Tuesday, December 31, 2013

My favorite tweets of 2013

I meant to do this annually, but I did it once in 2010 and forgot.  Anyway, I feel like it's been a while and I need to post something and I don't really have anything substantive to say.

(You don't want to hear about recycling poachers any more, but let me just say that my next-door neighbor has invented a new way to make recycling poaching even more annoying.  Last night he waited until the RP was outside on the sidewalk and then rained down empty cans from his second-story window, like a medieval townsman emptying a chamber pot, except instead of shit it was empty aluminum cans that pinged off the sidewalk like TINK! TINK! TINK! while the RP scrabbled around scooping them all up.  Unbelievable.)

Without further ado.

The look on the dog's face.

That's one of my favorite tweets of all time, actually.


I'm a big fan of the "Girl are you" and the "Girl you can call me" tweetforms.

I just found this one a couple of days ago, even though it's from July, and have been laughing about it ever since.

The Wife and I both laugh every time someone mentions this tweet, which is a lot in our house.

Strong contender for best tweet of the year.
See you next year! I promise to work harder on the content side.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Misadventures in driving

Man, I thought coming back from Petaluma to SF on 101 South last night was bad.  Basically every car was swerving and just generally DUI-ing all over the road.  Terrifying.

But, amazingly enough, just driving around SF this morning was actually worse.  I don't know if people are still drunk or they just let the idiot of the family drive as a Christmas present or what, but I saw some truly terrible driving today.

EXHIBIT A:  Driving up Ninth to Market, you can turn left on Market from - quelle surprise! - the LEFT HAND LANE.

This was my plan: to turn left onto Market from the left-hand lane. Simple in scope; presumptively easy in execution.  As I approached the intersection, the light turned red.  A black BMW was in the lane to my right.  The BMW, unfazed by the now-red light and resolute in determination, turned left in front of me, not letting either the fact that he was in the wrong lane or that the light was red, affect his steely intention to get shit done.

EXHIBIT B: Not 2 blocks away on Market, a car sits, left turn signal on, trying to make a left turn directly under a large "No Left Turns" sign.  Cars pile up behind this Mensa candidate and start honking.  He will not be deterred.  He will turn left.  Your rules mean nothing to him.

EXHIBIT C: The piece de resistance, if you will.  The scene is Church, just past Duboce, approaching Hermann.

This story involves a Prius, so you know it's gonna be good.  Prius drivers are, without any question, the Worst Drivers in the World.  I don't know if innately bad drivers prefer Priuses or if driving a Prius turns you into a clueless asshole, but there it is.

OK.  So there are two buses where you see the bus in the picture.  Both of them are waiting to turn left at the stop sign.  Prius is behind Bus #2; I am behind Prius.  Now, these buses are not idling or stopped or broken down; they're simply observing correct stop sign behavior.

THIS NONSENSE WILL NOT STAND FOR MR. PRIUS.  Buses!  Stop signs!  They are impediments for puny mortals, not for the Godlike Titan who pilots the Prius.  He pulls out into the wrong lane, passes the two buses going up Church the wrong way, forcing the front bus, who is now beginning to turn left and whose driver must have been thinking "WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK IN FUCK IS THIS FUCKING IDIOT DOING", to suddenly stop, and turns left onto Hermann.  I was PRAYING some car would whip around the corner and head-on collide this festering sore on the face of humanity, but no such luck.  He got away with it.  They always do.

Be careful out there.  It is truly a free-for-all on the roads, and you may not make it.  Stay home with a bottle of Bulleit and cable TV instead.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Lyric Deconstruction: "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing"

Charles Wesley, 1739

Hark the herald angels sing 
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Merry Christmas! Or happy holidays or whatever.  Today we're taking a look at "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing," which I think we can agree is much better than Charles Wesley's original lyric "Hark! how all the welkin rings." I mean, what the fuck.  (Here's the wiki on H!THAS.)

Anyway, the "newborn king" referenced here is probably Elvis.  Nah, I'm kidding, it's Jesus.  Although Elvis and Jesus had a lot in common!  They both had the same middle name, "Aaron," and both were known for healing the sick through the power of their rock.

