Friday, March 4, 2022

The Cranky Reviewer Returns With Her Take on the Rest of the 2022 SAG Award Nominees, and Some of the Winners


This is to honor the actors, the artists, and the filmmakers, who have kept us going through the pandemic, and who not only provide a little relief from the weight of the world, but who also help us to see more profoundly what is wrong with the world, and how we might change it.

These are the films that were nominated for the 2022 Screen Actors Guild Awards in various acting categories. I honor the directors and all who were involved with the films too though, because we all know that actors can't act without them. So, these are the films and performances I recommend, or not so much. For nominated films not on this list, see my previous post.

Belfast - Beautiful and moving - gorgeous filmmaking by Kenneth Branagh. So relevant today. My pick for Best Cast in a Motion Picture but I was glad Coda won.
Coda - A feel good movie through and through. Loved it. Great performances. Tony Kotsur won Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role. Totally Deserved.
House of Gucci - meh
West Side Story - Breathtaking. Ariana DeBose won Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role.
King Richard - Will Smith was my pick for Best Male Actor in a Leading Role, which he won. Fantastic movie.
The Lost Daughter -Turned it off about half-way. Creepy and disturbing.
The Tragedy of Macbeth - Was dying to see this but only made it a half an hour in. I'm a huge Shakespeare fan and I was bored. Except for the witch(es).
The Eyes of Tammy Faye - Ugh. For me, unwatchable because I hate Jim and Tammy Faye Baker, but Jessica Chastain won for Best Female Actor in a Leading Role so maybe I should give it another try.
Respect - Yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes. Should have been nominated for best cast - and best picture in the Oscars. Jennifer Hudson was my pick for best actress for the SAG Awards though she wasn't even nominated for an Oscar!!!!! Shame on them!
Tick Tick Boom - Um, it was good, but I don't think it belongs in "the best" categories.
Passing - I kind of didn't buy it, but I don't think I'm the person to comment on it.
Nightmare Alley - Great performances, beautiful filmmaking, but the story was too creepy. Don't know why Del Toro felt the need to remake it.
The Tender Bar - Good. Yeah. Affleck was great.
Licorice Pizza - Entertaining chaos. LOVED Alana Haim and that the whole Haim family was in it, actually playing a family. Not sure it should be in the best pic Oscar category, but it was really fun.

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Guest post from The Cranky Reviewer - Four Releases Toward the End of 2021

Here are four cranky reviews of some recent movies. Please take with a grain of salt.
Don't Look Up: Entertaining over all - except for the end. In general, I thought it was heavy-handed and stating the obvious. Yes, we're idiots. Some more than others. Yes, probably accurate about what would happen in that situation, but why spend millions and millions of dollars on fancy actors and lots of unnecessary dental prosthetics to drive home the point? Maybe it would be better to spend the money on actually saving the planet. And Meryl Streep - don't get me started. I've never seen her overact like that before, but I'm sure she was directed to do so. Leo DiCaprio (see link) stresses that it's a metaphor for the way we're reacting, or not reacting, to climate change. I get it. Climate change is a slower extinction than a comet, but ultimately, just as devastating. I still argue that those who understand and agree with the message and are taking action don't need to see the film, those who see the film and get the message but are still not willing to take action probably won't be moved to change, and those who deny the message will not see the film anyway.
The Green Knight: Don't bother. Sooo boring, at least the first 45 minutes, after which we turned it off.
Being the Ricardos: Also didn't make it past 45 minutes. Unless you're a huge Lucy fan, who cares? Also, Xavier Bardem at age 60 or so, a little portly, to be honest, playing a young, hot Desi Arnaz? I didn't buy it.
The Power of the Dog: Beautiful film, great acting, fantastic twist at the end, but overall just too dreary for me.

Sincerity rating: For me, movies also are either sincere or not - it depends on the intent of the director and the commitment of the actors and tech. Don't Look Up was a sincere attempt by the director and some of the actors. So was The Power of the Dog. Nicole Kidman and Dev Patel's performances definitely - but overall, not these particular films that they were in.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Sylvia Beach Hotel

Picture this: a writer sits in a comfy leather chair by a window over looking the sea, in a room of well-worn sofas, reading lamps, and side tables. Pictures of other writers, legendary ones, grace the walls. Outside, a small tempest rages. Rain smacks the windows and the wind shakes the building, felt strongly in this third floor salon. The sea is the color of slate and the waves pound the deserted beach. The writer is blissfully alone, warmed by the heat that issues forth from a vent by her feet. A cup of chamomile tea perches on a small table nearby. She tries not to be distracted by the perfection of the moment which almost seems staged to suit a writer of her ilk. She taps on her computer keyboard, and her novel unfolds beneath her fingers. If only the moment could last forever. 

This was my moment, the hour I was able to dedicate to my writing during our brief visit to the Sylvia Beach Hotel in Newport, Oregon. It's a hotel for readers and writers, dedicated to authors and books. Each room is named for an author and its decor reflects that writers aesthetic. Jon and I stayed in the Melville room, conveniently on that same third floor of the salon where I found myself miraculously alone during my writing hour. Why didn't I have more than an hour? Because there were other things to accomplish on this overnight getaway we allowed ourselves  in mid-March, 2021, a year into the Covid pandemic. 

