Saturday, May 31, 2008

Nothing to declare

OK, we're back. Did I miss anything big?

You know, that flight yesterday from Dublin to SF was 10 hours, but it didn't seem so bad. We were on Aer Lingus, and they have the personal TV monitors at every seat that have a selection of movies and TV shows and even video games, so that's pretty cool, plus they fed us every few hours, even in coach. So it didn't really seem all that long.

Felt fine when we got back, but then the jet lag really kicked in last night around 10, which would be 6 a.m. Ireland time. I was trying to watch the Giants, and it was into extra innings, and I literally could not keep my eyes open. I guess they lost in the 13th.

SO ANYWAY, we'll be resuming normal blogging operations this week. Hmm, looking at my stats, it looks like readership fell precipitously. Guess my travelogue didn't go over so well. Just wait until I post the pictures. Then we'll really see who's with me.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Ireland and me: part 2

So on Saturday we went to Super Hot Irish Girlfriend's nephew's First Communion. Until a few weeks ago, I didn't know there was such a thing as a First Communion, but I gather it's kind of a big thing for Catholics, maybe especially Irish Catholics. SO ANYWAY we all go to the church around 11:30 (or "half-eleven," as they say here) and there is an interminable Mass with lots of standing and sitting and kneeling and stuff. But the kids did little readings and sang songs and it was all cute as it could be. They're all about 8 or 9 years old.

So afterwards, there's a little party at a hotel for some of the kids and their parents, who tend generally to be in their mid-20's. The parents, not the kids. Two things initially surprise me about this party: (1) it's a drinking event (again, for the parents, not the kids), and (2) there's a DJ, even though this party is at 2:30 p.m. and, incredibly, the first song the DJ plays is "My Humps," which seems wildly inappropriate for a gathering dedicated to 8-year-olds.

The big rugby match between Munster and Toulouse started while we were at the party. When we got back to town, we went into downtown to meet some friends at a bar. Everyone downtown was wearing Munster gear and was horribly drunk. The bar, Michael Martin's, has a nice little outside area in the alley where it's located and it was packed. I'm not really the big-crowd type, and this crowd was fucking wasted, so I was happy to leave and go back to Sorcha and Phil's house. We had some pizza and beer and just hung out and chatted and that was great.

Yesterday we drove out to Garrykennedy, a little town right on Lough Derg. Beautiful drive through the Irish countryside. Had a huge lunch/dinner here:

I know, how fucking quaint can you get? It was like being in a movie, for real.

Then last night - you guessed it, more drinking. Phil was DJ'ing at the bar, so we had to go there, and then to another bar, and then to a club downstairs where they were playing dance music at jet-taking-off-volumes and people were dancing and I'm not sure what happened after that.

Today's goal: Not drinking.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Ireland & me

OK, I'm in Limerick, Ireland, and it's great, etc., etc. A few observations:

- Last night I was smoking ouside the restaurant where we were eating with Super Hot Irish Girlfriend's mother and we got accosted by a panhandler. She asked for "one euro." You know what the exchange rate is? One euro is real money to me.

- SHIG and I have been to the "Off License" twice. The Off License is a liquor and beer store. It's in a totally shady part of town near the hotel. Here, shady means that it's rundown and kind of deserted, except for vaguely dangerous looking Irish guys loitering around. SHIG's Irish friends confirmed that this was a dodgy part of town, but it really doesn't seem all that bad.

- The front page of the Limerick Independent featured Miss Limerick, who isn't all that, and Miss Clare, Aoife Gallagher, who is totally hot. Aoife, incidentally, is pronounced "Ee-fa." SHIG is displeased that I may have a little crush on Aoife Gallagher.

- Saturday is some kind of rugby championship between Munster (the province of Ireland that Limerick is in) and Toulouse, France. It's like the Super Bowl or something around here. There are shirts in the shop windows that say "Irish by birth, Munster by the grace of God" and tons of Munster rugby banners and flags and all that crap. The main street is going to be blocked off Saturday and they're showing it on big screens outside. From what I gather it'll be the largest outdoor collection of drunk people I've ever been near.

- Limerick's downtown is actually really nice. A lot of the streets are closed to vehicle traffic and there are a bunch of nice shops and pubs and so forth. Then there's the Internet cafe I'm writintg this from, which is basically a bunch of little carrels with computers and a bunch of Polish guys playing Counterstrike and isn't really a cafe at all.

- The vending machines in the hotel have beer, wine, gin & tonics, screwdrivers, and Powers Irish whiskey. This availability is lethal past midnight.

Monday, May 19, 2008

What I did instead of Bay to Breakers

Twice a year (usually), a bunch of us get together and trade mix CDs. You end up with 10 or 11 new mixes. Plus, there's the beer aspect that can't be discounted. We did it yesterday at Lucky 13.

