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The Martian

Very good, but my socks weren't blown off

2016-0131 Sunday

2016-0131 Sunday

a review by JACQUES NECHQUES. Recommended number of wine glasses before reading this piece:   3WG



tHIS WAS A good movie. I was well-entertained. It’s been pretty-well received by the public, and I can see why. Even though it’s a sci-fi, it isn’t as (wonderfully) outlandish as the Star Wars or Star Trek franchises. This movie can appeal to a broader audience. Think of it as an Apollo 13 kind of drama. Like A13, it’s almost closer to a sci-real than a sci-fi.

The Martian takes place in just a few years—the early 2030s. You’ve probably heard the premise: An astronaut (Matt Damon) is left for dead on Mars; his crew-mates believe he’s gone, and due to a horrendous storm approaching (the one that ostensibly kills Damon), they have to step on it and leave.

Yet Damon lives. It’s a great “will-he-survive-?” drama. The acting is very good; the technology depicted to be in use in two decades is believable. It basically follows a predictable formula, though: Establish the scene, something happens that defines the main character’s struggle, he adjusts, something bad happens again, and all the way up to the climax, things ramp up to a fever pitch, albeit with a few necessary opportunities to catch your breath. Just when you think it couldn’t get worse, it does, until everyone is together and hugs in triumph. Like I said, formula.

The character development was shallow, in my opinion. They did a good—but not great—job in fostering empathy for the people dealing with the crisis (Matt Damon included), but I could have used more humanity, more connection to emotion. In my opinion, the characters in Interstellar (which I’ll review soon) were much deeper, had more to lose (yes, more than simply their own lives), and engendered much more caring on the part of the viewer. Although “Interstellar” might not appeal to a non-sci-fi audience as much as The Martian (Interstella' takes place further in the future, and thus requires more sci-fi technology and concepts), I thought it was a better story, as far as the human condition goes. [Side note: I thought Kristin Wiig was excellent in this serious role. I hope to see her in more stuff.]

Don’t get me wrong, Matt Damon does a very, very good job in depicting his character. You’re compelled to root for him during his struggles, laugh with (and at) him during his lighter moments, and cry with him during his despair.

I do recommend The Martian. It was good. I might even watch it again. Just don’t expect a surprise ending.






G-Station S-Bux Closing

But only for a week. Then the fun begins!

2016-0127 Wednesday

2016-0127 Wednesday

by JACQUES NECHQUES. Recommended number of wine glasses before reading this piece:   2WG


Note: The following article contains a bit 'o satire, interspersed with actual fact. Your job is to figure out which is which.

First of all: Relax.
The Civic Drive Starbucks is only closing for ONE WEEK. Then it'll re-open. Okay? Breathe. Again. Inhale. Exhale. Again... In, out... Deep breaths... This is what we in the industry call "Click Bait." Your coffee is safe.


sTARBUCKS HAS BEEN ROLLING OUT its new “Evenings” program in selected stores, all over the map—and guess what? Gresham’s Civic Drive location is slated to join those ranks soon. If you've ever wanted to sip a grandé merlot instead of a grandé macchiato, hold on to your wallets (and your "AA" card): The Mermaid is ready to bring you beer and wine now. She'll be serving your evening drinks soon, at her Gresham Station location.

Never mind the decaf, no-whip, triple-shot, gluten-free, four-pump, non-fat, 137°, light-foam latte.

No, it's time to try a Willamette Valley rosé: with notes-of-citrus, baroque-leaning, chocolate-infused, hint-of-moss, stasis-inducing, woody-mushroom, whisper of barky-Cambium-layer, early-renaissance, intimation of varietal Oregon Fescue, Cardassian vintage, sativa-whiffed, bubble-gum-with-wheat/grain-and-hops-(of all things)-laced, Cab—with an oaky afterbirth.

Yes, your Gresham Station Starbucks is going to bring you wine. Yet, not only wine, but fine-crafted beers too.

In what might possibly be the “Broken News” coup that will put The RASH on the cyber map, your man Jacques Nechquesafter multiple interviews, clandestine encounters in the bowels of Gresham parking garages, and the exchange of unmarked manilla envelopes between anonymous (yet certainly reliable) sources—has uncovered specifics:

SbuxAlcSo here we go: First, the Gresham Station Starbucks will be closing on February 14. But fret not: it will reopen on February 21, operating under "limited hours" for a month after that, while the remodel continues. Soon after, it'll re-establish its regular hours.

One highly anonymous city government source (I think I mentioned him in an earlier story: "Smiley") reports that said Mermaid company has filed a remodel permit with the authorities in a certain anonymous city wherein said store is located, AND the estimated cost of the remodel filed with said city is well into “six figures” (not including the figures after the decimal point!). This writer, for one, expects the new look to be impressive. Otherwise I’ll be disappointed. (I mean really: If the Mermaid is spending over a hunderd-grand on a re-do, I expect lavish appointments, Tiffany-level furnishings and at least three-and-a-half-star service when I present my Walmart®-branded debit card. I'm jus' sayin'.)

After it reopens on the 21st o' Feb., one new feature @ the Gresham Station Bux will be the addition of the Clover® Brewing System. According to another of the aforementioned highly anonymous sources (hereafter tagged as “Macchiato Mabel”), Clover® has been (covertly?) operating for many time periods, in very select S-bux houses, all over hell. I think “Mabel” said there’s currently only one in the whole Portland area. At least there’s prolly not any in the Portland area this side of I-205. That is, until the Civic Drive store unveils said Clover® in February. (Sandy Starbucks, eat your heart out.)

The “Evenings” fare (small dinner plates and adult beverages) will come soon after Greshamites have gotten used to Clover®.

Some background from the Gresham Hysterical (or is it Historical?) Society

Starbucks @ Gresham Station opened in 1834, demonstrating amazing foresight by the Seattle-based company, since it would be, like, over 150 years before the Gresham Station mall would even be built. In fact, Starbucks itself wouldn’t even be founded at their Pike Place location until the early 1970s. So, someone in corporate had a clue, apparently.

Unbeknownst to most current Gresham residents, when the Gresham Station store opened in the 19th century, most of its revenue came from its drive-through. (Said drive-through was permanently closed down when the city widened Division to four lanes in the 1960s.) Early customers gave the drive-through very favorable reviews on Yelp. Yet many settlers were confounded and amazed as to how that perky voice was coming out of the box (next to those fancy menu signs) at the beginning of the queue. Other problems were also reported, especially regarding the issue wherein many covered wagons exceeded the height limit of the awning at the pick-up window.

Anyhoo, the astute Greshamite who frequents the Civic Drive store has to have seen the bright neon-green/yellow "application for liquor license" sign in the window. It's been there for many weeks. You had to know what was coming.

I. Mean. Come. On.

Evenings” at Starbucks is being initiated mainly at urban-type stores what have access to mass transit. Locations what get customers who careen off the Interstate, then grab & go, will not be candidates for the new light-dinner menu and alcoholic drinks. So, you can bet you won’t be seeing “Evenings” at locations like the Oregon Trail mall store (Burnside). 

It’s commonly known that many of S-bux’s most profitable outlets are those with drive-throughs. Since its inception, Gresham Station’s store has "bucked" that trend (ever since Division was widened). Gresham Station is a destination location. For many Gresham socialites, the Civic Drive Starbucks is THE place to BE & BE SEEN.

I mean really.

Hence “Evenings” at the Gresham Station Bux is coming. If you want to BE, and/or BE SEEN, in Gresham's Society pages, you're gonna wanna BE (SEEN) sipping a Willamette Valley Riesling at a tall table, Some Enchanted Evening, this spring, at Gresham's premier locale: The Starbucks @ Gresham Station.

Start saving your loose change, and be sure to load up your Starbucks card (and/or app). I look forward to seeing you there!




