raffertyesque

Pat Rafferty lives in Portland. Raffertyesque is his personal website. And also his professional website. Which isn't to suggest he is professional. At all.

☞ The Buses Aren’t Actually Solar-Powered. Not Yet Anyway.

I don’t want to call Portland a liar, because that would be rude. So I’m not going to call it a liar, but let’s just say Portland is a bit of a deceiver; it told the truth, most of the truth and little bit more of the truth, so help it kale.

(Because Portland believes in kale, not God, if that wasn’t clear.)

Portland prides itself on its public transit system. For $2.50, the City and Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon— better known as “TriMet”— can get you pretty much anywhere within the city limits by bus or by train. You can even go a little beyond the city limits if you’re going somewhere exotic like Cleveland (Oregon) or Milwaukie (Oregon). This is a good thing. For sure. There are caveats, however. Asteriskseses are abound.

Portland prides itself on its public transit system because it has to. It has an image to uphold. One of buses and bikes and pedestrians and trikes and trains and trams and weird gondola things and yes, unicycles. More unicycles than one might think.

How many unicycles were you thinking?

Oh yeah, way more than that.

Automobiles don’t figure into the Portland narrative though, even though they are definitely a part of Portland. When I moved here everyone told me I didn’t need a car. “You don’t need a car,” everyone said. (Actual quote.) (Source: everyone.)

Here’s the thing, though, as great as the public transit system is here— as prideful as Portland is— you can’t run trains on pride. I mean, you can try, but they don’t get very far. Certainly not to Cleveland, anyway.

Again, I don’t want to call Portland’s public transit system terrible, because that would be rude (and not accurate), but let’s just say expectations were set, and they were not met.

But as Donald Rumsfeld said when he came through Portland on his book tour: “You ride the transit system you have, not the one you want… well, I drive a Hummer, but you know what I mean. Obama is a socialist.”

The obvious solution here for non-car owners would be to tell TriMet to stick their street cars where the sun don’t shine and just bike everywhere, or rent a tiny car for 41¢/minute everywhere. But that’s not a great solution, either. Sometimes you just want to get on a bus or a train and let someone else handle the movement of your meatsack.

(I’m sorry, I’m not saying you’re just a sack of meat… you’re beautiful. I’m just saying we’re all sacks of meat. I’m definitely a sack of meat. Just a big ol’ blob. Lotsa bones, too. I mean, not more than usual, just a higher bone-to-meat ratio than most, perhaps. A pretty high percentile if I had to guess. Did I just make this weird? I may have made this weird. I’m pretty sure it’s been weird for a while now, actually.)

(I’m sorry.)

Unfortunately those times when you don’t want to bike or drive a tiny car are frequently also those times when the buses have either stopped running or it’s gonna be like an hour until the next bus, brah.

And that brings us to my main criticism of TriMet: their somewhat lackadaisical approach to all things related to time.

While TriMet’s network is comprehensive— it gets you just about anywhere, I’ll give it that— you better not be in a hurry to get to your destination. And you better not be trying to get there after, say, 9pm.

Now yes, this is an accurate reflection of Portland itself, no one is really in a hurry to go anywhere, and things tend to shut down early, but I think we should hold our transit authorities to a higher standard.

There have been a number times when I’ve taken the bus somewhere only to realize that 7:30pm bus I just took was the last one for the day. Or that I’ve missed a train or a bus and the next one doesn’t arrive until shortly before the heat death of the universe. And while I realize that’s the nature of public transit… waiting around is par for the course, it doesn’t have to be.

So what’s the answer, Rafferty? If you’re so smart, what’s your solution?

I’m glad you asked.

Improving a public transit system isn’t easy. It’s very chicken and egg. Bus driver and bus rider, even. Do you increase the frequency of the buses and hope that more people show up, thus feeding more money into the system? Do you lower fares and hope to make it up in volume? Do you increase parking rates in the city to discourage people from driving their cars, or do you stage a sort of Hunger Gamesesque battle to the death for a limited number of parking spots?

These are all excellent questions.

