The World IS Out to Get Me: 3 Questions for Film Maker Bryan Hiltner

In getting some background information about the genre of film Bryan Hiltner works in I had a good laugh when he defined it as “creepy.” I was thinking about his work in the vein of horror and psychological thriller but creepy feels right. It’s a unique category all his own. I’m encouraging anyone who reads this to be at the Whitsell auditorium, Wednesday, October 11 at 7 pm for the film showcase entitled, “Just Because You’re Paranoid Don’t Mean They’re Not After You, short films by Bryan Hiltner . An evening of Bryan’s work will offer a better sense of this creepy film genre. It’s being served up as part of the Northwest Film Center’s Northwest Tracking series featuring local film makers. You might consider this a trigger warning, but Bryan is more about creating subtle malaise than dealing with gun play, except obviously Spunk of the Reaper. If his movies leave a film goer with an unsettling feeling it seems like a welcomed response. It’s more than most films offer these days.

Bryan Hiltner: Making things happen.

Portland Orbit: The first question is: I was really curious about how you came up with the title for the program screening and this is kind of a two parter, and then how it feels to be screening at the Whitsell Auditorium?

BH: Well the first part is I’ve helped out Vu Pham with a few of his movies and he screened at the Whitsell earlier and when I went to his screening his shorts all have—they’re very cohesive, the themes kind of blend together and they are all one thing or about one thing so when I was approached to see if I wanted to do the screening I said yes and he asked me for a title, Ben Popp at Northwest Film Center, asked me for a title for the program and I had no idea because I feel like my shorts are really different. The only thing I guess they all have in common is that they all come from my brain so I was trying to figure out what was common in all these shorts and I don’t know if it’s paranoia or not, but there’s some darkness, there’s a lot of existential musing and I think a lot of times with my shorts I try to think about, even the silly ones, I try to think about things like life and death and all that sort of thing. But that line came to me because it’s from a Kurt Cobain song that I always liked and I always liked that line in it even though I know it’s from something else but it was a Kurt Cobain lyric that came to me. I thought about it and most of my characters are in some kind of Twilight Zone world where they don’t know what’s going on, they don’t trust anyone and a lot of times they don’t trust anyone for good reason and so that’s kind of, I think, what that title Just Because You’re Paranoid, Don’t Mean They’re Not After You, that’s kind of what it’s talking about. You’re paranoid for a reason. The world is out to get you and I don’t necessarily believe the world’s out to get me but it’s out to get my characters for sure.

On the set of Elena Vance. Giving these hats to other people.

Portland Orbit: Right, okay so it doesn’t really reflect you?

BH: Not necessarily but you know we all have different sides and I’ve got my self-conscious side, I’ve got my really confident side but there’s that dark side where you kind of wonder if things are going to work out or whatever and I guess I heighten that in my horror films so I think most of what we’re screening is kind of straight up horror and that’s kind of the horror side of me, that’s what I’m afraid of, I think. The world’s out to get me. And then as for the second part, screening at the Whitsell, it’s like the biggest screening of my life which isn’t necessarily saying much but it’s just a great place to screen. It’s cool that a great theater in town approached me to screen stuff rather than me actually trying to seek out a way to show my stuff somewhere. When I went to Vu’s screening it was really exciting. It was really an artistic environment to show something so I’m excited to do the same and see what people think about all these movies together in one program.

Portland Orbit: Yeah, no, that’s why I asked because I do think it’s a really nice auditorium and I screened something and I remember going, “wow, it just looks so good.” That’s just part of it, you know it’s a really cool place to screen. One of the things I’ve been impressed upon, I kind of feel like you’re really fanatical about movies and so, I know that you even go to Movie Madness, the video store, but I’m wondering how all of the film viewing that you do, how does it finds it’s way into the movies you make, I mean is it more than inspiration, do you learn technical stuff that you can apply to movies and things that might come up in certain situations while you’re making your movies?

