wrenching. Still. Bruno. :\

I particularly liked the issue last year where she went to Pakistan, and wish they had made that a full arc instead of a single issue story, but perhaps she'll return one day. My only complaint about Ms. Marvel is that while G. Willow Wilson has held steady for a few years now, I feel like they've rotated through guest artists A LOT, and it throws me off sometimes. I don't mind a guest artist now and then, but when it's too often, it really does affect the consistency of the reading experience.


1. Spider-Woman
Dennis Hopeless & Javier Rodriguez
Marvel

I jumped into Spider-Woman without knowing much about her, but I'd heard such good things and was intrigued by the pregnant superhero storyline. Many issues later, I am just consistently blown away. It's the most stereotypical superhero comic I read (although in many ways, not, because again, the pregnancy thing), but man, Dennis Hopeless and Javier Rodriguez just know what they are doing. I'm still relatively new to the world of comics, but after a few years in, reading this comic feels like watching the work of masters. 

Jessica Drew is so deeply flawed, and so deeply stubborn, but you still love her to death anyway. She is fiercely independent and fiercely resilient at the same time that she is deeply human. And, she is sexy af. At all times. I love her friendship with Captain Marvel (ALSO SEXY AF) and I love her friendship with Roger. (ROGER! ~heart eyes~) The balance of action and character development is just right.

I also read and enjoyed the Spider-Women crossover event last year, which involved picking up some copies of Spider Gwen and Silk, and getting to know them and their back stories was enjoyable, as well. Silk in particular I could potentially read more of. But egads! So many comics, so little time. And money.

Honorable Mention this year goes to the Lumberjanes/Gotham Academy crossover by Chynna Clugston Flores and Rosemary Valero-O'Connell (Boom! Box/DC). It took me a while to get into the art and concept of these two similar yet very different books coming together. Like, it makes total sense to put them together, but at the same time, it's hard to actually execute. Seeing all the characters together still felt a little clunky and weird throughout because it is just a goshdarn LOT OF CHARACTERS to put together. But I ended up really digging the storyline, which made it all worth it in the end.

Already in 2017 there are so many new series that I'm jazzed about (America! Lady Hawkeye going solo!) that I can't wait to make this list again next year. COMICS! ~flexes bicep like Jessica Drew~

Monday, April 3, 2017

Fave Five: Mom's visit.

My mom and her BF were in town last month over the course of a couple weekends. Even though February isn't the best of months to visit Portland (especially this winter), we were still able to squeeze in a lot of good stuff. And I'm committed this year to getting back to writing down the good stuff. Here are five highlights:

5. Wine and Girl Scout Cookie pairing at Hip Chicks Do Wine


Listen up, y'all. Even when it feels like the civil world as we know it is crumbling into dust and ash, remember that there are small wineries run by lesbians who put on a Girl Scout Cookie and wine pairing event each year. And it is officially endorsed by the Girl Scouts. I feel like that should make you feel better. Even if just for a moment.

4. Painting pottery at Ready Paint Fire


Painting pottery always seemed like a real yuppie thing to do, but it turns out--as is often the case with things you judge prematurely based on no facts--it is in fact super fun! I have had a great time both times I've done it now. Ready Paint Fire is in kind of a strange location in Northwest, but it's super chill. They have a hundred different things you can paint, it's all reasonably priced, and they set you up and then just leave you alone. This is a very Portland-y style of customer service, but here I enjoy it.

3. Brunch at Tasty n Alder


Tasty n Sons/Tasty n Alder are that variety of REAL POPULAR AND HIP PORTLAND RESTAURANT that we don't go to that often because we're too lazy these days to wait for a million years and we're almost always too poor to be hip. Visitors are nice in this way because you realize that maybe they want to see popular and hip, as opposed to the dive bar you play trivia at every week in your real life. And, they were paying. 

So we went to Tasty n Alder! And it was, very sincerely, one of the best meals of my life. Kathy and I had gone to Tasty n Sons once before but each only got one thing, but this time we did it the way you're supposed to, tapas family style, and ordered way more things than we should have and tried all of them. Highlights were: potatoes bravas with egg, the radicchio salad, and the cast iron frittata. But it truly was all delicious.

