Extra Life 2014: Help me for the big day on October 25

Extra Life Logo_Blue

Once a year, I deprive myself of sleep to do one thing — help sick kids at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. How do I do this, you ask? By playing videogames for 24 hours straight. (Last year, it was 25 hours.)

Extra Life began after the untimely death of Victoria Enmon due to acute lymphoblastic leukemia in January of 2008. When I first heard about this charity, I thought that it was a great way to do something I love and help people that I have no connection to. But, as I continued to promote the cause each year, I’ve found out that I have a closer connection to it than I thought.

I’ve had family lose loved ones at the hospital in the past, and I don’t think I ever would’ve realized that if it wasn’t for this charity. When I went to the first Extra Life Portland guild meeting about 4-6 months ago, the stories I heard about why people participate would make some people cry. Doernbecher was finally working to get people more involved and organized, which I found refreshing considering we raised so much money for the hospital last year. With the help of everyone involved, we’re getting even more people involved at Rose City Comic Con and the Retro Game Expo.

This is where your help comes in to play. I can’t do this without you. Each year, my goal gets a little higher than the year before. This year, my goal is $400. I plan on streaming my play session along with doing a lot of fun stuff on social media. Basically, I want to make sure that if you’re sponsoring me, you get as much entertainment from me as I can offer.

So, I ask you, can you please sponsor me for Extra Life 2014? People are encouraged to donate a dollar per hour for each hour I play, but I appreciated any donation, even if it’s $5.

Do you have any other ideas for ways that I can entertain you and get more donations? Please let me know!

Making time to write, preparing for Extra Life

I’ve written what seems like countless times that I’d write more on the blog, so I’m not going to make any big excuses this time around. When you write for a living, it takes extra effort to write recreationally. I can’t find the quote now, but I remember a sentence I read on Destructoid about writing every day. They wrote something to the likes of, “Don’t have time to write every day? Make time, puto!”

So, here I am. I’m making the time. Lately, my job has been an interesting mix of business communications, press release writing, media list building and event planning. Event planning has never been something I favor in the PR industry, but I’ve gotten better at it over the years. I recently organized a clean-up event for Portland Brewing, and as with most event planning, I don’t think it would’ve been even moderately successful without the help of others. Though it kind of burnt me out, the feedback I got from everyone was really nice.

The most interesting thing I picked up was the elastic band of men's underwear

The most interesting thing I picked up was an elastic band of men’s underwear

Now that the event has passed, it’s time to concentrate on one of my favorite times of the year — Extra Life. Each year, I’ve tried to get a little more interactive with it, especially for the people who sponsor me. I’ll tell you more about what I’ve got planned later on this week, but I’m pretty excited to begin testing it out. Here’s a hint to what I’m going to start using. I encourage you to watch the video below, if you’re curious to know the story of how Extra Life came to be.

Because, I’m going to write more often, my posts will be shorter like this one, but I hope you find it easier to digest.

Be awesome.

Happy Mother’s Day to All of the Great Mothers in Our Lives

Old school upload for Mother's Day

From left to right: Kathy and my mom, Teresa; my cousins Cody, Haley, and myself in a fresh red shirt.

Next year will mark 10 years since my mom passed away. It’s something I didn’t even think of until a recent conversation I had with my friend Ian. The first couple years after her death, I was bitter whenever the holiday rolled around. Commercials and strangers badgering me not to forget my mom on Mother’s Day, the one day I’d rather have anything top of mind but my mom. But, with loss comes growth and I realized something I’ve never really considered before: Mother’s Day is the day for all the great mothers in your life. I wanted to pay tribute to a few of the great mothers in my life.

My Mom

My mom was one of the best people in my life. She wasn’t perfect by any means, but she sacrificed what little she had for me and always provided one of the things you can never take for granted – love. She was the person who bought me my first videogame console with her tax return: the Nintendo Entertainment System. A console that I have such a love and hate relationship with, I tattooed the controller on my body. She was the one who’d call me almost daily to the point of annoyance just to talk. It was annoying then, but I miss it now. I’ve been asked before about how I turned out as well as I have and I firmly believe it was because my mom always showed me love.

