Tag Archives: alvin and the chipmunks

Holy holidays, hipsters. Is it that time already?

The Oregon Symphony's annual "Gospel Christmas" concert rocks the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.

By Bob Hicks

It’s true. Mr. Scatter, in his semi-official capacity as regional chronicler of the wintry festivities, has published a pair of guides to holiday concerts and shows in this morning’s A&E section of The Oregonian.

Three weeks before Thanksgiving. But not, in Mr. Scatter’s defense, before Halloween. (And in that regard, ask Mrs. Scatter sometime how the giant gargoyle on the front porch came to have its ugly little plaster mug smashed in.)

Finn Henell as Pinocchio and Josh Murry as Gerard the Shopkeeper in The Portland Ballet's "La Boutique Fantasque." Photo: Blaine Truitt CovertThe Twelve Shows of Christmas gives the lowdown on a selection of Portland’s big-deal holiday events — things like The Nutcracker and Tuba Christmas, which are not only inevitable but also oddly alluring. The Scatter Family is sure to hit several of them.

Resisting the early arrival of the holidays? includes a lot of smaller, often quirkier shows that appeal to Mr. Scatter’s sense of seasonal follies, including the neo-Piaf band Padam Padam and the sackbutt-blatting Oregon Renaissance Band. It also evokes the not-so-sainted memories of Alvin and the Chipmunks and the Harry Simeone Chorale. You’ll have to hit that link button (or pick up your dead-tree copy) to find out how.

Continue reading Holy holidays, hipsters. Is it that time already?

Looking for culture in all the low places

Downtown Leavenworth

By Laura Grimes

LEAVENWORTH, Wash. — “Is this a barbarian village?” the Small Large Smelly Boy piped up. “Do barbarians live here?”

He was jokingly referring to Leavenworth, Wash., the Bavarian village that screams for “quaint” to be added automatically to every reference. This is the place made for tourist buses and resorts.

I don’t consider myself a tourist in these parts. I can lay claim to family ties a few generations back. Great-grandma’s cabin wasn’t far from town, but it burned long ago and no one can remember quite where it was. We used to come here for uncles who had homes on Icicle Creek, not chalets with fake icicles.

On this day, The SLSB and I had serious business to tend to. Amazingly, we found a parking spot right near the gazebo in the center of downtown. As we climbed out of the Large Smelly Boymobile, the oompah music was just striking up. Such luck! I immediately dialed Mr. Scatter. I didn’t want him to miss this.

“GUESS WHERE WE ARE!” I held up the phone.

By his somewhat dismal, confused response, I could tell I had interrupted his reverie. I sweetly ignored it. “LET ME GET CLOSER!” As if on cue, the accordion cranked up and the yodeling kicked in. Excellent!

Continue reading Looking for culture in all the low places

Parenting 102: Oh, so NOW you tell me!

You really ought to give Iowa a try.

Mrs. Scatter posted in Parenting 101 how she constantly looks for opportunities to impart valuable life lessons on the Large Smelly Boys.

As Mr. Scatter noted in a recent post, The Scatter Family has been on the road. Longtime Scatter friends know that when the family travels in the Large Smelly Boymobile they often listen to audio books or play word games. Sometimes the LSBs commandeer the blog keyboard and type their list of clever ideas that come from these games.

Last summer The Scatter Family passed many miles and restaurant waits by coming up with questions that always answered with “Alvin and the Chipmunks.” This time they filled several notebook pages with phrases that always had a new consistent reply.

Mrs. Scatter, also known as the Very Attentive Mother, is very excited to glean several of these to share as valuable life lessons, thinking other parents who also strive to model supreme mature behavior will eagerly want to pass them on.

The new game? Phrases that always have the reply … “Oh, so NOW you tell me!”