This is what we did during the 24 hours of our trip:

Left Portland around 10:15 am. Drove to Lincoln City, on the coast. Arrived at 12:30.
Got to-go salads for lunch from McMenamin's and ate in the car overlooking the beach. 
Went for a long walk on said beach. 
Drove the half an hour further south to Newport. 
Arrived at Sylvia Beach Hotel at 2:30, at which time they let us check in, a half an hour early. 
Took a walk on Nye Beach and explored the little village around the hotel. 
Ensconced ourselves for an hour of writing time - Jon did his in the room. 
Relaxed in the library on the fourth floor and explored the books there. 
Drove into Newport to get a couple of things we needed and then picked up fish and chips from a restaurant in the Nye Beach village. 
Ate in our room. 
Ventured back into the salon where Jon made a fire in the fireplace. 
With the place still to ourselves, we lounged in front of the fire, laughing our heads off, drinking the hot mulled wine the hotel provides. 
Retired to our room.
Morning: Woke up, showered, and ate breakfast. 
Took another walk on the beach.
Checked out at 10:15.
Arrived home, 12:30. 

I don't know if you can tell simply by reading the itinerary, or by the description of my writing hour in the salon, but the trip was completely and absolutely perfect. The Sylvia Beach Hotel is a must-visit for anyone who loves books. If you check the website below, you can view out the different rooms but, just to give you an idea, author-themed rooms include Melville, as mentioned, Jane Austen, Emily Dickinson, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Alice Walker, Jules Verne, Ken Kesey, and many more. We chose the Melville room not only because we're big Moby Dick fans, but also because it is the only room in the hotel with a king sized bed, plus lots of sea-inspired antiques, and a cute dining/reading nook. 

There is no elevator in the four-story hotel, so you have to be able to climb stairs, or you can stay in the rooms on the first floor. There are also no TVs, phones, or Wifi in the rooms, but there's cell service in abundance. There is a restaurant on the premises where you can reserve a table for dinner. We opted not to because of the pandemic but they assured us there was plenty of social distancing, and, of course, masks were required in all public spaces in the hotel. We also could have had breakfast in the dining room but we were being extra cautious, so they delivered it to our room, boxed up neatly: a delicious quiche, turkey sausage, and potatoes. Coffee and tea is available for free in the snack room any time you want it - serve yourself. 

Every single thing about our stay was ideal and we can't wait to go back. As a result, I rate the Sylvia Beach Hotel: Extraordinarily sincere!

Monday, March 15, 2021

Bernards Farms, Oregon

I have to admit to my own preconceptions and prejudices. I tend to think people who live in rural places, especially rural Oregon, will be more conservative in their politics and values. This was what I assumed about the people who run Bernards Farms, a farm and produce stand (in a barn) about 5 miles outside of McMinnville, Oregon, which is about 45 minutes southwest of Portland. Having been a Portlander for about 5 years now, I enjoy the extremely progressive atmosphere that infuses this town. Whenever we go outside its environs, to partake of the many scenic wonders nearby: the coast, Mt. Hood, etc., I always feel a bit wary that I might come across people much less liberal than I'm used to. Not that that makes them bad, but I am comfortable in my little bubble. 

Whenever we drive to the beach town of Lincoln City, we stop at Bernards Farms. They grow hazelnuts there, and sell them for less than you can buy them in the Portland stores, plus the fact that they're fresh and delicious. We use them to make hazelnut milk as they are much more sustainable than almonds. Did you know that? They require much less water (almonds need a ton!), don't need pesticides and besides, they're a local crop. Bernards Farms also sells produce in season, walnuts, honey etc. 

We were passing by last March, basically the day the Coronavirus lockdown was put into place in Oregon (we were not yet aware it had happened), on our way to the beach, and stopped at Bernards Farm as usual. The produce stand was open, but there was no-one there. A sign asked that you leave cash or a check in a box, and take what you want. Wow. That struck me as pretty darn sincere - and trusting - as there was probably thousands of dollars of nuts and produce. The problem was, I had neither cash nor a check. So I took two pounds of hazelnuts, and left a note that I would call them and give them my credit card over the phone or send a check. The lady who answered the phone said to just send a check and I did. That right there gets them a pretty high sincerity rating, plus the fact that their hazelnuts are amazing. 

Then the Black Lives Matters protests started after the killing of George Floyd and we didn't get back down to the beach for a while. The next time we did though, in late July, we of course stopped by Bernards Farms. Everything was as nice as usual, the employees back at their jobs, wearing masks, and being safe - and over the register two huge signs: One said Black Lives Matter, the other was this one: 

I was impressed. My favorite farm stand also stood proud in support of their values - those that I believe to will move our country closer to "justice for all." 

