Friday, December 30, 2011

Your last-minute San Francisco New Year's Day Brunch Guide

You haven't made reservations for New Year's Day brunch yet? What are you, some kind of lunatic? Well, I'm here to help. I just looked on a reservation site and these places all have availability for 2 people at 1 pm on New Year's Day.

(There are actually 138 restaurants with availability, but I'm only listing the ones you should actually consider.)

(There are others with availability at like 11 or 2, but let's go with 1. That's late enough that you can be up but early enough that you can finish and hit another bar and watch some NFL and have pints.)

Luna Park - I think we went there for NYD brunch the last 2 years, so we can't go again this year. But you can! Oh, whoa, they raised the bottomless mimosas to $13. That's a drag, but you can put down $13 worth of champagne no problem, plus the waitresses are really good about keeping them filled. The food's pretty good. And fuck it, it's probably stumbling distance from your apartment. FOUR STARS.

Maverick - I really like their brunch. It might be too "nice" a place if you look like what you're probably going to look like. I mean, you may not want to attempt duck confit hash if you're still spinning. No bottomless mimosas, but they're only $6.50. THREE AND A HALF STARS.

Butterfly - It might be nice to be by the water! That might make you feel better. I had brunch here once like 5 years ago so I don't even know if it's any good. Bottomless mimosas are $18, ouch. Might have to Occupy Table 18 for 2 hours or so to make the numbers work. TWO AND A HALF STARS.

Farmerbrown - Excellent all-you-can-eat brunch, including their fucking awesome fried chicken, for I think $16 or something. Also bottomless mimosas, but I don't remember how much. I remember getting pretty buzzed, though. This is a quality brunch. The Tenderloin location might be a bit challenging, but if you need to pick up some rock to keep the party going, you'll be in the right place. FOUR AND A HALF STARS.

Le Zinc - If you can handle dodging the strollers and labs of Noe Valley in your weakened state, this place actually has a great brunch. Mimosas are $9 each, which is kind of a drag, but the French omelet is really good. Plus, Valley Tavern is across the street, so you'll be steps away from an available post-brunch bar. THREE STARS.

Medjool - At first I was all HA HA BIG JOKE I'LL PUT MEDJOOL ON THERE AND WE WILL LAUGH AND LAUGH and then I looked at the brunch menu and guys, it's a brunch buffet for $10.99, and the mimosas are THREE DOLLARS. It can't be THAT bad for brunch, right? I mean, the spiky-hair/shiny-shirt crowd will be at Circa, not here, right? Somebody talk me down. UNKNOWN STARS.

Park Chalet - $25 gets you the buffet (which I've had, it's good) AND unlimited champagne. Plus, you're right there at the beach so you can have a soul-searching walk after brunch along the surf and gaze meaningfully out at the sea and meditate on some changes you'll be making in your life this year. The downside is somebody needs to stay sober enough to drive because, come on, it's at Ocean Beach. THREE STARS.

Anyway, have a fun NYE. See you next year.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A few vignettes with Mom

Vignette 1: We are at lunch at Slanted Door. Mom asks the busboy who is filling our water glasses "What country are you from?" After initially looking somewhat surprised, he says "Mexico" and smiles and walks away. Mom says, "I would have expected him to say Nepal."

Later, as he is clearing plates, she asks him "What part of Mexico?" He says, "Yucatan," smiling broadly now. This time, after he leaves, Mom says "I was going to ask him if he enjoyed snorkeling. Snorkeling is very popular in the Yucatan. Probably more for tourists than locals, though."

Vignette 2: As we are leaving Slanted Door, we see Mom stop at the service bar, get the bartender's attention, and then talk to him. We see him initially look puzzled, then say something to her, then get back to making drinks. We ask her what that was about. "I asked him what a popular drink in San Francisco is now. He said rye and bourbon. That surprises me."

(Speaking of Slanted Door, that ginger limeade [kaffir lime vodka, ginger, lime] is delicious. But $38 for shaking beef on the lunch menu is a little ridiculous, especially since it's like 7-8 cubes of beef. Still delicious, though.)

Vignette 3: Mom and I are having lunch at King of Thai Noodle on Clement. It is moderately full. There is someone sitting directly beside us. Mom says to me, "So tell me how therapy worked for you." The guy next to us, who looks like he could be a therapist, looks at me and gives a kind of sympathetic smile. I tell Mom I'd rather talk about it later, in a more private setting. "Who's going to hear?" she asks. She nods at the the guy next to us. "This guy?"

