Tom Hanks Day Turns 10 This Year, Is A Thing

Since the 1970s, movie houses around the world have been packed with Unconventional Conventionists shouting every word of a carefully studied fan script for The Rocky Horror Picture Show. For more than a decade, Lebowski Fests have brought together fans of a certain Coen Brothers film about a certain robe wearing, White Russian-quaffing Dude for an appreciation of the movie and one another. And now, in 2013, International Tom Hanks Day joins the pantheon of film-buff bacchanalian events as it celebrates its 10th birthday.  If you’re just tuning in now, International Tom Hanks Day exists, the brainchild of Chicago native Kevin Turk, a declaration of love for “one of the nicest men in Hollywood,” as the event’s website declares.

The 10th Annual International Tom Hanks Day will take place on Saturday, April 13th at Headquarters Beercade and Uncle Fatty’s Rum Resort, two neighboring bars in Chicago’s Lakeview area. We’re not really sure why a watering hole full of retro video games and craft beer and a bro’d-out tiki bar were chosen, but they actually seem pretty fitting. Throughout the day, there will be drink specials, games, screenings of Hanks’s Greatest Hits, a chance to win signed merchandise, and proceeds benefit Lifeline Energy, a nonprofit that provides technology and sustainable initiatives to underserved communities in the developing world.

And, of course, the event has the blessing of Mr. Nice Guy himself, who wrote a well-wishing note to Turk and the organizers in 2007:

“You people have all either lost your minds or your jobs. Both? Then again, you may have discovered the divine path to world peace—just a short walk through, say, Turner and Hooch and Cast Away.

Satellite Tom Hanks Day events will be held that same weekend in Portland, Oregon and Toronto, the latter at Swirl Wine Bar, for those outside the Windy City who wish to celebrate this national cinematic treasure. Past Tom Hanks Day events have spread beyond the original locations of Kalamazoo and Chicago to include Los Angeles, London and Cleveland, among others.

And who knows? Maybe it’ll be in your city next, or maybe Hanksy will have a gallery opening at the next one. Or Hanks himself will reunite The Oneders for a special one-off performance. Remember The Oneders? Of course you do. Anyway, fans of Tom Hanks, check this out, but just please don’t ever let International Chet Haze Day be a thing. Please.

Barbaric Scientist Invents Oreo-Ruining Machine

David Neevel, a physicist from Portland, Oregon, is not entirely to blame for this atrocity. Truly the marketing geniuses at Nabisco should ultimately take the fall for their “Cookie Vs. Creme” brand rejuvenation plot. Because if you’re willing to use a corporate hashtag to indicate which of two cookie ingredients you desperately prefer to the other, guess what: YOU DON’T ACTUALLY LIKE OREOS.

If you want a chocolate cookie, eat a goddamn chocolate cookie. If you want some “creme,” and I really can’t believe it’s spelled that way but here we are, go buy a big-ass bucket of sweet white creme. Should be in the same aisle as the Marshmallow Fluff. No, the only way to eat an Oreo is to cram the entire confection into your face. Otherwise it’s not really an Oreo, is it. You idiot.

Anyway part of this promotion involved commissioning Neevel, who is staunchly anti-creme, to create an Oreo “separator.” The most telling part of this is a line in the Yahoo! News crawl: “Neevel Says He Had to Spend Time Away from Girlfriend and Dog To Make Machine.” All to get the kind of unremarkable chocolate wafer nobody would touch when a plate of them came out after Christmas dinner. Bon appétit! 

Follow Miles Klee on Twitter.

Cold Waters Heat Up The Nation’s Oyster Bar Scene

Though the old saying, “Oysters should only be eaten in months that end in an ‘r’” was debunked by refrigeration and modern mariculture, the truth remains: oysters are the ideal fall food. “Oysters thrive in cold water,” says Adam Evans, the chef of Atlanta’s white–hot seafood restaurant The Optimist and the aptly named next–door oyster bar, The Oyster Bar at The Optimist. “So when the water starts to change, they get this rush of cold water, plump up, and get really nice.”