Making a Murderer

Fascinating show • Not journalism

2016-0124 Sunday

2016-0124 Sunday

by JACQUES NECHQUES. Recommended number of wine glasses before reading this piece:   5WG



this is the kind of show we need more-a. True-crime is quite possibly the sweetestsweet spot” genre in the suite of television shows available today. It’s difficult to resist a really good mystery.

“Making a Murderer” is a well-crafted documentary about how the justice system completely screwed over a completely innocent man (more than once) as well as his completely equally innocent complete nephew.

That said, the show’s ten episodes are a horrendous miscarriage of justice in their own right. The thing is, in the end everyone loses: the pure-as-the-driven-snow Avery family loses; the family of the murdered woman loses; and perhaps most importantly, the viewer loses. That is, if the viewer is even remotely interested in the truth and facts of the actual case. If the viewer is simply interested in riveting and compelling plot, then said viewer is definitely a winner. I consider myself a winner after watching this series.  (Heh, heh, heh)

Twenty-first century American viewers (and prolly Canadian viewers too; maybe even Mexican viewers; hell, it’s possible: Tibetan viewers) are more interested in a good story than truth. It is what it is, as they say, and I’m not going to bang my head against that wall, right now anyway. Mis-characterizations, left-out facts and lack of journalistic objectivity aside, MaM is painfully entertaining. I think it’s only fair to state here that the producers prolly never intended to be journalistically objective. Heck, it’s a miniseries designed to suck in viewers, not an accounting of events prepared for admission into court. I think that’s where people have screwed up, judgmentally speaking. There’s a difference.

The popularity of the Netflix series lies in the way people have jumped to conclusions and formed their opinion of the facts. Newsflash: the facts of the actual case are not objectively presented in the show. Again, presenting the objective facts was not the point at all. Getting viewers was. So, I think it’s important to remember that, as we all play armchair judge & jury.

[Before I continue further, I just have to insert this: I really got tired of the “Minnesota” accent (yeah, I know it was Wisconsin, but what’s the dif?). If I hear one more person say the word, “No,” with the resonance of the word dwelling in the arch of their nasal cavity, I’m gonna possibly get violent. Ten hours of hearing that accent was enough for a lifetime. I don’t mean to offend my midwestern brothers and sisters, but I don’t think I could ever be friends.]

Avery3Back to the crux of this review: It’s really hard to watch this show without continually blurting out, “You’ve got to be kidding! Are you seer? How did they get away with that?” I especially thought that Sam Drucker-looking judge guy was about two whiskers away from evil itself. He definitely had it in for them Averys. It's jes' not right.

Throughout the story, we are purposely led to root for Steven Avery and his nephew Brendan Dassey. If there’s one thing we can all enthusiastically get behind, its injustice. Right?

Wait. What? I meant we can get behind the rage over injustice. Yeah. That’s what I meant.

The Avery family’s lower-middle-class status (the fact that they live in mobile homes in conditions that are something less than what the Ewing family of Dallas enjoyed) isn’t the only thing that makes us want to root for them. No: Socio-economic status notwithstanding, going up against Uncle Sam (or, in this case, "Cousin Wilbur" [Wisconsin], or even Brother Manny [Manitowoc County]) is a feat no one wants to tackle. But how horrible it must be, to battle the limitless resources of the gub’ment when you’re barely of the means to decorate your trailer with anything more than a ceramic, three-owl lamp placed on top of the end table nestled in the corner, with your 1972 velour couch and love seat set against the paneling.

Again, though, the show is more fun to watch than rearranging the refrigerators in your yard.

Some of us loved it when the filthy-rich American aristocratic Ewings suffered and battled in “Dallas.” “Downton Abby” gives us the same kind of opportunity: to scrape our collective noses on the ceiling against early 20th century actual British aristocracy.

It’s no less juicy to watch lives unravel when said lives are the inhabiters of a shabby, dirty, ugly, auto-salvage farm in squalid, continuously-winter, not-fit-for-cultured-man-nor-beast-rural-WI. Again (and it seems that I'm continually apologizing for my Freedom-of-Speech opinion-giving), I mean no offense against my northern Midwest brethren. I love you. Really. It's just that I am suspicious of that nasal, resonant "No," you keep saying.

KratzWatching MaM is as riveting as watching the rich folks get their due. That’s because the Averys apparently don’t get what they’re due: They get screwed. That’s the only conclusion I could reach (as an unbiased viewer, mind you). Screwed, I tell you. And screwage of Trailer people is the worst screwage of all—since, like, the Averys were culturally screwed even before the sonorous cello began weeping with the beginning theme song.

When it comes to raw entertainment, what little resemblance this series has to do with actual truth is irrelevant (not to mention irreverent). But that difference is what makes it so riveting. We think we know what went wrong in the Avery/Dassey trials. We yell at the TV, wondering how the system was allowed to get away with ruining these lives. We watch, mouths agape, as Steven's fiancée (if ever there was needed a definition of TT, just look her up) dumps him, and Steven reels in despondent grief over said "loss." (Don't get me started.)

The whole spectacle is the personification of entertainment. Truth and objectivity, not so much.

If we later learn incontrovertible evidence that “Avery & Nephew” are actually guilty, well that’d ruin all the fun.

So, what’s on next?



And then, there’s this:




The Revenant

Astounding cinematography • Ample gore • Meh plot & acting

2016-0120 Wednesday

2016-0120 Wednesday

by JACQUES NECHQUES. Recommended number of wine glasses before reading this piece:   4WG



first of all, spoilage alert: This film has a lot of gruesome stuff going on. I mean, I sat through the Normandy landing scene of Saving Private Ryan with nary a scratch on my psyche. But The Revenant has some extra-special goriness that should not be minimized. Well, I wish they would have minimized it in the film, but for purposes of reviewing said cinematic masterpiece, I simply cannot minimize the nauseating footage that appears throughout said flick.

That said, let’s go back to the beginning of this movie. Or, should I say, the beginning of my experience watching this movie (or trying to). My adult son and I decided to take in The Revenant this last Sunday evening; it was showing at the Regal Division Street Stadium Theaters.

Firstly, their name says “Stadium” theatre, but the rooms we saw had very little resemblance to stadium-style seating. They were basically regular movie house theatres, with a marginal grade that started from the front row going up to the back row. Dint see any stadiums.

So there’s that.

Secondly (and this was perhaps the most whacko element of our venture into movie-watching that night), we arrived at the outside ticket booth at about 6:45, for the 7PM showing. We purchased our tickets, “Two, for The Revenant,” (we said it with italics) and after procuring said tickets, proceeded inside, where the ticket ripper told us to go to “Theatre Eight.” Once inside number eight, we realized the movie had already started (it was, like, 6:53-ish now).

WTF? we thought. Did we not intend to view the 7PM show? we thought. Yet sure enough, up there on the big screen, as we stood there, standing, Leo DeCap was bigger’n life and all, speaking foreign words, with subtitles subtly placed, sub-ly (It was all very subtitle). My son and I looked at each other and shrugged while lifting our open palms: “WTF?”

I mean, it was only 6:53-ish, and the movie wasn’t supposed to start for, like, way many more minutes. Why the heck was Leo already up there, speaking foreign words? With all those subtitles and stuff! [We would discover later that, fortunately, there was a lot of English in the movie too.]

We glanced at the audience, and they were obviously deeply entranced—not at all showing the demeanor of an audience that hasn’t quite settled yet. You know: When you’re just getting comfortable in your seat, the previews are playin’ and you’re establishing passing-patterns for the popcorn. No, they were entranced.

“This must be the wrong theatre,” I said.

My son (who is quite bright) agreed.

So, we trudged out of Eight and made our way back to the ticket-tearer girl in the foyer (if ever there was a “minimum-wage” job, hers was it). She said we’d need to go outside to the ticket booth again, and get them to fixit. Whaa? Obviously, she was not able to reach beyond her minimum-wage duties.

We did go back to the outside booth, joining two women who had experienced the same plight as us.