  • This product is not recommended for people who are or ever have been pregnant. (“People” is a nice touch.)
  • Warning: Smoking can be hazardous to your health.
  • You should never drink and drive.
  • Double cheeseburgers are fattening.
  • There were no weapons of mass destruction.
  • You really ought to give Iowa a try.
  • True love begins with steak. (Mrs. Scatter did not come up with this one.)
  • Picking your nose is gross. (Mrs. Scatter did not come up with this one.)
  • Toasters and bathtubs do not mix. (Mrs. Scatter wishes she had come up with this one.)
  • Yesterday was our anniversary. (Mrs. Scatter did not come up with this one, but probably should have in the name of humility.)
  • Bears don’t like it when you break their chairs, eat their food and sleep in their beds.
  • Smee: “I don’t think that crocodiles like it when you say, ‘Bite me!'”
  • Chicks hate it when you haven’t showered for a while. (Mrs. Scatter doesn’t know who came up with this one, but she’s certain it was her.)
  • That had been in my mouth. (Mrs. Scatter did not come up with this one, but it was recently spoken by one of the LSBs when she unwittingly ate a prechewed calamari. Mrs. Scatter is generously willing to mine her wealth of experience and impart her deep parenting knowledge by sharing this vital tip: Crabby teen-agers who haven’t slept, hate being on the road and hate being with their parents can be turned around with one simple trick. All you have to do is eat a prechewed calamari. Works every time.)


Illustration: You really ought to give Iowa a try. C.S. Hammond & Company Atlas – 1910/United States Digital Map Library

How did I get that job? Alvin and the Chipmunks (Part 2)

Frozen Music II: The City Dance of Lawrence & Anna Halprin. Photo: Alicia J. RoseSo sorry. Art Scatter has been experiencing technical difficulties. Mr. Scatter was in the far-flung parts of the state hanging with people who raise peacocks and donkeys. His absence meant he couldn’t run interference with the Large Smelly Boys, who at times can be chihuahuas for attention.

Then Mr. Scatter got back and wrote about mules (note a trend?) and other thinky things like the League of Tough-Guy Arts Observers. There’s just no way I’m going to get in the middle of that, especially when I have upper respiratory yuck and I’m busy hamstering to get out front of my new job.

Oh, did I tell you I got a new job? How did I get it, you wonder? Let’s see … the story so far, posted way last week:

  • Blissful summer.
  • No job and no plans for a job.
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks.
  • A mysterious Jane nominates me for president.
  • White House hopes dashed.
  • Two Large Smelly Liabilities.

At this point in the story, the mysterious Jane didn’t know this (and I didn’t know her), but I now considered her my new best friend.

In the meantime … on Aug. 13, Mr. Scatter posted something brainy about the National Endowment for the Arts and its new leader, Rocco Landesman. The post got a lot of thoughtful comments and then the mysterious Jane popped up again.

She said, “I think we should invite Chairman Landesman out to the provinces for a look-see. I’d be delighted to have him hear a Third Angle concert.”

I immediately put on my Sherlock Holmes hat, went to the website for Third Angle New Music Ensemble and checked out its list of board members. Sure enough, there was a Jane.

This is the point of the story where I should divulge Jane’s last name, but I think I’ve dropped enough clues that you can put on your own fancy earflaps and find out for yourself. You don’t even have to light your pipe, because I’ll make it easy for you. Here’s a link.

Sherlock Holmes statue in Edinburgh, Scotland. Photo: Siddharth Krish/Wikimedia CommonsWhen I spied Third Angle in mysterious Jane’s comments, my ears pricked up. Or at least they would have if I hadn’t been wearing the fancy earflaps. I love Third Angle. And I love Ron Blessinger, the company’s artistic director, who happens to be an old friend. We used to live a few houses apart. Our kids used to swing around in trees together.

Ron once wandered down to our house to check on his two kids and they were lined up with my two in the side yard. As I aimed a plastic hose, the four of them were taking turns jumping on an air pad that would send a plastic rocket sailing down the end of our driveway where I had parked the van sideways and opened the door. Ron looked at us and his eyes followed another flying rocket down to the van. He asked if we were trying to hit it through the door. We all nodded and grinned as another kid jumped on the air pad with both feet.

Our kids went swimming together, played on the beach together, watched parades together, had killer water fights together. Ron and I have trailed behind our trick-or-treating kids on Halloween drinking bad red wine. When he and his family were out of town, I occasionally watched their dog. She once urinated in our basement. So Ron and I were like that.

