Friday, March 22, 2013

We will be going on hiatus for a little while

How long, I cannot say.

Reason: baby-havin'.

We're in Day 2.  Not gonna lie, it's a long process.  The view from our labor & delivery room helps.

So watch this space for my grand reopening as a Daddy Blog.  Just fucking with you guys, I would never do that.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


And the latest entry in the Techies Ruin Everything genre comes from......The East Bay Express!  The East Bay Express, ladies and gentlemen.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Please hold your applause.

Their entry is called, for some reason, "The Bacon-Wrapped Economy."  Here's a sample:

And that brings with it a whole host of disparate side effects: The arts economy, already unstable, has been forced to contend with the twin challenges of changing tastes and new funding models. Entire industries that didn't exist ten years ago are either thriving on venture capital, or thriving on companies that are thriving on it. It is now possible to find a $6 bottle of Miller High Life, a $48 plate of fried chicken, or a $20 BLT in parts of the city that used to be known for their dive bars and taco stands. If, after all, money has always been a means of effecting the world we want to bring about, when a region is flooded with uncommonly rich and uncommonly young people, that world begins to look very different. And we're all living in it, whether we like it or not.

Yeah, I know, we've all read this article before.  Maybe even last week!  Anyway, it goes on in the usual vein for a while - People are throwing lavish parties! Newly rich kids aren't very smart about money! - without ever reaching any firm conclusions.  No biggie, there'll be many more of these to come.  MY PERSONAL FAVORITE PART was about TaskRabbit and those other services where you hire people to do things.  Specifically:

According to Molly Rabinowitz, a San Franciscan in her early twenties who briefly made a living doing this kind of work — though she declined to reveal which service she used — many tech companies give their employees a set amount of credit for these tasks a month or year, and that's in addition to the people using the services privately. "There's no way this would exist without tech," she said. "No way."

At one point, Rabinowitz was hired for several hours by a pair of young Googlers to launder and iron their clothes while they worked from home. ("It was ridiculous. They didn't want to iron anything, but they wanted everything, including their T-shirts, to be ironed.")

Well, yeah, Molly.  Maybe you missed the WHOLE FUCKING POINT.  The idea of these services, as I understand it (but which perhaps Molly is not clear on) is that you hire someone to perform a task that you don't want to do.  Shockingly, one of these tasks could be IRONING.  Perhaps Molly thought TaskRabbit paid you to drink coffee and lazily thumb through US Weekly? 

DISCLAIMERS: (1) I do not mean to suggest that there are no problems with the current tech boom; there most certainly are, but recycling the same article over and over isn't getting us any insight. (2) You should never iron your t-shirts.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Anatomy of a market crash

Hey, the World Baseball Classic is going on at AT&T Park!  No one gives a shit because the USA is out of it.  Americans!  We're so provincial.

(If you are one of the people who actually does care and is American, hats off to you.  I'm employing a rhetorical device called "hyperbole" when I say "no one gives a shit."  Obviously SOMEONE gives a shit.  Someone has to show up and operate the cameras and so forth.  And also there's you.)

Thanks to the Miracle of Twitter, we have this intel about what tickets prices were like a few months ago.

And here's the aforementioned screenshot:

According to the people responding to this tweet, this price represents a three-game strip of tickets.  Still, expensive!  Club Left Field, my usual haunt at AT&T, is about $83 a game, and that's before Ticketmaster fees of $7,500 to $95,500 per ticket.

The Championship Game is tonight!  It's Puerto Rico vs. Dominican Republic, which is essentially the same as any regular MLB game with 3 fewer white people.  Fancy a seat in Club Left Field?  Hop on over to StubHub and grab one for $29.50.  That's a lot less than $83!  And StubHub's service fees are a miniscule fraction of Ticketmaster's, let me assure you.

So what's the point of this whole thing?  Nothing, I guess.  Americans don't care about sporting events unless America's playing.  Something, whatever.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Trip report: Fort Bragg, CA

Fort (or Ft.? I don't know) Bragg is a scrappy little town a few miles north of Mendocino, its dressier, quainter, boutiquier cousin.  Based on some not-at-all scientific research I did using Google while drinking a beer in my hotel room, it used to be supported by a lumber mill but then that closed down and everyone left town and now it's just a Rite Aid and North Coast Brewing.  Whatever, the view from the hotel room sure was nice.

