Monday, March 31, 2008

Candidates, Aging Punksters, Cheese, and Crazy Coast Weather

Hello everyone!

I've been making a lot of promises in the past few weeks about upcoming blog postings about Obama's visit to Eugene and about the cheese of the month experiences. I realize that I better not procrastinate anymore, or else it's going to be too late and I'll officially be a liar.

Unofficially being a liar is bad enough.

Anyway, on with the blog posting! This one may seem like three or four posts in one,
so lucky you!

As you all should know by now, we went to see and hear Barack Obama give a speech on Mar. 21 (which you can watch here).

I had heard rumors of him coming weeks prior, but the official word didn't come until just a few days before. We knew it was going to be first come, first serve, and since I turned in my final final paper for the winter term the day before, I volunteered to be the one to stand in line all day if needed since I had nothing better to do.

I drove by at about noon the day of the speech, and there was already a line forming in front of Mac Court. Keep in mind, the doors were scheduled to open at 7pm and the festivities were not scheduled until 9.

I had a couple things to take care of first, and then I showed up at about 3pm. By this time, the line had grown into two lines that went in both directions from the front entrance on University St., around each corner on either side of the block, and at least half a block down 18th and 15th Avenues. I jumped in on 15th under a covered bike rack in case it rained (it didn't). Within an hour, each line had wrapped around on Agate St. and met the other. Here's a campus map to help you visualize.

This would've been a great photo if the assclown in the khakis hadn't stepped in the way at the last second. Just picture a line of people that extends all the way to the farthest car you can see:

The mood in the line was quite jovial. A car alarm went off for almost two minutes. Once it stopped, the line applauded. People were amusing themselves at the guy who kept doing laps while holding up a big orange sign that said "9/11 WAS AN INSIDE JOB" while also admiring his determination. Another guy rode by on a bike and scolded the people in line for wasting time trying to work for change within the system. He should have had a sign like the 9/11 guy because most people in the crowd had no idea what he was talking about.

There were also a couple McCain supporters, but unfortunately, everything remained civil. I had a chance to talk to a few people from the Jeff Merkley campaign, the guy who is the biggest challenger to my guy Steve Novick in the May primaries. They seemed nice enough, but too bad for them that they're on the losing team.

If I'm starting to be annoying with all these Novick references, don't worry--I'm just getting started. I'll be doing an internship this spring with his campaign, so I'm not going to shut up about it until May or November if when Novick wins the primaries.

They ended up opening the doors a half hour or so early, and it was a good thing since they had the TSA airport screeners working there with metal detectors. For once I didn't mind because I don't want the Obama-JFK or Obama-RFK comparisons to be too appropriate.

Despite waiting in line for well over 3 hours, we still ended up in the nosebleed seats. When we got there, some a cappella group was singing into one microphone and it sounded terrible. Our friend Wade was working the show, but luckily for him he was only doing stage and lighting, not sound. Anyway, it turns out nobody bothered to tell the sound guy that 20 or so people will be singing, and he was only set up for one person to be speaking at a time, hence, one mike. The crowd didn't know any of this, however, and for the first time in my life, I heard a "Fix the sound!" chant. Yikes!

After another painful a cappella group, nothing happened for a while, so the crowd amused itself by starting a wave. I must admit, we looked pretty good!

Next, some retired general spoke, and finally Obama himself talked. It was more like a rock concert or stand-up comedy show than any political rally that I've ever been to. He acknowledged comments from the crowd at times, but he still kept enough control that it didn't devolve into chaos. He didn't say anything especially surprising to me, but I'm sure that's because I've followed his campaign pretty closely. I've decided that he's far from perfect as a candidate, but he'll do. Anyway, here he is:

Here he is shaking hands on the way out:

Two nights later, a friend and I saw Henry Rollins at McDonald Theatre. For those who don't know who he is, I'm too lazy to explain, so I'll direct you to his Wikipedia page.

Again, we had nosebleed seats, but since I paid nothing for them, I won't complain. Here's a photo of the show:

I know the photo is not very exciting, but the show was. It was just him talking for over three and a half hours! And he spoke quickly, too, not slow like Steven Wright. Much like the Obama speech, this was part stand-up, part rock concert (without the music), and part political rant. It was well worth it, and I'd highly recommend it if he comes to your area.

Shiftng gears a bit, let's talk about cheese! As many of you know, I was the proud recipient of the best gift of all time: a membership in the gourmet cheese of the month club! My first shipment arrived in mid February. Here's a photo:

From left to right, we have Mini Triple Crème, Denhey Farms English Cheddar, and SAFR Port Salut.

The first one we tried was the Port Salut, which was accompanied by a bottle of Chinon and some of Cathy's homemade crackers:

First off, I have to say that the Chinon made for an excellent pairing with the Port Salut, just like I knew it would. How did I know? Am I some cheese and wine snob? Of course not! But it sure is fun to pretend. Actually, the pamphlet that came with the cheese said that it "pairs beautifully" with Chinon.

As for the cheese, it was fantastic. Seriously, I had no idea cheese could taste so good. This was soft and spreadable, and it tasted like an orgasm in my mouth. Luckily it was my orgasm, not someone else's. And it was a dry orgasm. Come to think of it (no pun intended), it tasted nothing like an orgasm. Not that I've ever tasted an orgasm. At least not a man's. Moving right along...

The next cheese we tried was the English Cheddar. The pamphlet recommended a fruity wine or dark ale, so I went the dark ale route and opted for a Lagunitas Imperial Stout and more homemade crackers. Unfortunately, the photo got erased, so just picture the above photo but replace the cheese with a white cheddar wedge and the wine with some dark, dark, stout beer.

I had my doubts, but this turned out to be a fantastic pairing, too. The cheese was pretty mild and almost sweet, and of course the stout was, well, stout. But they went together perfectly. I could live on this.

Finally, we tried the Saint Andrè with a Rosè wine, again with homemade crackers:

Here's the thing about the Saint Andrè. The pamphlet said it has "a bloomy, downy-white, edible rind." What it failed to mention was that the rind was moldy. And although it may indeed be edible, it tastes like ass. No, not ass, like an old, funky, mildewy, gym sock that was used in place of toilet paper.

Being the trooper I am, I pressed on and made it to the center, and that was pretty good. But I still had the rind taste in my mouth, and the rest of it is still in our fridge, no doubt turning into an excellent middle school science fair project as we speak.

I should get another shipment sometime in April, and of course I'll write about it when I get around to it! Maybe.

Last weekend, Cathy and I went to the coast for a few days. It was nice to get away. We stayed at the Clifftop Inn in Oceanside. It literally is on a cliff top. Here are a couple photos from the deck outside our room:

We managed to run into all kinds of weather at the coast. Here's a strange snowstorm in late March. At the coast. Which knocked down a bunch of trees:

Later on, we went to Cannon Beach. Here's another photo :

Here's a strange beach house. I wonder if this is Dick Cheney's "undisclosed location." Note the razor wire:

On the way out, we stopped by the world's largest Sitka Spruce tree. Unfortunately, a big storm knocked it down last December. I somehow doubt it's still the largest:

It was great to get away. But now it's back to the grind. And the grind not only involves a new school term, but a senatorial campaign as well. Stay tuned.


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