The Oyster Bar at The Optimist is just the latest of a slew of oyster bars opening across the country. In the trendy L.A. neighborhood of Silverlake, L&E Oyster Bar has been attracting crowds since it opened in January. They serve a menu of hot and cold seafood items, including a fantastic oyster po’boy and a grilled oyster platter alongside their always–changing raw oyster list, sourced from all over the country and Canada. “My partner and I love oysters,” explains co-owner Tyler Bell, “but we couldn’t find a great oyster bar like the kinds you find in New York, Boston, San Francisco, or Europe, so we opened our own.” The hankering for bivalves has been so strong, Bell recently doubled capacity by taking over the floor upstairs.

On the Eastern Seaboard, Serge Becker, owner of hipster havens La Esquina and Miss Lily’s, opened his Swiss spot Cafe Select in 2008, but it was just this summer that he converted the restaurant’s secluded back room (accessed through the kitchen) into Cervantes’ Oyster Shack and Bar. They serve schnitzel, Zurich veal, and Swiss bratwurst in the main dining room, but offer lobster salad, octopus salad, steamed mussels, ceviche, and raw oysters in the back. When deep winter hits, they’ll turn it into a fondue bar, but for now, it’s veal up front, oysters in the back.

In May, Evans and Atlanta chef–of–the–moment Ford Fry debuted The Optimist to crowds and rave reviews. The space features a large horseshoe bar, beachy decor, and a casual patio with a putt–putt course attached. A coastal region’s worth of oysters, lobster rolls, chowder, salads, and peel ’n’ eat shrimp fill the menu, and the cocktails, like the pink gin martini called The Truth As We Know It, are designed to pair well with oysters.

Though Baltimore is a seafood-centric town, first–time restaurateur Candace Beattie noticed there was a hole in the marketplace where raw bars were concerned. So after moving back home after a long stint in raw bar-heavy Boston, Beattie opened Thames Street Oyster House in the summer of 2011 in Baltimore’s Fell’s Point. She serves a mix of New England and Maryland standards.

But it isn’t just that oysters are conquering new territory. Even in the oyster heartland, new oyster shacks flourish. The talk of Boothbay Harbor, Maine this year is The World is Mine Oyster: a new restaurant with a rustic, camp-themed interior, a patio overlooking the bay, and a lengthy menu of Maine-raised oysters, served raw, steamed, baked, in shooters, and topped with everything from sour cream and caviar to serrano ham or blue cheese and bacon. In nearby Portland, three–month-old Eventide Oyster Co. offers 18 varieties of oysters from Maine and “from away” to its coterie of salty regulars.

Hotels Cashing In On ’50 Shades Of Grey’ Vacations

The only thing more facepalming than someone who might plan a vacation based off the 50 Shades Of Grey BDSM erotica novels is someone who would actually go on such a vacation. Alas, hotels throughout the Pacific Northwest are all too happy too happy to oblige: several have planned special "50 Shades" packages —  sadomasochistic sex not included.

According to CNN, Hotel Max in Seattle is offering a two-night stay in an Artist King room with a chauffeured town car, a helicopter tour of the city, and a private sail in Puget Sound "with a bottle of Bollinger Grande Annee Rose 1999 Champagne, a favorite of Mr. Grey himself." 

The Edgewater Hotel in Seattle offers a similar 50 Shades of Romance package, which also includes a Puget Sound sail and a bottle of Bollinger. But this package lets guests test drive an Audi sports car, which billionaire Christian Grey purchased for his young submissive Anastasia Steele in the books.

Portland’s The Heathman Hotel appears in the 50 Shades book and ups the romantic ante with roses and limo rides, as well as a helicopter tour of the city. An additional $40 will get burgeoning kinksters at the Heathman a bottle of chilled white wine and a grey tie. Hopefully the wine will liquor you up enough to try your own 50 Shades-style spankings … or deal with the bill. The whole Heathman package will set you back a Christian Grey-ian $2,790.

