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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

RIP Fraggle Rock's "Doc"

Posted by Wm.™ Steven Humphrey on Tue, Oct 21, 2014 at 9:29 AM

Fraggle Rocks Doc & Sprocket
  • Courtesy Muppet Wiki
  • Fraggle Rock's Doc & Sprocket

Gerard Parkes, best known as "Doc" from the Jim Henson kids show Fraggle Rock passed away on Sunday at the age of 90 from natural causes. A prolific actor in Canada with many roles under his belt, his biggest fame came from playing the kindly inventor on Fraggle Rock whose workshop was directly connected to the Fraggle caves.

Parkes will be missed, but take a minute to remember him in action with this funny Fraggle clip where Doc nearly loses his mind thanks to some annoying hiccups.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Damn It. There Goes the Matador.

Posted by Dirk VanderHart on Wed, Sep 10, 2014 at 10:19 PM


After weeks of rumor and speculation, the owner of longtime West Burnside watering hole the Matador—by anyone's account one of the finest bars, dive or otherwise, in our fair city—announced this evening the place will be closing its doors on Friday.

Owner Casey Maxwell had told the Mercury as recently as a week ago that discussions over its lease looked hopeful, and that he felt optimistic he'd be able to keep the 43-year-old tavern open. Here's what he posted on the bar's Facebook page earlier this evening:

Dear Matadorians,
It is with a heavy heart that I announce that this Friday September 12'th will be the last night of business for The Matador. Thank you all for the years of good times and laughs. Come down for one last call and say goodbye. All my best- Casey

"I know you got soul
If you didn't you wouldn't be in here"
The Matador (1971-2014)R.I.P.

The details of what led to the closure have been hazy—Maxwell declined to go into specifics in two earlier conversations, as they were still up in the air. But it appears possible the Matador is another victim of rising rents in a booming city—particularly as it's directly across Burnside from Providence Park. Maxwell's other bar, the Conquistador at SE Belmont, appears to be fine.

Willamette Week caught Maxwell's official announcement earlier this evening, and correctly notes it's just the latest longtime Portland watering hole to announce closure.

I'm going to miss a lot about this place. The nachos are pretty high on that list.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Joan Rivers, Pioneering Comedian-Turned-Contentious TV Personality, Has Died

Posted by David Schmader on Thu, Sep 4, 2014 at 1:59 PM

The official word, from Rivers' friends and employers at E!:

Joan Rivers has passed away at 81 years old. Her daughter, Melissa Rivers, released the following statement: "It is with great sadness that I announce the death of my mother. She passed peacefully at 1:17pm surrounded by family and close friends. My son and I would like to thank the doctors, nurses, and staff of Mount Sinai Hospital for the amazing care they provided for my mother."

RIP Joan Rivers, who is and will remain an entertainment legend. She was also a study in contradictions. As a female stand-up in the 1960s, she blazed a trail that inspired and enabled such contemporary comic miracle workers as Amy Schumer and Sarah Silverman, then, as a New York Times-bestselling author, she turned slut-shaming into a popular art form. She was emotionally open enough to respond to the suicide of her husband by making a TV movie about it starring herself and her daughter as themselves, and emotionally coarse enough to devote the later part of her career to making shitty comments and "jokes" that painted her as the entertainment-television equivalent of Rush Limbaugh.

But as the 2010 documentary Joan Rivers: Piece of Work made clear, she was, more than anything, an inexhaustible comedy professional. As I wrote in my unfortunately titled review of the film:

Incorporating archival footage into the yearlong video diary, the filmmakers do right by Rivers's formidable comic legacy as a fearless, incomparably ambitious woman thrusting herself into the overwhelmingly male world of standup. (Her career-altering relationship with Johnny Carson, who made her a star before shunning her as a competitor, is tracked in all its mindfucky glory.) But the film, like Rivers's life, is all about forward motion—the next gig, the next laugh, the next humiliation en route to a paycheck. (See her Comedy Central roast, here presented as a lucrative, fully legal torture session.) What sticks with you is the depth of Rivers's creative compulsion: So great is her need to perform, that she'll get her fix wherever she can, from run-down New York nightclubs to The Celebrity Apprentice. It's an amazing, exhausting thing to behold.