BH: Yeah, I think it’s a little bit of everything. You know there are certain obvious techniques that when you’re watching a movie a lot of times the directorial style is not something that pops out at you but there are other movies where you see, “oh they’re using two focal planes” and there’s like someone in focus in the background and foreground at the same time. “Oh, how’d they do that,” and I’ll figure that out. Just those sorts of things, camera moves. You have to figure out what you like stylistically. I watch a lot of art house stuff but I also watch a lot of lower “horror stuff” but I think what’s in common with all of it is that it’s really directed and it uses the camera to try and express something beyond just what’s on the written page to express what’s on the character’s mind. Lately I’ve been watching a lot of Italian Giallo Films and those movies are so stylish and I think that’s inspiring me. I guess when I sit down and watch a movie I’m not necessarily picking it apart, more just like anybody else I’m sitting down and letting it kind of wash over me. But a lot of the things that stick with me I think are not conscious things, the things I like just kind of spoke into my brain. When I go to direct, usually there’s no specific moment where I say I’m going to ape this shot or I’m going do something like this director. Even though I’m watching Scorsese films something that I’ve been doing a lot, or at least my last couple of films is I’ll do these little moments in slow motion all the sudden just because I think finally Raging Bull is kind of seeping into my conscious. I love how he does that. He does it in seemingly inane moments that don’t really mean anything but it really gets you in a character’s head space when you see something slowed down that much. So those kinds of things, yeah, they kind of work their way in but when I’m directing I just see the way that looks right to me and then we do it.

You start with the vision.

Portland Orbit: Yeah, I wasn’t even applying you know like a straight like homage or theft or anything but even on a subconscious level and the fact that you’re all over the map on a lot of the stuff you have written about through Facebook you’re really exploring a pretty wide variety of films out there.

BH: Inspiration comes in all shapes and sizes, some of these movies, like one I watched recently Slumber Party Massacre sounds like the trashiest thing in the world and yet it’s fascinating. It’s written and directed by these two feminists who are working for Roger Corman and so it’s like this give and take with this producer who just wants sex and blood in his movies and then the women who are trying to make some sort of statement. Yeah, I love that stuff. I love interesting stuff going on behind the scenes of a script.

Portland Orbit: Yeah, it’s amazing. So I know it seems like that last couple of movies I hadn’t heard about that much, the shorts you’ve been working on but my questions is sort of more like, you know, how do you manage to get all of this stuff done to make these films that you’ve made over the last few years when you’re working, I know you’re about to become a father, even just trying to organize, I mean for me to imagine even organizing something that involves more than one person just seems like it takes a huge amount of effort so my main question is how do you get all this stuff done to be able to make these movies?

BH: You got to be able to rely on other people. One thing that’s different from maybe a few years ago when I was making Elena Vance, I started getting more and more people involved and I didn’t have to wear as many hats because that’s what’s really draining for you when you’re producer, writer, director, editor–all these things. Spunk of the Reaper, the one before the newest one, I kind of wore all those hats and it was exhausting but—yeah when I’m working 40 hours a week and focusing on impending parenthood and stuff like that you just have to have people step up. I think because I’ve been working on other people’s movies and stuff when we did Spunk of the Reaper all of the sudden all of these people were excited to donate their time and energy and everything and yes a lot of that work load got taken up by people that want to make a good movie. I don’t know what it is, I think it’s me working on other stuff and all of the sudden developing this group of collaborators that are willing to, I don’t know, do whatever it takes to make a movie and one thing that’s very important to my last few movies is (garbled cell phone reception) who did sound editing on Elena Vance. He’s kind of become one of my main collaborators and whenever I work with him he brings on so many people. He’s instrumental in surrounding me with all these people who pick up the work load. That’s really the answer I think a lot of people who understand the vision and are willing to help out and they take the work off my hands.

Portland Orbit: The audio guy that you mentioned, I think the phone was cutting out a little bit. What was the name?

BH: His name’s Evan Gandy, E-V-A-N, G-A-N-D-Y.

Portland Orbit: Okay.

BH: He did sound on Elena Vance but he was the director of photography on my last two, my most recent two.

Portland Orbit: Wow, okay, that’s amazing.