Interestingly none of these packages have a room called the Red Room Of Pain, the location where Anastasia Steele enjoys many of her BDSM play sessions in the book. I suppose hotels know that advertising "pain" in a hotel room is a little bit like advertising "bedbugs," regardless of what vanilla mommy porn foolishness actually goes on in it.

The Weekend Takeoff: DC Tweed, Chicago Brew

Washington DC: Make sure to pack your nattiest attire if you’re headed to our nation’s capital this weekend. The DC Tweed Ride invites bicyclists to don their best Victorian-inspired outfits for an “urban fox hunt,” then gather for a retro-style party afterwards. November 13th.

Portland, Oregon: One of the States’ most exciting food & wine cities has a thriving music scene, but we’re more excited about the pregame. Gather at the Portland Art Museum for a tasting of Southern Oregon wines. They’re slightly warmer-weather varietals, and different from the Oregon stock you may have tried. November 13th.

Minneapolis: Have you noticed all your formerly clean-shaven male friends sporting some unusual facial fur lately? Welcome to Movember, a month of moustache-growing to raise awareness and funds for prostate cancer. The Twin Cities is celebrating with the inaugural Movember Art Auction at the Pink Hobo art gallery to raise funds directly via a silent auction of mustache-inspired donated works. November 11th.

St. Louis: The 20th anniversary of the St. Louis Film Festival kicks off this weekend, with features, documentaries, and short films from around the world being screened across the city. Special events include a reading from Susan Orlean, several classic film screenings, and a closing-night awards ceremony and party. November 10th-20th.

Chicago: 3 Floyd’s Brewery celebrates its 15th anniversary with a blowout party and the release of their XV beer, a collaboration between several well-known microbreweries. Chefs including Chicago’s Paul Kahan, Justin Large and Mindy Segal are contributing grub, while live bands provide the entertainment.

Booze, Breasts, & Bartenders: Welcome to Portland Cocktail Week

Imagine being a huge sports fan, and Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Serena Williams, and Wayne Gretzky all walked into a bar together (which actually could happen in Portland thanks to Nike’s headquarters nearby). The bartender equivalent of this is how Portland Cocktail Week began, with Dale DeGroff (the Granddaddy of the craft cocktail), Simon Ford (top international brand ambassador), Misty Kalkofen (one of the top female bartenders in the world), Jason Littrel (New York’s finest from Death & Co), Ali Tahsini (San Francisco powerhouse from Bourbon & Branch), and Tony Conigliaro (the best mixologist in the world) all ponying up to a little Portland bar called Rum Club.

Why Portland? How did this little city draw some of the biggest bartenders in the world for a weekend of seminars, parties, and imbibing? Portland is like a good friend who never manages to keep down a job, but always manages to leave at the end of the night with the hottest girl in the bar. Some places just seem to have that kind of mojo, and Portland, for one reason or another, has it.

image (Jeffrey Morgenthaler Bartending at Mary’s Strip Club)

Portland Cocktail Week isn’t anywhere close to the scale of the Manhattan Cocktail Classic or the standard-setting Tales of the Cocktail, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in enthusiasm. There’s just something about Portland that drives people to drink, and the intermingling of bartenders from around the country for spirits, seminars, parties, and strippers, seems like it’s always been pre-ordained. And yes, we said strippers. Portland has more strip clubs per capita than any other state in America, and they are as big a part of the drinking scene as craft cocktail bars, dive bars, and pubs (but more on that later).

Less than ten years ago, it would have been almost unfathomable for someone to say they wanted to be a career bartender. Bartending was something you did to pay your way through school, or because you couldn’t get a job in your chosen field. With the craft cocktail revival, bartending has re-emerged as a culinary career and has gained some of the same kind of respect and support we give to great chefs. As such, modern bartenders are very interested in expanding their knowledge base through learning new crafts and better techniques, and one of the reasons they go to events like Portland Cocktail Week is to hone their craft.