Happy trails, Joan Rivers. In remembrance, here's one of her many remarkable appearances on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show:

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

"Metal Band to Play In a Box Until They Run Out of Oxygen"

Posted by Mike Nipper on Wed, Jul 2, 2014 at 10:00 AM

This almost sounds like the best-worst idea I've heard in a long time.

As part of an art installation by Portuguese artist João Onofre, the UK death metal band Unfathomable Ruination will be playing in an airtight, soundproofed box until they can play in that airtight, soundproofed box no more.

Onofre's box has been on tour in Europe and Japan and in each stop, a local "Death Metal band" is invited to play inside. I guess the assumption is the heaviness of the band will translate into the box vibrating? As for the oxygen depletion... uh, no idea. Maybe Onofre equates death metal with "extreme" culture and thusly he's push some biological/physical boundaries by erecting biological/physical boundaries? This installation is happening in London "outside the Gherkin at 6 pm from 7/3 to 8/1."


Monday, June 9, 2014

R.I.P. Brit Comedian Rik Mayall

Posted by Wm.™ Steven Humphrey on Mon, Jun 9, 2014 at 1:29 PM

Though perhaps best remembered for his starring role in Drop Dead Fred, comedian/actor Rik Mayall (who passed away suddenly today at age 56) was also featured in such great British comedies as Black Adder (as the hilarious Lord Flashheart) and as anarchist/poet Rick in the verrrrry funny "punk" sitcom The Young Ones which ran from 1982-85. Here's a great clip of the very talented Rik Mayall in action.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Posted by Paul Constant on Thu, Apr 17, 2014 at 2:02 PM

The AP is reporting that Gabriel Garcia Marquez has died:

The Nobel Prize winner has been ill for a very long time. This is very sad news. We won't see another talent like his in our lifetime. The LA Times has more.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Fred Phelps Is Finally Fucking Dead!

Posted by Christopher Frizzelle on Thu, Mar 20, 2014 at 12:44 PM

Jesus, that took a while. But the guy's dead, finally. Thank fucking God.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Fred Phelps: Excommunicated and Near Death

Posted by Dan Savage on Mon, Mar 17, 2014 at 10:29 AM

So... it sounds like the hate machine founded by Fred Phelps—Westboro Baptist Church—has turned on its founder:

Some online sources are reporting that Fred Phelps Sr., pastor of the Westboro Baptist Church, a Topeka church known for its virulently anti-gay pickets, may be near death.... The reports are mostly based on a late Saturday Facebook post by Nathan Phelps, one of Fred Phelps Sr.’s children. “He is now on the edge of death at Midland Hospice house in Topeka, Kansas,” Nathan Phelps wrote....

Nathan Phelps, who exited the church years ago, asserted that his father “was excommunicated from the ‘church’ back in August of 2013.” Writing about his father’s condition, Nathan Phelps added: “I’m not sure how I feel about this. Terribly ironic that his devotion to his god ends this way. Destroyed by the monster he made. “I feel sad for all the hurt he’s caused so many. I feel sad for those who will lose the grandfather and father they loved. And I’m bitterly angry that my family is blocking the family members who left from seeing him, and saying their good-byes.”

Excommunicated from Westboro Baptist? What? Had Phelps grown too old and infirm to hate hard enough for the toxic little shits he fathered, raised, and poisoned? The Phelps family, of course, has picketed the funerals of gay hate-crime victims, soldiers killed in battle, beloved celebrities, and many others. Fred Phelps' funeral should be entertaining.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Plane vs. Ocean

Posted by Anthony Hecht on Fri, Mar 14, 2014 at 9:44 AM

It sounds like the search for the missing flight 370 may be shifting west, into the Indian Ocean.

So how hard is it to find a Boeing 777 in the Indian Ocean*? Since we humans are so bad at contemplating things at massive scale (the solar system, for example), Rob Cockerham has helpfully translated this problem down into more approachable scales.

