Thursday, February 25, 2010

Noise Pop happy hour. Keywords: bands, hipsters, crowded, beer, flash photography

Noise Pop is an annual music festival that takes place at different clubs (mostly) all over San Francisco. It used to be a lot better, which I'm contractually obligated to say as an aging hipster. But no, really, it did. Just check out the schedule from 2001 and compare it to this year's.

ANYWAY, one very nice thing NP does is have free happy hours with bands. Now, as an aging hipster, I loves me some happy hour shows because staying out til midnight or later on a school night is becoming increasingly difficult. With a HH show, I can see some bands and be home by 9. Sweet.

That's what brought me to beloved cool kid bar Benders last night, or I guess technically "last evening," since I got there at 6. MAN WAS IT PACKED. Like wall to wall people. I missed the first band. The second band was the positively enchanting The Ian Fays who, as it turns out, are 3 cute chicks with excellent songs that you could barely hear in Benders. Sad face. I also like that one of the girls is a tambourine/triangle player which I love because I want a tambourine/triangle girl in my band.

PBR cans were $2. THAT'S REAL VALUE.

Up next were Love Is Chemicals. Also very good! Much, much louder! Although you couldn't really hear the vocals at all. I got a very strong Built to Spill vibe from them, which I bet they hear a lot, and not just because the lead singer is bald and has a beard.

I advise you to check out both bands. And do check out one of the Noise Pop happy hours if you have a high tolerance for crowds. Like, tonight you can see Social Studies, The Old Fashioned Way, and Shark Toys, all for free. For free!

Also, there were about 14 people with big cameras taking pictures nonstop, so there is a very good chance that my face is now plastered all over the Internet. THANKS A LOT, INTERNET.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tell me what you think about this parking situation

I need to get your opinion on something.

The curb in front of my house is big enough to park 2 cars between the garages on either side of me. A little while ago, some chick rented the garage next door. She's using it as an art studio or something. Anyway, since she rented it, she has pretty much taken over ownership of the 2 street spaces. Her car and 2 scooters are always fucking parked there. ALWAYS. There's street cleaning every 2 weeks and she moves them temporarily for that and then BOOM right back. Like she owns the fucking spaces or something.

I think it's just a dick move. I mean, yeah, of course, I'm not entitled to the parking space in front of my house, but it would still be nice to have a crack at it once in a while. Plus, it's technically illegal to leave your car parked in the same spot for 2 weeks, but I'm not gonna rat her out to DPT or anything.

So what do you think? Is she cool or is she being a dick?

Monday, February 22, 2010

A Field Guide to The Highly Intrusive Bed and Breakfast Owner

Some people find the idea of sitting down with a complete stranger with whom you have nothing in common and blathering about nothing at all for about a half hour enticing and attractive. I am not one of those people. Unfortunately, our Highly Intrusive Bed and Breakfast Owner this weekend was one of those types.

Normally, of course, I avoid B&B's like they're Top 40 radio for precisely this reason. I'd much rather have an efficient and impersonal check-in, followed by a session with the mini-bar and the cool anonymity of a standard room. But this time, The Wife and I were using a gift certificate we got as a gift, so we didn't really have a choice.

We got to the B&B, in Mendocino, after hitting about 5 wineries in the Anderson Valley on the way in, so we mostly just wanted to get the key to our cottage and unwind.

(Yes, I did have enough sense to pay extra for the private cottage. NO WAY am I staying in the main house and bumping into the Jolly Retirees in the hallway when I'm going to the bathroom at 7:30 a.m.)

The HIBBO - let's call her "Sue" - was having none of that. We knew something was up when we got there and she was just taking another couple out to their room and said she'd be "right back" and was gone for 20 minutes. Then she came back and we got started. Sue explained that she could have put everything in a notebook, but nobody would read it, so she proceeded to run down the Rules of the Inn in a half-hour session that lacked only PowerPoint slides and bad coffee to make it as excruciating as any Sales Conference you can imagine. There was a lengthy explanation of what local guidebooks were available and which could and could not be removed from the main house. Various aspects of the Grounds were discussed, including what animal and bird life was native to the area and likely to be spotted therein. We were warned to drive extremely slowly on the 100-foot trek from the parking area to the cabin, lest we inadvertently flatten some of said local fauna.