Some of the topics covered at Portland Cocktail Week included understanding how taste and smell work with an Absolut Vodka Sensory Experience; deconstructing one of the most iconic of cocktails, the Martini, with Tony Conigliaro; making beer cocktails with Jacob Grier, the guru of beer cocktails; and, technical freepouring with 22-year bartending vet Tobin Ellis.

The blockbuster session of Portland Cocktail Week was one called "Half Way To Bar Smarts." Bar Smarts is a national bartender education program that travels to cities across the country to help educate and train bartenders. It’s staffed by some of the biggest names in the industry, and for this session in Portland it featured Dale DeGroff (legendary Rainbow Room bartender), Misty Kalkofen (Drink, Boston), Eric Alperin (LA’s The Varnish), and Jacques Bezuidenhout (Partida Tequila Brand Ambassador). The session covered some of the basics of identifying and tasting spirits as well as techniques, including Dale DeGroff making one of his famous Bloody Bulls, a riff on the Bloody Mary using beef broth.

image (Denver bartender Michelle Baldwin performing as Vivienne VaVoom)

With the learning done, Portland Cocktail Week focused on what bartenders do better than almost anyone in the world—party. I’ve had the opportunity to party with movie stars, rock stars, and bartenders, and of the three no one parties harder, better, or longer than bartenders. Portland Cocktail Week’s signature event was the DonQ Rum Yacht Rocking party, which was an odd fusion of nautical theme and 80’s culture with a live karaoke band and burlesque. Breasts pop up everywhere at Portland Cocktail Week.

Another Portland Cocktail Week party pitted bartenders against drink-making robots in a mano-y-mechanico smackdown. While the robots made a fairly good showing, it was the bartenders who showed that they have the finesse (and sense of taste) to outmatch a drink-making robot.

image

The final day of Portland Cocktail Week could easily have been labeled "Rack Day". They key event of the day was Speed Rack, a head-to-head competition of the top female bartenders in the region. Speed Rack pitted them in timed heats where they were scored both on speed and on the quality of their drinks. The judges panel included such luminaries as Audrey Saunders (Pegu Club), Charlotte Voisey (Company Mixologist with William Grant & Sons), Misty Kalkofen, and Portland celebrity drag queen Poison Waters. In addition to being a competition, Speed Rack was charity event to raise money for local breast cancer charities.

Breasts were center stage at Portland Cocktail Week’s closing party "Stripperoke". Hosted at Portland’s Devil’s Point strip club, Stripperoke had top bartenders serenading the intoxicated crowd on a stage accompanied by strippers doing what they do best. Stripperoke was an event that showed that no matter what Portland Cocktail Week’s ambitions are, it didn’t take itself too seriously.

Portland Cocktail Week may not be the biggest cocktail week nationally, but in its second year it showed why Portland tends to achieve things that should generally be beyond its reach, and why this Cocktail Week is one to watch.

15 Best Airports for Wi-Fi

Wireless internet service at airports is becoming more rule, less exception. Google has embraced the holiday spirit by distributing free Wi-Fi at 47 U.S. airports until January 15, 2010. And several airlines have begun to offer wireless service on board flights, ensuring that jetting won’t hinder your daily routine of stalking your exes on Facebook. In a recent survey by American Airlines and HP, 47% of business travelers indicated that Wi-Fi was more valued than food during their flight. People are looking to stay connected with the outside world, especially while in transit. While many airports now offer wireless, some are better at it than others.

1. Philadelphia International Airport – Check your Gmail while scarfing a cheesesteak — free wireless for diners within the food courts. Current students also have the privilege of free Internet access if they show their IDs at the Airport Information Counter. And on Saturdays and Sunday, wireless service is free for everyone. Outside of the airport, Philly once had plans for covering the entire city with wireless, until Earthlink dropped out of the agreement due to economic complications in February of 2008.

2. Phoenix Sky Harbor – No, it’s not a mystical village in a “Final Fantasy” game, but its connectivity is free and completely real. In 2005, Phoenix mayor Phil Gordon launched a free airport wireless project. Since then, Sky Harbor has never looked back. The signal is strong on both ends of the security checkpoint, near the shops, and at many of the gates. Given that both the mayor and city council collaborated on this project, residents hope that a citywide connection could soon be in the works.

