Wednesday, December 31, 2008

OMG Vanderbilt won a bowl game

2 things I thought I'd never see in my lifetime:

1. A black President

2. Vanderbilt win a bowl game

So I'm expecting Maria Sharapova to show up at my place any time now with some chilled champagne and a can of Reddi Whip.

Seriously, when you grow up with Vandy football, you get used to one thing: losing. Over and over and over again. This is a team that hadn't had a winning record since 1982, for Chrissake. So their victory today was a complete, if welcome, surprise. Sure, they didn't win it so much as Boston College lost it, but hey, a win's a win. Just incredible.

OK. I'm off to the NYE party at The Sister's soon. I'm just wondering what's going to happen next.

Things I learned by watching a portion of VH-1's "100 Greatest Hard Rock Songs"

- Europe's "The Final Countdown" is a hard rock song? Really?

- "Round and Round" by Ratt is actually not a bad song at all.

- Dee Snider kind of looks like hell. Kip Winger is trying to be all tough-guy cool now. They both profess to like Alice in Chains.

- Super Hot Irish Girlfriend noted that music writer Rob Sheffield (who was one of the commenters) is maybe not totally attractive. I told her that journalists, as a rule, are not known for their good looks. "Well, Rob Sheffield is cadaver ugly," she said. "Chuck Klosterman's not really good looking, but I'd fuck him in a pinch."

It's New Year's Eve! Mom's gone! The Sister called me for advice about how much wine to get for her party, which I shall attend. I told her I thought the normal rule was one bottle for every two people, but considering the guest list for tonight, a bottle a person would be a better idea. That should be enough to last until about 10. Plus, people will bring stuff, right?

Have fun out there. See you in 2009.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Contemporary Jewish Museum: huh?

I'm exhausted.

From talking to other people, I've heard that some Moms are kind of mellow, let's-hang-out-and-have-tea Moms. Not mine. Mine is more of a how-many-things-can-you-fit-in-one-day Mom. Consequently, in the past few days, I've been to the Asian Art Museum, the Contemporary Jewish Museum, a couple of restaurants, and so on, and so on. It's nice being back at work today and getting a break.

This brings me to the Contemporary Jewish Museum. It's very strange.

It's gotten far more attention for the architecture - which is essentially a Daniel Libeskind tilted cube shoved down into a Willis Polk power station from the turn of the century - than anything inside. I guess that's to be expected, given Libeskind's status.

But once you get inside, there's not much there. On the ground floor, there's an exhibition documenting Warhol's Ten Portraits of Jews in the Twentieth Century, and that's fine, but isn't everyone a little burned out on Warhol? I am. On the second floor, there's an exhibit called In the Beginning: Artists Respond to Genesis, which had a couple of cool pieces, I guess, but didn't do much for me overall.

In the main room, the biggest part of the tilted cube, there's nothing. Well, nothing visual. There's a "sound exhibition" that mostly echoed all over the oddly-shaped room and would have been better on an iPod.

Hey, I'm no art critic. Maybe I'm not sophisticated enough to appreciate what's going on here, but to me, it seemed like a building looking for something to house. I'm also not Jewish, so I don't know if that makes any difference.

She's leaving tomorrow. My life will return to whatever level of normal it was before, I assume.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Overheard on Christmas Eve

In my house: "You're even drunker than you were last year."

Merry Christmas!

What did you get? I got a rock. I keed. Super Hot Irish Girlfriend gave me a Boss chromatic tuner. How in the world did she know I needed one of those?

My Mom, who has a long history of giving bizarre gifts, presented us with a Sportcraft electronic dartboard. Um, thanks, Mom! That'll come in handy when I open my Dave & Buster's franchise here in my house.

So we had Mom and The Sister and The Sister's boyfriend and The Sister's boyfriend's sister and our friend Tom and a couple of dogs over for dinner last night, which was delicious, especially when accompanied by 10 bottles of wine, I think. Now I'm feeling kind of oversaturated and I'm looking forward to January. Oh, and someone took a shit in the den. We're not sure, but we think it was the cat.