Finding a 777 in the Indian Ocean is like finding:

A single grain of salt somewhere in the city of San Francisco.

Or a sesame seed in Yosemite.

Or a red blood cell at Burning Man.

* The search area isn't the entire Indian Ocean, of course, they'll start at the eastern side and work out, but still.. oceans are big! And also note that these comparisons are surface area. Once that thing sinks, oh boy.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Devo Guitarist Bob Casale Dies at 61

Posted by Emily Nokes on Tue, Feb 18, 2014 at 1:29 PM

Sad, sad news: Bob Casale (or "Bob 2") of Devo has passed away today from heart failure. Bob's brother Gerald Casale, also a founding memeber of Devo, wrote on the band's Facebook earlier today:

As an original member of Devo, Bob Casale was there in the trenches with me from the beginning. He was my level-headed brother, a solid performer and talented audio engineer, always giving more than he got. He was excited about the possibility of Mark Mothersbaugh allowing Devo to play shows again. His sudden death from conditions that lead to heart failure came as a total shock to us all.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Captain & Tennille Are Getting a Divorce; World Loses Faith in "Muskrat Love"

Posted by Wm.™ Steven Humphrey on Thu, Jan 23, 2014 at 10:59 AM

You can't count on much in this world—but I always assumed you could count on the endless love between former '70s pop giants Captain & Tennille. And yet? THEY'RE GETTING DIVORCED. From People:

Toni Tennille, whose real name is Cathryn Antoinette Tennille, 73, filed for divorce on Jan. 16, the Prescott, Arizona City courthouse confirms to PEOPLE.

Daryl Dragon, 71, also known as the Captain, was a keyboard player for the Beach Boys before meeting his wife.

BOOOOOOO DIVORCE! Who's next? Muskat Suzy and Muskrat Sam? THIS WORLD BLOWS.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Time Peter O'Toole Visited David Letterman on a Camel

Posted by Wm.™ Steven Humphrey on Mon, Dec 16, 2013 at 9:59 AM

The late, great Peter O'Toole was amazing in various ways, and he demonstrates this fact aptly in this interview with David Letterman from the mid-'90s. BUT! If you don't watch anything else, do not miss the opening two minutes of this video where Peter enters the show on a camel, smoking a cigarette. It is terrifically hilarious, and proves this was a man who really knew how to make an entrance.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Dissecting the Life of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford

Posted by Cienna Madrid on Mon, Nov 18, 2013 at 1:59 PM

Last week, Canadian courts released a 500-page dossier on Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, detailing all of his alleged illegal activities—including interviews with staff on his alleged drug use and his alleged offers/threats to eat out various women's boxes, right down to more harmless stuff, like routinely pocket dialing his coworkers while pissing.

Talking Points Memo, bless its heart, has read this entire document and summarized its six best anecdotes. I suggest you read them aloud to your children at bedtime, as a grim lesson on what it's like to be Canadian.

4) Ford 'Would Try To Get Out Of Doing Ethnic Media Events'

Though the documents include tales of Ford making surprise appearances in convenience stores, parties, and on public transportation late at night, they also detail the types of events Ford allegedly would never go to. Ransom told investigators Ford "would not do any media events before 1100 AM unless it was a very special event."

Ransom also said Ford "would try to get out of doing ethnic media events, meetings with international politicians and ambassadors." Sadly, the documents didn't go into detail about Ford's reasons for avoiding these "ethnic" events. After February, Ford apparently also could not be found at nighttime public events. In one of his interviews with police, Towhey said he "removed all evening events from the Mayor's schedule" after an incident where Ford allegedly showed up to a military ball intoxicated with his children in tow and was asked to leave.

Rob Ford continues to be the man of my dreams. (I dream in nightmare.)