Since the Inn furnished a breakfast, as implied by "bed & breakfast," various dietary restrictions were explored. The Wife, who is a semi-practicing gluten-avoider, made the mistake of telling Sue that, and much time was then devoted to exploring other possible dietary quirks that faux-celiacs might embrace. Tea was a popular subject. When The Wife indicated her preference for tea over coffee, Sue asked what kind of tea she preferred.

"Oh, anything," The Wife foolishly replied.

"Well, we have various kinds. Do you like more herbal?"

"Anything is fine, really," The Wife said, starting to panic.

"There are a number of herbal options, or do you like berry flavors more?"

"Yes, berries!" The Wife said, suddenly realizing that this conversation had no good out.

By the point, I had picked up a magazine and begun lazily leafing through it, trying to send some kind of signal. But Sue was either immune to normal conversational cues or just didn't give a damn. She asked whether we planned to dine at any local restaurants. The Wife offered that yes, we had reservations the following night at a local dining establishment that looked good, based on an online review of the menu.

Sue's mood darkened. "Well, I've had a lot of people tell me they've had problems there. They don't do substitutions," she warned. "I had one guest who went there and asked for a different sauce for her chicken, and she got a naked chicken breast on her plate!!!!"

That's right. This restaurant's substitution policy is so baroque - and so secretive - that if you ask for a substitution of any kind, you are punished with a naked chicken breast, without warning. We assured her that we would not, in fact, be asking for any substitutions.

You get the idea. Eventually - finally - we got into the cottage and opened a bottle of wine and went on to have, I can say without reservations, a wonderful weekend, in which we saw Sue not at all. We did see a deer coming back one night. I was tempted to run it over, just to spite her, but I didn't.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

New Bar Night: Smuggler's Cove, The Residence

You know, given the drinkers who form the backbone of the New Bar Night cadre, it is somewhat difficult to find bars that none of us have ever been to. Before too long, we're going to be down to Irish bars in the deep Outer Sunset that are manned by 4 regulars at all times and the jukebox hasn't been updated since 1974. Actually that sounds pretty good.

Anyway, that's why it's nice when a new bar opens in the same place where an old bar used to be. You save on travel time and already know how to get there.

The SF bar scene collectively shat itself when Smuggler's Cove opened in the old Jade Bar space on Gough a few months back. I'm not sure why. I mean, it's cool, I guess. What they did there was take the sleek loungey vibe of Jade and hang so much nautical crap everywhere that it feels like you're walking into the Pirates of the Carribean ride at Disney World.

And the menu! Jesus! It's about 10 pages and takes about a half-hour to read. Here's a picture I took of one page:

I know, looks like a magazine article about drinking in Hawaii, right? The drinks all have incredibly complicated descriptions and about 12 ingredients, like this:


Sir Charles Barkley once remarked upon a particularly tragic sunset that "God must forbear us each our chance to cast the lots of life." His barrel-aged rhums were the toast of St. Tiffani-Amber. For our libation, we strain his finest product through a whiskey-soaked piece of lugsail. Lemon, orange, marmalade, cucumber bitters, spiced strained rhum, exploding souls, Dutch paprika, Squirt.

I bet you when it's busy (and it's apparently often busy) it's hell on Earth trying to get a drink, since every one takes about 15 minutes to make, but it wasn't so bad last night. Still, we could only have two before we had to take our leave. Worth a visit, but I couldn't see making it a regular destination. You wouldn't hang out at Disney World every day either. Or maybe you would. If so, you probably have a parole officer.

A few months ago, Amber went to sleep and when it woke up it was The Residence. You've changed. No more smoking, which is maybe good or bad, depending on your perspective. All cleaned up and new furniture. That's definitely good. And bar menus! Who would have thought? At Amber, the bar menu was a piece of construction paper taped to the wall behind the bar that said "Sierra Nevada $5."

So it's nicer. My associate, who spent far more time in Amber than I, reports that many of the same regulars are there. Along with some of the activities that gave Amber a certain reputation, if you know what I mean. I'm winking right now but you can't see that.

I couldn't tell you what kind of drinks were on the new drink menu because we were just drinking beers. I guess it would be a cool place to hang out and have a few. There's fancy couches and wood paneling and a fake fireplace and a mantel with a portrait from the Renaissance or something above it. There was also what appeared to be a mother-daughter duo having drinks when we were there. You sure wouldn't see that in the old Amber.

