19 December 2011

Best of 2011 Mix

Top Songs of 2011
(may contain tunes from 2010)

Trumpets? Check.
Banjo and/or Mandolin? Check.
Surfy guitars? Yeah, baby!
Adorable male / female duets? Check aaand Check.
Song in Espanol? Si.
A song about being at sea? Oh yes, we have that too.

Here they come... in no particular order...my favorite tunes from 2011. When possible I've included a link to listen/buy the song. I hope you will consider supporting these artists.

Abrazame (uproot Andy remix) by Las Rakas is actually from 2010 but I didn't come across it until January 2011.  If this doesn't make you want to shake your booty - your booty is probably broken.

Two songs from Austra caught my attention this year. Beat and the Pulse is more trance-like and Lose It is a little dreamier. I felt validated by this find when I heard Lose It playing in a  Berlin hipster clothing store.

If Moon was Cookie by Laura Jansen (cover) - see video below.

Stamp by The Rural Alberta Advantage has the best drumming I've heard all year. The lead singer's voice is a little bit rat-like but the drums, man-oh-man. Hope I can write a drum part like this one day.

Little Talks by Monsters and Men - this song has it all: horns, accordion, great vocal parts, lyrics and it's hooky as shit. Bonus: these guys won Icelandic band of the year in 2010. Expect to hear this song in a movie trailer or TV commercial in 2012.

Icarus by Kairos - was released in 2010, but I had a hearing-it-for-the-first-time moment when I was diving in The Solomon Islands. I took it as a sign and incorporated it into my Solomon Islands recap video. It's dreamy with a nice little beat. Makes you want to listen to it while staring at the ocean on a sunny day.

Be Your Bro by Those Darlin's - let Those Darlin's charm the pants off your inner Tomboy.

I just wanna I just wanna be your brother
You just wanna be my boyfriend
I just wanna run and play in the dirt with you
You just wanna stick it in
I just wanna be your brother
I don't wanna be your lover
Woah-woah-woah I wanna be your bro

Holcombe Waller - Qu'Appelle Valley, Saskatchewan  is another cover - really ballsy. The Native American / First Peoples vocal part at the end could not have been easy to learn and it's a Buffy Saint Marie tune. You can tell that Holcombe really loves this song.

I loved the entire Wild Flag album, but primarily Romance and Racehorse. I couldn't be happier that the Traveling Wilburies for our time happens to include two chicks from a Portland band. Carrie Brownstein is one of the greatest living guitar players and that goes double for Janet Weiss on drums. Many thanks to Carmel over at Evolving Epicurian for finding this great live performance on OPB where Wild Flag performs most of the tunes off their new album.

We Have Everything by Young Galaxy -  I feel like this song would have been the closing credit music for my favorite 80s movie - had it been written in the 1980's. Is it me or does anyone else think this chick's voice sounds like Carly Simon?

Something to Brag About by Deer Tick - here's another one that I like for the lyrics. The band plays it at punk speed but it's got this kinda classic rock feel as well. If you like The Gaslight Anthem, this tune may be for you.

Here's a link to live performance. The tune starts at about 45 seconds in.

123 Forever by Apparat Organ Quartet is, as you might guess, a song made by a band with four keyboards. The vocals have a machine-like quality that adds to the flavor of the song rather than seeming gimick-y.

If you don't mind tunes that aren't in English - Ave Que Emigra by Gaby Moreno is a particularly adorable tune. It's got a vintage country-western kind of feel and she has this very cute and sincere voice.

Half Moon by Blind Pilot - is a sweet little tune by an up-and-coming Portland band. On a mix like this the song seems almost pedestrian, but I had to find a place for it. The ebb and flow of the music, the composition, everything in this song is done just right.

Analog Woodland Song by Viva Voce - some songs have a particular time of day when they sound best, we'll hear one of those tunes later. Analog Woodland Song, in my opinion, can be enjoyed at anytime, anywhere: at your desk, while driving, working out, in the morning, or on the way home from the bar. 