I go back with Bryan to the days when we used to screen projects at a monthly film screening event called Attack of the Flix. I always appreciated Bryan’s offer to let me shoot footage  on his Elena Vance set one night. Here’s a link to the resulting behind-the-scenes film:

17 Years of That: 3 Questions for I, Anonymous Illustrator Kalah Allen

Illustrator Kalah Allen

As an aspiring cartoonist, zine maker and comic book illustrator Kalah Allen began creating images for the I, Anonymous column which runs in the Portland Mercury in the summer of 2000. With demands on her time from family and work, she appreciates having an outlet for her creativity. Kalah retains a bit of her cartoonist identity with the weekly publication of her work. She’s recently streamlined her illustration methodology which has brought new life and personality to recent drawings

Portland Orbit: So, when you get the I, Anonymous submission, how do you sum up the image in an illustration, is there something you have to go through to get that initial burst of inspiration?

KA: So it’s interesting sometimes I receive a bundle of them like in a little file package and I’ll skim through all of them and I don’t really focus on any particular one, I’ll just take them in. My habit is usually Sunday night, it’s the last thing I do before I go to bed is to finish the I, Anonymous. So maybe before that if I’m stuck I’ll give it a really good read again and I might read it a couple times and I think about what’s the most visual thing that’s also the most important in the text. A lot of times lately there’s nothing particularly visually interesting in the text to illustrate and I really have to think about it. Some things that are the most difficult are things that are ideas, like for instance a recent idea was, it was about goals. Those things are difficult to draw and so I’ll look through the whole text and see if there’s a theme. Because you don’t want to be too easy, you want to make something kind of weird and different and make it interesting.

Portland Orbit: I think the other part of that was trying to get that inspiration.

KA: Yeah, sometimes inspiration is hard. Sometimes I’ll scroll through, I’ll just google a thing like “guy pooping” and see if there’s an interesting angle that I can draw a guy pooping from.

Portland Orbit: That is so perfect because that goes right into my next question. Because it seems like you are often dealing with potentially gross stuff. That seems to be a job requirement so I’m wondering if you’re okay with that.

KA: Yeah, I’m fine. I’m really sick inside. I’ve always, from my childhood, I’m always three years old in my mind. All the body stuff is hilarious. Right? I did get banned, when I first got started a lot of them were about dicks or about fucking or pissing or whatever. Sometimes it’s like what do you draw? So I draw the thing and they said, “Kalah, you can’t draw dicks anymore. Sorry, it’s just too much.” I drew one that was flying or something and they said, the ladies who advertise, on the page that used to face I, Anonymous, who were like escorts, don’t want that on the other page.

Portland Orbit: They were pretty racy back then. I think they’ve driven those people away. I remember when I first got here I was like, whoa.

KA: I know.

Portland Orbit: Have there been any of the I, Anonymous letters that have been challenging to illustrate?

KA: Like I said the ones that are more like ideas rather than things can be difficult, it can be a challenge to think of something that is not a total cliché or if you choose to draw a cliché totally knock it out of park and make it over the top cliché so it’s funny.

Portland Orbit: So that can be the challenge of just trying to find that over the top kind of angle on it.

KA: Yeah, I always forget what I’ve drawn like the next week if you ask me what I’ve drawn, I’m like, “I don’t remember.” If we looked at a bunch of them I could probably point out, “this one was particularly difficult.” They’re starting to do two in a theme. There was one about goals one week and I was like, “oh that was such a pain to draw. How do you show that?” And then the next week it was about goals again. It was like “ugh,” here we go.

So I just used some of the, I used a generic person crossing the road illustration like that kind of road sign style and I just took what I’d made the week before and changed it. And they did it again the next week with bag pipes so I hope that’s not a theme. It was funny, a couple of weeks ago I did one about this guy who was playing bag pipes. He played the same song over and over and someone was complaining that they had to listen to him all day at work and then the next week it was another one about that guy. After work one day I went to meet a friend for dinner and guess what I heard? I heard that guy! I was like “yeah, this does suck.”  I couldn’t image listening to that all day.

Portland Orbit: It’s almost like a theme if two people are complaining about the same thing.

KA: Yeah.

Portland Orbit: So I have a lot of the images, I’ve been reading it for at least the last nine years, looking at it and I’ve tried to think of the ones that were really memorable, one, which I couldn’t look at, was the toenail collection.

KA: Oh that was so gross.

Portland Orbit: That was really gross.

KA: That was so fucking gross.

Portland Orbit: One that I recall that was funny because it was about someone farting in Powell’s and then I guess you had a line of books and you came up with all these book pun titles.

