Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Dark Art of Sidney Sime

Sidney Sime was a Victorian-era artist, best known for his illustrations for Lord Dunsany's works of proto-fantasy. Sime was admired by H.P. Lovecraft, who mentions him by name in The Call of Cthulhu. Take a quick look at some of his work and it's easy to see why.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

No Trouble in Little China

I went to Portland, Oregon recently (and guess what - it's not that weird). The trip was for business, not pleasure, and I had about five hours on a Saturday afternoon to see what I could of the city. My future mother-in-law lives in the Portland area, so it's inevitable I'll be back. So I didn't stress about fitting in all the sights I could. After noticing "Chinatown" on the map, and seeing it was right on the light rail line, I decided that's where I'd go.

Locals - that is, the lovely ladies at the Beta Sigma Phi convention I was attending - tried to get me to go to the Saturday Market or one of the many nature attractions nearby. I realize now that's because the Old Town/Chinatown area is swarming with homeless folks, and doesn't necessarily show an image some Portlanders want to project (however, I found Portland to be, seemingly, compassionate and tolerant toward the rather large homeless population). But, since 1986, when my little brother and I saw Big Trouble in Little China (which is approaching its 30-year anniversary, if you can believe that), I've wanted to see a Chinatown. Any Chinatown.

What I saw was certainly not the bustling, frenetic San Francisco Chinatown from the movie. But it was still cool. Here are some of my pictures.

As a side note, I thought I'd get a traditional Chinese meal until I walked into a few restaurants and actually looked at a traditional Chinese meal. I'm a wuss about the texture of meat, and I'm a picky eater, so I decided I wasn't that adventurous. Instead, I stepped into what looked like a charming little British-style pub called Fox & Hounds. Turns out it was a gay bar. No matter. I enjoyed a fine Mirror Pond beer from Bend, Oregon, and an excellent club sandwich and tater tots.

My adventure in Portland's Chinatown was short-lived, and I did not see the Dragon of the Black Pool restaurant, nor did I storm the gates of the Wing Kong Exchange. But I saw some lovely architecture and got some great exercise on an afternoon with perfect weather (and got to ride light rail, something I can't do in Kansas City).

Mostly, I wanted to experience Chinatown as inspiration for my Cape City Noir old-timey superheroes campaign, in which the bad guy Jiao Long ("Like a Dragon!") and the Black Phoenix Tong are the main bad guys. I do feel like I'll be able to bring Cape City's Little China to life better, after seeing a real one.