Wednesday, June 27, 2007

'Ugly' story wins third prize

Published in the Portland Phoenix

A dark trip through Portland’s eyesores written by former staff writer Sara Donnelly and illustrated by Westbrook freelancer Mike Gorman has been honored in the small-papers division of the newspaper competition the alternative press takes most seriously.

The story, “Ugly Portland,” published July 28, 2006, took third place in the “format buster” category in the national Association of Alternative Newsweeklies competition. (AAN defines a “format buster” as an article whose thrust and graphic presentation are contrary to usual newspaper conventions.)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

One step closer to Finland: McNallica wins!

Published in the Portland Phoenix

Well, obviously.

Portland-based karaoke star McNallica won the regional competition in the US Air Guitar championship series, held last Friday at Boston's Harper’s Ferry. Next stop, the Fillmore at Irving Plaza in New York City on August 16. Then, if she beats the 13 contenders there, she’ll head to Finland for the world title in early September.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. McNallica, operations manager at a local mortgage company, creamed the local competition at Portland's SPACE back in April. Last week down in Allston, Bjorn Turoque, one of the world’s greatest air-guitarists, gave her perfect scores in both rounds, and called her “the future of air guitar.”

Perhaps the best part (other than that level of praise) came the moment she and the four other finalists heard the song they would perform in the compulsory round: “Metal Health,” the title track off the 1983 Quiet Riot album. While she hadn’t worked up a routine for it, she knew the song, and spent the few minutes she had before going on stage planning a kick-ass routine.

“The whole left side of my body hurts from doing all the windmills,” she said Monday.

McNallica beat — among others — a woman who had flown in from Colorado, a guy who drove up from Washington DC, and Boston hometown favorite Mike “Godfather of Air” Torpey, who won that city's regional competition last year. She now has her eyes on beating Andrew “William Ocean” Litz, two-time New York regional champ, who will be among the most experienced air-guitarists in the national competition.

We’ll keep you posted on the dates, the other challengers, and vicious rumors about the personal lives of air-guitarists near and far, so keep checking back.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Support the Portland air-guitar champ

Published in the Portland Phoenix

McNallica, Portland’s air-guitar champion (see “Music Seen,” May 4), will head to the next phase of the US Air Guitar Championships on Friday, in Boston. And she’s inviting you to go with her.

McNallica could use the support — even though this contest will be judged by actual judges (rather than by popular acclaim, like the local championship at SPACE). She’s polishing up her air guitar for the performance, which she promises will feature “two signature moves” she couldn’t perform at SPACE because the stage was dampened by a previous performer’s fake blood. She’s hoping those, and her extensive prep work (she has choreographed three different 60-second routines to different songs, so as not to repeat music used by another contestant), will get her a ticket to the national finals in New York in August.

The judging will be “based on figure-skating,” she says, with a scale from 4.0 to 6.0. No word on whether there’s a Russian judge, but we prepped her with a couple Russkie niceties to drop, just in case.

To get you there, McNallica is coordinating rides down to the 21+ show at Harper’s Ferry (158 Brighton Ave in Allston, Massachusetts) on Friday evening, arriving in time for the event’s start at 9 pm. If you want a ride, e-mail her at Get your $15 tickets in advance or call 800.594.8499. You’ll also get a glimpse of Air Guitar Nation movie star (and non-winner) Bjorn Turoque, the celebrity MC.