Yup. Sure are.

Uh huh.

Oh, you wanted answers?

Yeah, I’ve got nothing.

Yes, despite all my years of playing Sim City, I am not an expert in the realm of improving mass transit. That was not covered in Sim City class. I can safely say that Sim Copter 1 reports heavy traffic and that commerce demands an airport, however.

Ultimately the best thing to do in any public transit system— not just Portland’s— is to believe in the system. Be the egg. Or maybe be the chicken. Be either the chicken or the egg, is what I’m saying.

If you drive a car to work everyday, that is only going to create a more automobile-centric culture.

Donald Rumsfeld was right (said no one ever). You don’t ride the public transit system you want, you ride the one you have until it becomes the one you want.

Or, in the case of Portland, you try to ride it until you die waiting for a bus that will never arrive because the sun went down and these stupid buses are solar-powered.

Just a Whole Lot of Pennies.

I saw a lot of movies in the theater in 2013. Like 34. I assumed moving to Portland would have an adverse effect on my film goingness as the lack of multiplexes would make double-featuring more difficult, but that did not prove to be the case. Yes, there has been less sneaking, but the existence of second-run theaters here allows me to see things on the big(gish) screen for a mere $3-4 a pop. Thanks, Portland! I’ve gone legit.

Anywho, obligatory film rundown in approximate release date order:

Lore, Warm Bodies, A Good Day to Die Hard, Spring Breakers, From Up on Poppy Hill, GI Joe Retaliation, Upstream Color, Pain & Gain, Iron Man 3, Star Trek Into Darkness, Fast & Furious 6, This is the End, Now You See Me, Monsters University, Man Of Steel, Despicable Me 2, The Heat, Much Ado About Nothing, The Wolverine, Pacific Rim, Elysium, Gravity, Ender’s Game, Thor The Dark World, Riddick, The World’s End, Inside Llewyn Davis, American Hustle, Her, Blue Jasmine, The Wolf Of Wall Street, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, In A World…

Additionally, I saw another 15 movies from ’13 on my 13″ laptop. Those were:

John Dies at the End, Admission, I Give It a Year, Olympus Has Fallen, Oblivion, World War Z, White House Down, The To Do List, Kick-Ass 2, Short Term 12, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, We’re the Millers, Drinking Buddies, Rapturepalooza, Frozen.

Of those 15, Short Term 12 was the clear winner, although— believe it or not— We’re The Millers? Quite good.

Obviously there are also some gaps in my movie viewing list. I suspect I’ll enjoy Nebraska when I finally get around to seeing it, for example. Anyway, moving on.

The Worst movie of the year award is tough this time around. I saw some fucking terrible movies this year. An obvious choice might be the Michael Bay movie, Pain & Gain, but it was actually charming in its own way. GI Joe Retaliation would also be a good choice. I’m sure it was terrible but it was also utterly forgettable, so I can’t even remember how bad it was. Despite having an amazing cast and some great location work (RIP Five Pointz), I could have gone without seeing Now You See Me.

No, the worst movie I saw last year was A Good Day to Die Hard. Guys, come on, can we just throw in the towel here? John McClane is too old for this shit.

If I had to choose a theme for 2013 it would be “disappointment.” I know that’s a bummer, but that’s the truth. There were a ton of movies that I was stoked for that just did not quite come together. Star Trek Into Darkness is probably at the top of this list. I loved JJ’s 2009 Star Trek reboot even though I didn’t want to. So I wanted to love the sequel… and the sequel just did not work. Like, at all. Likewise with Elysium. District 9 was amazing, Elysium was basically District 9 with a bigger budget and a much more heavy-handed moral. Same story with Upstream Color. I wanted to like it, and I guess I did, but holy shit, Shane Carruth, come on man. You’re smarter than us, we get it. You’re a great filmmaker, but if no one can understand your movies, what’s the point of making them?

Anyway. That said, for all the disappointment, there were still some superb movies that came out this year. At least 10 of them. Let’s get down to business.