It was fun. And now I have hours of new music to listen to on the plane tomorrow.

After that, I went to a cookout at Peter's house.

Peter got a firepit. When I got home, I smelled like a forest fire.

I'm going to Ireland tomorrow. I'm pretty sure they have the Internet there, but I'm not sure how often I'll have access. So if you notice a precipitous decline in the posting frequency between now and the end of the month, you'll know why.

UPDATE: For those of you scoring at home, this was my mix:

VHS or Beta -- Can't Believe a Single Word
Rival Schools -- Good Things
Scissors for Lefty -- Marsha
Your 33 Black Angels -- Town & Country
Oxford Collapse -- Lady Lawyers
Okkervil River -- Westfall
The New Pornographers -- The Body Says No
The Morning Benders -- Damnit Anna
Irving -- Sleepy Inside
Delorentos -- Stop
The Redwalls -- Summer Romance

OK, gang. Be good while I'm gone. I'm going to ask Mrs. Murphy from next door to look in on you every once in a while, so no funny business! Call me every day! NO PARTIES.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Urban etiquette: an occasional series

Todays' topic: Stand right, walk left

As any regular commuter by BART or Muni knows, the rule on escalators is a simple one - stand right, walk left. In fact, this rule appears to be universal.

So why is it so fucking hard for people to figure this out? Now, granted, at rush hours the system seems to behave as planned, either because there are more experienced commuters or because there are so many people trying to walk on the left they pile up and the left-stander finally gets it through his thick fucking WWE-addled skull that he's supposed to move. But at non-peak times, you'll often see some fucking retard just hanging out on the left, totally oblivious to the fact that everyone else is standing on the right.

Now, if there's no one standing next to the retard on the right, that's cool - I'll just cruise around him and continue down the stairs in my normal breakneck rushing-to-a-fire speed that I employ to jet around town normally. But when Calvin Clueless is jabbering away with his mouth-breathing girlfriend next to him, I have to get right up behind him and then go "EXCUSE ME" which has the double-barreled benefit of making him jump a little and hopefully teaching him the walk left stand right principle.

They've got the right idea in London. If you try that stand left crap there, they will run you the fuck over, no lie. I saw it happen several times. That's the way the natural order is enforced, folks.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

95 degrees

That's right. 95 degrees in motherfucking San Francisco. Now, that wouldn't be MAJOR FUCKING NEWS in Bullhead City, Arizona or even Riverside, but here in the city, we like our coffee expensive, our beer obscure, and our climate cold.

The good news: I like it. I grew up in the South, where 95 was a nice cool break in the weather during the summer. Add 80% humidity and then we'll talk. So I like these twice-a-year spells of extraordinarily hot weather. It's nice to be outside at night and not be wearing 4 layers of clothes. In May. Oh, also: chixx break out the tiny clothes. Nice.

The bad news: The guy I saw in Civic Center Plaza today who looked like Popeye with all the juice sucked out of him and was not wearing a shirt. Hey, sport, I respect the fact that you're 90 years old and have earned the right to go commando on a hot day, but seriously, do it at home.

Went to the Giants game last night. Never put a jacket on the whole time I was there. Fuck, that's nice. Meanwhile, the bullpen blew the tie and we lost.

And what's this I hear today? Lincecum leaves in the 6th with a 7-3 lead, striking out 10, and now you mean to tell me the fucking bullpen is blowing it again? Fuck.

In other news, did you happen to hear something about the gays today? I can't seem to find any information on it.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Oh, shit, I'm out of quarters

Maybe I'm missing something, but this whole parking meters to put in change for homeless people thing baffles me. If I put in a quarter, do I get 10 minutes of not being hassled? Seriously, who thought this was a good idea?

This is SF's "homeless czar" lovingly cuddling one of the new homeless parking meters. If this is the best the homeless czar can come up with, we may need a homeless Russian Revolution.

In Giants news, Fail started again last night and actually didn't do that bad. But the real scream was when Yabu tried some kind of obscure glove-fu ninja signal to Bowker that he was about to attempt to throw out the baserunner and, of course, since Bowker is not a ninja, he didn't get the signal and the ball sailed past him and a bunch of Astros ran around and around and the Giants lost again.

Oh, and Super Hot Irish Girlfriend was there and she was on TV. Some big guy in an orange shirt got a foul and they were showing him and she walked right past him and sat down and thereby kicked off her international fame. I don't have any screengrabs, so you'll have to take my word for it.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Today's Top 5

1. Tim Lincecum

The finest 14-year-old to ever play for the Giants, Lincecum's already having a monster year and it's only May. He's 5-1 with a 1.61 ERA so far, and it's an absolute pleasure to watch him pitch.