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Going to Mendocino tomorrow BRB.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

God's really letting me down with the extras these days

A couple of years ago, The Wife (back when she was Super Hot Irish Girlfriend) told me she got perturbed because she saw a girl that she used to see on the bus all the time in a totally different place and it was jarring and her theory was that God only has a set number of extras to fill the crowd roles in the movie of your life and He was obviously running low that day and so Bus Girl had to double as Girl in Front of Starbucks on Market or whatever.

So tell me about this.

This morning I'm working out in my gym at 6:00 a.m. because that's how I roll and in comes this guy I've never seen before but who clearly is a little off. He wears wraparound sunglasses the whole time and is basically just kind of acting strangely. Like he stands around near the machines without using them but then he's examining his key chain very closely and maybe talking into it like it's a cell phone. I wasn't paying really close attention but that's what it looked like. Anyway, I left.

(I should point out at this juncture that my gym is generally pretty mellow and I see basically the same 5 people every time I go there. So that's why this guy kind of stood out.)

OK, fast forward to about 8:00 a.m. when I'm coming up from Civic Center Station. Not to get too stalkerrific, but I'll just say that Civic Center is a fair distance from my hood. So I come up to street level and THERE HE IS, wearing the exact same clothes and the same wraparound shades but this time he's accessorized with a 40-ouncer in a paper bag. I did like a quadruple take and then went on my way.

So WTF? I guess winos need to work out too. It was all just a bit...odd.

(Post Script - If your main takeaway from this is TK GOES TO A GYM AND WORKS OUT??? I can't blame you. I'm just as surprised to be doing it as you are to be reading it.)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Here's your damn Bachelor recap

God, I hate myself for watching this show. Luckily, I hate Vienna more.

(Oh, P.S. The Wife DVR'd the visit-the-families episode and we watched that yesterday too. Tenley's family was funny because they basically just had one question: "You're not going to cheat on Tenley, are you?" And also because her Mom looks EXACTLY like Milhouse's Mom.

This week we're all on Saint Lucia which is a weird place where they spell out "Saint" instead of just saying "St." Everybody goes on a Dream Date with Jake. This involves a meal of some type, some booze, and the chick saying that She Is Falling in Love With You. Jake made a big deal about how Gia was the type who wore "$1,000 shoes" and she was so comfortable walking through the town! That means she didn't scream and spray mace everywhere when she saw a Brown. I bet that happens a lot. He bought her a necklace, but she was confused and put it on her wrist and then said she wouldn't take it off for the rest of her life. That'll be awkward at her wedding to some other dude. Still, she's hot. Then they went to the Fantasy Suite and banged.

Was Tenley the one he took to the Old Abandoned Sugar Mill in the jungle? I was expecting an episode of "Saw" to break out. That chick is barely holding it together. You can tell she's going to need like 400 mg of klonopin a day just to keep from shaking apart like an old truck. Then they went to the Fantasy Suite and didn't bang because she made a big deal about how her ex-husband was the only guy she'd ever been with.

Oh, and then Vienna and him went somewhere and did something. Was that the candlelit dinner on the beach? I was kind of buzzed by that point so I don't remember too good. Then they went to the Fantasy Suite and probably had anal sex because Vienna would have blown him on Day 1.

Then Ali called up from an apartment in One Rincon, from what I could tell, and said she wanted to come back on the show and he was all "No way," which is good, because she was starting to bug.

He cut Gia loose which is too bad because now he's got two functionally retarded chicks. Gia's no particle physicist herself, but I kind of liked her little Elmer Fudd accent and her whole steeze. Anyway, next week on the shocking finale, he'll decide that he doesn't want to wake up next to Vienna's stupid Fetal Alcohol Syndrome face forever and pick Tenley. The end.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

I am outraged by this post

Here's this PSA you might have seen on your TV machine:

Hm. Yes, distracted driving is certainly not cool, but "outraged," Oprah? Really?

We've gotten to this point where outrage has been so diluted that it doesn't really mean "outrage" any more. I was outraged about the Iraq War; I'm not outraged about those people who try to get you to sign petitions on the sidewalk or the fact that there's not a Popeye's Chicken N Biscuits within walking distance.