My Aunt Kathy

Throughout my childhood, there were a few times when unfortunate circumstances would occur. My aunt Kathy and uncle Jim were usually there for us, letting us stay in a spare room in their house. I’ve always had a close relationship with my aunt and uncle, but it was after my mother’s death where I realized how great of a relationship it was. Kathy has helped me during some of the toughest moments of my life and has instilled in me a sense of responsibility for my actions. She never forgets a birthday, always calls me just to check in when she hasn’t talked to me in a while, and never forgets to pack me a stocking during the holiday season. I’d easily consider her a second mother.

Kathy, Jesse and Yaicha

Afternoon beverages with Kathy and Yaicha

My Soon To Be Mother-In-Law

I’ve met the parents in all of the relationships I’ve had in my life. Many of the mothers were very nice, some probably just tolerable of our relationship. It wasn’t until I met Yaicha’s parents that I learned something new: When you begin a relationship with someone, you also begin a relationship with his or her family. Yaicha’s mom has been there for us countless times. Whether it’s the big things such as being the subject of one of my photojournalism projects and letting us stay in their spare room to save money for moving to Portland, or the little things such as making me a zombie graveyard birthday cake, Kathy has been there for me and for us. She’s a mother that I appreciate more than words can say.

So, take a moment today and appreciate the mother in your life. Let them know how much they mean to you.

What’s Fresh for October 13, 2013

Freshfully Rad What's Fresh

BTBAM in 2013 is still a fun show to see live

In an effort to write even more than I do already, I’ve started a new piece called What’s Fresh. Part of my job is to read news — a lot of news — and over the years, it’s become an obsession. I was one of the Google Reader users who were pretty upset when they were disabling the service, but Feedly has been great to me as a tool to read news on my computer as well as on my mobile. What’s Fresh features news I’ve found interesting over the past week or so.

Benefit For Brewpublic’s Angelo De Ieso

Brewpublic Benefit for Angelo

Photo via BREWPUBLIC

Brewpublic has been one of my favorite Oregon-area beer blogs for years now. I met Angelo for the first time this year at the Organic Brew Festival and he was a super nice guy that was totally willing to chat for a few minutes. So, it shocked me to hear that he recently that he had to have brain surgery and now has a huge bill to pay. Because the craft beer community in Oregon is so awesome, The Commons Brewery is having a fundraiser to help pay his medical bills on October 17. Drink beer and help a cool dude? I’m in!

Why Confidence Is So Important (And How To Improve Yours)

This Lifehacker article offers great insight into how confidence can improve how you’re perceived by others and lists some different ways to improve your confidence. This can take you from knowing confidence to believing in confidence. Great inspirational material.

Grand Theft Auto V Mythbusters

Every once in a while, I see these awesome Mythbusters YouTube videos featuring games like GTA 5 and Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 where they try different tricks in a videogame to see if they work or not. I’m always surprised with what they confirm and bust. If you dig these, you might want to subscribe to their channel.

Respawn’s Trial And Error Of Creating Titanfall Modes

One of my most anticipated games of the next console generation is Titanfall. Though I haven’t played it yet, from what I’ve seen, this game is going to revolutionize the console shooter. I’m pretty sure it’ll be the next Halo and Call of Duty for the console generation. If you have a spare 20 minutes, check out the video above featuring their tireless community manager, Abbie Heppe.

Kuma’s Corner Makes Statement About Ghost Burger

Photo via Metal Insider

I went to Kuma’s Corner in Northern Chicago for the first time back in 2010 and had one of the best burgers ever — the Plague Bringer. If you don’t know about this place, it’s a metal-themed restaurant that specializes in serving burgers. Recently, the restaurant made a burger inspired by the band, Ghost B.C., which contains goat shoulder, ghost chili aioli, a red wine reduction and is topped off with a communion wafer. Of course, some Catholics weren’t amused by this in the least. So, Kuma’s Corner has done something very nice in return. I wish Portland had a Kuma’s Corner.

Bacon Weave Taco Recipe

Do you like tacos? How about bacon? Then why not make bacon tacos? Tasted is a channel on YouTube that I’ve grown to appreciate the more I watch it for it’s very cynical humor and funny food news. If you like this, there’s a taste review that they do for some bacon flavored pop rocks and it’s pretty interesting to hear all of their descriptors which is almost everything but bacon.