You don't see a lot of "hark" any more.  It would be kinda cool to bring "hark" back instead of, say "hey."  "Hark, you going to the store?  Can you get me some papers?"  "Hark, man, get the fuck off my car!"  It would really give a nice Dickensian flair to things.  BRING BACK HARK.

"Peace on earth, and mercy mild, 
God and sinners reconciled!"

I always thought the idea of "God and sinners reconciled" was kinda cute, like they just had a couple of differences of opinion to be sorted out.  "OK, God, it's cool," the sinners would say.  "We're reconciled."  Not exactly Jonathan Edwards-type stuff.

Joyful, all ye nations rise, 
Join the triumph of the skies; 
With th' angelic host proclaim, 
"Christ is born in Bethlehem!" 
Hark! the herald angels sing, 
"Glory to the new born King!"

Honestly, probably not "all nations."  I can't imagine Saudi Arabia is joining the triumph of the skies any time soon.  And I don't want to get too nitpicky here, but rhyming "proclaim" and "Bethlehem" is a bit of a stretch, Charles Wesley.

What you MAY NOT KNOW is that H!THAS keeps going!  And the second verse is, um, meatier.

Christ, by highest heaven adored; 
Christ, the everlasting Lord; 
Late in time behold him come, 
Offspring of a virgin's womb.

Ew.  I don't know about you, but I'd rather keep wombs out of my Christmas carols.  It's a little, uh, clinical or something.  "Christ came down to hang with us / Out of Mary's uterus"  Uh, no.

Also, yesterday I learned that 1 in 200 pregnant American women claim to be virgins.  Virgin birth is very, very common!  Imagine this knowledge had been widespread in Jesus's time.  He would have been a successful carpenter and we'd all be worshipping Frank the Horse Trainer or somebody.

Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail th' incarnate Deity,
Pleased with us in flesh to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel.

That's a lot of flesh, Charles Wesley!  Also, don't hate me for this, but when I hear "veiled in flesh" the first thing I think of is Ed Gein, not the Godhead.

Hark! the herald angels sing, 
"Glory to the new born King!"

Got it. Thanks, Charles Wesley! There's a third verse too - I know, mind blown - but let's call it off here.  Everybody have a great Christmas or whatever it is you do!  See you on the other side.

Friday, December 20, 2013

In defense of "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives"

(OPENING PARENTHETICAL: I just checked Food Network's site and yep, it's "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives," no Oxford comma, TYVM.)

At the risk of this blog turning into a TV-only affair, let me say a few things about "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives," which airs virtually nonstop on Food Network.  I know that Guy Fieri is an easy target; I've made fun of him myself.  How could you not?  The hair, the backwards sunglasses, the dog named "Rockstar."  It's all too easy.

BUT let me make the audacious claim that DD&D is actually a pretty good show.  Here's the basic format: Guy goes to one of the aforementioned types of places, talks to the clientele about why they like the place so much, and then gets the owner or operator to show him how to make one or two of the place's signature dishes.  Here's an example, featuring the Tune Inn in DC:

It's not rocket science, but here are the good things about the show:  First, the places he's featuring are all non-chain, usually owner-operated small-time restaurants.  It's good to see those kinds of places getting some love.  I am ancedotally informed that when he featured the Tee Off and the Broken Record here in SF, it helped out both places tremendously.  (Both are pretty good, BTW, and worth a visit.)

Second, for whatever reason, Guy Fieri is really good at describing what he's eating.  Any TV dork can take a bite of something and go "Mmmmm, crunchy," but Guy is uncommonly good at conveying verbally how something tastes.  It doesn't seem like rocket science, but it's surprisingly hard to do!  Here's a (somewhat below-average) sample.  I could find a better one but what am I supposed to do, watch YouTube clips of Guy Fieri all day?  Anyway, Guy's describing the Guinness beef stew at this Irish pub, and he says it's "rich, flavorful, full of depth," that it has "really nice rounded, roasted flavor . . . nice velvety texture from the mushrooms, and the meat just completely dissolves-in-your-mouth tender."  OK, I know, it's not M.F.K. Fisher but M.F.K. Fisher didn't hit three spots per half hour episode.

And third, yes, Guy Fieri is a total dork and can be completely irritating, but the man brings the enthusiasm to every place.  You got to admire that.