In fact, we were so close we recently became FaceBook friends.

A few days after the now-not-so-mysterious Jane weighed in on the NEA post on Art Scatter, Ron posted a status update on FaceBook that he was “wrapping up a grant while on vacation … how stupid.”

I almost posted a comment saying that he needed me. And I meant it.

Continue reading How did I get that job? Alvin and the Chipmunks (Part 2)

How did I get that job? Alvin and the Chipmunks

Seriously. That’s how it all started.

I was minding my own business, blissfully enjoying the summer sunshine and occasionally writing goofy off-topic stuff for a blog that isn’t even mine.

The little choristers who stated me on my musical career.Sure, I had plans. Big plans. I had planned to apply for unemployment benefits just as soon as summer ended.

But before then I was going to be on the road, lapping up low tides, making pickles and hitting all the plays in Ashland.

I had mapped out my summer weeks ago and it didn’t involve getting a new job. No resume to fill out. No cover letter to write. No strategic plan whatsoever that didn’t involve swimming or hunting for agates.

But then the weirdest little chain of events started – events that were so perfect in their orderliness and happenstance that it was as if every tumbler in a vault lock had magically clicked into place.

How weird? Remember that post about Alvin and the Chipmunks?

Innocuous. Silly.

But someone named Jane made this comment: “First, I’d like to nominate Laura Grimes for president.”

Mr. Scatter and I briefly considered this exciting possibility. We imagined lining up push-polls and flying all over the country. We imagined using political party money to buy whole new wardrobes.

What’s not to like?

We imagined Art Scatter as the Mouthpiece of America to get the Good Word out about how art is, like, a really great thing, you know? We would stump on the Cultah Platform and hone sharp talking points using clever mottoes like:

Make art, not war.

By George: Mrs. Scatter plots to move the LSBs into the White HouseAs Mr. Scatter reached for his BlackBerry to call the League of Tough-Guy Arts Observers for a recommendation about a campaign manager, a hairy head poked around the corner and said, “What’s for dinner?” Followed closely by, “We’re outta milk.”

Mr. Scatter and I looked at each other and suddenly realized we had a slight liability. Two, actually.

And let’s just come straight out with it and say they’re really not very slight. Because they’re Large. And Smelly. And they happen to be our Boys.

When Mr. Scatter said months ago that he didn’t mind if the boys shagged out for the summer, I said, “Please tell me you’re talking about their hair.” Fortunately, he was. I wasn’t keen on the idea, but, alas, I consented. The boys now look like total mopheads. How were we to know they might have to be paraded before the adoring American public?

But then I realized that chauffeured limousines and a security detail would mean our sons wouldn’t need driver’s licenses for several years, and I immediately picked up my BlackBerry and punched in “barber” as my brain started running through which significant cultural site would make the best photo op to make the big announcement. The Portland Center for the Performing Arts? The Armory? Portlandia? That really nifty sculpture of Three Groins in a Fountain in front of the Standard Insurance building?

My index finger was poised to hit SEND when I realized we had even bigger trouble on our hands. It wasn’t just the hair. It wasn’t just because the Large Smelly Boys occasionally need reminders to brush their teeth and shampoo their hair.

Our high hopes for the White House were dashed when I realized that not one, but both of our sons have the great misfortune of not being pregnant.

But the real clincher? The one that made us put aside our BlackBerries and rethink our dreams of sticking an Eames chair in the Lincoln Bedroom? We could not imagine the Large Smelly Boys standing on stage at the inauguration wearing adorable coats from J. Crew.

Colorful ribbons in their hair? Matching socks that haven’t been shredded? Not gonna happen.

Mr. Scatter and I sighed. I got up to rummage in the cheese bin in the fridge to figure out a dinner plan while Mr. Scatter picked up his car keys to go buy milk. As he opened the front door, I called after him, “Who’s this Jane person?”

He hollered back, “I dunno. Beats me. How many gallons should I buy? Three or four?”


Next time: The weird happenstances and who is this mysterious Jane?