#10 – Monsters University – It felt wrong leaving a non-Cars Pixar movie off my top ten, so here it is. Monster’s University is by no means bad, in fact, it’s quite good and you should see it, but I do not feel compelled to see it over and over again like I do most Pixar films. Sorry Sully. Sorry Mike Wazowski.

#9 – Pacific Rim – Sure, it’s big and it’s dumb, but that’s the point. Everyone’s inner five year-old boy (we all have one) (yes, even the ladies) loves some big-robot-on-big-monster action. Sprinkle in just enough plot for it to make sense, toss in some Tom Morello guitar riffs, and top it off with the best “will they or won’t they” I’ve seen in years, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for two hours of solid entertainment, man.

#8 – Inside Llewyn Davis – I will probably be a sucker for period pieces in New York City for the rest of my life. That’s just a thing that I do now. And the 1961 New York that Inside Llewyn Davis inhabits is spot-on. Well, at least I think it is. I wasn’t there at the time, but it seems pretty on point. The colors, the interiors, the exteriors. It’s all great. The Coen Brothers nailed it. The story is okay, too. Something about a cat.

#7 – In A World… – I liked In A World… far more than I thought I would. At first it seems a bit too inside baseball, a movie about the politics of movie trailer voiceover work? Really (fellow Skidmore alum), Lake Bell? Really? But it quickly becomes less about politicking and more about the personal stories of the characters. Not bad, man.

#6 – Fast & Furious 6 – “Fast 6,” as the kids call, finally tied up some curious plot incongruencies that had been lurking about the franchise since the third movie. Phew. Finally… canon has been restored! I will keep watching “Fast” movies as long as they keep making them. And given that even the death of Paul Walker (RIP Paul Walker) seems to have only temporarily slowed down the production of Fast 7, I don’t see them stopping anytime soon.

#5 – This is the End – Two words: Satan’s dick.

#4 – Iron Man 3 – If they never make another Iron Man movie— scratch that, they’ll definitely make another Iron Man movie— but if they never make another Robert Downey Jr. Iron Man movie, I’ll be happy. This one redeemed the second film, tied in The Avengers, and upped the stakes… it checked off all the boxes a sequel needed to check off, and still managed to be a good movie. It put a nice bow on the franchise. Let’s do some more Avenging and call it a day, eh, Tony?

#3 – Gravity – I am not a big Sandra Bullock fan. Unless she’s driving a bus at 50 miles per hour, I’m not interested. So if you had told me going into 2013 that a movie which is pretty much just a close-up of Sandy B’s face for 90 minutes would be one of my favorite movies of the year, I’dda said you a liar. And I would be a fool, because Gravity is amazing. It’s Alfonso Cuarón’s best movie since his last movie. (Children of Men, my favorite movie of 2006.)

#2 – The World’s End – The less you know about The World’s End the better, so I’m just going to say that it’s my second favorite movie of the year and you should see it as soon as possible. I cannot think of a director who can combine genres better than Edgar Wright. He has yet to make a movie that isn’t fantastic.

#1 – HerHer is the best movie I have seen in years. Going back and looking at previous incarnations of this list, I have to go back to 2008 to find a movie that I enjoyed as much, and that movie is of course WALL•E. Why do I love movies about sentient robots falling in love? Is it because I am a robot? Am I a Cylon? So many questions.

Anyway, Her. It’s Spike Jonze at the top of his game, man. His direction is solid, but the writing is where he really shines, man. I assumed Spike was all director, but as it turns out he’s a great storyteller as well. Even the non-Spike stuff here is great, though. The cast: top notch. (I love all of ScarJo, but if I had to pick one part of her, I would probably pick her voice.) The production design, even the UX design, is fully-realized. The music is great. The cinematography is great. It’s all great. Go see Her.

Bananasaurus Rex And The Solo Eggplant Run

Unless you’re me, you should probably just stop at the headline. It’s not going to get any better than that. If you need a little more to go on, though… this is a story about a man, a video game, and an eggplant. It’s about 8000 words. You’ve been warned. [via]