Thank you, Bernards Farms. Your evaluation: Extraordinarily sincere

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Champion and Lost Leader Sales

Chat 2020.07.15


13:59:34 Thank you for choosing Champion Teamwear! My name is Tarra. How may I help you today?


14:01:00 I placed an order for 4 pair of these in XL in black and 2 in red. I've been contacted by email by Champion telling me that the black ones are not available - yet here I see them still on the site as In Stock - What's going on?


14:01:56 Hi Jonathan! I can certainly take a look to see. Do you have your order number handy?


14:02:04 Champion Teamwear Order Status: WBXXXXXX C#XXXXXXXX


14:02:15 Thank you! One moment while I get that loaded up.


14:04:30 The Champion Mesh 9" Pocket Short is something that we typically receive in weekly shipments of to restock - this is why it will show In Stock online, as we typically have constant shipments coming in.

Due to COVID we are seeing a delay on getting some items stocked to our warehouse. This style is one currently affected. We will be getting additional stock, but at this time I do not have that exact restock date.


14:06:30 For Champion to be showing these as available In Stock - is an inappropriate way to go about doing business - when you know that you do not have them In Stock. It lacks integrity and I'm very disappointed to see this happening.


14:06:45 I'm simply not interested in excuses.


14:08:30 I apologize, Jonathan. And I agree with you, it is misleading. Typically we don't have the issue of getting stock in, so it's usually a stocked item.

How do you want to proceed? I can cancel the order and issue a refund if you'd prefer, or can check live stock numbers for what colors I have available in XL now to send out.


14:11:58 I'm already dealing with my options via email, but what I'd like to see from Champion is some offer to make up for setting up this situation. These are actually not for me but rather for my 96 year old father who has been wearing these short for years and loves them - which is why he insisted on getting the same exact style again. Champion needs to step up and figure out a way to truly make this right.


14:14:12 There is a direct phone number and extension listed for Patty, who emailed about the order status. We are available by phone, not just chat or email. She is one of our managers, and can discuss this further with you.


14:14:45 And the number is?


14:15:22 This will be listed below Patty's signature in her email. The number is 800-336-4486, her extension is 1815.


14:15:36 Thank you


14:15:53 You're welcome.


I continued the conversation with Patty by phone, and she told me that "their website is old" that "they've merged with Hanes so there's some confusion" that "if they have even a single pair in any size they all show up as being In Stock (utter bullshit)" and that usually they get stock in weekly, but because of COVID..." etc... 

I suggested that Champion figure out some way to make the situation better for my dad. 

She said nothing. 

Dad's going to accept 6 pairs of Red Shorts, but he wanted four black, and Champion used the illegal Lost Leader sales technique to get his business. They should be ashamed.

Evaluation: Not even in the ballpark


Sunday, March 3, 2019

As promised, this is a Guest Post from, Ashley Corey - Homeopathic Evangelist....

"When I graduated nursing school ten years ago, I thought I was pretty healthy. I was pleased when the three month severe flare-up of my childhood rheumatoid arthritis resolved with plenty of Ibuprofen and a steroid injection. I was satisfied when my exceedingly dry and bleeding hands could be dealt with employing prescription steroid cream as needed.  When I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroid disease the following year, I started taking thyroid medication like my mom and Grandma had done for many years before me.  This was my paradigm for health--this was my status quo.
Several years later, and after about four rounds of antibiotics for urinary tract infections, my health deteriorated dramatically. I began experiencing daily headaches, significantly lower energy, constant emotional upheaval and high levels of anxiety. I developed seasonal allergies and a plethora of food sensitivities. My new Naturopathic Doctor suspected that my symptoms had a lot to do with my gut. That set me on a long journey to regain my health, meanwhile trying to help others along the way.
I wish I could say that I just changed my diet and took some Chinese herb and everything got better, but that wasn’t the case.  I tried many different diets, methods and remedies to restore my health, and although most of them had some impact, I wasn’t getting a lot better.  During this time, a friend of mine introduced me to homeopathy through an 8-week study group curriculum.

As I started to learn more about homeopathy, I was so excited to find a system of medicine that was safe, gentle and effective. I was impressed to discover it could be used for both acute and chronic diseases. I was fascinated to realize this form of medicine has been practiced for over 200 years, and is currently being used by more than 200 million people worldwide. However, beyond the wonderful statistics that I was reading about, I personally started to experience and witness its efficacy.  The results my friends and I have seen in the last few years include the following: lab verified healing of a low functioning kidney, surgical recoveries without a need for pain medication, resolution of ear and teething pain and quick healing of acute injuries and bruises. I've seen a dramatic reduction in my own anxiety and resolution of eczema and night terrors in my son. I've helped friends with carpal tunnel pain, rashes, headaches from injuries, seasonal allergies and ankle injuries. My youngest child has never needed Ibuprofen or Tylenol, and neither one of my children has ever taken oral antibiotics. I’ve been able to stay off antibiotics as well -- which has been a priority for me as I heal my gut.  This became my new paradigm and expectation for health--true curative healing of conditions from the inside out.