KA: That was one of my favorites. My friends helped me come up with the names for that and I wish they could all be a little more interactive. But I’m generally too lazy to do that kind of stuff, like ask everybody, I just want to get it done.

Portland Orbit: Also to me, it was interesting, the one about old goats, somebody was complaining about old men in the bar, kind of like a generational gap thing and even the next week somebody wrote a letter to the editor defending the old goats. So my question is really which ones, maybe more in general, not necessarily coming up with the idea, which ones have been memorable to you?

KA: Ummm, gosh I don’t know there’re are just so many, 17 years of that.

Portland Orbit: I know, I know.

KA: The one that makes me laugh every time I see it, there’s like a cat with a condom in his mouth. It’s just so over the top funny, just the idea of, you know what animals love, what they find attractive and will bring home as a trophy.

Portland Orbit: Yeah, combines a little bit of that grossness too.

Note: I met Kalah over 20 years ago on the first and only US Tour I made with Charlie McAlister. (12 shows in a month) We ditched a show (actually an open mic night in Kansas), but Kalah was able to get to the next show, in Omaha, and hung out with us at a casino named Harvey’s in Council Bluffs, Iowa where she drew on the roof of my car. Possibly before that, and certainly after that, we communicated through letters that highlighted Kalah’s gift, a zany off-the-cuff sense of humor.

All illustrations by Kalah Allen.

See more of her work in bright, bold computer color:

Next Week: Those pesky and ubiquitous owls.

The PRB Variety Hour Interview

I daydreamed about having a TV talk show in my basement, but I couldn’t escape the obvious creep factor in trying to lure guests to my basement for a “TV show.” Also, I could never get organized enough to make it happen. I have been able to experience hosting an in-home talk show vicariously through Jeff Dodge. He cobbled together his cameras and a rudimentary switcher to broadcast his own show live on his birthday. Ever since he’s been airing the show once a month.

Jeff is a man of many talents. He is a sound engineer, musician, movie director, video producer and now TV talk show host. Although he has yet to break out the solid move of playing the piano while interviewing a guest, pioneered by original Tonight Show host Steve Allen, the thing to know is he could. Jeff combines show host duties with those of band leader (double scale anyone?) for the show’s house band, The Peasant Revolution Band. Dodge plays guitar with them for a few numbers each show.

Push button directing!

Push button directing!

As someone who helps produce the show and directs the live broadcast, I get a front row seat to the action. My involvement with the show might explain how I got access to Jeff for an interview.

The Peasant Revolution Band perform on Septeber's grunge themed show.

The Peasant Revolution Band perform on September’s grunge themed show.

The Portland Orbit: My first question which is, I’m just asking, what is the PRB variety hour?

Jeff Dodge: The Peasant Revolution Band Variety Hour is…well first off it was a concept mostly because we were looking around for venues to get a regular gig booked at, after twenty, twenty-five years of being in this town and off and on playing music and finding that it’s still kind of the same old thing, what have you done for me lately, I decided why don’t we do a TV show as a regular gig. That’s one way to have it. We’ll just throw it in my office and shoot it and go live once a month and so far it’s been working great. A once a month gig, it’s the only time I’ve really had that on a consistent basis and it’s actually a lot more work than I was thinking it was. So I’m kind of glad we don’t have any other shows. (Laughs)

The Portland Orbit: What are some of your inspirations for the show?

Jeff Dodge: It’s shaped by a lot of what Zach Galafancous “Between Two Ferns” does. Recent inspiration has been Eric Andre. Our friend Jason Lamb turned me on to the Eric Andre Show, and I think he’s doing some amazing stuff. I think another part of the concept was kind of like the Sonny and Cher Variety Hour I got kind of more turned on to and Steve Allen. I sent a clip to you recently where he does this interview with Jack Kerouac where they’re kind of chatting, and (Steve Allen) is plinking along on the piano and all of a sudden (Kerouac) starts reading and they bust into this whole jazz thing. It’s just great. The band kicks in. I think Steve Allen used to do that a lot just sort of, (goes into Steve Allen impersonation) “okay, we’re having a casual conversation and okay you bore me I’m just going to start plinking along here.” You know it turns into a song. That’s a good idea that I’m trying to bring in with this show.