Hunting by Katie Kate - the first tune I heard from Katie Kate was Totebag, and I felt pretty meh about it because I wanted the totebag song to be funny or at least ironic - so I kinda wrote her off.

Then I heard Hunting and was like holy shit, this is the Totebag chick? If you've pined for more electroclash or just like a good uptempo tune, Hunting is one of the best this year.

Her whole album - Flatland - is pretty alright, I bought about half the tracks, yes, including that Totebag song. It's kinda growing on me.

Dystopia by YACHT The earth, the earth, the earth is on fy-ah! We don't have no daughter. Let the motherfucker burn! Uh, I guess this is like the hipster dance take on Midnight Oil's Beds are Burning.

Street Halo by Burial - if you already know Burial, well, this is more of the same. If you're not familiar with Burial, um, his sound is a darker dub-step. It's kinda ambient, kinda house, and a great song for driving at night.

Forget That You're Young by The Raveonettes - I love the guitar sound in this tune. The singer could be reading the phone book, really, and I would still love it.

Lonely Boy by The Black Keys - this track hooked me in the first 10 seconds. The guy dancing was just a huge bonus.

Want more? Check out:
Best of 2010 round up
Best Music of 2009 post

Here's one last tune, it's from 2009 but it was new to me in 2011 - Me Voy by Julieta Venegas. I like the song as a stand-alone, but it's even better if you check out the translated lyrics and watch the video (see below).

18 December 2011

Office Antics

I work for a fairly conservative company (by Portland standards). So I like to bring a little bit of PDX randomness to our employee break room.

Blog Plug:
Many of the ideas below were gleaned from Rats Off - a tumblr blog which summarizes itself as "the internet - so you don't have to." Rats Off is a superior aggregator of all good and funny things on the internets. You don't have to take my word for it - Rats Off was named as one of the top 90 Tumblr blogs for the second year in a row.

Without further ado, here are the 2011 break room highlights.

Lionel Ritchie - Hello Is It Me You're Looking For?

Hello Is It Me You're Looking for Poster

Henry Rollins Coloring Page

Skittle Burgers

This last one has nothing to do with something from Rats Off. It's something I was inspired to do on my own after repeated mis-uses of the word insure appeared in e-newsletters sent to our entire customer database. The word they should have used was ensure. I posted a short document explaining the difference and provided examples of how to use each word. 

grammar lesson

What's awesome is someone from our Latin America team posted a reply of sorts. The addendum notes the difference between ano and año. Please click the image above to make it bigger.

04 December 2011

The Holidays

Tonight as I sat down to Google how long is pumpkin pie safe to eat? ... it occurred to me that I don't hate the holidays. I know that's an uncool opinion, but it's true nonetheless.

You're not going to catch me caroling, or anywhere near a mall - I still hate fun, okay? But I do like christmas lights, pie, the company holiday party after-party, and buying gifts. Last year the gang at work got farting pens, not sure if I can top that one this year...
Charlie Brown Christmas Tree
I can't bring myself to buy a real tree (then there will be fewer to hug), but every year I enjoy deploying the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree at work. Also, Little Red Car gets a little snowman dangling from the rear view and of course Christmas lights. Ain't that so cute you could puke? Well that's how I roll.*

* After pulling back half the dashboard to fix my cigarette lighter plug only to find out it was a bad fuse.

There's a lot to hate about the holidays, no doubt. I wonder though - how much misery do people bring upon themselves? Do ya have to go to the mall and deal with mobs of people? Hell, no. I've done 90% of my holiday shopping online for the last several years.

I do find it a little upseting that Christmas creeps in sooner each year - encroaching on Thanksgiving during the 90's and these days it's creeping in on Halloween. You know what though? Someone is buying that shit or the stores wouldn't put it out for sale earlier and earlier. You don't see bikinis for sale in November.*

* exception for places that have swimsuit weather year-round.

People also hate Christmas because it's totally commercialized, okay sure. But buying into it is a choice. The talking heads tell us what the hot gifts are for the 2011 holiday season, but does anyone remember the 2010 list? People get over it, and usually the best gifts are the ones you didn't know you needed.