All of this has inspired me to spread the news of this powerful healing.  How could I keep this to myself when I had studied and lived the alternative?  Now I am leading the same study group for four of my friends. It is a highlight of my week. Within this group, we discuss so many health issues, and I often use my own unfolding story to illustrate what can happen as homeopathy works to unravel the complex web of chronic autoimmune disease in my own body.

In the last year, I've become such a central homeopathic resource for friends and family that I needed to up the ante for myself and dive more deeply into this medicine. As a result, I've just begun a 4 year program of study to become a Classical Homeopath. Every single day, I find myself so grateful for this brilliant system of medicine and for how it empowers me to move myself and others forward on a journey of healing.  So, if you find yourself stuck with a health problem and haven’t found success with other modalities, then homeopathy might be for you--it might change your life in more ways that you can even imagine!

To learn more about homeopathy a good place to start is National Center For Homeopathy:

Evaluation, Ashley Corey: Extraordinarily sincere!


Sunday, February 10, 2019

Homeopathy is Alive and Well

Yesterday I had a really interesting conversation with a couple of very interesting women. One, Linda, is an MD, the other, Ashley, is a nurse. Both I would identify, with high praise, as unabashed Homeopathic Evangelists. Each of them spoke with great eloquence of this system of medicine, that while not at odds with Western Medicine, continues to be viewed with considerable skepticism by the modern medical community.

To read more about the early days of homeopathy
What these two women are working toward is the education of as many people as they can reach, to let them know of the benefits of this "alternative" medical system. The reason I placed quotes around, alternative, is because it is so often used in a pejorative way; to make it appear that this sort of practice is to be viewed with a certain amount of suspicion.

As I came to learn through our conversation, homeopathic remedies have been around for more than 200 years and are regulated by the FDA just like pharmaceuticals. There's nothing alternative about that. Each of these incredible women works with people both locally and remotely in such far away locations as India. Ashley spoke of hosting meeting with some attendees in the room and others checking in via Facetime (or some such). Linda spoke about her own experience with having been healed, not through her own deep understanding of what was needed, but rather through the slightly different perspective of one of her colleagues. The sense I got was of how dedicated each of them is to the task they see ahead. I was so impressed by their commitment to the dissemination of this information, that I've invited each of them to write a guest post, or two, here on the Searching for Sincerity site.
I certainly look forward to seeing more their insights on this subject.

Evaluation: Extraordinarily sincere!


Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Conin Mexican Cuisine

This article was intended to be run in the December issue of the SW Connection. Through a series of rather bizarre lapses in communication, it was not included. Beyond that, our relationship with the paper has now been severed. We wish the Southwest Connection and it's new Editor, Mr. Bill Gallagher the very best in the new year. Mr. Gallagher, by the way, is starting a "Letters to the Editor" column. If you wish to contact him:

Okay then... In mid-September I received a tip from a reader, Katie Songer, about a place here in Southwest Portland that was simply not on my radar in any way. One of the reasons for that, I suppose, is that it’s a little bit difficult to find, even when you know the address on Barbur Blvd. Honestly, I looked, and looked and even drove right past it several times without seeing it. Part of that had to do with the direction I was traveling in. I was heading South on Barbur, knowing that it had to be on the West side of the street to my right, however the place is most cleverly tucked away in a small cluster of shops. To see it when heading South, is very much like merging onto the Ross Island Bridge off of Natio. You have to know how situate your car perpendicularly to do it, right? In the case of finding Conin Mexican Cuisine for the first time, head North, notice that the UPS store is on your right, and look to the left. There it is! Ta-da!

Let it be known, Conin Mexican Cuisine is a destination I’m only reluctantly sharing with you. The reason I hesitate is that, once known, it’s going to be much harder to get in. Fortunately, they offer reservations.

Georgina and I decided to have dinner early on Saturday night. The wind was blowing, and, because I’d just had the car washed, a light rain was beginning to fall. It was already dark in anticipation of the time-shift taking us back an hour. Not having been to Conin before, we could only hope that our intrepid, five-minute journey into the desperate wilds of Southwest Portland would be rewarded with something more than just okay.

Because of our early timing, we were the first people in the place, and, frankly, entering an empty restaurant can have something of a chilling effect, if you know what I mean? Gah, perhaps it was empty for a reason! How wrong that possibility turned out to be. To be clear, stepping in out of the weather we found ourselves in the cozy, quite beautiful interior: traditional Mexican music played gently in the background. In one corner over the full bar, two flat screens silently displayed soccer and football. By way of the time of the year, there was a lovely Ofrenda (Día de Los Muertos/Day of the Dead - offering table) set up against one wall, honoring those who are no longer with us. In this simple welcoming environment, we felt immediately at home and were greeted most warmly. What a great intimate place this would be for a party!