Friday, August 9, 2013

Rest in Peace, Karen Black

Posted by Wm.™ Steven Humphrey on Fri, Aug 9, 2013 at 9:59 AM

Cult film and TV actress Karen Black—best known for a multitude of roles in the '60s and '70s such as Easy Rider, Five Easy Pieces, and Nashvilledied yesterday at the age of 74 of ampullary cancer. From WOW:

In her 50-year career, she also appeared in 1974′s The Great Gatsby, Portnoy’s Complaint, Airport 1975, Capricorn One, 1975′s The Day of the Locust, Alfred Hitchcock’s 1976 Family Plot, and quite a number of schlocky horror shows. “Scary movies I’ve done,” she told the Chicago Tribune in 2008. “They are not dominant in any way, shape, or form. I can tell you what happened, but it was sort of like a mistake. It’s like I went on a bad path and couldn’t find my way back.” One of those “mistake” movies was 1976′s Burnt Offerings with Bette Davis. Not too shabby. And, seriously, who doesn’t thrill to her multiple characters in the legendary 1975 ABC movie of the week, Trilogy of Terror? Goosebumps, even now.

Trilogy of Terror was the first horror movie I ever saw—and while it's super funny and campy now, it scared the CRAP into my underoos when I was a tyke. Check out this classic scene from the "Amelia" section of Terror where Karen Black gets chased around her apartment by a possessed voodoo doll. It's a classic and it's SO. GOOD!!!

And if you loved that, why not go ahead and watch part one and part two. Karen Black: always to be missed, never forgotten.


Monday, July 22, 2013

RIP Dennis Farina: A Crime Story Appreciation

Posted by Wm.™ Steven Humphrey on Mon, Jul 22, 2013 at 2:29 PM

Former Chicago cop turned actor Dennis Farina has passed away due to a blood clot on his lung. He was 69. While remembered most recently from his stint on Law & Order, and as Nick's dad on New Girl, he also starred in one of my fave TV series of all time: Michael Mann's Crime Story.

Way before Mad Men was a gleam in Matthew Weiner's eye, Crime Story was a gorgeously shot police series set in early 1960s Chicago, featuring Farina as Lt. Mike Torello and his battles with mobster Ray Luca (Anthony Denison). It ran from 1986-88, and while later episodes became too cartoony for my tastes, you'd still be hard-pressed to find a more exciting, violent, and atmospheric cop show. Here's a great elongated scene about a department store robbery filled with the sort of hard-boiled tension Crime Story was famous for. And Farina, unsurprisingly, is at the top of his game.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Did Michael Jackson Not-Sleep Himself to Death?

Posted by David Schmader on Mon, Jun 24, 2013 at 1:59 PM

No, but he came close. From CNN:

Michael Jackson died while preparing to set a world record for the most successful concert run, but he unknowingly set another record that led to his death. Jackson may be the only human ever to go two months without REM—rapid eye movement—sleep, which is vital to keep the brain and body alive. The 60 nights of propofol infusions Dr. Conrad Murray said he gave Jackson to treat his insomnia is something a sleep expert says no one had ever undergone.


If the singer had not died on June 25, 2009, of an overdose of the surgical anesthetic, the lack of REM sleep may have taken his life within days anyway, according to [Harvard Medical School sleep expert Dr. Charles] Czeisler's testimony Friday. Lab rats die after five weeks of getting no REM sleep, he said. It was never tried on a human until Murray gave Jackson nightly propofol infusions for two months. Translating that to a human, Czeisler estimated, Jackson would have died before his 80th day of propofol infusions. Murray told police he had given it to him for 60 nights before trying to wean him off it on June 22, 2009—three days before his death.

Michael Jackson will never not be fascinating.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Jack Vance

Posted by Paul Constant on Wed, May 29, 2013 at 1:59 PM

The beloved science fiction pioneer has died, Locus Magazine says:

SF Grand Master Jack Vance, 96, died May 26, 2013 in Oakland CA. Vance was one of the most influential SF authors of the postwar period, and his visionary imagination and sophisticated, often playful use of language inspired countless SF writers, including Avram Davidson, Harlan Ellison, Matthew Hughes, George R.R. Martin, Michael Moorcock, and Gene Wolfe. His landmark Dying Earth sequence, set in the far future, began with collection The Dying Earth (1950) and continued with novel The Eyes of the Overworld (1966), Cugel’s Saga (1983), Rhialto the Marvelous (1984), and several related stories. Vance redefined the nature of planetary romance with his Big Planet (1952), and continued exploring that universe in sequel Showboat World (1975).