When I was a kid all I wanted for like three years was a She-Ra Crystal Castle. One year I got a bike instead. I was perturbed because it was a typical grey rainy Christmas in the Northwest and I didn't get to enjoy said bike for several weeks. The Crystal Castle I could have played with immediately. But the point is, in the end I loved that bike in the end, even though it wasn't the hottest gift.

I've also loved a lot of gifts that didn't cost anything at all. Mix CDs, a really nice note, all of these things cost next-to-nothing and mean a lot. In fact, I'd rather have a personal or funny card than another bath set with a pink shower puff and bath salts that I'm never going to use. I know, I know, it's the thought that counts, but when I get a bath set I know that thought was "I know nothing about you, but I felt obligated to buy you something."

So... I'm writing this post now because I don't want to get started on my Christmas cards. Every year I curse myself from ten years ago. If I never started sending them out I wouldn't have to worry about it now. Damn you Me from the past!!!

Here's the thing though. I complain about the obligation of sending out Christmas Cards but ultimately I am the enforcer. Deep down I must actually like doing it. In fact, the more I think about it, the whole Christmas card deal is kind of narcissistic. I spend hours scouring the internet for a card that borders on offensive and send it out with an illegible greeting for recipients to decipher.

The only inescapable misery of the holidays I can think of is having to spend time with family. But I actually like my family, so I really value the holidays because it gives me a chance to spend time with them.

Imagine if we didn't have the holidays...

I guess there would be a few more evergreen trees around and we'd all have another $200 - $500 in our pockets, but think of what would be lost. Without Christmas there'd be no leftover dessert in the fridge, no War Is Over, no SantaCon.

Also, I think we need a reason to show our appreciation to the ones who matter most in our lives. If we didn't have this preset time of year to give gifts and take some extra time off, when would people get around to it?

Okay Holiday Haters, go ahead. Hit me up with all the wretched things I missed about why the holidays are the worst time of year. But before you do, don't forget, the person who writes this missive was born on Christmas - it is my birthright to hate Christmas.

24 October 2011

Ladies Rock Camp Portland 2011

Ladies Rock Camp
The 2011 Experience

my Ladies Rock Camp Portland band - Girls With Glasses

Do you remember when Powell's was in a bad neighborhood? The Portland Trailblazers were good, and Drunk and Abi's played at La Luna? This year's Ladies Rock Camp band took inspiration from Portland of the past. It was blue-collar, gritty, and hipster-free.

For those of you not familiar with Ladies Rock Camp: we formed a band on Friday afternoon, wrote a song in two days and gave a one time performance on Sunday. We're total beginners, but I think our song kicks intermediate-to-advanced ass.

Without further ado, here is the video for Ladies Rock Camp 2011 - Girls with Glasses performing Let's Get Shanghai'd Tonight.

Let's Get Shanghai'd Tonight by Girls with Glasses

Did you ever walk up the stairs at the Big Bang?
To buy your first bottle of Manic Panic?
It was a really big decision!

Was it green? Or Purple? Blue? Magenta?

Did you see your first show at La Luna?
Did your mom drop you and your best friend off?
What band was your favorite band?

Sweaty Nipples? Pond? Black Happy or Hazel?

Let's get Shanghai'd Tonight!
Let's get Shanghai'd Tonight!
Don't Put up a Fight!
Don't Put up a Fight!

Did you buy some drugs by the Arby's on Hawthorne?
Twenty bucks you can get what you want.
What did you score from the dealers?
Was it weed? Acid? Schrooms? Oregano?

Did you ever shoplift from Psycho Safeway?
Did the one-armed man from Twin Peaks try to stop you?
What did your friend get caught with?

Was it cheese? Or yogurt? Or milk? Or butter

Let's get Shanghai'd Tonight!
Let's get Shanghai'd Tonight!
Don't Put up a Fight!
Don't Put up a Fight!

Want more?