Apparently there's an attraction called "Glass Beach" that we didn't go to.  Everybody told us that's the thing we had to see and that always makes me suspicious.  You know what it is?  Residents of Ft. Bragg used to dump all their trash there and over the years all the glass in the trash got worn down by waves into smooth little glass pebbles.  That's right; the main attraction in FB is a former dump.

We had a great time.  On Friday night we went to Piaci Pub and Pizzeria, which was insanely crowded at 6:30 p.m.  Based on attendance at Piaci, what Fort Bragg really needs is more restaurants.

The crowd seemed to be mostly locals.  You know the type, with grey ponytails and a severely weathered appearance and a definite stoner vibe.  Everyone was totally friendly.  In some small, isolated towns people are all wary and/or hostile, but not in FB.  Everywhere we went everyone was as nice as they could be.

Somebody on Yelp called Piaci a "dive bar" which makes me think people on Yelp have never been to a dive bar because it's about as divey as an Applebee's.  MEMO TO YELPERS: Anywhere that has a pizza with prosciutto, arugula, and a farm egg on it is not a dive bar.  They also have an incredible beer selection.

And of course the whole area is breathtakingly beautiful.  Saturday was a nice sunny day and we drove up the coast a ways and it's one of those things where every time you come around a bend in the road you are visually ASSAULTED by another jaw-dropping view.

This picture isn't even a good representation because I suck at taking pictures and I took this with an iPhone.  I think we were both amused by the hawk that's perched on the wire in the middle of this picture that you can't see.  He (or she, I guess, I'm not like a hawkologist or whatever they have that studies hawks) just seemed totally chill and stoic.

Although I am in no way being compensated for this plug, we stayed at the North Cliff Hotel and liked it a lot.  On Friday night some fat people arrived at the room above us and then STOMPED AROUND from 11 pm to like midnight.  Seriously, it sounded like they were going to come through the fucking floor.  The next morning, the hotel graciously moved us to a top-floor room.  In fact, they were so nonchalant and blase about the whole thing that I suspect this happens with some frequency.  Maybe it's just thin floors.  Anyway, they were totally cool about it and we relaxed Saturday night in blissful silence.

[One other thing I forgot to put in this post originally: wine tasting in Mendocino wine country is so much better than Napa and even maybe Sonoma that it's worth a special trip.  It's like what Napa used to be like in the early 90's.  Almost all the tastings are free (except for hoity toity places like Goldeneye), it's not that crowded, and the winery employees are uniformly down-to-earth and friendly.  Fuck paying $25 for a tasting in Napa.  I emphatically recommend Navarro, Toulouse, and Lazy Creek, and they're all within a few miles of each other.]

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Reader mail

Let's take some questions from our readers.  Here's one:

"Have you given up on blogging already? I thought the kid would have to *be* here first."

Yeah, I know what you're talking about.  I haven't been posting as much as I used to.  I used to be good for 3 a week, sometimes more, but lately I've been lucky to do two.  I don't know, it's not like it's anything on purpose, I just haven't had a lot of good ideas or I haven't felt like it or something.

Like, here are some things I've been thinking about that I haven't turned into a whole post just because they don't seem interesting enough to make a whole post out of:

1. I'm not really crazy about renaming SFO for Harvey Milk, not because I don't think he's an honorable figure who should be celebrated, but because, honestly, I think "Milk International Airport" just doesn't sound good.

2. I loved Ta-Nehisi Coates' post for Atlantic called "How the Quiet Car Explains the World." If you've been with me for a while you already know that when we were Back East we had occasion to use and enjoy the Quiet Car ourselves.  And I like his definition of "asshole":  "a person who demands that all social interaction happen on their terms."  Those people are definitely assholes, but that definition seems a little restrictive.  I would expand it to include "people who display no concern about others," to take in people who are assholes but not necessarily in a social context, like your Loud Neighbor Music Blasters, your Don't Pick Up Their Dog's Poopers, your Loud Cellphone Talkers, your Line Cutters, and your Movie Talkers.  The list goes on and on.  In fact, Coates' definition is subsumed in mine, because Demanding Social Interactors are a subset of People Who Display No Concern About Others.

