Serving Suggestion

Courtesy of the local Fred Meyer produce department, here’s the world’s most hilarious “serving suggestion”: a serving suggestion for bananas.

Serving suggestion for bananas

There you have it. In case you weren’t aware of it before, you can use bananas in a fruit salad. Or — believe it or not — you can “simply eat fresh for a natural boost of energy”. Now, if only they could tell me what I should do with these blueberries…

“When I Root, I Root for the Timbers!”

For thirty years, I’ve waited for the Portland Timbers to return to the top flight of American soccer. Over the last couple of years, I’ve attended several Timbers matches as they’ve played at the nation’s second level. This year, at last, they’re a part of Major League Soccer, the country’s 15-year-old professional league.

On Thursday night, Kris and I braved the cold and the wind and the rain to catch the home opener at the newly-remodeled Jeld-Wen Field. Naturally, I shot some video:

When I bought season tickets last summer, I thought I’d managed to snag a pair that straddle the midfield line. They don’t quite but, as you can see, they’re close enough. (When I took Michael to see Sunday night’s game, he said, “These seats are fantastic.” And they are.)

After some pre-game festivities, the teams took the field. The Timbers scored quickly, but the goal was called back for some reason I’m still not clear on. No matter. They managed to tack on two more goals in the first half.

They tallied a third goal at the start of the second half before Chicago managed to find one of their own. (Actually an “own goal” from the Timbers — meaning, one of our guys knocked it into the net.) The Timbers held on for a 4-2 win.

Though Kris was cold and cranky at first, I think she warmed up as the match progressed. I may even convince her to join me for another game.

Sunday’s game was just as exciting. The Timbers dominated FC Dallas for most of the match, jumping to a 3-0 lead midway through the second half. But then Dallas seemed to find a spark. They fired home two quick goals — in the 83rd and 86th minutes — leaving the Timbers rattled. The entire park was on edge during the last few minutes of the game, but the Timbers managed to hold firm. Final score: Portland 3, Dallas 2.

The quality of play in these two matches has been outstanding. I loved it. So much better than last year. (Last year’s play was often sloppy, and I thought the coaching was terrible.) I’m eager to catch more games as the season progresses. The Timbers may not do very well this year, but that’s okay. I’ll have fun watching them anyhow.

Comic Book Christmas Covers

Ho ho ho! Merry Christmas, everyone. To celebrate the season, I’ve brought you just what you wanted: a small collection of Christmas-themed comic book covers. Don’t say I’ve never done anything for you.

First up is a comic that adapts an actual 1964 film.

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians

Sound like a bad comic? It was apparently a bad movie. In fact, it’s considered one of the worst films ever made.

Next, here’s an issue of Superman back when Superman comics were bad. They stunk. (I know this because I’m actively reading issues from this era right now.)

Superman 166

Note how the kids talk. I hate this. For some reason, DC comics of this era always have kids who mix up nominative and objective cases. I’ve never known any kid who does this in real life, so it baffles me why it’s a standard prop for comics from the fifties and sixties. (Also note that the kids often drop their “to be” verbs, which is another thing I’ve never heard…)

Here are some older comic covers, including a couple of Batman covers.

Action Comics 105

Batman 27

Batman 33
Silly Robin. He should have asked for Batman’s help.

Apparently Batman likes Christmas. Here’s a Batman cover from the early 1970s:

Batman 239
Batman Claus? Santa Batman?

Finally, here’s a comic I can remember actually buying in the grocery store when I was a boy. It’s notable as John Byrne’s last issue on X-Men and as Kitty Pryde’s first solo adventure. I think it’s also the first appearance of the Brood. (That means nothing to most of you, I know.)

X-Men 143

Have a merry Christmas, everyone. Be safe and kind and well.

Jane Austen’s Fight Club

I love it when two great (but unrelated) things get mashed together. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Jane Austen’s Fight Club.

It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty damn close. (For those of you who need some context: Fight Club is one of my favorite movies, and not because of the fighting — it’s about much much more than that. I think you can figure the Jane Austen stuff out for yourself.)

Coffee with Lord Vader

Oak Grove was once — long ago — a thriving community. Back when the trolley line ran through the “downtown” area, the neighborhood supported a number of businesses. Many of those storefronts still remain, but since the trolley left in 1959, Oak Grove has struggled to keep the businesses around. Folks head out to the Superhighway (as 99e was once known) or into downtown Milwaukie.

Kris and I like to support the handful of businesses that do try to make it in downtown Oak Grove. I’m a too-frequent customer at the convenience store on the corner of Arista, where the owner Joe and I chat about books and politics as I buy my diet soda and sugary candy. And Kris loves the Oak Grove Coffeehouse, the neighborhood’s only real business of character.

Jason started the Oak Grove Coffeehouse a couple of years ago, and though business seems tepid at times, it seems to be enough to keep the doors open. I think it helps that Jason and his staff have become sort of community hubs. The coffehouse puts on “open mic” nights, hosts art shows, and more.