24 September 2011

The Netherlands and Berlin September 2011

Ten years ago I set a goal for myself: fill up all the pages in my passport with stamps. Alas, I didn't make it. My passport will expire next year with a few blank pages in it. Oh well, I'll have from 2012 - 2022 to try again.

In the last ten years I managed to visit twelve countries - including all three countries of my "ancestors": Italy, Japan and Germany. As many of you have heard me joke - I am the original axis of evil.

All joking aside, a lot of locations I've visited recently were the last places on earth an American would want to go 60-70 years ago including:
  • Tokyo and Hiroshima, Japan
  • Berlin, Germany
  • Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands
  • Peleliu, Palau
It kind of makes you wonder if there will be a Disneyland, Baghdad one day. 

So anyway, I started my trip in The Netherlands. Friends and fellow bloggers Maggie and Jeff let me crash at their place in The Hague. I did a biking tour of Amsterdam and borrowed Maggie's bike to explore Den Haag. I got to see two famous Vermeer paintings (The Girl with the Pearl Earring and Delft - both much better in person) and stick my finger in the North Sea.

On Thursday, Maggie and I flew to Berlin. We stayed at Rick Steve's recommended Pension Peters. It was cute and clean with breakfast included for 73 Euro's/night. I chowed down on muesli every morning - which just isn't the same in the US as it is in Europe.

Interestingly, my credit card didn't work in a lot of places. Credit cards in Europe utilize a chip - which provides an extra layer of security. Supposedly we'll get these chips here eventually. Who needs credit card security when you have freedom?

The first day in Berlin we did a four-hour walking tour with Original Berlin Walks.  The tour was a great orientation to the city and we saw a lot of the major sites including the Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie, Museum Island, etc. Our guide was a PhD candidate from Australia living in Berlin. Her knowledge of history was fantastic and I learned more in four hours than I ever did in history class.

We saw one of the three remaining sections of the Berlin wall. Our guide explained that there were actually multiple walls. The first wall was put up in one night, and "improvements" were made throughout the years.

I was surprised how little of the DDR remains. Then I thought about it: the wall came down 20 years ago. I don't know what I was expecting - even Portland has changed significantly since the 90's (too much, if you ask me). Still, it was surreal to see signs like "this way to the McDonald's at Checkpoint Charlie." Joke about economic colonialism goes here.

After the walking tour, Maggie and I decided we'd explore the city. We asked our walking tour guide for some suggestions. Judging by her dyed-black hair and piercings we figured she'd know some cool neighborhoods to visit. She suggested we avoid touristy Alexanderplatz and head to Prenzlauerberg and other outer-neighborhoods.  We ran out of time to do maximum platzing but it was nice to get a feel for more of the everyday city life. Hipsters, it would seem, are the same everywhere: beards, bicycles, putting birds on things

So you may be wondering: what does a vegetarian eat in Berlin? Käsespätzle - lots of it, and beer. Every beer I tried was good - and most were picked at random. In the spirit of exploration, we'd be sitting at the bar and Maggie would say, let's try that one, it has a picture of a monk on it. The monk beer, by the way, is awesome. That said, my overall favorite was Schneider Weisse.

Kasespatzle? Schneider Weisse?

Yes, it's fun to speak German and Dutch. Here are some other great words:

Dank je wel - (Dahnk oo vell) means thank you in Dutch.

Alstublieft - (Oz doo breevt - say it as though you're doing an impression of the queen of England). This means please / can I help you in Dutch. It's used kind of like prego in Italian.

Lekker! - means delicious in Dutch and German.

Pindakaas - is peanut butter and literally translates to "peanut cheese"in Dutch - laying waste to the rumor that no one outside of N/S America likes peanut butter.

Everywhere I went in Amsterdam, The Hague and Berlin - people spoke English. That said, I learned something interesting about language. During WWII the Dutch could determine if someone was a true Dutch person or a spy by asking them to pronounce Scheveningen (a coastal area on the North Sea).

Ack. Scheveningen? Can I buy a vowel? 

So anyway, you're probably tired of reading. It's time to move on to the video portion of this post. Please check out the video below for 6 min 30 sec of mediocre photos and slightly-better music.