The Portland Orbit: Oh yeah, that’s, yeah, I mentioned that already in the blog post. (Laughs) That has to happen. So that kind of feeds into my next question. It’s really like what are the inspirations that you get from past talk show hosts and other performers?

Jeff Dodge: Well, I guess I have to say one of the big breakthroughs for me—the past couple of years really, I got into the Andy Kaufman story quite a bit when I realized he was a lot bigger than what Jim Carrey portrayed him as in that movie. I really didn’t like that movie. I had a bad taste for him. I started seeing what he did and what he did on talk shows and really actually at the height of his reign had wonderful relationships with people like Mike Douglas and even Dinah Shore and of course David Letterman and him were great friends. So I think that’s a lot of inspiration that’s been coming as I watch this guy sort of peek around the edges of these establishment shows that are historic, really, and sort of see the nuances for parody. Gary Shandling was another master of the kind of parody I really enjoy.

Monitoring the program monitor.

Monitoring the program monitor.

The Portland Orbit: And what do you like about being able to produce a talk show from your house?

Jeff Dodge: It also doubles as my work office. I’m in there doing video editing and doing all sorts of things of that nature anyway. It’s kind of great that it’s in my home office. I just have to switch gears and everything is not that far away. It gets me to try to semi-clean things up once a month so that’s good and yeah, it’s a short walk to the studio. It seems a pretty central place for the band and guests to meet. It’s just enough space. It’s a little cozy. Cozier makes it, you have to have a bit more focused because of that.

In football it would be a screen play.

In football it would be a screen play.

The Portland Orbit: I think the other aspect of that question that’s missing really is what do you like about the technical aspects that allow you to broadcast from your home?

Jeff Dodge: My inspirations for this are podcasting in general like what you’ve been doing. I was seeing all sorts of things happening in this election cycle where the Internet is full of basically pirated TV stations, people just kind of breaking loose and doing their own videocast whether it’s through Facebook or YouTube and multiple generations and multiple countries and groups and yeah, it’s just wonderful. It’s like TV is getting put in the hands of the people. There’s just a huge variety of it. I think the fact that all this software is coming through these media platforms is creating a lot of opportunity that wasn’t there even a couple of years ago. So I’m taking advantage of that and then the hardware aspect of it is I’m using standard def cameras, any camera, running everything through an analog processing thing it’s not much different from what the TV stations use, it’s all 720p for them anyway even though they get all this fancy HD stuff to work with. We’re still all watching low resolution so I’m taking it all and sending in down the pipeline, doing it all on the cheap and easy. It’s free and all the software platforms are allowing for that so it’s great. It’s a wonderful time to bring those two together.

The Portland Orbit: Very good, okay, I love that. That’s a good ending there. (Laughter.)

Jeff Dodge: I could go for hours.

*  * * * *

Jeff generally broadcasts on the last Tuesday of the month. He jokingly referred to the next show’s air date as October 32nd but he’s actually hitting the “internetwaves” on Tuesday, November 1st at 9pm PST. For more information see:

UPDATE: The show now airs on the last Monday of every month.

P.S. Not to go unmentioned are the contributions of drummer Rich Reece and bassist Steve Cebula who make up the rhythm section of The Peasant Revolution Band. During the show they offer commentary and make quips. Reece plays more of an Ed McMahon role while Steve is more in the Tommie Newsome territory. To understand that reference you would probably need to have had parents who nodded off to the Johnny Carson show on many a night in the 70’s.

P.P.S. Right after I turned off the recorder, Jeff threw out a nod to SCTV (Second City TV) as an influence. The Canadian show starred the likes of John Candy, Rick Moranis, Eugene Levy and Andrea Martin among others. It also ran fake commercials, which I didn’t remember. Here’s one I created for the Peasant Revolution Band Variety Hour:

When the Torch Marauder Played Portland

What’s not to like about a performer who paints himself blue, dons a black cape and puts on a show with his back up band as a video image from a TV screen. All the Torch Marauder had to do was plop in a VHS tape and he could do his thing.  Sounds like he’s kicking it old school in the technology department but the Torch Marauder was in his prime many years ago. (I’m not ready to believe that he’s retired from show business.) I made a short documentary about him which meant following him around with a camera, taping tons of his performance especially at the Galaxy Hut in Arlington, Virginia where my attempts at lighting would annoy the guys trying to play chess in the bar.