So, let's have a wonderful Christmas and try not to eat the pain away like Paris. What.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

It's the most wonderful time of the year. Sort of.

Found on Craigslist today:

Event on Christmas day, remembering Tatiana the Tiger (Greenwich Steps, SF)

A sculpture of her is going to be unveiled, on the Greenwich Steps at 430 in the afternoon, a year to the day of her death. If anyone would like to come, there will be a small gathering at the garden there is a public platform. Thank you...
Just in case you're not familiar, Tatiana is the tiger who jumped out of her enclosure at the SF Zoo last Christmas Day and mauled to death this guy who may or may not have been taunting her. The SFPD showed up and shot her. One of the few murder cases they've successfully closed this year, BTW!!

There was a pretty large public outcry about Tatiana's shooting, partly because the kid that got killed may have been taunting her (and seemed a little thuggy, maybe) and partly because, hey, it's San Francisco. But really, what else were the cops supposed to do? Try and lure it back to the cage with some kitty treats?

Anyway, I'm kind of tempted to go to this, because I'm totally curious about what kind of statue they're going to unveil and because it seems like there'll be all kinds of crazy at this thing, which I always love.

Merry Christmas, everybody! Make sure your Christmas plans include staying away from large land-based top predators, k?

Mine include my Mom coming to town, which is kind of close. KIDDING, MOM!!! We'll be doing a lot of cooking and hanging out and going to museums and that kind of thing. So if you see a hungover-looking guy struggling to stay awake accompanied by an older woman who's loudly asking everyone in earshot where Chinatown is, say hi!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Checkpoint? Pass.

Last night was Marco and Evany's Christmas party, and I was chosen to drive, in part, I assume, because I pretty much never drive and it was my turn. So the party was great and festive and everyone was in a wonderful mood and looked great and there was plenty of good food and the Yule Log on TV, now in hi def!

I was careful and paced myself and had about 4 beers over almost 3 hours. So I wasn't even buzzed when we left, but still.

So we get across the Bay Bridge into SF and there's a huge traffic backup at the Octavia exit and the cops are making everyone turn on Market, so I turn and then go to Franklin and then make a left on Fell.

That's when I see it. The SFPD DUI checkpoint.

Not like it was hard to figure out. There was a bunch of cops and traffic cones and a sign that said "SFPD License Enforcement and Sobriety Checkpoint." So it's not like it was a big secret or anything.

Now, like I said, I'd had like 4 beers in 3 hours, so I wasn't worried about getting a DUI, but still. I also knew I probably smelled like booze and it would be a whole production.

But....what's this? I can just make a left turn on Gough and avoid the whole thing? Don't mind if I do!

So I would say the effectiveness of the SFPD checkpoint was maybe not 100%, since you could just make a left and avoid it. On the other hand, I guess when you're really drunk you feel like "Hey! I can beat this thing! Fuck that, I'm not taking a different way just because of some fucking checkpoint!"

Also, the Safeway on Mission this morning was like packed at 10:30. What's up with that?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

David Mamet is the coolest guy ever

David Mamet may have already been one of the coolest guys ever. I mean, he wrote "Glengarry Glen Ross," so if that doesn't put you in the Top 20 of Cool, I don't know what does. But now he's just gone and gotten even cooler. To wit:

Jeremy Piven will abruptly end his run in Broadway’s “Speed-the-Plow,” after missing Tuesday evening’s performance and a Wednesday matinee.

Piven has informed the producers that he hasn’t been feeling well and that the condition is attributable to a high mercury count.

The show’s producers weren’t returning calls, but Daily Variety reached out to David Mamet, who wrote the showbiz satire and seemed skeptical of the reasons for Piven’s departure.

High mercury count? WTF? So, what does Coolest Guy Ever have to say?

“I talked to Jeremy on the phone, and he told me that he discovered that he had a very high level of mercury,” Mamet said. “So my understanding is that he is leaving show business to pursue a career as a thermometer.”

OH SNAP! You just got told, Jeremy Piven. Fuck yeah.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

True confessions

I did something recently I'm not proud of. Whilst shopping for ingredients for dinner the other night, I impulse bought a can of spray cheese. Voila:

Kraft Easy Cheese comes out of the can in a thin ribbon and tastes like what cheese might taste like if you described it to a food scientist who'd never actually eaten cheese before and told him to make cheese. It's an idea of cheese, with a vaguely metallic aftertaste. It's awful.