Further reading

I strongly encourage anyone with an interest in Northern Europe / good travel writing to check out Maggie's blog and / or Jeff's blog. These two have been living in Northern Europe for the last year and write colorfully about life abroad and their European adventures.

30 August 2011

Solomon Islands Scuba Diving Trip on the Bilikiki

Solomon Islands Scuba Diving

 10 Days on the Bilikiki

Ten days on a boat? Could my landlubber guts handle it? Would my Eustachian tubes hold up? Would I get attacked by an underwater crocodile? Read on and find out..

A Brief Overview of the Solomon Islands

  • The Solomon Islands are located in the South Pacific: west of Fiji and east of Australia. The nearest country is Papua New Guinea (to the north).
  • The Solomon Islands = 922 islands and atolls spread out over 1,000 miles. That's about the distance from Seattle to Los Angeles.
  • There are land-based dive operations, but a liveaboard boat makes the most sense. Each night, the boat moves to a new island while the divers sleep - you wake up each day in a fabulous new dive spot.
  • Only a third of the islands are inhabited and the total population is just over half a million.
  • Roughly 4,000 tourists per year visit the Solomon Islands (that's 1/5th of the Rose Garden, or 1/4 of the Honda Center). By comparison: Disneyland gets 40,000 tourists per day.
This wasn't my first liveaboard, I did a 7-day trip on the Palau Aggressor in 2009 where I logged 17 dives before my ears said no more! For those of you who don't dive, ear problems plague many divers (me included). As a diver descends to depth, the ambient pressure changes and you need to "equalize" your ears. If you've ever swum to the bottom of the deep end, you've experienced that feeling.

The Bilikiki trip was ten days. I would need to hit a new personal record for dives the fun would be over halfway through the trip, but the promise of seeing a mantis shrimp, cuttlefish, beautiful coral gardens, crocodilefish and maybe an actual crocodile - it was too much to resist. So... off to The Solomons.

After 12 hours of air travel, we boarded the boat (Bilikiki) in the main city - Honiara, Guadalcanal (yes- that Guadalcanal). As for the rest - please take a look at the video below. I crammed ten days and twenty-seven dives into six minutes, dammit. Reading this post as an email? View my Bilikiki Solomon Islands Scuba Diving video on Vimeo.

There are a few things we saw that didn't make it into the video. Yes, we saw a crocodile on one of the dives (see photo evidence below). Also, we were able to see the Milky Way some evenings. Whoa.

A big thanks to Sam, Kellie, Sarah, Steve, the Bilikiki crew and the kind and wonderful folks who dove with us.

Further Reading / Viewing

For an excellent video of underwater life in the Solomons (including a "disco" clam) please check out Underwater Scenes from the Solomon Islands or view the embedded video below. Jack and Sue Drafal also have a great video of a music performance from a Solomon Islands village we visited. For up-to-date info about diving in the Solomons check out the Manager's Log or the Bilikiki Facebook page.

For more mediocre travel videos with pretty-okay music and nice underwater images (where applicable), check out:

Japan 2007
Alaska 2009
Palau 2009

15 July 2011

Photos from the Window Seat

I recently came across a Flickr account from a pilot. He has some great behind the scenes images from the cockpit including St. Elmos Fire and the Northern Lights. He has videos too.

If you're interested in the life of someone who works on an airplane for a living, check out Another Flight Attendant Writing. The title implies something blase, but the writer, Heather Poole, has a fun style and addresses all your burning flight attendant questions like:
I'm about to head off on a plane trip myself. I like sitting by the window because sometimes I can snap a cool photo or two (see below). They're not as good as the pilot's images, but I'm proud of this little collection.

I call it "from the window seat."
thunderhead over HoustonLAX nightscapeTake Off from Orange County SNAsomwhere over the frozen prairiesomwhere over the continental dividethe continental divide rocky mountainswhere the planned community meets the oceanSNALGBcaymanroatan somewhere over the mountainssomewhere over the oceanJersey ShoreHNLBajaSFO SFOLAXMt. St. Helens and Mt. AdamsMt. St. HelensMt. Hood, Ambassador to PDXMt. Hood
The Window Seat, a set on Flickr.