Oh, and fourth, for someone who's into food like me, it's pretty interesting to see how these restaurants make their dishes.  In fact, after seeing one segment I actually hunted down the recipe they made and did it up at home.  I can't remember which restaurant or what dish so don't even ask.

That's it.  I'll try and write about non-TV matters soon.  Have a good weekend.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Best/Worst TV of the Year

The Americans

It's hard to pin down exactly what made this little show about Soviet spies living as Americans in a DC suburb in the 80's one of the best things on TV this year, but I cannot fucking WAIT until it starts up again in February.  The performances - especially Keri Russell as your dream housewife/incredibly dangerous human weapon - were great, but maybe it's the fact that the two spies are at once within and without American culture? Haha, that is some grad school bullshit right there.  But you should watch it.  BEST

Here's the trailer from last season:

Bachelor Sean

This season was even more depressing and boring than most seasons, chiefly because Sean had the personality of a lobotomized chair, and the women weren't much better.  Since recapping the Bachelor/ette is now my personal Sisyphean task in life, I had to watch it, but there was something uniquely difficult about this season.  I wish I had died instead.  WORST

Bar Rescue

Since two of my main interests in life are bars and yelling at people, this show really hit the sweet spot for me.  Angry Jon Taffer, who claims to have rehabilitated 28,000 bars on 14 planets in the last 340 years, blazes into your failing bar and revamps it with a new aesthetic and drink recipes and a new name, usually something like "Boxes and Brews" or "The Road, A Postapocalyptic Bar" or something else equally nonsensical.  He's accompanied by noted mixologists who attempt to teach mouth-breathing 22-year-olds how to bruise mint for a keffir lime mojito when we know they would have trouble locating the open end of a beer mug.  It's totally entertaining.  BEST

Mad Men

I still love this show but last season was kind of a drag, you know?  I mean, it was still awesome and everything but I like TV shows where things happen on them.  C'mon, Don Draper, fucking do something.  BEST/WORST

Breaking Bad

We binge watched the whole series in like a month to get ready for the final 2 months of the show.  It was awesome.  BBREAM.  BEST

Downton Abbey

It's basically the English manor One Life to Live, but who didn't get hooked on watching those crazy Brits fuck around with each other?  I just want it to go on and on and on into the modern age so we can see Lady Mary's hippie granddaughter bring Black Sabbath around.  BEST

How I Met Your Mother

How Is This On TV, more like, amirite?  I don't know, I've never made it through a full episode.  The Wife loves it for some reason but every time I watch 3 minutes of it I'm like Donald Trump at the White House Correspodents Dinner. WORST

World Series

Too much Boston Red Sox.  Not enough Giants.  WORST


I know I've gone on about this show way too much.  WHY HAVEN'T YOU WATCHED IT YET.  Fuck.  BEST

Monday, December 16, 2013

Doe, a dude, a dude you know

Everybody knows the "Do Re Mi" song from "Sound of Music," but it's clear we could improve on the lyrics.  "Sew, a needle pulling thread"?  Sure, maybe in the Middle Ages!  And "La, a note to follow So"?  Totally phoning it in.  Let's update.

Doe, a dude, a dude you know

Ray, the guy who banged Kardash

Mi, that crazy singer chick

Fa, a million meter dash

Tso, I love that bird to death

Lah, that girl from the Internet

Tea, a name for crystal meth

Which brings us back to doe

What up doe

Thursday, December 12, 2013

San Francisco can truly become great with the creation of a GWZ

Some tech bro just wrote another one of those why-is-San Francisco-so-terrible posts that blew up and made everyone hate him!  Here's part of it:

Just got back to SF. I've traveled around the world and I gotta say there is nothing more grotesque than walking down market st in San Francisco. Why the heart of our city has to be overrun by crazy, homeless, drug dealers, dropouts, and trash I have no clue. Each time I pass it my love affair with SF dies a little.
The difference is in other cosmopolitan cities, the lower part of society keep to themselves. They sell small trinkets, beg coyly, stay quiet, and generally stay out of your way. They realize it's a privilege to be in the civilized part of town and view themselves as guests. And that's okay.
In downtown SF the degenerates gather like hyenas, spit, urinate, taunt you, sell drugs, get rowdy, they act like they own the center of the city. Like it's their place of leisure... In actuality it's the business district for one of the wealthiest cities in the USA. It a disgrace. I don't even feel safe walking down the sidewalk without planning out my walking path. 
You can preach compassion, equality, and be the biggest lover in the world, but there is an area of town for degenerates and an area of town for the working class. 
(Thanks to Valleywag for the selective bolding.)