   Screen Shot 2015-06-23 at 4.35.59 PM

In 2010, I dusted off my video and gave it a sorely needed re-edit. I mean who puts a three-minute video in the middle of a short documentary anyway?  Around that time I had a chance to screen it at one of the NW Film Center’s open screenings at the Whitsell auditorium—a great opportunity to see my stuff on the big screen. At that time, I emailed the Torch Marauder and got his impression of performing in Portland as part of his US tour in the summer of 2000. I was ready to share this with the folks who came to the screening but the usual host, Thomas Phillipson, was not there that day and the intern who was present did not follow the usual introduction procedure. I missed my chance to read the Torch Marauder’s email. So, here it is followed by a brief Q&A about the show, the club and his Portland memories.

Screen Shot 2015-06-23 at 4.37.27 PM

My show at the Tabor in Portland was a funny story. I can’t remember all the details, but I was listed to play on a Sat and they changed it to a Friday, after I was already on the road. Luckily, my friends there saw the listing and told me to get there on time. Then the band that set it up didn’t show, so it was just me, who no one had ever heard of. There was a big room with 3 local bands, and then a small theatre where I played. I only got paid according to who said they showed up to see me. Even though a bunch of folks came over from the big room to watch me play. Then the girl who handled the money that night told me that’s how they do it, and that she had to pay a babysitter for the night just so she could be there to work the door. I told her I drove from North Carolina, but she didn’t believe me, told me to take it up with the owner, and maybe I’d do better next time. She then said I could come back and play two weeks later. I again told her I lived in North Carolina, and she was like “are you serious?” There’s more details that I’m forgetting, but it was a pretty strange experience.

Screen Shot 2015-06-23 at 4.39.27 PM

How were you able to get the gig?

I set up the gig through another band, who must have been friends of friends, because I didn’t know them. I honestly can’t remember how I came to be in touch with them. They were called The Visit.

Screen Shot 2015-06-23 at 4.27.34 PM

(There’s the Mount Tabor Pub, and then the Tabor Acoustic Room, which is where I played.) I think I remember them being compared to early Pink Floyd or something like that, but they didn’t show up for the gig, so I never heard them. No other bands filled in, so I just played solo.

Any impressions of Portland from that time?

It was my second time in Portland. I had been there two years earlier in the Summer of ’98. I had friends who were living there then, and I remember having a great time. We saw The Big Lebowski at the Bagdad – that place is amazing! I remember going to a few different McMenamin’s Pubs, and digging them all. We had dinner at the Montage one night. They had communal seating, and they wrapped up our leftovers in tinfoil origami – it blew my mind at the time! We drove out to the coast one day, and that was beautiful. I also dug going up to the Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood. I think the exterior was used in The Shining. Multnomah Falls was gorgeous. I’m combining memories of my two trips out there because I can’t recall exactly what I did on each trip. Sorry I don’t have any more specific memories other than a ton of bridges, and being told how to properly pronounce Willamette.

I’m under the impression that you were paid little to no money. How did that feel?

I got paid something, probably like $30. I was definitely bummed about it at the time because there was a decent size crowd watching my set. I should have at least made $60! I think I explained the situation as best as I could in my earlier email. But otherwise, it was a fun experience overall. I had a great time, and ultimately, that’s why I was there.

Screen Shot 2015-06-23 at 4.34.39 PM

The Torch Marauder as a Teen Idol

See the Torch Marauder documentary:

700 Phish Tapes

I knew Jed Binderman back on the east coast when he was a teenaged acting and filmmaking prodigy. I was once in a band that performed at one of his wild house parties. I took strange pride in injuring myself at the gig. Near the end of the performance our lead singer, late for a date, bolted. The band kept playing. When the music stopped I limped off with a swollen knee.

Jed’s grown up now, lives in Portland and plays drums in the band Eternal Tapestry. A blurb in the Portland Mercury writing about a show mentioned that Jed “stumbled upon a horde of 700 live Phish bootleg cassettes.” It also explained the tapes were used in the preparation of the bands latest recording Wild Strawberries. I had to know more about the find. Jed was willing to answer 3 questions from the Portland Orbit by email.