Here are some cheese products better than Easy Cheese: individually wrapped American cheese slices, Velveeta, Cheez Whiz, a cheese log from Hickory Farms.

The color of Easy Cheese is not found in nature.

This one's for you, Easy Cheese.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Monday morning staff meeting

Good morning! Glad to see everyone's here. Let's get started.

- Brunch at Maverick yesterday. DFL! I had the andouille benedict (andouille, poached eggs, English muffin, hold the crawfish and jalapeno hollandaise because I don't like hollandaise) and, oh, maybe 2 mimosas. Then it was off to Vintage Microwave HQ in the East Bay to watch the Raiders somehow continue in their quest to find a new bottom. Yeesh. What a miserable team that is.

- So they've remodeled Mad Dog in the Fog. If you're not familiar, it's basically a soccer bar where people go to watch Premiere League games at like 8 in the morning. Beer & wine only. It always had a pub feel, which is about right. Now it's all exposed brick and booths and flat panel displays. Which would be fine, in and of itself, but seems like a strange choice for that place in particular. They were doing a good business Saturday night, so maybe it was a good idea.

- What we're listening to right now:

Blitzen Trapper, Furr

TV on the Radio, Dear Science

- We here in SF are getting a sudden ad blitz from Emirates Air, I guess because their new non-stop service between SF and Dubai starts today. That's great and everything, but are there really that many people going between here and Dubai every day? Also, the Human Rights Commission is pissed because they only hire hot flight attendants and that's uncool.

- OK, that's about it. Now get out there and make your numbers for the week.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Top 5: Meals this year

Thanks to my meticulous recordkeeping system, I am able to tell you that the very first meal I ate in 2008 was at 2223 Restaurant for brunch, on New Year's Day. I failed to record what I had, except for noting the 2 greyhounds I drank.

After that, I went on to eat at some 74 different restaurants this year. These were the best:

1. Spruce

Phenomenal food. As I said at the time, the best piece of pork I've ever eaten. The country club crowd is kind of a drag, but when the food's this good, fuck 'em.

2. Incanto

Chef Chris Cosentino has gotten all kinds of international acclaim, and it's not hard to see why. The food was great, but the best part was the couple at the table next to us.

3. Range

Yeah, it's as good as everyone says. I had a perfectly cooked hangar steak that I don't see on the current menu, but hopefully will make a comeback.

4. The Riverbank Bar

In the Absolute Hotel, Limerick, Ireland. Maybe not the best food I had, but the combination of some very good fish and chips with an expertly poured Guinness eaten at the bar overlooking the Abbey River made for a wonderful meal.

5. Firefly

This unassuming neighborhood spot tucked into a back corner of Noe Valley turns out consistently satisfying, reasonably priced food. Always a treat.

Honorable mention: Mission Beach Cafe, Terra (great food, terrible service), Fresca, Doggie Diner (because, really, nothing's as good as a hot dog at a baseball game), Panchita's #3.

Happy Friday, everybody! Super Hot Irish Girlfriend is currently at her company Christmas party. The festivities begin at 10 a.m. with mimosas and it goes downhill from there. I wouldn't be surprised if she gets a touch of the Alcohol Poisoning I hear has been going around.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Recycling poachers, meet DeathCan!

After a fairly long respite, you know who was back last night? The fucking recycling poachers, that's who. You know how I know? Because these assholes woke me up at 11:30 last night going through my recycling out front and dropping bottles and shit. These weren't the neighborhood-homeless-guy-with-shopping-cart poachers. These were the organized-group-with-truck poachers. That pisses me off even more, for some reason.

Now, I admit that our recycling can is pretty much a cornucopia of delights for your average recycling poacher, given the number of bottles of wine (and beers, too, I guess) that Super Hot Irish Girlfriend and our associates plow through in an average week. But fuck you for waking me up, and for stealing that shit. SF is looking at a $575 million deficit, and you're not helping.