— Laura Grimes

De Gaulle was a rock. But probably not a wolf eel.

Wolf eel, Alaska Fisheries Science Center/Wikimedia Commons

Mrs. Scatter is feeling a little high on the Google Glue. Hence, the third person. She did a search for “Large Smelly Boys” to find art for her last post and the bra story came up as the No. 1 hit. The Alvin and the Chipmunks post was a close second.

WWII portrait of General Charles de Gaulle, about 1942/Wikimedia CommonsJust imagine, if you will, bras and Alvin and the Chipmunks.

I thought as much.

So back to our regularly scheduled mis-programming …

Today we leave behind the bay where we come for a week every summer. We rent a small condo and visit with family who live close by.

Crab pots scuttle back and forth on butt-busting boats at the changing of the tide. Fruit flies are thick on the bananas on the counter. The small gratuity hair-cleaning products say “Hello Hydration.”

Most nights, Mr. Scatter and I pour a little wine and traipse out to sit on logs to watch the sunset. On the last night, it was just cloud cover. Little boats bobbed on the water. I picked up rocks that were flat on one side and lined them up next to me on the log. I imagined how they.d look in mosaics.

Mr. Scatter picked up a rock …

Mr. Scatter: It looks like Charles de Gaulle.

Mrs. Scatter: How’s that?

Mr. Scatter (pointing to pin-dot holes): See. Here are the eyes. And here’s the long nose.

Mrs. Scatter: It looks like a wolf eel to me.

Mr. Scatter: Well, De Gaulle sort of looked like a wolf eel.

If the man can lead the Free French Forces during World War II and have an airport named after him, he can look any way he wants.

Whadya think? Separated at birth?

Why did the Scatter family hit the road? Alvin and the Chipmunks (Car Game, Act 2)

Oregon Trail reenactment, 1961. South Bluff National Monument, Nebraska. National Park Service/Wikimedia Commons.

The Scatter family embarks on a trail fraught with singing rodents.


While Mr. and Mrs. Scatter pack the Conestoga wagon and nurse our nonexistent hangovers, the Large Smelly Boys have taken over blogging duty.

In the spirit of reading sayings from fortune cookies and adding the words “in bed” at the end, we come up with questions that can always be answered with “Alvin and the Chipmunks.” The Large Smelly Boys themselves typed many of these very words (and I’m impressed at what a careful job they did).

To wit:

What’s for lunch?
What is Victoria’s Secret?
Who’s got veto power?

What’s that smell?
Who signed the Declaration of Independence?
6abc Boscov's Thanksgiving Parade. Wikimedia CommonsWhere have all the flowers gone?

Where does all the helium go?
Who were your foster parents?
Who’s doing your heart transplant?

Who shot JFK?
Who killed Roger Rabbit?
Who was Hitler’s right-hand man?

Who really wrote Shakespeare’s plays?
Who discovered E=MC2?
What’s the soup of the day?

What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?
Who’s going to star in the next James Bond film?
Who’s going to be the bad guy in the next Indiana Jones movie?

What scent is your candle?
What’s your sign?
Who’s your anger management counselor?

What’s the meaning of life?
How do you brush your teeth?
What stuffed animal do you sleep with?

What’s really behind the economic crisis?
Who’s in charge?
What kind of cereal do you like?

Who does your hair?
Why are newspapers going to sleep?
What’s really in a Dirty Little Secret Martini?

Who are the people in your neighborhood?
How are babies made?
Do these pants make me look fat?

Who are Santa’s little helpers?
Who canceled Christmas?
What’s your middle name?

Who did Lassie save from the well?
Can you recommend a good tax consultant?
What’s in YOUR wallet?

Who took all our toaster waffles?
Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar?
Who’s that monster in the closet?

Who walks on the wild side?
What’s growing in the fridge?
What kind of milk do you drink?

Cloudy with a chance of what?
Who’s your daddy?
Who were the three wise men?

Who were the three Stooges?
What makes your roses grow?
What are the real identities of the Large Smelly Boys?

Feel free to add to the list.


— Laura Grimes and the Large Smelly Boys (that’s a band name, right?)