3. Tomorrow is the Fifth Anniversary of this blog.  We've been doing this for FIVE FUCKING YEARS, Jesus Christ.  The first post was on March 15, 2008, and was about how I'm sick of SXSW.  Allan from MissionMission commented.  I'm still sick of SXSW.

Between then and now, we got engaged, got married, and went to Waffle House. The Giants won the World Series, twice.

There have been 464,356 pageviews. 

So I guess, in conclusion, I don't know.  I haven't given up!  Maybe just slowed down a little.  Just between you and me, I'm not 40 anymore.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Bachelor: Ballbag.

It's hard to say any season of The Bachelor was the "worst season" but this was the Worst Season.  Sean was likable enough, I guess, but he has the personality of a friendly, older Golden retriever and about the same intellect.  Anyway, here we are at what Chris Harrison calls the "historic" three-hour finale, and I guess it might be historic because it contains the most references to praying and prayer since Touched By An Angel went off the air.

This dirty business will conclude in Thailand, where we see Big Dumb Sean's family arriving to aid him in his Journey.  Remember niece and nephew Kensington and Smith from last season?  They're slightly older now and must think this is the normal way grownups marry.  Also, Kensington and Smith.  Come on son.  Here comes Catherine!  Hopefully Sean's family doesn't think she's the maid.  One troubling aspect to this episode is that everyone is traipsing around barefoot.  Disturbing.  Anyway, Mom thinks Catherine is a "lovely lady" and Dad wants to know if she "believes in the Bachelor process" like he's interviewing her for a job as Bachelor Process Lady.  Then everybody cries and she leaves.  I give her a 6 out of 10.

Here comes Lindsay!  Lindsay must have experienced some kind of head trauma on the flight to Thailand because she appears to have lost maybe 40, 50 IQ points.  Maybe it's the chronic alcoholism, I don't know.  Anyway, Dad interviews her and blah blah blah whatever but here's the truly disturbing part.  He says "When Sean was born, we began on that day praying for . . . his wife.  So we prepared every day for her."  WHAT THE FUCK.  I don't even.  Lindsay starts crying.  I would too, faced with this odd revelation.  She tells Mom "our relationship is real" and then cries some more.  Sean later tells us "I think I could have a long happy marriage with both Lindsay and Catherine at this point" and unless Dad was praying to Mormon God, I don't think so.

There will now be Final Dates with each chick.  Lindsay and S will be rafting down the Mekong River, which immediately makes me think of Apocalypse Now.

Tell me that wouldn't be a more entertaining show.  Anyway, they cruise down the Mekong and Sean points out the local features.  "Those mountains over there, that's Laos," he says.  "Oooooo," says Lindsay, who has clearly never heard of a "Laos."  Meanwhile, she wants to know if he'll "shrink down to my size" when he gets older.  Oh fuck me, this is so fucking inane.  Later that night, back to her room for more booze and infantile giggling.  Where did this baby voice shit come from?  He has "everything she's ever wanted in a husband."  I guess that means he has a BevMo card and the complete SpongeBob on DVD.  Then they light some balloons on fire or something, I can't even go on.

Final date with Catherine.  After the date with Lindsay, this will be like finding the fucking Higgs Boson.  There's a ride on a sad-looking elephant and everyone acts like this is a life-altering experience but it's really just like riding a horse but bigger, right?  Over at C's room that night, there is a refreshingly baby-voice-free conversation and C expressing her emotions and crying and she says "I love you" and ABC uses a weird heartbeat sound effect over the whole scene like this is an old episode of "ER" or something.


After some Balcony Gazing, her comes Famous Jeweler Neil Lane who has cheapened his personal brand by hitching his wagon to Annoying Commercial Producer Jared.  Then back with the fam.  Everyone cries a lot.  Suck it up, people.  God doesn't like whiners. 