Thanks for reading and leave some links to things you’ve found interesting in the comments. Cheers!

5 Portland Sandwich Restaurants You Must Eat At

I love sandwiches almost as much as I love beer and videogames. In a perfect world, I’d have the most cheesy, protein-filled (meat or tempeh), bready sandwich; a hoppy craft beer filled to the brim with IBUs and a game that transfixes me to the point of making me forget almost everything else in life. The only thing that could make the scenario more perfect would be if I could share that experience with Yaicha. So, before my first cake day on Reddit, I asked a simple question to other Portland Redditors: What are Portland’s best sandwich restaurants?

People weren’t shy in responding and it was great hearing from other sandwich lovers in the community to find out what they like in a sandwich. After taking a poll in which I tallied each person’s recommendation in the 100+ comments, these are the top five places to get a sandwich in Portland, Oregon.

5. People’s Sandwich of Portland

People's Sandwich of Portland

I’m sorry to say it, but this place is closed. I know … sad violin. I’ve heard good things about this place, but when I finally made the effort to go there, I found out they shut up shop. Whether you’re a meat lover looking for the Argento Arrabiata — a spicy italian sub featuring salami, ham, provolone, pepperoncini, mayo and lettuce on a french roll — or a veggie lover searching for The People’s Sandwich — pan-fried ota tofu covered in pesto, sweet and spicy peppadew peppers and filberts on a french roll — you could find a sandwich here. Their last Facebook post stated, “Thanks for three and a half years Portland. We’ll let you know of the next step, when that foot falls.” Maybe we’ll see something from them again soon? One can only hope.

4. Lardo

Lardo

Lardo is what makes Portland great. What started out as a food cart, turned into a restaurant on the southeast side of Portland and then another popped up shortly after on the west end of downtown Portland. On my first visit, I had the smoked coppa cubano with ham, dijon, pickles, Lardo sauce, Valentina and provolone, which was just as rich and condiment heavy as I like in a sandwich. The double burger with its cascade natural beef, cheddar, porkstrami, and Lardo sauce is what made me love burgers again. It’s so good. This place is fabulous and is also a great place to grab a good beer.

3. TIE — Bunk Sandwiches

I’ve only gotten a few different kinds of sandwiches at Bunk, each of them have been fulfilling upon the initial consumption of the meal, but they always had strange after-effects. My favorite is the Italian cured meats with Bunk marinated hot peppers and provolone piccante, but it always leaves me a little more oily than I like and I feel like I have to wash my hands and mouth after eating it. The meatball parmigiano hero was a fantastic sandwich that I had at the 2013 Malt Ball, but it gave me some seriously wicked burps. The roast beef was the sandwich I remember the least, but what I remember about all of the sandwiches from Bunk — and what most Redditors remember — are the price of the sandwiches compared to the size. If price doesn’t matter to you and you’re looking for a quality sandwich that isn’t huge, you might like this place.

2. TIE — Eastside Deli

Photo courtesy of Yelp's Beth O.

This is the only other place I haven’t eaten at on this list. From all of the comments, this deli is one of those places where you can get your money’s worth in the size and quality of the sandwich. Sandwiches come in a Portland French 6-inch sub, 12-inch sub, or on Dave’s Killer Bread and have Boar’s Head meats as well as a whole vegan and kids menu. Despite their name, they’re located in three places: SE Hawthorne, North Lombard, and in downtown Portland. I must get here soon.

1. Shut Up and Eat

A large majority of people said that this was the place to get a sandwich and they weren’t kidding. Ryan and I went there one Saturday morning for a sandwich brunch to find a standing room full of people who knew the secret before I did: these sandwiches are awesome. The Italian Grinder — made with mortadella, genoa salami, copocollo, sopressatta, proscuitto, pepper ham meats, provolone, asiago, parmesan cheeses, olive pepper, roasted bell peppers, relish, lettuce, tomato and olive oil — is probably the best sandwich I’ve ever had in Portland. It’s crazy to think that all of those ingredients can even fit on a sub, but here it is in all its glory.