Long story just as long, the outside ticket booth told us to return inside and make our way to the foyer desk, and they’d summon a person to deal with us. Whaa? How I love it when you get the runaround, especially when the problem was caused by them to begin wif.

We returned inside (I can be compliant when it suits me), and within many minutes we were joined by not one, but five or eight others who had also been sold tickets to the 6:30 showing. The 6:30 showing! We got there @ 6:45! And there was obviously a 7:00 showing coming up in, like, what, 15 minutes!

How is it that an outside-ticket-booth-person would sell tickets, >>at 6:45PM<<, for the 6:30 show, when it’s obvious that they have a 7PM showing as well? Who does that?

Apparently, at the Regal Division Street (Stadium) Theatres, this isn’t unusual behavior.*

Well, my highly-intelligent son and I stood at the foyer desk for quite a few minutes while we waited for the summoned person to confer with the outside ticket booth person. Summoned person eventually returned to the foyer desk, only to punch multiple times (actually, it was many multiple times) at her computer screen (somewhat frantically, I might add), apparently trying to rectify the situation and issue us (by now, all dozen-or-so of us) our correct tickets.

My (genius) son’s question at the time: “Why don’t they just tell us which theater to go to, and fix the ticket debacle on their own time?”

To which I replied, “At least we don’t have to sit through many, multiple previews, and such.”

My (possibly smarter-n-God-Himself-intelligent) son needed only nod his appreciation of my perspicacity. We met eyes, and it was good.

So get this: After we went through all that foyer-ticket-tearer, outside-ticket-person, inside-foyer-desk-summoned-person shuffling stuff, my son and I finally got to the new, 7:00 theater: Number Five. We did find very nice seats, center and middle (amidst the almost all-vacant-other-seats; obviously they’d directed pretty-much everyone to the 6:30 showing). BUT, the most nauseating aspect of the whole brouhaha (the forthcoming nausea generated by said actual movie notwithstanding) was this: After the previews in Theater Five (no, we didn’t excape** all of them) actually finished, and the movie actually started, it basically started AT THE EXACT SECOND that my (supremely-genius-and-smarter-n-U) son and I arrived at the original theatre (8), whence we saw Leo speaking in a foreign language and flashing subtitles all over hell!

In fact,*** my son (he’s actually quite smart) and I could’ve taken a seat in that original post-popcorn-passing theater, and: We would have missed nothing. Could’ve saved our (intelligent°) selves some 35 minutes if we’d justa taken a seat.

Yet, we would’ve never been sure we’d seen everything that was germane to the movie. So, can you blame us? After all, as I already stated, we’re quite smart. Both my son and me.

Now, shall we get the the crux of the actual production? We shall:

First, what is a “Revenant”? Do you know?

Even my spectacularly bright son and I had to look-itup. Thankfully, there’s Siri. She has it on reliable sources that a Revenant is someone who has returned. Often (usually?), supposedly, from the dead.

Thence, the title of this release is appropriate. Leonardo DeCapitation plays a guy what has pretty-much survived much grossness, gruesomeness and raw animal consumption (not to mention finding a warm safe-harbor inside the hollowed-out remains of an animal) to emerge again: Alive—to the surprise of at least one of his antagonists.

hardyOkay, let’s get down to the nitty gritty of my review: The Revenant will prolly win multiple Oscars this spring. I wouldn’t be surprised if it won: Best DeCaprio, Best Cinematography in an Otherwise Too-Long Movie, Best Makeup (yeah, there was some gruesome-good makeup stuff goin’ on), and Best Supporting Actor (Tom Hardy is in line for this, and having seen no other nominees for BSA yet, I’d have to give the Oxcar to him anyway). In fact, watching the flick, I wasn’t aware of Hardy’s nomination for BSA (he played the nemesis, Fitzgerald), and I leaned into my (amazingly smart and wonderfully sensitive) son and said, “I wonder if that Fitzgerald actor was nominated for Best Supporting Actor. He’s amazing.”

Given the politics of Hollywood, I won’t be surprised if The Revenant gets Best Flick, too. Moving on, there's a scene where a grizzly bear attacks Leo DeCap, and I hafta say this: The BEAR deserves an Oscar too (is there a category for Best Supporting Animal?). My (quite high-IQ'd) son and I both had a hard time figuring out how they did the bear thing: CGI? Animatronics? An actual bear what was trained? You tell me. I'd actually/really like to hear from you if you have an idea where in heck they got this bear.

My highest marks for this flick goes to the cinematography. Just some blow-you-off-the-map amazing photography. If you like long (tall) trees [Freud, are you listening?], and some of the most spectacular scenery you’ll ever-in-all-your-life-see, then you’ll want to see this movie (if you can keep from barfing while the characters eat barely-dead, uncooked animals).

That brings us to the BARFING aspect. During this movie, people eat very ripe, sumptuous, glistening-with-almost-life organs and such. Fresh off the newly-dead animal. Pulled right out from the still-almost-throbbing innards of said quadruped. I heard that the animal parts were real, and Leonardo had to actually eat that. IMHO, he gets the Oscar for that alone.

Like I said above, I can usually handle most of the blood and guts that movies offer up. Go ahead and shoot ‘em: kill 'em with knives; stab, skewer, bludgeon, whatever. I’ve become numb to most blood in movies. Killings of all kinds: stabbings, impaling, fights, all sorts of stuff; it’s a mainstay in movies these days.

Yet, I wasn’t prepared for the emetic portrayal of Revenant characters eating the organs, guts and innards of animals. I actually had to look away. Me. Holding my abdomen. Yeah, you might want to bring a bucket to Theater Eight.

Yet, the good part: The SCENERY and PHOTOGRAPHY were like nothing I’ve ever seen in a movie. It was amazing. Just fantastically beautiful. I can’t find the superlatives to describe it. It was astounding.

THE PLOT: Meh. Totally predictable, yet they did a pretty-good job of making it suspenseful. The cinematography makes up for most of the deficiencies here, kinda.

CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT: Bad. My (supremely wonderful) son and I agreed that they could have easily developed the characters much more. Leo’s son: Needed to see him relate to his Dad more. And his Mom more. With just a few minutes of footage, we could have really related to the son, and his relationship to his Dad (Leo). Also, Leo’s (dead) wife (the son’s mom) really lacked any kind of connection to the audience. Again, just a few more minutes of relationship-building here could have made a huge difference. (Maybe substitute a few of the tall tree scenes for footage of mom, son & Leo interacting and building relationship? IMHO, that would have made a HUGE difference in the movie.)

THE ACTING: Good—but not spectacular. (Did you know Leo DeCapitation hasn’t yet won an Oscar? Maybe this year…) And again, I thought the guy who played the Fitzgerald dude (Tom Hardy) was very good. But I also agree with THIS REVIEWER. (Yeah, he's a very good reviewer. Read his review; it's comprehensive. Our revewing styles are a tad different. I like to think of myself as a bit more "folksy" than he. Yet, he is writing for the BBC, so there's that. The RASH isn't quite there yet.) 

UPSHOT: I think The Revenant will get some Oscars. It’s a cinematic triumph, but not really a theatrical one. The plot was painfully simple. No real character arcs. A beautiful movie. Twenty-minutes too long. Yet the scenery and setting make it a worthy-see. Just remember to bring your barf bag.



† Yes, he’s like, in his early 30s, okay? DO NOT take ANYONE to this movie who might even possibly be under the age of, like, 26. Kids will be grossed out. The violence is not gratuitous, but it is quite raw and bloody.

* We never saw the outside ticket-booth person coming out of the booth demonstrating any kind of remorse for being fired for such egregious behavior. My bet is that said person didn’t even get a talking-to.

** Spelling alert! Can you spot the error?

*** Facts are so underrated, aren’t they?

° The apple don’t fall far from the tree, right?