The other plus about Tasty n Alder is that while you will have to wait, you are within walking distance of a bunch of stuff downtown, including Powell's, and you don't have to stay close by because they'll text you when you're almost up. Win win.


2. Ping Pong at Pips & Bounce


This is a bar where you can get good drinks and play ping pong. I mean. This concept needs no further improvement.

1. Foot massages at the Barefoot Sage

So, this was blissful. It was TWO FULL HOURS of soaking and massaging our feet and ankles. And dipping them in wax and stuff. The things humans think of! I spent a lot of the first hour thinking about how everyone in the world deserves to experience such a thing, how good it is for our mental health, and how the people who probably need such services the most are the ones that don't have the money to ever experience it, and how unfair everything is, and do these workers ever get tired of massaging our feet because they are really going at it and they must get tired! I spent the second hour thinking about pretty much nothing. If I ever make it big, I will buy a two hour massage at the Barefoot Sage for everyone I know.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Old Salt Marketplace.


Kathy, Manda, and I have been hitting up a new (to us) restaurant in Portland every month for a few years now. It's one of our finest traditions, and one that I hope to actually document this year. Last month, following through on this tradition felt more important than ever. Post-inauguration of the President Who Shall Not Be Named, we were feeling depleted both mentally and physically from the news and our own acts of protest. And sometimes, even when it feels like the world is ending, you still need to go out for a good meal with your people.


Manda chose Old Salt Marketplace for our first pick of 2017, and she chose WELL. Located on NE 42nd (close by to Doggy Business, one of our favorite, uh, doggy businesses), it serves lunch and supper during the week and brunch on the weekends, as well as offering a bunch of fresh and gross looking meats at their butcher counter. We went for brunch, and I got these migas that...fam. I wasn't even expecting to love as much as I did. The squash that was in it was so delicious and different, and there was this creamy cheese sauce perfectly spread throughout that was delectable, and the tortilla strips added just the right level of crunch. It was positively delightful, let me tell you. There is also something special about their potatoes, which are just slightly smashed and vinegary and golden.


I liked this meal so much that I ended up going back a couple weeks later when my mom was in town, to discover that the migas...were no longer there. Old Salt, like most restaurants in Portland, uses fresh and local foodstuffs in their menus, but unlike other restaurants, this means their menu frequently changes as well. While I was obviously sad about the migas I had been craving, this actually makes me like them more. I had buckwheat crepes stuffed with ham and cheese the second time, which was NOT SHABBY.

Kathy's one complaint about the joint were its chairs. The second time we visited we actually sat at the bar, which is quite a lovely bar, but the first time we were at a table with wooden chairs that Kathy really, really hated, you guys. Just a heads up, Old Salt chair buyers.


Helping soften the blow of the chairs, though, is Miss Zumstein's Bakery, which is attached to Old Salt. After stuffing ourselves on brunch, Kathy found a chocolate cookie here that made her happier than most things in life have ever made her. Including me. Look, I saw the joy on her face. I totally understand.

Old Salt Marketplace: 5027 NE 42nd Ave, PDX, open 9-3 for brunch Saturdays and Sundays, walks-ins and reservations accepted.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

10 Women Who Gave Me Strength in 2016.

I have had this blog since 2009. TWO - THOUSAND - NINE! Barack Obama had just been elected president! I had been on the West Coast for less than two years and everything was fresh and new! We were so young and innocent!

I only posted on here three times in 2016, the least I have ever written since that naive 2009 inception. There are a myriad of personal reasons for that, I know. But on a global scale, too, 2016 was rough. Things feel scary. It's hard to know how to best process, because there is just so much TO process.

But you know what consistently gives me more and more strength with each passing year? The ladies. In an effort to remember the good in 2016, and in honor of the upcoming Women's March on Washington, here are 10+ women that empowered me this year, whether through making me laugh, educating me, or just not backing down from their power and magic. I am in debt to them all.