So, if you’ve heard of all of these places, you now have another opinion for or against them. If you haven’t and you love sandwiches, I recommend checking out the places that are still open. Special shout-out to Kenny & Zuke’s deli and Meat Cheese Bread — both of those places are great as well. There were many more recommendations, but I’d love to hear yours in the comments. If you’re in another city and these places remind you of a favorite there, I’d love to hear of those too. EAT UP!

Cider Weekend in Portland

Cider Weekend

I have a confession: I think I love cider. Not that sweet, sugary swill that corporate behemoths try to pass off as cider, but the dry and off-dry cider a whole new wave of cider makers are creating right now. The Portland Cider Summit was on June 21 and 22 and, my goodness, there was a lot of cider in my life that weekend.

Kickstart Your Cider-Loving Heart

Bluegrass music group

Before the weekend began, I was already celebrating with Nat West of Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider and many of the other Kickstarter backers who donated to the construction of the tasting room at his new cider house. It was a fantastic party atmosphere with a wide selection of ciders available, crazy amounts of pizza from Sizzle Pie, a bluegrass band playing some great tunes, and awesome people. If you’re a craft beer fan, Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider is probably the cider brand that you’d appreciate, because his approach to cider is the same in many respects. In fact, I worked with Geoff Kaiser from Seattle Beer News to have him travel to Portland and visit Nat’s cidery and see what his styles are all about. Read all about his visit on his website.

Scaling The Cider Summit

Cider Weekend

Armed with my Timbers Army shirt, sunglasses and tasting glass, I began my trek through more than 30 different cider makers at the Portland Cider Summit. Two of my clients were there — Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider and Virtue Cider — both of which had some of my favorite ciders. Baird and Dewar’s 2012 Constitution was one favorite that day. The spiced dry heirloom cider aged in rum barrels clocked in at 9.8% ABV and definitely made for a good winter warmer, even though it was closer to 90 degrees fahrenheit outside. Similar to barrel-aged beers, ciders can taste remarkable when aged in barrels. Sea Cider’s Prohibition was another barrel-aged cider that tasted great with its smooth mouthfeel and hints of rum and molasses. It definitely didn’t taste like it was 12.5% ABV.

Cider Brings Out Some Great People (And Dogs)

Portland Cider Summit Dog

What a great weekend to meet new people! I finally got to meet many of the people who work at Virtue Cider as well as taste two new ciders of theirs that I haven’t had before. I’m in love with Virtue’s awesomely sour Sidra de Nava. Abram Goldman-Armstrong from Northwest Brewing News was a pleasure to meet and it was interesting learning about his new cider venture, Cider Riot. Corey from The Cider Times — whom I previously met during a tasting event for Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider — was down from Seattle for the judging of the Portland International Cider Cup as well as to hit the summit. Geoff Kaiser from Seattle Beer News was experiencing the tastes of cider with his wife that day and it was great to talk cider, beer, and food in Portland and Seattle with both of them. Alex aka Cider Monger was working at the event, but it was rad meeting a guy who’s so into cider and who was super nice to chat with. I also met a rad dog.

Winning With Timbers And Cider

Cider Weekend

As Sunday arrived, it was like the Rose City — you cannot stop us. After seeing another epic Timbers win at JELD-WEN field, Yaicha and I went to The Cleaners at Ace Hotel for a Virtue Cider kick-off event for their distribution expansion into Portland, Oregon. They had RedStreak, The Ledbury, and Sidra de Nava on tap as well as cider cocktails developed by Jeffrey Morganthaler. The fantastic music was DJ’d by Kyle Webster while the food was artfully made by Ned Ludd’s Jason French and Beast’s Naomi Pomeroy. Virtue Cider’s founder and cider maker Greg Hall gave a rousing speech about his love for Portland and their move into this market. Needless to say, this event was nothing short of awesome.

That’s A Whole Lotta’ Apples

Although I still have a huge love for craft beer, I can’t wait until cider is just as popular as craft beer is in America. If you haven’t had cider made from some of these cider makers, I urge you to try it. If you have, tell me, what’s your favorite cider right now?