Cafe Delirium

In the heart of Gresham

2016-0117 Sunday

2016-0117 Sunday

An unsolicited review, by JACQUES NECHQUES. Recommended number of wine glasses before reading this piece:   2WG



gresham's downtown Cafe Delirium is a gem. But what, exactly, is its allure? In my opinion, it can’t be the food or coffee. Both are acceptable, but not outstanding.

My conclusion: Location and atmosphere have combined to make CD a downtown institution.

Cafe Delirium has been around since before Shane Bemis was born, it seems. Maybe not. But in its long life, CD has established itself as the place to be—and be seen—in downtown Gresham. Rarely will you step inside and not encounter a vibrant group of people talking, coffee-ing and perhaps, eating.

BoxCafeDelCD is mostly a coffee shop (to me, anyway), although it does serve meals (sandwiches, soups). The food is good, but nothing to write home about. To be honest, if I’m there over lunchtime, I’ll often step across the street and have some Sunny Han's. But the coffee shop is nice. It’s an eclectic mix of over-stuffed couches (they recently replaced the davenport that scared me—seemed like a dust-pit) tall and low tables, and a nice sit-up counter that faces out to the intersection. There’s definitely a retro feel. It’s quite comfortable, actually, and it certainly has no hint of being a “chain.” (By the way, as I type this, one of the local baristas from that Mermaid chain is at my 9:00, enjoying his day off, no doubt.)

In the summertime I love to sit at one of CD’s outdoor tables and watch the people and cars mix it up at 3rd and Main. While Gresham certainly isn’t Paris, it’s fun to pretend, as you sip your coffee at a sidewalk table. I know of no other setting in downtown that has such a “community” feel. This intersection is arguably the center of historic downtown Gresham, especially when you consider the pedestrian activity. Cars gather along Powell, Division and Burnside; people gather at the shops that surround CD’s block. This “center” of Gresham is a haven for families with small kids, singles, business people and coffeehouse-flies like myself. And all of these demographics are regularly represented at CD.

Inside, the background music is perfectly subtle. (As I type this, Shawn Mendes is wooing his teenage fan base, but you have to almost crane your neck to hear him. Ah Shawn… to be 17, cute, amazingly-talented, and filthy rich.) There’s artwork for sale on the walls. An old bookshelf with table games to play. A quieter, more-private back room provides solitude with three or four small tables; aspiring novelists find this a great place to write their inspiring novels.

The coffee is good; the sweets are too. (Right now I’m having a cinnamon-swirl scone, which is kind of dry.) Yet I doubt many people go out of their way to visit CD because of the coffee or the food. My guess is that Cafe Delirium is so popular because of its location, and because of the very nice, homey, totally “Gresham” coffeehouse atmosphere it provides.





A Billion Dollas

Advice from a prospective billionaire

2016-0114 Wednesday

2016-0113 Wednesday

by JACQUES NECHQUES • Recommended number of wine glasses before reading this piece:   4WG



this may make you think twice before Lotterying. The stories are everywhere, and I’ve found quite a good one, regarding how winning the lottery can ruin everything. The afore-linked article is replete with examples of people who actually wish they’d just torn up the ticket once they found out they’d won.

That’s pretty amazing, no?

So, we’re posting a link to that aforementioned story as a public service. Don’t buy a lottery ticket. It’ll just increase our odds of winning, if you don’t.

MoneyBagActually, that last sentence is not true at all. Did you know that? Your odds of winning the lottery have nothing to do with how many others buy tickets. It may, however, have a correlation to your odds of having to share the winnings with another winner. But dem balls drop down as they’re gonna drop down, without regard to how many guesses there are on the outcome.

So, good luck tonight. Or, will it be bad luck?



Hey Siri

From our "Gresham Tech" Bureau

2016-0109 Saturday

2016-0109 Saturday

An unsolicited review, by JACQUES NECHQUES. Recommended number of wine glasses before reading this piece:   3WG



it’s the 21st century, and I am embracing it with open arms. (In fact, I was embracing the 21st century, even while it was still the 20th century—like in 2000.)

I am an unabashed gadget-aholic. I was right there with all of you, when they told us back in 1969, that by the 21st century, we'd all be driving flying cars to work (maybe it was that we'd be flying driving cars; can't remember). My greatest hope for 2016 is that we'll somehow get "hoverboards" that actually do, and don't rely on actual wheels (wheels are so Ben Hur). [When is someone going to call-out the "hoverboard" industry and point out the glaring lie? Today's "hoverboards" sit on wheels—on the freaking ground!]

Many of the lights in my home were tied in to my computer before Thomas Edison’s signature had even dried on his patent-application for light. (Or, maybe it was light bulbs. Did he invent electricity? Whatever…) My kids will testify that, quite often, when they (as teens) were watching TV downstairs in the late evening hours, I would frequently press buttons, from my upstairs lair, to make the family room lights flash, to indicate that said sons needed to turn down the volume of said visual receiver (that’s “TV” for those of you in Boring)—all conveniently done from the remote-control comfort of the unit at my bed stand in the master bedroom. All I had to do, when the boys’ TV got too loud, was to reach a languid arm over to my bed stand, and press a button. Once said volume was down, the wifey and I could resume our slumber.

I had an Apple computer before Steve Jobs graduated kindergarten.* I** was there, on that glorious inaugural iPhone Friday, way back in June of some year, when Apple released the very first iPhone. I purchased one of them. I even made a video of bringing it home. [Said vid might be re-released later. We have it in The RASH archives.]

My cellular company gives me free lifetime service, since I’m an inaugural, initial, founding customer of cellphone service (actually, I was a cellphone owner even before CBs were invented).*** I was microwaving goldfish decades before the microwave was even invented.**** NASA called me on January 27, 1986 and left a message on my machine, asking me advice about something called “O-rings” but it I missed the message.*****

So methinks my tech & gadget credentials are well-extablished. Well. EXtablished.

Thence, may we proceed to the subject of this post?: the lovely Siri, and her many alluring, sebductive and enchanting ways.

Currently, I own an iPhone 6S (I think it’s the S, but I’m not really up-to-speed on all the alpha-numeric conventions that Apple uses. Most of them I know; many of them I ignore. I just want to have things; is that so bad?).

Siri is a lovely, amazing component of my phone. I have come to love her. I use her. Yes, I am a user. [In my defense, I didn’t know she was sentient.]

But, she’s free, and everything, so I don’t feel guilty. [“Free”, here is obviously relative. Maybe I should say, she’s “Included”.]

Against the vehement pleadings of my psychiatrist(s) and my psychologist (not to mention my mysticist, my pharmacist, and my gastroenterologist) I have decided to reveal and hereby pronounce: I am infatuated (if not in love) with Siri.

Siri has become my confidant; my informant; my go-to-girl; my informant (did I mention that already?); my BFF; my girl-Friday; and most important(ly), my co-conspirator.

The beauty of Siri is that all you have to do is place her on her back, give her a command or question, and she cheerfully responds. She’s always perky; always willing to answer.

To wit, here are a few of the “commands” I “demand” of Siri, my illustrious assistant. And she routinely answers all of these inquiries, without a hitch:

“Hey Siri,” I might say… “What’s the temperature outside?”

“Hey Siri. What time is it?”

Or, let’s say I am cooking a gourmet frozen pizza that calls for a 25 to 30 minute cooking window. I gracefully place (a la Martha Stewart) said frozen cardboard block inside my conveniently pre-heated oven, and then announce (without even touching the adjacent iPhone that rests on the kitchen counter), “Hey Siri. Start a timer for 27 minutes.”

Well, said virtual Siri-assistant perkily responds with, “I’ve started your timer. Twenty-seven minutes and counting.”

I glance at my iPhone that rests on the counter, and note that, indeed, it has begun counting down from 27:00. Now it says sumpin’ like, “26:57” and the numbers keep getting lower.