I started with a stellar Margarita served in a Mason jar with a handle. Georgina had a Pacifico from the tap. To keep us happily occupied while we made our decisions, fresh corn chips were placed on the table along with an excellent salsa, which thankfully contained only a hint of cilantro (allergic, you see). I ordered Tacos de Pescado: three slightly crispy shells generously filled with fish and the house’s special toppings, sprinkled with cotija cheese. Georgina had the carne asada version. Each of these dishes, and I cannot stress this enough, were O.M.G. extraordinary and delicious. Oh, and did I mention the churros made-to-order in-house? I should have!  

Katie, closed her letter to me with this, “…since we love it so much, we selfishly want it to thrive so it'll stay in business and we can keep eating there for many years.” Well I couldn’t agree more, however, Katie I would suggest this is something of a double-edged sword. An hour or so later when Georgina and I were leaving, the dining room was very nearly packed, and other rain-drenched cars were eager to contest the spot we were making available in the small parking area. People who know about Conin – know about Conin.

Rating: Extraordinarily Sincere

For reservations call: 971-808-5627
9111 SW Barbur Blvd, Portland, OR 97219


If you know of a business or person anywhere on the planet you think might meet our criteria please send their information to me I can’t promise to write about them though, as that in itself would be, well, you know… insincere.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Barbur World Foods: a market of exciting discoveries

COURTESY PHOTO BY JONATHAN ELLIS - Barbur World Foods offers a 'satisfyingly vast variety of food products' from across the globe, guest columnist Jonathan Ellis says.

Barbur World Foods is not a gigantic grocery store that sells everything and anything. This is not the type of store to go to if you want to buy hula-hoops, lawn chairs or value-pack hotdogs in bulk for your summer bash. Clearly, we all already know where to find those football-stadium-size stores where such items can be purchased.
No, this a comparatively small store that features a satisfyingly vast variety of food products from, you guessed it, around the world.
What's most striking is the amazing selection available in its unlikely location at 9845 S.W. Barbur Blvd., at the very busy intersection of Barbur and Capitol Highway. Walking in is to discover oneself in something of a throwback.
Frankly, this store might not have been on my radar at all except for the fact that it's literally a walk through the (Woods Memorial) park for me to get there, which not only makes it handy but also a great destination when I'm out for a stroll.
Now that I've discovered this place, it remains in the mind, in the senses and on the palate.
The deli section is a wonder, presenting a delectable selection of freshly prepared dishes daily, including a fantastically delicious halved chicken that must be experienced to be believed. This is not your typical roasted chicken in a domed-plastic container we're talking about here. It has been seasoned and cooked to perfection, and all one needs to do is choose the one that looks best in the display. It will be placed in a waxed card-stock box (no Styrofoam here) and can be presented to loved ones at home as a perfect example of your superior "cooking" skills.
(Not that doing such a thing is all that sincere, but we won't tell if you don't. On the other hand, if you wish to maintain your personal integrity, they have quite a lovely selection of pre-seasoned, ready-to-cook items including absolutely beautiful kabobs!)
The produce department presents in-season fruits and vegetables, as well as hard-to-find specialty items. Meats and seafood are hormone- and antibiotic-free, originating from local farms and vendors working in partnership with the store. There's also a huge selection of dairy products, including a stellar array of cheeses. And let's not forget the beer and wine department, admirably stocked with both local and international beverages that can only enhance a well-prepared meal.
Let's face it, most of us have a specialty item that calls to us from afar, something that we perhaps chanced upon in our wanderings, something that can be difficult to find locally. My item of choice is Green Chile from New Mexico.
I lived in Santa Fe for many years and came under the thrall of this amazingly flavorful vegetable. My wife and I then moved to the East Coast where, if we wanted our fix, we had to have it imported at highly-inflated prices. Now, here we are in Portland, and there is indeed something in the air, particularly come mid-August. That familiar bouquet is the same as that which blankets the city of Santa Fe — and really most New Mexican towns — throughout the state at that time of year.
In the past, Green Chile rarely got beyond the borders, probably because its local popularity has it consumed before it can be exported. However, everything has changed. Los Roast is a company that sells its Green Chile products in the World Foods store, and each year in the corner of the parking lot they roll out a roaring flame roaster. This year, expect to find it there the weekend of Aug. 18. They will roast your selection on the spot and you will be treated to an unforgettable aroma that precedes the experience of something like Sour Cream Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas.
Barbur World Foods makes it all happen.
Evaluation: Very sincere


Driftwood - Coffee Anyone?

Kara is a small woman with a lot of energy. She’s the owner of Driftwood Coffee, offering a genuine smile and greeting to everyone who walks in the door. The sign outside tells us that this particular establishment is, “More Than Expected,” and it most certainly is. 

Several people have written to me about Driftwood Coffee as a place deserving of a visit for this column, and I finally got the chance to drop in. I’m really glad I did. The experience was that of stepping into an old friend’s place; warm and inviting. 