But British Moms are outraged by "Career women make bad mothers" billboards.

Republicans are outraged about the jobs bill.

Local legislators are outraged at the state senate vote.

And so on. Look, outrage is a perfectly proper response to some situations. But it's so watered-down now that when you really need it, it doesn't mean anything. I mean, how can you use the same word to apply to Central American death squads when you just used it to describe how you feel about John Mayer's thoughts on his racist genitalia?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

"Wicked," a reinterpretation. That will blow your mind.

Not being a straight woman or a gay man, I normally don't have much interest in musical theater, but I got The Wife and me a couple of Loge seats for "Wicked" at the Orpeum last night. Overall, I'd give it like a B+. Couple of good songs, hell of a lot of stage effects, some talented cast. Could stand to lose about 30 minutes somewhere in there - 2 hours and 45 minutes makes for a long Theater Experience, especially when there are 6 grannies from Walnut Creek cackling behind you.

More interesting to me is the fact that "Wicked" is clearly a Mission vs. Marina allegory. Now, if you're not familiar, the plot essentially concerns the backstory of the witches in "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz." On the one hand, we have Elphaba, our Mission girl, who will grow up (to be labeled by the patriarchy) as the Wicked Witch of the West. She has body art (i.e., she's green) and doesn't get along with her parents. At school, she develops an interest in animal rights and doesn't hang out much with the cool crowd. This should remind you of someone you know by this point.

Glinda is pretty much the prototypical Marina girl. She's blonde and rich and not that smart. She makes fun of Elphaba and doesn't think anything of her right up until the time she suddenly discovers that the stuff Elphaba likes (in the musical, magic; in the real world, LCD Soundsystem and ecstasy) is actually really cool.

I will now magically turn Tecate tallboys into Midori sours!!

They become friends, but then have a falling-out over a boy (the rich guy who moves here from Manhattan). They both go to see the Wizard (the head of a tech company). He wants to exploit Elphaba's knowledge (a totally killer next-gen Web 2.0 app) but Elphaba wants to keep it real and not sell out. The Wizard goes with Glinda's lamer, but more popular app (Farmville) and Elphaba leaves Oz (the company) and goes to live in the wilderness (enrolls in the Iowa Writer's Workshop).

In the end, Elphaba hooks up with the guy and they disappear into the sunset (have kids and move to Burlingame). Glinda takes over the tech company because she can have it all. The Wizard takes a stock buyout and retires to Jackson Hole. Everyone lives happily ever after.

Now, if we could just work a Pains of Being Pure at Heart song into the play somewhere.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

It's not you, it's me

I'm sorry, dog dawg. I know I've been letting you down the last couple of days. I've got problems like A Lot of Work to Do and I Can't Think of Anything Interesting to Write About and No One Wants to Hear What I Thought of the Super Bowl and I Didn't Liveblog the Free Grand Slams at Denny's Today and so there it is.

Maybe I'll just give up and recap The Bachelor. That's the blogging equivalent of going to see The Lion King on Broadway.

UPDATE - Oh, I forgot, I do have one thing to add. Since it's me, it'll be me bitching about something. Surprise. I was at Hemlock on Friday night. Pretty busy. One bartender. Many of the customers around the bar had 24 oz. PBRs and I craved one so I wouldn't have to return to the bar and wait forever and also because I like PBR unironically. So I say to the bartender "Pabst," and I get a 12 ounce bottle. WTF? So I say, "Oh, I thought I was getting a 24-ounce can," and she said, "You didn't ask for that." Now, maybe she's right and I didn't, but given the fact that ~40% of the people at the bar were drinking the tallboys, don't you think it would have been cool to ask?

Friday, February 5, 2010

13 things

1. You're fat
2. Your husband is cheating on you
3. Who killed Kennedy
4. Lady GaGa's real name
5. The best place for a meatball sub in the Tri-Cities area
6. What it's like to be the sad man behind blue eyes
7. Why getting an online degree is easier than ever
8. The ending of "The Sixth Sense"
9. What happened in Vegas
10. Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner is just water with green food coloring
11. These flowers I'm selling you are overpriced and ugly
12. Your lucky lottery numbers for today
13. I love you

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Product Testing: Hormel Compleats Beef Steak & Peppers

Hormel Compleats are these little microwaveable meals that you don't have to refrigerate and you heat up at work and make you feel like an administrative assistant at an insurance company in Dayton, Ohio and taste like failure and sadness.