Vignette 4: We are in Grace Cathedral. A very nicely dressed woman in her mid-30's is there with two little girls wearing very fancy dresses. Mom says "Don't you two look pretty!" The woman says "We just came from high tea at the Fairmont. Now we're going to see where Mommy got married." After some more oohing and ahhing over the fancy dresses, the woman and the girls walk away. Mom says, "She must be their nanny."

Vignette 5: I find out that Mom has been secretly feeding our dog peanuts. (While peanuts aren't toxic to dogs, you don't want to give them too many, and I had no idea how long this had been going on.) I asked Mom not to feed him peanuts. She said, "Well, when you were a little boy, our dog [a 10 or 12 pound cocker spaniel/poodle/pekinese mix] ate a 5-pound Hershey's kiss and she was fine. So what's the problem?"

(I have no idea if this actually happened, BTW. Mom tends to either remember things very differently than I do or create entire incidents out of whole cloth in her mind.)

Ah, well. Bon voyage, Mom!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Oh, whoops, I mean Merry Christmas! I don't need Bill O'Reilly up my ass.

Anyway, MOM'S IN TOWN!!! YAY!!!!!

See you on the other side.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

TK goes to see "Young Adult," likes it.

Went to see "Young Adult" last night and I kinda loved it. I was a little surprised. It's written by Diablo Cody, and while I thought "Juno" had some laughs, it was mostly too precious and self-aware to be a good movie. But YA is all grown up and much funnier and more bitter (which is why I like it).

One problem with the suspension of disbelief: You have to accept, as a plot point, that a functioning heterosexual male would NOT leave his wife and infant child for alcoholic Charlize Theron. Not buying it.

Here's another reason I liked it, and this is going to kind of be a spoiler but not too much but if you're REALLY REALLY CONCERNED then SPOILER WARNING DON'T READ ANY MORE. But the ending is not at all happy or conventional in any kind of Normal Hollywood Sense and is in fact at the very least ambiguous and at the worst/best it's an active "fuck you" to Hollywood endings and the lessons we've come to expect from Hollywood movies, e.g., (1) small towns are where it's real and where True Happiness resides and (2) you find happiness in life by eschewing the Big City and returning Home.

But people aren't used to that! It pisses them off when they get an ending they're not expecting! So that's why the two mouth-breathing mush-brained talking-during-movie late-teen-early 20s chicks next to us were VISIBLY UPSET at the end of the movie. Mush-brained Idiot #1, in fact, stood up and announced "That's the worst movie I've ever seen! I'M BLAMING YOU FOR THIS DANIELLE." Hopefully Danielle told her to stick it up her talkative fucking ass, but we were already on our way out and didn't get a chance to hear what riposte, if any, Danielle offered.

(Also, to make this sound official and like a real review: "Great performances by Theron and especially by Patton Oswalt!!" The review in Slate pointed out that Oswalt's come a long way as an actor since he stood perfectly still in the background for 3 minutes in the opening scene of this episode of King of Queens. Seriously, watch the beginning. It's like performance art. He's JUST STANDING THERE. Hilarious.)

Anyway, check it out.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

PG&E will not stop until we are dead

You know what I'd like from my electricity and gas provider? A steady stream of electricity and gas. Most of you probably get that from your provider. However, since I live in Northern California, my provider, Pacific Gas & Electric, has a different priority:


Last night PG&E fucked up and it just happened to be during a nationally televised broadcast of "Monday Night Football," between the 49ers and Steelers.

WHOOPS. Maybe PG&E didn't realize that everyone could see. Anyway, no one was killed, apparently, so TOUGH SHIT PG&E.

Just within the past year and a half or so, PG&E killed eight people in a gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno. They just admitted liability for that, after exploring the option of possibly blaming the victims. It's like they have a secret lab where they sit around and try to think of ways they could be more evil or at least appear that way.

Then you have the manhole explosions, which are, at this point, so routine that they barely make the news any more.

Not content to confine their murderous ways to simple explosions, which do seem kind of dated and 19th-century, PG&E then moved on to Smart Meters, which, we are told, will kill us all with radiation. Irradiating us all seems like a much more efficient way for PG&E to eliminate us, plus it's not as noisy and steam-punky as exploding manholes.

(J/K abt Smart Meters, I'm sure they're totally safe and whatever.)