2. Locked Up Abroad

Horrifying. If you really want to get your nerves tweaked, find the National Geographic Channel somewhere on your cable and check this shit out.

The title is pretty self-explanatory, but here's what basically happens in every episode: A couple of kids (usually British, for some reason) are on some extended vacation and are low on money and don't know what to do. They meet someone who offers to give them thousands and thousands of pounds or Euros or whatever to take a few ounces of marijuana from some place to another. Now, instead of going "Wait, something doesn't seem right about this," they agree to do it and then when they pick up the stuff it's actually 50 pounds of cocaine and then it's too late to back out.

The harrowing part is that you know they get caught (or else the title would be "Successfully Smuggling Drugs Abroad," right?) but the show is so well-done that you can feel the tension and the nervousness as the re-enactment shows them going through security, etc., etc.

Then there's about 10 minutes at the end where they talk about how shitty it is to be in prison in Mexico or wherever, but that's actually the least interesting part. Check it out.

3. I know this is lame, but can this be right? It's going to be 81 fucking degrees in SF on Thursday? Hey, check out Wednesday. 77! I'm going to the game that night, so maybe it won't feel like we're at Ice Station Zebra.

4. Mad Dog in the Fog

We've been coming here after band practice on Saturday nights lately. I like it because it's never that crowded, they pour a really good Guinness, and the bartender who works Saturday nights is totally cool and fun and put the Marked Men on just because we were talking about them.

5. The Babyshambles

It's a shame that Pete Doherty is far better known for doing more drugs than Motley Crue and banging Kate Moss than his music, because his band is really good. I was a huge Libertines fan, but I figured that Doherty was never going to do anything good again after that. Babyshambles isn't on the same level - not much is - but still worth a listen.

Friday, May 9, 2008

He got bigass ears

Happy Friday, everyone!

There is only one word for this: fucking awesome. Oh, two words for this. Dude listened to every one of the 763 free mp3 on the South by Southwest site and then wrote a six-word review of each one.


Captain Ahab: "Come, sail away with Weezer's Nintendo."

porterdavis: "Earnest goes to Austin: the band."

The Black Ghosts: "Does ProTools do instant MSTRKRFT remixes?"

And so on. Worth a few minutes, at least.

Found this on the Internets:

All kinds of win.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

I don't take pennies

Coupla things.

- Today, a woman holding a piece of cardboard she had folded into some kind of tent-like object over her head came up to me and said "Can you give me a dime? I have 10 pennies."

I said, "I don't have any change," which was true. I didn't have any change.

She said, "You don't take pennies? You fool." Then she walked off.

No, I don't take pennies.

- My band finally finished our new round of demo recordings, and I think we're going to submit for the Mission Creek Music Festival. We won't get picked, though, but if you or anyone you know is affiliated in any way with Mission Creek, let me say you look great today.

- Giants got swept by the fucking Pirates. Just when they were showing some signs of life. Great.

- Did you hear about the guy who jumped off the H&M building near Union Square today? Insert your own fashion joke here.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

We barely even had a chance to miss him

Fail got the start again tonight in Pittsburgh. He had been demoted to the bullpen, where he apparently learned a lot in ZERO relief appearances. Anyway, 5 innings, 2 ER, 5K. Not terrible, not great. Pirates up 2-0 as I write this.

Oh, and Hennessey got sent down. We'll miss ye, Hennessey.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Obama: Tool of the Devil?

Sometimes I like to listen to KSFO. For those of you who don’t know, it’s the wacky-conservative talk radio station here in SF. The place where you’d find Rush and Sean Hannity and all the other crazy fucking right-wingers. I listen to it because (1) I think it’s good to know what the other side is saying about you, and (2) it’s hilarious.

SO ANYWAY, if you’ve lived in the Bay Area for any amount of time, you probably remember Brian Sussman from when he was a friendly, affable weatherman on Channel 5. Besides doing the weather, he hosted a segment called “Brian’s Kids,” featuring kids who were up for adoption. Apparently the program was a success, and Sussman says 400 kids were adopted as a result. Good for Brian and the kids and everyone.

Here’s where it gets weird. After leaving KPIX, Sussman started a radio show on KSFO and is now a BATSHIT FUCKING CRAZY RIGHT-WING LOON, like to the right of Attila the Hun. Like makes Rush Limbaugh look like Jane Fonda right wing.

So yesterday, I’m listening to Sussman (or the Suss-Man, as he apprently now calls himself) doing his thing on the Obama-Jeremiah Wright connection, which is fine. Hey, if I were a batshit fucking crazy lunatic right-wing radio host, I’d be all over that shit 24/7 myself, because hammering that shit is one surefire way to make stupid people dislike Obama.