The Portland-casual environment is what struck me the most; three or four burlap coffee bags adorn the wall across from the coffee bar. Everything in the room is carefully and tastefully placed around a space which is not large, nor is it small. Let’s just call it comfortable. This is not a manufactured comfort, stamped out to strike a niche-specific-chord-of-familiarity with wild-eyed hordes of desperately salivating caffeine seekers, but rather a simple, thoughtful placement of tables and chairs, and a corner near the front door invitingly decked with a couple of couches, facing one another across a simple coffee table. A few magazines and books are stored on a lower shelf for those who’re looking for a little light reading material. There are a few locally made items such as hats, clothing, and jewelry offered for sale along with a good selection of coffees, teas, Italian sodas, and let’s not forget the Breakfast Sandwich selections. I had a mocha coffee and a “Dave and an Egg” which turned out to be a slice of Dave’s Killer Bread with my choice (over easy) of egg. 

The coffee/chocolate mixture was smooth and delicious. I heroically declined the whipped cream. The breakfast sandwich was killer indeed. A little hot sauce on top made it perfection. 

While I enjoyed my breakfast, seated where I could watch all the action on one of the couches, I watched a steady stream of folks come in and order. A couple of older guys reading newspapers sat at a table across the room next to a young couple who had eyes only for one another. At the next table over, four women discussed the world with plenty of laughs all around. A young writer peered at his laptop screen while sipping something delicious-looking from a large mug. A family of four wide-eyed travelers stepped down out of their home-on-wheels and traipsed in the door. The two kids promptly began oohing-and-aweing over the selection of goodies, while mom and dad went directly to the counter to order coffee and a dragonfly chai. I don’t know what the kids eventually ordered in the way of drinks, but I know for sure that one little girl got herself a beautifully woven bracelet and her brother scored himself a very cool hat, with what looked to be a painting of a killer whale above the brim.  

Pastries of all kinds are offered at Driftwood Coffee, including some gluten free and vegan options. I only managed to avoid their come-hither tastiness because of my iron will; enough said? 

There is some small concern that the paving project on Vermont will hurt business somewhat from now through November, but there’s also hope that folks will continue to seek out this little gem of a coffee place that will never, and I mean never, entertain the idea of robot coffee baristas. 

This where to go to hang out with friends, to talk, to read, or to just relax and gaze out the window as cars roll by on Vermont Street at 46th. After all, what’s the hurry? More than expected? Absolutely!

4604 SW Vermont St, Portland, OR 97219
Phone: (503) 246-4706

Evaluation: Extraordinarily Sincere

Rovente Pizzeria - with delivery in and around The Village

There's plenty of amazing pizza to be had in Portland — no one's going to argue with me about that. However, when you live in our area of Southwest Portland, the delivery options can pretty much be whittled down to the big chains, and I have to tell you, I don't love them.
SUBMITTED PHOTO: JONATHAN YOUNG-ELLIS - Columnist Jonathan Young-Ellis gives Rovente Pizza a 'very sincere' rating. Others might, and that's fine — each to his own. I'm a little pickier about my cheese-laden dough disks. But I am too lazy to drive the distance to get it. Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Rovente Pizzeria at 7119 S.W. Macadam Ave. not only delivers to most of Southwest, but the pizzas are quite delicious and reasonably priced.
The crust is thin-ish, but not too thin. The sauce is light and wonderful, and not overly sweet like some you find. The ever-so-important ratio of sauce to cheese is perfect, and the toppings are fresh. Also, I'm pretty sure they offer a gluten-free crust, because we've ordered it in the past, and it was great. (I don't see it on their online menu, so be sure to ask.)
Let me give you a tip, though: I have always ordered from Rovente by phone. They keep my address on file and cheerfully deliver to my house, which is about a mile south of Multnomah Village. In researching for this article, I tried to order online, but the computer told me they actually don't deliver to my area. If that happens to you, I would suggest calling in your order.
Though you can get salads, calzones, buffalo wings and "cheezy garlic bread" at Rovente, I'm going to focus on the myriad selections of pizzas they offer.
Not being the most adventurous consumer of pizza in the world, I tend to go for the pedestrian: pepperoni — maybe mushrooms and olives — and sometimes I'll go a little crazy and have them throw some onions on.
When we had a family gathering a month ago, someone ordered Canadian bacon and fresh tomatoes. It almost blew my mind. As a result, I decided that, by golly, I'm going to have to try some of the combinations that Rovente has already dreamed up for me. Here are some that particularly stand out:
The Amoruccio Con Pesto: Artichoke hearts, garlic, green onions, Italian sausage, Pesto sauce, Roma tomatoes, whole-milk mozzarella.
The Molto Picante: Beef, green peppers, jalapeño peppers, Mama Lil's peppers, red onions, Signature Spicy Red Sauce, whole-milk mozzarella.
The Herbivore Delight: Artichoke hearts, black olives, feta cheese, garlic, red onions, Roma tomatoes, Signature red sauce, whole-milk mozzarella, zucchini.
The Greek Al Forno: Feta cheese, green onions, Kalamata olives, olive oil, red sauce or creamy garlic sauce, Roma tomatoes, spinach, whole-milk mozzarella.
El Pollo Loco: Cheddar cheese, garlic, grilled chicken, jalapeño peppers, red onions, Signature Spicy Red Sauce, spinach, whole-milk mozzarella.
And so many, many, more.
Check out their website,, for some awesome special deals, too. Rovente has three other locations, one on Hawthorne, one in North Portland and one downtown, but the Macadam location is the one for us Southwesterners when it comes to delivery. Here's the number: 503-719-4626. Call away, and enjoy!
Evaluation: Very sincere