I'm embarrassed to say I haven't read very much Vance—a couple novellas, I think, and Dying Earth—but I've read dozens of books that wouldn't have existed without Vance pointing the way. For more Vance, check out this Mercury review of The Dying Earth from the archives.

(Via Sarah Weinman.)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Battening Down the Hatch

Posted by Chris Onstad on Tue, May 28, 2013 at 12:57 PM


Per Eater, the Killer Burger team's Tex-Mex-ish restaurant Hatch has closed, after not quite three months in business.

Rather than go into a detailed post-mortem on a place I was just days from filing for review, I'll say nothing ill of the dead except that I think the team has made a smart decision. The concept had trouble gelling, and several visits—the most recent being this Saturday—confirmed that the troubles that defined its menu had not been surmounted.

The good news: they plan to open a Killer Burger with a full bar in the space, so they'll be back to giving the people what they want—and raking in money hand over fist with their excellent and highly polished home-grown burger chain—in short order.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Rightwing Anti-Gay French Activist Commits Suicide at Notre Dame Cathedral

Posted by Dan Savage on Tue, May 21, 2013 at 1:14 PM

This is unfortunate:

According to multiple sources, the iconic cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris was evacuated today after a far-right Catholic activist shot himself in the mouth in front of the altar in front of hundreds of tourists, in what appears to have been a protest against same-sex marriage.... Dominique Venner, age 78, was a well-known essayist and a former member of a paramilitary group known as the Secret Army Organization (OAS), which waged a bombing and assassination campaign in the early 1960s to protest France giving Algeria its independence. Mr. Venner was also close to the anti-marriage equality movement and an outspoken critic of France’s new marriage equality law, which President François Hollande signed on Saturday. He made no verbal statement before he shot himself, but a letter was found on his person. The contents of Mr. Venner’s letter have not yet been released.


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

R.I.P. Ray Harryhausen

Posted by Paul Constant on Tue, May 7, 2013 at 1:31 PM

The special effects pioneer has died. He was 92. Digital effects in mainstream movies are a couple decades old now, and I've yet to see a digital monster that impresses me the way a good Harryhausen creature impresses me.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Annette Funicello

Posted by Paul Constant on Mon, Apr 8, 2013 at 2:14 PM

The former Mousketeer has died at age 70.

Friday, March 1, 2013

R.I.P. Ann Romano (No, Not That "Ann Romano")

Posted by Wm.™ Steven Humphrey on Fri, Mar 1, 2013 at 12:31 PM

From Deadline Hollywood:

Bonnie Franklin, best known for a playing single mom to two teenage daughters on the long-running CBS sitcom One Day At A Time, died this morning. She was 69.

Franklin perished after a long battle with pancreatic cancer, and will be remembered fondly… especially for the following role:

In 1975 she landed the lead role of Ann Romano on the Norman Lear-developed sitcom One Day At A Time, starring alongside Valerie Bertinelli and Mackenzie Phillips as her daughters and Pat Harrington as their wisecracking super. The series ran from 1975-1984 and tackled several social issues like teen pregnancy as it humorously charted a single mom’s struggles raising two kids. Franklin was nominated for an Emmy and two Golden Globes for the role.

She will be missed.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Reading the Mercury Will Kill You: Aan's New Video

Posted by Ned Lannamann on Wed, Feb 6, 2013 at 9:44 AM

The new single from Aan is out—they're playing the release show tonight at Mississippi Studios!—and here's the awesome new video to go with it. What makes it so awesome? I mean, apart from a little cameo by the Portland Mercury, that is.

Our hero spends his time dodging the Grim Reaper, who's after him for obvious reasons. I mean, look at all the crazy, death-defying stuff this guy does: skateboarding, dodging in front of trains, stealing motorcycles, jumping off cliffs, reading the Portland Mercury...

Then they share a slice of pizza and hit a strip club, and all is well. At least, for now.