10. Leslie Jones


Leslie's tweeting during the summer Olympics in Rio was one of the PUREST JOYS OF MY YEAR. PURE. JOY. And I don't care if it got bad reviews, Ghostbusters, and her role in it, also gave me PURE JOY. Remember when no one would make her a dress to wear to the premier? And then Christian Siriano was like, what is wrong with you, I can make this woman beautiful, I mean look at her, you should be able to, too? And he did? And remember when nude photos of her were leaked and the worst of humanity assaulted her online about it, and then she strolled up at the Emmy's and didn't apologize for one goddamned second about the photos but instead said: "I just wanted to feel beautiful, y'all. Can a sister feel beautiful?" I can't even describe how much she took me to church in that moment. It was perfect. Fuck shame. A sister CAN feel beautiful.

9. Samantha Bee


Samantha Bee is the first woman to have her own late night political commentary show (correct me please if I'm wrong on that) and sure, it's only on once a week and sure, it's on effing TBS, but how many Samantha Bee clips did you see friends share on Facebook and Twitter this year? If you didn't see any, why are you even reading this blog, but if you did, it's probably because you have smart friends and Samantha Bee is killing it.

Like all great late night political commentary, she is critical of EVERYONE. This included often being harsher on Hillary than my own sensibilities would agree with this year, but damn if I don't love how little she gives a fuck. About anything or anyone. May she continue to be just as vicious and fearless in 2017, and may more be allowed to follow in her footsteps.

8. The ladies of Another Round.


Another Round was hands down one of my favorite podcasts of 2016. Say what you want about BuzzFeed, but they produce some solid ass podcasts. While Tracy Clayton (@brokeymcpoverty) and Heben Nigatu (@heavenrants) are the two regular hosts, I am also obsessed with Bim Adewunmi (@bimadew), who filled in for Heben on quite a few episodes this year. Importantly, she was with Tracy for the first podcast ep post-election, and while all the other NPR and NPR-ish podcasts I subscribe to were like "Let's be professional and examine this apocalyptic event rationally and logically," which made my absolutely broken and fragile mind want to implode, Bim was like LET ME TELL YOU HOW MANY DIFFERENT WAYS I HAVE CRIED IN THE LAST 48 HOURS, and it was exactly what I needed. I feel like they're all my friends even though they never will be. But like they ARE. In my head. Which is all that matters.

If you're a white woman wanting to Do Better, I highly, highly recommend Another Round. This podcast is not For You, but you will be better for it. I promise.

7. The lady editors of Book Riot.


While I feel bummed that I no longer have the time/motivation/talent to write for Book Riot, the ladies who are in charge of it--and ALL the writers on it, including a great number of awesome dudes--make me so consistently proud that I once did. Amanda Nelson (@ImAmandaNelson), Rebecca Schinsky (@RebeccaSchinsky), and Kelly Jensen (@KellyJensen) are constantly calling the publishing world out on its shit, and I love it so hard. And if someone shows up in their comments or notifications complaining about their promotion of diversity, or their "political correctness" or whatever, they say BYYYEEE and delete and block and never apologize, no matter how much the naysayers whine about "censorship." They respect and collaborate with all of their writers so well and are a fantastic example of how a website and a start-up can be run. 

I truly believe that they, along with the #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement, are changing the book world, and it is in turn going to change the legit world. Seriously.

6. Jessica Williams & Phoebe Robinson


If you are NOT listening to 2 Dope Queens.......................why. Damn, I cannot even handle how fierce they are in this foto.

And NO, I have not read Phoebe's book yet but you KNOW I got some Amazon gift cards for Christmas and you KNOW it's in my shopping cart.

5. Beyonce


Listen. I know Lemonade was not made for me and I will never think it was but damn if it didn't shape my year anyway. I was so empowered and centered by so many of its songs, whether I was playing them at the gym or as loud as I could on the way home from work, or just in my head when the real world was pissing me off. Her and Kendrick Lamar's performance of Freedom on the BET Awards--I cannot even think about them kicking that water with so much defiance and strength without getting chills. I hope I never stop getting chills thinking about it.

Remember her performance at the Superbowl? Remember how people wanted to boycott her afterwards? Remember how she then sold BOYCOTT BEYONCE shirts at her tour? See, 2016 did grant us some gifts. We are truly blessed in this world while Beyonce is in it.