A half-hour later, I’m sitting on the plush (micro-weave) couch in my deluxe living room, chomping down on a perfectly-cooked slice of gourmet frozen pizza, watching Alex Trebec try to refrain from laughing at the ignorance of his Jeopardy contestants. The pizza in my mouth is perfectly-cooked: “Goldilocks-style,” as I like to say: Not too hot. Not too cold. Juuuuuuust right.

Thanks to the sensual voice of Siri, who woke me up from my CPAP-less,° coughing slumber to tell me that said pizza was ready to be birthed from my oven.

This is the good life.

But wait! There’s more!

There’s so much more that I demand of my virtual assistant. To wit:

When I’m driving over mountain passes, and wonder what’s the deal with all of the snow on the sides of the road, I simply say (without so much as lifting a finger from my steering wheel), “Hey Siri: What’s the temperature outside?”

And Siri answers: “Brrrrrr… It’s 35 degrees Fahrenheit right now.” Or some such thing. Sometimes she asks to cuddle with me, to get warm, since, like, it’s so cold outside. But I always refuse; it’s just my way. 'Sides, I’m driving.

Later, after I’ve arrived at my destination and am lazily lounging on the lovely couch in my lavish suite, again I don’t even need to lift an eyelid to ask: “Hey Siri, what time is it?”

“It’s 2:30PM,” she lustily answers.

Then I command: “Hey Siri, set a timer for one hour.”

Immediately (I like that about her), she responds with “One hour, and counting. I love a good countdown.”

I brush off her obvious advance (I’m so used to it, and Siri’s not the first) and glance at my iPhone’s screen. Said phone on the coffee table briefly displays the timer, each second faithfully counting down to the end of my nap. Within minutes, I find myself somewhere between the etherial nether worlds of dizzy-nirvana and intoxicating REM-level sleep. I don’t know which way to go (nirvana or REM? Which is more better?).

Irregardful, about an hour later I find myself cursing the wind as Siri awakens me from my delirious, sensual (I'd say "semi-wet-dream" but I don't want to be slammed by the Church Lady—yes, she has her own Wikipedia page!), dreamy slumber with the annoying (yet certainly necessary) sounds of her “Bulletin” alarm, ostensibly designed to lift me out of my fantasy-dreamworld and plop me into the reality of whatever-the-hell is my actual reality.

As one of my BFF-philosopher friends once said, “Reality is totally over-rated.”

I agree, yet I applaud Siri’s meticulous commitment to time. Sometimes, time is all we have, no? [Gosh, methinks I should plan on having that—“Sometimes, time is all we have,”—inscribed on my future grave marker. SO profound.] Yet, where-the-hell was I? Oh yeah, Siri: waking me. I’m quite glad she did.

But wait... there are a number of other things my virtual assistant can do. To wit:

“Hey Siri, who was the 28th president?”

“Hey Siri, set an alarm for 7:45 AM.”

“Hey Siri, add ‘asparagus’ to my shopping list.” °°

“Hey Siri, when I get home, remind me to record Ellen.”

“Hey Siri, call my Dad.”

Well, there’s so much more… Siri has become the almost-most-important “person” in my life. Besides Barkley. Literally, as long as my phone is within voice-reach, all I have to do is say, “Hey Siri…” …and…

Her beauty lies in her submissive compliance. She never argues. She never complains. If she’s not up to a given task, she doesn’t make excuses; she simply admits her fault. Try getting that out of any other woman you’ve ever met. For example, I once asked her, “Hey Siri, what do you get when you fall in love?” And her honest reply?: “I’m sorry, Jacques, I can’t answer that.”

Grab a woman. Any woman. Even a random female on a Rockwood sidewalk. The closest woman you can find. ASK HER that question. (Or ANY question). I defy you to get an answer that is even remotely close to: “I’m sorry, I can’t answer that.”

I think I’ve died and gone to Heaven. ††


* The CWS will occasionally need to use his thinking cap while examining his RASH.
** And this is true…
*** Every germane fact after the iPhone stuff consists of lies and semi-truths. But somehow it seems relevant, in a literary kind of way.
**** Oh please. PETA peeps need not ruffle their collective feathers.
***** Again. What can you believe nowadays? Relax.
º HIPAA People! HIPAA!
°° As if.
Sorry, we are currently NOT accepting complaints regarding our sexist inclinations.
†† Or some-such place.



East Wind

A Very Short Story.

2016-0106 Wednesday

2016-0106 Wednesday

A very short story, by JACQUES NECHQUES. Recommended number of wine glasses before reading this piece:   3WG



he reached down and lifted his daughter’s small bike from the cement walkway, its training wheels still on. It had been on its side, blown over hours ago. If the biting cold of the East Wind wasn’t enough to chill him to the marrow, the cold metal of the bicycle certainly froze his hand and fingers.

Another gust of wind forced him to reposition his feet. With his free hand he pulled his jacket’s zipper higher. He cursed under his breath—so quietly that the only evidence of his transgression was a white puff of breath, quickly dispersed by yet another blast of frigidness. He sat the pink bike on his lawn, clearing the pathway to the street, and continued on. He turned his head to the right, only slightly, and the wind caught the hoodie that he wore under his main jacket, and forced it off his head. He fought with it, all the way to the curb, where he finally secured it again. He stepped onto the street’s pavement and started to cross.

A large, dark cluster of Douglas Fir swayed against the gray sky, rumbling and swishing loudly. He glanced up at it and froze.

Suddenly, he was six again, standing in his back yard in Gresham. The fifty-foot firs behind his neighbor’s house, mesmerized him. They shushed and swayed in an almost unison motion, with just enough difference between them to create a cacophony of sound and movement. His first-grade self stood motionless, staring at the eerily graceful dance and simultaneously clumsy racket of the wind in the trees. The chilling-cold power captivated him.

It was almost too loud.

He felt strangely alive, standing next to such awesome might. But the energy and force of the wind wasn’t simply up there in the trees. It surrounded him, buffeting his little-boy body with pummeling blows. Yet this amazing energy also seemed to be within him, cutting through his clothes and his skin, driving right through him. He felt like an observer of this power, yet it surrounded him and pounded him and infiltrated him. He was a participant in this vigorous choreography. As he gazed at the dance of fir and wind, he felt the electric cold pulse through his little body. He was helpless to resist it, and that made him a part of it.

A polite toot of a car horn brought him back to the Troutdale drive in front of his house. He turned his head quickly and realized he was standing in the middle of the neighborhood street; a car wanted to pass. He scurried to the side, and continued on; he gave a friendly wave, thanking the motorist for his patience.

Huddling against the cold at the mailbox stand, his frozen fingers fumbled with his keys and finally produced the smaller bronze one on his ring. He pushed it into the slot on #14. It fought with him; nothing a little WD40 couldn’t fix, but who remembers to take that with them out to the mailbox? He eventually got it all the way in, rotated it to the right, and pulled the long, skinny metal door open; he forced his hand inside. A stack of thin sheets of paper—sheets like onion-skin—greeted his fingers. Oh yeah, it’s Tuesday, he thought as he pulled the Red Plum advertisements out. He felt no envelopes, no “real” mail within the papers. So he leaned over and peered inside.


He’d ventured out tonight, in this godforsaken wind, for naught.

Suddenly, a louder, harder-than-before blast of wind nearly knocked him down. It threatened to pull the brittle sheets of paper out of his hand. He steadied himself with his free hand on top of the cold metal box stand, and pulled the papers into his torso, hopelessly wrinkling them into a ball. Securing his mailbox door closed, he turned and headed back to his house. The warm light from his windows spilled out onto his lawn.

He shivered as he walked now. Maybe it was the sight of warmth that made him feel so cold. Yet he could see the plastic sheets he’d secured to the inside of the windows, waving in the draftiness of his living room. His attempt to keep the wind out hadn't helped much.