And when they're not busy trying to kill us, PG&E also has constant problems with delivering power. I mean, every time it rains, the power goes out somewhere. Is it that way everywhere, or just here?

ANYWAY, PG&E, if you really want to make an impact, step up your electrocution game. Seems like you've got unlimited electricity, so why not use it? You could take out 100, 150 people a day, probably. And those nuclear plants! They're not gonna melt down on their own, PG&E. Blow one of those up and we could start talking Fresno-sized victim counts.

Friday, December 16, 2011

I'm already going to hell, so....

The theme of today's post is RELIGION. Oh boy.

ITEM NUMBER ONE: Why do people hate Tim Tebow?

(I just realized that not everyone may know who Tim Tebow is. Tim Tebow is an American footballer generally considered to be of average-to-poor skill at his position, which is quarterback for the Denver Broncos. Previous to this, he was considered to be of superior skill at his position in college, which was quarterback for the Florida Gators. Some people are really good in college and not very good in the NFL. Anyway, Tebow is also known for vehemently and publicly practicing his religion, including frequently kneeling on the field to thank God for a successful football outcome and/or to beseech his help at a crucial moment. Despite his seeming lack of skill, the Denver Broncos keep winning games that they shouldn't win. This is more due to Denver's excellent defense than anything Tim Tebow is doing, but quarterbacks always get more attention than defenses. Back to our story.)

Oh, look, Deadspin already answered this question: Why People Who Hate Tim Tebow Hate Tim Tebow.

I'll nutshell it for you: Because anyone other than Tebow in Tebow's position would be EXPECTED to succeed, but somehow, for Tebow, it's a case of God pulling the strings for a gutsy believer who is somehow triumphing despite being a valiant underdog.

Athletes giving credit to God is nothing new, but Tebow sort of takes it to a whole new level with his very public displays of faith and whatnot. Let's leave aside the obvious question - with something like 200 billion galaxies in the universe, each containing 200-300 billion stars, there must be trillions or quadrillions of planets, and many of those must have life, so why does God take a personal interest in the outcomes of sporting events on one of those planets and, moreover, why does He not seem to care so much about cricket or curling? - and instead ponder WHY IT'S NOT GOD'S FAULT WHEN TEAMS LOSE. The way I see it, if you give God credit for winning a game (or doing well on a law school final, or getting your lost wallet back (actually, that one was St. Anthony, not God, but they work in the same office), then the Big Guy gets the blame when things go south.

How great would that be? Imagine the sideline reporter interviewing the kicker who missed the game-winning field goal: "Well, I lined it up perfectly, hit it dead on, and it sailed wide right. God really fucked us on this one. Thanks for nothing, God. Zero for you in the collection plate tomorrow. Winners get paid, not losers."

SIGH. I'm sure there's a Deep Theological Reason why it's not God's fault but I don't really care.

ITEM NUMBER TWO: R.I.P. Christopher Hitchens, one of the best atheists of all time.

Like I said to someone last night, I didn't always agree with Hitchens - on his strong support for the Iraq War, for example - I always wished I could write like him.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Are Yahoo comments gone forever or what?

We all know about SFGate comments. But did you ever check out comments on Yahoo news stories? They made SFGate commenters look like a Mensa convention. They were truly the ugly id of the Internet. No story, no matter how innocuous or heartwarming, could escape their wrath. "Miracle baby survives crash" would inevitably devolve into a shitshow about Obamacare, and God forbid if the baby was African-American. Wonder whether racism is still a problem in 21st-century America? Peruse the Yahoo comments, and wonder no more.


I stopped by Yahoo to get the brain-damaged racist perspective recently and the spot where "3,045 comments" used to be was an ominous banner that said:

"We're having problems with Reading Activity and Commenting features on our site. We're working to re-enable them as soon as possible. We apologize for any inconvenience."

Oh, we're having problems with the Commenting features, all right.

I immediately knew that was it; Yahoo had finally had enough of being known as the Sinkhole of American Idiocy. FAREWELL, YAHOO COMMENTS. WE WILL MISS THY OVERT RACISM AND RAMPANT MISSPELLING.

Maybe Yahoo Answers can tell us more!

Good, now we'll get to the bottom of this. Tell us, Yahoo Answers answerers!

Oh. That's why.

UPDATE: It looks like they're back on. Never mind.

