John Hodgman on Portland- from the Portland Monthly Blog, by me!


John Hodgman on Portland

The Daily Show’s “resident expert” shared his unique perspective on Portland at a Bagdad Theatre book signing.

by Virginia Jones

“The increasingly deranged…John Hodgman!” crowed musician John Roderick, making way for the author and humorist to take the stage carrying a ukulele in a case, and a tote bag of what turned out to be single-serving mayonnaise packets and 5 Hour Energy bottles.

He then sat down to remove his shoes and socks, remarking, “I am John Hodgman, and I am a deranged millionaire. I took my shoes off. That is all I am taking off. This is the one show in Portland that is not a burlesque show. I’m sorry for that.”

The nerdy sausage party that had amassed to see him read his new book That Is All nodded knowingly as he ran through his bio. “You may know me from the Daily Show, where I appear as the Resident Expert, or more likely you know me as the personal computer in a series of commercials for a computer company.” (The crowd cheered.)

“You’re the two people in Portland who own a television and are willing to admit it.” He went on to recount being picked up at the airport in a familiar-looking Subaru, and asking the driver if it was the “communal Subaru of Portland, like the communal white bicycles of Amsterdam, or the communal white tigers of Amsterdam. Feed them raw meat and leave them at any hashish house or murder hostel.”

When Hodgman got around to the book, an audience member claimed to have purchased it on Kindle. “You didn’t buy it on Kindle, sir,” he was quick to contradict, “and if you did, I’ll need to have a talk with you later…it is only available on paper, for two reasons: I wanted to make Portlanders clap—(applause) I want to please sanctimonious Luddites…and it is the only format that will survive Ragnarok.”
He explained how his last book of “all world knowledge” was in fact inspired by Portland, as his last tour guide had told him that one of the great things about Portland was its “extremely pure and secure source of Glacier water. She said, when the excrement comes down, this will be a very good place to live. And then we went downtown to Pioneer Square, and then I saw something I guess you see in Portland all the time: I saw a member of the Church of Satan buying flowers. It was Valentine’s day.” He name-checked Portland’s Rex Church.

“ I realized Portland was a special place: The end of the world and the Church of Satan, which is what makes the book such a great Christmas gift for children.” He asked us, “Please don’t applaud yourselves….I expect that in San Francisco.”

Hodgman continued his Portland-centric rant by reading a passage from his book, the Ragnarok calendar entry for October 18, 2012: “The well-built old buildings of a carefully preserved historic downtown withstand the MEGA-QUAKES, a public commitment to alternative energy (biofuel, solar, geothermal, cold fusion, powered by hemp, and humans pushing a giant wheel around) saves the city from the devastation of the OMEGA PULSE. The city’s spirit of cooperation, forged from a long history of mutual poverty and deadbeatism, inoculates the populace from panic and food riots. The Great Dike, built sustainably from recovered lumber in a modern updating of the Arts and Crafts style, keeps the city free from blood, and the well-made artisanal cocktails at the Heathman hotel dull the psychic trauma of a world gone mad, leaving PORTLAND, OREGON as the only functioning city in the United States after the BLOOD WAVE. Naturally, the Portlanders are extremely smug about it. Their paradise lasts seven weeks before they are all murdered by refugees from Seattle.”
And then he left, promising us all Segways that Dean Kamen had given him at the most recent TED conference. “And you’ve got a Segway, and you’ve got a Segway, and you’ve got a Segway!…” Like most of Hodgman’s declarations, the promise proved to be good-natured hogwash.

Postscript: And also, here is a picture of John Hodgman making good on his promise to give two gold coins to any fan of The Best Show on WFMU who provided the appropriate documentation and recited the secret message, “I’d like a discount.”