So here's what I've come up with. I call it DeathCan!!!

What do you think? That should keep 'em out of there, right?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Spell "retard" backwards

Yesterday we had Stephen & Jessica over to help decorate our Christmas tree, if by "help decorate our Christmas tree" you mean "drink 5 bottles of wine and play Cranium."

Cranium's fun enough, I guess. My beef with it (and you knew I was going to bitch about something, right) is that a lot of the questions are too fucking easy. One of the categories is all spelling and wordplay, and I shit you not, the questions are sometimes shit like "Spell 'haiku'" or "Spell 'snorkel' backwards." Not exactly particle physics. I'm just being a jackass, though. It was fun.

Anyway, somehow the tree got decorated, and Leland got to hang out in his vaguely disinterested way with Todd, and I made falafel from scratch, just 'cause that's how I roll.

Now get out there and SPEND SOME MONEY, you fucking tightwad. The future of our country depends on it.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Makes sense

Happy Friday, everyone!

Pic submitted by The Sister. Thanks, The Sister!

Cat vs. Dog

In an ideal world, there would be no war or famine or pestilence, and all things would live in harmony. Unfortunately, we do not live in such a world.

Our cat does not like our dog very much.

When Leland first arrived home, the cat took a stay-away approach. She secreted herself in the bedroom, mostly, and stayed there more or less all the time. Then, as time passed, she started to come out a bit more, but would quickly retreat whenever the dog appeared.

Now she's out and about with much greater frequency, and she doesn't care much for Leland. He, in turn, is perplexed because you can tell HE WANTS TO BE HER FRIEND SO BAD SO BAD. He always wags his tail when he sees her and shyly approaches her. She responds to these entreaties of friendship by loudly growling and hissing at him. Sometimes she'll lunge at him too, just for good measure. He's hurt and doesn't understand why she won't be friends.

Hello! Can we be friends now please?

Now that the cat has discovered her superior firepower, she's taken to fucking with the dog, apparently just for fun. She'll hide somewhere and wait til he strolls by and then DIVE OUT HISSING AND CLAWING. You never saw a dog move that fast.

There have been some encouraging signs that the animals will eventually reach a state of detente and live in a wary, if tolerable, peace. And eventually he'll stop running up to her and scaring the crap out of her.

At least, you'd think he would.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I ain't going to Rehab

Spinning absently through Digital Cable the other night, I came across yet more evidence of the decline and fall of whatever was left of American civilization.

It's a reality show called Rehab: Party at the Hard Rock Hotel and it's horrifying and oddly compelling and the douchebaggiest thing I've ever seen. In a word, it's awesome.

It seems that the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas has a daytime party in and around their pool area on Sundays called "Rehab" in which roided-out pinhead mooks with tribal armband tattoos and hoochie Girls Gone Wild congregate to engage in their bizarre mating rituals while drinking $1,000 bottles of champagne. Meanwhile, "TruTV" (which used to be CourTV but apparently decided that was too classy) documents the whole spectacle. It's like the Fall of Rome, as staged by guys who wear visors backwards and girls in dinner-plate-sized sunglasses and gold lame bikinis.

Been recently lobotomized? This might be fun then!

Masterpiece Theater, it's not. But like many other Entertainment Products I absorb, I can't explain its strange appeal. There's no real plot to speak of, just interconnected storylines like "The guys in Cabana 48 only tipped me $250 on their $1700 tab" and "Bring us some girls, but not Vegas girls" and "Somebody take this passed-out chick to the hospital, because her friend wants to stay and party."

I guess it's fascinating on some level to me because it concerns a world I've never been a part of. I guess it would be just as strange for the guy with the 36" pecs who shouted "NEW JERSEY!!!!!" at the camera to watch a reality show in which we went to Cafe du Nord to see a band no one's ever heard of and then went to Lucky 13 to talk about how shitty the crowd was.

P.S. I know the title of this post was totally obvious and lame, but I couldn't think of anything else.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Urban etiquette: an occasional series

Today's topic: The mysteries of tipping

Tipping used to be easy. Go to a restaurant, get service, leave tip. Now everywhere I go, some counter jockey with a sense of entitlement wants me to leave money for them doing their job. Confused? Here are the guidelines to follow. Clip 'n save.