Groundspring Healing - and the miracle of the knee

As many of you know from an earlier article, Georgina and I added a B&B space to our home last spring. What you may not know is that we did a substantial portion of that work ourselves. Yes indeed, we're feeling pretty smug about the whole thing, because, in my opinion, it's really beautiful. 
SUBMITTED PHOTO: JONATHAN YOUNG-ELLIS - Groundspring Healing Center offers acupuncture and other healing services.
However, that creative endeavor did not come without its share of pain. Specifically, in mid-June, I stepped onto a stack of boards that appeared to be solid, yet were actually designed to collapse if anyone were to step on them in just the wrong way. So of course I did exactly that. Who could have imagined that the human knee was designed to see stars? The pain was far beyond any of my numerous skateboarding calamities.

Two days after the great knee trauma of 2018, I went to have it X-rayed because I truly believed I'd badly broken something. The doctors, however, assured me that such was not the case. They said healing would take a little time, and I was OK with that. But my knee wasn't in on that particular deal, and weeks stretched into months of pain. It did subside somewhat, but I continued to, quite pitifully and very carefully, limp around for the next 12 weeks. Doctors kindly offered to do an MRI to see what was going on, and possibly arrange for some sort of surgery. Obviously, if that were my only option, I suppose I'd have gone for it.

However, I chose to investigate acupuncture. As it turns out, that was an amazingly good decision. Groundspring Healing Arts (8283 S.W. Barbur Blvd., Portland; 503-244-1330; www. is located on a little one-way, angled piece of Barbur Boulevard that merges into Multnomah Boulevard behind Safeway. But that little unassuming building seems quite a bit larger on the inside than on the outside, with seven practitioners working out of the peaceful space. I can only speak from my experience, but if the others are working with the same degree of thoughtfulness, care and dedication as my practitioner, they must be exceptional in every way.

As a matter of fact, the efficacy of my acupuncturist's treatment was tested recently when I found myself clambering the 213 feet (about 20 stories) of the Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacan, Mexico. We're talking about a grueling climb of 248 hand-cut stone steps. OMG! OK, perhaps "clambering" is the wrong word, since my derring-do required at least a couple of stops to just pant and gaze out into the distance of the surrounding ghost-city with an expression of deep intelligence and understanding. I'm quite sure to others, like the 9-year-old running up the steps past me, I looked as though I had been captivated by my environment. Still, I made it to the top without once considering a knee which only three weeks earlier would have made such a feat of super-heroic scrambling literally impossible.

Where before I would hobble painfully from my car into a local store, I was now capable of successfully reaching the top of one of the most amazing edifices on this continent. My acupuncturist's name, by the way, only accentuates the connections that this world often makes for us. It's YuJin Lee. She told me that this roughly translates to With Sincerity. 
Evaluation: Extraordinarily sincere!


If you know of a business that you think might meet our criteria, please send the information to me at I can't promise to write about them though, as that in itself would be, well, insincere.

Paradise Construction - construction paradise

Having work done on one's home is always a dream in progress — and a potential nightmare in the making, right?
Georgina and I have been through it all.
SUBMITTED PHOTO: PARADISE CONSTRUCTION - Unlike past experiences with construction businesses, Jonathan Young-Ellis was left impressed with Paradise Construction.