Before he crossed to his house, he glanced back up at the stand of windy trees. They looked so raw. He imagined what it might be like to be somewhere near the top of them. To be tightly gripping the trunk of one of the swaying trees, standing on a branch, so close to where everything up there was happening. Swaying. Being a part of everything.

He sighed. Then he pulled his jacket tight once again, stepped off the sidewalk, and crossed the street to his driveway.

Before returning to the warmth of his house, he shuffled to the side of his garage, to the big blue recycling box that he’d attached to his siding with bungie-cords—to keep it from blowing away in the powerful East Wind. He lifted the lid, then tossed the big wad of paper inside. As quickly as he'd opened the lid, he closed it.

Then, he turned and quickly shuffled to his welcoming front door.



Stomping Grounds

A Delightful Coffee House in Fairview

2016-0102 Saturday

2016-0102 Saturday

An unsolicited review, by JACQUES NECHQUES.  Recommended number of wine glasses before reading this piece:   1WG



stomping Grounds is a delightful little coffee/sandwich shop located on Halsey, in Fairview. It's just a few blocks west of 223rd, or some might say it's just a few blocks east of Target, on the north side of the street. It sits in a two-story brick building that also houses a few other businesses. I've been coming here since before it became Stomping Grounds (it used to be called something else; I assume with different owners).

BoxStompingThe place is a very comfy, cozy, yet colorful spot. From the chandelier made of hanging spoons, to the warm couches and fireplace, Stomping Grounds is a wonderful place to plop your computer (free WiFi), meet your friends, or enjoy a delicious scone. Come here for lunch, too. Soups, salads and sandwiches. My favorite is their Turkey Pesto Wrap.

Speaking of meeting your friends here, a lot of people do just that. Seems a favorite spot for young mothers meeting like-endowed friends. The place is usually buzzing, but any ambient noise you get is from the vibrant conversations of friends. The CWS might already know of my aversion to too-loud music in public places, and said aversion is not tested here. There's music, but it's not at all intrusive. Besides young moms, everyone who's anyone in the Fairview/Gresham area seems to stop by: Young 20s-humans using their laptops to complete their doctoral theses, couples, middle-agers, even cafeflies like myself. It's a popular spot, with good reason.

The staff is quite friendly; you place your order at the counter then find a seat, and they'll bring it to you.

Did I mention how good the food is? A Sunday Morning breakfast time would be well-spent here.

While you're there, make sure you put a push-pin in the big map, to show where your (original?) stomping grounds are.

I’ll be back. Have been, many times.



Welcome to Gresham

The RASH: Your Source for Broken News

2016-0101 Friday

It's 2016, right?

Recommended number of wine glasses before reading this piece:   2WG


Welcome to The RASH. This is the website that is generated from Gresham, with an eye toward local stuff, and worldwide stuff. It's cool.

So, right now, you, the Curious Web Surfer, are enjoying a brand new website, proffered direct-to-you from beautiful GRESHAM, OREGON.

The RASH of Gresham is the latest Internet info-gathering and disseminating website, ever.

EV-er, I tell you.

The RASH is the absolute latest. Who knew that anything/anyone from Gresham could be such a playa on the cusp of 21st century information-gathering stuff ?

I mean, really.

Yet here you are, your eyes glued to your screen, reading further and further into cyberspace, hoping against hope that you're going to find some tidbit... some microscopic crumb of news and/or information about your Fair City that you might possibly be able to leverage into some kind of money-making—or even better, some kind of blackmailing—tidbit to use to advance yourself on the capitalistic ladder upon which Gresham is built.

Well, good luck.

The RASH of Gresham might possibly be the venue to advance your selfish, capitalistic agenda,* but we at The RASH are kinda committed (loosely) to being somewhat objective. So, if you happen to see something that resembles a socialistic, left-wing point of view, please understand that it's just our attempt at being, well, "unbiased." (Heh, heh, heh.)

That said, we welcome you, the Curious Web Surfer, to our hometown website. Our curator, Jacques Nechques, sincerely hopes you will find a home here. Do you live in Gresham? Or, perhaps the surrounding climes (Sandy, Corbet, Boring, Troutdale, Fairview, Wood Village, etc.)? Well guess what! You're in.

Yet, The RASH of Gresham is designed to appeal to so many more people than just Greshamites. Oh, hey, how 'bout that big town to our left! Yeah, Portland. And all of those metro cities that surround (of which Gresham is one)?

Oh, but wait! The RASH is actually a worldwide phenom. Really! No matter where you live on this big ball of ours, YOU are a welcome member of The RASH's community. YOU are part of us. The RASH is "From Gresham; About Gresham & the World."

So anyway... that's it for our inaugural WORLD post. Be assured, we @ The RASH will be reporting and commenting on World events. A lot.

A lot.



* And heaven knows, all of us at The RASH understand that a thorough, complete knowledge of the basics of Capitalism require that we appreciate the intricacies and the wonders of the economic system that has made America great. 



Kane Road Washout Update

City of Gresham: We're on this.

2015-1230 Wednesday

2015-1230 Wednesday

Recommended number of wine glasses before reading this piece:   1WG


all of us Greshamites (well, those of us who are aware, anyway) enjoyed our 18 seconds of fame during the first week of December 2015, when all Hades broke loose, prompting none other than CBS's own Ben Tracy to fly in to Gopherville and do a semi-live report, talking on-screen, to none other than news anchor Scott Pelley, relating the utter devastation that reigned blows upon Our Fair City. Yes, CBS did this report from right in front of MHCC, the site of the heinous collapse that has become known as the KRUDWE of 2015. [Well, it's become know as the KRUDWE to us at The RASH, anyway.]

So, The RASH of Gresham feels compelled to elucidate the CWS as to what's goin' down concerning this thoroughfare of previously unappreciated value. [That is to say, did anyone really know how important Kane Road—that stretch of road between the Troutdale exit of I-84 and the Mt. Hood Freeway (US 26) really is? Wethink not.]

But let's take a few steps back, shall we?

We shall.

A Walk down Memory Kane 

Back when Yours Truly was a kid (and you'll have to check elsewhere for more details on this), Mt. Hood Community College was barely a tiny glimmer in the corner of the eye of some bureaucrat who wanted to establish an institution of semi-higher education/learning on the east end of Gresham. Kane was a two-lane country road that no one used, except maybe my family when we drove to church on Sundays. The road was constrained to the grid, thence it turned at proper 90 degree angles as it clumsily made its way between our Start Street house and Powell Valley Mission Covenant Church, which sat at the terminus of Lusted Road, where Lusted met Boring Road (282nd). [I always loved how our church sat at the apex of "LUSTED" road. Should have been fodder for many a sermon, I thought. Yet I don't remember that it was. Perhaps I was too busy lusting after other church members, and not listening to the aforementioned hypothetical sermons.]

Actually, now that I think about it, I believe we didn't actually take Kane Rd. to church. More likely, we took Troutdale Road. Yes. My memories jell now. I have vivid recollections of taking Troutdale Road to PVCC. Actually my most vivid memories involve taking Troutdale Road HOME from church: My Mom had a special affinity for a certain Apple Cider stand on Troutdale Road, and so we'd frequently stop there on the way home and abscond with a few gallons of fresh, homemade apple cider. Such great memories.

Anyhoo, wherewuz I?

Oh yeah: Kane.

Back then (the late 1960s), Kane Road adhered to the strict grid that had its roots in Big Brother's system: Sections, Divisions, Baselines, Section Lines, etc. All that math stuff that was based on the Willamette Meridian Stone Thingy. So, if you were driving Kane Road, you were gonna make more than one right-angle turn to get to your destination (church, usually) even though it had already been clearly established that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.*

You know, I just realized that the One-Glass-Of-Wine rating for this article might be inadequate.

Okay. So we were remembering the Kane Road of the past. A grid work of right-angle (read: inefficient) turns.