24 June 2011

Nerd Gender Dichotomy

As a teenager I was a pretty hardcore geek. I saved money to buy import CDs and checked out a lot of graphic novels from the library.
Just picture the music nerd at your school, usually a guy with long dirty hair, okay? That was me. My personal style was loud polyester shirts in the winter and concert t-shirts in summer.

If I had one selfish wish it would have been to be re-born in the early 1960s so I could grow up listening to Janis, Jimi and Zeppelin... move to NY for the height of CBGB... then move to Boston for the rise of the Pixies, Throwin Muses, et al.

I worked as a projectionist from about 16 - 21. This turned me into an even bigger nerd. I memorized the films of Stanley Kubrick and spent a lot of time debating shit like why PT Anderson's Magnolia was / was not a derivative p.o.s. (answer - yes it was, see Robert Altman's Short Cuts).

All my friends were nerds too and, well, most of them were dudes. At the time I thought, "these guys are smart and interesting - and they're all super-interested in my opinion." Holy shit.

Of course now I know better. Those dudes weren't interested in why The Head on the Door is The Cure's best album... they were waiting for me to have one too many Henry Weinhard's. Too bad for them. I sincerely thought our chit chat was about the music (and nerdy guys are too passive to try anything) so the '95 Mirage and I would go home unmolested.

Looking back, I realize that if I had been born a dude, I'd still be a virgin. What guy can get away with driving a late model car, disliking children, being an ubernerd ... and still get laid? It's impossible (except maybe in Portland - but the nerdy guy would have to be in a band).

nerd geek dork ven diagram

Just for S's and G's I recently took the the Nerd, Geek or Dork test.

Warning about the test link above: to take the test it makes you create an account at OK Cupid. Just type in a fake email to proceed. Sorry guys, I won't be answering the hookup email you just sent to "joemama@yourmom.com."

Here are my results (see below - email subscribers may need to click through to view images).

 geek test results shown as three graphs

Apparently I'm less of a nerd than I thought. I am, however, in the top percentile for geekosity and dorkiness.  On the upside, my celebrity counter part is... Bill Gates.

Maybe if I'd answered "most of the time" to that black turtleneck question I would have been Steve Jobs. Har har har.

geek test results - why I'm like Bill Gates /></a></div><br />
<br />
<br />
Outcast Genius<br />
(picture of Bill Gates)<br />
65 % Nerd, 70% Geek, 57% Dork<br />
<br />
Joe Normal<br />
Pure Geek<br />
Pure Nerd<br />
Pure Dork<br />
Computer Savant<br />
Tri-Lamb Material<br />
Modern, Cool Nerd<br />
Outcast Genius<br />
<br />
A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.<br />
A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.<br />
A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.<br />
You scored better than half in all three, earning you the title of: Outcast Genius.<br />
<br />
Outcast geniuses usually are bright enough to understand what society wants of them, and they just don't care! They are highly intelligent and passionate about the things they know are *truly* important in the world. Typically, this does not include sports, cars or make-up, but it can on occassion (and if it does then they know more than all of their friends combined in that subject).<br />
<br />
Outcast geniuses can be very lonely, due to their being outcast from most normal groups and too smart for the room among many other types of dorks and geeks, but they can also be the types to eventually rule the world, ala Bill Gates, the prototypical Outcast Genius.<br />
<br />
Congratulations! <br />
<br />
<div class=

Anyway, Bill Gates reinforces the point I'm trying to make. I bet Mr. Gates wasn't much of a ladies man in his teens and 20's. I'm not trying to talk any crap about Bill Gates here, I'm just taking a wild guess. He's just lucky he thought up the personal computer instead of, you know, nachos on a stick. Which, by the way, I wish someone would hurry up and invent.

urkleMy Korean-American (guy) friend and I were having a discussion about our teenage years, and he said being a male Asian nerd is three to the ninth power worse than being a female nerd. He pointed out that everyone likes Asian girls (check the back of your local newsweekly if you don't believe me) but there are very few Asian male sex symbols.