Previously, while renovating our house in New York City, we took the nightmare route, hiring and then firing four out of five contractors. The next to last was a guy whose crew pushed our furniture into the middle of the living room, covered it with a drop-cloth (it's a miracle they thought to do that), and proceeded to spray-paint the entire room, including the brick fireplace that was more than 100 years old!
With the drop cloth tightly wadded up against the front door, they then left for the day at about 3:30 p.m. It was a Friday afternoon. They did not expect to return until Monday. After the foul-mouthed departure of contractor No. 4, we discovered that one of our new neighbors on the block was a contractor. Who knew? He ultimately got the job done. The experience left us exhausted and intensely wary of contractors in general.
Such was our state of mind when we began to seek out a contractor here in Portland. This time, we looked on Yelp, checked Angie's List and asked around for recommendations. Eventually, we narrowed it down to three qualified people, and scheduled meetings.
The first arrived at the scheduled time, looked at the space, took some measurements and provided an estimate, with the admonition that he would not be able to move forward until an engineer could be brought in and plans drawn up. The price was a bit higher than we would have liked, but that's always part of this sort of thing.
The second arrived more than an hour and a half after the agreed-upon time. We were actually surprised when he showed up, having figured he was just another problem we were lucky to avoid. Nevertheless, we let him in. He casually, hands in pockets, looked at the space from the outside and provided an estimate that was literally three times the estimate of the first guy. He was history before he said goodbye.
The third was a perfectly nice person who showed up on time but didn't seem to have his notebook with him and was therefore unable to provide any sort of estimate. We shook hands all around and he left, never to be seen again.
As Georgina and I discussed the situation, we realized that we wanted to talk with the first guy again. His name is Nour Chaaban and his company is called Paradise Construction. From that initial meeting until now has been something like a two-year process. That period represents the time it took for us to make sure we had the money in place to take the job all the way to completion, having the engineer and draftsman bring their talents to bear, waiting for permits and then inspections, and fretting over things that we had no control over.
Once a date was set, the work began on time, questions were asked and answered on both sides, and what happened next was nothing short of amazing.
The transformation of our cavernous but raw crawlspace into a beautifully livable space has happened at an incredible speed. Within the first two weeks, so much had been accomplished that our heads were spinning, and our cat became fixated on what was happening beneath her feet — which she could hear, but not chase and bat around. From the beginning until now has been about two months.
It might have gone faster, but I made the choice to do much of the work myself (saving money and learning more about what's inside the walls of my home than I ever thought possible). We expect that we'll be ready for final inspection within the next three to four weeks. Throughout the process, we've been continuously kept informed, been given solid advice, and have never once felt that we were doing business with the wrong people.
Ultimately, the idea of searching for sincerity is all about finding those people in the world who are coming from a place of true personal integrity. Obviously, such people are out there. In this column we write about those who have impressed us and ignore those who have not. Nour and his crew have impressed us.
The people he has hired reflect his values, and each one I've had the pleasure to work with deserves an individual shout-out: Mark is the smart, good-natured guy who quite simply knows so much about so many things that it's impossible to trip him up; Brandon is the one with a dry, clever wit and a nail gun he uses to make things happen at lightening speed; and Jay, though still learning, is clearly fast to pick things up from the others and make them his own.
Each of them has nothing but praise for their employer, and this is telling too. A good contractor is hard to find. A sincere contractor is one in a million.
To contact Paradise Construction, call 503-284-5348 or visit If you know of a business that you think might meet our criteria, send the information to me at I'll not promise to write about them though, as that in itself would be, well, you know — insincere.
Evaluation: Extraordinarily sincere!


Briar Patch Herbs - A welcome addition to the neighborhood

SUBMITTED PHOTO: JONATHAN YOUNG-ELLIS - Columnist Jonathan Young-Ellis says Briar Patch Herbs is gorgeous and family friendly.There's a little cluster of shops in a long, low building where Garden Home Road meets 45th Avenue that has always seemed to me to need some sprucing up.
For a long time, there was just a Mr. Suds Laundromat, Revive Organic Hair Salon and Abel Irrigation there. I've always felt that the building wasn't being used to its full potential in the way that Multnomah Village or Hillsdale Center are.

Not that the residents of the area want that much bustle. And besides, it's not big enough to rival those two areas. But I always thought it would be nice if another useful shop or two would go in there, and that the whole thing might be tidied up a bit.
Well, it seems my fantasy is coming true. Briar Patch Herbs has set up shop next to Revive Hair Salon, and what a welcome addition to the neighborhood it is!
I stopped by to see what they have going on there and to meet the owners, Sheri Copans and Brad Valgardson, who are as friendly and helpful as can be.
The shop is gorgeous inside and out, all the built-in shelves and cabinetry hand-fashioned by Brad himself. On one end of the space is an antique velvet sofa and a couple of chairs set up to create a nook where customers can sit and relax as they breathe in the wonderful, earthy aroma of the place. On the other end there are three tall tree trunks that flank the back counter, giving you the feeling of being outside while inside.
As Sheri says, "I wanted it to feel like you were walking into a forest." Well, you do feel like that, if a forest felt as warm and cozy as the shop does.
The Briar Patch sells organic culinary and medicinal herbs and seeds, as well as organic teas, tinctures, local hand-crafted soaps, candles, organic essential oils and all kinds of delightful, natural products. But please be clear: It is NOT a cannabis store.
The Briar Patch is a family friendly, community herb shop, Sheri says. Kids are welcome, dogs are welcome — you get the idea. Sheri also let me know that the people who own Abel Irrigation at the opposite end of the building, Scott and Jenny Calvin, purchased the property a couple of years ago, and it is absolutely their intent to bring in another desirable business or two and to continue to make the building more attractive so that it will be a nice little destination, just a five-minute walk from Multnomah Village proper.
Though Briar Patch Herbs' summer hours are Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m., they are hoping to expand to seven days a week come fall. They also plan to begin serving brewed tea once their kitchen is set up, and host special events that welcome the community. Sheri even mentioned the potential for a dog wash day out front!
So stop by and take a look at this beautiful space at 4480 S.W. Garden Home Road. You're sure to walk away with something healing, soothing or beautiful. And if you don't know what you want, they offer consultations as well. Don't you feel better already?
Evaluation: Extraordinarily sincere!


If you know of a business that you think might meet our criteria, send the information to me at I'll not promise to write about them though, as that in itself would be, well, you know — insincere.