3. Portland International Airport – Portland International Airport has free wireless within 70% of its complex, including some spots outside of secure areas. Users can log in with a VPN (Virtual Private Network) if top-secret info is required for their profession. Furthermore, the airport offers ample power outlets throughout its facilities, making it an ideal location for web surfers. But outside of the airport, Portland has become more disconnected. Recently, the city lost its free MetroFi wireless service due to financial complications.

4. McCarran International Airport – Feeling down after losing big in Vegas? Rest assured, McCarran Airport is there to lift your spirits (or at least give you the opportunity to continue gambling online). With seating and electrical outlets galore, McCarran is #3 on Forbes’ list of “Top Most-Wired Airports.” In addition, there are various free Wi-Fi hotspots within the city itself, distributed throughout shops and restaurants.

5. Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport – Way back in December 2003, Ithaca’s Tompkins Regional Airport was distributing free wireless through Clarity Connect services. Nowadays, Wi-Fi can be accessed anywhere within its terminals free of charge, no strings attached. For those hapless enough to leave their laptops at home, computer workstations are available with 15 minutes of free access near the café and gift shops.

6. JFK International Airport – While most airports of JFK’s size are rather stingy when it comes to Internet service, JetBlue’s 6th terminal offers free Internet access. This section of JFK is relatively new, having reached completion a little over a year ago on October 22, 2008. The new Wi-Fi section is consistent with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plans to increase connectivity throughout the city’s public areas.

7. Eastern Iowa Airport – Cedar Rapids- Free Internet is distributed throughout the Cedar Rapids airport thanks to Dynamic Broadband, which also delivers its services in parts of the Midwest, ensuring that the farmlands can easily be connected to the country’s urban centers. If you’re web-hungry enough to pull out your laptop while taking a ride, public buses around the airport offer Internet access to their riders as well.

8. Honolulu Airport – Pacific-bound travelers may find themselves at this intersecting crossroads of the States and the Orient. It may take some scouting, but Gate 13 at the Honolulu Airport offers free Wi-Fi. Those in the know say that you can also successfully “mooch” a signal near the Continental President’s Club and Northwest World Club across from Gate 12.

9. Denver International Airport – Jeppesen Terminal’s A, B, and C concourses distribute Wi-Fi in the vicinity free of charge. The city itself has its own share of free Wi-Fi hotspots in its busiest centers. As of April 17, 2006, the 16th Street Mall and Skyline Park of downtown Denver offers free Wi-Fi, thanks in large part to the city’s nonprofit Downtown Denver Partnership.

10. Louis Armstrong International Airport – Although this Louisiana airport is still trying to reach its original pre-Katrina service capacity, it has maintained free Wi-Fi in concourses A, B, C, and D. Originally, state laws prohibited the use of free broadband, but the city circumvented this ban after the state of emergency declared in Hurricane Katrina’s wake. With the state of emergency lifted, several groups like BellSouth moved to shut down the free service. Earthlink stepped up with a $15 million planned investment to take over the city’s service and build a network within a 15- to 20-mile radius. As of 2008, the Earthlink project was dead … but given current trends, there may be hope for its revival.

11. Harrisburg International Airport – For passengers, free access is as simple as selecting or typing “SARAA” as their preferred network. Left your laptop behind? Not a problem. The Harrisburg Airport offers plenty of Internet kiosks within its facilities, where you’ll be able to forward cute cat pictures before catching a red-eye. The city itself had aspirations for free Wi-Fi coverage as early as 2003 for 2nd Street and the Capitol complex. Unfortunately, logistics stymied these efforts, and they were put on hold.

12. San Antonio International Airport – Travelers can pick up a decent (and most importantly, free) Wi-Fi connection throughout most of the airport’s terminals. In 2007, the San Antonio City Council approved a plan to build a municipal wireless network throughout the city’s downtown areas, thanks to aid from AT&T.

13. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport – Sea-Tac is offering free wireless for the holiday season until January 15, 2010 (compliments of Google). Furthermore, the Port of Seattle is hoping to extend these benefits beyond the January 15 cutoff. We think that this is an appropriate plan for a place ranked #1 on Forbes’ “Top 30 Most-Wired American Cities”.

14. Orlando International Airport – With free Wi-Fi hotspots located within its parking lot and public areas, Orlando makes flight delays bearable. The city itself is ranked number four on Forbes’ “Top 30 Most-Wired American Cities” due to the high percentage of homes with high-speed Internet access and high Wi-Fi hotspots per capita.

15. Mineta San Jose International Airport – The NorCal vs. SoCal Wi-Fi debate rages on throughout the state of California. While there may be no clear winner, San Jose certainly gives NorCal a boost, thanks to its prestigious history as home to some of the world’s largest tech companies. As of May 30, 2008, Mineta San Jose Airport has offered free Wi-Fi services to travelers coming through the South Bay. Terminals A and C have excellent Wi-Fi offerings, with the exception of their baggage claim areas, which are currently dead zones.

Portland’s Cannabis Cafe Hopes to Create Long-Lasting Buzz

Our America! With everyday, it’s becoming a vacuum of sliding morals! A veritable trash heap of dead dreams, soiled ambitions, and lost hope. Of easy escapes and paused progress. I mean, first, that much-ballyhooed topless coffee shop in gay-hating Maine re-opened. And now some rowdy folks in Portland (in Oregon, not Maine) have set up America’s first-ever pot cafe. No, it’s not a cafe where you eat your meals by scooping food out of large pots with your hands. It’s a proper marijuana cafe. The horror! The horror! Anyway, considering the cafe’s long-term goals, “cafe” may be a misnomer. It’s also not exactly open to the general public. It’s open to any Oregon residents who hold an official medical marijuana card who are also standing members of the pot non-profit outfit NORML. But it only gets more mired from there!

Members pay $25/month in order to use the pot, which they receive, OTC, from workers who cutely dub themselves “budtenders.” Besides the useful employment of puns, another functional feature at the cafe includes the availability of food. Allowing the Cannabis Cafe a veneer of credibility is also it’s lack of liquor license. Otherwise the cafe approaches the façade of a pitiful recessionomic rent party.

The cafe is housed in a building that was a speak-easy and an erotic hot-spot in its previous lives. On the cafe’s opening night however, a $60 cover scared away potential patrons — the cost of a yearlong membership in NORML, first month’s membership at the cafe, plus an entry fee. The space will hold such events as marijuana-themed weddings, open mic nights, film festivals, and dance-offs. The executive director of NORML also hopes to hold seminars and even a Cannabis Community College, in order to promote the non-mind-altering benefits of growing marijuana. This opening comes only a month after Obama’s easing up on arrests of medical marijuana users.

From The Oregonian, below is footage from the cafe’s opening.

Bonnie & Clyde Baggage Handlers Busted

imageTwo of Portland’s own were busted in a Portland airport theft ring. Stolen items included bags, laptops, and hand warmers (despicable). Northwest Airlines baggage handler Jose Trejo Romero had the thievery down to a science. He would rifle through checked baggage and lift some goods; then, to keep his supervisor happy, he would slip her one out of every three items. This way, she wouldn’t bust him without outing herself. Apparently though, the supervisor got a little greedy and felt like she was getting cut out of the deal, so she alerted authorities, who confirmed that Romero was indeed pilfering bags after checking the security cameras.

Both employees are now rocking the unemployment line and could also face jail time after their trial commences in the near future. With the aid of a search warrant, authorities also found MP3 players, power cords (Romero was thorough!), and toiletries (also, maybe, hard up). Turns out several employees had already tried to bust the two shady characters last summer, but apparently the powers that be ignored the tips. Oh, and the supervisor unloaded much of the merch on eBay, possibly on company time. The Northwest spokesman said that there are several layers of security to minimize baggage-handling crime, but he declined to explain further.