More Self-Referential Bullshit

Sometimes I like to look at what drives traffic to It’s like looking into your own bellybutton and finding eternity.

burning man costumes- Oh, I guess so.
virginia jones- Here!
leigh bowery- Of course.
dave vanian- Someone I think about a lot.
sisters of perpetual indulgence- Sure.
squirrel lamp- I’m a fan.
people who can not paid drugs- What?
open mic comedy portland- Yay!
burning man outfit- You again? trousers- I have thought about this.
silent hill halloween costumes- OK.
fighting squirrel artwork -More squirrel fans!
jock straps- What?
david blaine mother- I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned her. I don’t know why people are wondering about her, either?
mel flight of the conchords- My twin!
surgical mask porn- OK, seriously what the fuck.
japan lolita- Sure.
strawberry switchblade gothic- Naturally.
badinia dones- Of course.
baby spit- Don’t like it, don’t want it.
jackie kashian- My Homegirl.
claude tanner degrassi- Never Forget.
burning man costume- Oh, OK.
ian curtis dead- He sure is.
ron funches- Homeslice!
canadian comedy festival very fat comedian- Whoever this is, I feel bad for them. Their fatness was deemed Google-able. I hope it’s not Funches, who I love bunches!
brian j perez baby ketten- He has his stalkers.
auggie smith- What UUUP.
queen doris- Why, Yes!
capsule toys singapore- Sure.
french drag queen- Never have specifically written about one, but think about them a lot.
ameen belbahri- Aw yeah.
i close my eyes and walk out there and that’s where i start – Poetic! From Bill Hicks! If I google this and it takes me back to my own page, will I give birth to myself in space?
david bowie dressed as harlequin video- I’m proud to be a part of it.
why did lush discontinue goth juice?-THIS IS THE QUESTION OF OUR GENERATION.
donny don’t- My Pal.
virginia comedian portland- Sure.
dutch treats curious comedy- Of course.
famous mysterious actor bumbershoot 2011- Memories!
bridgetown comedy festival-A proud member.
badinia- sure.
transvestite maid- OK. Might be another person looking for Ryan Gosling.
virginia jones comedy- Sure.
scary big monsters killing people- I had never worried about this before, but now I’m worried! Are there scary big monsters killing people?
japanese amateur ass lady- How can you have an amateur ass?
open mic night comedy portland- Yay!
is billy bragg vegetarian?-I don’t know, is he?
dj rhienna portland- Yay!
bumbershoot mysterious actor- A living legend!
virginia lesbian comic portland – Uh oh.
mac and squatch- A fine film!
furious yellow band- Yay!

Wow, I feel like I’ve learned a lot, don’t you?

* I have gotten tired of people winding up here googling my ex-husband’s name, so I have replaced all incidences of it with Ryan Gosling’s name, because I am extremely mature.

Life Is About Learning, Or, Why People In Sri Lanka Think I’m A Whore

Photo by Dan Eccles

  I have been spending an educational and largely fun ten days in Colombo, Sri Lanka.  Part of the job involves going out and getting drunk at night, which is very helpful for addressing the international traveller’s twin ailments of loneliness and jet lag-induced insomnia. 

Last night, an expat Englishman pointed out to me that the name of this website, Badinia, means “I Want You”, in a very decidedly sexual way, in Singhalese.  This was very helpful, because it explained why everyone I had given my business card to had laughed delightedly.  Incidentally, that means my email address is I want you at I want you dot com.  It’s things like this that keep my mother up at night.

Trivial Comedy

I got to sit in on a round of questions from the ShanRock brand of trivia, the finest trivia in the land, and make jokes about it.  Here are some of the things I said.  They’re not good for anything, so I’m just gonna tell ‘em to you.

What turns a Mogwai into a Gremlin? A: That’s stupid.  You can’t turn a band into a car!

Moby Dick has one of the most iconic opening lines in Western Literature.  Fill in the missing word: “Call me ______”     A: Call me crazy- Is that the biggest white whale you’ve ever seen?

What exact bird do you find on the back of a Canadian $1 coin?  A: That’s the Queen, and it’s very disrespectful to call her a “bird.”

And Dax Jordan’s favorite: Q: Virginia, did you ever drink Absinthe? A: Yeth, and I haven’t been the thame thince!