After some more filler and whatnot (including, oddly, AshLee in a leather dress) S has arrived at the Engaging Platform.  First up is Linds and her huge ugly foot tattoo I've never noticed before.  She toddles through the jungle in her aluminum foil dress.  He butters her up a little then hits her with "This is the toughest thing I've ever had to do."  What, solve some simple math equations?  No.  It's dumping Winelina.  She flees back through the jungle and into the Crying SUV.  General Dad is researching the whole drone strikes on American citizens thing.  I WILL RAIN FIRE UPON YOU, YOUR FAMILY WILL WATCH YOU BURN, Lindsay vows.  But in a baby voice.  She will wain fire upon you.

What's this?  A letter?  From Catherine?  What does it say?  "If you are reading this, I am already dead."  No, it's just more treacly bullshit about how she wants to be his wife.  So she hops on up to the Engagement Platform and he does the whole thing and now they're engaged.  He also says she is his "best friend" which seems odd since they've probably spent a total of about 10 hours together.

Then we segue into After the Final Rose for Hour Three and by this point I was a little drunk so my recollection may be somewhat hazy.  Let's trot Lindsay out.  She wants to know where it all went wrong and she's been praying a lot.  SORRY DARFUR, GOT A FEW OTHER THINGS ON MY PLATE RIGHT NOW, SIGNED GOD. Meanwhile, it appears that Billy Bush is tweeting @ Lindsay?

Cleanse breathe eat pray love girl!  I'm writing that down and taping it to my mirror.  That will be my new Personal Affirmation going forward. 

We conclude by learning that Sean and Catherine's wedding will be televised on ABC.  And then Chris Harrison calls Sean a "ballbag."  DROPS MIC, LEAVES.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Bachelor: The Women Tell Next to Nothing, Bore the Shit Out of Us

Everyone agrees, including myself, that Ken Burns' "The Civil War" is a masterpiece of modern documentary filmmaking.  I think I have watched the entire series all the way through twice, which takes only slightly less time than the actual Civil War.  I was excited about watching it again with The Wife, who had never seen it, because she is from Another Country where they have their own shit going down.  So one night we sat down and I hit play and BOOM she was out cold in less than five minutes.  A few years later Ken Burns' series "The National Parks" came on and we began watching that and BOOM she's out again.  Ken Burns has a particularly soporific effect on The Wife.

So it was for me with last night's "The Women Tell All, " the usual filler that airs every season just before the finale.  Its origin and purpose remain murky, as it seems to exist only to take up space.  Maybe editing the finale takes a long time?  Anyway, last night I fell asleep at two different times while trying to watch this televised Sominex, so my notes are somewhat unclear.

I seem to remember Tierra getting trotted out at some point, yelled at, and then returned to her seat.  Was there something about Sean and Chris Harrison dropping in on people watching the show?  Did that happen?  I think Desiree blamed her brother.  AshLee thinks Sean told her that he didn't care about any other girls, but he says he didn't say that.  Nobody cares.

The only possibly interesting thing that happened to me was that at around 7 pm, there was a sudden spike in traffic to this blog.

What the fuck?  I did some checking and found out that a not-insubstantial number of people were arriving here after Googling various combinations of "magic", "dog", and "Bachelor", which was leading them to this post with "Magic" and "Bachelor" in the title and the word "dog" in the post.  Well, as I found out at 10 pm Pacific time, the show concluded with a moving video tribute to Magic the dog, who apparently hung around the set until he or she died of boredom at some point this season.  To better days, Magic.

NEXT WEEK: Finally this godawful season comes to an end.  They've been teasing lots of shots of Sean at the Proposal Lectern reading some kind of letter and then staring meaningfully into middle distance.  This is GUARANTEED to be disappointing when we actually find out what it is. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

You finally lost me, San Francisco Chronicle

I bought the San Francisco Chronicle every day when it was 25 cents during the week and, I think, 75 cents or a dollar on Sunday.  Then it was 35 cents, then 50, and lately 75 cents.  I stopped buying the Sunday paper a couple of years ago when it seemed like it changed every Sunday - No magazine! OK, here's your magazine back! No Datebook!  Different Datebook! And on and on - and also it's really not worth it at $3.  But I was still faithfully plunking down (well, feeding into a newspaper box) 75 cents a day.  I like the tangible, physical paper.  I like holding it.  I like reading the Sporting Green while I eat lunch.  I don't have an iPad and reading it on a computer screen while I eat is unwieldy.  ANYWAY, no more.