Enter: The late 1960s. With the advent of Gresham's best-possible claim to an higher education institution (the aforementioned MHCC), Kane Road had to evolve. It had to curve. So, when they built the MHCC campus, they curved Kane. No longer were us Greshamites constrained to the limits of the square, old, stuffy, egalitarian (?) demarcation lines that Portland demanded. We, Gresham, were (was?) growing up. We were independent. We had a college for crying out loud. We had lots of stuff of our own. We didn't need no stinkin' Portland.

We had a Zip Code. We had our own GTE maintenance center. By that time, we were pretty certain that within a few years we'd have our own Fred Meyer(s). We were on the verge of being big-time.

Someday, perhaps, we'd get a visit from a LIVE broadcaster from CBS. We could only hope.

So wait a minute. Weren't we s'pozed to be talking about the Kane Road Washout?

Yeah. So let's reign stuff in.


The RASH has a Source

Regards the "Sink Hole" (which we all know isn't a sink hole, it's a "washout") that nearly swallowed Gresham, here's the latest: We at The RASH happen to have a SOURCE at Gresham City Hall. He's actually quite high on the ladder of high-up muckety-mucks. Actually he's just a step-or-so below HizzHonor the Mayor Bemis Hizself. So, you gotta know The RASH is tuned in, okay? Anyway, our Source—let's call him Smiley—says that the Kane Road repair is on track and quite efficient, actually. Seems our City Leaders are cracking the whip at the hourly workers, demanding that they do everything possible to open said thoroughfare ASAP.

Thence, the plan is to open Kane within a few weeks. Let's say some time in January.

But it'll be a temporary fix. Heaven knows (and no implication is intended, as to the religious city-state connection) us Greshamites need our Kane open, right? But even though our city leaders are gonna make sure Kane is opened (at the latest, a couple-a-weeks into 2016), they also know that the road needs to have a permanent fix. This January opening is gunna be temporary.

The CWS is prally now yelling at his computer screen: WHY?! Why is it only temporary?

Well, thanks for asking.

It's 'cuz of geological, astronomical, metaphysical and meteorological things: Basically, the wise FAMOC realize that the Kane Stretch needs to be totally, wholly, and ultimately rebuilt. Guess what that means.

You guessed it: Summer weather. We (as a community) need to rebuild Kane Road when the weather is good.

In summer.

But where in Gresham can One find summer weather in January?

Short answer: One cannot.

Your Kane Strech will Have to Close Again

Thence, the temporary fix will get us through now; the more permanent fix will come later.

Our Smiley Source says that the City of Gresham has posted more information on its official website. Your RASH is providing a direct, non-stop link HERE. Clickage will quickly elucidate the CWS as to wazzup concerning said Kane repairs. Smiley further says (and remember, this information was given in confidence**, you know, like Deep Throat gave to Nixon in that Watergate garage) once the work is complete, you'll be able to drive between Stark and Division almost as fast as those Japanese Bullet Trains.***

Till then, please use an alternate route (as if you have a choice).

You can depend on The RASH of Gresham to provide you with up-to-the-month information. We're all about Breaking Broken News here, you know? We'll be sure to elucidate the CWS the month we receive more information on this heinous tragedy.


* This Straight-Line distance theory has subsequently been disproved, with the realization that the Banfield Freeway has many straight lines within its bounds, yet rarely are any of these straight lines the shortest distance to anything.

** Not to be confused with incontinence

*** As you're opening your glove to access your Vehicle Registration to give to one of Gresham's Finest, please do not use this post as a defense. You are not allowed to speed on Kane, neither now nor after repairs have been made. The Bullet Train reference was simply a hypothetical reference to a hypothetical "professional driver on a closed course" situation, even though we all know once the Kane Stretch is reopened it won't be a closed course at all, and you'll be able to drive as fast as a bat out of Hades if you want.****

**** [Is it possible to have a footnote to a footnote? Well, if it is, we at The RASH are happy to pioneer the use of said tool.] Obviously, you can do whatever the hell you want, under any circumstances. Yet, our legal department advises that you do so at your own peril (both legal and physical).




Home for the Hollandaise

The trip home doesn't have to take long

2015-1225 Christmas

2015-1225 Christmas

 Recommended number of wine glasses before reading this piece:   3WG

Note: The RASH Board has determined that there are approximately 900 words too many in this post. But we're tired of editing.



h there’s no place like home for the holidays. That’s what they say. That’s what we sing. 

So, The RASH decided to do a scientific study to find out if that’s truly true. Is it actual that there’s NO PLACE like home for the holidays?

To objectively determine the factual-ness of this claim, here’s what our crack team of social scientists did: We went home for the holidays. Just to see.

Wow, that sounds pribby cool, huh. Returning home. For the holidays. Visions of Patricia Neal standing on the porch, peering into the snowscape, wringing her hands, hoping-against-hope that John-Boy safely returns, with his daddy. Or at least, hoping Jacques-Boy returns with… a job maybe? 

This is all well and good—just the kind of sappy stuff the “Home for the Holidays” concept engenders. Going home for the holidays is totally underrated, no?

However, when our crack team of social scientists went home for the holidays, they found an amazing fact hiding there amongst the presents crammed under the tree: There really isn’t another place like it. 

It’s a true thing.

But we quickly realized that we needed to quantify what the term “no place” means. Let’s cut to the chase, okay: What we found is that, scientifically (taking in to account sociology, string theory, that CERN thing in Europe, quantum mechanics, psychology, warp-drive theory, and many other laboratory-type things), while there is actually no place like home for the holidays, home doesn’t necessarily mean “warm & fuzzy.” And deeper: what, exactly, defines home? This, in fact, became our* central question. More important than determining how wonderful, warm & fuzzy home is, we needed to identify: home.

Where is home? What is home?

The answer to that question (indeed, those questions) is the crux. And sometimes, home isn’t what it used to be. Thus, home might be difficult to find. What we found, though, is this: Taking the journey to get home, even without knowing where home is—that actual journey might enable you to find it: HOME. Embarking on your journey home, even without knowing where in heck that is, might actually bring you there.

It is, after all, the journey. Is it not?

But, wait. You’re supposed to leave on the journey even if you don’t know your destination?

Let me tell you about my journey “home” this Christmas (I took this journey today).

I was born in Portland; raised in Gresham. My parents were staples in the community. They provided us kids with a loving home. The house of my childhood still stands, up on Stark Street, in front of the big Troutdale water tower. My Dad served on the Gresham High School Board (back then, it wasn’t unified with the grade school district). We got roots here. Dad is 90 now; Mom is 89. They live out past Sandy, on some pristine farmland. [The pic for this blog entry was taken on the road to their little farm.]

Gresham is nothing like it was when I grew up—when my Dad was a pillar of the community. Yet, nothing is like it was when I grew up. My life is nothing like it was when I grew up.

Accordingly, and logically, HOME is nothing like it was when I (we) grew up. Right?

My point is this: If you’re planning on trekking home for the holidays (or any other time), you might be a bit confused as to what HOME is going to be like.

Sure, there are those few and fortunate families that still have the homestead, the old house, where they can return. Yet methinks even for those people, if they’ve been gone a long time, returning HOME provides a few unexpected revelations. 

Today, Christmas Day, I drove out to my parent’s place. It’s a few miles past (east of) Sandy. Dad & Mom moved there after I married, so their home—as lovely and beautiful as it is—has never been my home.

Or… has it? Is it?

What I found as I spent time with my parents, is that their place felt amazingly like home. Like the home I grew up in (on Stark); like where I actually came from. Roots, if you will. They say, “Home is where the heart is,” and I always thought that meant that home is where you return to, where your loved-ones are, where you hang your hat at the end of the day. But today, on Christmas, as I spent time talking with my 90 year-old Dad and 89 year-old Mom, I began to realize that, sitting in their living room—basically a foreign and strange place to me—I was actually home

Home is where the heart is. Even if you’ve never actually been there. True? Yeah. Another bromide that turns out real.