Restaurants: This is the easy one. 20% minimum, more if you feel like it or the service was extra good. Going below 20% is only justified if the service was really, really bad or the waitron was totally rude. Luckily, this doesn't happen very often, even in SF.

Hotels: About $5 a day, depending on whether they have to change the sheets every day or it's one of those hotels where they don't change the sheets the whole time you're there. Leave the money on the table with a note that says "Thanks so much!" If you're questioning tipping the hotel maid, remember that she (because it's always a "she") makes about $1.50 an hour and changes 50 beds a day and cleaned up the snotty Kleenex you left on the floor, you fucking slob.

Taxis: Usually a couple of bucks, if it's under $20. I try to round to the nearest 5, if possible. So if it's $12, I give $15, for example. If not, just kick down an extra 3 or 4 bucks on top of the fare. If it's over 20, adjust accordingly. I rarely have fares that high, but I remember giving $30 on a $21 fare once.

Bartenders: Standard rule is a dollar a drink, every time. More if he or she is really good. Word to the wise - if you want to get good service all night, start out with about 2 bucks a drink on that first round. Works like a charm.

Counter jars: This is the toughest one. Seems like everywhere you go now, any place that has a cash register has a cup asking you for tips.

Well, you know what? Fuck that. Here's my basic rule - unless the person behind the counter performed some value-added service above and beyond simply doing their job, no fucking tip. EXAMPLES: (1) Cashier rings up product I selected. Are you fucking kidding? No tip. (2) Barista pours cup of coffee, hand it to me. No tip. BUT (3) Barista makes complicated double half-cap caramel mocchiato. If you're gay enough to drink something like that, yes, you have to tip. (4) Burrito Assembly Tech puts together your super w/ carne asada, hold the guac. Yes, an extra buck in the cup next to the cashier won't kill you.

I know, it's somewhat arbitrary, but you get a feel for it after a while. Anyway, if it's confusing, just listen to the little voice in your heart.

I have no fucking idea. Do I seem to you like the kind of person who gets massages?

I know this isn't totally comprehensive, but I'm sure once you absorb and internalize these general guidelines, you'll be able to figure out what to do with the valet and your gardener and the gift-wrap girl at Macy's.

Monday, December 1, 2008

The post-Thanksgiving roundup

We got back Friday night, went to Fresca for dinner, then watched the season finale of Sons of Anarchy. I know I've been pimping SOA like crazy, but seriously, it is so fucking awesome. I already miss it.

The flights back were fine, but I was stuck next to a Non-Communicator, like Super Hot Irish Girlfriend was on the flights out. You know this type? No matter what you say, nothing. No verbal response. So I go "Excuse me, could I get out?" and he looks at me and then gets up without saying a word. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to be next to Mr. Talky for a whole flight, but just saying "Sure," or "No problem" is kind of basic human interaction, right?

On the flight there, SHIG was next to a total Southern prep type with a button-down shirt tucked into jeans, with loafers. And a Bible. Same deal. Not a word from him. Even worse, she's trying to get her tray table out of the armrest (we were in a exit row, which, for me, is vitally important to air travel, but more on that later) and Southern Prep is asleep, so she touches his arm to try and wake him and he moves his arm without a word and then rubs it like it burns or something. Seriously, what the fuck is up with people? She's Irish, not a demon.

So, Thanksgiving with the extended family. Per usual, the food was excellent, blah blah blah, and we opened the first bottle of wine around 12:30, so it was definitely fun. Oh, we have a gay in our family now. She was always in our family, I mean, but now she's a gay. This bit of info was imparted to me and my sister and SHIG in a hushed, I-have-some-very-serious-news kind of way, but our reaction was pretty much a collective shrug.

OK! Now it's officially Christmas season. The bad part of that is the shopping and crowds and Norelco electric razor ads and crass commercialism, but the good part is that it's now socially acceptable to drink almost every day and listen to "Fairytale of New York" as many times as you want without someone saying "Are you still listening to that? Christmas is over."