Tech Bro is right! We need an area of town for degenerates!  That's why I'm proposing the creation of a Godforsaken Wretch Zone (GWZ) here in San Francisco.  We can then move the Crazy, the Homeless, the Dropouts, the Trash, and Internet Explorer users there and have them out of our hair as we march forward into the New Utopia.

I propose a number of areas in the GWZ where the Enlightened can visit and do their part to help out the Human Trash.

In Trinket Town by Etsy, the gnarled underclass can sell their pathetic little goods.  You'll stroll happily through a faux streetscape and purchase their little geegaws with Trinket Town Tokens, which are not redeemable for alcohol.  "Oh look!," you'll cry.  "The little orphan girl is selling her handmade bracelets!  Let's get one for Skyler!"

Over at the Snapchat Shooting Gallery, you can fire actual coins and bits of chocolate at homeless dropouts who are "workin' the range"!  They get to keep what hits them!  You'll have fun and help out society's trash at the same time.  Watch out for Jimbo!  He may look weak, but he can move!

And don't miss the Genentech Garden of Diseases!  "Daddy, why is that man coughing blood?"  "Hold on, sweetie, let's read the placard.  Oh, he's got pneumonia and bronchitis!  Don't get too close."  "Gross!!"

What could be better than giving to the less fortunate out of the goodness of your heart, expecting nothing in return?  Why, giving with the expectation of a cheerful song by a happy street urchin!  Over in Pandora Panhandlers' Row, your (non tax-deductible) donation prompts one of our prescreened musical hobos to attempt the song of your choice!  "Play Teenage Dream again on your battered guitar, Mister!," you'll shout with glee.

We're currently looking for space for the GWZ.  Hmmmmm, with Candlestick coming down......

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

"Book of Mormon," eh.

Sorry I've been slacking off here; I've been busy.

We went to see "Book of Mormon" at the Orpheum.  The problem with going to see BOM is that it is so wildly overhyped at this point that it was bound to be disappointing.  I mean, when Penn Jillette says it's better than The Clash, the Sex Pistols, and George Carlin, if you don't LITERALLY orgasm during the performance, it's a letdown.  (Penn Jillette orgasm video via Generic, thx.)

I didn't literally orgasm.

Here's why I think it's so popular:  it marries conventional musical structure to a mildly subversive plot (Mormon missionaries go to Uganda and encounter benighted brown people; Mormon religion exposed as ridiculous) and transgressive language ("Fuck you, God, in the ass, mouth and cunt").  It gives people permission to laugh at things they normally couldn't laugh at, like someone else's religion, AIDS, Africans, and female genital mutilation.  People like to be shocked, and it's (sort of) shocking.  And it's occasionally funny; not as funny as most episodes of "South Park," but it has its moments.

For me, it was about a half-hour too long.  It really drags at the end of the first act and beginning of the second, and then wraps up far too quickly and neatly.  The songs all sound roughly the same - like someone was trying to write songs that sounded like they were From a Musical, which I guess is actually true.  And there is the whole race problem which I won't get into here but other people have taken a look at.  I guess go see it if you love musicals and think "I have maggots in my scrotum" is hilarious.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

These vegetarian faux crab cakes were a big hit

2 things: (1) I like crab cakes, but don't particularly like the taste of crab.  I think I like the crispy fried aspect and also I like the taste of Old Bay seasoning; (2) Our friends Stephen and Jessica are vegetarian and come over for dinner not infrequently so I'm constantly looking for new vegetarian things to make so it's not just some pasta again.  Also, Jessica is a fantastic cook and so we're locked in an eternal struggle to see whose cuisine reigns supreme.  (NB: It's possible Jessica doesn't know about this last element.)

Anyway, everybody loved these.  Original recipe from Food & Wine magazine.  Can be vegan too - just sub vegan mayonnaise, whatever the fuck that is, for the mayo.