So he’s going on and on and then starts berating this caller who calls in to defend Obama, and he’s saying that Obama is going to introduce Marxism and Socialism (really, I’m not making this up, it doesn’t even seem that crazy when you listen to KSFO for a while), and then here comes the money quote from the Suss-Man:

“I’m just supposed to roll over while the Devil puts his man in office?”

That's the exact quote. I listened to it again on the KSFO "archives" this morning to make sure I got it right.

Now, I know that a political campaign sometimes is the place for freewheeling, often hyperbolic speech, but it seems to me that calling a United States Senator and a presidential candidate “the Devil’s man” might be going a little bit overboard. Personally, I don’t believe there’s a “Devil” any more than I believe in fairies or the Kraken, but still, it shows you what kind of rhetoric these fucking insane radio guys will engage in.

The Kraken. Does he exist? And, if so, what candidate does he support? I urge you to reject any Kraken-backed candidate.

It’s going to be a long goddam campaign.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Today's Top 5: San Francisco Bars

YMMV. I’m excluding places where I typically see live music, because I’m there to see the band, not to be at the bar itself. If I were doing music venues, you’d see CafĂ© du Nord, the Independent, and 12 Galaxies.

ANYWAY, here goes. If you’ve got other faves that I haven’t included, post ‘em in the comments. And remember, this is purely subjective.

1. Zeitgeist

The clear winner. Not just my favorite bar; maybe one of my favorite places on Earth. There’s just something great about a nice Saturday afternoon, a pitcher of beer, and a few friends at a picnic table in the backyard at Zeitgeist. The semi-forced intimacy with the people around you also produces a friendly vibe conducive to meeting people unlike anywhere else in the city. I want my ashes sprinkled here after I die. Not by the Porta-Potties, pls.

2. Hemlock

This one’s another no-brainer for me. Sure, it gets jam-packed with hipsters on weekend nights, but it’s got a great feel and a cool layout. (I realize there’s live music here, but it’s in a separate room with its own admission, so I’m not counting it as a music venue.) The glassed-in smoking room is a major bonus, since you don’t have to freeze your ass off outside to have a smoke. Also: hot peanuts in the shell.

3. Tosca

Since I lived in North Beach for a few years, I became intimately familiar with the many and varied bars of the area. There are some clubs on Broadway that turn over every few years, but I’ve never been a club person anyway. Shock, I know. Then there are the bars that have been there since before your Dad had a fake I.D. This is one of those places. From the bartenders wearing white jackets to the opera on the jukebox, there’s something classic and old-school about this place that just feels right. You can have your thumpa-thumpa clubs around the corner. I’ll have a 7&7, sit at the bar, and watch the people behind me in the mirror.

4. Alembic

Then there are new bars that feel like they’ve been around for a long time. The Upper Haight has historically never been a good bar area. Sure, you’ve got your Gold Canes and your Kezar Pubs and your Martin Macks, but you wouldn’t take a cab across town to go to any of those places (well, unless you were meeting your dealer at Gold Cane). So Alembic really was a breath of fresh air when it opened a few years ago. With a bar constructed of wood scavengened from the old Kezar Stadium, a menu of really interesting drinks along with 70 or 80 different whiskeys and beers from Magnolia Brewing, this place was more or less instantly crowded from the day it opened. Nevertheless, it’s worth a special trip. The only complaint I have is that the service an be distractingly slow when it’s busy, but they’re individually muddling St. John’s Wort or whatever, so just cool your jets, because they’re doing a bit more than uncapping a Coors Light.

5. Elixir

There’s nothing really remarkable about Elixir. They do have an extensive cocktail menu, and the owner (or operator or something), H. Joseph Ehrmann, is known for being at the forefront of the recent cocktail resurgence, but I rarely see anyone in this place ordering a specialty cocktail. Rather, it’s just a good, comfortable, neighborhoody bar. I’m not sure why I like it so much, but every time I come here I enjoy myself, so I guess that counts for something.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

We're swells

Friday night was Super Hot Irish Girlfriend's company's 20th anniversary party. I didn't know that companies even had anniversary parties, but this one was huge. They rented out City Hall and there was a ton of food and open bars all over the place and tables set up for blackjack and craps and stuff like that (but not with real money, of course).

Anyway, I wore a tux and S.H.I.G. looked great. We were all very grown up and sophisticated and shit. Seriously, we looked like we were in one of the "Swells" columns that used to run in the Chron.

So the party went to around midnight, and then a bunch of us went to Sugar in Hayes Valley and had some more drinks, for some reason. Jesus. Anyway, after that, we went home, thank God.

Oh, yesterday we went to brunch at Boogaloos. You know how to avoid waiting an hour for a table there? Go to brunch at 2:30. Seriously, we didn't even get out of bed Saturday until like 1:45.