Zwickelmania 2013 — The best beer tour in Oregon

Me and Yaicha pretending to sip from a zwickel

Me and Yaicha pretending to sip from a zwickel

Zwickelmania: a backstage pass to breweries around Oregon. It’s an event I’ve known about for quite a while, but have never gotten a chance to take part in the past due to work and school priorities. President’s Day in 2013 was a much different matter. That day was a marathon, not a sprint, and drinking beer was the road we were running on.

Yaicha, Ryan, and I started our morning at the Green Dragon where we filled ourselves with buffet-style bacon, ham, and eggs. This food was not for the foodie looking to get a good breakfast; this food was purely fuel for a long day of drinking. The Green Flash Brewing 7th anniversary Belgian red rye ale went very well with the breakfast fuel and got me in the mode for a day of tasting the many beers to come. After our friends Crystal and Erick arrived, we took a refreshing walk to the second brewery of the day — Cascade Brewing Barrel House.

Breakfast of champions at the Green Dragon

Breakfast of champions at the Green Dragon

Cascade Brewing Barrel House specializes in sour beers and has some of the best in Portland. Two of my favorite beers I tasted straight from the zwickel were the Rum Tangerine Spice Quad weighing in at 10% ABV, which boasted two distinct flavor profiles between a sweet tangerine flavor and a bold rum aftertaste, and the 12% ABV Bourbonic Plague that was much too easy to drink for its strength and had a flavor that I’d be willing to spend good money on in the future. This is a brewery every person should visit when they come to Portland due to its specialty in beers and its location near so many other places to eat and drink.

Being poured a sampler of Bourbon Plague straight from the zwickel

Being poured a sampler of Bourbon Plague straight from the zwickel

Next, our group took a short walk over to Base Camp Brewing where they were giving a small presentation of how Base Camp came to be and the types of beers that they specialize in. The beer I was particularly impressed with was their flagship bottled beer (in a can) called an In-Tents IPL or India Pale Lager, which I again had straight from the zwickel. After the tour, we settled out on the porch where we could bask in the winter sunlight and quaff our tasty beverages we got from their new tasting room. Since this day was a marathon, I chose the Base Camp Belgian session ale, which hits at 4.9% ABV and was light on the stomach. Of course, I had to try a little bit of Crystal’s S’more stout, which had a toasted marshmallow on the rim of the glass (the mini tasters have a mini marshmallow, which had to be the cutest thing I saw that day).

Brewmaster and owner, Justin Fay presenting the history of Base Camp

Brewmaster and owner, Justin Fay presenting the history of Base Camp

The next stop on our tour was Burnside Brewing, where we quickly found that the lines were growing ever longer as the day progressed and that our patience grew ever shorter for waiting in those lines. As a result, we didn’t take a tour of the brewery, but had a beer while waiting for the shuttle and chatted with some other nice Zwickelmaniacs outside. The Burnside IPA was especially nice to sip on during our half-hour wait for the free shuttle to arrive and take us to our final destination — Hopworks Urban Brewery.

As the shuttle arrived, we beer-loving revelers filled the cabin close to capacity and continued on to Hopworks Urban Brewery, thankful to be in a shuttle and not out in the freak rain storm that struck on the way over drenching every person unlucky enough to be out in it. As luck would have it, the rain subsided close to our arrival at Hopworks, where we were greeted to small snacks of breaded pretzels, sauerkraut, and dipping sauces. We migrated upstairs to the bar and found the most epic place to continue our drinking: an enclosed room where we had total privacy and could drink our $2.00 pints of Abominable winter ale and eat our monster-sized calzones in peace. It was a gluttonous experience to say the least.

After all of that, Zwickelmania was winding down, but we needed to take care of one last errand, which involved us going back to the Green Dragon to meet a friend from Eugene. Yes, we went full circle and I ended my day with an ACE apple hard cider. I’m pretty sure that was the final line to cross, because as soon as I got home, I fell into a deep slumber.

Zwickelmania is an experience that every beer lover should witness with their own eyes (and taste buds). If there’s one reason to plan a trip to Oregon in the early part of the year, there isn’t many better excuses than for Zwickelmania on President’s Day weekend. Cheers to Oregon beers!