Iona, Andi’s boss at Trax, and Duckie share a tiny prize

The Joneses had the best time evar geeking out on memorial John Hughes trivia with the lovely and talented Shan-Rock last Saturday, being quizzed about Ferris Bueller, Weird Science (a film about two young men who accidentally make a woman when all they are really looking for is web porn), Sixteen Candles, Breakfast Club, and Pretty in Pink. After a lifetime of wanting to be Andi from Pretty in Pink, it is clear to me now that I am her boss, Iona. Watching the film for the eleventy hundredth time, it is no longer clear to me why all the boys love Andi. She spends the whole movie either pouting or bitching. She laughs exactly once. But Iona? Applause, applause, applause! We won a tiny trophy and free drinks, which is the kind of prize we can use.

The Continued Adventures of Dr. Spaceman!

Dr. Spaceman donned their scrubs and surgical masks, and with the assistance of 5th Spaceman Kris Lutsock, who is on the Famous Mysterious Actor crew, took the win in last night’s Trivia Titans contest! It was touch and go for awhile, with two tie-breaker questions- the answer to the final question was Steven Patrick Morrissey, so I felt at that time that we were born to win.
This year, my compatriots and I have become increasingly obsessed with the excellent, multi-colored, ridiculous and divine trivia of the Shan-Rock Empire.

We started going as a joke and as an excuse to eat french fries in a basement, but we accidentally won a few times and things got weird. Our team includes Andy Wood, who is founder and chief operational officer of the Bridgetown Comedy Festival, and a Rylee Newton, former Hollywood Squares writer and Jimmy Kimmel guest, myself, a tap-dancer, comic, and fighter, and my spouse, whom I make drive me around and tell me childhood stories about the Hundred Years War.
For awhile, our team was named after various things from 30 Rock, the best living television show, including MILF Island, Never Follow A Hippie To A Second Location, and Every Week Is Shark Week, until another group that had used Werewolf Bar Mitzvah threatened to drop us like jive turkeys in the parking lot, so now we have settled on Dr. Spaceman, the physician who warns Tracey Jordan that bread is a silent killer and that science is whatever we want it to be.

Team Facts:

Team Leader: Andy Wood, A.K.A. The Cute Beatle- Science and Sports
Historian: Ryan Gosling-because he was there. Also, elf-related triv.
Arts and Stuff About What The Japanese Eat: Virginia Jones
Television, Film, And Weirdness: Rylee Newton
Team Motto: “Let Go and Let Garp”
Favorite Question Type: Natalie Portmanteaux
Member Most Likely To Dance Obnoxiously In Order To Annoy Other Members:Virginia Jones
Skee-Ball Specialist: Virginia Jones/Rylee Newton (shared duties)
Favorite Movie: All Coen Brothers Except The Ladykillers
Favorite I Don’t Feel Tardy Song: The Strangler’s Peaches
Special Team Trivia: 100% of Dr. Spaceman is blue-eyed
Our Nemesis Team: There are other Teams?
It all comes down to the finals this weekend, the Clash of the Trivia Titans at 5PM on Sunday. We may come back winners. We may come back losers. But we will come back…men. At least, those of us who were men to begin with.

*please note: I have gotten needlessly aggravated that internet searches for my former spouse turn up on my analytics, so I have replaced his name with Ryan Gosling, because screw him.

Goth Juice: The Most Powerful Hairspray Known To Man

I don’t know the last time I was just an out-and-out shill for something, but I was pretty excited to pick up a container of GOTH JUICE last weekend, the new hairstyling product from Lush. It’s purple, it’s powerful, and it’s inspired (along with a companion product called King of the Mods) by the fantastic UK comedy, The Mighty Boosh.  Each tub claims to be “Made from the Tears of Robert Smith.”

Confidential to Gabe Dinger and Pete Ellison: Robert Smith is *still* not a member of the Smiths. Oddly, none of them were called Smith, which makes them the opposite of the Ramones, who were all named Ramone.


I loved this product and used it when my hair was short, and then one day, I went to Lush to pick some more up and my friend Andrea, who is now the lead singer of the great band Holy Grove, had to break the news that it was discontinued, and comfort me because I was crying in a soap store.  Zen teaches us that loving something means one day you will lose it, and you must always prepare yourself for that loss.