Are you fucking kidding me, San Francisco Chronicle?  A fucking DOLLAR?  For a paper that is just a shell of what it used to be?  That's it, I'm out.  We are done here.  I could do 75 cents a day but, I will freely admit, there is a psychological barrier to adding on that extra quarter.  I just cannot pay a dollar a day for Debra Saunders' ill-informed ranting or Chuck Nevius' whatever that thing is that Chuck Nevius does.  It's been a nice 23 years, Chronicle, but we are done.  Good luck at your new price point.

(Incidentally, this is a photo of the newsrack in front of the courthouse at McAllister and Polk.  Usually it's empty by 8:30 a.m.  Not today.  Plenty of razor-thin Monday Chronicles for sale today.  Looks like I'm not the only one who's finished here.)

Friday, March 1, 2013

I may be finally getting too old for this shit

When you get to my advanced age, some things, while still logistically possible, are no longer as compelling as they used to be, like camping or threesomes.  After last night, I fear that going to see live music - once a staple part of my life - may slowly be sliding into the sinkhole of oldmandom.

So last night I went to a Noise Pop show, as I try to do every yearThis one was at Brick & Mortar and featured Free Energy, who I really like, Warm Soda, In the Valley Below, and Miner.  I hadn't yet been to B&M (in its current incarnation, anyway - the space used to be Levende Lounge, and before that Butterfly, the restaurant, and I've been drunk at both of those places) and it's fine.  It looks exactly like the old restaurants that used to be there, minus the tables.

HERE COMES THE BITCHING.  Doors 8/Show 9.  Now, that's fine if there are 2 or even 3 bands, but when you have 4 bands on the bill, that's just fucking ridiculous.  There is no reason you shouldn't start a 4-band show at 8.  I don't want to skip ahead and spoil the ending, but I had to go at 11:20 and the 3rd band was still in the middle of their set.  I mean, it's great and all if you don't have to work the next day, but on a Thursday it's just not cool.  I saw Free Energy a few years ago at Pitchfork so it's not the end of the world but still.  I mean, I used to BE in a band and if we had to go on after midnight, I would probably leave.

MORE BITCHING.  It's too crowded.  People talk through all the bands.  That didn't bother me this time as much as usual because I wasn't really here to see anyone in particular other than Warm Soda and they were so loud it didn't matter.  They were pretty great, too, at least the half of their set I got to see.  Here's a sample.  Fun music.  BUT YOU'RE NOT OFF THE HOOK WARM SODA.  My show companion, and to a lesser extent I, were maybe interested in buying Warm Soda's album.  But in a colossal fuck you to potential customers, IT'S ONLY AVAILABLE ON VINYL.  Oh Christ how pretentious can you get.  I know, I know, Vinyl Purists, it's the best sound and whatever but the fact is these days 90% of people don't own a turntable.  They don't even have it for sale online.  So way to lose potential sales there, Warm Soda.  (Also, you need a new sound person.  The music was great but the mix was terrible.)

THERE ARE SOME GOOD PARTS THOUGH.  I had never heard of first band Miner but even though their sound is pretty much a complete lift of the Mumford/Edward Sharpe/Lumineers thing that the kids are so crazy about these days, it was still perfectly enjoyable.  I enjoyed it.  It didn't hurt that the band included a multi-instrumentalist/singer chick who was like MODEL GORGEOUS in her willowy Anthropologie way.  Here's a sample, although this wasn't really one of my favorite songs they played:

So I guess the takeaway is that maybe I should just go to shows that start at 7 and have seating.  Maybe the B-52s will play the Mountain Winery!  Fuck me.