4. Joy Reid


2016 saw the passing of Melissa Harris-Perry's show on MSNBC, a passing that I grieved like a dear friend, because it was. RIP #nerdland, forever. I have yet to find something exactly like it, something as smart and inspiring and informative and reassuring. So since I can't have my weekend doses of MHP anymore, the only reason I would ever turn on cable news again, the only reason in this whole wide world after this election, is Joy Reid.

If you're not following Joy Reid, whether on her show (AM Joy, although she frequently fills in for other MSNBC hosts on their respective shows) or on Twitter (@JoyAnnReid), you are missing out on one of the most solid sources we have these days to get information about this wretched world. She just does it all right. She's smart and serious and kind and funny but doesn't pull any BS. She's just good. We're going to have to stand up for our journalists tooth and nail over the next few years. Follow her. Fight for her.

3. Tobin Heath


It is hard for me to write at all objectively or even coherently about Tobin Heath because of my HARDCORE AND FOREVER RAGING FAN GIRL CRUSH ON HER. Ahem. But look at this picture. Look at the expressions on those girls' faces.

The Portland Thorns (and Tobin Heath) meant more to me personally this year than I think I ever could have expected, but on a worldwide level, I think what this photograph captures can change lives. Women's soccer is at such an exciting spot right now. The Thorns are getting attendance numbers as high as the Timbers, and the passion and commitment and support Portland gives to the Thorns are a keystone in the success of the NWSL. Each year that the NWSL is successful, the more it can expand, and the more countries around the world start to support their own women's soccer teams and leagues, and the more girls around the world can start looking like these girls. With their own heroes to look up to.

And hopefully, one day soon, these talented, hard working badasses can GET. EQUAL. PAY. Because every single excuse against it just doesn't even make sense anymore. When it comes to soccer in the US, they're the ones making you money, Soccer Powers That Be. Your fucking move.

2. Hillary


I don't care about why you don't like her. I just really don't anymore. I will never again in my lifetime try to see her through the eyes of millions of voters who thought a racist, incompetent, mentally unbalanced sexual abuser was better than her. I will not read think pieces about "why she lost." I don't give a shit. I know why she lost. Your opinions are irrelevant.

Here is what I care about. I care that in the face of utter ridiculousness, of callousness, of cruelty, of ignorance and dishonesty and the basest qualities of humanity and America, she never forgot the best ones. She never lost her dignity. And somehow--some freaking how--she never stopped caring. Never in our history has there been a woman in the public eye that was beat up so many times, but still kept fighting. I honestly don't know how she did it.

She lost. But she changed things. She still broke ceilings. No one ever got as far as her before, and I think her loss is going to mobilize a future of feminists that will blow all of our minds. She wasn't perfect. But she made us better. She made me better. And there is nothing a sad, bitter old man can say on Twitter to change that.

1. Michelle Obama


Sometimes I feel like I can't even look at her when she walks onto my TV screen or my social media feeds anymore. She is too beautiful. She is too elegant. Too genuine and kind and smart. Too human. She is too wonderful for words.

The Obama presidency wasn't perfect. A lot of people are quick to say that right now, as the nation starts to reflect on the legacy of the last eight years. And I think that's important, in time. But I don't know if I need to hear all the criticisms right now, right now when so many of us are grieving what's about to be lost, what's already lost. When we are so afraid of what's to come. Of what's happening.

All I need to think about right now is that for the past eight years, this woman and the gorgeous family she led lived in the White House. They invited more people of color into their home, into our nation's home, than had ever been there before, more queer people, more of Our People. She was warm and inviting and funny. Her fashion was flawless. She hardly stumbled over one single word of her speeches. Her eyes were rich and alive and comforting. She belonged there. She was grace. In a way, she centered us all.

And while ugliness is moving in, rolling in waves of dark, blotchy, foreboding storm clouds, one small thing that's giving me peace is that Michelle Obama will still exist in this world. She'll still be able to give talks and appear on talk shows or just do whatever the hell she wants. She can choose to never be in the public eye again, if she wants. But we'll still know she's there. And we'll remember that we can be good. We'll remember that we can be great.