It just occurred to me that the last sentence I wrote will probably get this blog flagged as spam. Oh well.

So anyway, experience now tells me:

#1 Being a nerdy girl... not so bad compared to being a nerdy boy.

#2 Meaningful conversation with a dude can be duplicitous. The more interested they seem, the worse their intentions.

#3 I have been under-charging for my good company. 
In Orange County men will pay $237 - $399 for a date.

Yeah, yeah, I know: "date."

11 June 2011

Working the Pole: OC versus PDX

Back home in Portland, going to a strip club isn't a big deal. If you're a guy or have guy friends, a 21st birthday visit to The Acropolis is de rigueur.  Once upon a time, $24 got your best buddy a steak and a lap dance on his birthday - and I'm not using the word steak as a euphemism for something else, okay? Rumor has it whoever owns "The Acrop" also owns a ranch so they have the best steak special in town.

Portland also has the most strip clubs per capita of any US city. All this competition leads to:
  • Very reasonable drink prices
  • No cover charge for ladies
  • Christmas specials
  • and Stripperoke nights
    (the person singing karaoke performs with two strippers, if the singer stinks, the girls keep their clothes on and take the microphone away).

goldfish with buggy eyes
Perhaps due to the reasons described above,  Portland strip clubs also have a more diverse clientele.  The average club attracts couples, groups of friends and yeah, a few creepy dudes.

There are also a wider variety of strippers in PDX, they're not all blonde freaks of nature with boobs that stick out like goldfish eyeballs. We have strippers who wear glasses, dance with fire, chicks with mohawks, and girls who are tatted from neck to ankle and all places in between.

When I moved to (very conservative) Orange County, I expected folks would have a different attitude. I was only half right.
Not surprisingly, going to a strip club is the kind of thing OC people do only as part of their "crazy" weekend in Vegas. Pffft! The only thing crazy about strip clubs in Vegas are the drink prices and the super-creepy no alcohol clubs. But, I digress..

So, while the stripper thing is verboten here in the OC, pole dancing is huge. HUGE.

stripper pole on a trailer hitch by Platinum Stages Newport Beach, CAThere are at least nine pole dancing schools in Orange County including Pilates on the Pole and another company that will bring stripper poles to your house for a "pole party." If Portland has the most pole dancing clubs per captia, OC must have the most pole dancing schools.

But wait there's more. A Newport Beach company sells all kinds of pole set-ups for your home or vehicle. If you want a stripper pole on your trailer hitch, it can be yours for only $399.

Personally, I've always wondered how pole dancers learn their skills. You never see a stripper mess up or fall off, is there a practice pole in the back of the club? Well, now aspiring strippers can wait for an OC Pole Fitness Groupon and start their career training for only $20.

Okay, I'm mostly kidding. 

Collette and her daughters
In case you hadn't guessed, there's no stripping at the OC pole dancing classes. In fact, some of the women become serious athletes.

The OC is home to Collette Kakuk, a mom and founding member of the PFA (Pole Fitness Association). One of the association's goals is to get pole dancing in the 2012 Olympics.

After watching highlights from the American Pole Fitness Championships 2010 (co-ed, who knew?) and world champion pole dancer Felix Cane (see video below)... I can see the logic. The activity requires significant strength and grace ala gymnastics and the competitors are no more scantily-clad than a volleyball player or springboard diver.

Just for S's and G's I inquired about pole fitness back home. Turns out Portland has a bar that recently installed stripper poles for amateurs and two pole dancing schools. We damn well better. If a Portlander can't win a gold medal for stripping, that'd be worse than a Canadian hockey team losing the Stanley Cup to a team from California.

By the way, if you're receiving this as an email, you may need to click through to the website to view videos and images.

Want to read more about (ehem) Portland's nightlife? Check out my 2007 Home for the Holidays post.