Here's what one looks like before you put it in the microwave in the break room and have an awkward conversation with a coworker who's getting her salad out of the fridge about just what the fuck you're about to put into your body:

Here's another picture of my Compleats next to a cool miniature skull I bought at Chichen Itza. You're not doing a very good job of warding off evil, Mr. Skull!!!!

BEEP. It's been 2 minutes. My Compleats is ready! Ouch, it's hot. Here it is!

MMMMM MMMMMM. Doesn't that look good? No, it doesn't. There are a lot of unfortunate things you could say this looks like, but "Beef Steak & Peppers" is not one of them.

It tasted like food of some type. I didn't gag or spit it out. Maybe "Santa Fe Style Chicken with beans and rice" will be better. Hey, it was only 210 calories! That saves me like 300 extra calories for beers tonight. I'd call that a win.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

More proof we're truly fucked

I imagine it's possible to have a reasoned discussion about the federal budget. From what I can tell, though, there is no reason to believe that's going to happen.

I have to say that I'm more than a little apprehensive about the massive federal debt and the fact that Obama's FY 2011 proposes a $1.3 trillion deficit. I was equally apprehensive when Bush & Co. ran the debt up something fierce while claiming to be fiscal conservatives. We could have a conversation about why Obama has proposed the largest defense budget, even adjusted for inflation, since World War II, or talk about how we're going to have to eventually reign in entitlement spending. Those are all valuable conversations to have.

But we're not going to have those conversations. Yesterday, Obama said the following:

"You don't blow a bunch of cash on Vegas when you're trying to save for college. You prioritize. You make tough choices. It's time your government did the same."

Now, one rational response to this would be "Mr. President, how do you reconcile the need to make tough choices with the fact that your budget proposes the largest deficit in history?" That would be a good question, a valid question, a question we'd like to hear the answer to. But that's not what happened.

Instead, the Mayor of Las Vegas got pissed because, you know, why should the President pick on Vegas by discouraging people from blowing their college funds there? And I turn on my fave right-wing radio and it's the same thing. I hear a guy call in and say something to the effect of "My wife and I just got back from Vegas and we had a wonderful time and I'll be damned if I'm gonna let this President tell me how I can or can't spend my money."

The next caller was - I kid you not - a woman who emigrated from Vietnam and has spent her life building a business in Vegas and wants to know why Obama wants her business to fail.

When this level of breathtaking stupidity finds a place in the national conversation, we all have reason to despair.

(If you're one of the right-wingers who only comes out to comment and tell me how wrong I am whenever I write about something political, spare me. The point of this isn't that Obama is great and Bush is bad or whatever. The point is that people will willfully misconstrue anything.)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Playing the numbers

As it happens, The Wife and I are gonna be in Boston Massachusetts the first week in April, and we've got our minds set on seeing a Red Sox-Yankees game at Fenway. Now, they open the season Sunday night April 4, but the game's at 8 pm and peeps will be drinking all day and I don't really want to go to a season opener with 40,000 shitfaced Bostonians plus it's really expensive so we're going to the next game, which is Tuesday, April 6, at 7:10 p.m.

So I've been scouting StubHub for tickets for the last week or so. When I first started looking, the cheapest tix on there were about $110 apiece. Now they've fallen a little, to $88 apiece (as of today). It's a little like playing the stock market. My gut is to wait a little longer and see if they go down some more. That's what I should do, right? I don't want to buy at $120 and then see better seats next week for $100.

Or we could just pay $362 apiece and sit in Field Box 48, Row J, but how about no fucking way.

Like you care, but after Boston, we're going to NYC, Washington, and Richmond, VA, so you've got that little travelogue to look forward to.

Went to the new Rosamunde on Mission and it was pretty fucking great. Unlike the Haight Street branch we all grew up in, this one has seats and they have fries and 21 beers on tap and shit like that.

Also stopped by Heart, a new wine bar/restaurant/art gallery thing on Valencia near 24th. Very sleek what with all the art and the wine in mason jars and what have you. Cool spot, although I can't see hanging out there for a long time and also they need more art. Still, interesting selection/variety of wines. Will do business again.