Aan's new 7-inch, "Mystery Life" is available from Cool Summer Records. You can also stream and buy on Bandcamp and Soundcloud. Your best option, however, is picking up the new 7-inch at the record release show tonight at Mississippi Studios.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Today in Beatboxing Goats

Posted by Wm.™ Steven Humphrey on Mon, Jan 28, 2013 at 1:44 PM

Here is a goat that can beatbox.





If you'd like to make a call, please hang up and try again.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Pauline "Dear Abby" Phillips

Posted by Dan Savage on Thu, Jan 17, 2013 at 1:30 PM


Pauline Phillips, a California housewife who nearly 60 years ago, seeking something more meaningful than mah-jongg, transformed herself into the syndicated columnist Dear Abby—and in so doing became a trusted, tart-tongued adviser to tens of millions—died on Wednesday in Minneapolis. She was 94.

Phillips, who had Alzheimers disease, passed her column to her daughter more than a decade ago. So Phillips's column will survive her. (It's hard to imagine my straight snowboardin' son taking over "Savage Love" someday, but... anything is possible, I guess.) Phillips was the twin sister and, for many years, the bitter rival of Eppie "Ann Landers" Lederer.

In 1955, Mrs. Phillips’s twin, now Eppie Lederer, took over the Ann Landers column for The Chicago Sun-Times. A rank beginner soon swamped by a flood of mail, she began sending batches of letters to her sister—for advice, as it were. “I provided the sharp answers,” Mrs. Phillips told The Ladies’ Home Journal in 1981. “I’d say, ‘You’re writing too long (she still does), and this is the way I’d say it.’ ” She added, “My stuff was published—and it looked awfully good in print.” So good that when The Sun-Times later forbade Mrs. Lederer to send letters out of the office, Mrs. Phillips, by this time living in the Bay Area, vowed to find a column of her own.

And so she did—and Pauline and Eppie didn't speak for years.

There was a time when most cities had more than one newspaper. One paper would run Ann Landers, another would run Dear Abby. People tended to prefer one columnist or the other, their preferences shaped by which paper their families read. My family subscribed to all of Chicago's daily papers—Chicago had four dailies when I was a kid (a really little kid)—and I grew up reading both Ann in the Sun-Times and Abby in the Chicago Tribune. But I strongly preferred Ann. I'm actually sitting at Ann Lander's desk, which I bought at auction after her death, as I write this post. Ann's IBM Correcting Selectric III is sitting on the desk and a Saks Fifth Avenue receipt for a dress that Lander's purchased for $30 in 1974 is in the top drawer. (Fun fact: After Rupert Murdoch bought the Sun-Times in 1984, Ann quit the paper and moved her column to the Tribune, which then ran both Ann and Abby until Lander's died in 2002.)

So, yeah, you could call me more of an Ann Lander's fan. But I must say I have a newfound appreciation for Abby after reading Margolit Fox's terrific obit in the New York Times. Fox quotes a few of Abby's pithier-than-Ann responses to her readers. Here's a good one:

Dear Abby: Our son married a girl when he was in the service. They were married in February and she had an 8 1/2-pound baby girl in August. She said the baby was premature. Can an 8 1/2-pound baby be this premature?—Wanting to Know

Dear Wanting: The baby was on time. The wedding was late. Forget it.

And Fox's obit ends with the most famous three-word response in the whole, sordid history of the advice-column racket:

Dear Abby: Two men who claim to be father and adopted son just bought an old mansion across the street and fixed it up. We notice a very suspicious mixture of company coming and going at all hours—blacks, whites, Orientals, women who look like men and men who look like women. This has always been considered one of the finest sections of San Francisco, and these weirdos are giving it a bad name. How can we improve the neighborhood? — Nob Hill Residents

Dear Residents: You could move.

Phillips wrote that decades ago—back when adult gay men often resorted to adopting their adult partners because it was the only way to secure any legal protections for their relationships—and people are still quoting it today. I don't think anyone working in this genre will ever top it.

My sympathies to Jeanne Phillips, Pauline's daughter and the current author of "Dear Abby."

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