Monday, December 12, 2011

In which we ponder the existential meaning of the term "bar"

Food & Wine magazine recently named the 50 Best Bars in America. Because the topic of bars is very dear to my heart, I perused this list carefully. There are a number of San Francisco establishments on the list, like Alembic and Beretta and Comstock and Slanted Door.

Wait a second, because we have a problem.

As much as I like Slanted Door - and make no mistake, I like it a lot, I mean, I have often said that the Shaking Beef from Slanted Door would be my Death Row Last Meal - there is one significant problem with its appearance on this list.


Slanted Door HAS as bar, but it's NOT a bar. I have a CD by Pavement, but I'm not Steven Malkmus.

Not a bar.

I guess, in the World Vision of Food & Wine, anywhere that sells alcohol for onsite consumption is a "bar." So under their erroneously expansive definition, the French Laundry is a "bar." So is Yankee Stadium. And Delta Flight 2081 from Atlanta to Charlotte.

See the problem here?

What Food & Wine needs is a more restrictive definition of "bar." Here's what I propose:

A bar is an establishment that exists primarily to sell liquor and other intoxicating spirits to the public.

Sorry, Slanted Door! (And Beretta, for that matter). You are not bars. You are restaurants. The 500 Club is a bar. Bourbon & Branch is a bar. Even the Uptown is a bar, although it's a bar that masquerades as a garbage dump with shots.


Now we can talk about the 50 Best Bars or whatever. But let's talk about bars, not restaurants. You want an artisanal cocktail and a squid ink risotto? Go to Beretta. You want a shot and a beer? Go to a bar.

(BTW, I know what you're saying. You're saying Why am I reading this bullshit when I could be watching Dr. Oz and eating Candy Cane Joe-Joe's? Now, you're actually saying Doesn't Alembic serve food? Isn't it a restaurant? No. You can be a bar and still serve food, as long as you PRIMARILY exist to serve alcohol. Thus, Alembic = bar; Outback Steakhouse = Not Bar.)

Friday, December 9, 2011

From the Magazine Rack in Hell

I'm not even sure why I made this. I don't even have kids. Parents just bug me sometimes.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Let's talk about radio for a second

Nobody listens to the radio anymore. This is practically an article of faith. Oh, wait, maybe more people are listening to the radio. "An average of 241.6 million people 12 and older listened to conventional radio stations each week last year, an increase of 2.1 million over 2009 — and up 4.9% vs. 2005," says USA Today. 241 million is a lot, so maybe people do listen to the radio. That kind of hurts my point so let's move on.

2 radio things to touch on today.

First, Live 105. Live 105 is a sad radio station that I guess positions itself as "alternative" or something. "Alternative" was what new and interesting music used to be called in the 80's and 90's. Live 105 calls itself "alternative" even though they still play the same shit they were playing in 1992.

Just looking at the playlist, in the past 12 hours, Live 105 has played the following:

"Come as You Are," by Nirvana
"The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, at least twice
"Adam's Song" by Blink-182
"Three Little Birds" by Bob Marley
"Wrong Way" by Sublime
"Say It Ain't So" by Weezer
"After Midnight" by Blink-182, twice
"Come Original" by 311
"Creep" by Radiohead
"Snow (Hey Oh)" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers
"Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana
"The Sound of Winter" by Bush, multiple times
"Tell Me Baby" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers
At least two songs from Stone Temple Pilots' 1992 debut Core
"Jamming" by Bob Marley
"Santeria" by Sublime
A shitload of Linkin Park songs

Not pretty, is it? We can make a few observations:

1. Live 105's program director really likes the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Linkin Park, "Legend" by Bob Marley, and the Stone Temple Pilots' first album
2. Very little of this is "alternative," in any sense of the word
3. Bush apparently has a new album out and Live 105 is interested in seeing it succeed, for some reason beyond my grasp
4. Blink-182 is still played as if they were a viable concern and not a band that we all laugh about behind their backs

This isn't alternative; this is classic rock. I mean, do you really need to hear any Sublime song, ever again? And what the fuck is up with the Bob Marley? What is this, a freshman dorm room in 1988?

Go in peace and do whatever you want, Live 105. I guess it's just kind of sad that there is so much good, new, exciting, interesting music out there that I bet people would actually like if you played it and you're not giving it a chance. You could be pushing Ty Segall (who has the extra advantage of being a local!) and Yuck and TV on the Radio and instead you're pushing albums that came out in 1991 and 1992.