How and where and when and why did you find 700 Phish Tapes?

A friend of mine noticed a posting on craigslist saying that someone
had 300 Phish bootleg cassettes available for free. I’m not totally sure why said friend thought of me when he saw this, as I’m neither a Phish fan or THAT big of a hoarder, but he forwarded the posting to me, and before I knew it I was inside this dude’s house picking up box after box of Phish tapes. His estimation was 300, but when I finally brought them home I decided to waste the rest of my afternoon and actually count how many there were, since there was obviously more than 300 tapes. I finally counted over 700 tapes, all dubbed on Maxell-II hi-bias tapes, which are pretty expensive to acquire nowadays. At first I thought I could break them up into smaller lots and sell them on eBay, but then realized that Phish fans aren’t quite like deadheads, and they don’t pay big buxx for huge amounts of live Phish tapes. Eternal Tapestry had been throwing around the idea of renting a cabin for a week to do nothing but record music and hang out in a hot tub, and when we finally got our act together and booked the spot, I knew exactly what tapes we were going to be using, to be recorded on our cassette 8-track, for all of those days and nights.

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I know you guys are industrious in your recording methods, but did you or do you plan to record over all 700 tapes?

I think we recorded something like 50 tapes worth of music, maybe a
little less/more, but either way, it was a lot of stuff. Since then I’ve given huge stacks of tapes to other friends that use cassettes to record music, and I think the rest of them were actually given away at a yard sale at my old house, as some of them were “accidentally” left in the basement when I moved out.

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How can you record over September 14, 1999 “the snooze and you lose show?”—Do you expect any Phish fan backlash?

Unfortunately no backlash from any Phish fans who might feel that someone is really tarnishing the name of their true love, but hopefully one of these days I’ll get some hate mail that smells like patchouli.

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See more about Eternal Tapestry:

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Sarah Mirk Talks Pie Not PI


Sarah Mirk is my journalism hero in Portland. I enjoyed reading her writing when she was a staff writer for the Portland Mercury. She left the paper to work for Bitch Media where she’s the online editor. I’ve heard her appearances on the OPB talk show Think Out Loud doing News Roundtable segments many times and have always appreciated her opinions. It was Sarah’s comments on the podcast Karl Show (starring Jason), when she shared her appreciation for pie, that inspired this email interview. Sarah is the author of Sex From Scratch: Making Your Own Relationship Rules.

3 Questions for Sarah Mirk

What makes pie one of your favorite desserts or even meals?
Pie is a meditative process to make—mixing the crust and rolling out the dough takes time, and that’s good. It’s also tied up in history. I use my family’s recipe, which involves measuring blobs of crisco, but I like hearing other peoples’ stories about their memories of pie. Pie always reminds me of my dad, whose annual tradition is making way too many pies at Thanksgiving. It’s a food that many people have a strong opinions about. Of course, the most obvious reason to like pie is that it’s delicious. My favorite kinds of pie are rhubarb and cherry.

What are some of your favorite Portland area places for pie?
Actually, my favorite place to get pie is at roadside diners whenever I’m driving somewhere far away. I like stopping in a random small town diner for coffee and a huge wedge of berry pie and getting a feel of the town. In Portland, I don’t go out for pie that much. But you really can’t beat Random Order and Loretta Jean’s for a classic pie. I’m vegan these days, so I’ve been eating a lot of flaky pie-like pastries from Sweetpea.

Ever been to Shari’s for their Wednesday night pie special (free slice of pie with the order of an entree)?
You know, I’ve only been to Shari’s once, when some friends and I drove out to the Pendleton Round-Up. On the way back, we stopped at what my friends insisted was the first-ever Shari’s in the world, which is just like every other Shari’s and is in a parking lot somewhere in Eastern Oregon. I got a slice of pie and it was pretty dang mediocre.

Note: This is not meant as an advertisement or commercial endorsement for Shari’s Cafe.

Read all about Sarah:

Listen to the podcast interview that inspired this interview:

Next year I hope to be doing a live remote PI Day broadcast from a Shari’s Cafe parking lot while being beaten about the head and shoulders by a gang of protractor wielding mathematicians.

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