  1. 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for frying
  2. 2 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (cut from 4 ears of corn)
  3. 1/4 cup minced onion
  4. 1/4 cup minced green bell pepper
  5. One 15-ounce can whole hearts of palm—drained, thinly sliced lengthwise and cut crosswise into 3/4-inch lengths
  6. 2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
  7. 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  8. 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  9. 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  10. 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons plain dry bread crumbs, plus more for coating
  11. Salt
  12. Freshly ground pepper
  1. In a nonstick skillet, heat the 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the corn, onion and bell pepper and cook over high heat until crisp-tender, 4 minutes. Scrape 1 cup of the mixture into a food processor and pulse to a coarse puree.
  2. In a bowl, squeeze the hearts of palm to break them into shards. Add the puree and the remaining sautéed vegetables to the bowl, along with the Old Bay, parsley, mayonnaise, mustard and the 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of bread crumbs. Season lightly with salt and pepper and stir until evenly moistened.
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and fill a pie plate with bread crumbs. Scoop scant 1/4-cup mounds of the hearts of palm mixture into the bread crumbs and roll to coat. Form the mounds into eighteen 2-inch cakes and transfer to the baking sheet.
  4. Wipe out the nonstick skillet, then add a scant 1/8 inch of oil. Fry half of the cakes over moderate heat, turning once, until crispy, 2 minutes per side. Wipe out the skillet and add clean oil before frying the remaining cakes. Serve the cakes hot.

So that's the official recipe.  I made them  few hours ahead and put them in the fridge; I would recommend you do the same, or else they'll probably fall apart on you.  Mine fell apart a little bit anyway and then individual corn kernels EXPLODED in the oil and sent oil flying everywhere.  NOT COOL MAN.  So watch out for that.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Please consider these items from the Bold Italic gift store this Christmas

San Francisco Neighborhood Stereotype Greeting Cards

What does Chinatown say?  Congraturations!  Get this and many other simpleminded stereotypes of various San Francisco neighborhoods in this lovely set of greeting cards.  Your friends will roar with laughter when they get a card from the Haight Street hippie wishing them a "Groovy Birthday, Man!" Guess what?  It's foggy in the Sunset!  SO IRONIC. (NOTE: Set does not include Ingleside or any other neighborhood where recent transplants don't go.)  $27.00

Wooden Moustache

Choose this fun, funky accessory for the person on your list who keeps a sombrero in their closet for Cinco de Mayo and who would think a wooden moustache is hilarious.  Item has no practical use whatsoever.  No returns.  $49.95

New Mission Resident Handbook

Did you just move to the Mission from Back East?  SO DID WE!  With this handy guide to your new neighborhood, you'll be all equipped for your new life in San Francisco's most vibrant neighborhood.  What do you do when a brown person tries to talk to you?  Which burrito is most like Chipotle?  Is it OK to call the police if there are no more outlets at Ritual?  Get the answers to these questions and more! $35.00

Wooden Map of San Francisco

It's a map of San Francisco...but it's wooden! This somehow increases its charm.  (NOTE: Ships directly from Etsy.)  $165.00

Craziest SF Characters Trading Cards

Schizophrenia? More like Schizo-FUN-ia, right? This whimsical deck of trading cards celebrates the kooky weirdos who aren't getting proper mental health care and who make San Francisco such a fun place!  Here's the Man Who Thinks He's Talking to God Who Harrasses People Outside Civic Center Station! Oooo, trade you for Woman Who Carries Rags Around in Plastic Bags and Paints Her Face With a Sharpie!  $75.00

Actual Muni Bus

The ultimate accessory for the tech wizard who has everything! This is an actual, full-size Muni bus that you can use to go wherever you want!  Finally, you won't risk rubbing up against a poor when your personal Muni bus rolls through the Mission and the Lower Haight picking up your coworkers en route to SOMA.  How about taking it to 49ers games at the new stadium?  Now that the team plays 40 miles away, there's no chance of city residents actually taking Muni to games!  You'll be MUNIficent in your new ride!  $165,000

San Francisco Cutty Bang Map

Find your nearest local purveyor of Cutty Bang, the true San Francisco treat! Not every corner store has airplane bottles of Seagram's, Tanqueray, and Bacardi Limon.  With this handy map, you'll be getting faded in no time, playa! $55.00