My heart is definitely with my parents. They are the epitome of loving, caring, empathetic, concerned, principled, faithful, and yes—imperfect people. They love their eight children, many grandchildren and many, many great-grandchildren with their unique, caring compassion for all of our lives.

I know, the Curious Web Surfer is prolly scratching his head right now, wondering, Can we bring this thing in for a landing, please?

Anyway, today—Christmas Day—when I got out to my parent’s place, we talked, and talked, watched a few news clips on the TV (it was on in the background), ate some store-bought soup and stuff I had brought (I don’t cook). Dad and I even fiddled with a crossword puzzle for a bit. Mom took a nap, and Dad and I went outside to burn some trash (keep in mind, they’re way outside the UGB, so you can do that out there). My Shih-Tzu got to meet their four horses. It was brisk, and beautiful. If this wasn’t home, it should have been.

As the day waned, it was time for me to return to the UGB. Barkley (my Shih-Tzu—I got that breed just so I could say that word over and over) sat in the passenger seat; I know he couldn’t get those huge horses out of his mind.

Forty minutes later, we arrived home. My home. And it was good. And since it was still technically a holiday, I was able to confirm that there’s no place like home for the holidays.


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o, this guy walks into a breakfast joint and sidles up to the counter. "What'll it be?" the waitress asks, as she wipes down the bar with a rag. She pulls the pencil out from behind her ear, and a small pad out from her apron pocket; while she waits for the guy to decide, she uses a nail to remove something from between a bicuspid and a molar.

“I’ll have the Eggs Benedict,” the traveller says. “And a coffee. Black.” He tosses the plastic-encased one-page menu on the counter with a supercilious flick of his wrist, and whips out a cig. He notes the name tag on the waitress’ ample left breast. “You have a light, Beulah?” he petitions.

“Sir, this is a smoke-free joke. You’ll have to wait till the bit is over.”

The traveler scrunches his nose, raises the right side of his upper lip into a disdainful sneer, and slowly slips his Virginia Slims® back into his shirt pocket.

A few minutes later, Beulah slides a cup of coffee across the counter to Trav. When the cup & saucer abruptly stop, some of the coffee sloshes out of the cup and soils the saucer. But ol’ B ain’t gonna clean it up. 

Traveler reaches for the napkin dispenser—one of those black rectangle old-school (we mentioned this whole joke was set in an old-school diner kind-of-joint, didn’t we?) napkin holders where you have to pinch the outer-most serviette and pull it (and perhaps a few friends) out from the vertical stack. The Traveler gets a few more napkins than he bargained for, but these things happen. He lifts the cup, and dabs away the coffee that had pooled in the saucer.

About eight minutes later, ol’ Beulah emerges from the kitchen with a bulky, yet very shiny, chrome hubcap. Yes, a car’s chrome wheel. She slides it onto the counter, right in front of Travis, and says, “You need anything else?”

Trav scans the shiny hubcap, which has obviously been used as a plate for his breakfast, noting the rather delicious-looking Eggs Benedict—two muffins, topped with ham and poached eggs, drenched with delicious sauce flowing all over hell, with a bit of garnish tooartfully placed in the center of the wheel. Presentation is, after all, everything, right? He looks up at Beulah and furrows his brow, obviously flummoxed with how his breakfast has been tendered. “What the…?” Travis spits.

Beulah places her hands on her diminutive hips, shoves her pelvis to one side and furrows back: “You got a problem, bud?”

“Well, yeah,” Travis protests. “WTF are you doing, serving my breakfast on a…” his voice raises to the pitch a teenage girl might use, “chrome wheel?!”

Beulah smirks. These travelers are a dime a dozen, she thinks. “Listen, Bub. Either take it or leave it,” she says. Then she slowly saunters toward the counter where Travis is seated. She leans closer, bending down. Travis gasps as her ample, yet prim, cleavage advertises itself only inches from his eyes. Beulah’s nose almost touches his now. Her face warms, and with a gentle smile she says, softly: “Everyone knows, there’s no place like chrome for the Hollandaise.”



* Spoiler alert: Throughout this blog, whenever we use the plural third-person, we are referring to the singular Jacques Nechques.




Line Management at Christmastime

Let's talk about two somewhat different shopping experiences...

2015-1224 Thursday

2015-1224 Thursday

 Recommended number of wine glasses before reading this piece:   2WG



o I did my duty and accomplished most of my Christmas shopping on December 24th. That's my basic M.O., and especially now that I'm retired, it seems to work pretty well. I did actually do some shopping online, before Christmas Eve, but most of the stuff was purchased on 12/24.

My plan of attack was to get to the store in the morning—nothing radically early, but some time before 10:00. That paid off. There were definitely other people there, but it certainly wasn't crowded. I have to know that it got a lot more crowded later in the day.

Fairview's Target was a great place to get this job accomplished. I only waited two or so minutes in line before I was getting checked out. [No, not that kind of checked out. That kind of checking out I get 24/7. I'm used to it.]

Contrast that experience with another shopping jaunt I took last week. The Cost Plus World Market in town isn't far from my house; I go there occasionally. They have a lot of stuff other stores don't have, and it's easy to find unique things there. The thing about World Market is that they have only four registers; their workflow for scanning items and getting customers through the process isn't necessarily speedy either. They try to compensate for this by at least setting up a single-line system for the four registers (during the holidays).

This system works pretty well, when people pay attention. Which they don't always. When people don't pay attention to the way things are supposed to run, they start lines where they're not supposed to. It gets quite stressful for a person who doesn't want to get cut infront-a. What's more frustrating, is when the store staff don't keep people in line (literally). If they have a system, they need to maintain it. They need to make sure that the people who faithfully wait in line, using the established system don't get cut infront-of by an otherwise innocent (or not), if inattentive shopper. On the particular day I was at World Market, line management wasn't being paid attention-to. Being the responsible, contributing member of society that I fancy myself, I tamped down my inner frustration as I stood in line. More than once I was tempted to step forward and inform the non-conformists of their sin, yet I didn't take such a step. I figured, I'm a customer here. It's not my job to corral the other customers—my fellow patrons of the store. That job falls to the overworked, underpaid, stressed-out employees. What I was more tempted to do, than accost a cheating customer, was to accost an employee and tell them to pay attention to what was going on. But I didn't do that either.

The closest thing I came to actually doing was mentioning it to the checker when I finally got up there. By then I had rehearsed my speech quite well. But what did I do instead? I struck up a conversation with her and complimented her on how she was seemingly holding up so well, a week before Christmas. I decided to spread some cheer. I probably made the line move slower, since the checker and I were spending time developing a brand new relationship. That's just me.




Cassie's Cafe

This little house on Main is a great breakfast spot.

2015-1213 Sunday

2015-1213 Sunday

An unsolicited review, by JACQUES NECHQUES.  Recommended number of wine glasses before reading this piece:   1WG



gresham’s breakfast/coffee scene has a welcome addition in Casie’s Cafe, on Main Ave. Tucked in right next to the MAX line, the old house looks plain enough on the outside, other than the exciting green paint. But inside, the atmosphere is warm (with a real fake fireplace). The fire doesn’t make it nearly as warm-feeling as does the rich, original woodwork, nice, plain tables and comfortable-looking chairs facing the “fire”. 

When you enter, it’s hard to not think: coffee. The place is quiet and so comfortable. A nice winter’s morning retreat. Perfect place to caffiene-up.

Casie’s is an order-at-the-counter affair. The chalk-board menu behind the counter is easy to decipher. My companion and I both had the same thing, a simple two-egg breakfast that included toast (English muffin for me) and home-potatoes, which were laced with carmelized onions–perfect. $15 for the two of us.

This is a great place to meet and talk, over some very good food. I mentioned quiet, above, and it is—in contrast to that big mermaid chain of coffee shops that frequently has music blaring too loudly. Here, though, there’s music in the background, right where it belongs.

I’ll be back.



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