Don't get me wrong, "Nevermind" is one of the best albums ever, but we've all heard it, Live 105. You can set down Nevermind and back slowly away. We know every song.

In other radio news, KGO 810 just fired everyone that works there, in one fell swoop destroying decades of goodwill and community relationships. WOW GREAT PLAN.

(MOMENTARY DIVERSION: The Wife says I'm the only person under 50 who listens to talk radio, but that can't be true, right? I even listen to KSFO Tea Party Radio sometimes just to see how far around the bend those people have gone. ANSWER: Very far. But you know where you to go if you want to hear the word "Marxist" tossed around in a context-free manner.)

Anyway, I'm not in radio and so I have no idea but it seems like a bad move to me.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

In response to some reader complaints, we are launching a new feature

On Friday, Allan over at Mission Mission linked to our story about people talking at shows. Some people commented! They will do that. One person said "grandpa," which is mean because, while I am old enough to be a grandparent, I am not actually a grandparent. Unless that person meant it in the Sexy Grandpa sense, in which case, RIGHT ON.

But then another commenter said:

his whole blog is a moan – and he goes on about being like a 28 year old (when he’s 40) or something. Old, old, old – not physically but has the mentality of a conservative Victorian…

Kinda has a point. I do tend to bitch a lot on here. I do have to dispute that I have the mentality of a conservative Victorian, though. Maybe a Sexy Victorian.

Anyway, in an effort to make this blog more positive and less of a moan, we are introducing a new feature: Universal Pepsodent Super Fun Hour!!!!!

What we do for UPSFH is we pick one thing that we like and we talk about how awesome it is. This is designed to counteract the normally dyspeptic and misanthropic nature of this blog and instead suffuse you, the reader, with a sense of warmth and well-being that you will carry with you throughout the day.

For our inaugural Universal Pepsodent Super Fun Hour, we pick A FEW GOOD MEN, the 1992 Aaron Sorkin-penned military-legal drama starring TOM CRUISE and DEMI MOORE and with the totally killer JACK NICHOLSON monologue that we all love.

A Few Good Men is one of those movies that I always watch through to the end when I pass it flipping around on cable. And since it's on TNT every Saturday, I've seen parts of it hundreds of times!

Look, it's not Citizen Kane or even the Citizen Kane of military-legal dramas. Well, maybe it is, but I can't think of others right now, but it's a well-written, sort of well-acted drama that keeps you engaged without being too tense. The perfect thing when you're hungover on the couch on a Saturday having Outdoor Guilt because it looks nice out but you just don't want to go out.

I celebrate you, A Few Good Men. You are worthy of being featured on the very first Universal Pepsodent Super Fun Hour!

Friday, December 2, 2011

People who talk through shows should be swiftly and summarily executed

Went to see the Weakerthans at the Independent last night. Fantastic show. Going again tonight, as a matter of fact. I may not have mentioned lately how much I like the Independent. Even at sold-out shows it never seems packed, the beer prices are totally reasonable, the sound is always great, and the location is perfect. (The last two things are reasons why I never go to Bottom of the Hill any more.)

Oh, and the bartender last night said "I haven't seen you around in a while." I used to go to a lot more shows than I do now.

ANYWAY. You didn't think this was going to be all sweetness and light, did you? You want that shit, go read Zooey Deschanel's blog or something. (I'm assuming here; I've never read Zooey Deschanel's blog. Does Zooey Deschanel have a blog?)

There was one, and only one, problem at the show last night, and if you go see live music with any regularity, you will recognize this problem at once: THE LOUD TALKERS.


Standing by the bar was a group of four, two guys and two girls. And during the entire show, nonstop, start to finish, they were YELLING at each other. I don't think they could have heard a single song. I really just do not fucking understand this. With service fees and everything, tickets to this show were around $22 apiece. Why would you spend $22 to go to a show that you have no interest in watching and then compound your mistake by bothering everyone else around you who IS watching it? Fuck you. Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck you.

After a couple of songs of that, we moved further up into the crowd and that fucking frizzy-haired bitch's donkey-like braying receded, but I was treated to a fresh round of her shrieking every time I had to go to the bar, which was often. Fuck.

They left during the encore and the same frizzy bitch bumped into The Wife on her way out and kept walking. Throat cancer for her. Crippling arthritis for the other 3. That is my decree.

But it's hard to bitch too much. We had a great time.

Anyway, if you go to a music performance, don't talk through the whole thing.