For reasons that are opaque to me, the Oak Grove Coffeehouse hosted a fund-raiser last Saturday. Okay, the fund-raiser part I understand; it’s the type of fund-raiser that baffles me. On Saturday, the OGCH held a Star Wars-themed barbecue. Seriously.

Kris and I didn’t stop by, but because we’re fans of the store on Facebook, I was able to see photos of the event, including this one, which cracks me up:

Such a hilarious photo. I’m not sure how Darth Vader is going to get that coffee through his ventilator, but it sure looks like he’s going to try!

Timbers Army

It’s been an intense couple of weeks around the Roth-Gates household. Kris and I don’t fight often, but we’ve had a couple of rows lately, which should give you some idea of the stress level at Rosings Park.

Why so tense? Well, Your Money: The Missing Manual is finally in bookstores, and the public-relations push as begun. Between the PR, writing my personal-finance blog, and trying to squeeze in Real Life, there just hasn’t been much time for anything resembling a normal life.

Fortunately, the worst is behind us. Last week, I was a guest on 17 radio stations around the country, and I gave a presentation at Powell’s Books. (About 50 people came out to hear me, which was awesome. Thanks, everyone.) There’s still a bit of work ahead of me, but for the first time since last September, there are days at a stretch with nothing scheduled. Woohoo!

So, Kris and I are now much more relaxed. We’re able to spend time together working in the yard — and watching The Amazing Race.

I’m happy, too, because I can start hanging out with friends again. I knew this day would come, so I planned ahead. Though I’ve never done anything like this before, I decided to purchase two season tickets for the Portland Timbers, Portland’s pro soccer team. (The team will move to the MLS, the top U.S. soccer league, next year.) I’m hoping that I can rope one friend per match to join me.

Last Saturday was the first match of the year as the Timbers faced the Rochester Rhinos. (Say what? Are there a lot of Rhinoceroses — Rhinocerii? — in New York?) For this first match, I was joined by Michael Hampton and his nine-year-old son, Ethan. We met early to dine on pastrami and root beer at Kenny and Zuke’s, and then walked about ten blocks to the stadium.

There, I briefly said hello to Rich M., who first took me to a Timbers match back in 2008. (We also used to play soccer together as part of the woeful FC Saints.) Then Michael, Ethan, and I met up with Sinan and Nadir, who had saved seats for us in the midst of the Timbers Army.

Part of the fun of a soccer match (at least in most places around the world) is the fervor of the crowd. The folks who crowd the north end of Portland’s Civic Stadium do an admirable job of recreating this fervor. They chant and cheer and curse and sing. They wave flags and blow horns and set off smoke bombs. It’s a hell of a lot of fun, actually. (Sinan, who is from Croatia, loves Timbers matches.)

This photo from Oregonian photographer Thomas Boyd captures some of the fun:

I’m fairly certain this photo was taken in the 85th minute, after the Timbers scored on a penalty kick. Portland won the match 1-0, which was a lucky result. Though neither side played exceptionally well, the Rhinos were the better team, especially in the second half. But during the last ten minutes, Portland mounted a series of attacks, and finally found the back of the net after a Rhino hand ball.

And if you look very carefully, you can actually see me in the midst of these 15,418 fans. I felt very conspicuous in my rust-orange sweater Saturday night (Timbers fans dress in green and white), but it sure makes it easy to spot myself in the upper-right corner of the photo:

Anyhow, this was a perfect end to a tense week. And now I’m looking forward to a summer of Timbers matches with various friends. If you’d like to join me, drop me a line. I’m booked through the end of May, I think, but open for the games in June, July, and August. The only caveat is that you have to be ready to stand for 90 minutes, and you can’t have any compunctions about singing rowdy songs.

One Lucky Penguin

I suspect that many of you have seen this before, but it’s new to me. I drove out to Custom Box Service the other day, where Nick and Jeff just had to show me this animal intelligence video.

What happens if you’re a penguin being chased by a pod of killer whales? How do you escape? Well, if there are a bunch of tourists in a nearby boat, the answer’s pretty obvious:

Very funny stuff. I particularly like how the penguin is cuddling up next to one of the passengers near the end of this.

Dairy Goat Journal

I subscribe to several magazines about homesteading and self-sufficiency. While it’s true that Kris and I don’t live on a homestead, we both like the idea of doing stuff for ourselves. (One of us is better at it than the other, as you all know. I’ll admit: I’m more dreamer than doer.)

Because I subscribe to these magazines, we get on some interesting mailing lists. For example, we recently received a pitch for Dairy Goat Journal. I think it’s hilarious that there’s a magazine dedicated just to dairy goats!

Click this highlight to open the full ad in a new window.

This is especially amusing since Kris does think goats are delightful. She loves them. But I think she likes the idea of goats more than the goats themselves; I don’t know how she’d deal with actually having a herd of goats roaming around Rosings Park.

A Visit to Santa (1963)

While browsing the Internet Archive the other day, I came across a 12-minute film called A Visit to Santa. Usually, I love these old films (Kris and I spent a week this past summer digging through the good ones), but this? This is an abomination. See for yourself:

Are you in the Christmas spirit now, kids? Then sing it together: “Let’s give thanks to the Lord above ’cause Santa Claus comes tonight!”